‘Chicago’ Category

23 July 2013

One of those days

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, Random

Sometimes, you have one of those days where it’s like you’re living your own clumsy romantic comedy, minus the guy, chance encounter, fabulous apartment and clothing you could not afford if you tried, well, you know what I mean.

Yesterday was one of those days, where (no kidding), the following all happened:

  • Hear Kate is in labor and almost make my phone fly off the elliptical machine trying to frantically text my friends
  • Get to work and while exiting my desk, make an embarrassing noise that sounds like, well, farts (it wasn’t)
  • Use the stall that doesn’t have toilet paper and find out too late
  • Spill food on my new dress
  • Push multiple times against a glass door that turns out NOT to be the door but just a piece of glass
  • Have a full Marilyn moment in that new dress after dinner with friends

Oh, and after that Marilyn moment, thinking I totally got away with it (despite my friend throwing herself on me to maintain my decency), we walk down the street and a guy who was outside smoking said, “yeah, I saw that.”


Thus today, I wore a tarp and pants with a layer under my shirt because I don’t give shit away for free. I’m in my 30s, too old for that.

11 December 2012

Why I love Michigan Avenue’s lights

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, Random

So, work has been a little (a lot) crazy which is why I have been on a blogging hiatus, but I’m back and ready to talk holidays!

I love celebrating the holidays in Chicago. Even when it’s bitter cold and covered in snow, I love, love, love the city at the holidays.

And my favorite part of it isn’t the magical Christmas train or Christkindlmarket in Daley Square, it’s the lighting of Michigan Avenue.

I know, I make it sound like it’s the greatest thing ever, but really, it’s just the trees down Michigan Avenue being wrapped in white Christmas lights.

It’s literally just that. But to me, it’s more because it’s my first real Chicago memory.

Growing up in Wisconsin, going to Chicago was a treat. You were going to the city and it was a treat. You got to go shopping on Michigan Avenue, which has the same stores as back home, but it was different. Because it was the city and they had different stuff or you just felt a bit cooler because it wasn’t bought in Wisconsin, it was bought in Chicago.

And every year, after the holiday, we would come down to Chicago for a day. Go shopping, grab something to eat, and maybe hit up a few sites. Depends what we were in the mood for.

But along with the holiday shopping, we made it a point to walk down Michigan Avenue to see the lights. We would walk from the Wrigley Building to the Hancock Building and just soak in the view and the glow they emitted. I don’t know why it felt so awesome and so holiday but it did. And I looked forward to that visit every year.

Now that I live here, I get to see the lights any time I want, and while it may sound cheesy and I complain about the tourist clogging up Michigan Avenue to shop and clog up the sidewalks, I still love it as much as I did as a kid.

I mean, look at this.

And starting this week, I’ll walk down Michigan Avenue and just let myself take in the scene and enjoy it. It’s nice to relive those memories, even as an adult.

What’s new with everyone else?? What are your favorite holiday memories?

06 November 2012

Election Day: Four years later

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago

Four years ago today, I ran outside of my apartment to get in line to vote and felt a thrill of doing my civic duty.

Four years ago today, I stood with six friends in Grant Park and watched CNN announce the new president, feeling the crowd (and the city) explode with excitement and hear the president-elect make his first words.

And now, four years later, today is Election Day, yet again. And like Groundhog Day, I woke up and stood in line to do my civic duty.

Election Day in Chicago is different, probably because our local ties to the current president (as of this afternoon). There is something here that is just electric and buzzing and feeling like it’s on the verge of something big.

In Chicago, the turnout for early voting has been huge. Lines of 2.5 hours, people weaving down the sidewalk and sharing pictures and stories of just waiting to vote, something that doesn’t take a lot of time, but something they felt was their right do to, especially this year.

In reality, Chicago is a Democratic state, so many feel like their vote doesn’t matter because, well they have a pretty good idea of how the state will go between Obama and Romney.

But what prompted me to write about a political topic (which I never do) on this blog is the memories today brings up from voting in Chicago four years ago.

Four years ago, I volunteered rather extensively for the Obama campaign, which was located in downtown Chicago, a stones throw from my office building. I remember working in the finance department after work and on weekends, sitting at a ping pong table, sorting and logging donations and feeling like, I was doing something important. There was so much hope and excitement and feeling of change that is was just, intoxicating.

Today, I went back to read the blog post I wrote about that night and rewatched a video that really captured what it felt like to be there when the results were announced.

Tonight, I won’t be down at McCormick Place to celebrate. Mine will be more low-key. I still believe in hope and change and moving forward. Things are not perfect, and who knows what the next four years will hold, but whatever the decision tonight, let’s hope it gets us to where we need to be.

