Well, since I’m finally back from my long trip to Chicago and Michigan, I suppose it is time to recap all of the fun (and food) we enjoyed during our visit! There is a lot to share…so let’s get started, shall we? I’ll begin with Chicago today!
Our flight arrived in Chicago at around 10am, so by the time we entered the city, it was time to grab some brunch! We located Orange based off of a friend’s recommendation, and it did not disappoint! I kicked off my “week of indulgence” with Orange’s weekly pancake special: the Tiramisu Pancakes: coffee infused buttermilk cakes with rum mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, ladyfingers, and cocoa powder
Um…they were worth every single calorie and gram of fat in them. These pancakes were light and fluffy, and the flavoring was to die for. There wasn’t a bite left on the plate.
Justin enjoyed an omelet with apple chicken chardonnay sausage, caramelized onions, sauteed spinach, white cheddar, and spiced pecan sour cream: so tasty!
My mom enjoyed some fresh squeezed juice (you can create your own combination: fun!) and my parents split the Green Eggs and Ham scramble (as well as helped me out with my pancakes). The potatoes served on the side were also ridiculously delish:
Things were off to a great start!
Next stop: Navy Pier to walk around and see the city…
…then it was off to pick up some cupcakes!
After seeing More featured on Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel, I knew we had to stop in for a sweet treat. First, the cupcake display in the shop was gorgeous! I had a hard time deciding which flavor to select.
We ended up with a selection of four flavors, and all were winners, in my opinion!
Clockwise from top left: chocolate coconut, black and white, More, and cookies and cream. Justin selected the cookies and cream – just look at the ratio of frosting to cupcake! YUM!!!
The cake itself is extremely moist, and the cupcakes that feature frosting on top are generously frosted. It’s hard to take a single bite without getting some all over your face, but these cupcakes were wonderful! My personal selection didn’t happen to feature frosting on top: I chose the More cupcake. And it just might remind you of a treat you used to enjoy as a kid…
It is a dark chocolate cupcake (SO moist and rich) with a chocolate ganache top…and a little surprise in the center! Who else loved the chocolate Hostess cupcakes as a kid? I did! And the one at More was 100x better…
Dinner for our first night in Chicago was at a relatively new restaurant: BellyQ. It is a modern Asian barbeque restaurant, and is a concept between Chef Bill Kim and Michael Jordan. The restaurant ambiance itself was lively and cool. There are two types of tables at BellyQ: regular tables and grill tables. I thought it would be fun for us to have a grilling table, so we waited at the bar for a bit until one opened up. We ordered one of their cocktails: the Red Lotus. It was probably one of the prettiest drinks I’ve ever seen, and it contained Sake, yuzu, sesame leaf, cane sugar, and plum basil seeds. It wasn’t sweet and sugary: right up my alley!
I also got the chance to try another new beverage: drinking vinegar! Yes, it does sound strange, but it was wonderful! The bartender poured a small amount of passionfruit drinking vinegar at the bottom of a tall glass, filled it with ice, and then added soda water. You can definitely tell that it is vinegar, but it is so tasty! If you are like me and aren’t a huge fan of sugary soda beverages, this would be a drink for you!
To eat: we enjoyed a double smoked bacon and kimchi Asian pancake:
Some Chinese eggplant with Thai basil:
Bok choy with Chinese black bean:
We grilled BellyQ beef on our grilling table:
Noshed on some lamb ribs:
And enjoyed some spicy lemongrass chicken:
…and then, we were stuffed. What a fun meal with so many different flavors!
The next morning, I finally got to cross an item off of my bucket list: latte art!
I’ve been dying to have a latte with a design in it, and I finally was able to get my hands on one. My mom and I thoroughly enjoyed our time at Intelligentsia – I know that the art is just a little thing, but I have no idea where to get a gorgeous latte like this in my town!
After our lattes, we stopped by to see the bean:
Lunch was at a restaurant I was DYING to try out: Topolobampo!
I couldn’t wait to dine at one of Rick Bayless’ restaurants: it’s been on my wish list for a while now! We ordered a few margaritas, and I had a homemade gin and tonic that was out of this world (better than a margarita, in my opinion)!
Chips and guacamole were a must: I love that they added radishes to the mix: they added a nice zing and crunch!
Justin ordered the Ensalada de Costilla Corta: a 16 hour-braised short rib with cascabel chile, Bayless Garden greens, spice-pickled local plums, roasted market onions, and crispy dried beef. Gorgeous!
My dad’s order was a piece of art on a plate: the Merluza en Pozole Verde. It was a seared Totem Sea Farm black cod with frothy green pozole (tomatillo, pumpkin seeds, herbs, egg), avocado, oregano-dusted crispy chicharron, and pozole corn two ways. The colors were gorgeous, and the flavors were top notch:
My mom and I both ordered the Chilaquiles Verdes: crispy tortillas, roasted tomatillo sauce, frizzled egg, golden-crunchy onions, wilted spinach, crema, anejo cheese. Oh my gosh. Can I say: amazing?!!?!? It was such a simple dish packed with amazing flavor and texture. I could go for another bowl right about now…
We couldn’t pass up on splitting a few desserts! First: the Ante de Higos: local figs from Seedling Farms, brandy-infused almond cake, Mexican cinnamon ice cream, gooey meringue, and Mexican vanilla bean pastry cream.
Followed by the Pay de Manzana: a warm individual caramelized Honeycrisp apple pie with homemade cajeta (goat’s milk caramel), caramelized coriander ice cream, tangy tequila-infused Klug Farm apples, green peppercorn. Absolutely spectacular!
I didn’t think it would be possible to top this meal; it was so memorable and so wonderfully delicious! However, we were a bit full after consuming all of that amazing food…
…so we walked it off at the Lincoln Park Zoo! It was such a nice little zoo (and it’s free, except for parking)!
We met up with my college friend J (and Steve too!) for dinner that evening, but I’m saving that delicious recap for another post. It was that good….
Justin and my dad were off to the Ryder Cup the next morning/afternoon, so my mom and I walked around the city to shop, and we dined at Quartino for some Italian style tapas for lunch!
We had an heirloom tomato salad with arugula:
Broccoli rabe with red chili, onion, garlic and EVOO:
And zeppoles with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert (we couldn’t resist a half order):
Our last meal in Chicago was at Revolution Brewing. My dad was excited to try out their hand crafted beers, as well as the potentially artery clogging menu (hey, you can indulge every once in a while…it’s vacation, right?).
When there is bacon fat popcorn on the menu (with bacon, crispy sage, and parmesan), you have to order it, right?
I opted for the arugula pizza (with lemon olive oil drizzle) for dinner, and it was an interesting flavor combo!
Justin had the Workingman burger: it was impressive!
My dad’s meal took the prize for most intense: the Smoke Stack pizza was topped with pulled pork, bacon, Italian sausage, and pepperoni. Talk about meat lover’s!
Burp. What a trip! I have to say: I was really glad that we walked a few miles each day, because the food we consumed was oh so decadent! We really did luck out with our restaurant suggestions, in my opinion: I’d recommend checking each of them out if you happen to be in the area!
Do you have a favorite place to eat in Chicago?