27 February 2011

ELEVEN CITY DINER

It seems as though that no matter where I live, I always find a neighborhood restaurant that becomes "my spot". I have a few in the South Loop that I like to frequent, but the one I go to with out-of-town-friends and almost always when I'm hungover is Eleven City Diner on Wabash and 11th. A Jewish diner and deli with a giant menu complete with brunch/lunch/weekly specials and your token celebrity named entrees including the Lou Reed and the Jeff Garland. While it's not my all-time-favorite diner, it's close to home, always serves up corned beef hash hot and quick, and the cream soda and never-ending coffee always have me leaving satisfied and sluggish. If you ever come to visit, I promise we will go here for brunch or a late night snack!


26 February 2011

Recent Vinyl

I love the currently listening to feature of blogging, as well as Music Mondays and such - it's really fun to find out about new music/tracks from this community. I recently bought a new record player and my records both used and new have been in heavy rotation. This past weekend in NYC I had the chance to stop by Bleecker Street Records, home of a very fat record store cat, lots of used cds, and a really great vinyl room in the basement. I'm all for finding sweet vintage at thrift stores, but in places like this, I tend to geek out and find hipster indie records that I only have the cd/mp3 for. I know I am the brunt of so many hipster/Pitchfork/OMGVINYL jokes for even posting this, but I look back on my Mom and Dad's record collection and I think, damn, they bought what they liked. And shit, this is what I like. So if you don't like it - you can step off.


PS CAN I JUST SAY I THINK IT'S AWESOME THAT I OWN A VAMPIRE WEEKEND RECORD AND I BOUGHT IT IN NYC. KTHXBAI.

25 February 2011

Top 6 Picks: January (VERY BELATED SRY!)

1) Stabilo Pens: I bought my first set of these pens in Florence from a little stationary store - and I swear by them. They come in the most wonderful colors, write beautifully, and are often packaged in really fantastic carrying cases. Love what you write because of how you are writing it. The sleek cool color design of these pens adds a total pop and inspiration to whatever it is that you are jotting down.

2) Slingshot Planner: I bought my first Slingshot planner from Myopic books in 2009, and again - I swear by this product. Designed and executed by artists from all over, this calendar takes your focus off of the mundane schedule, off of being on a day-to-day plan. It stresses that each and every day is DIFFERENT and should be embraced as different. Don't get caught up in time, and your schedule, and being tied to a calendar. Everyday is thus hand drawn to look different, with tons of world holidays, and factoids about this day in history. Random recipes, how-tos, a menstruation calendar, Critical Mass schedules, and instructions on making zines, THIS PLANNER HAS IT ALL. Seriously, I love my Slingshot.

3) Hunter Boots and Sockies: I have been wearing Uggs for years, and I loved my Uggs to death (even though they are fairly ugly), they are freaking warm and soft BUT THEY ARE NOT WATERPROOF. I repeat, they are NOT waterproof. I went out in search for a great pair of boots that would keep me warm but also keep me dry. I liked the timeless, effortless, classic look of these boots, and the weird insert sockies. I bought mid-calf boots because I have little legs, and I honestly couldn't be happier with my purchase. Not to mention, I can wear these in the rain come spring (so soon!).

4) Neutrogena Hand Cream: It's winter, it's cold. This stuff rubs on thick, is super creamy, and keeps my hands feeling soft and ready to take on my daily office tasks. I LOVE THIS STUFF.

5) The Gage for Cocktails and Curry Mussels: I started going to The Gage this summer since it's across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago. They have fantastic cocktails, seasonal and year round, and some of the best appetizers to nosh on that I have had in the city. I highly recommend the curry mussels (and order extra toast!) as well as the poutine. The bar has a really great vibe, full of workin' people looking to grab a post-work drink. In fact, when they announced that we could go home early because of the blizzard, I went right to The Gage with Ben and Mari. Sweet decision.

6) The Velvet Underground, Loaded: I've made a new friend who sort of reintroduced me to The Velvet Underground - and it's seriously a mystery to me as to why I wasn't into them years ago. They rock, and they were a direct product of the Warhol/Factory regime. This album is super fantastic, a total sing-along, rock-out and make-bread-to jam that I have been blasting for the last two months. Seriously. Oh and I need to make a confession, I just started listening to the Rolling Stones.

So there are my very late Top Six Picks of January. If you want to recommend music, restaurants, art, something, anything, seriously I am all ears (or eyes I guess on here).

Books I Read

In my absence from this blog, I have been brainstorming different features to keep me posting with some sort of thematic regularity. I love to read, though I do tend to have trouble finishing books from time-to-time. One of my major 2011 goals was to read a book a month, which so far, I have been doing pretty well at. I'd like to keep a record of what I'm reading, how I feel/felt about it, and maybe this can be a forum for discussion on literature as a whole.

Additionally, if you have any recommendations, EMAIL ME/COMMENT. I have a wonderful library card as well as some wonderful used book stores in the Chicagoland area that I love to support and I am totally open to suggestions.

YAY NEW CONTENT, BOOKS, AND READING!!!

