Chicago eats

Weekend Happenings: Big & Little’s, Heritage Bicycles, and Oscar Night

Happy Monday, party people!

I had Friday and Saturday off of work so my weekend was a bit shifted. I rarely get two full days off in a row so it felt like a true weekend…very relaxing, full of exploring and wandering around neighborhoods with no time limits or obligations. How often does that happen? (All the mothers reading this are screaming NEVER, LAUREN, IT HAPPENS NEVER!)

Friday afternoon my dad came over to walk me through doing my taxes for the eighth year in a row. I figured 25 is the last acceptable age that I can ask for help from my dad without total embarrassment. Fingers crossed that next year I can do them without going into a full-blown panic (see you in 365 days, H&R Block).

After all the nitty gritty we went out for lunch, and because it’s a Friday during Lent, fish fry was the name of the game. My dad and I share a love for Diners Drive Ins and Dives so when I told him that a place just down the street from my apartment had been featured on the show for their fish and chips, there were no questions.

IMG_9892

Big & little’s  killlllls the fish and chip game. The fry was so light and delicate and the fish basically melted in my mouth. Fresh fish, a squeeze of lemon, homemade tartar sauce…can you think of anything better?

IMG_9882

IMG_9893

I spent the rest of Friday horizontal on my couch watching Broad City, drinking Passionfruit La Croix, and texting people fake reasons why I couldn’t go out later. Lazy Friday to say the least.

I woke up early on Saturday ready to enjoy the 50s and sunshine that the weatherman had promised us all week. My roommate and I walked to a nearby coffeeshop/bikeshop to start the day, one of my favorite things to do.

IMG_9918IMG_9916

My favorite part about Heritage is the little fridge that they keep their creamers in. Absolutely the cutest thing.

IMG_9911

I went with a vanilla cold brew and Maria had a homemade biscuit and a chai tea latte. I’m not a chai gal but she said it was the best she’s ever had. We chatted as other neighborhood locals strolled in with their bikes to get a tune-up. I love the feel of the place…such a cool hybrid shop selling some of the best coffee in Chicago.

IMG_9912

The rest of the day we walked around Lakeview peeking into restaurants that we’ve added to our to-dine list. When we finally made it back to our hood we grabbed lunch at Butcher’s Tap (check it out, locals — awesome food) and watched NCAA basketball. Again, an afternoon with no obligations. It was pretty wonderful.

By some grace of God I was able to get a run in later in the afternoon (after 32 oz of beer and a fried chicken sandwich. I do believe in miracles). I’ve been dying to break in my new Nikes and they didn’t disappoint. You forget how amazing new shoes feel on your feet until you get them again. I was basically flying!

FullSizeRender-9

Sidenote to all single men out there: the way to this girl’s heart is NOT to literally run after me in street clothes and tap me on the shoulder after you’ve jumped up next to me at the stoplight. You will automatically go into the “kidnapper” category and not earn my phone number. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

I watched my neighbor’s kids on Saturday night aka another crazy night in the city. Making the most of my 20s ladies and gentlemen.

FullSizeRender-8

Sunday I had to work all day but made it home just in time for Oscar Night! My roommate is a huge Oscars fan so she printed out ballots for us for all the major categories and we ate pizza, drank champagne, and screamed when Leo finally got the win he’s always deserved.

IMG_9955

Cheap champagne is automatically fancy when you add fruit to it.

And now I will leave you with the best GIFs from last night’s big win. It’s 2016 and anything is possible.

FullSizeRender-11FullSizeRender-12

And the funniest one yet:

FullSizeRender-13Questions:

  • Do you do anything special for awards shows?
  • Favorite Leonardo DiCaprio movie?
    • I watched Inception twice in theaters in 48 hours. If you’ve seen it, you know what an emotional commitment that is. Whoa.
Advertisements

Weekend Happenings: 16 miler, Pizza Pizza, and Ready For Fall

Well this weekend was a doozy.

