Thursday, October 23, 2008

Time for Adios

To Chicago that is..

It was a good walk to and from the opera last night, and only a cleanup of our leftovers for dinner. Manon was good but the seats got to our legs so we headed out, as did many others, at the 2nd intermission. The best arias were over so it was out into the refreshing night air. Nothing like a slow walk along the river and back to bed before midnight. Yes, our age shows.

Then it was pack up time, and off to Kalamazoo via South Haven and a rec from bricolagelife about a ...what else?...bookstore. Sadly it was closed on M,T, and Weds but a bakery was open. Who can resist that mid morning? A bit of a walkabout then back into the car to Kalamazoo and dinner with some good buddies from GardenWeb.

Time to head off Toledo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Sunny Tuesday in Chicago so it was bookstore time. We only really had time for going south to the Univ of Chicago area or north up to the Lincoln Park area. Well we could have done both but hey...this is a vacation.

Politics (and food) won out and we headed down to Powells on 57th Street. They were just putting free books out on the sidewalk and I hesitated but decided to check out the interior first. I got two paperbacks by the same author - dice if you don't know the author - but at $3.95 each it was an acceptable bargain. DH was finding a good batch for the boys at Washington Jesuit Academy so I went outside. I scored a couple of good ones for collage cut up. Cutting up a book is sooo hard for me to do so at $0.00 I hope I can use the scissors on them.

Suddenly it got colder, the sun disappeared and a slight drizzle started. Whoosh...all the free books went back inside, and we decided it was lunch time. Down to Salonika where I'd bought some olives before. DH had the Greek sausage/rice meal while I had their special omelet -gyro meat, tomatoes,spinach, feta and 4 eggs, so I only managed half. Yummy. And this time 2 jars of their olives went in the car.

After we collected our car, the the box of books we set out to see Obama's house. Well, fortunately I had seen a photo in the paper because, as expected, the Secret Service weren't open to anyone going down his street. And no, I didn't feel I needed to get on more lists by asking if I could have a photo op with Secret Service people or ATF ones. But it was still nice to be almost there.

Time to head on back to 57th Street books which is one of my all time favorites. I only got one book on Italy but took some pics of cookbooks I'd like to test via the library. The WJA boys got another big bag's worth so all in all a nice visit. Standing and looking at books always calls for a coffee break so we went off to Medici where I was happy to see the Impeach Bush and Cheney cutting boards and Obama eats here on the back of the tshirts of the waitstaff. I may have read that somewhere but forgot so it was nice of the universe to lead us there. We also got there Just Before the mamas and the school kids bustled in for afternoon pizza.

So a good Chicago day...then time for a rest up before the opera.

Armenian Encore

After some catch our breath, and get settled, shower the traildust off the driver, we headed out in the drizzle to get our legs moving and get in the mood for dinner. We had gained 2 hrs on the drive and needed to get the body clocks adjusted.

Walking east til we hit Michigan Avenue, the ambiance of Chicago all came back. Some people already had their little ski caps on, and I was reminded that The Cold can be a 6-month season round here.

I wasn't in the want or need mode to shop but it certainly is nice to see it all on display. Crate and Barrel did call out to me withe their Halloween spatulas on sale for $4.50

We then decided to ask at the tourist info place by the Water Tower...dh was remembering a Middle Eastern restaurant and I was remembering a super food store (Fox and Obel). We decided to walk down to the Sayat Nova since I had decided I could just be happy with an appetizer while he had an entree. So off we walked.

Sayat Nova was, however, waxing their floors when we arrived so we said we'd be back in 30min, and headed on down to Fox & Obel where I lusted over the goodies while he had a cup of soup. I did manage to force down a cuppa -peach-ginger- and a biscotti, and wisely but somewhat reluctantly decided against getting some of F&O's treasures.

Off to our return visit to a friendly little Armenian restaurant which was over half full when we returned. I guess they wax quickly! Photos on our return east.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chicago in the rain

Well it did mention rain but we arrived in Chicago in a foggy mist. Haven't seen that back in MD for a good bit.

Nice new Residence Inn, down in the Loop area, in walking distance of the opera. That's the point of this trip.

A.M back in Cleveland saw us visiting the Westside Market. Despite posted hours of 7a.m., there weren't many stalls open in the main building at about 8:30. One vendor said it's mostly a weekend market, so we do hope to get back for a boatload of sausages and pierogis on Thursday. The fruit/vegetable sellers are in another building and to answer my question about any Arab/Lebanese etc remaining in the area (Uncle Tanoos from the Danny Thomas Show?), well by looking at the faces and names of the green grocers, I'd say it's yes. Hopefully the Middle Eastern cafe will also be open later in the week. My taste buds were going into overdrive just at the thought of the food we could buy.

