8/17 – Potbelly and Empanadas
I have friends in high places. When I say that, I mean my best friend Zack works at Potbelly corporate and occasionally bestows free sandwich cards on me. I used one today and always enjoy the jealous looks I get… Anyways, I decided that Potbelly wasn’t enough and headed over to Portillo’s for some cheese fries. My diet starts tomorrow. In a week.
Dan and I fixed the empanadas we tried to make the night before. Our fatal flaw was the crush, so we got some Pillsbury biscuits and flattened them out to make empanada crusts. It worked out so beautifully. Until we get the dough right, I’m planning on always having a backup plan in my fridge.
8/18 – Slurping Turtle and a Friendly Visit
We had a new person start at work and were charged with taking him to lunch. Fine by me! I took the opportunity to suggest one of my favorite ramen spots – Slurping Turtle. The ramen is amazing. The broth is so good and not so spicy that you can’t handle it. The noodles are the perfect consistency. The only bad thing I can say about it is that they default to plastic chopsticks and I splashed ramen broth everywhere. I guess they don’t call it Slurping Turtle for nothing.
The truly awesome event of the day was my best friend Jessica from when I studied abroad in Barcelona coming to visit from New York! We spent our first night reunited watching The Great Gatsby (one of my favorites) and made pasta. We have a lot of little traditions when we spend time together and that’s one of them. She ended up making a tomato sauce from scratch that integrated bacon grease. My hero. It was a relaxing but necessary night, since the rest of the week was to be filled up with a bunch of tourist and tradition-related activities.
8/19 – Beach and 3 Sheeps Brewing
Today and tomorrow were the first vacation days I’ve taken in awhile, and I intended to use them to the fullest. After making english muffin breakfast sandwiches with bacon, peanut butter and banana, we headed to North Avenue Beach. Jessica has been to Chicago before, but never to the beach. We took Divvy (for Jessica) and my bike there to get in a little exercise and for the experience of biking the lakefront path – a must-do for any person visiting Chicago. We met up with my friend Rob and read our books and soaked up the sun. In my case, a little too much. Damn Irish skin.
We went home to rinse off the sand, then decided we both needed haircuts. I was past due for one by about a month or two. I went to my new favorite spot – Civello. They do an awesome Groupon deal for a haircut (sold out right now but usually restocks in the beginning of the month) in the Young Professional Salon. Civello is an Aveda salon, so if you like their products, you’ll like this place. The “Young Professionals” have yet to disappoint me. Always a pleasant experience with aromatherapy, arm massage, head massage… and professional haircut and style. Jessica was very satisfied with hers as well.
We stopped at Adagio Teas (because we’re obsessed with tea as you’ll soon discover) and I found out they do COLD BREW TEA. After a brief shopping trip, we headed over to Lakeshore Beverage for a blogger beer tasting with 3 Sheeps Brewing. The discussion was centered around dark beers. I’ll admit that I’m not the type to pick a dark beer when given a choice, but I came to the event with an open mind. We started with 3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides (an IPA), then dove into Paid Time Off, Baaad Boy Black Wheat and Hello My Name is Joe. I loved that we had access to Grant Pauly, the brewer and head honcho. My boyfriend joined Jessica and us. He’s a homebrewer and will be writing articles related to beers and brewing soon on the blog – stay tuned!
We made it home a little buzzed on dark brews and Jessica made the most badass dinner – twice baked potatoes and steak. I passed out after filling up my belly.
8/20 – The Art Institute and Mario’s Table
I got a lot of Fitbit steps in today. I woke up slowly and enjoyed a simple breakfast with Jessica while waiting for my sister to drive up to the city. We made our way down to the Art Institute, since Thursdays are Illinois resident free days. Unfortunately that deal didn’t start until 5pm. So we used our time to get some downtown shopping done. I got a tea canister and some jasmine green tea from DavidsTea that was on sale. Then we went to Forever 21. Forever 21 has the cutest and most affordable workout gear… I couldn’t stop myself from getting a new top.
Soon, we headed back to the Art Institute and I took Jessica and Darya through Asian Art exhibits, some American classics, and Greek statues. After all the shopping and art, we were getting hangry.
