Thursday, June 30, 2011

Everything you need to know, Chicago: Part Three

Sunday was our last and final day in Chicago, so we had every intention of making it the best Sunday in Chicago we've ever had, and after Day 1 and Day 2 , it would be a lot to live up to. Since we fell in love with Hub51 on Day 2, we decided to head over there for some much needed brunch.

I absolutely love brunch and knew that Hub51 was not going to let me down. We sat outside on the patio, so we could enjoy the beautiful Chicago weather. The minute I saw the brunch menu my stomach started rumbling, everything sounded so delicious, what was a girl to do. I'll tell you what this girl did, I picked the most fattening thing on that brunch menu and I didn't feel guilty about it, we were on vacation.

I ordered the Cinnamon Skinny Pancakes and the only thing skinny about these pancakes were their density. These were stacked crepe style pancakes topped with a caramelized cinnamon sauce, this was indeed another encounter with heaven. I accompanied this amazing dish with some fresh squeezed orange juice and a wonderful cup of coffee.

Kyle ordered the Short Ribs Benedict, which is Eggs Benedict but instead of ham, it was topped with tender-braised short rib. The presentation of the Short Ribs Benedict looked like something out of an article for Bon Appetit, amazing! I didn't get to look at this beautiful dish for long because kyle ate everything on there within ten seconds.

Yummy Hub51 Coffee.

Fresh Squeezed OJ.

Cinnamon Skinny Pancakes.

Short Ribs Benedict.

Hub51 proved to us not only are they a dinner destination, they also serve a mean brunch. So again ladies and gentlemen, if you are in the Chicago area stop by Hub51 on Hubbard Street for a meal that will knock your socks off and help you gain that weight you were wishing for.

Now I date a professional athlete, so after eating a 5,000,000 calorie meal he felt the need to get in some exercise. He tried to pitch it to me as a sightseeing outing, but I know him all to well. We walked down to the lake so we could rent some bikes and ride along the lake path , to "sight see". Well we rented the bikes and the minute we took off, I got mocked for not going fast enough. I was trying to sight see, Kyle was now training for the Tour De France, I kid, I kid. (Not really!)

Our "Comfy" Bikes.

Pit Stop for a Picture.

Views of the Lake.

I Want to Live on this BEACH.

It was an awesome bike ride, which only solidified my absolute love for Chicago. The lake front was hopping and we enjoyed a good twenty mile ride, taking in all the sights and getting quite the workout, my ass still hasn't recovered and I had the "comfort" seat. The cool thing about Chicago that New York lacks is that they have beautiful beach front right next to their skyscrapers, something that I would take total advantage of if I lived there. I was getting envious of all the runners, bikers and swimmers, I need to live here at some point.

After our mini bike race where we burned those 5,000 calories from brunch, we were now required to eat more food of course. I needed to try some Chicago pizza and see what the fuss was all about. Now you have to know that being from New York City we are bred to believe that there is only one type of pizza, New York pizza, anything else is garbage. Being an open minded thinker, I figured I would give this Chicago pizza a try and then I would judge it after, I wanted to be fair.

We headed to the famous Gino's East on Superior St., we got there at the right time, after the lunch crowd and before the dinner crowd. The inside of Gino's was pretty interesting, it would remind you of New York City in the 1970's, there was graffiti everywhere, on the walls, on the chairs, on the tables, on the pizza?( Just kidding, not on the pizza, but that wouldn't be that far fetched.)

I'm not going to lie, I was pretty excited  to try this pizza, unlike New York pizza, Chicago style is deep dish. I'm more of a thin crust girl, but I am open to trying new things. We ordered a small deep dish with crumbled sausage and then we were told it would take forty-five minutes to cook. What the heck? Forty-five minutes is a long time to wait for a pizza, it better be good.