Midway on today's drive was a slight detour to South Bend IN. DH's father spent a couple of years in the seminary at Notre Dame till he was called home to help support the family after his father died in the early 1900s flu outbreak. His misfortune led to my dh's birth eventually so all's well that end's well. I got my first look at the great gold dome of Notre Dame, and we ate our food from home outside a MickeyD's savoring one of their milkshakes (his) and iced caramel coffee (hers).

The rest of Indiana is the depressed, dull stretch getting you into Chicago, but praise be...Indiana and Illinois now accept EZ-Pass, tho you have to slow down to 5mph and they have attendants in the booths. Job security I guess was a condition of switching to I-Zoom as they call it.

Now to look for dinner options.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Long time no write

But now it's hello from downtown Cleveland. Yes, Cleveland.

I was definitely one of those people who had contempt prior to investigation re this city, the mistake on the lake. Oh no, not now. This is our second trip to Cleveland and it's def winning me over.

Clean, wide streets...nice museums and a big enough lake so you can semi-fool me into thinking ocean. Ok, I'm not fooled but if I can't see the other side, that's good water for me.

Oh, and the food. Last time here we ate in a...Cambodian? (I'll have to research that one.) Tonight, a walk around the University area, and my god how beautiful even if there wasn't a student to be seen. What's that about? The walk mitigated the fanny fatigue from the drive from Annapolis, and so off we went to Little Italy. Again, who knew? Obviously lots of people knew there was Little Italy here, but not me.

We ate at La Dolce Vita . We shared a prosciutto topped caprese salad with some Sicilian olives. Goooood. He had a twisted pasta with veal and beef and I had frugali(?) with roasted chicken,zucchini and corn - the pasta that looks like Israeli couscous. We have the leftovers in the fridge here in the hotel along with some leftover pignoli cookies and other pastries we got BEFORE dinner at a bakery. I think that was a wise move, don't you? I barely got pictures of the food as we (I) dove into dinner, and then! Sigh. I did get some including the bonus Tiramisu we were given since our original waiter forgot us. Sometimes mistakes have nice endings.

Well, himself plans to be up at 6am tomorrow, and I promised to be ready to hit the Westside Market by 7am. Oh did I mention there is a fireplace in the hotel (Residence Inn...not bad eh>)

Pictures? Uhm ...yet again we have multiple cords for Iphones, Ipods, digital recorders, etc etc with us...but no cord to connect the digital cameras to the laptop. Once again, our two brains didn't think of this one thing. Mea culpa. No pictures till we're back with those two camera cords.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Just Rest Between Meals

Well, it wasn't just resting for either of us really. Dick went to work while I went back to The Bookworm - one more time. Yes, it was open so I wandered the aisles and tried to resist temptation. I did get the Te of Piglet and a cookbook from the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I'll have to make it back to Gilroy CA for that festival. The town smelled of garlic even on a regular day. Delictious.

On to the camera store for rechargeable batteries and a different card, and then TY Lee for a heads up on a great new food store, Sunflower. It's like Trader Jo's or Whole Foods but with much better prices. Again, it was really hard to resist buying when I thought of the reality of airline regulations. The ginormous artichokes were a real hard buy to have to leave, but they would have taken about 1/3 of my suitcase.

We had set a 5:45pm date with Lee and Max at Radda with the understanding that we would ALL try to make that time. And we did! Both couples arrived at almost exactly the same time which made our getting a table pretty easy. Then came the hard part..the menu.

Radda menu

This is a fairly new restaurant that Lee and Max had tried, but from the winter menu. Now we had a spring one and looked long and hard.

Lee and Max shared a Caesar salad but it didn't get a photo op. I had the Radda salad which was lemony but in a different way from their Caesar.


Dick went with a small order of pasta with olive oil and garlic and a good sprinkle of red pepper. It was truly heady with garlic, and we were sure there would be no vampires round us that night.

Spaghetti with garlic and olive oil

On to our entrees...Dick chose the veal meatballs with lentils - lentils with bits of pork cheeks in them. This is the 2nd time he's had pork cheeks!
Veal Meatballs with Lentils

Lee had the pork chop with plums and ricotta salata. It was quite a piece of meat and the plums certainly added a good sweet/tartness.

Lee's porkchop with plums & ricotta salata

Max had a dish we were curious about..a pasta that is a bit larger than penne with a wild boar ragu. He said it was perfect, and the dish was empty pretty quickly!

Pasta with boar ragu

And finally I had the Radda Tortellini which were just wonderful. I actually didn't ask what the stuffing was but I really liked them with the greens and broth.

