Weekend Notes

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Friends, food, food, friends. That was the cadence of my weekend and you will be hearing no complaints over here. Because bacon wrapped chorizo stuffed dates at Avec.

CH Distillery

And a nightcap at CH Distillery.

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And a chocolate cream pie that changed my opinion about chocolate cream pie at Bavette’s. Usually, it’s just my husband and I so after the glory that is Bavette’s seafood tower, steak, chicken, and corn (why is that corn so good, someone tell me), we can’t even look at dessert but that’s the benefit of having friends in town who are dessert people- insistence on dessert.

Related: dessert people are the best people.

Also related: can everyone we love and adore spending time with please move to Chicago? Thanks.

Not pictured: fried pickles for lunch at the Butcher’s Tap, drinks and apps at Gilt and the egg sandwich I needed from the Eastman Egg Company truck that was basically parked outside of my front door on Sunday. Like I said- friends, food, food, friends.

Which brings us to tonight:

veggie soup

Vegetable soup as far as the eye can see. #balance

Aside from the really wonderful meals, this weekend left me so full of everything I love about life- time spent with our people. Old stories, new stories, laughing, listening, future, past. That connection feeds me and can’t imagine a life without a table between us sharing all of that…and dessert.

32nd Annual Music Box Theatre Christmas Show

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Music Box Marquee

Walking by as the marquee was changed at the Music Box Theatre reminded me that I need to get tickets for the annual Christmas Show. Sure enough, they went on sale on Monday. December 11-24th, The Music Box has showings of It’s A Wonderful Life and White Christmas that include a singalong with Santa in their gorgeous, historic theatre and it’s even better than you might imagine. My mom, husband and I went for the first time last year and let’s just say we won’t be caught without bells this time around.

Snag your tickets now-this is a whole thing and they go quickly. You won’t regret it and it’s worth mentioning that there is a bar should this much Christmas cheer require a cocktail.

Weekend Notes

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Halloween Leaves

If you grew up in the Midwest, Halloween was the one day a year when you were convinced your parents were trying to ruin your life. Terrible weather was a guarantee and in trying to make sure you didn’t get, I don’t know, pneumonia, your costume got stuffed under a snowsuit/raincoat over your costume making it impossible for anyone to know that you were a gypsy/witch/Scarlett O’Hara (for example). As it was pouring down rain on my walk to workout on Saturday morning, I thought about this and how twenty-some years later, Halloween still means layers protecting you from the gross elements but I was decidedly less mad because it’s a fun memory and I was listening to a good Halloween playlist.

LB Halloween 2015

Our cat Luna Bell was a hero in a half shell for Halloween. No American Short Hairs were harmed in the making of this photo- LB was a purry little kitty while putting it on and after shimmying out of it, she promptly rolled inches from where Ryan was sitting for some more attention.

2015 Pumpkin

My mom always made holidays such a happy time for me when I was a kid and when carving this pumpkin on Saturday, I was instantly transported back to standing on one of her kitchen chairs because I was too short to scoop out the insides. However, not actually being a kid anymore meant I got to admire this year’s handiwork while sipping a Blood & Sand cocktail which seemed fitting for the holiday. As did my “Go Green, Go Halloween” themed pumpkin- Spartan pride knows no bye week.

Nov 1 2015


And just like that, it was November 1st and 70 degrees- a complete 360 from Saturday. Again, if you live in the Midwest you know what a miracle yesterday was and were outside the entire day like we were soaking it up. Being able to eat outside anytime after Labor Day is the biggest treat in Chicago which meant we were basically obligated to get bloodies and burgers at Crosby’s Kitchen to marvel at our Fall luck.

Happy Monday, friends. There are sunny days and warm temps ahead this week which means the “it’s not snowing yet” luck continues so lets keep the enjoying every second train going, shall we?

Super Blood Moon

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I know it has been 3 days but I am still not over the Super Blood Moon. I usually don’t care about this sort of thing but I saw it rise from behind cloud cover when I was killing time walking around the Diversey Marina while waiting for my husband to finish at the driving range and the next thing I knew I was sprinting toward Lake Michigan to get a closer look (I know that’s not how it works but my legs moved to a “get to the water” chant or something. Super weird.)


I got there and it was a party. Tons of people were perched on the break wall. Some had wine and food, some had massive camera operations set up, some were like me and went “holy shit” and sat down to watch the Moon like a movie.


