Ah, a major case of writer's block...I started this post about a month ago and it just took me forever to get my ideas organized. During the end of April, I made my first visit to Chicago. I must admit I expected more from this city - were my expectations just too high or was it just the circumstances? The circumstances - a very short trip, overcast and drizzly at times, fatigued from my James Beard adventure, a preconception of Chicago being a culinary mecca and coming directly from NYC, a place that I absolutely love and is the epitome of a major metropolis. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time with my friends and had an unbelievable meal, but as I hinted to earlier, I didn't feel any of the excitement or hustle and bustle of a big city.
|The Aviary - kitchen and cocktails, The Purple Pig, Wow Bao, Gino's East|
Unfortunately with a short trip, there are only so many meals that we could have. The food was a little hit or miss in Chicago, but we stumbled into a few great finds. Wow Bao offered both savory and sweet steamed buns with a variety of unconventional fillings. The Purple Pig offered some great snacks to enjoy with a glass of good wine. We especially loved the Pork Lardo, Pork Liver Pate and Caesar Salad. The Aviary is definitely the "it" place for hand-crafted cocktails, but don't go on an empty stomach because you will get hungry! The largest disappointment was that we were unable to find a decent bakery or patisserie! On the upside, we already knew where we could get our sweet fix - Chicago is home to Garrett's Gourmet Popcorn and the "Chicago Mix" of Caramel Corn and Cheesy Popcorn is to die for! Chicago is also home to Vosges Haut Chocolate which is known for its pairing of chocolate and bacon. My favorites however are the Black Salt Caramel 70% Chocolate Bar, Sunshine Caramels and Toffee.
|Robie House, Cloud Gate, Art Installations|
What I can say is that Chicago has been graced with some magnificent architecture and sculptures. The city is home to numerous works by Frank Lloyd Wright as well as many public art installations. On my next visit, I plan to take an Architecture Tour by boat.
A detailed account of dinner at Alinea to come in Part II...