Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chicago Trip Part One

I woke last Thursday morning feeling puffy, (Long night…lots of tears for Didier Dagueneau, trying to wipe those tears away long enough to hit the mall for some last minute items for the trip and packing) my eyes were half their normal size, (which aint that big to start with) my head was thumping and I was in no shape to hop on a plane for a “fun” weekend…that was until I got the call from Amy, “Okay so I’m packing and now I’m getting really excited, be sure to have a drink on the plane before you land.” Her enthusiasm made me envious and made me smile….a much needed warm feeling I can assure you.

Amy and her husband had been talking about a trip to Chicago for her husband’s birthday and the second my HH, (Hot Hubby) and I heard it we were dying to join them. This is a couple we adore, always have way too much fun with and we are all into travel….seemed like a good fit. One night over dinner at Park Avenue, (in Stanton, cool cliché spot with pretty solid food) they said, ‘hey you two should come with us” I knew that second we were going but the HH tried to act like we needed to see if we could afford it, if the timing was right, he was being all responsible and stuff….while he mulled it over I sent a text message to my friend Mairin that lives in Chi Town it simply said, “Guess who’s coming to town?”

As I sat in the mirror trying desperately to apply eyeliner to the swollen slits that were once my eyelids I gave myself a little pep talk, “you know you are going to have an amazing time….suck it up” the talk helped but the glass of 2007 Heretiers du Comte Lafon Macon, ($21.99) that I allowed myself to sip on took the edge off a bit too! Before you go all gasping at me for having a glass of wine in the morning I have three things to say:
1) Have you ever tired it? Don’t go knocking my breakfast unless you have tried it.
2) This wine was so freaking alluring I couldn’t help myself…tangy, stony full of citrus.
3) I’m on vacation so the rules don’t apply…because normally I’m so well behaved.

HH and I boarded our flight and set off for our long weekend in the Windy City. When we touched down we made a beeline for the outside to have a smoke, call our fellow travelers and wait for the bags to be unloaded. Amy and her hubby had landed about 20 minutes before us and were still in O’Hare so we hooked up, (there was some squealing and lots of hugs and kisses) and shared a very long cab ride into the city…

Each couple dropped off at their hotel with plans to meet at the Weber Grill Bar, (in our hotel) for a drink before dinner, I call my Chicago-land buddy and make sure she is still set to meet us for dinner, oh and by the way….you want to meet us for a drink first….her answer, “done and done what time should I be there and where are we going?” Love her!

An hour or so later we are all in the bar having Martinis, talking about all the things we want to do on the trip and getting really hungry! Off to dinner at David Burke’s Primehouse. The restaurant was beautiful, low lights, dark wood, funky cartoon drawings way up high on the walls…almost missed those….comfortable but with a touch of swank to it. We had brought a couple of bottles to enjoy with dinner, a 2002 Nuits-Saint-George and a brand spanking new Champagne from favorite importer, Beaune Imports. Got a bucket to give the bubbles a final chill and ordered up a few more cocktails…steakhouse, Chicago, bubbles on ice and a table full of people I really love…that’ll change your mood.

Once we polished off the drinks we alerted are server that we were ready to dig into the bubbles and ordered a few nibbles before we committed to choosing one of the many house aged steaks. Gotta tell ya, I could have given a crap what I ate after my first sip of the R.H. Coutier Grand Cru. What a lovely Champagne….sassy Pinot Noir fruit without that heavy texture that you can get from Pinot based bubbles, slight doughy notes with a strong red apple middle and a rich but still tangy finish…really lovely wine that you can expect to see at The Wine Country really soon….cuzz I want MORE! (Should be around $39.99 but I will post when it arrives)

After dinner I called an importer friend that I knew was in town and asked if he had time to meet me, I knew he was busy with an importer conference but I was longing to be with a friend that got the whole Didier thing…he was tied up but thought we might be able to meet for a drink the following night….know what that means….yeah, no need to be all “civilized” so we rolled out of the steakhouse and travel weary as four out of the five of us were we hit the vibrant streets of downtown Chicago. The details are …umm murky but there was a pretty cool blues club called Chicago Blues. Unfortunately we had to leave early….there was this really creepy dude…old due in a denim hat that even had my husband saying, “He is freaking me out, I think we should leave”. You know how you walk back and forth in front of a painting and you can feel the eyes in the picture following you….yeah that was this guy…skeeved us right out of Chicago Blues and right into another small bar, forgive me if the name escapes me. Few hits on the jukebox, chatted up the bartenders, (got a couple free shots) Mairin headed back to her house and the rest of us ventured back to our hotels….but not before one more drink and a shared pizza!
Saturday morning, early call from Amy’s husband, “Hey lets all go early so we can get good seats for the Cubs game” Amy, “NO” me, “NO” HH, “ok” so off they went way too early to reserve our bleacher seats for the Cubs game….aww so nice of them. Amy, Mairin and I slept in, had a late breakfast at a place called Toast.

Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa’s some form of Benedict and we hopped a cab to Wrigley Field. I opened the door of the cab and the smell of vanilla and pineapple, (from one of those rearview hanging tree jobbies) almost knocked me on my arse….swallowing really hard and trying to breath out of my mouth I climbed in….Oh My…this cabby, (giant African American dude in a cowboy hat) was rolling in s-t-y-l-e! This cab had “bling” disco ball, red white and blue tassels/fringe, little hanging satchel of assorted candies, “you want a Snickers? Got it. You want a Starburst…got it”…..not kidding. We start rolling down the street and I had to comment on his, flair. “Wow, this is quite the fancy cab you have here” I said, the cabby seemed pleased and loaded a CD in his player telling me, “All these people out here pay a cover to get into a nightclub, I drive around all day in a nightclub” just as his words landed upon my ear drums he hit play….James Freaking Brown…blaring and we were on our way to Wrigley.

Well, it was hot when we met up with the boys who had selflessly saved our seats…we were sleepy and the Cubs were getting killed, so not fun. We bailed after the 7th inning and made our way to our next stop…a heavy metal burger bar called Kumar’s. Started with pulled pork fries, (giant pile of French fries covered in pulled pork, BBQ sauce and covered with cheese) and calamari. I was kind of done then but we needed to order one of the famous burgers, I went with the Mastodon, (burger on a pretzel bun with fried onions and BBQ sauce) HH got the Pig Destroyer, (pulled pork sandwich on a pretzel bun) Amy’s hubby got the Kumar, (burger on a…well by now you know what kind of bun…with a fried egg) I think Amy got the Metallica….cant remember what was on but you can bet yer bum I know what kind of roll it was on! The food was good….the cocktails, strong and we were all in desperate need of a nap.

We shared a cab to Mairin’s car, (she had to leave because she had a wedding the next morning) she dropped us at the subway station and we parted ways to take a nap, promising to call when any one of us woke up so we could plan for the evening. I caught about an hour sleep but relished in the just laying on the bed and drinking of mass amounts of water.

Up Next…..Crashing an importer party in a Champagne bar, Poorly chosen Mexican dinner and the wrap up of our trip.

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