One of Social Media Beast’s clients is Mario’s Table, and today happened to be their 20th anniversary party. So we headed there. Just as we got there, several of my coworkers were leaving, having just enjoyed a delicious Italian meal. My boss was there with family and friends and sent us a free appetizer… what a guy. The wine was $20 (regularly $35), the chicken parmesan I got was seasoned perfectly, and I got a free bottle of olive oil to take home. And a gift card to come back. What a great event.
8/21 – Cafe Baba Reeba and a Drag Show at Hydrate
Jessica and I both had to work today, so we chilled on the couch together and got it done. We took a late afternoon jog, then cleaned up for dinner. It was a true Barcelona reunion, since we planned on meeting another study abroad friend (Chris) at a Spanish tapas place, my favorite – Cafe Baba Reeba. We enjoyed some shared bites and mango “sangria,” then headed to Chris’ place for a quick drink. He has the cutest little baby kitten! I fell in love.
Later in the evening, we went to Hydrate Night Club in Boystown for a drag show. I’d never been to a real drag show, so this was an awesome experience to share with Jessica and Chris. Hydrate is $5 to get into the drag show with a two drink minimum, but the drinks are pretty affordable. Make sure to bring some singles to tip the performers if you go. Also, there’s some performers the straight ladies will appreciate… but I’ll let you go there and figure it out for yourself 😉
8/22 – Royal Run, Chinatown and Afternoon Tea at the Allis
Jessica and I didn’t stay out late after the drag show, since we had a run early this morning. It was the Royal Run, and I’ve got to say… the event kind of sucked. Not that many people showed up, the start location was a 10 minute drive from the one listed on all race materials, and it wasn’t a full 5k… whoops. Regardless, it was Jessica’s first 5k, and I was happy to share the experience with her. And we got some capes. People were cheering us on the whole time.
We took a little nap, the headed to Chinatown. Jessica has a goal to visit every Chinatown, and Chicago was no exception. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Jessica’s favorite. Though we did drink some delicious bubble tea and shared some gargantuan noodle dishes. Jessica realized too late that a family of four shared the dish she ended up ordering… no chance of finishing it. Definitely check it out if you’re in Chinatown with a friend. Entrees are around $10 and can easily serve two or more.
One of our traditions is getting afternoon tea. Today I took Jessica to The Allis, one of the public restaurants of Soho House. The serve a mean afternoon tea, and even accommodated Jessica’s egg allergies. The space is adorable – the perfect place to take a group of girls or your mom.
Jessica and I made our way home, then I joined my boyfriend in Logan Square for a few hours. Deschutes Brewery had a public event in a park, not unlike New Beligum’s event earlier in the summer. There were a bunch of different types of beer, food trucks, and live music.
I didn’t stay up late – it was Jessica’s last night in town. I went home and we relaxed for the rest of the night.
8/23 – One Year Anniversary <3
Jessica left super early… like 5am. I spent most of the day lounging around with my boyfrend. We watch A Clockwork Orange… can you believe I’ve never seen it? Later in the day, we headed for Wicker Park. We don’t actually know when to count our one year anniversary, but decided that we would celebrate it today. We started the night at Big Star. We both love tacos, so it’s weird that we hadn’t given Big Star a chance yet. It didn’t disappoint – the tacos had unique flavors and were quite satisfying. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time when you come – there’s ALWAYS a line. Even Sunday at 9pm. After indulging on tacos and beer, we headed right across the street to Violet Hour. The theme of the night was places we’ve never been to. After Violet Hour got a James Beard award for Outstanding Bar Program, I knew I had to make it in. Besides all the other glowing recommendations from friends. It’s an interesting place – a speakeasy that’s hard to find unless there’s already a line queueing up. We went inside and they offered us some top-shelf liquor to sip on while making our drinks. We both got too and were considerably tipsy upon leaving. Although the drinks are more expensive here than your typical bar, they’re more dense with liquor. Plus they taste great! I’ll admit I’m not huge on craft cocktails, but I appreciated all the work that went into these.
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Thanks to my amazing photographer friend Jessica Chuang for some of these pictures!