Well, the forty-five minute wait was well worth it. When the waitress brought out our pie my mouth started watering, I couldn't wait to take a bite. Unlike a New York pizza, I couldn't dig in and eat this pie with my hands, I actually had to use a fork and knife, this was the only turn off. Other then not being able to be a cave man, the pizza was awesome, the sauce sweet, the sausage juicy and full of flavor,  the crust crispy and delicious and the cheese was well, cheesy. The small personal pie was the perfect size, because this deep dish is very filling.

Gino's East Chicago Style Pizza

Yummy Goodness, worth the wait.

That's Amore.

My overall opinion of Gino's East and Chicago Deep Dish Pizza is that it is indeed delicious, and worth the forty-five minute wait BUT (Yes, there is a but.) it does not hold a candle to New York Pizza. Sorry Chicago, I give you an A for effort, but New York ultimately wins this battle.

Now it was time for our midday nap, and it was a good one. We wanted to re-energize for an amazing Sunday Night. we really didn't have set plans, we would just see where the night would lead us.

Well, it led us back to Hub51 for a glass of vino before deciding where to go for some dinner. We also went back to Hub to say goodbye to Zach and thank him for showing us around this fantastic city.

We decided that we would end our already amazing trip by going to McCormick and Schmick's for a steak dinner. I felt our vacation wouldn't be complete without a Chicago steak dinner.

McCormick and Schmick's has a couple of Chicago locations, we went to the one right on the river on Wacker Drive. I love steakhouses so I was very excited for this experience, right off the bat I knew it was going to be a great dinner. Our waiter was actually from Long Beach Island, New Jersey, where my family vacations every year. We had a lot to talk about and I feel when you make a connection with your waiter or waitress it makes your dining experience that much better, he was a great guy.

We went all out for this dinner, acting like ballers or something close to ballers. We ordered a bottle Cabernet Sauvigon called 14 Hands, from Washington State. I ordered the Filet/ Shrimp Scampi Combo, cooked medium rare.

Kyle ordered the Dry Rubbed Rib eye also cooked medium rare. And we also ordered a side of Fresh Corn Risotto. Our dishes were cooked to perfection, even though I thought my filet was better then Kyle's rib eye, but who am I to judge.

For dessert the waiter suggested the Creme Brulee and Cheesecake, so of course that's what we indeed ordered, accompanied some espresso. They were both delicious and I was very satisfied with our meal.

My Filet and Shrimp Scampi.

Kyle's Dry Rubbed Rib Eye.

Delicious Cheesecake.

Can't go wrong with Creme Brulee.

Now to keep up with tradition of our Chicago visits, we headed over to Pippin's Tavern on Rush St. The first time Kyle and I went to Chicago was to celebrate his 21st birthday, we stumbled upon Pippin's and it has been one of our favorite spot ever since. It's a great bar, real classic, great beer, great service and great music. We make it a point to get to Pippin's every time we visit. I love creating traditions, that is what I am really all about.
Keeping the Tradition Alive at Pippin's.

Did I mention I love him.

Our Chicago trip was the best yet and I am counting down the days until we can visit again. Like I said earlier, I would love to live there at some point in my life, hey, it could happen. Stranger things have happened in my twenty-five year life.

If you haven't visited Chicago it is a must, put it on your Bucket List right now! It will not disappoint.

Great Spots to Check Out in Chicago
  • Hub51 on Hubbard Street
  • Gino's East (Pizza) on Superior Street
  • McCormick and Schmick's on Wacker Drive
  • Pippin's Tavern on Rush St. (My Favorite)

Quote of the day.

Hey loves, happy Thursday! Make today a fantastic one for you because like I always say, you deserve it more then you think you do. It's another gorgeous, crisp day in New York City and I plan on enjoying it's beauty after work by running my little heart out. 

This morning I'm enjoying the new Beyonce Album, 4 (Awesome by the way!) and a yummy coffee. I find some great music and a coffee are the perfect tools to aid in my writing. Which I never thought in my wildest dreams I would love to do as much as I do. Writing has really become a new found passion of mine and I thank you for reading my random thoughts, what interests me and daily experiences, it really means the world to me. 

