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Hello everyone! I’ve been in Chicago for three full days now and the weather has been absolutely GORGEOUS. It’s been in the upper 30s to mid-40s everyday, with clear skies and nice brisk fall-like weather. Just perfect. It’s supposed to get colder the rest of the week, with possible rain tomorrow, which could put a damper on New Year’s Eve celebrations.

I’ve been staying with Mark and his family at his brother’s condo in Schaumburg, a suburb northwest of Chicago proper. My first day here Mark and I took the 1-hour ride on the metro downtown and rode the el around and walked the Magnificent Mile. After walking around and window shopping ALL day long, my knees and upper calf were aching to the point where I could barely walk — not a good thing when you have to walk to get everywhere. In fact, I still have knots up and down my leg and the cyst in my knee is completely flared up. I think I overdid it :( We spent the next day sleeping in and then lounging around Andrew’s condo. Today we went to one of two remaining conservatories in Chicago. Mark’s mom really likes gardens and horticulture and that sort of thing, and she’s also into art, so we’ll probably go to the Art Institute tomorrow (much to her sons’ chagrine — they seem pretty bored by art). The conservatory was pretty cool, I learned a great deal about plants since I’ve never taken the time to appreciate anything like that before.

So far the food has been the standout attraction (well, this is me after all — what would any trip be without the food?!?). We’ve eaten in Chinatown, Greektown, and at a Chinese buffet in Darien. The buffet had all-you-can-eat fresh lychees. I’ve never had them fresh (always canned or in jelly form), so this was quite a treat for me. People were piling their plates high with the lychees. And they also had fresh peach, papaya, and honeydew slushes. Those two things alone were worth the $10 charge — the rest of the food was standard Chinese buffet fare, nothing to write home about. Definitely a lot of bang for your buck though.

My first day out we went to Chinatown, where Mark and I ate at Joy Yee’s Noodle Shop. They had the biggest selection of fresh fruit drinks I have ever seen offered in an asian establishment. We’re talking real fresh mangoes, papayas, kiwis, bananas, taro. None of that powdery artifical stuff. They had those industrial blenders that can pulverize bricks (Mark will have to fill in the brand name later), so they could pump out the drinks pretty fast. We ordered amazingly delicious fresh taro and fresh mango bubble teas. Mmmm. They had avacado shakes and these lychee sprites that seemed to be pretty popular among the customers, and I’d like to try those in the future. The food was an eclectic mix of asian cuisine — korean, thai, vietnamese, and chinese were all heavy players on the menu. Everything looked so good, and Mark has been there a dozen times and confirmed that everything was amazing, so it was hard limiting our choices. We ended up ordering a combination plate appetizer, delicious spicy green beans, and a chicken, scallop, and basil fried rice dish. The food was great. And the food at everyone else’s tables looked mouthwatering as well. I kept eyeing the mussels at the table next to ours. I could literally eat at Joy Yee’s everyday and not feel like I missed out on anything. Now I know where I’ll be eating everytime I come to Chicago.

That first morning Mark and I also happened upon Lou Mitchell’s, a restaurant near Union Station that serves breakfast all day long. Mark had read about it in his Chicago guidebook, and he’s such a huge breakfast fan, that when we saw it, we had to stop by and check it out. As soon as Mark tasted his eggs (he ordered regular scrambled eggs, nothing fancy), his eyes grew big and round like saucers, and with this huge grin on his face he said “These are the best eggs I’ve ever eaten in my life!!” Sure enough, I tried them, and they were light and oh-so-fluffy eggy goodness. Highly recommended. They had a monstrous omelet menu so I can only imagine how good they would be. Mark’s breakfast also came with some tasty turkey sausages and some perfectly crisped potatoes. I got the oatmeal — kind of watery and bland, but the spiced apples and cinnamon helped me get it down.

Today we had dinner at Greek Islands, on Adams Street in Greektown. I felt bloated and gorged from the previous days’ eating binges, so I only ordered a bowl of avagalemno (Greek lemon rice soup). Mark’s mom and Andrew shared the family dinner, which came with a preposterous amount of food. Greek caviar and savanaki (flaming cheese) appetizers, Greek salad, rice, potatoes, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), moussaka (an eggplant dish), meatballs, lamb, and sliced gyro meat. Baklava and some sort of custard wrapped in phyllo dough for dessert. Like I said, lots of food. Plus everyone got stuffed on fresh bread and olive oil to begin with. I tried a little of everything, and I was pretty much stuffed to capacity by the end of the meal. Again.

This weekend we’re staying with Mark’s friend from high school in downtown Chicago, near UIC. His friend Derek is doing his residency here, and amazingly, he’s on a really lax shift right now (after three months of 90-hour weeks – ugh!), so he and Mark get to catch up and play video games. That’s what they’re doing right now, in fact. Playing some Star Wars video game. Derek is going to get us into the Aquarium for free on Monday, which should be cool. And after that, Mark goes home on Tuesday and I get to go hang out with David P. for a couple days.

3 Responses to “Hello from the Windy City”

  1. kledus says:

    sheesh….busy girl!

    my sister says you have free reign over tghe kitchen on wednesday night….dinner’s on us ;)

  2. admin says:

    Oooh, okay, sounds like a plan. Any idea what we’re making?

  3. kledus says:

    that was more of a “we” as in “you” ;)

    i’ll help though…they are all about trying new foods and such…maybe something crazy and new eh?

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