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. ;-)

I smell brunch

I smell brunch
Originally uploaded by redazadi

Saturday am at Frontera....the snow is mostly melting away and the sun is out. A good start to the day imho.

Chicago has Snow!

People who live here are so over the snow of winter; I was told it hasn't really stopped since January. That's great for a ski resort but not for a person who has to get to work each day. Those black down coats are feeling mighty tiresome by now I hear. It was ok for us till we were walking back to our hotel last night and the wind from the lake . REALLY came full force. A reminder to avoid the street north of our hotel! Great retail eye candy but oh those winds.

View from 211

But for me it was still a wow! experience again. It turns to slushy mess on the streets and sidewalks pretty fast with the volume of people traipsing about but just seeing a cloud of snowflakes swirling around was fun. We managed to hit one of our fave bookstores down by the University of Chicago as we drove into the city...Powells, where we got some for the boys and a couple for us. I bought a Chicago based one - Rick and Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures. Speaking of are off to Frontera Grill for brunch this am. Back later.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cambodian in Cleveland

No, not a joke.

We had Cambodian food for dinner - at Phnom Penh in the Ohio City district of Cleveland. This was our first foray into this cuisine and it was good...spicy hot and plentiful. (Sorry no camera at dinner. )

We started with a Rice Paper Roll for me which came with a very tart thin peanut sauce. DH had Fish cakes (Brorhet Trey Jim) which came with a hot red sauce. Both were yummy. Then for entrees I had Taprom with shrimp - a sweet and sour dish but imho not sweet nor very sour. Still it was good with lots of the standard veggies over rice. DH had Mee Khmer, rice noodles with the chicken, beef, shrimp combo. He ordered his very hot and that it was. Very tasty too when I took small bit of noodles. We both had hot french coffee with condensed milk. The sweet balanced a good bit of the heat.

Did I mention it was 35 degrees in Cleveland? That's farenheit and Lake Eire is still frozen. I bet the people here are really sick of winter. Seeing the piles of snow in heaps was interesting to me, but not for someone who has seen its likes since probably late October.

Moon over Cleveland
Full moon tonight also...crisp and cold. I wonder how cold it will get?!?!??

to Cleveland!!


Well Chicago is a loong drive, and so we are going to stop in beautiful downtown Cleveland.

We'll see. And they are predicting 4" of snow for Chicago. Interesting.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Yes, same blog, different template

I got sick of the old lime green pretty quickly. But this is STILL US!!!

Since we are off to Chicago, here is what we looked like last time...We think of this one as A Day Out From The Home. I hope the home is far into our future!

Two Fools Having Fun

We really do look like dorks. sigh.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Suitcase Time Again

Eeeek!! I can't believe I am getting ready to pack the suitcases again. However, I was given the advice by a wise monk to travel more. He said I relax when I do that. I wonder...However, dh and I have agreed that if opportunity arises, we will go...wherever.

We missed the worst of winter here in MD during our trip to Spain and Portugal. It got my system a little bit discombobulated to come back and be all set to go 'into the cave' for the winter only to find that winter was really virtually over. Then came daylight savings and one of the earliest Easters ever. It isn't that I love the cold, tho I do like 30 and 40ish days (Fahrenheit i.e.!) but it's that I like making the heavy stews, and the smells of something simmering all day. The fireplaces lit and the time to reflect in the short dark days. I didn't like the intensity of the 90 days of RUSH in the winter that my former job entailed these past years. It may have been reasonable when our elected officials were farmers and had free time in the dark days, but I wanted to honor the seasons with complimentary emotional seasons. Some of this definitely came when I entered my 60s also. Oh well, I did have some quiet time in January this year, at least I think I did. It seemed short tho. This is a first world, upscale griping I'm doing and I know it. Still so whiney, aren't I?!?!?

In any case, the suitcases will be packed and the cat sitter will arrive and we will Get in the Car! and I'll bet there will still be some winter left in the Windy City! More later.