Oh and what a show it was. I stayed until it was dark, not taking my eyes off this huge orb of light that made a glittering moonpath on the water the higher it rose. When I did take my eyes off of it, I noticed that the Moon was the only light; no one was on their phones*, everyone was as enamored as I was. It’s rare to have a shared experience in public like that nowadays. (*The above picture shows everyone on their phones but I swear, once it was dark, people had their eyes glued eastward.)


After a quick Google search in the car, I found that the eclipse was going to happen at 9:13. Clouds had moved in so I assumed that what I saw at the lake was going to be it. It was almost creepy how the clouds parted exactly at 9:13. We had a wide open view from our rooftop! We had a glass of wine, waved to neighbors on the rooftops on either side of us, talked about the science of eclipses and enjoyed what I think will end up being the last of that Indian summer we were having.

And holy cow- Super Blood Moon lived up to its hype. Something that is truly rare, indeed.

A Review: Momotaro

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Every time I ask anyone if they have been to Momotaro, I get the same reaction: Make a reservation, go as soon as you can. I don’t take culinary dares lightly so a reservation was procured and a month later, our table was ready.

They were so right.

And you know who else was right? Our server. Thank goodness for her expert guidance because the Momotaro menu is extensive. We pointed out a few things we knew we wanted (raw tuna anything, short ribs) but for the most part, we opted for more of an omakase approach: respectfully leaving to another to decide what’s best (i.e. the faroe islands salmon, the bbq eel rice, and heaven help me if that piece of squid nigiri wasn’t the best thing on earth).

Everything last detail of Momotaro is meticulous, from the plating to the decor to how they prepare the food. There are several kitchens: one for wood-fired dishes, and the sushi bar that is the centerpiece of the dining room, letting you see the chefs at work. The hallway to the restroom features a mural with close to a million ink strokes. And back to the food- if serving steak on it’s own personal grill atop a banana leaf isn’t detail oriented, I don’t know what is.

momotaro steak

Let’s just say this wagyu striploin officially made me someone who enjoys red meat. Cooked to perfection, just under the medium rare we requested, allowing for it to cook just a teeny bit further on the charcoal grill it arrived on.

Beyond being one of the best meals we have ever eaten, the entire evening was an experience and really, a whole lot of fun. It wasn’t a special occasion but by the time we left (2+ hours later!) it felt like it had been.

Momotaro Kitchen

1 Year

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Anniversary Langham

This last year has practically zoomed by. We spent our honeymoon in Italy, took more weekend trips than we ever have, we both changed jobs, and all of the life things that happen in between absolutely happened in between…and somehow, June 21st was here again and we have been married for a year. Wow.

We celebrated our wedding reception at The Langham Chicago so we returned this past weekend to enjoy a place that has so many happy memories for us. The morning of our wedding, we went swimming, just the two of us and it sounds silly but doing a few laps in that gorgeous pool after our couples massage on Saturday just reminded me of the sheer togetherness, the team-ness of being married. It’s you and me, me and you and my goodness do I love being with that man.

Also wonderful- we received the nicest well wishes from friends and family celebrating our anniversary. Being our first, I didn’t know people did that and it was so…kind. So so so kind. A friend sent a bottle of champagne to the hotel, my parents sent chocolate covered strawberries,and I brought the cards we were sent to open in our room at the hotel. It was a beautiful reminder that the people who supported and celebrated us a year ago still do and still are.

Oh and it rained on Saturday night! During the cocktail hour of our reception, the sky opened up and it poured poured poured. I remember looking at the Wrigley Building and the river through the hard downpour and then back at all of our friends and family clutching glasses of bubbly, thinking that this was the only place on the planet I wanted to be. This year, we had just opened the bottle of prosecco and were biting into the strawberries when we looked out the window to see a similar scene. Watching lightening hit the rods atop the Sear Tower, I felt the same way- this was the only place on the planet I wanted to be.

I also felt that way when this insane spread was rolled into our room for breakfast- the Langham is a complete dream.

langham breakfast

So here’s to another year of the celebrations, the rain and always know that regardless, there is nowhere on the planet I would rather be.

love | nothing matters more.

Summer Rain

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Spotted through the window of The Ronsley at their opening party a few weeks back, The Hancock Tower in the fog. I got caught in the rain after I left and I remember thinking “a Spring rain, this will likely be the last one of these” and I kind of enjoyed it because look at this view. Fast forward to tonight and the torrential downpour on my head as I sprinted from the el to home. But again, it’s hard not to enjoy it a little bit. After all, we have a pretty great city to get rained on in.