Tortellini Radda

Oh yes...the happy diners. Sometimes with the food and the nattering, we almost forget to get a picture of the happy eaters.
Cooking Forum Friends Meet Again
While there were take-home boxes of lentils and some porkchop, that didn't stop us from thinking about dessert. Thinking about it and then ordering it! Then, what a surprise.. Lee's business partner Charlotte was spotted across the room. In fact it was Charlotte's hubby who took the above picture.
Look who joined us! Charlotte

Back to our food and talk..

I had to have a taste of my berry panna cotta before I took a picture. It was sliding down my happy throat as I took this.

Berry Panna Cotta

Dick's expresso ice cream sandwich was messy but delicious. We all tried to get a taste without covering ourselves in the caramel.

Expresso Ice Cream sandwich with Caramel

Lee had a double dose of plums that night...a strawberry plum tart with an expresso chaser.


Happily full, we said our goodnights and good byes and planned to meet again on another trip to Boulder. Thank you so much Lee and Max for finding time to meet up with us, and pick such a great location. HUGS !!!

Thursday in Boulder

One of the high points of our trip out to Boulder was to meet up again with friends we met thru the internet in a Cooking Forum. But there was a lot of the day to enjoy first.

The day started off overcast with potential of thunderstorms.
We got our reorientation of Boulder thru one of the funky tourist maps but saw there was something VERY good nearby.

We figured we would spend a good part of the morning at a used bookstore, The Bookworm. Alas, it was not to be as the store was locked up, customers waiting but no sign of a key person.

Well, our gps led us to several other bookstores that turned out to be private sellers (i.e. in their home). We don't look for rare books, just used books. But we did spot something just about as good...a bakery, Breadworks.


What else does mid-morning call for other than coffee and a pastry. Sadly, my camera battery died after this shot so there was no view of Dick's to-die-for peach tart. I had one of those scones in the glass case-almond and raspberry.


Well..Dick had to go to work in the afternoon, so I was off to get a new battery. More later.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Airport to Airport

Most trips involving airplanes seem to take at least one day going simply from airport to airport. We are lucky that BWI, our closest airport, is so very near Washington DC (government...), and thus is often a test airport for pilot projects. We kind of laughed when we read about the new tranquil security check-ins. But it worked! The area has all signs in pale blue, the lighting is not as bright as usual, but there is a whole body scan you walk thru. We had almost no line and I was thru in about 2 minutes. Dick, however, had a wheel chair get in front of him and that went a lot slower. But we then had over an hour to kill at the airport before takeoff.

Police dogs at BWI
I saw these police dogs as we did a survey of all the food sites, and asked if I could photograph them. These dogs are on loan to the State police thru the TSA and are Belgian Malamuts. Good solid dogs and he said Jacqui just had her vet checkup and is healthy, with good bones at I think 12y.o.

The police also have bicycles to ride around the airport terminal. It gives most everyone a smile, and they also ride Segways.

Police at BWI
Train to Luggage

Yes, next stop is Denver. This is the train that takes you from the actual arrival terminal to the one where you collect your luggage. The sounds and music they make really made us laugh but at least you are told which terminal you are at and to HOLD ON. No Mind the gap. as there are no gaps.

Onward and upward. For all you mobile makers, these were very attractive.

Off the train

Going Up

We have arrived.

Welcome to Denver

Luggage retrieved (it got to the carousel before we did!) and just need to ...Get in the Car.

Watching Them Watch Us

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A few years ago in Colorado

Loveland Pass 2001

I'm thinking this was 2000, which would have made it at least our 2nd trip to Boulder, Colorado. I had first been to the Rockies on an work related Air Force trip. It was late September and yes, we had snow. I also fell in love with the Rockies. Mountains to me had mostly been the nice, fairly tame ones we have on the east coast of the US. If I had been given a choice between east coast mountains and the ocean, the ocean would will every time. Then I saw the Rockies.

I have never been east of Denver to see this exact shot but it is truly amazing that there is this incredibly flat part of the US...the plains...and then rising up are these massive mountains. There is snow on the 14ers today as we drove west but the clouds were coming in too much to get a good shot. It was also rush hour out of Denver so we hightailed it into Boulder and an early night.

The Residence Inn had a light dinner so barbecued pulled pork over green salad, and we're ready to read and hit the sack. In addition to the time change, we're about 1 mile higher than our sea level home. It's good to acclimatise.;-)

Sunday, May 4, 2008 where shall we go??

