Saturday, November 19, 2011

Food and Fun in the Windy City Part II

I am a fan of the food in Chicago and the more I visit the more good food I eat.  Finding good places can be tricky for an out-of-towner but my love of Chicago food started with a food tour I took a year ago and since then I have gotten some great suggestions from my daughter, Cate who lives in the city.

On my most recent trip I had the chance to experience more good eats. We had a plan of all the places we wanted to visit including a list of food spots. The big event during the trip was to run the Hot Chocolate 15K. We did eat a lot of good food, but not in excess quantities (except maybe cupcakes), plus we ran the 15K and had to walk everywhere we went, so it balanced out, sort of.

Being a fan of cupcakes I wanted to try some of the cupcake shops in Chicago. We went to Crumbs first and the cupcakes were large, but visually appealing with enticing names.
We got a PB&J, Chocolate Milkshake and a Raspberry Brownie Cheesecake to try.  They were okay, but I wasn't impressed and won't be going back.  A little dry and too much cake for the frosting.   

Although I gave up on Crumbs, I did not give up on cupcakes.  The next day we went to Sprinkles to try a few.  I know they brag about being the first cupcake shop and having the best cupcakes so I wanted to see for myself.

If you follow Sprinkles on Twitter they often tweet a secret word that will earn you a free cupcake.  Because Cate is so connected, she knew the word and we got a free pumpkin cupcake!
Oh, these were fabulous: so fresh and flavorful! Sprinkles bakes cupcakes all day in small batches and I think that really makes a difference.  I knew we had to go again before I left town.  We did and this time came home with a few more because again Cate scored us the free cupcake of the day and the girl was nice enough to give us two salted caramels!  
I was in heaven! Those salted caramel were to die for.  I liked every single cupcake I tried from there.  I can't wait to go again.
I may have to try the cupcake mixes they sell to see if they are just as good.

A trip to Chicago is not complete without pizza so we ate  some of that too.  I had to try the original pizza pot pie from Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co.  I make a homemade version of this and wanted to see how it compares to the original.  
The restaurant is in an old building that has a lot of history.  The host does not take names for those waiting for a table.  When asked if he wants your name he replies "No name, I remember you."  And he does.  I learned he has been the host for years and it has always been that way. The pot pie was great, but no better than the one I make at home.

We also went to Pizano's for deep dish pizza.  It was only November 5th and the place was all lit up for Christmas. (A little over the top, I think.)
spinach, mushroom, onion pizza

Another great place we went was Counter Burger in Lincoln Park. This is a build your own burger joint.  You place your order for by making your selection on an order form. You choose your meat, toppings, sauce and bun. 
I went with a hamburger on a pretzel roll with chipotle aioli, cheddar, onion, lettuce, tomato, black bean and corn salsa and avocado.  It was BIG.
We shared some onion rings and fries to go with it.
It was a fantastic burger!
My trip also included some shopping.  I got to see a giant Whole Foods that contained a liquor bar, a wine bar and a food court with at least four different types of cuisines.  It was incredible and so different from the small neighborhood one we have. A trip to Trader Joes was on the list and I am so jealous we don't have any in Florida.

I also got a chance to go to Title Nine, a retailer of women's fitness and casual wear. I usually shop from their catalog.  It was so nice to be able to try the clothes on and see them all in person for a change.  I ended up buying some pants and a smart wool sweater.  Now I just need it to get a little cooler at home.

I had such a wonderful time with Cate in Chicago!  I miss having her around, so it was nice to spend time with her. She was a great hostess and has really learned her way a round in a short time. I came home tired from all of our excursions and am thankful I do not have to rely on public transportation to get around. 

Have you ever been to Chicago?
Of all the things I did, which would you like to do the most?

1 comment:

  1. That might be the biggest burger I have ever seen!!

    I have only been to the Chicago airport. My good friends have recently moved there, so I'm hoping to use them as an excuse to visit and race some time.

    The pizza -- I saw that photo of pizza up there and immediately I wanted to go THERE!!


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