For starters, I ran my longest distance ever. I popped out of bed surprisingly early on Saturday morning and met up with my CARA group to attempt what I thought was an impossible 16 miler along the lake. The first 12 miles weren’t too hard, especially since I ended up running next to an awesome girl named Brigitte and we ended up talking the entire time. But the minute I hit the half marathon mark (my longest distance to date) my body hit a wall and it felt like the next three miles would be insurmountable. I’ll tell you — having Brigitte there saved me. I wouldn’t have even come close to finishing without her. She talked to me the entire time and I even stopped talking back the last two miles but she kept on gabbing, trying to distract me from the pain. And in the end, I was so happy I kept going — I thought the runner’s high after 8 miles was strong…but aside from feeling like I was having a stroke, the high I had the rest of the weekend after the 16 miler was crazy! Such an incredible feeling.

unnamed (4) unnamed (5)

I ran home and did the typical runner things (including my first ice bath, which I definitely did wrong and didn’t put any water in the tub), hoping that I would be able to function for the rest of the gorgeous weekend instead of hobbling around my apartment like a 90 year old woman.

unnamed (6) unnamed (7) unnamed (9)

Legs up the wall is a true life saver, even when your hip flexors are so tight that you can’t even straighten them. The foam roller is going to be my best friend this week.

The rest of Saturday was spent at the beach, eating pizza, and playing Heads Up with some of my friends who drove in from the suburbs to enjoy the gorgeous weather — it really was the most perfect day of the summer.unnamed (14)

I met Spencer downtown later in the night for some rooftop cocktails which in hindsight wasn’t the greatest idea after a double digit run, but I’ll rarely turn down an invitation from friends.

unnamed (12)

Sunday was the definition of exhaustion. I had to work at the store but since I hadn’t really rested since my long run and day/night on the town I was pretty loopy. Luckily the shift flew and I was able to meet Megan out for dinner for her birthday today! Megan and I just realized that we’ve been friends for 10 YEARS now — the fact that I’m old enough to have a decade-long friend is only slightly terrifying but it’s crazy to think how much we’ve been through together. Never in a million years in freshman-year French class did we think we’d be living just across the street from one another in the city.

unnamed (10)

Oh, and we ate more pizza and beer. I think that was the theme of my weekend (never an unwelcome one).

unnamed (8) unnamed (11)

Now that I truly got to enjoy a full summer weekend I’m completely ready for fall to be here. I keep my apartment on the chilly side so I can hang out in a sweatshirt and sip coffee in the morning like it’s going to be a fall day anyway, so I just need nature to get on the same page as me. Let’s just keep winter far, far away, shall we?

Questions:

  • What did you feel like the first time you ran a crazy-long distance?
  • Are you ready for fall or still savoring summer?

Foodie News: A PSA on the PSL and I put the “D” in Foodie

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve been waiting all week to spread the good news. No, not the Gospel (sorry for the joke, Mom). But this good news: Starbucks is giving its classic Pumpkin Spice Latte a makeover and using real pumpkin puree instead of caramel coloring and other nonsense.

anigif_enhanced-17878-1414706556-12

You know why this is particularly exciting for me? I’m as basic as it gets in every way. I live in my lululemon leggings, I wear scarves the minute the temperature dips below 70 degrees, I crave Diet Coke like a MOFO when I’m stressed out, and when September comes around I want ALL THINGS PUMPKIN. The one thing I haven’t gotten on board with? The PSL. It’s just never tasted good to me. So who knows — maybe this change will bring me to full-fledged basic status.

Capture

How Much Do You Know About Food? I was really excited to rock the crap out of this test. And then I got 15/20…which, if I remember from high school, would be a D. So apparently I’m a fraud. You all can just close your browsers now. Damn you, Taramasalata!

I was recently coerced into buying $12 worth of chicken sausage at the store. Now, before you get all judgey, just hear me out. There were samples, it was a sweet old man selling them, we talked for a few minutes about all the dishes I could incorporate them into, AND he topped it all off with a coupon. SOLD.

Aidells-Pineapple-Bacon-chicken-sausage-1024x757

I have been alllllllllll about that chicken sausage life since buying these. My roommate Emma and I have been putting our two selections in all the food: I’ve been slicing the Pineapple and Bacon and throwing it into my omelets every morning, and adding the Sun Dried Tomato sausages to pasta dishes. It’s been a magical, meaty few days.

