Wednesday, September 28, 2011

gnat procrastinates

coming to you live from elly's, where i am sitting in the corner (creepily taking covert pictures with my phone) attempting to get some work done.

i am outfitted with an endless supply of decaf and bopping to the 80s pop pandora station over the speakers. send me your productivity vibes, internets!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

gnat's quarter century: complete with flaming cheese

so, i should start by telling you that ever since greekstravaganza and my failed attempt to recreate saganaki (flaming cheese) in my kitchen with cooking sherry, i have been itching to use the "things on fire" tag again. unfortunately there has been a total lack of things on fire in my life since february... i suppose this is not a thing that people normally complain about, but for months i have been impatiently awaiting the day when i would triumphantly tag another post "things on fire."

anyway - the day started like most others, with a pot of coffee and several quality hours on my word processor. thus is the glamorous life of a graduate student. then, because it's tradition (fine, i've only done it once) i walked to the chicago city farm stand on clybourn and division for birthday tomatoes:

cara came home with treats of a delicious though slightly less healthy variety, in the form of blue cheese walnut praline, cookies and cream, vanilla, and key lime cupcakes from more:

we were joined at the apartment by aleck, eileen, lisa, and cara's visiting friend austen, and trekked over to greektown for dinner. believe it or not, i hadn't been since my first visit to chicago almost two years ago. there are several greek restaurants in the area (and a walgreen's whose sign is written in greek letters), we settled on greek islands.

i was not prepared for how much food i was about to consume. really, in deciding on greek birthday dinner i hadn't thought much further than the very first course - wait for it...


this fellow is less enthused by the fact that the cheese is on fire than any of us were (or maybe just me, whatever) but we'll chalk that up to the fact that he gets to do this several times on any given night. i also made him hold off on putting it out with the lemon until i could get a decent picture, which may be why he's so cranky.

after the flaming cheese there were gyros with tsatziki and skordalia (garlic potato spread),

followed by a greek salad, of course,

and then several family style plates of greek favorites. clockwise from the bottom, greek rice pilaf, spanakopita, pastitsio, potatoes, keftedes, and moussaka.

i don't know what these people were thinking when they designed this menu. it is way too much food to eat even a fraction of comfortably.

then (why!?) they gave us dessert. baklava, galactoboureko, and some spice cake that i didn't recognize and concluded that it must not really be greek.

like i said, this is way too much food to eat even a fraction of comfortably. we took something like four boxes of food home with us and somehow i STILL wound up so full that i immediately fell asleep upon arriving back at the apartment. how's that for a wild birthday celebration?

excellent variety and sheer volume aside, the food at greek islands is good but not spectacular and i'll probably try a different restaurant next time i'm in greektown. still, they fulfilled my only prerequisite for an amazing birthday dinner celebration - things on fire. (lies. other prerequisite: awesome people to share it with - check!) i'll save you all my expounding on how old i feel (except to let you know that as it is now officially fall and the temperature has started to dip, you can look forward to my whining about aching joints in addition to all of my typical complaints... you're welcome.) and wrap up instead with a big thank you for everyone who helped celebrate my 25th (gah) birthday, last weekend in california and this week in chicago. you're wonderful!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

gnat hangs on to summer for dear life

today, for the first time in months, i had to throw a scarf in my bag on the way out of the house.

four days ago i was here:

i haven't talked at all about the beach, or the "beach" as i call it (complete with mocking finger-quotes, much to the chagrin of any native chicagoan in the near vicinity). i prefer instead to call it the lakeshore, though according to wikipedia's definition of a beach it qualifies. go ahead, call me a snob - i miss the sound of crashing waves and the smell of saltwater. in any case, it's a nice place to go read a book on warm days, and last thursday was no exception.

one thing i really enjoy about chicago's beaches is that they're so close to the rest of civilization. beaches in california tend to feel really far removed from city life. in chicago they're literally across the street from each other.

this picture was taken from north avenue beach, which is a little further from downtown, but at the oak street beach a few blocks north of my apartment the hancock tower and all of the buildings around it are literally looming right on top of you. it's a little bit surreal - to one side of you the expanse of lake michigan, to the other side a 96-story skyscraper. it makes for a very different beach experience than i'm used to.

anyway, on thursday i went to the beach. i didn't stay long, because it was uncomfortably hot and humid. today (monday) i took a scarf out with me and had to use it. it's labor day, which traditionally marks the end of the summer season, but i have my fingers crossed for a few more weeks of sun...