Tag Archives: Chicago

Our Big-City Adventure

As you can tell from my breakfast post yesterday, JP and I left our suburban life for a visit to the “big city” or Chicago, rather, this past weekend. We had plans to visit the Christkindlmarket at the Daley Plaza – it’s a cute little set up of German, Irish, Polish ancestry all in celebration of the Christmas holiday. You can find traditional ornaments, fun knick-knacks, yummy snacks like brats and toasted almonds, and even sip on some hot apple cider or German brews.

christmas tree at christkindlmarket

christmas tree at christkindlmarket

We went on a Saturday, which was our first mistake. It was the first week of the market, which was our second mistake. Although, adorable – the market was crammed with people making it super hard to move around, and even worse if you actually wanted to window shop or look at the goods at the different vendor shops. We were packed in like cattle and were not able to get near some of the booths. I was able to stop off and get some cappucino flavored toasted almonds but when JP wanted hot apple cider, we took one look at the 25+ person long line and kept moving past the stand.

what a mess!

what a mess! – sorry for the horrible iphone pic!

Talking to some pros that have been to the market (after the fact, of course) they instructed that during the day, during the week is the best time to go. Less visitors and tourists and it’s easy navigation to get around the various booths. We will keep that in mind for next year – because really, who has a random day off of work during the week?

My advice? Try to go during the week when it’s less crazy. Try not to bring your children’s baby carriage into the market – it’s too crowded for that. And avoid during the weekends at all costs. Other than that, it seemed like an adorable market and I really wish we were able to spend more time there and to taste and see all that the market had to offer. Instead – we opted for some fun city photos on our way back to the parking garage.

kindle3

Eat Chicago: Yolk

We are big breakfast food people. Like “will-drag-ourselves-out-of-bed-at-the-crack-of-dawn” for a good breakfast, type of people. So when we were in the city this past weekend, we had the opportunity to expand on our usual breakfast haunts and try some place new! We stumbled upon a cute diner called Yolk located in the River North neighborhood of the city. Obviously, from the name you can tell that eggs are their big thang. And it showed.

yolk1

Walking in – we saw a cute yellow and blue designed diner with booths, tables and even diner-bar seating. We were seated quickly and provided with menus that boasted everything from your classic egg combos and omelettes to yummy crepes and french toast. I settled on the classic eggs benedict – seriously, if I’m ever somewhere where I have a feeling they could have a great hollandaise sauce – then I’m all over it. And the menus at Yolk boasted that their eggs benny was top ranked in the city – yes, sir! And because I was starving and such a pig – I was the worst food blogger ever and didn’t snap a picture of my yummy meal.

yolk2

But I will whole-heartedly tell you it was delicious. The hollandaise was creamy and delicious – compared to the hollandaise at my favorite Wildberry, it was missing a tad bit of kick that the sauce at Wildberry has – but it was still really good. I think my eggs were sitting for a tad (we were told there was a 40 person catering ordering come out at the same time as our meal) because although the first poached egg that was cracked was runny and extra yolky – the second egg was not as much. The eggs benedict were served with a side of red breakfast potatoes that were delicious with a seasoning and a hearty side of fruit including honeydew, pineapple, grapes and orange slices.

Lots of food – will totally leave you full in breakfast food happy land. Yummy coffee and friendly waitstaff. And totally a cute, kid friendly place in the city.

Bear Down! Self-Tour of Soldier Field

After hanging out with my nephew Caiden at the Shedd Aquarium for this 4th birthday on Saturday, JP and I had some time to burn before we had to be back home in the suburbs that evening. We ended up parking in the Soldier Field/Museum parking lot, so figured to tour the outside of Soldier Field for a little bit before we hopped back in the car.

front of Soldier Field

front of Soldier Field

We stopped to admire the waterfall honoring all of the branches of the US military, and we spotted the Air Force medallion, in which JP took a picture by. Her dad served in the US Air Force, so it was cool to snap a picture of that.

JP and the Air Force medallion at Solder Field

JP and the Air Force medallion at Solder Field

It was nice to actually take in the architecture of the building, since the last time I was there it was freezing and we were hurrying into the stadium with thousands of other fans for the Bears v. Packers game. The outside of the park has such beautiful architecture and was deemed as a historical institution, so when the new Bears field was built a few years ago, the builders had to build the park inside the shell of the old park, as they weren’t able to tear down the original building. I’m kinda glad because those columns sure are a pretty sight.

row of military medallions at Soldier Field

row of military medallions at Soldier Field

We also just walked the grounds and took pictures outside the front of the stadium and got some cool shots of things special to us – like our favorite numbers (mine is 13!). The weather was great and it was nice to just walk around with her and enjoy the sunshine with no rush or agenda.

#13 represent!

#13 represent!

me and JP on our "tour"

me and JP on our “tour”

What’s your favorite football team? Player? Why? I’m a born and raised Bears fan! Bear Down Chicago Bears!

Celebrating Little Man’s 4th Birthday

My nephew Caiden turned four yesterday and over the weekend we met up with his parents and some friends for a trip to the Shedd Aquarium downtown Chicago.

opening his birthday present

opening his birthday present

Caiden loves fish, so it was definitely a trip he was excited about and gave us the chance to get some sweet nephew time in, in celebration of him. I can’t believe he’s already four! I remember when he was born and just being a baby barely walking.  Now he’s grown into a real person with his own personality and it’s really kinda of awesome/special to see him transforming as he grows up.

looking for fish with his aunt JP

looking for fish with his aunt JP

We had a great time navigating all the “areas” of fish species at the aquarium, and saw a huge reef turtle chopping on some yummy snacks in the main Caribbean tank. I just wish time would slow down a little bit because before I know it we’ll be celebrating his 14th birthday!

Caiden with his favorite aunts!

