My Kinda Town Chicago Is…

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We LOVE Chicago!  I thank everyone sooo much for all your wonderful suggestions.  I’m saving them all for our next trip to this wonderful city, which I hope will be very soon.  We made the most of every moment that we had, but as usual,  I just wish we’d had more time.

I took your advice and went on the Architectural Cruise…

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Our guide was a student of architecture and was incredibly knowledgable.

It really made me want to read books about the history of Chicago- what a fascinating city.

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Our hotel as seen from the water.  Easier to look up than down!

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The highlight of our visit was definitely our amazing dining experience at ALINEA and believe me, my expectations were dangerously high.  There is no possible way for me to do justice to the culinary ride that Grant Achatz took us on, so I will just let my photos do the talking.  Understandably, the restaurant doesn’t allow flash photography, and I had to surf the precarious wave of wanting to photograph every dish, but still appear vaguely cool- not easy, as you can imagine, but I so wanted to share at least some of these delights on Slim!

Bon Appetit!

I’ve seen the future of cocktails and it’s looking solid

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This was perhaps my husband’s favourite. Heirloom tomatoes with 8 different accompaniments- each one a delightfully intense surprise.

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First layer of the King Crab presentation.

I can’t describe the texture of that little floating cloud of Heaven!

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Second layer

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Third layer

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This was a little shooter of pure Ecstasy  – a hollowed ball of buttery horseradish filled with fresh Apple and celery juice. The ball pops in your mouth then melts, releasing the delicious and intensely fresh juice.

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Lamb & Peach. The picture says it all.

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One part of a three course shrimp presentation; a shrimp ‘breadstick’ that would bring tears to your eyes.

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Black Truffle Explosion.  Literally. They warn you to keep your mouth fully closed when you bite into the ravioli. Exceptional.

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“Bubble Gum” A test tube that you toss back all at once- a combination of Long pepper, Hibiscus and Creme Fraiche that tastes like gourmet bubble gum.

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The grand finale- a rubberized table cloth is brought to your table upon which Chef Achatz, his very own self, spreads out the fabulous assortment of tasty confections above.  You just sort of moossh it all together like a decadent finger painting class and I guess that is partially the point.  Alinea engages all the senses and brings out the child in you again.  Dining here is FUN! There wasn’t a single dish that didn’t make us giddy with delight.

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Chef Grant Achatz, who looks like a kid!

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The frozen log of chocolate that Chef Achatz smashes up at the table

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The Menu

Oh yes-  we also loved our Sommelier with the T-Rex hair

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A chocolate bar in our kitchen at the Trump Hotel

We stayed at The Trump Hotel in Chicago for the first time and I must say it was super nice. We had a big room with a fireplace and a grand view of the city. Very understated and contemporary in silver, grey and black. Gorgeous bathroom and a comfortable bed. We were worried we’d been given a Japanese businessman’s suite as the first few times I called down for anything they said “Good Evening Mr. Morimoto”.  I quickly checked the closets for any suits (that might fit me 🙂 ) and avoided making any further calls the rest of the night. There was even a state of the art kitchen, complete with a Nespresso machine- my new favourite thing!

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The view from “Mr. Morimoto’s suite”

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It’s the little things…I loved the fresh cream from I assume a local dairy?

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With the little time I had before my cruise, I swung by Jayson Home & Garden and took in their “Flea Market”.  It was a lovely blustery afternoon. The pumpkins and smell of the wood burning stove outside their tented market – Happy signals of the arrival of Fall

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Pumpkins at Jayson Home & Garden

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Top Hats at Jayson- Imagine the sights they saw in their day in Chicago.

Don’t you kind of wish we still wore hats?

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I also visited this beautiful shop called “Branca”

Tres chic!

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And when we were finally ready to eat again… we had  late night martinis and Steak Tartare at RL- Yum.


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PS. I was only ever so slightly miffed that we weren’t able to make it over to The Violet Hour, but I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.  After all, tomorrow…

is another martini.


