August 27, 2014


Chicago became part of my childhood summer routine, right before going back to the Philippines. We would drive across the bridge to Detroit from Windsor & fly 45mins to Chicago & spend several days there to hang out with my cousins, shop & eat some deep dish pizza. But that ritual stopped when we moved to Vancouver. So, the last time I went to Chicago was when I was 16... probably the best summers I had as far as traveling was concerned (another story, another day). 
So after a decade & a bit, I finally made my way back to the Windy City for my dearest friend's wedding (which is another post to follow). I managed to cram as much as I could for the little time I had. I flew in on Thursday evening & of course my flight was delayed by 30mins. I arrived at around 7:30 (Chicago time - 1hr behind) & it took about 15mins to wait in line & to clear customs. Another 5mins to walk to the train station. It was about a 30min train ride from Midway to State/Lake station and another 10mins walk from the station to the hotel. By the time I got to the hotel I was exhausted and the hunger settled in. Here's a tip, if you're are flying in from Midway spend $3 vs. $40 taxi ride. 

I met up with my cousin and her family for some good old Chicago deep dish pizza at Gino's pizza. If you think you can eat another slice, just say no! I made the mistake thinking I wasn't full yet and half way through the second slice - I felt like my stomach was about to burst. It was great to catch up my cousins and it was quite hilarious to hear how they still assumed I was still the same little girl who visited them every summer with my mom.
The following morning, I decided to be good and go for a run (my trainer was proud). So Christine and I walked down Michigan Ave. to Millenium Park. While Christine listened to a jazz performance I ran around the park to the lake and back. It was a good way to discover the city without any distractions. It was just me, my headphones & the city. I met up with her and sat at the bench while I catch my breathe. 
I then met up with Donna & Dave for brunch in Bucktown. Bucktown/Wicker Park is the equivalent of Toronto's Parkdale - where the hipsters hang out until the area lands on the 'it' place to be in the city. We headed to the Bongo Room where we had some amazing brunch & over-ordered thinking we could finish it all. We all got the same dish because we got sold on the word 'chorizo' & a side order of a red velvet pancake. Delish. We walked around the area for a wee bit to digest. It had the cute boutiques that carry not-yet popular brands, which always peaks my interest. 
I knew the one thing I had to do in Chicago was the architectural boat tour! Luckily, we were by the river - so for 1hr and 15mins we went up and down the river & I soaked up all the amazing architecture that Chicago had to offer. Chicago really has the best cityscape planning because everything just fits perfectly. I've been to several World cities where I become mesmerized by the beautiful architecture of New York & Paris but Chicago's buildings blends well together like a jigsaw puzzle but it also can stand individually as it's own masterpiece. I am still at awe thinking back.

After the Sangeet (see next post) - we decided to take a midnight stroll by the riverfront. And you begin to appreciate the architectural details of the buildings under the night skies. It was impeccably more beautiful as there was a full moon... under the twilight the architecture comes alive.
The next morning, I walked down Michigan Ave. where I was running errands before meeting up with the group but I became enamoured by the beautiful buildings. At one point I got distracted by this beautiful church and a courtyard that I now dubbed as 'the secret garden'. I then looked at the time and realized I had to speed walk to our brunch spot. 
When I arrived at the restaurant, no one was around then I spotted Donna and Christine and I decided to drop my stuff off at the hotel, which was conveniently situated right across from the restaurant. Upon my return, the line up to The Purple Pig quadruple in size. Thinking to myself... I hope this lives up to the hype. And it sure did. I was in love. I would fly to Chicago just to eat at The Purple Pig (no joke!) Everything we ordered were simply divine. But the hands-down favourite was the Pig's Ear with Crispy Kale, Pickled Cherry Peppers & Fried Egg. We loved it so much we ordered it twice. Ahhhh.... I could live off that! My second favourite dish would probably be a tie between the Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes, which just melted in your mouth & the Pork Fried Almonds with Rosemary & Garlic. If you go to Chicago! You must go here! MUST! 
I woke up early on Sunday to quickly pack before we headed to our final Chicago meal - at Sunda, it is a New Asian restaurant that's gotten some Michelin-star recognition. Cue in the Ooooo's & Ahhhhh's. It is a place where east meets west. And normally I'm not a fan of these so-called fusion restaurants but I was good with this. My favourite dish was yet another kale dish: Kale & Seaweed Salad. I like the crispness of the seaweed and the zesty vinegar dressing. The head chef is Filipino so the menu has many of his roots, which is pretty to cool to see how Filipino cuisine is coming on the map. 
After the yummy goodness, everyone disperse. Two were headed to O'hare to catch their flights. Another group were off to get the famous Chicago's hot dogs. And Dave & I headed for a last minute shopping before we headed to Midway. I dropped by Saks, Nordstrom Rack & Bloomingdale's - such disappointment but good for my wallet. I then headed back to the hotel and had some time so I headed to the famous swimming pool. Think Great Gatsby. The tiling and the details were just spectacular. 
Thank you Chicago for a spectacular weekend. I'll see you again.

1 comment:

  1. You're such a beautiful writer & photographer! #CharmedLife :-)