So without digging in to one versus another, this how I view Election Day. Hope you all went out to vote!

06 September 2012

Food Crawl: West Loop edition

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, Food

So now that I’ve told you about my DIY food crawls, I thought I’d give you a little example of my most recent one in Chicago’s West Loop.

Located on the west side of Chicago (shocking), this industrial, lofty, warehouse district has grown exponentially over the last 1-2 years. The unused space is now housing a lot of new restaurants, entertainment and living spaces.

And with this boom of development, a crawl was definitely in order, but I quickly found that one was not enough.

I’ve been to the West Loop and “restaurant row,” known as Randolph Street a few times for other restaurants there (along with indulging in some insane donuts at Glazed & Infused), but this time, I was there to do some damage, and I did.

Here’s where we visited:

  • Haymarket Pub & Brewery
  • Au Cheval
  • Grange Hall Burger Bar
  • City Winery

It was a solid crawl with lots of high alcohol-content beer and food. We managed to go from starving to buzzed to drunk to full and sober and then ready for bed. That is a solid crawl right there

Notes about each:

Haymarket – To be honest, we just stopped here to have a few beers, but I would go back and drink more and even try some stuff on the menu. It was a little loud but the beers they brew weren’t bad (skip the Pilsner).

Au Cheval – Last time I was here, my Marc Jacobs purse got destroyed (long story) but the purse survived and I decided to give it another try. It doesn’t take reservations and seating is sparse so get there early. We strolled in when they opened and weren’t the only ones with that idea. We had two beers and a plate of fries with an egg on top and aioli. It was incredible. I would absolutely go back and focus just on that menu. For beer, I recommend the Urthel Saisonniere and Caracole Saxo. Tip, it gets more difficult to say both post consumption

Grange Hall Burger Bar – I love this place. Dad and I went here once and had a great meal and yet again, it didn’t disappoint. Well the only slide downside was the basket of fried veggies w/horseradish dipping sauce. It was over fried and stuck together and still tasty but just not as wow as I hoped. I got a burger with fried egg, white sharp Cheddar cheese and then we split a piece of Michigan Blueberry pie. Tip: always save room for pie. Always.

City Winery – By now, we were hitting the food/beer wall, but made it to one more place. What’s cool about this place is that it is a full winery and concert hall with reserved table seating. We got a tour of the patio, indoor and private dining areas and then got down to some wine. We sampled a ton of stuff from the tap, Cab, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Sav Blanc, sweet wine and even a Malbec rose. And got to sample a trio desserts that included a pretty amazing chocolate lava cake.

And after all of this, I was ready for bed :)

I’m already planning another trip to the West Loop for a crawl of a few more places I have my eye on. If you haven’t been, I also recommend: Publican, Publican Quality Meats, Aviary, De Cero and Girl & The Goat. Really, there hasn’t been anything I don’t dislike over there so far.

So tomorrow is Friday, big weekend plans anyone?

03 September 2012

Chicago neighborhood food crawls

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Chicago, Food

I love food, and in Chicago there are no shortages of places to eat.

There is no way to visit every place, so when a handful of new places I like open up around each other, I like to organize a little neighborhood crawl.

It’s like a bar crawl but with food (and a few drinks). The intent isn’t to get wasted (although it does happen), but to bounce from 3-4 places and sample a few appetizers and cocktails to see if you like it.

This does work better when you’re in a group, but I’ve done a few solo while traveling too and it’s been fine.

I will also point out that this is not something official or overly organized, I just come up with a list of places and then ask/beg my friends to go with me. Sometimes, they are a surprisingly tough sell :)

So here are my rules when I organize a crawl:

  • No more than 5 locations total. Seriously, you will explode
  • You should be able to walk or have a short bus, train or car ride to each location. The goal is to find places close together so you can exercise going to each
  • Drinking is not required at each, but you shouldn’t get too hammered, otherwise, you won’t remember the food!
  • Try to find places that have some different cuisine at each, makes it more fun
  • Always cap it off with dessert, brings the night to a close
  • Call ahead for reservations or wait times, but if in a pinch, sitting at the bar is a back up. I prefer to sit in the main dining area around everyone else, but if it’s not working, don’t push it

I’ve been known to break a few of these rules but overall, it makes for a really fun night, especially when you’re with other people who are really in to it.

Since I named this, I’ve done crawls in Wicker Park and West Loop and I’ll put an example of one up on the blog this week because seriously, there was some damn good food had.

Happy Labor Day everyone! How was your long weekend?