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29 Comments

  1. You lucky lucky girl having dinner at Alinea – that is most definitely on the list for our road trip across the States at some point in the future. What did he smash the log with? Actually the food looks a lot like Vue De Monde here in Melbourne where you can have lobster bisque in a bunsen burner thingy.

    And did you go to see the Signac and Seurats at the main art gallery, whose name I have just forgotten?

  2. I think I missed the best part of Chicago when we were there this summer……….the restaurant! No wonder you were giddy. Since I am so bummed out now, perhaps a martini is just the thing. Next time and I will read this post before I go. Keep traveling……..and sharing.

  3. What a concept that restaurant is!!!! Worth a trip to the Windy City just for that. Next time you go, take a look at Posh Chicago, a totally charming shop-love your photographs! (Especially the snail from your back yard…).

  4. Your post is fab and definitely does Chicago justice! Thanks for sharing. Next time you must stay longer and have a lunch (or better yet, cocktails) with more of your adoring fans! Glad you had a great time in the windy city! Come back soon!

    CC
    (currentlychic.com)

  5. I just fell off the hay wagon … that food!! Oh oh oh – there’s a brave new world of gastronomic ecstasy I now long for … . Brilliant job of catching the gorgeousness while breaking the law : ). That long tall shrimp thingie? Must. Have. Cool to see the Trump Tower up – they were just breaking ground last time I was there. Oh sigh – Chicago, big love.

  6. Oh boy, I miss that city so much. I spent 8 years there, and it holds a huge place in my heart. I never ate at Alinea, but have always heard wonderful things. Avec is my hands down favorite spot (you would love it) and RL is my husbands fave for Steak Tartare too! Violet Hour has been on my, it’s a very cool spot. Those views from the T.Hotel were gorgeous!

  7. LOVE CHICAGO! Is my memory playing tricks on me or did you come to Chicago once when I was working there? Great architecture..Chicago and New York win in my book. Great restaurant! lucky fish!

  8. Dinner at Montecito Inn just now doesn’t exactly compete!!! Sounds like we don’t have to go all the way to Catalan hills to Roses for Ferran Adria cuisine. He obviously has worthy competition in Chicago according to your marvelous report.

  9. WOW, those are some truly amazing food photos! hard to even imagine how everything tasted.
    I’ve heard so many amazing things about Chicago, I can’t wait to go there myself and experience everything first hand.

    hey RainDancer, Is that sunshine that I see in the background of some of your photos?

  10. I love Chicago … if I did not live in Boston that is where I would be … spent a summer in Chicago when I was in my early 20’s and had the time of my life. The City is such a new city in comparison to Boston or New York since they had to re-build after the Great Fire. Architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Sullivan came out of this part of the world. What an amazing place to visit and fall in love with.

  11. what a wonderful post! thanks for reminding me how much i love this city. so happy your enjoyed chicago, come back soon!

  12. Your trip looks fantastic. The restaurants are on my list for next trip there. I though the two stores you shot looked like some of your houses. All cozy and warm.

  13. Oh My Slim, I want every single item you photographed.
    I will choose 3 for now.Blk truffle explosion, Shrimp breadstick, and for sure lamb with peach.
    may be back for more.
    Delightful post , thanks for taking us along. xo

  14. Oberweis is a local dairy farm in the SW suburbs of Chicago where I am located. Too bad you didn’t get to one of the Oberweis dairy stores where they have the ice cream…the chocolate peanut butter is our favorite.

      • Slim,
        Speaking of Chicago suburbs..it’s a bit further than that..but have you been
        to Rockford? Your stunning photographs made me think of Anderson Japanese Gardens located in Rockford, IL. Mr. Anderson was a fan of Japanese culture and took an old quarry in Rockford and completely transformed it into the amazing, tranquil setting it is today. You must take a look at the website
        http://www.andersongardens.org
        and think about doing a photography trip there. Each season is different of course, and the little hidden water pumps and gardens are a photographer’s dream. I highly recommend putting it on your list of places to visit!
        Looking forward to more of your lovely photos,
        Susan

Would love to hear from you!