I love the Air and Water show. I do not love the crowds at the beach.
This year, I crossed a major To Do off of my bucket list, and joined 18 friends on a boat for an incredible summer Sunday that I will never, ever forget. There's a thumb in the picture of me diving into the water in my shorts and tank top (we thought it was going to be too cold to swim), but you better believe that happened.
Thanks to this handy tip from Eater Chicago, I was raring to check out Quartino's new second-level patio. Quartino is a long time DEUX on our list. (How do we not use that pun more often?) It's the perfect spot for happy hour with the girls or a loud group dinner. Wine by the carafe? Cheese by the mountain? Olives by the bucket? Exceptionally reasonable prices? Yes, please!
Ali and I twisted arms, bribed and threatened with bodily harm last week so the girls would drag themselves out on a Tuesday (read: proclaimed, "new outdoor patio at Quartino!" to an extremely receptive and enthusiastic reception) to experience it for ourselves, and while it was much smaller and far more narrow than the above picture lets on, it was absolutely lovely. In the future, I'd stick to a smaller group of two or three, but the five of us spent a great evening catching up over chilled white wine, grilled octopus and gorgonzola dolce, blissfully perched above the madness of State and Ontario.
FYI: It's first come first serve, and we had to specify that we wanted to sit upstairs.
Cheers to another al fresco dining option, Chicago!
I make some variation of stir fry roughly once a week. Its healthy, so good, and can be accomplished in about 5 minutes flat (especially if you're willing to invest in some Trader Joe's frozen stir-fry veggie mixes for the occasional emergency).
I am, by the way, totally aware that stir fry typically involves flash-frying the vegetables in a hot pan with oil, so the title of this is slightly misleading. And I'll admit, a heavier sauce with sesame oil or peanuts really can't be beat.
BUT! If I'm looking for an uber-healthy dinner option that doesn't taste like Fiber One after a long weekend of eating and drinking (ahem), I'll make this pseudo-stir fry and happily dig into a spicy, sweet and salty bowl of vegetables over brown rice. I steam my vegetables of choice until they're perfectly crispy and juicy, then top with this sauce.
Four Ingredient Fat-Free Stir Fry Sauce
Honey or agave nectar
Reduced sodium soy sauce
Chili garlic sauce
Combine 1 part honey to two parts soy sauce. Add chili garlic sauce to taste, then mix and add sesame seeds.
*Sesame seeds add a nominal amount of fat: 1.5 grams in 1 tsp. Omit if you'd like!
Hangovers, diets and friends in town all hijacked my dreams and no one would go with me to Frog & Snail. Stay tuned, I will prevail!
However, I still turned out the big winner of the day because I finally, finally, tried Crisp. I've wanted to go forever and just haven't, for whatever reason, and the super casual vibe was perfect for a lazy Sunday night. This is not a new restaurant - located in Chicago's East Lakeview neighborhood, it opened in 2008, which makes it practically a hundred in Chicago restaurant terms. A number of friends have enthusiastically recommended it and there's some 987 reviews on Yelp contributing to a solid 4 out of 5 star rating.
One magnificent meal later, I am a Crisp believer, and after reflecting on that meal of righteousness basically all morning, I become a Crisp evangelist. Go immediately, bring your friends, visitors, your family, get takeout... just go partake in the glory of those sweet and spicy Korean wings. (That said, do not take a first date as it is impossible to look even remotely good eating this meal.)
JB dunked everything into the Buddha Sauce, I went for Allison's Atomic. Crisp is BYOB, but you'll be parked at a community picnic table, so unless it's a tall boy or something, I wouldn't bother. If you're in the mood for alcohol free and sickly sweet, go for Diet Cream Soda!
