Eating with Laurel in Chicago

Stan’s Donuts–home of the pocket donut, stuffed with banana or peanut butter or…

Hi friends–
If you’ve talked to me at lately, you’ve probably had to listen to me go on (and on) about my week with Laurel and Jenon in Chicago.  Well, here I am again.  Just wanted to tell you about eating in Chicago, which everyone knows is a very important part of traveling.  Right?  Here’s some fun meals we ran into:

DSC01936     DSC01941

     DSC01950    The first evening Laurel whisked us off to Charlatan.  It’s a very current kind of place, labeled “Italian-American Farmhouse Fare.” Loved all the bites we passed around the table and it was all so beautiful on the plate.  And it has the added bonus of three mascots on the back wall to welcome you in.  photos: place setting; salad with farrow, lardons, pomegranate & smoked walnuts; chicken & waffles; a buck buffalo and wild boar on the back wall over our shoulders.


DSC01953     DSC01961My favorite breakfast was at Winchester Cafe.  Unfortunately I was so excited to eat my breakfast, I forgot to take a photo before it was all gone!  You’ll just have to trust me that the avocado & grapefruit seasoned with peppers –with seedy toast was pretty and delish! photos:  Oatmeal with dried fruits, breakfast menu, a well eaten breakfast…

DSC02159     larger.
Laurel had told me ahead about Coal Fire Pizza, so I had been really anticipating this delicious stop.  As you would guess, the pizza’s are blasted in a coal fired oven.  I sidled over to peek in the kitchen to get a look at the oven.  The friendly server told me some spots in the oven reach 1200 degrees!  And they only leave the pizzas in to cook for 90 seconds!  Amazing.  photos: John & Laurel with our pizzas– they drop little puffs of fresh ricotta on the pizza after it’s cooked, and pizza hot from the oven.

DSC02050   DSC02040  DSC02048.
We preceded our visit to the Swedish American Museum with a bountiful Swedish breakfast at Ann Sathers– where they’ve been serving up their legendary cinnamon rolls and Swedish pancakes for over 60 years.  Good morning!!!


c96ddea4b9db6957a1028175ef89c51a     DSC02250    On our last night in town Laurel & John ferried us over to Margie’s Candies.  Opened in 1921, it counts Al Capone and the Beatles as former customers! It’s a candy shop, and also serves up monumental ice cream sundaes.  It’s a tiny place and we waited a while squished into a corner until we slipped into our cozy booth that looked as it I may have been there since the beginning.  I don’t need to tell you it was a mouth watering stop.  photos; the shop and the ice cream!

DSC02070     DSC02069Hanging out with a 30 year old takes you places you might not have wandered into by yourself.  Take Furious Spoon! Loud and a little crazy– but oh that broth,  best ramen around… (sorry Laurel for all the wacky Laurel eating shots– but you are a pretty irresistible food model!)


DSC02237     littlegoat_intro_033013And last, but far from least, we settled in for dinner at Little Goat Diner.  A wish come true.     The interior was clean and retro-ish modern, and the food was updated old fashioned.  Loved it.  photos:  Quesadilla with asparagus and blueberries (who dreamt up that one?) and below, my tuna melt on sour dough with a cheese sauce and topped with a bright nicoise salad.  It was incredibly edible.

So Thanks Laurel (and John and Jenon) for all the good eating and your amiable companionship at meal time.  Can’t wait to do it again!


Spring Break Chicago!

DSC02154Hey there– Back from the best kind of spring break– not balmy beaches and swimming pools, but blustery days out and about in Chicago.  Trekked back with a college friend, Jenon, to stay with my Lovable Laurel of the blue and purple hair.  It was grand!

P.S.– I apologize in advance for any “photo fatigue” you may endure here– so many pictures– I couldn’t narrow it down!  (just skim!)

DSC01985     DSC01974

DSC01970     DSC01986Our first morning we headed downtown to study our way through the Art Institute.  The monumental building welcomed us in and we set off toward the European paintings with loads of happy anticipation–favorites:  architectural details along the Grand Staircase,  “Meekness” one of series from the Beatitudes by by Eustache Sueur (French), the American folk art collection and this more modern take on “The Annunciation” by George Hitchcock (American)

DSC02023     DSC02025

11088556_10100959968986450_7808233584593343123_nIn the afternoon we scurried through the chill of Millennium Park (the Bean!) and across downtown, stopping midway for a restoring cup of hot tea.  Here’s our mandatory reflection in the bean photo– we’re the 3 jolly gals in the middle!

