So… I’m sort of crying.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9
Today was… the best.
I went on a tour of Chicago with a company called Tastebud Tours. Essentially, it is a tour group that walks you through famous places in Chicago and takes you to several different restaurants, some dives, some famous, where you get to sample a dish from each place. The portions were big and tasty, but somehow I always managed to have room for it thanks to all that WALKING. Anyways, here’s a general photographic summary:
Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta - deep dish sausage pizza and thin crust cheese pizza. These pizzas were like nothing I’d ever eaten before. The crust was not a bread, doughy crust as is usual, but, an actual PIE CRUST. It was flaky and buttery and just plain amazing.
The story of Pizano’s is that the owner, Rudy Malnati Jr., is the son of Rudy Malnati Sr., the owner of Pizza Uno, the very first pizzeria in Chicago. Rudy is the half brother of Lou Malnati, the owner of his own very famous Chicago pizza chain. The difference is in the crust —- Rudy’s 83 year old mother still comes in every week to make Pizano’s pizza crust. :)
Sarah’s Pastries and Candies - brownies. The history of the brownie is that a young debutante was taking some other young women on a picnic one day. She approached a chef and commissioned a chef to create a dessert for her, one that was chocolatey but not too messy and could be eaten with their hands. Thus, the brownie was born. Eventually, civilization was lucky enough to be exposed to the brownies that we had at Sarah’s. Seriously, these were perfect. Chewy, chocolate, and extra fudge-y. They are her mother’s recipe and are just, fabulous. The owner of Sarah’s, Sarah Levy, 27, recently won the Food Network Challenge, and is, essentially, who I want to be when I’m older. Her boutique specializes in pastries and candies (obviously) but also has gourmet deli sandwiches and boutique cupcakes.
The Drake - Our next stop was the famous hotel. We were given a small tour of the ballroom, which is infamous for it’s afternoon tea. The event at the Drake is rated as the 3rd best tea in the world. We also hit The Drake up for a bathroom break, the women’s powder room is the 5th best rate powder room in the world! We also got to see a wall of fame, with original pages from The Drake’s guestbooks containing signatures from the likes of Woody Allen, Grace Kelly, Hugh Hefner, Jerry Lewis, and Princess Di, just to name a few. Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe’s initials are carved into the bar of the Cape Cod Room. The hotel was a filming location for Mission: Impossible, Risky Business, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Hero, What Women Want, Flags of Our Father, and Wicker Park, just to name a few.
Downtown Dogs/Pippin’s Tavern - chicago style hot dog. Pretty much speaks for itself… A steamed hot dog on a steamed poppy seed bun, topped with relish, mustard, tomatoes, pickles, sports peppers, and celery salt. The interior of Downtown Dogs was covered in photos of dogs, which was funny and pretty neat. Pippin’s is a tavern owned by the same person that is attached to Downtown Dogs.
Heaven On Seven - jambalaya and gumbo. Heaven on Seven is owned by Jimmy Bannos, a chicago chef who, one day, decided he wanted to learn how to be a cajun chef. He then headed down to New Orleans, and spent months knocking on the doors of restaurants and asking the chefs to teach him how to cook. One day, he knocked on Emeril Lagasse’s door, who then took Jimmy under his wing. The first thing you notice when you walk into Heaven on Seven is Jimmy’s EXTENSIVE hot sauce collection. There are literally thousands of bottles stacked up a long the walls of this restaurant.
Oh, also… the food? Fan-f*cking-tastic.
Tip Top Tap - carrot cake. This ballroom is located at the very top of the historic Allerton Hotel. Previously a bar, (thus the “tap” part of “tip top tap”) we could see almost all of downtown Chicago from the windows. It should also be noted, that I had never, ever, eaten carrot cake in my life. This was probably the best introduction to the treat that I could have ever had. The cream cheese frosting was definitely more cream cheese than frosting and was SO GOOD.
Now I’m on the train just starting a 10 hour journey to Memphis, TN. :)
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8
I left Anchorage last night at 9:30 pm. My boyfriend dropped me off at the airport after an hour or so of First Friday-ing downtown. We sat at the airport and ate frozen yogurt at Yogurtland before I said goodbye and went through security to wait for my plane at the gate.
While waiting, I met an older gentleman who, to say it gently, was more than a little crazy. He spent the entire waiting time talking and laughing to himself about how he’d been married 3 times, and this one, he was gonna keep. He then started telling me about how much he loves Anchorage, and how one day, he’s going to open the best soul food restaurant in the city, just like his grandma used to make.
I arrived in Chicago at 2:30 pm, 14 hours later.
I met my friend at the gate and then took the train to meet the bus and then took the bus to her apartment. We got changed, and then headed out.
Our first stop was at Arturo’s, the most legit taco shop I’ve ever been to outside of Mexico, where I had some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.
We then walked over to The Congress Theater for Red Bull’s RIOTfest 2011. When I walked in, they gave me a wrist band, and then I looked around and realized I wasn’t really in a theater, but in a time machine taking me back to the real underground punk scene of the late 70’s. It was fantastic and unlike anything I’d ever seen in Anchorage.
I saw several bands I didn’t know, and a few that I did, while downing Jagerbomb after Jagerbomb.
We had gotten there late, but still saw 6 or 7 acts, including The Flatliners, The Menzengers, Flatfoot 56, Strike Anywhere, Leftover Crack, The Suicide Machines, and The Descendants.
Finally I’m home, and we’ve just ordered a pizza and are now waiting for it to arrive, and will spend the night watching Detroit Rock City and Saturday Night Live.
On the agenda for tomorrow: A 3-and-a-half hour food tour of the city, possibly more RIOTfest, and then a late night train ride into Tennessee!