We split the Original Bad Boy Buddha Bowl, which is a cute name for the traditional Korean bibimbap with 8 different chilled veggies and a fried egg over hot, seasoned rice. The combo of hot and cold works so well, I promise, and the whole mess is that much better with added hot sauce of your choice. This thing is huge - probably 12" around, and thankfully, they're displayed when you order so you know what you're getting into and aren't tempted to order one per person. That being said, this would be a great choice for a vegetarian, or sans-egg for vegans.
And the star of the show: the wings. I went for 6 - which is really more like 12 as most bars and restaurants cut the wing into two pieces - with the Seoul Sassy sauce.
In the words of the great Rachael Zoe - I die.
(Those would be unlikely words to cross Rachael Zoe's lips in this particular instance, as I imagine it's unlikely she often digs into a tray of fried chicken, but we'll call that her loss.)
Super meaty, very light breading, extra crispy and perfectly moist. The Seoul Sassy sauce was delicious - the website warns not to call it teriyaki but um, it tastes exactly like a very good teriyaki marinade with garlic, soy, sugar, sesame and ginger. Sorry, Crisp! That's a compliment in my book.
JB went for the Crisp BBQ Sauce, and in my constant quest for over the top flavor, this is definitely the sauce for my next trip back. And the one after that, and after that... It is reminiscent of a traditional barbeque but with a deep, smoky heat and spices that make the sauce definitively South Korea, not South Carolina.
After what will probably go down as the least attractive half hour of my life spent demolishing all six (fine, twelve) wings, fighting for my fair share of the coveted egg yolk in the Buddha Bowl, and looking around desperately for something else to squirt Allison's Atomic sauce onto, my handsome and gracious date rolled me and my greasy fingers out of Crisp and home to curl up into a very bloated and happy state, already dreaming up my next trip back.
I've never gotten a blowout before yesterday because frankly, I didn't see the point. My hair is already incredibly straight, and whenever I've asked for more volume when getting my hair dried after highlights and a cut, I absolutely hate the result - it always looks cheesy and fluffy.
But when I heard about Blowtique opening in River North, I had to give it a try.
I had dinner plans at Sunda with JB last night and since I already had a dress, I thought not spending money on a new dress would be a good excuse to you know, spend money differently.
The experience was nice - the girl that did my hair was super sweet, the place was really cute, and I was in and our in 35 minutes flat for $40 including tip.
Here's my result: my hair in the morning and post-blowout... I wasn't blown away (excuse pun) but I thought it had a little more movement and wave than usual.
*please excuse incredibly awkward self-pics... how do you guys do it?!
What do you think? Worth it? Do blowouts just have a better result on thicker, longer hair or do I just need to keep trying until I find a blowout that works for me?
I walk past Public Hotel in the Gold Coast fairly often. It opened within the last year, and is anchored by the Pump Room, an old celeb haunt from the 40's that's recently reopened (same name!) to huge fanfare in Chicago's nightlife scene.
Today while chatting and planning with a girlfriend over Skype for an upcoming bachelorette party, Public came to mind as a potential recommendation for the girls coming in from out of town. If you're not from Chicago, the Gold Coast is a neighborhood just north of what you'd consider downtown, and about as far east as you get, meaning super close to the lake. Basically, primo Chicago real estate!
The entrance is striking and perfectly symmetrical - there's a large awning or overhang covered in bright lightbulbs, with uniformed doormen and lit torches at night.
I love hotels, and especially boutique hotels. So naturally, I was pretty excited to have an excuse to head to their website and check out some pictures... but even with high expectations, I was blown away. I mean, look at this place!
I am absolutely obsessed with the black, white, neutral and green color scheme, the intricate details and the incredible lighting. After doing a little reading, the caliber of design is no surprise - Public is the brainchild of Ian Schrager, one of the co-founders of Studio 54.
Chicago is slated to be the first of many Public Hotels - I hear New York is up next.
Here's the best part - its totally reasonable. Compared to New York or Miami, Chicago's hotels are not SO expensive, but I'd still anticipate a $300+ price tag for any hotel right in the heart of the city.