I recently discovered a Forever Yogurt that is a straight up club. It’s located underground and the inside is lit up by neon lights. It’s right by my work and is going to make things very difficult from now on. Not only does Forever Yogurt have all the toppings imaginable, this place is like The Mid at 2am on a Saturday night, so once you’re in it feels like a froyo rave (how are these not a thing yet?)

unnamed (33)

Speaking of temptations near my work, a Goddess and Grocer opened up as well. Their sandwiches, baked goods, hot bar, etc. offer outstanding choices (remember the sandwich I got from there a few months ago?)

unnamed (60)

Well now I’m on their coffee kick. 1) because it’s killer coffee 2) because their sleeves all have different sayings on them. The first cup I read said: “Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.” I’ve been back a few days a week ever since just to see what the sleeve will say. Well played, Goddess. Well played.

unnamed (59)

Well that’s all I’ve got in the world of foodie news. Cutting edge journalism, as usual.

Questions:

  • Raisin cookies: delicious in their own right or manipulative?
  • PSL: can’t live with ’em or can’t live without ’em?

Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market

Since starting IHABL I haven’t done nearly as many restaurant reviews as I’ve wanted to. Truth be told (and don’t tell my bank), but I go out to eat so much that by the time I’m ready to sit down and rave about a restauarnt, I’m oftentimes headed out the door to try another and become equally enthralled. (Sidenote: in high school my English teacher would take points off if you used certain “taboo words” — and oftentimes was one of them. To this day my heart skips a beat when I write out any of those words, as if something bad is going to happen because of it).

Anyway, this past Sunday my parents ventured into the city to bring me some final touches for my apartment. I’ve been wanting to take them to some of the cool restaurants in my neighborhood so I was excited when they agreed to go out to dinner with me (*cough cough* pay for dinner *cough cough*).

Eating with my family can be tricky: my mom doesn’t eat meat, I don’t eat red meat, my brother basically eats meat exclusively, and my dad will eat anything as long as a green vegetable isn’t within arms length. When I heard that my brother, god love him, wouldn’t be coming along, I jumped at the chance to take them to Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market.

gallery-sign-day

Fahlstrom’s is a restaurant that doubles as a fish market, so you can simply stop by, choose from 16 pieces of fresh fish daily, and prepare it at home yourself if you don’t feel like eating like a king and then having someone else clean up after you.

gallery-market

The restaurant prides itself on a few things: 16 pieces of fresh fish to choose from daily (ever-changing based on season and availability), the cereal wall, breakfast anytime, and all-you-can-eat crab legs on Tuesdays. Oh, and The Crabster, but more on that later.

11055544_913811008669415_1807384898_n

Do you want a filet of mahi mahi or a bowl of Apple Jacks? No biggie, do both. (Say, WHAT?!)

The menu is…..overwhelming. There is a menu chalkboard on the wall, a menu they hand you as you sit down, and an additional piece of paper that lives on the table and offers even more choices. Truth be told it took 20 minutes AND the opinions of two servers before I could even settle on an appetizer. Somehow we managed, and soon enough the Shrimp Kargot was sitting before us. Boursin, garlic butter, Gruyere, Parmesan, garlic bread

unnamed (49)

I don’t know how else to describe this except a garlic butter hot tub accompanied by a hunka hunka burning garlic bread love. There were some dirty deeds going on in that hot tub. The garlic was seeping into every pore of the protein and the shrimp were loving it. Aside from escargot, this was the most garlicky dish I’ve ever had and I was in utter ecstasy. It was so good I would unquestionably eat this on a first date because it would be so much more important to me that my date try this than save face by ordering a piece of grilled chicken and chewing Orbit all night in anticipation. But that’s irrelevant…

After another few minutes of looking over the menu, my parents and I decided to order three dishes and split them, as I have a serious case of Food FOMO and I think they could see the blips of sweat rolling down my face as I worried I was going to make the wrong decision.

First we went with The Crabster, one of the specialties at Fahlstrom’s and, in the words of our server, “what people come here for.” Hand-shucked and seasoned Alaskan King Crab on a toasted New England roll topped with creamy coleslaw.

Second up, the Alaskan King Crab Macaroni and Cheese. Crab, Gruyere cheese sauce…married and baked.

Finally, the Seafood Bisque Fettuccine. Filled to the brim with shrimp, scallops, fairy dust and magic.

unnamed (50)

If you asked me to pick a favorite I would literally weep. The Crabster is what I would order again, because the other two were so heavy and rich that I felt like 16th-century royalty shoving them into my mouth as fast as possible. I wish I had a single negative thing to say about any of these dishes so you would better trust my authenticity, but everything was truly wonderful. The shrimp, crab, and scallops were cooked perfectly. They are very difficult proteins to master and just a few seconds can make the difference between underdone, perfect, and overdone. I also appreciated that Fahlstrom’s doesn’t skimp on the seafood. They take a stand for quality AND quantity, and they stick by it. There were huge pieces of crab in both the sandwich and the macaroni, and it definitely made it worth the price point. Wait, let’s just zoom in on that mac one more time:

unnamed (51)

I only wish I stopped by for a later dinner so I could have enjoyed all these incredible eats with a glass of white wine. Until next time, Fahlstrom’s…..oh, and what’s the likelihood that you’ll deliver crab mac directly to my couch…..