Tomorrow is the big day ladies and gents, I am meeting with the owner of the Secret Garden, to talk about running Yoga by Meg out of her spa. This is a big moment in life, I am getting to the place I've been searching for and it's exciting, scary, nerve wracking and a bunch of other things. I'll be sure to keep you posted with how tomorrow turns out. 

I'll also be announcing the July GIVEAWAY tomorrow, July 1st at 12 Noon! Its a great GIVEAWAY, I think you are all going to go bananas over it, so be sure to stay tuned for the big announcement. 

William Watch 2011: Day 17! Another day and still no William, this baby is being stubborn. We are now hoping for a July 1st arrival, which is tomorrow. July 1st was my awesome Uncle Tommy's birthday and he tragically passed away in 2009, we miss him dearly and it would be so cool if William could share the day with Tommy. So come on William, July 1st, July 1st, July 1st! I know Uncle Tommy will give you all the good vibrations you'll ever need and you'll be our little beach boy. 

Today's quote isn't so much a quote but more a list of secrets to a successful adulthood. This list comes from a great book I am reading by Gretchen Rubin called, The Happiness Project. My friend suggested this book to me, she said, "If you loved Bethenny Frankel's, A Place of Yes, then you must check out, The Happiness Project." Well, so far so good, I will definitely be writing a more in depth post about, The Happiness Project, as soon as I finish it up. 

I really dig the "Secrets of Adulthood" list Gretchen composed, it's a pretty simple way of seeing  things. When things get a little hectic in your life, it's nice to read things like this list, that put things into a clear perspective. 
Compliments of Tumblr.
Enjoy, Love and Live Life!

Secrets of Adulthood

  • People don't notice your mistakes as much as you think.
  • It's okay to ask for help.
  • Most decisions don't require extensive research.
  • Do good, feel good.
  • It's important to be nice to everyone.
  • Bring a sweater.
  • By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.
  • Soap and water remove most stains.
  • Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.
  • If you can't fond something, clean up.
  • You can choose what you do; you can't choose what you like to do.
  • Happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.
  • What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
  • You don't have to be good at everything.
  • If your not failing, you're not trying hard enough.
  • Over-the-counter medicines are very effective.
  • Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good
  • What's fun for other people may not be fun for you-and vice versa.
  • People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry.
  • You can't profoundly change your children's natures by nagging them or signing them up for classes.
  • No deposit, no return.
-Gretchen Rubin

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Everything you need to know, Chicago: Part Two

Saturday,(Day 2)we got an early start, we wanted to make sure we got in a full day of activites in the Chi, just like Day 1 of our Chicago adventure . We headed out for a light breakfast across the street from our hotel, The Corner Bakery on North St.Clair Street. This was a great little spot that was hopping with people getting ready to start their day. There are multiple Corner Bakery locations in Chicago.

I ordered a breakfast scrambler that was delicious and a much needed cappuccino. Kyle got a yummy breakfast sandwich, he was satisfied by it's goodness. We enjoyed our breakfast at an outside table, the weather was perfect, warm and breezy. During breakfast we planned out our day and decided our next stop would be Navy Pier.

Enjoying the beautiful morning in Chicago.
I love him.
Great Breakfast Spot.
My Egg Scrambler.
Kyle's Breakfast Sandwich.

We walked to Navy Pier from our Hotel on St. Clair and Ohio Street which took us about ten minutes. The Navy Pier is a must see when visiting Chicago, I've been to the city numerous times and this was my first trip to the Pier, I was excited. It is definitely a tourist spot, so I would go there earlier in the day before it gets too crowded.

The Navy Pier consists of shops, restaurants, museums, and rides. One of those rides being the famous Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, which we had to go on. We picked up our tickets, $6.00 per person and headed to the Ferris Wheel line, it was about a five minute wait to get on the wheel, which wasn't that bad at all.

