Chicago wrap-up

We had so much fun in Chicago. And we ate. so. much. I can highly recommend:

Ethiopian Diamond
Burt’s Place
Half Shell

They were all recommended by friends and/or Anthony Bourdain, and all places I would most definitely visit again.

My favorite has to be Burt’s Place. Best deep dish pizza I’ve ever had. The secret from what I hear is that Burt puts a little cheese under the pizza so it makes a caramelized, crunchy crust as it bakes.

We almost didn’t have dinner there because we were told at the door that we should have called ahead and it would be at least an hour and a half before we could eat pizza. But feeling travel weary, we sat down with drinks and the time flew by. Why? Because this place is an amazingly quirky gem. Tucked in a residential street it’s dive bar tiny and covered wall-to-wall in old radios, newspaper articles, toys and other random items like a gigantic whisk. Because, according to Burt’s wife, he collects this shizz and has to put it somewhere.


While we waited over garlic bread and salad, a slew of people came in to pick up orders, including a woman three sheets to the wind who harrassed Burt’s wife to no end because her order wasn’t ready. Finally she sat down and had a beer, but even our pizza came out before hers. When she left, I thought maybe the whole restaurant would clap.

Anyway, when our spinach pizza arrived it was fantastic. Just full of all the simple flavors that make pizza taste so good, and not as much bready crust as other deep dish pies have. We also tried Gino’s East, for the record, and it was wonderful. But I think Burt’s wins.

As for the other two places, Ethiopian Diamond is a pretty good sized Ethiopian restaurant serving the traditional injera – shared meals of curries on top of what I would call a huge, bubbly crepe. We ordered a sampling of different ones, and found that some were better than others, but we found plenty to love.

Half shell is a basement bar in Lincoln Park with a gruff bartender, gruff waiter and incredibly fresh, tasty crab legs. I’ve never seen so many crab legs on one plate (for less than $20 at that). It was another one of those places Mike and I agreed we never could have found on our own.

So what else did we do? Oh you know, everything.

A little Wrigleyville.

A little Sears tower. (A helicopter flew by while we were up there).

We saw Sue. Hi Sue!

Tired feet. TV in bed. Wasn’t our hotel room nice? We stayed at the Knickerbocker.

Familiar faces…

Nerds.

Sisters.

For me it was a getting to know Chicago trip because with a sister in residence I am sure I will be back again. Now that I’ve checked a lot of touristy stuff off my list, I can focus on the rest, and I really look forward to that.

Not quite spring

This was taken a couple weeks ago. But we still have icicles…

North Shore weekend

It was pretty snowy along the shores of Lake Superior last weekend.

Cold, too. Can you see that? It says something like -12.

But we braved it for a weekend away. I love going there in winter, when the tourists are long gone and we can drive far out of cell phone range to Mike’s parents’ cabin near Grand Marais, Minnesota.

This time we weren’t in a hurry. We stopped a lot. Discovered an incredibly good restaurant near Duluth called the New Scenic Cafe, where I had butternut squash stuffed ravioli in a divine cream sauce with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, pecans and a hard salty cheese shaved on top. No picture of that, unfortunately.

We also stopped at our usual scenic overlook, where the ice chunks crash up against the shore. (I heard people surf in this lake. Why??)

And at the Split Rock lighthouse, just before sunset.

We woke up with the sun, much earlier than we usually do on a weekend. This is what you call nature TV.

We snowshoe-ed, Mike taught me how to build a fire (the proper Eagle Scout way), and then cozied up with a few lanterns for the evening.

I can’t tell you how essential it is for me to truly get away sometimes. You need the perspective. When all you have is a wind-up radio playing WTIP, the greatest public radio station on earth, you soon forget all your woes. You laugh at the deadpan host saying how he’s wired from drinking too much coffee and read the local news briefs in the paper (“Woman fell through the ice at Devil’s Track River. She refused treatment.”) You wish you could stay, but miss hot showers too much.

So we did all there was to do. We played marathon rounds of Yahtzee. Then we played Scrabble. Mike beat me, of course.

And then, this.

(!!!)

I’d say it was a good weekend. About the best you could have.

Waking up to snow – again

We’re running out of places to put the snow.

I just found these little reminders of plant life really pretty.

Fall, you are so awesome

Especially when it’s nearly 80 degrees in November! Here are some photos from my walk with Reggie earlier today.