One Little Reason I Love Chicago

I have lived in this house, in this neighborhood, for 10 years now.  Hubby and I love anything having to do with food… cooking, restaurants…but in particular… we like the eating!  I’d like to think I know all of the hip places, the great hole-in-the-wall spots, and the local gems around here.  After all… we take our hobbies seriously.  I scour magazines for recipes, I collect cookbooks and I read up on every restaurant opening, chef change, and menu tweak happening throughout Chicago.

So how in the world did I NOT know about Las Tablas on Lincoln Avenue??  Apparently it has been in existence almost as long as we’ve lived here!

It all began many months ago with my morning Groupon email.  In it was an offering at Las Tablas Columbian Steakhouse.  Well, we like steak!  My Godfather is Columbian… what’s not to like?  Of course I’ll buy the Groupon.

Fast-forward to this week.  In going through all of my Groupons (99% of them being for restaurants) I see that this one will expire at the end of the month.  Sounds like a mid-week date night to me!!  So off we go.

Another shocker — this place is easy walking distance from our house….seriously, like a half mile!!  We have never seen it before.  We walk into the cute family run restaurant and notice that, while the restaurant itself is filling up quickly.  The bar is blissfully empty.  And what’s this?  The Cubs game is on??  Say no more!  We sit down and start to peruse the menu.  Oh my… skirt steak, ribeye, chicken, chorizo…. so many choices how will we ever decide?  Our wonderfully charming bartender Mario suggests the Picada Colombiana — the sampler platter for two.

The rest… as they say…. is history. Everything was incredibly good, but the skirt steak was sensational!  A wonderful evening with a fabulous date, enjoying a complete and total meat-stravaganza!  Gotta love Chicago!  And yes… I’m still full!

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Serendipity

Caruso

I love it when a plan comes together…. even when I didn’t know I had a plan.  This morning I began my morning walk from the Lincoln Park Zoo back home as I do several times a week.

First off, a confession:  There is another man in my life.  His name is Caruso and, well… how do I put this?  He’s a lesser ape.  A White-Cheeked Gibbon to be exact.  Anyway, we have had our little “thing” for many years now.  He definitely recognizes me and greets me whenever I stop by.  If the weather is cold and he’s inside, I get a little dance from him.  If the weather is nice (like it was this morning), he swings over to me and sings a little song.  This connection between us always brightens my day and can easily count as my Quick Qi all on its own.

This morning was the first time in many months that I saw him outside. He immediately swung over and chattered out his greeting song and then proceeded to sit by me and suck his thumb.  Normal procedure — I don’t judge.

As I said my farewell and headed off home, I was thinking to myself how wonderful it was that the weather had finally changed and warmed up and I was enjoying all the fabulous landscaping and spring flowers that abound at the zoo as I put in my iPod and hit “play” for my walk/jog home.

First song up?  http://youtu.be/PXuIiHKk0H0 .  My all-time favorite artist, Jamie Cullum singing one of his best.  These are the days…. indeed!

It’s Official!

Spring has finally sprung here in Chicago and along with it comes the return of one of my all-time favorite events — the outdoor Green City Market in Lincoln Park.  This also marks the return of one of my beloved rituals.

First some info on my obsession with rituals.  The make me very happy.  They give order and pleasure to my life and make me take a moment….stop…think…enjoy.  Now, I’m not talking about big events or superstitions.  I’m talking about taking the time to do things correctly because you’re worth it.  For example, tea.  I will always use a teakettle to bring water to the boil.  I will never simply put a mug in the microwave.  It’s not right.  It’s not the way things should be done.  The same thing with microwave popcorn… please!!  Not gonna do it… wouldn’t be prudent.  Take the time to use a pot, real oil, real popcorn… and most importantly… real butter.

But I digress… today’s ritual.  Every Wednesday morning while the Green City Market is outdoors in Lincoln Park, I jog/walk the 2.5 miles from home to the market and to reward myself for the midweek morning exercise, I buy a brioche roll from a local bakery.  I casually nibble on the roll while I buy my week’s veggies, fruits, cheeses and other breads.  And so it began this morning.

As for my Quick Qi – I was wandering around the market observing the flowers that are finally starting to bloom and the trees bursting with buds when I noticed a new vendor selling pizzas and breads.  He had a warming tray and was handing out handmade mini doughnut holes dusted with cinnamon and sugar.  As I approached, he handed me one and said: “Please take one and enjoy…. congratulate yourself for surviving another Chicago winter.”  Don’t mind if I do!