DSC02036     DSC02039We did a little grocery shopping at Eataly (Mario Batali’s super amazing Italian grocers/eating spot) and at the local Mariano’s for soup ingredients.  Grocery shopping–one of my favorite indoor sports!

DSC02050    DSC02052    DSC02055. We started the next day with a Swedish Ann Sather’s breakfast and then strolled next door to the Swedish American Museum– checking up on Jenon’s Scandinavian roots!

DSC02062     DSC02078
Of course we squeezed a little shopping– to the Four Corners Print shop to pick up a Chicago skyline print for Laurel– and into the fanciest Walgreens installed in an old Chicago banking building.


DSC02106     DSC02109One soggy morning, we found ourselves in the (slightly drippy) Garfield Park Conservatory– an immense glasshouse, built in 1908 and chock full of lush vegetation, secret pathways and the brightest blooms.  Loved it!

140416_blog_photo_Landmarks_Glessner1_BillZbaren    DSC02113

DSC02114     DSC02119One of my favorite stops was at the historic Romanesque Glessner House, built in 1886, by architect Henry Richardson.  It’s on Prairie Street, once home to Chicago’s elite, and is filled with original Arts & Crafts movement furnishings of the Glessner family.  So grand to pretend we were guests in this exquisite house–  ((last photo: Laurel and I examining Mrs. Glessner’s dressing table.)


DSC02147     DSC02146And we spent a fishy afternoon gaping at all the creatures in the Shedd aquarium.  Personal favorites– the sea turtle and the otters.

DSC02207     DSC02189

DSC02192     DSC02176Next stop, the Lincoln Park Zoo.  One of those beautiful older zoos–the lion house is a classic.   And it’s free.  That just feels like a friendly thing to do– welcoming people in to say hi to the animals without even standing in line for a ticket.


And finally we topped off our trip at the Chicago History Museum– It’s one of my favorite stops in a new city– to get a real sense of the place.  They had exhibits from Fort Dearborn, the Chicago Fire, and architecture and pop culture.  Big fun. Here is the Water Tower that escaped the Chicago Fire and Laurel pointing out her neighborhood on the map.

DSC01938     DSC02237And, of course, there was plenty of eating involved– Laurel and John know how to pick the most intriguing places to sit down to a meal.  (and I do have to include the scrumptious Nicoise  salad tuna melt).  But I’ll save most of all that eating that for another post…

Thanks bunches Jenon and Laurel for all the fine times out and about in Chicago.  xoxo!



Food Faves in Chicago

IMG_1554Hello there– Did I mention what a wonderful week I shared with our Laurel in Chicago?? (of course I did!)– We’ll here’s a little P.S. to that previous post.  Wanted to tell you a few of the great things to eat that you can find in Chicago…

IMG_1550     10553462_10100749314434860_6510726160228527300_nLaurel knows I’m a sucker for Cute Coffee Shops– so the first morning we headed over to “Lovely: a bake shop,” and settled into their homey old fashioned space for some moist fragrant scones and the cutest (yep, cute!) pots of tea.

IMG_1648     IMG_1643

IMG_1632     IMG_1639We spent one entire afternoon wandering through the shelves of Eataly, Mario Batali’s two story Italian goods store– so much glorious food!  And it provides several spots to set yourself down to a lovely meal  (and that’s exactly what we did for a charcuterie lunch at the mozzarella bar).  The bottom-right photo is a gnocchi maker at work…

IMG_1787      IMG_1786 Of course, in Chicago, having a hot dog at a neighborhood place is a must.  One evening after a long session of painting/furniture construction in Laurel’s new apartment we walked down to Chopper’s– and a late supper along with a whole fleet of Chicago policemen who seemed to like this place as well.

IMG_0431     IMG_0438

IMG_0437     IMG_0435One warm evening found us sitting out on the patio at Mott Street Restaurant.  How can I describe this place?  It’s small plates to share like tapas, but ingredients and tastes borrowed in from various cultures–   Loved the pork stuffed cabbage with kimchi & sticky rice. Pictured:  bread with pickled red onion & cranberries + kale butter — and wok cooked Brussel sprouts with pancetta, maple brown butter and peanuts)

IMG_1595     IMG_1596We made a quick stop, as we came out of the blue line train, at Stan’s Donuts.  It was a terrible decision– blueberry fritters or nutella stuffed donuts… but we landed on a “pocket donut” stuffed with bananas and peanut butter and covered with chocolate.  Oh my!

