Archive for February 2010

28 February 2010

Weekend recap: Restaurant Week food awesomeness

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, Food

Happy Sunday everyone!

After working last weekend in Houston, my weekend was pretty boring, meaning, this post could be lame.

So to avoid potential lameness, I decided to talk about Chicago Restaurant Week, which ends today. Restaurant Week is one of my favorite things about the city.

For two weeks, select restaurants in Chicago offer prix fixe lunches and dinners at $22 and $32 respectively to get people in their doors. It’s a great way to visit a bunch of restaurants and not break the bank. You can read about last year’s Restaurant Week adventures here.

When Restaurant Week is also announced, productivity goes way down in my office for a few hours. Getting reservations is difficult at certain places and I usually have multiple people call the “must go to” places, trying to see who gets through.

This year, I went to three places: Naha, Piccolo Sogno and Tizi Melloul. And not to tease, but some food porn is below.

Piccolo Sogno – Grade: A

Favorite dish: Wide noodles with spiced wild boar stew

Tasted like pot roast with egg noodes, but a BILLION times better

Naha – Grade: A+

Favorite dishes: Pork Belly and Organic Carnaroli Risotto with Matsutake Mushrooms, Roasted Zucchini, Tender Leaf Spinach, Parmesan Reggiano and Thyme and “Open-Faced” Banana Tartlette, Spiced Rum, Toasted Cashews, Vanilla Chiboust “Custard” and Salted Caramel

There are no words to describe how delicious this was. Absolutely perfect.

I cleaned this plate. And almost licked it too

Tizi Melloul – Grade: B

Favorite dish: Fire-roasted prince edward island mussels, warm harissa butter

(Restaurant had bad lighting which is why this picture sucks)

Never had mussels served like this before. Amazing. I would go back just for that dish

More pictures are available on my Flickr page too.

So there were a lot of good eats and atmosphere this week but I am excited to be back in my own kitchen and cooking for myself.

How was everyone else’s weekend? If you could pick one restaurant to go to for Restaurant Week, where would you go? Or what kind of things do you love to order when you go out?

25 February 2010

Amelie-inspired silliness

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Movies, Random, travel

I’m feeling a little silly today, a definite sign that it’s been a long week :) So I’m indulging my silliness with a little inspiration from one of my favorite movies, Amelie.

I love this movie. It makes me fall in love with Audrey Tatou and want to move to Paris stat.

I could only hope I would meet a cute Parisian boy like Nino (but would prefer he didn’t work in a porn store.) If you saw the movie, you know who I’m talking about.

I could gush about this movie for hours but one of my favorite parts of the movie is when she steals her father’s garden gnome and has it travel worldwide, mailing her father photos from various landmarks. Again, if you saw the movie, you know what I’m talking about.

So this weekend while I was in Houston, I got a little slap happy at the end of each day and took the horse toy that the Four Seasons gave me and took a few Amelie-inspired photos around my hotel room.

Take a look:

Sitting in bed, snacking on Texas Chewie Pecan Pralines (she had a long day and didn’t give up sweets for Lent)

Reading USA Today’s Life section (she loves her entertainment news)

Left her alone for too long and she found the mini-bar key. That’s gonna cost me. Such a boozer

My personal favorite: Updating Twitter. She’s so social media savvy!

Yeah, I got a little zany but come on, she’s updating Twitter and hitting the mini bar. How cute is that??

I never was a big stuffed animal person, but I think I’ll keep her around. But introducing her to Bubbles could be tough. She is very territorial.

Pretty sure I sound crazy now, I should go :)

Does anyone have big plans for the weekend? Or what was your favorite stuffed animal growing up as a kid?

Movie review update: Yes, I’m back to movie reviews today and I finally got to see A Single Man, Tom Ford’s directorial debut, check it out!

23 February 2010

What I gave up for Lent

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Food, work

Tis the season of Lent and this year, I’m giving up something I really love.

Chocolate candy.

That’s right, until Easter, there are no more morning (and afternoon) mini-candy breaks.

I have to say no to my beloved M&Ms, Almond Joys, Snickers and Milky Ways because I’m testing my willpower (mostly to see if there is any left) and trying to go without.

I must be out of my f*cking mind.

Candy is my friend! It’s also my biggest vice (next to drinking vodka for dinner sometimes).

When I’m stressed or need a quick fix, I always reach for it and I realized how bad the cravings have been lately when I found more than a handful of wrappers at my desk. It was really embarrassing. I don’t even remember eating some of them.

