Hi again, everyone! I am back and ready to blog. As I alluded in my last post, I had gone on a trip for Labor Day weekend, and a fine trip it was. I took a trip up to Chicago, Illinois; home of good food, great history, and…wind. Without getting into too much about how great it was there, I do have to say it was the perfect time to go. The weather was amazing, and it was really enjoyable to be outside, whereas in Florida, it is plain miserable to be outdoors anytime between about 10a and 6p.
But this a food blog, darn it! Not a “Let’s talk about my trip to Chicago” blog! I’ll start this food journey from the beginning (where every good story should start, right?). It all started Friday morning. I had to make an afternoon rendez-vous in another city to drop off my doggies with my mother-in-law for the weekend. Since there is a particularly amazing restaurant in that city, I also took the liberty of eating lunch there, and it was oh so delicious.
That there is the “Delicious Duo” from Ted’s Montana Grill. Every time I make the trip to drop off the dogs, I try to go here since I do not have one at home. I spoke about Ted’s in a previous post, but I skewed their name. Anyway, lunch was great. For $8, I got the two little burgers you see and those tasty fresh-cut fries. The burgers were pretty straight-forward: One was beef and the other was Bison. Topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and a spicy mustard remoulade sauce (I then added some ketchup on top). The buns are obviously made in-house and were soft and delicious. The mustard wasn’t too strong, and added just enough kick to the burger to really help in sing as I was devouring it. Truth be told, you really can’t tell the difference between the beef and bison, which is good because some people might be turned off to it; but I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: “Try the bison! It tastes the same as beef but is healthier for you!” Of course, on the other hand, you’re already eating a delicious cheeseburger, why worry about calories, right? So that was Friday afternoon. That night, we got on a plane and were headed to Chicago. We (my wife and I) ate some lack-luster sandwiches in the Orlando airport for dinner, so we did not eat anything amazing once we arrived at our destination.
Saturday was really great, too. Instead of going into downtown Chicago, we hung out in a nearby suburb, Naperville. They had this really amazing festival going on that day, so we decided to hang out there for the day. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get outstanding food, either!
Behold the glory that is the Chicago Stuffed Pizza! That’s right, stuffed! Not deep dish, like most associate with Chicago. Well, I say “not deep dish,” but technically, it is still a deep dish pizza. Let’s have a closer look, shall we (of course)?
As you can clearly see in the picture to the right, the sauce is on top. Which, combined with the term “stuffed,” immediately lets you know that there is indeed a layer of crust on top of the fillings. We ordered the sausage stuffed pizza, and it was incredible. No, divine. No, amazing! All of the above! The cheese was deliciously gooey. The crust had a nice bite to it (as in crunch, not spice). It wasn’t too thick or too thin, but it was also surprisingly flaky. The sauce was very well-done, and is making my mouth water right now. I topped mine with copious amounts of Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper. That’s what Chicago’s all about, and I like it. Never again will I look at a deep dish pizza the same. Just reflecting on that right now, I just want to say that “Man, it was really freaking good!”
After walking around the town for a little bit, we started to get a little hungry again. It’s hard to believe because we destroyed that entire pizza (there were really three of us, including my father-in-law). However, after walking for about an hour or so, we decided that it was time for dessert. And while there were so many options available to us in this town, we hit the right spot. Not literally, of course; that would hurt far too much. Anyway, we got some gelato! And while I was unable to get a picture of my frozen treat (it was melting too fast, and I wanted to eat it too badly), I think I can describe it really well. The place is called Gelati of Naperville (unique name, I know. Don’t look at me! I didn’t name it!). Their “special” flavor is the one that I got, and it was every bit of special! Imagine this: smooth and silky sweet cream gelato, with bits of crunchy chocolate pieces folded inside. Holding it together is a drizzle of chocolate sauce and caramel drizzle. And if that weren’t enough, it was topped with Cocoa Krispies pieces. Yes, you read that right, delicious breakfast cereal on top. It was smooth, creamy, crunchy and gooey. It was so deliciously amazing. I had no problem adequately destroying mine and wanting more. But alas, I did not get more. After walking around for a bit more, we left and ended up calling it a night.
Moving along to Sunday, we actually went into downtown Chicago for most of the day and it was just beautiful. I had never been before, and I was highly impressed with just about everything. But yet again, I’m here to talk about the food. We had lunch at a small little stand outside that served over-prices hotdogs, so of course I had to get one! Afterall, I heard that Chicago dogs are something special. At this place, they just give you the dog plain on a bun and there is a condiment stand next to it and you add your own toppings. Not knowing what a Chicago dog really was, I added stuff willy-nilly and it was pretty good. Later in the day though, now that’s a different story. We were in the middle of a tour, and one of our stops brought us to a much more authentic hotdog stand, where they make the dog FOR you. Now this was right up my alley since I would be assured to get the real deal. And the real deal I got.
One perfectly cooked beef hotdog. Topped with mustard, diced onions, diced tomatoes, little green chili peppers, one large slice of pickle and topped with celery salt. All wrapped in a poppy seed bun. Wow. You want to talk about party in my mouth?! This thing was spectacular. I have never had a hotdog quite like this before. It was spicy, and crunchy, and cool and warm, and a little salty. My tastebuds didn’t know what to make of it all, but I know I liked it. Aside from being unruly to eat, it was just fantastic. Everything was in balance on that bun. And after eating it, I felt like I really had gotten the best of what Chicago had to offer. Not to mention that it was cheaper than the first place we went!
That night we went to a place that was famous for their hotdogs, but both my wife and I were hotdogged out. We had some lack-luster burgers and called it a night after that.
Next time we go to Chicago, it will be planned much better, and we’ll have to hit the real restaurants of that city and get a great taste of what’s there. In the meantime, I am very happy with the outcome of our vacation. We had a great time, there was great weather, and most importantly, we had amazing food. Life is good!Stay positive, love your life, and play with your food 🙂