Caiden with his favorite aunts!

 

Eat Chicago: The GrillRoom (and Book of Mormon Review)

JP and I had a date night last week where we headed into the city on a Tuesday night (gasp!) and had a wonderful dinner and then saw Book of Mormon at Bank of America Theater. I’ve been so excited since we got the  tickets because I’ve heard amazing things about the show.  We made reservations at The GrillRoom which is conveniently located directly across the street from the Bank of America Theater, and were able to see when the doors to the theater officially opened to let guests in – so it was nice to sip on our drinks and enjoy dinner until we were ready to head over ourselves.

The restaurant was so cute, with a big patio shaded by a large business building, and the entry boasted large windows to let light into the dark interior. Inside the venue is decorated with dark wood and a brown color palette and is reminiscent of the 20s or 30s throw-back era, with adorable signs and basic decoration. Our table was literally in the second row, the last one to the left. She’s a beaut.

Our server was very friendly and took our order promptly. We were served with very warm bread and yummy butter as we waited for our drinks. The rolls got super hard though, if you didn’t eat them warm so beware! For an appetizer we started with the baked goat cheese which was in the middle of yummy sweet marinara and served with warm flaky puff pastries. It was amazing and we dove in so fast, that by the time I realized I didn’t take a picture, we were already half-way through the plate. Seriously though, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. A definite MUST!

For our entrees, JP got the steak and ordered a separate side (they are served separately) but were were told on multiple occasions (and even heard other waiters telling their tables) that the sides were large share-able portions. I picked the daily special which was a petite filet mignon, wrapped in bacon and topped with a blue cheese crust. It was served with garlic mashed potatoes and spinach. I’m not a fan of spinach and wasn’t able to trade it out so JP was kind enough to eat it for me and I shared her grilled asparagus side with her.  (I apologize for the awful pic. It was so dark in there and I was trying not to draw attention to me with a flash!)

petite filet mignon

petite filet mignon

I loved the meal and thought it was so delicious. JP enjoyed hers, as well, but thought it was over-garlicked. She ended up having to stop eating because she couldn’t take all the garlic used. I’m a HUGE garlic fan so I dove right in, of course. My overall opinion was that it was a delicious restaurant and so very convenient to the show. We made reservations via Open Table, but when we arrived (and even when we left) there were plenty of tables open and even large parties were seated quickly. Not sure if that’s the same case on the weekends, as we were there on a Tuesday night, but it was nice to be able to grab food before being out for the night.

Now – on to the Book of Mormon. I’ve heard rave reviews of the show and because it’s leaving Chicago in October, I wanted to make sure that JP and I were able to see it. We love trying new things and enjoyed our time at Sound of Music last year, that we were excited to see this show.  We were seated in the mezzanine level in the second to last row, which was kind of a pain because the rows were a bit tight so I had trouble seeing the stage as the guy seated in front of me (and in front of JP) were pretty tall. We had to crane our neck to catch most of the show. What I loved about the performance was that it was HILARIOUS! It provided a direct insight into the workings of the Mormon faith, with obviously fun-poking happening throughout. If you’re sensitive towards bad language or even religion, steer clear, because even though it’s a mostly wacky show it’s still filled with raunchy jokes and some “Oh my God!” moments (no pun intended). Below is the opening scene, as displayed at the Tony Awards this past season:

(The guy who plays Elder Price in the clip above is in the Chicago show playing the same character). There were some parts that dragged but I think it was mostly because I was EXHAUSTED from work. My favorite character was Elder Cunningham, which is that wacky non-conforming Mormon. The actor who played this character was Ben Platt who played Benji from Pitch Perfect (one of my favorite movies).  The play is about two Mormon missionaries that are assigned to Uganda for their mission, in which they learn about the culture and try to push their message forward while hitting some bumps in the road along the way. Definitely hilarious, definitely worth seeing before it leaves Chicago.

Hawks Win!

Happy Tuesday, ya’ll! Did you watch the Stanley Cup playoffs last night? It was an amazing Game 6 that had me biting my nails throughout – especially when Boston went ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 early on in the game. My dad is a huge hockey fan and passed his love of the game down to me. It’s one of the best sports out there!

But the Hawks were able to pull away a HUGE win by scoring a pair of goals within 17 seconds of each other right before regulation time ended. Exhilarating fashion and it least it didn’t go into OT which they have been doing the past few games! Seriously, I’ve been up way past my bedtime! The city of Chicago has been on fire since the win last night, with people flooding the streets, cheering for their boys as they head home and make their rounds across the city today. We even have a parade scheduled for Friday, holla! So even though it’s our second time with the Cup in the past 3 seasons – we’re loving every second of it… and realizing sometimes it’s even better the second time around!

Eat: McNamara’s Bar and Grill

Sunday was the last day of playoffs for my all-women’s winter volleyball league. We had our first game at 10 am and then had a gap until our next game which was at 1 pm. That meant that the ladies were starving and on the hunt for food during that couple hour time frame. Five of us piled into my Vivian and headed out in the neighborhood to see if we could find a bar and grill or restaurant. After driving a little ways, we struck out and decided to head down Irving Park Rd to see what else was over there. We spotted a bar and grill tucked in the corner of Lowell and Irving Park Rd., in Chicago’s Old Irving neighborhood. It looked pretty dark, but a small chalkboard sign out in front stated that it served breakfast from 10 am – 2 pm. A bar serving breakfast? We were in!

McNamara’s seemed like a cute little Irish pub with some outdoor seating and a green and yellow color palette – pretty typical. Entering from the bar side, we were quickly greeted by a man with menus in hand who asked if we were interested in sitting the the dining area (apparently in a different room because you walked immediately into a small bar) or the bar area. Because basketball was on the TVs, we opted to sit in the bar area.

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