I’m trying to stay on the healthy living train but it’s been tough. I’ve been stressed lately and candy is how I cope. Then my cubemates set up an office challenge to see what everyone was giving up for Lent and made them write it on a chalkboard so we’re accountable for it. And after one last binge, I went up and wrote “chocolate candy.”

Some people think this is cheating and providing too many loopholes. Why? Because I’m not saying no to sweets or chocolate. I can still have Skittles and I can still have chocolate cakes or brownies but the point is, chocolate candy is what I crave the most so this keeps my goal attainable.

Plus, by getting rid of it from my diet, that will help me moderate consumption after Easter.

We’re not even a week in though and I’m struggling. I see chocolate candy in my office and I want it SO BAD. But I’ve remained strong. Here’s hoping next week is easier.

What about you? Did you give something up for Lent? Or what would you NEVER be able to give up? For me, it would be swearing or shopping. That’s not possible.

22 February 2010

Babies on a plane

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: travel

During my flight back to Houston, I was treated to a 2.5 hour flight with a screaming toddler sitting right behind me. And along with the wails and screams and cries, I received repeated kicks to my back.

Seriously, it was the best flight ever!

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate babies. They’re adorable. They’re entertained by giggles, tickles and peek-a-boos. And that fresh baby smell? Priceless. And lately, I’ve been a baby whisperer. Just sayin.

But even if you love kids (in small doses), I have never been on a flight where people don’t pale or hold their breath when a baby boards. Because you know, when a baby boards, there is a 50/50 chance that baby will start to cry. And you are praying that open seat next to or around you will not be filled by said child because loud cries in a confined space for several hours makes you want to kill yourself.

And this baby on my flight was a screamer. Goodness. She did not sleep at all during the flight and when she did calm down for 2 seconds, another baby (who must have snuck on the flight) started up.

When the plane landed in Chicago, people in the back of the plane got up and RAN to the front to be the first ones off. In 30 years of flying, I have never seen that happen, and I couldn’t blame them. I had a splitting headache and couldn’t get to sleep, making me super fussy.

But I get it, kids cry and sometimes they just need to cry it out, so there is no easy fix outside of tiring them out before the flight.

I need to look into buying those Bose noise canceling headphones though because this would have been the perfect test to that claim.

As soon as I got home, I took my birth control and remembered why the “No Way Baby” sign is at my desk.

Has this happened to you on a flight? How have you been able to survive that flight?

21 February 2010

Weekend recap: Houston!

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Friends, travel, work

Houston, we have  a problem.

I’m back from a business trip and Chicago is supposed to get 7+ inches of snow over the next 24 hours. Let’s hope that’s not a reality.

This weekend I went to the Lone Star state (first time!) for the Mom 2.0 conference where I got to see Katelin, meet Allison in person and make a new Twitter friend, Brittney.

And we did manage of spend some time together in the hotel bar, where we got a little rowdy talking about Dawson’s Creek, Twilight and pop culture. I may have also reenacted the birth scene in Breaking Dawn on my Blackberry cover too. And we may have been the loudest people there and screaming and hitting the table (in excitement) near Dooce and people on a date. That’s how we roll. And then we only got one photo together over the course of three days. FAIL.

But I did take a lot of random pictures because it was my first time staying in a Four Seasons hotel and ZOMG I would give my left tit to stay in another one. I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing it was. And it made me realize I might be grizzled, jaded city person.


Because the hotel service was amazing. I cannot gush about this enough. Staff always asked if I needed help, if I was having a good time, if I enjoyed my meals, pronounced my last name correctly, had turndown service, always smiled and delivered things to my room in the most timely manner I’ve ever seen. Even when my event had some bumps, people were there to help. I told everyone I ran into at the hotel how nice it was and how blown away I was by the service. The kitchen staff even brought food out to my booth for me and my co-workers to eat because we usually ate last or not at all. I mean, seriously?

So the jaded part comes in response to this over-attentiveness. The first day when people asked if I needed help, I said, yes or no, by day three, I was like, “why? what’s your game?”

How sad is that? People are trying to be nice and I’m thinking they’re doing it insincerely. I’m ashamed of myself and my city-attitude.

I’m going to be uploading my oodles of photos to my Flickr page over the next few days but for tonight, I leave you with a picture of me and my co-workers with the Chipmunks. Yes, you heard me correctly. And no, it’s not  coincidence I’m standing near Alvin :)

How was everyone else’s weekend? What is your favorite Chipmunk? Or what is the nicest hotel you’ve ever stayed in?

Review blog update: Gasp, I updated my review and it’s not a movie review this time! Check out my review of CoverGirl’s Lash Blast mascara.