IMG_1597Thanks Laurel Kate for being my resourceful eating buddy–I’m looking forward to more comestible adventures ahead with you!

Chicago Super Seven

IMG_1569Hi blog friends–  Our daughter Laurel works for the photo website, Photojojo. About once a year, the employees pack up and relocate to an exotic location (Thailand, India, Costa Rica…) and spend a couple weeks on a “work-cation.”  They work some days and tourist  around in between.  It’s a whole company of people who know how to have fun (and take great photos while their at it)…

So when I visited my Laurel this past week we had a little work-cation of our own– She’s just moved into a sweet old apartment in Chicago, so we spent our days tracking down furniture and all she needs to kit out a kitchen–and did our share of eating and touristing as well.  What could be more fun than that?!

So here’s the super seven of a fab week with Laurel:

IMG_1553     IMG_1657     #1.  Let me just jump in right from the start– some fabulous eating!  Laurel does know how to find the best places!  (I’ll do a whole ‘nother post on all that yummcious food.)
Here Laurel takes her expert food pics.  And a incredible charcuterie lunch at Eataly.

IMG_1577     IMG_1576#2. We spent an afternoon trekking through down town Chicago–  joined the summer tourist crowds snapping pictures of the bean.  Why is that thing so intriguing?  And we explored the Chicago Cultural Center top to bottom, ending up under this glass dome.

IMG_1668     IMG_1768     #3.  And, of course, we shopped–thrift stores, good old Homegoods and 5 productive hours in Ikea!!  Gathered up all we needed to make a home sweet home for Laurel.  Then
we went to work.  If you need help, putting together any Ikea furniture together, give us a call.  We’re experts!  (even constructed a sofa.  Yikes!)

IMG_1711     IMG_1700#4. On Saturday, we hit the road for Milwaukee with Laurel’s friend John at the wheel.  It was great–from a community Farmer’s Market, to the most incredible Milwaukee Art Museum on Lake Michigan, on to the river walk and, of course, a Wisconsin brat lunch.

IMG_1606     IMG_1549    #5.  I have to say my very favorite moments were working mornings with Laurel.  We’d locate a comfortable table in a cozy coffee shop and and breakfast, while Laurel worked and I wrote on blog posts and read away the hours.

IMG_1637     IMG_1630    #6.  We spent an afternoon wandering through Eataly, Mario Batali’s food emporium, two floors of Italian groceries and several tempting spots to sit and enjoy a leisurely lunch.  We couldn’t resist the charcuterie and a glass of wine.  It was a food wonderland!

IMG_1546     IMG_1558#7.  As a California girl, I love the old style architecture of Chicago.  Laurel’s neighborhood is a collection of leafy streets lined with solid brick homes and beautiful old churches.

IMG_1578     IMG_1752. So here’s Laurel in front of her new home sweet home.  Thanks dear girl for all the furniture shopping, nonstop talking, salad making, apartment planning, sight seeing fun.  It was the best!!

Fun Food Finds in Chicago

IMG_0423Hello all– Last week in Chicago visiting our girl Laurel, we couldn’t help but run across food galore.  Here are some of our fun faves!

IMG_0497     IMG_0420Photos:  above–lemon lavender sandwich cookie from Milk & Honey.  Breakfast oatmeal at Swim Cafe.  Smoked gouda and Avocado on homemade wheaty bread at Milk & Honey.

IMG_0603     IMG_0414
Photos:  Thick spanish chocolate and hot churros at Xoco.  Bowls of silky noodles with with beef and veggies at Penny’s.

IMG_0493     IMG_0498
Photos:  Vegan “chicken”with kale, tofu with veggies and bright vegan tacos at Native Foods.  Leek and tomato breakfast bread pudding at Swim Cafe.

IMG_0520     IMG_0548
Photos:  Cubs game bratwurst at Wrigley Field.  Crazy big cannoli stuffed with smaller cannolis at D’amata’s Bakery.

