Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hello, Lovah.

Remember that guy (or girl) you dated in your mid-20s? The one who had a lot going for him, but somehow you couldn't quite make it work? That's how I feel when I go to Chicago. I think this time it will be different. I won't get there and spend the whole time wondering why I don't live there. Then I arrive (via train which is sexy in and of itself), and the city sucks me in with its public art, walkable streets, vibrant downtown, parks and transit.  I know I can't make it work. We have jobs and friends and family and a life here in Michigan. Yet maybe somehow we could try. Chicago would be worth it, right?  Maybe it would be a commitment worth making.

I'm not sure when this happened - when I started thinking of cities I adore in terms of a love affair. Chicago and I have been in an on again/off again thing for years. I feel like the city gets me. It just feels right. Of all the cities I've visited in the last decade, Chicago is one that keeps pulling me back.

This trip was a much needed girls' weekend with two of my besties. One of the best things about Michigan is that I've made some of the most amazing friends a girl could ask for. It's been a crazy busy few weeks, and a weekend in one of my favorite cities was just the ticket.

We stayed at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel located in a perfect spot just off Michigan Avenue. With its proximity to Water Tower Place and Bloomingdale's as well as great restaurants it was the perfect place to host girls' weekend.  We arrived on the South Shore commuter train in the early afternoon and headed to 676 Restaurant located in the Omni Hotel. We immediately ordered a round of delicious bloody marys. Our server was right that the Chicagoan bloody mary was more like a salad than a cocktail. It had relish, onions and pickles (with a side of vodka), and it was incredible.

Bloodies at 676
Fueled by cocktails we started our shopping marathon. I was on the hunt for a dress for a wedding in a few months, and we hit all of the department stores along the Magnificent Mile. It was easy to work up an appetite for dinner at one of my favorite Chicago places.

The Purple Pig is indescribably delicious. The flavor profiles in the food there are incomparable. We had fried brussel sprouts and a smear with Mortadella, balsamic and pistachios followed by scallops, pork osso bucco and rib tips. It was paired with a full bodied wine that I could've drank all night if it weren't obscenely expensive. I don't have a sweet tooth, but this was among the best dessert I've ever had. We each ordered one, and they were amazing. I had no idea that peanut butter and ginger were such a natural pairing, but in the semifreddo they were beautiful together. And olive oil cake is potentially the best dessert I've ever had. Incredible.

Saturday morning I needed to run off all of the pork with a 4-miler out and back by the lake. I love running in Chicago because there are people everywhere. It was a brisk, sunny morning, and I was enjoying my first solid run outside in several weeks. The lake was calm and beautiful, and I loved the sky line views as I headed back toward the hotel. It was the perfect warm up to continue the shopping marathon.

We started with breakfast at Oak Tree Restaurant in the Bloomingdale's building followed by shopping for furniture and shoes (we've got diverse interests). Bloomingdale's has extra discounts for visitors, and it helped me get Badgley Mischka shoes that match my fabulous new dress for a steal. We rocked out every store on the Magnificent Mile before realizing it was late afternoon and time for a cocktail. 

Who doesn't love a good deal on shoes?
We found one at NoMI, a chic spot near the hotel. I love both creative cocktails and gin, and NoMI had just what I was looking for. I had a cocktail that was essentially a gin Manhattan, and that is a genius concoction. We enjoyed a late afternoon snack of brussel sprouts (the food of the weekend) and a meat and cheese board. 

An afternoon cocktail/snack
After fashion shows with all of our new gear and some relaxing at the hotel we headed out to Rosebud, a very traditional Italian restaurant. I had the tortellini carbonara, followed by desserts that were enormous and delicious. It definitely negated all of the running from earlier in the day. Totally worth it.

These desserts at legit.
On Sunday morning we enjoyed a quick breakfast at Tempo Cafe near the hotel. It was probably the least satisfactory dining experience of the weekend, but the place was packed with people. That's generally a good sign. 

This weekend was about fabulous friendship, delicious food, great shopping, and for me to visit Chicago, Mi Amor. I definitely came back with the usual enamored view of the city...looking for ways to make it work. But maybe it's better as a long distance thing. My wallet can't handle being that close to Bloomie's and Nordstrom. The long distance thing helps keep the flame burning, so I'll dream of you until we meet again.

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