Since going somewhere every month seems to be turning into a habit - a pretty nice habit! - where shall we go next? April was an unusual stay at home months ince I had a Jin Shin Jytsu class and dh had a retreat. 5 days of intense 'learning' for me was almost a trip away, in fact I felt as if my mind was in a different dimension.

But May takes us to an old favorite thanks to some work for Dick. See you in ....the place we got our marriage license 7 years ago. The lovely old building was not where we actually got the license tho. Can you guess where I mean???

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cheeseland then home

It was fortunate that we were planning to be in Chicago when the idea of a meeting for dh in Madison, Wisconsin came up. We both really like that city and a quick trip sounded great. I wish we had taken a pic of our usual valet at the Residence Inn. He was a cutie, from Bosnia, and we saw a lot of him with the amount of driving we did in Chicago.

But a relatively early start to Tuesday got us to Madison in time to meet dh's workmates for a working lunch at one of the hotels being considered for a conference, The Madison Concourse. Pics would have been nice but not too appropriate. I had a grilled flatbread with sliced steak, roasted onions and a cheese I had never heard of...carambazola, a German blue that is very creamy. (Googling it tells me it is very popular...who knew?) DH had a meatloaf sandwich which was great and all 5 of us shared chocolate tarts along with in house made chocolates. Boy what a good use for all that Wisconsin cream!! I highly recommend the food at the Concourse.

Madison is on an ithmus between two lakes and yes, there was still snow here and there. Winter records were broken in 2008 with over 100" of snow!! MD weather sounded pretty good when we heard that. Dinner? We finally decided on Restaurant Muramoto. omoigod kinda good! No pictures but fantastic food, and great atmosphere. (I suggest you read the dinner menu.)

I started with an Oyster Shot: Sunset Beach oyster in ponzu sauce garnished with chili daikon relish and quail egg. Yummy. Dh had a lamb curry with a roti type bread. We had both thought about the scallops but I ended up with them.. Pan Seared Scallop: over garlic mashed Satsuma potatoes, with mushroom ragout in a garlic butter soy sauce. The portions, while called small plates by our server, were really normal sized portions. Remember normal sized??!?! Of course this left us with room for dessert... heheh. We had the dessert sampler which included portions of each of the 4 nightly desserts which included Strawberry Spring Roll: with honey ginger ice cream, a gingerspiked chocolate brownie, a sponge roll with a filling I can't recall (sorry!!), and a peanutbutter chocolate mousse. I really fell for the strawberry spring roll.

We decided that this was the best meal of the trip. Madison and Portland ME rank way way up there in number of great restaurants, esp for cities of their size. I can see a cheese trip in my future (perhaps with a stop for Michigan cherries). That sounds like a 2 ice chest trip, so I better start planning.

Madison Skyline

A short walk round the Capitol before dinner, and a stop at a shop that wasn't there on our last visit. This one I would have remembered.! fromagInation . We left with 4 different Wisconsin cheeses - Chalet Swiss, Smoky Bear (goats' milk gouda) and two from Marieka Penterman's Goudas, one with cumin and one with fenugreek. I also got lots of ideas re fig jams and preserves. I'm thinking ahead to this year's (hopeful) bounty. Fig and balsamic sounded the best to me.

Earning $$s

DH usually manages to earn some $$s before a good night sleep, and then to Cranberry PA (outside of Pittsburgh) for one night and then finally unpack, do laundry and plan the next trip!

Bye from me...
Sunset Goddess
See you on the road next time when we ....Get In The Car!

Get to the Point

Well, the point of this whole trip was The Opera. But before the opera we had to do some more book buying - if we could. We ran into the city issue of minimal parking when we tried to hit a couple of stores on Saturday. We hoped Monday would be better with people back at work, tho Easter Monday is often an extension of the holiday. No we weren't looking for mysteries in Lincoln Park.

A mystery to me

However the store that claimed on their answering machine to be open EVERY day was closed. I think we may cross that one off our list for future visits.

You know it's Chicago when you see this...
Wrigley Field

We headed north to Andersonville, and that was a delightful area to explore.
Andersonville Chicago
Scandinavian shops, Persian shops and both a good bookstore Women and Children First and some enticing restaurants.

I had to get this one for my granddaughter. You know how much fun it is to say this kind of thing at age 5.

There were several good looking options when the lunch pangs hit but we headed to A Taste of Heaven since it had that sense of ambiance that oozes out onto the sidewalk. Worth it??? Oh my yes.

Greek Salad
Greek Salad

Meatloaf Sandwich

Raspberry Tart (shortbread base)
Raspberry Tart

Peppermint Ice Cream
Peppermint Ice Cream

And we got a raspberry crumble bar for the road (the next day road tho I could have eaten it right then!)

