What I Ate in Chicago

I went to Chicago over a month ago. And apparently all I did was take pictures of my food. So, I now present to you a visual feast!

Every time I visit my favorite city, Kelly and Liz have a giant spread waiting to refresh me after my long drive. And wine. This time, we had veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, a flatbread, an assortment of cookies and chocolates, nuts, some other things that I can't remember but I know I loved, and the homemade spiked hot chocolate pictured above, garnished with a Whole Foods marshmallow on a cinnamon stick.  

The next day, after a leisurely morning, Kelly and I went out and about running errands and shopping around Clark and Diversey. We stopped for a late brunch at The Peasantry, a new restaurant on Clark that serves "elevated street food." It was all very chic and cool and had an extensive brunch menu. Wow. 

I was so flustered by all the choices that I decided to go with my mainstay, French Toast:

"honey vanilla soaked brioche, smothered in walnut almond cream, white chocolate mascarpone mousse and bourbon syrup."

Kelly had the Pork Belly Breakfast Sandwich: "rosemary rubbed pork belly, shaved Brussels sprouts slaw, fried egg, kimchi aioli, brioche bun."

And we split an order of truffle fries.

Everything tasted really, really good. Except my French Toast was not smothered in walnut almond cream and instead had cold berries piled on top. It was tasty, but not what I was expecting. And the berries made the whole thing cold. I was disappointed, but I'd like to try it again - the savory menu items looked amazing!

Actually, the whole reason I went to Chicago that weekend was to eat. You may remember Liz and I making a wager about blogging 52 times in 2012. And whoever reached that number first would buy the other's dinner at Yoshi's Cafe, our favorite restaurant in Chi. (Well, it's mine at least...I don't want to speak for Liz. But I'd guess it's up there.) Since we both reached 52 posts on the same day (Liz beat me by a couple hours, though), I wound up buying her dinner and she bought mine. Kelly came along as moral support. And to choose the wine. :)

We all started by sharing two Japanese Kabocha Pumpkin Raviolis with goat cheese cream sauce garnished with a crispy Parmesan cheese domes and microgreens. That up there is just one.

Kelly continued the trend with a bowl of pumpkin soup as her entree. I can't remember what all was in it, and since Yoshi changes his menu so often, I can't find it online. But I remember her loving it. She might have also had a salad...she does that sometimes.

I do remember that Liz had a Beef Tenderloin Steak with red wine sauce with honey and dates topped with baby arugula, truffle oil and dark chocolate-covered crispy bacon served with rosemary French fries.

And I had a sampler of (clockwise from the top left) Oven Roasted Beet Salad with red beets, golden beets and watercress, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar gastrique; Oven Baked Kuro-Buta loin (Japanese black pork) marinated in milk, breaded with Japanese panko, herbs and Parmesan cheese, and served with wasabi mashed potatoes with apricot Tonkatsu sauce; Braised Wagyu Beef Short Ribs with red sauce served with creamy polenta, hon-shimeji mushrooms and roasted zebra beets with micro greens.
Oh yes.

We shared dessert. I don't remember exactly, but it was something with Japanese red beans, chestnut gelee and espresso cream sauce. Berries and whipped cream on the side, Christmas tree and mint sprig garnish. Exotic, interesting and not too heavy - the perfect way to end the amazing meal!

The weekend eating concluded at Rocks, a favorite pub in Lakeview. It was a rainy, cold Sunday, so I fortified myself for the drive home with a bowl of their homemade French Onion Soup, and my share of a mimosa pitcher:

It was a wonderful weekend, as it always is when I go back to Chicago. Kelly and Liz and I fall right back into our groove with each other and it feels like I never left. That's the best kind of visit there is!


December Birchbox...what?!

Yes. I know. But you see, January is a dreary month and I'd like to take us all back to when the lights were twinkling, Christmas music was lilting through the house and we were all going crazy so snug.

In the middle of all that December/Christmas craziness/coziness, I received a Birchbox. And here's what was inside:

First, this tube of Reve de Miel Facial Cleansing and Makeup Removing Gel, from the French skincare line NUXE. It's made with honey, which is perfect for dry, sensitive, easily irritated complexions, which is what I've got. Apparently, because there are no soaps in this cleanser, it keeps your skin's moisture barrier intact. I don't know about that, but I will say that it does leave me with very soft skin that feels quite clean, despite little foam. Also, it smells nice.

Birchbox sent me another snack - but this time it was chocolate, which I will accept more readily than questionable soy products and orange-vitamin drink mixes. This Chuao ChocoPod was pretty darn good - dark chocolate, with toasted breadcrumbs and sea salt. It was a good sweet hit that I needed during all my running around in the weeks leading up to the holidays.

This perfume - Mad Madame by Juliette Has a Gun - is really lovely. It's a floral, musky, woodsy scent that's perfect for winter. There's a little vanilla in it, too. Complex and warm. And it came in a cute little envelope!

I received another full-size product! Again from Model Co., this Shine Ultra Lip Gloss has a built in mirror just like the mascara from November. How clever! This shade is Berry Pink, and it's a really nice everyday gloss - not too much, but enough that it brightens things up. My only complaint is the scent. It's a little too sweet for me. But at $16 a tube, I'm ok with finding one in my $10 Birchbox!

Last, I got to sample another Miss Jessie's product. Miss Jessie's Curl Cream is my go-to for wash-and-go hair. It has just the right weight for my waves/curls, keeps frizz at bay and smells awesome. Unfortunately, this sample of Pillow Soft Curls was a disappointment. It left my waves limp - almost like I had texture-less hair. Which, when I'm using a curl cream, is not the look I'm going for. The cream also smells just like a dryer sheet, which, ok - dryer sheets usually smell pretty awesome, but smelling them on your head all day long is kind of strange.

And that rounds out my December box! Oh, I also received a Rent the Runway gift card that I didn't end up using. Oh, and this:

a gift tag that I did end up using on my bro.

But anyway, thanks for bearing with me on this time-travel back to December. I hope Santa was good to you, again :)

Want to get your own box? Click here https://www.birchbox.com?raf=6tm7o to receive deluxe beauty samples sent to your door for $10 a month!



I know you don't want to hear how busy I am, and frankly, I don't want to either. I am all about figuring out how to be less...less everything. So instead, I'll tell you what I am resolved to do in this coming year. Or, probably more accurately, in the coming weeks. But hey! The year is young, my hopes are high...I've got a good feeling on this one.

1. Stop just doing things. And start actually doing the things I'm doing. Does this make sense? Perhaps I'll elaborate in a future post.

2. Keep my apartment picked up. It's my sanctuary, my palace. So I will pick up my bottles and brushes and tubes and such from around the bathroom sink after I'm done with them. I'll put my clothes away after I'm done wearing them. Grown-up things like that.

3. Finally hang something on the wall above the couch! And possibly put together a work space/reading space in the dining room.

4. Have people over for meals more, which means cook more. If you're reading this and you live in Cincinnati (or really, even if you don't), consider yourself invited! Just let me know when you want to come over :)

5. Manage my calendars, respond to people right away, write things down, just basically be a better secretary for myself.

6. Complete the Goodreads challenge! (aka. Read more than 14 books this year!)

7. Work out at least three times a week - maybe even four. Yoga counts.

8. Save some money.

9. Write a poem.

10. Put some scripture into practice.

And you? What are you resolved to do in 2013?