Saturday, August 28, 2010

gnat has an accident...

blogging is suspended temporarily, on account of poor little carmine the camera having sustained a fall while i was in LA. he is under the care of best buy's geek squad for the next two weeks. as soon as i get some photos from friends' cameras i'll be able to update on so-cal adventures. (yeah, i know this is supposed to be about chicago adventures but the weekend was so kickass that i'll make an exception.)

in the meantime, i'll leave you with this photo, a staple of my california diet:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

gnat channels chicago from the other side of the country

so, i'm still in california, shall we say, indefinitely.

tomorrow i'll be making the cross-state trek from my parents' house to LA (does it still count as cross-state if you're going north/south? sounds strange to me.) for probably the 29586th time, but i suppose i'll be doing it with a renewed sense of vigor as it will be the first time in six years that i am a visitor to southern california rather than a resident.

i guess travel channel is in the middle of a man vs. food marathon, and i happened to turn it on during an episode featuring chicago foods. ok fine, i watched several episodes and one about chicago finally came on. anyway, adam richman is currently stuffing his face with "the meaty legend" at gino's east a few blocks from my apartment.

a few moments ago he was at al's beef, where he got his italian beef sandwich DIPPED. i, of course, tried al's beef for the first time a few weeks ago, but my sandwich sampling trio failed to notice that we could get our sandwiches DIPPED.

total fail. now i have to go back.

Friday, August 13, 2010

gnat goes goes back back to cali cali

and gets laid out by the flu the moment her plane touches down at san francisco international. awesome.

no matter. it means i get to take some time out from lying on the couch, wheezing, knitting, and watching harry potter movies to post a couple of pictures.

thursday night i got a little crazy at trader joe's for snacks and two buck chuck (which costs three dollars a bottle in chicago... seriously chicago, wtf.) for a picnic in millenium park. cara, eric, laurena, maya, daniel and i wined, dined, enjoyed some free jazz, and hobnobbed with some hungry mosquitos.

on friday myself, cara, aleck, and cara's friend lisa who was in town for a brief visit, went looking for billy goat's tavern - a chicago legend. this saturday night live skit is evidently about it. there are several locations around the greater chicago area... we chose the absolute sketchiest one.

in case we weren't sure we were in the right place, this sign was posted outside:

also notable this week, i did battle with and subsequently vanquished a disgusting little apartment intruder. i had to sacrifice a tupperware to do it but he's gone and isn't coming back with any of his little cockroach friends. gross.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

gnat has more visitors

and (more) more cupcakes, which cara and i got to reward ourselves for the rapid progress we've made in apartment arranging. (total bs. we still don't have a couch, a table, chairs, a vegetable peeler...)

we tried the goat fig merlot and salted caramel:

the goat fig merlot had a slightly cheesy cake with fig filling and red wine tinged frosting. the caramel had caramel flavored cake, caramel flavored frosting, and caramel oozing out of the center. go figure.

the next day (yeah, i'm pretty ashamed about this) i took eric, laurena, and maya, who are in town for a visit, into more to show them the ridiculous selection. we walked out with MORE more cupcakes. this time we went with cookies and cream and gin and juice.

i have no idea how or why anyone would make a gin flavored cupcake, but they did it.

i also learned a valuable lesson, which is that if you walk into the shop 15 minutes before closing and buy one cupcake you will probably walk out with a few free ones to keep it company.

we brunched at orange restaurant, home of frushi, fruit sushi, which is as silly as it sounds. the flavors of the day were pineapple with blueberry rice and kiwi grape with coconut melon rice.

they were significantly more difficult to eat with chopsticks than actual sushi.

despite my usual dislike of sweet breakfast fare, this week's pancake special at orange was too intriguing to pass up. four sets of silver dollar pancakes, each with a different combination of citrus, herb, and cheese.

with the exception of the grapefruit cottage cheese, these were very tasty, but they did leave me aching for eggs over-easy and fried potatoes. lesson learned. salty breakfast food is the only breakfast food for me.

we spent the day at the lincoln park zoo and the wizard of oz park, and once we had worked up an appetite we stopped for pizza. yeah, more pizza. this time the culprit was lou malnati's in lincoln park.

we chose to enjoy our pizza al fresco in a nearby park while sipping on a communal two liter of diet coke. it was the ultimate in classy dining.

even if it wasn't, the pizza was still delicious.

also notable this week was my first taco tuesday since leaving california. i was so excited that i had tacos not once but twice at two establishments across the street from each other in the course of one evening. i'm sensing a theme here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

gnat comparison shops

jalees and nicole were in town this weekend and jalees, who had never been to chicago before, had three items on his agenda.

1. italian beef
2. hot dogs
3. deep dish pizza

i turned to google to determine where the absolute best of these three items, starting with the italian beef, could be found. i came up with al's #1 beef, a chain with a location within walking distance of my apartment. it seemed like a simple enough plan.

al's definitely didn't disappoint. however, lunch didn't end there. on the way to al's we had walked by a portillo's and recognized the name as also being known for hot dogs and italian beef. naturally we decided that we needed to try both. we promptly finished our sandwiches at al's, cleaned up, and headed across the street...

...where we maybe got a little carried away.

the people eating next to us watched amusedly as we took several photographs of our food and were kind enough to snap this shot of us. they expressed some incredulity at the sheer amount of food on our table, and when jalees told them about the first half of our lunch adventure this gentleman jokingly offered him the rest of his half finished pizza. jalees, because he's jalees, accepted.

it was a struggle...

but we finished all of it.

the verdict? al's beef wins! the food was greasier and dirtier which, though it sounds counterintuitive, was far more satisfying. portillo's food was just too refined and unsatisfying and - dare i say - touristy.

so don't let the sign fool you!