Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Windy City

Last weekend Courtney and I headed back to Chicago for a fun filled weekend of eating, drinking, and general touristy stuff. Originally we were going to watch Matt run in the Chicago marathon, but Matt got a stress fracture so we had no choice but to turn the weekend into something even more relaxing and fun! We ended up doing a lot of walking and eating. Here are the high points:

The Architecture River Cruise

Chicago has a large amount of beautiful architecture (makes KC look like a shanty town) and Matt had been told that there was no better way to see it than a boat tour by these folks. Although it was a bit cold (a lot of folks ultimately went downstairs to get out of the wind) I really enjoyed hearing about each building and it's history. Some of my favorites:

You can see the whole bunch of pictures here.

Frontera Grill

Rick Bayless (the guy who won Top Chef Masters) has a gourmet Mexican restaurant called Frontera Grill that we really wanted to try out. At first we were not even sure we would get to go. They were not accepting anymore reservations, but they did tell us we could show up at 5 PM and put our name down. This place is so popular that when we showed up at 4:50 PM there was already a line around the building. After waiting in line for 20 minutes we were able to put our name down and they instructed us to show back up a mere 3 1/2 hours later (I'm not kidding). When we did arrive at 8:30 PM they seated us promptly and the fun began. For an appetizer we had this wonderful tray of Ceviche:

Followed by wonderful cuisine like Falda Asada "Brava", Enchilada de Chivo, Enchiladas de Mole Poblano, and Tacos al Carbon.

I had the Enchiladas de Mole Poblano and the sauce was truly incredible. Throw in some homemade guacamole and a Michelada Moderna (that drink I am in love with below) and I was in heaven!

In closing, I would highly recommend jumping through the hoops to eat there, it was well worth it.

The A-Team

We met quite a few of Matt's friends from Emory University. We call these folks "The A-Team" because they all seem to be lawyers, doctors, or business professionals. Most of them either come from money or have money- and they are all purty to look at. Don't get me wrong, they were all very nice people. It's just hard not to feel like a western hick around so many beautiful, rich, intelligent, and successful people. For this reason Courtney and I jokingly referred to ourselves as "The B-Team" whenever "The A-Team" was out of hearing range. Some high points of our time with "The A-Team":

  • At one bar I was put at the front of our group before entering the club because there were concerns I might not get let in. Their concern was due to the fact that I was wearing sneakers! Luckily they were letting scum in that night and I was able to penetrate the cool people's club for a fleeting moment. We ended leaving that bar anyways because the only seats available were down in some mysterious room in the basement where we would have to buy full bottles of liquor just to sit down (we're taking hundreds of dollars just to stay- a concept I'm still not sure I understand).

  • These folks have nice apartments. At first we visited Jenny, a friend of Matts who had a beautiful wrap around view of Chicago. I was completely impressed until she took us to visit her fellow facial plastics intern (co-worker) who owns a Lambo and lives on the 86th floor of the Hancock building. This guy had marble floors and furniture that probably cost more than my truck. I've never seen anything like it.

  • Here is his view:

  • Matt's friend Leigh is head of marketing for the ESPN Sports Zone in Baltimore. At one point I was sitting next to her while she was on the phone with Michael Phelps (yeah, that guy). I couldn't help but be a little awe struck. Leigh also took us to the ESPN Sports Zone in Chicago and set us up with unlimited game cards. I ran around like a kid in a candy store having a blast. Thanks Leigh!

Second City

For Sunday night we bought tickets to an improv show on the main stage at Second City. For those of you who don't know, Second City is a legendary comedy troupe that has launched careers for Eugen Levy, Rick Moranis, John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Fred Willard, Alan Arkin, Chris Farley, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Tim Meadows, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey ... well, you get the point. As a big fan of SNL I was pretty excited. We ended up having a good time and I would definitely go back. You can go here for more info about the show we saw (including a small trailer).

Batting Clean-up

  • We went to the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. for this wild thing called a Pizza Pot Pie. It was OK, but the salad and bread was magnificent.

  • We ate at an Italian restaurant called Carmine's that was really good. I had an excellent piece of flattened veal topped with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese (nom nom nom).

  • We also ate at Gino's East where we had some good old fashioned deep dish pizza. The pizza takes 45 minutes to cook, so make sure you order some appetizers (we loved the spinach sticks).

  • And finally, thanks to Matt and Leigh for spending the weekend with us in Chicago, we had a great time!

P.S. Here is the full gallery for anyone interested in even more pictures.