IMG_0583     IMG_0368
Photos:  Take away box of fast food Chinese buns– whole wheat & edamame, teriyaki chicken, mongolian beef, bar-b-que pork, chocolate banana!  –from Bao Wow (love the name as much as the buns!)  Grainy-nutty morning pancakes from Filter Coffee Shop.

IMG_0619     IMG_0624
Photos:  Banana bread french toast with Foster sauce and candied banana and sugared pecans.  Chilliaquilles with chicken and scrambled eggs, topped with guacamole & queso fresco.  Both for brunch at Prasino.

We loved you Chicago, every delicious calorie, every nibble.  Thanks for all the good eating there Laurel!

Chicago Top Ten

IMG_0574Hellos friends—Last week we spent my spring break catching up with Laurel in Chicago.  It was grand!  From the moment she whisked me “home” on the blue line train to the lazy good-bye Sunday brunch, I loved every minute with that girl!  Here’s my Chicago top ten:

IMG_0505     IMG_0370#1.  Surprisingly, my favorite hours of the week were the ones that Laurel was “at work.” She writes for “Photojojo” and that involved mornings breakfasting in interesting coffee shops while she tapped away at her computer and I poured over a book.  All those quiet hours together felt luxurious– companionable small talk and working over mugs of tea…   (photos:  peanut butter and jelly bar–our breakfast dessert!  And Laurel at work in our her old standby coffee house, Filter.)

IMG_0363     IMG_0492#2.  And you know we managed to find some good things to eat.  Late night Chicago hot dogs at the neighborhood spot,  bowl’s full of silky noodles and veggies at Penny’s, a chilaquiles brunch at Prasino’s,  vegan tacos at Native Foods…  I’m not weighing myself this week back home yet!   (photos:  outside the neighborhood hot dog shop.  Colorful–and delicious– vegan tacos)

IMG_0452     IMG_0427#3.  Once Larry joined us, we spent a intriguing morning in the Field Museum.  I kept wishing my 3rd graders could have tagged along to see things we had talked about in science lessons.  And I couldn’t resist taking loads of animal photos to email off to the grand-girls in China.  It was big fun.

IMG_0544   IMG_0546    IMG_0635
 #4.  Laurel’s  a walker–so we spent lots of time getting from here to there through north Chicago neighborhoods.  I loved the traditional brick homes of Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods.   (photos: 2 houses on Laurel’s street and a grand home in Wicker Park)

IMG_0613     IMG_0612#5.  It was big fun to sit over meals and talk with Laurel’s room mates Raul and Keighty– such bright and creative people.  And to meet other friends who were coming and going.
(photos: dinner time, 2 old friends)

IMG_0510    IMG_0521
 #6.  For Larry, of course, a good trip to Chicago includes a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. So we bundled up and joined the crowds rooting in the Cubs.   Fun to be in such a historic old ballpark.  (photos: outside and in the stands at Wrigley Field)

IMG_0373    IMG_0381    #7.  When Laurel and I get together, there is always a little shopping involved–browsing at Myopic Bookstore, picking out favorite little art pieces at the Paperish Mess shop, gawking at the bounty at the huge Wholefoods, picking up treats at the Crate & Barrel Outlet…  (photos:  Laurel reading at the childrens’ books shelves and a grind your own variety of nut butter station)

45454_1466901645412_971092_n    IMG_0531
#8.  We hopped into Laurel’s little brown Fiat 500 to travel out to the suburbs to join my cousins for a beautiful breakfast by the fireplace and another night to travel out to meet up with old Spain friends for dinner and lots of good talk…  (photos:  Cousin Brenda at home and old friends from Spain Paula and Elaine)

IMG_0593     IMG_0596
#9.  On Saturday Larry, Laurel and I trekked the 2 1/2 miles from her house into the city center.  We stopped at an amazing Italian bakery midway to snack on cannolis, shopped a bit on Michigan Ave., lunched at Bao Wow (fast food Chinese buns), walked along Lake Michigan and stopped for churros and thick hot chocolate (just like Spain!) at Xoco.  (photos:  Hancock building and our walk along Lake Michigan)

IMG_0614     IMG_0628#10.  Sunday we walked just a few blocks to church at “the Painted Door” a group that meets in an old  high school auditorium– and brunched on chillaquiles and banana bread french toast in the sunshine before we set off for the aiport and home to California.
(photos:  On the walk to church and a Prasino brunch together before we take off for home)

Thanks Laurel for all the good times in Chicago.  You know we loved the time with you!