Sunday, July 24, 2011

gnat's chinatown doubleheader

back in the day, when i first moved to chicago, i lived about four blocks from chinatown. because of its proximity i always intended to walk over and look around, but somehow it never happened. fast forward to more than a year later -

i finally made it! accompanied by taylor (who also had somehow never been... inexcusable considering both of us live mere steps from the red line) and sean.

you will all be shocked to hear that my primary objective upon arriving was to eat as many things as possible, beginning with a steamed pork bun:

if i look mildly guilty it's because i steered my travel companions almost immediately out of the street and into the first bakery i saw and forced them to wait while i agonized over which tasty treat i wanted.

after wandering through the shops (which i have no pictures of, because evidently i only take pictures of food...) we stopped to sample some fried things. we feasted on egg rolls, wontons, and something called mantou which is just fried dough that's served with sweetened condensed milk for dipping. yes, straight up sweetened condensed milk.

we also ate crab rangoon and potstickers:

you may notice that in the photograph above i am wearing different clothing than in the previous photos. you may also notice that i am holding my fingers up in such a way that i seem to be parodying asian tourists taking pictures. not so, friends! taylor and i are holding up two fingers because this picture was taken during our second visit to chinatown, the day after our first! what possible reason could we have had to go back to chinatown less than 24 hours after leaving it (besides delicious fried things, which are always a good reason to go to chinatown)?


you see, chinatown round one happened to fall on the third of july (also my sister's birthday, happy birthday alex!) and somehow none of us realized until several hours after we left that we had been in possibly the only part of chicago where we were likely to find sparklers and that we really, really wanted sparklers.

so, we went back to chinatown. sean couldn't join us, but we took andrew along for round two.

the stated purpose of our second visit was to find sparklers, but somehow i got sidetracked by more food. what can i say - we stopped in so many stores to inquire about combustible items, i lost interest pretty quickly and became focused instead on delicious snacks.

taylor, on the other hand, was undeterred, and had asked in every store but one when finally the woman behind the counter of the last shop gleefully produced a massive white paper bag full of legitimate fireworks, only $15! as tempted as we were, we said no thank you and bought some cheap dinky ones instead.

because we were scheduled to attend a fourth of july barbecue that evening, we also purchased a whole barbecued duck.

his head may have broken mostly off as we tried to wrangle him out of the box, but we put on a good show for pictures.

despite having gone to chinatown twice on consecutive days and spent several hours scouring the streets for festive explosives (which due to a lapse of judgment i just googled in an attempt to find a good synonym, having momentarily forgotten my last name... apologies in advance to cara in case the department of homeland security comes knocking in the middle of the night) we did not light any sparklers on the fourth of july. in fact, i have no idea where they ended up. i would call the excursion(s) an epic fail, but our search led me to a new part of town and gave me an excuse to sample several delicious foods, which is a definite win.

(side note: the only reason i can think of to be upset about not having lit the sparklers is that since my greekstravaganza post in february i have been itching to use the "things on fire" tag again, and this would have been a perfect opportunity to do it. apparently not a lot of things in my life are on fire. i realize this is a strange thing to be upset about.)

(other side note: i had to ask harmony, who is my resident knower of things about baseball, if it would be weird to call two things that happened one after the other but not on the same day a doubleheader. she said it was probably ok.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

gnat and eileen's hipstamatic chicago afternoon

shortly after i posted today's blog entry, in which i complained about how miserable humidity is, my tutee cancelled our lesson for today leaving me with a free afternoon. i immediately enlisted eileen's aid in coming up with an exciting activity that was both free and air conditioned. without hesitation, she suggested the art institute. little did eileen know that i very recently (and by very recently i mean last night) finally jumped on the hipstamatic bandwagon and was itching to play with it, and a trip to the art institute was the perfect opportunity to do so.

(for those of you who, like me, are not well versed in the exciting world of iphone applications, hipstamatic is a program that takes vintage looking pictures with your phone's camera. it is shockingly addictive.)

what follows is a sample of the photographic results of our afternoon in the museum:

because we worked up quite an appetite at the museum we adjourned to devon seafood grill (also air conditioned) for happy hour. i have been obsessing about oysters since my visit to the publican last month (which i just realized i have yet to write about... this is awkward.) and have been intending to go to devon's happy hour for 75 cent oysters on the half shell for weeks.

eileen and i started with wine flights,

before receiving our oysters. (they were magnificent, and made even better by the fact that they are served with teeny tiny bottles of tabasco sauce that are now floating somewhere at the bottom of my purse.)

you can't have too much of a good thing, so we also tried their oyster shooters.

now, a dozen oysters is not actually that much food, so we supplemented them with an order of mussels. (i'm not kidding anyone. the real reason we got mussels is because we are a couple of fat kids. if you don't think so now, you will in a minute. i didn't even tell you about the smoked salmon flat bread, because i was so busy eating it that i forgot to take a picture.)

at the very last possible moment, five minutes before the end of happy hour, eileen and i decided that despite all the seafood we had already consumed, the deal on lobster (at cost) was just too damn good to pass up. so we did what any reasonable people in our situation would do - we ordered a lobster.

and it was the best idea ever. he was delicious. and cheap. but mostly delicious.

predictably, the meal ended in lobster carnage.

thoroughly stuffed with seafood, we braved the heat once more to return to our respective places of residence. as a result of our adventure i am feeling far less upset about the climate outside. if it means more air conditioned adventures, i say bring it on!

gnat learns the meaning of the word "humidity"

guys. seriously. guys.

it is miserable outside.

according to, it is 96 degrees out with 51% humidity. and this is an improvement over yesterday. AN IMPROVEMENT, PEOPLE. yesterday when i left the apartment it was 103 degrees with 83% humidity. how is that even possible?

in case you are, like i was before this week, not familiar with what 103 degrees and 83% humidity feels like, imagine that you are taking a shower wearing all your clothes. a very hot shower. and there's a ton of steam. and instead of being in the comfort of your own bathroom, you are outdoors and the sun is pounding on you, 103 degrees fahrenheit of pounding sun hitting you, surrounded by steam, in all your clothes, taking a very hot shower. that is what 103 degrees and 83% humidity feels like. and at the end of this hot, steamy, clothed, poundy sun shower, instead of being nice and clean you are sticky and drenched in sweat. disgusting. now imagine trying to breathe in that nonsense. it's enough to make a girl wish she had gills.

because i do NOT have gills, today i am staying holed up in my beautiful air conditioned apartment pretending to work. unfortunately i am experiencing intense writer's block, which is why i've been absent from blogging for several weeks despite having gone on many blogable chicago adventures. send me your writing vibes, internets.