10 February 2011

3 Via F. Gianni, Firenze, Italia

These photographs were taken over two years ago from my host family's home in Florence, Italy. I am pretty far removed from this experience - it was very overwhelming and eye-opening, and I think I might still be processing my experience living there. But maybe it's time I start sharing some of that experience with you.

I didn't exactly enjoy living in this space, but Abbie and I made due with what we had - and we were able to feel at ease and at home in the little room with high ceilings we shared. No, we weren't allowed to decorate, tape, or tack anything to the walls, or have a door that locked, of have a fan in our room, but we had fun. Like all of the time that we looked for things to throw at the mosquitos on the ceiling of our room and almost always reached for my copy of The Diary of Anne Frank. Or all of the times we sat in our room with the door closed before dinner guessing based on the smell from the kitchen what was cooking - and both wanting piselli and polpetta (peas and meatballs) and dreading the terrible, hated, awful hotdog omelette. I'm not sure why you loved fish sticks so much, but Abbie, you were the best room mate. And I'm happy we were able to share this funny experience.

09 February 2011

My Personal Snow Day

Currently Listening To: The Greatest Hits by Buddy Holly

Well, I'm sure by now that the blogosphere is completely over reading about the giant Chicago blizzard, so I won't bore you with too many details about my "snowpocalypse" experience. I will say that the museum was kind enough to let us leave work early last Tuesday, and gave us two days of paid time off. I'd like to think I spent that time wisely, mainly cooking, lounging, and watching the storm from the inside of my house. I made four loaves of bread, and a gorgeous brunch which included french toast made on my challah, with a compote of mixed berries & peaches with agave nectar, and I even managed to whip up some of Julia Childs' custardy and fluffy scrambled eggs (seen below).

Valentines were made, some of which will hopefully be in the mail shortly. I've also been making/sampling some recipes from different food blogs including chocolate dipped macaroons from Sprouted Kitchen and white velvet soup from Green Kitchen Stories (both blogs with gorgeous photographs and yummy somewhat healthy recipes)! 

It's funny, I didn't anticipate this blog going in the direction of food and recipes - but lately all I can think/talk/write about is food. I live in a wonderful city with amazing restaurants - and with a mom who fed and taught me well. Are you as readers liking the direction of my blog? Would you like to see more recipe and restaurant reviews, as well as continued market and food photos? Or am I just making you hungry?

02 February 2011

Chicago Foodie Adventure Part IV: Richwell Market

The final destination on our whirlwind tour-de-Chicago took us south to the edge of Pilsen and Chinatown not far from our house in the South Loop. After having a delicious lunch at Urban Belly, our palettes were finely attuned to the Asian flavors and finds awaiting us at Richwell Market. And just in time for the Chinese New Year!

RICHWELL MARKET
1835 South Canal Street
Chicago,  Illinois 60616
312.492.7015

In case you  didn't know, I love Asian food and Asian inspired dishes. I love the complex flavors, broths and doughs, the steam in the kitchen, and the unexpected ingredients. I'm also a huge fan of candies, snacks, and other yummy delights - and I will always try something new. What's so wonderful about Richwell Market is that it is a fully stocked grocery store that has a little bit of everything needed to prepare a full-on Asian inspired meal, but it's also a great place to load up on Pocky and Hi-Chew. While I spend a majority of my time in the candy/snacky aisle, I do like to wander over to the fish section to check out some of the stock, including live lobsters and turtles. While the fishy smell might be a little off-putting to some, this store has real character, making it a difficult place to leave empty handed.

01 February 2011

Fashionista Since 8th Grade

Pants: PacSun; Shoes: Strange Cargo Chicago; Shirt, Tie, Buttons: Thrifted; Dog Collar; 
PetCo; Purse: Aunt Ann; Hair: DIY; Attitude: NOT FOR SALE

Chicago Foodie Adventure Part III: Carnicerias Guanajuato

As our day-long food extravaganza continued, we made a trip to Carnicerias Guanajuato, a Mexican mercato in Wicker Park to pick up some ingredients to put together a large batch of tamales upon returning home. My mother is half Mexican, and spent a portion of her life living in Southern California where she learned amazing traditional and regional Mexican recipes from her mom. Naturally, tamales are one of my mom's family's specialties - and we occasionally organize large tamale parties in which we gather a group of friends, make a giant pot of beans and carnitas (or any other yummy filling), and run a small-scale factory out of our kitchen to produce a couple hundred homemade tamales.

1436 North Ashland
Chicago, Illinois 60622
773.772.5266

Though this was my first visit to this store, I felt immediately comfortable wandering through the narrow aisles dropping some of my favorites into the cart. We loaded up on Mexican prayer candles, a whole bunch of chiclets gum, refills of canella and Abuelita hot chocolate, and some of the goods for making tamales including masa and corn husks, as well as much needed limons/limon squeezers for Grandpa's margaritas. I love the clutter and color of the products in the store - and the way the scents all mingle and mix together, like fried pork and a faint smell of coconut. And while I didn't lend a helping hand in making the tamales this time, I have been enjoying the fruits of the intensive labor. Bean and cheese tamales, carnitas tamales, and a sweet dessert tamale with cinnamon, raisins, and almonds.  

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