Monday, June 20, 2011

Chicago Eating

Dear Jess,

I do not have recipes for this entry. Instead I have a story with food included.

Wednesday evening I flew back home after spending 4 days in Chicago for the NeoCon Convention in the Merchandise Mart. My dad sent me there to gain knowledge in regards to furniture and design. I was able to meet up with our London team and tour around with them. I learned so much and it really got me excited about design and colour as applied to our business. I met some 'high up' people in companies that we design/deal with regularly.

There are so many things/places to see in Chicago. Since the convention took up so much of our time we were limited with how much of it we could see. That being said... what we did see was a blast.

Rachel Ray did a survey for North America's best Hot Dog. Lucky Number One was Gene & Jude's. This is where our culinary escapade began. You walk up to it and realize that the people packed into the tiny restaurant are not sitting, they are actually standing in a line that is twisted and turned all throughout the 'waiting space'. We waited for about half an hour in this line filled with people waiting for wedding receptions to start, people in between flights who came there for a snack, tourists like us and locals who just can't get enough. I ordered a Double Dog with Fries (which only cost me a little over $2) with everything on it (mustard, relish, onions and hot tamale peppers.) Chicago doesn't believe in Ketchup. I didn't miss it as much as I initially thought I would. I got my order in a paper bag and took it outside (there was no room to eat inside.) We all sat down and dug in.

A Double Dog is two wieners in one bun. On top of that you get your condiments and on top of that you get your fries! It looks like something from This is Why Your Fat. But I hadn't eaten since 11am, and it was now 8pm. I dug in. And even though it doesn't look like much, it was so tasty! I would definitely say it has earned its title on Rachel Ray's list. That being said, I wouldn't eat it more than once every five years due to the crazy amounts of grease, salt and sugar you consume. For a treat though, it is worth it.

We stayed at Ray's Bucktown Bed and Breakfast. I must say that I will make it a point of staying here again. Bucktown is a little section of Chicago. It has lots of very unique stores and cafes such as The T-shirt Deli, Hot Chocolate, as well as many little clothing boutiques and more. I had the Skylight Room which I loved. The whole house was decorated with odd mugs, jars, books, magazines, furniture and art. The service was wonderful and welcoming.  We thoroughly enjoyed breakfast there every morning. We met Ray on the last day and he was so charming and helpful. He told us 'I'm one of those guys who hated Bed and Breakfasts, so I thought I would be the perfect guy to open one!' He really has created something unique and special. I can't wait to return!

Dinner was needed after the first day. We had been walking around all day (up and down stairs, back and forth through isles, and in and out of booths.) Some of us hadn't eaten lunch and were extremely hungry. We soon found ourselves at Uno's Pizza. It's a very quaint little place full of darkly stained wood and round tables. Uno's is famous for their Deep Dish Pizza. The walls are full of names and dates of people who have sharpie'd their mark there. (We added ours as well.) We found some as old as the early 1970's. Very cool. We were informed that it was 45 minutes to an hour wait for a table of 6. They took our order while we were waiting because the pizzas are made from scratch and take 45 minutes. We ordered a Deluxe and a 4 Cheese Pesto. All I can say is 'wow.' I would now willingly wait over an hour to get a pizza there. Amazingly delicious.

And then it was Day Two at the Convention. We stayed there until 1pm. It gave us enough time to see everything that we had missed the day before. We had lunch at Maggiano's Little Italy. I had the Chopped Salad and a cup of soup. The salad was huge! In it was chopped Iceberg lettuce, crispy prosciutto, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers and a few other things. The place is very classy. They have a grand piano in the front window that has been turned into a table. The music was classic Sinatra and the service was excellent.

After shopping on Michigan Avenue, we ventured over to Lawry's for some Prime Rib Dinner. When you walked into this place it is huge. There are chandeliers, fancy carpet, spiral staircases... so beautiful. The servers are in super formal uniforms, and go by 'Miss' or 'Mr' rather than first names. The tables are round and covered with white linens. On the website you can look up the history and see pictures, but oh man was it delicious. We all split a bottle of wine and watched as the 'Master Carver' wheeled over the meat and asked us what cut we would like and how we like it cooked. I ordered the California Cut done Medium Rare. It did not disappoint!

We then rushed to see The Blue Man Group. If you have not seen them yet, GO! It's hysterical! Do it.

Following the show we went to the Chicago Water Tower Place Signature Lounge. It's on the 96th floor! I tried to take some pictures, but none of them really turned out very well. (I pulled a few from Google Images to give you some visuals.) We had drinks and dessert there. They are open until 12:30am. This is another place I will go out of my way to see again! So beautiful!

I hope your doing well. Let me know what you're up to when you get a chance! I can't wait to hang out again soon.

I love you,

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