The Ferris Wheel is beautiful, it was such a throwback. It went very slow, which allowed us time to take plenty of photos. The view from the Ferris Wheel was amazing, you got a perfect view from the Chicago Skyline, Lake Michigan and it was so cool seeing the hustle and bustle of the city below us.

I love that we took opportunity to visit Navy Pier, it was an experience I will never forget. I must say that it was also a very romantic spot.

Navy Pier, a must see.

The rides at Navy Pier.
Ferris Wheel.
Riding the Ferris Wheel.
View from the top.

After Navy Pier we hopped in a Cab and headed up to Lincoln Park, which became my must live spot if I ever live in Chicago. Lincoln park would remind you of Brooklyn Heights in New York, it has a city feel but it's a little more relaxed. Brownstones line the streets, along with restaurants and cute little shops. I felt as though we walked into a "Pleasantville", everyone was out and about, there were numerous food festivals going on and what sold me was the dog culture. Everyone had a dog, this was the place for me. 

We stopped at a local Starbucks got some Iced Coffees and decided to walk up to Boy's Town where our good friend Zach lives, check out the area and grab some lunch. 

Boy's Town is another awesome spot in Chicago, it would be the equivalent to Chelsea in Manhattan. We met up with Zach and looked for a place to get some grub. We were walking when I looked at this restaurant and said, "this looks like it could be in Greece." Sure enough it was a Greek Restaurant, we said that we would only go in if they served Saganaki, our favorite Greek cheese dish. Well, we hit the jackpot, they had Saganaki. I have to admit, I was excited to have some Greek cuisine. Was I admitting that I missed our Greek experience?  

The name of the restaurant was Melanthios, the menu was large and we were hungry, the best of both worlds. We ordered two types of Saganaki, classic and feta, they were both amazing and I was having flashbacks of Athens after every bite. I had some chicken and pork skewers, Kyle had a lamb gyro and Zach had a chicken pita. All the food was yummy and definitely hit the spot. Then came the dessert.

For dessert we couldn't help ourselves and ordered an array of Greek delights including, rice pudding, homemade galaktoburiko and homemade baclava. The rice pudding was delicious, the galaktoburiko which is sweet cream custard wrapped in filo dough was out of this world amazing. The baclava which is Greek delicacy and my go to for Greek desserts was also very yummy. To say we were stuffed would be an understatement. I haven't had a lunch that large in a very long time and I think I was most definitely in a food coma.

We said goodbye to Zach and headed back to our hotel, to take our midday nap and get ready for the evening to come. We'd be joining Zach once again for dinner at Hub51 aka Foodie Heaven.

Yummy Greek Food.


Feta Saganaki.
Chicken and Pork Skewers.

Lamb Gyro.

Rice Pudding.
Homemade Galaktoburiko

Hub51 is located on Hubbard Street and is a must visit if you take a trip to Chicago. We were lucky enough to get a reservation, let's just say Zach had some pull. The set up of this restaurant is very cool, dimming lit lighting, with exposed oak beams, this is a restaurant where people go to be seen, I was going to eat some great cuisine and enjoy some great company.

We started with a round of Prickly Pear Margarita's, I am a big lover of margarita's, (Thank you Bethenny Frankle!) Hub51 impressed me because they make all of their rita's "skinny" using agave nectar. The Prickly Pear was so refreshing and a cool spin on your classic margarita.

Kyle and I put our trust in Zach when it came to ordering off the menu, he's had experience here at Hub so we knew he'd lead us in the right direction. For appetizers we went for the sushi, let me just preface this by saying I love sushi and I am very particular about my sushi, if it tastes too fishy it's a no go. Hub51 blew me away with their Sushi selection, their take on classic rolls were very creative.

We ordered Spicy Tuna  which was more like a spicy tuna bruschetta, the tuna was on top of braised crusted rice. It was out of this world good, the tuna fresh with a little kick and the rice was cooked perfectly. I vowed that I would learn how to make this fantastic dish.