A Sandwich Tour

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JP Graziano Veggie Sub

Let’s talk about sandwiches.

I don’t know if it’s been the cold weather lately or the kale bender I’ve been rocking the last month (kale salad! kale as pasta! kale burgers!) but all I want right now is sandwiches. Delicious things in between crusty, fluffy bread. Straight and to the point. So that’s what I have done, Friday through Sunday. Sandwich city.

And lucky for us, Chicago has never ending options of almost anything. Here is my roundup of sandwich glory:

JP Graziano (West Loop): Let me count the ways I love this Italian grocery. 1- this place is the real deal. JP Graziano’s isn’t trying to be authentic, it is authentic- it’s been in business for over 75 years, specializing in high-end Italian meats and cheeses and still feels like the old school Chicago operation the founder who emigrated from Sicily dreamed up. 2- the sandwiches are made to order, with each ingredient being sliced seconds after you make your decision so fresh is an understatement. The veggie sub with roasted eggplant nearly changed my life and the dudes sitting behind me on the cute little outside patio were losing their minds over the Mr. G (provolone, prosciutto, salami & soppresata). A thousand thumbs up.

The Butcher’s Tap (Lakeview): This space was originally a butcher’s shop so it’s return to locally sourced, fresh from the farm, non-processed deli meats and cheeses makes sense. You can build your own or choose from their specialty sandwiches…and let me tell you, my husband and I have done the legwork, none of them are bad. Simple, good food…and the 80 beers on tap aren’t bad either.

Dinkel’s (Lakeview): To complete my weekend trifecta, I headed to Dinkel’s for a breakfast sammie. This is the only place possibly in the world where I don’t mind waiting in line. Everyone is so friendly and happy to be loading up on donuts/cakes/cookies and they play music that reminds me of what it must have been like when Dinkel’s opened in 1922 so it’s generally a really pleasant time. The hidden gem in this place is their cafe; egg sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, all on Dinkel’s wide variety of amazing bread, made-to-order in a little back kitchen. I went for the veggie baker’s sunrise (white cheddar, avocado, spinach, egg and pesto on six grain bread). Now I can safely say I love everything about this place.

Honorable mentions:

If there was more time or more stomach space this weekend, I also would have paid homage to Xoco for a torta, Panes for the Turkey Turkey (my goodness, that tomato bread) and The Corned Beef Factory to get my husband, well, corned beef and some honey drizzled donuts puff for me…


{Ed. note: working late in the office tonight, Jimmy John’s was procured. Because sometimes, you just need a sandwich. Fast.}

Summer in Chicago

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Chicago Summer

Rain storms that punctuate warm, sunny days can only mean one thing: It’s summer in Chicago! This time of year always sneaks up on me because 1) I never think it’s going to actually happen and 2) making plans for the summer sort of feels irrelevant. It’s summer! In Chicago! Do whatever you want, whenever you want, it’s all going to be great!

However, summer in Chicago does mean there are a lot of great events going on. If you want to have a few things on deck, here are a few happenings coming up that I think are worth putting in your calendar:
June 2- September 29th Tuesdays on the Terrace: free jazz concert on the Museum of Contemporary Art’s terrace and sculpture garden every Tuesday from 5:30-8pm.
June 13 Brew to be WildA craft beer festival in the Lincoln Park Zoo
June 23-September 1 Millennium Park Summer Film Series: There is nothing I love more than a warm summer night underneath Priztker Pavilion. There are a long list of films being shown (don’t forget to BYOB and pack some snacks!) but I’m so excited for for the July 28th showing of Almost Famouslove that movie.
4th of July Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are home against Marlins at 6:20pm- perfect for an afternoon cookout following by singing the National Anthem at the top of your lungs within the Friendly Confines.
July 10-12 Windy City Smokeout: barbecue and county music downtown. Done, done and done.
July 16 Green City Market Chef’s BBQ: Some of the best chefs in Chicago take to the park for an evening of BBQ. I love how chefs in Chicago are like celebrities- they deserve it.

The Violet Hour

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The Violet Hour

After 6 years of living in Chicago, we finally made it to The Violet Hour. Curtained salons, complete darkness except candlelight, gorgeous cocktails, no cell phones allowed so complete attention on each other…a violet hour (or two) was exactly what last night called for and I am still practically swooning over the non-contrived romance of it all today.