Fahlstrom’s Fresh Fish Market

1258 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago IL, 60657

(773) 281-6000

Monday – Friday: 11am – 10pm

Saturday: 9am – 10pm | Sunday: 9am – 9pm

slurping turtle meets pumpkin patch

I’m beginning to think I have a little bit of an addictive personality.

I’m either waaaaay on “this” end of the spectrum or waaaaay on “that” end.

Case in point, my weekend. Remember two weeks ago when I could barely recollect all the beer I drank? This weekend I spent both Friday and Saturday nights watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory and eating microwave popcorn. Big things happening over here.

I did have two highlights though, which can’t be forgotten amidst the bliss that was my laid back weekend.

One, I tried a new restaurant in Chicago: Slurping Turtle!

IMG_0378

I’ve wanted to try this place for awhile now but to be honest I rarely crave Asian food. If I do it’s usually just a pad thai craving (a very specific pad thai craving which can only be fulfilled by a little hole-in-the-wall place in my hometown. Picky picky). But I was getting dinner with Spencer who is always up for trying new spots so we decided Slurping Turtle would be the perfect meeting spot since it’s one of “those” places you have to try once in the city.

Do you have one of those friends who you know will be in your life forever, even if you only see each other every few months? Spencer is that friend.

IMG_0362

First of all, I love dining with people who a) want to get a drink and b) will split an adventurous appetizer with me. Spencer and I decided to try a light Japanese beer (when in Rome, right?) and split an out-of-this world starter special. I wish I could remember the name of the sauce but basically it was crab legs covered in butter on top of some stir fried bok choy. I could have eaten a mountain of that stuff.

IMG_0364

The star of the show was, of course, the ramen. Sidenote: I’ve never had ramen before. I was determined when I went off to college that I would always be “that person” who never tried ramen. Pretentious much?

Well this wasn’t exactly dorm room fare: We both had the Tan Tan Men Ramen (spicy) — homemade ramen noodles, pork meatball, pork chashu, pork miso, bok choy, and bean sprouts.

IMG_0372

My thoughts ranged from: “Wow this is the spiciest thing I’ve had in my life” to “Thank god this isn’t a first date this is the messiest thing I’ve ever eaten” to “How in god’s name am I supposed to break up this meatball with my chopsticks?” Overall it was freaking delicious. I’m so glad I took the plunge and went pork-crazy (sometimes I can be a little weird about meat) because it was everything I’d heard about and more. The reviews were correct: Slurping Turtle has the best ramen in Chicago.

The other highlight of the weekend was a trip to a pumpkin patch with a few friends on Saturday. I, along with every other human being on the planet, apparently decided that this Saturday was THE day to go to a pumpkin patch so it was crowded (almost as crowded as my Facebook newsfeed with girls in their boots, flannel shirts and apple cider. No judgment. I am one of you).

IMG_0465

The nice thing about this trip was that we went to an actual farm. It was run by a family who converts their home and farm into a fall afternoon getaway for all the other suburbanites to take their kids on an October afternoon. Not only did we see lots of farm animals (including a llama and a miniature horse – Little Sebastian, anyone?) and get our pumpkin fix in, but we enjoyed a hay ride and learned all about different gourds. You learn something new everyday, I tell ya.

IMG_0439 IMG_0449 IMG_0448 IMG_0458 IMG_0444 IMG_0435 IMG_0461

So from Asian delicacy delights to fall-mania, I was perfectly happy to have spent my nights relaxing and catching up on some sleep. Okay that’s not true but I did catch up on some shows (equally important) and I didn’t poison my body with Natty Light.

“Wherever you are, be all there.”

Questions:

  • What cultural cuisine do you crave most often? I always crave Mexican food
  • Favorite Asian cuisine: Chinese, Thai, sushi, Vietnamese….go!
  • Have you been to a pumpkin patch yet this year? Are you planning on it?