Next was the BBQ Eel Roll, I always hesitate when ordering an eel roll, because they sometimes end up tasting too fishy for my liking. This however, was amazing, the eel had a more meaty consistency and paired with fresh avocado and a yummy BBQ glaze, I couldn't even tell that I was eating eel.

Along with the Eel Roll we ordered a Tuna Thai Basil Roll, which was also amazing. The great thing about these sushi rolls was that they didn't leave you feeling to full, they were perfect. 

After digesting a bit, it was on to round two. For this portion of the meal we mixed it up a bit, starting with the Shrimp Ceviche with tortilla chips. This was such a refreshing dish, a mix of diced shrimp, tomato, red onion and avocado matched up with crispy tortilla chips.

We ordered some more sushi, trying the very delicious Miso Glazed Salmon Roll. The Salmon was perfect, not too fishy and very smooth. We topped off this round of food with some simple sweet potato fries, which even though simple, they were brilliant, cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside, mushy goodness on the inside.

Once we were done consuming all this amazing food, we took a little drink break to prepare for the grandiose dessert Zach warned us about. For this round of drinks I wanted to try something that caught my eye on the menu earlier, the Chipotle Margarita. I am so happy I ordered this drink, it's made with Hanger One Chipotle Vodka, Cazadores Reposado Tequila and Agave Nectar. It's exactly what you think it would taste like but better, it's very smooth with a little kick at the end. You could say it's the dinner version of a Bloody Mary.

The men at the table went with the Hub Punch, which Hub51 actually has on tap. Hub Punch is Bacardi Dragon Berry mixed with "Secret" ingredients. It looked so refreshing that I had to sample, it was a superb concoction and not overly sweet.

Now onto my favorite part of the Hub51 experience, dessert. We ordered a the Chocolate Pie "smore'd" style, which is chocolate pie with roasted marshmallows on top. This was the most wonderful dessert experience I've had in a long time. It tasted like a hot cocoa, whoever invented this pie could win should win a Noble Prize. (A little far fetched, maybe.)  After tasting heaven we had the Lemon Ice Box Pie, another dessert masterpiece. A perfect dessert after eating the amount of food we did, it was refreshing and cool.

Hub51 was awesome and I will definitely be going back for dinner in the future and I recommend to anyone visiting Chicago. It's the place to go for a great night, great food and great drinks.
Prickly Pear Margarita
Tuna Thai Basil.


BBQ Eel Roll.

Tuna Thai Basil
Shrimp Ceviche
Miso Glazed Salmon Roll.
Sweet Potato Fries.
Chipotle Margarita.
Hub Punch.
Chocolate Pie Smore'd.
Lemon Ice Box Pie.
Once we concluded dinner, we still wanted to party. We headed over to a bar in Bucktown which is right outside the city. The bar was advertising an open mic night. When the cab dropped us off and we looked inside the bar, we decided to keep walking, we didn't want to die, it looked rather seedy. We did however see a group of people lined up down the street, so we walked over to check it out.

The line was outside the Gorilla Tango Theater, the were buying tickets for, Boobs and Goombas, a Super Mario Brothers Burlesque. Yes, you just read that correctly. Since we were a little buzzed and feeling spontaneous, we purchased tickets at $20 a piece and were ready to see what this was all about.

Well, talk about an experience I'll never forget, this burlesque was comical. A group of ten women reenacting the Super Mario Brothers game of my youth, it was a little more risque then I remembered but highly entertaining. Kyle and Zach seemed to enjoy themselves as well, which made me happy.

Kyle and I at Boobs and Goombas.
The Boobs and Goombas Cast.

It was indeed a night to remember, I couldn't wait to see what Sunday in Chicago would bring.

Great Spots to Check Out in Chicago
  • The Corner Bakery (Breakfast Spot) on St. Clair
  • The Navy Pier
  • Melanthios Greek Char House in Boys Town on Broadway
  • Hub51 (Awesome) on Hubbard Street
  • Boobs and Goombas (Different) Bucktown, Gorilla Tango Theater
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