Back downtown to nap a bit and do some packing. Then eat up some of our goodies from the supermarket blitz we had with Peppi and off to the Opera. Eugene Onegin, with balcony seats this time. As I was in dead center with no one in the seat in front of me, I had a perfect line of sight. The Chicago Lyric has comfortable seats and a good audience. All in all a fine night, and the opera lover seemed content.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Quiet Easter

Easter Sunday was fairly quiet after the full meal of the previous night. We mostly lazed around and read, did computer work and fun and then walked about on Michigan Avenue, the Magnificent Mile.

Some store were open but we passed on any shopping tho there were certainly a lot of folks hitting sales it seemed. The weather was gorgeous and it was good to be out in the crisp cold but sunny air. And since we didn't even need lunch...we just strolled.

Down at the Tribune bldg, we stopped to see the Vote4Me! exhibit at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum. We both enjoyed the interactive bits, and I was glad to see that my education and government work left me pretty knowledgeable about our personal rights.

When we hit Wacker Drive and the Chicago River, it was time to turn around and head back north. We stopped for a to die for hot chocolate at Ethel's Chocolate Lounge. One cup was good enough and rich enough for both of us. It really hit the spot. Back to walking and some more Sunday lazing.

We had heard from a local about a steak place that is not one 'to see and be seen' but then who in Chicago has been waiting to see us!??!? However, dh read some bad reviews and I had my doubts. But we had a great meal at Select Cut and it was everything our friend said. No camera but just in case you wonder, dh had a great burger, I had a 14oz NY strip which came just as rare as I like, and we shared a caramel cheesecake.

Happily, only sleep was next for a good Easter Sunday.

Saturday at The Jolly Inn

Easter Eggs
Originally uploaded by redazadi

This basket was at the start of the high carb buffet at The Jolly Inn. Peppi and her dad Augie took us here and thank you both for a special meal and for treating us!! Can you believe we didn't get a picture of the four of us?? Any of us??? Shame on me.

But get a plate and we'll start...

Here is part of the buffet. There were two sides and I only too pictures of part of the hot side.


DH and I started with soup to test out the borscht. He had white.borscht which was pretty good I thought.
White Borscht

I had the red borscht, which I didn't care for - kidney beans in it might be Polish but it wasn't to my taste.
Red Borscht

I only took pictures of MY plates, as not to embarrass the other diners. ;-) I had more than enough. Plate 1 and Plate 2 and then the final plate of desserts. You note that I say final, not Plate 3. I was already in carbo heaven. And yes, you are seeing correctly; most all the food was white or tan. I also had some pickled herrings which were silver of course, but almost nothing was green.

Plate 1

Plate 2

Final plate - dessert

I really wished I could have eaten more blintzes but I didn't. ;-(

Easter Lamb
Pretty isn't it?

So with full bellies, we shared goodbyes and hugs, and left the Jolly Inn. It's certainly one to keep in mind for a future - just not too soon!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Frontera Brunch-Saturday

Mid morning was sunny and clear and a perfect time for heading back to Frontera Grill for brunch. It's pretty popular so it's best to hit it at opening...10:30a.m. which we did.

Feeding the meter

There was a little bowl of sunflower seeds and pine nuts with I'd say a light chile powder on the table when we arrived. As you can see, I ate first, thought later.

Ate it all
We each had an appetizer, dh with chip and salsas, me with mahi mahi ceviche. I could eat ceviche as an entree Any Time but it wasn't available that way for brunch. Another time.

There are many choices which tempt and it was hard not to go back to old faves or even try their version of posole - with red chile and the option of a poached egg also. I've gotta try that at home.

In the end, dh had Huevos Mexicana with chorizo and a small side of black beans.
Huevos Mexicana
He gave me all the hunks of avacado which I added to my salad.

I had chilaquiles with a very mild habanero flavored sauce and a poached egg on top, and a side salad. The chilaquiles were pretty filling and less interesting than many other dishes. I'd never had them before; now I have. The real downside was I didn't feel I could handle bread pudding with sour cream and a sprinklng of pistachios on top. Rats!!

While dh had coffee, I had a glass of blood orange juice. I figure I'm never going to have enough blood oranges myself to squeeze a full glass so I didn't begrudge the $3. for the glass. Good fiber and pretty too.
Blood Orange Juice
The rest of the afternoon (after changing rooms at the hotel due to lack of hot water) was spent at used book stores. Fortunately, the boys got more than we did tho I have a Maryanne Esposito bread book with a couple of fascinating recipes.

Tonight is pierogi shopping with internet friend Peppi, followed by a Polish buffet with her and her dad. There's good eating -in Chicago! Good thing thing there's also some walking. ;-)