CHICAGO: Winter Weekend

We popped up to Chicago for for a lovely weekend trip ... although a bit frigid there at the beginning of December! Wait, it's freezing here in Kansas City, too. But, missed home. It's hard being away two weekends back to back.

Great to see old friends, and their little kids. Yes, I have to admit, small children can be entertaining. There. I've admitted it.

Really, though, it was a lot of fun to spend time with one of my best friends from childhood and be able to see what a wonderful mother she is. It's amazing to see how we change and grow over time. We're the adults now!

I came in on Thursday, and Owen arrived after work on Friday. We met up on Friday evening at the little studio apartment we rented through Craig's List.

If you are ever traveling, definitely check out Craig's List or any of the numerous owner-rented properties for the city you are visiting. (I stayed in a great apartment in Brooklyn last year using one of the owner-rental sites. Worked out REALLY well.)

Our little home away from home was located on Dearborn in the Gold Coast area directly North of downtown Chicago. Very cute place, oh-so reasonable, and great location, as it was just two blocks from the Red Line, and also near Wells Street which has many restaurants, etc.

The 3rd Coast Cafe & Wine Bar is located on the first floor of the building, and it was great to be able to pop down there for breakfast or late-night glasses of wine (along with their $3 late night plates; we had not one, but two orders of bruchetta--lovely mix of tomatoes, red onions, basil, and blue cheese).

On Friday night, we had dinner at Topo Gigio's on Wells St. One definitely needs reservations for many of the restaurants on Wells, so we just sat at the "bar."

Here you see a photo of the nice, warm, pretty inside of the restaurant ... It is NOT where we sat.

The bar area is basically an alley that has been covered and heated (not really). It offers a full-service bar, as well as menu and wine list.

Aside from the condensation occasionally dripping on me and having to wear my coat, it was great and there was something oddly romantic about eating Italian food and drinking wine in a dark alley! At least that's what I kept telling myself!

The Eggplant alla Parmigiana was enormous and Owen put himself into a slight coma as a result. I had the Linguine delle Cinque Terre (pasta with shrimp pesto sauce).

Second City is always an easy, guaranteed good time, so we headed off to see "Disposable Nation" at Second City e.t.c.

“Disposable Nation” takes a look at what – and who – is disposable in America today. Whether it’s deporting those pesky illegal immigrants, ravaging Mother Earth, isolating stem cells, kicking Pluto out of the solar system, or even our mistreatment of that most oppressed minority of all – smokers – The Second City disposes of them all with razor-sharp wit and an irreverent satirical viewpoint.

We rounded out the weekend with hanging out, dinner at a so-so Middle Eastern restaurant, and seeing the movie "Babel"--which some reviews appropriately called "pretentious." For the most part, I feel like I've seen other similar (and better) movies that focus on cultural and political misunderstandings between people. "Babel" follows several story lines, all of which are connected. The only one that really stood out to me is the one of Chieko, a deaf Japanese teenager whose mother recently committed suicide. The life and pulse of Tokyo is seen, and there are a few amazing moments when you see the world from her point of view ... soundless.

We enjoyed a very relaxing afternoon coffee & tea break at the Greenhouse, Ritz-Carlton. So often I never think of the restaurants/cocktail areas at hotels! The Greenhouse is a beautiful area with many lounge-y chairs and sofas, and lots of natural light coming in. If you're ever out shopping on Michigan Ave., this is a great place to sit and relax for a bit.

On Sunday afternoon, just before we headed off to the airport, we determined that Sunday really is the day for satisfying Indian buffet cravings. So, we dined at India House Restaurant. I almost took a photo of the buffet, simply because it was so beautiful. Just imagine every color of curry, thick creamy sauces, and more. Maybe a little on the pricey side for a buffet, but the atmosphere was great, and the mango ice cream was YUM. (India House, 59 W Grand)

Perfect ending to the weekend!

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