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September 19, 2006

Lakeside

Last week, I had a fantastic trip to Chicago where I visited ex-San Franciscans, Mary and Eugene. While growing up in Old Saint Lou, I'd visited our much bigger brother to the north many times. And I'd even popped in to see the Flacks, but I wasn't there long and Mangina had that whole tubestick problem. This trip, however, was a resounding success.

First, off I had no idea how good the food was in Chicago. It's always a treat for me to be in a town that does bagels well (i.e. anywhere not SF) and Chicago has extended their dough science to improve the whole bread field as a whole. The big winner in this category was the loaf of bread pudding we had for dessert at Rose Angelis. Also, I had the best BBQ veggie cheeseburger ever made at the Chicago Diner. Finally, we had an amazing waiter at Venus who guided us to all the tastiest Cypriot specialties.

Sights were also seen, including the view from the Signature Lounge of the Hancock Building (I actually went twice ... it's a good time.) Flack and I kicked back there after picking up some new duds on Michigan Avenue for my upcoming trip to the Old World.

The following day, we hit the road in the Flacks' new sportsmobile and trekked through the affluent sprawl that is the North Shore. A couple miles from the border to Wisconsin, we arrived at Zion, Illinois - home of the Illinois Beach State Park. The beach here has a number of warnings not seen at your average sandy joint. These include alerts about asbestos sightings as well as some sort of river-geyser that occasionally bursts forth and kills all in its path. Also, Flack made a new friend.

Coming home one night, Flack had the great idea that you could totally sell Ferris Bueller Tours of Chicago. You get picked up in the morning in a sporty car, get lunch somewhere fancy under the reservation of Abe Froman, hit up the Board of Trade, Art Institute, Sears Tower and finish the day either signing "Danke Schoen" on Dearborn or wrecking a really pricey roadster. While Eugene and I didn't accomplish much of this (we did stop to pee in the Art Institute) we did hit up Wrigley in style.

I bought tickets the night before on stubhub.com and was completely shocked when our tickets turned out to: 1) actually exist 2) not be conterfeit and 3) be excellent seats. We were eleven rows from the third base line. In a small park like Wrigely that makes you feel so close to the action that you may be called upon to perform some service in the event of an emergency. And it was a great game featuring a dramatic come from behind victory for the maligned (by everyone) Cubbies over the hated (by me) Dodgers.

But most importantly, they ran a deal before the game such that you could text a message to a shortcode and said message would then be displayed on scoreboard during the 8th inning. I didn't have a lot of time to think, so I just spoke from my heart.

In summary, then: Chicago - a town where a man can eat like a pig for days, visit an asbestos beach and confess his love via scoreboard to a crazy old coot. Recommended.

3 comments:

ed said...

Why is it that bagels (and pizza!)are so terrible in SF? Most other food is so good there. You'd think that you could easily import some bagel making expertise from NYC -- they'd make bank.

Jason Goldman said...

The explanation I've repeatedly heard is that it's because of the air and water. The same things that make San Francisco great for producing sourdough make it bad for producing bagels and pizza crust.

I've recently started to embrace sourdough a bit more as a result ... it is pretty good out here.

Clare said...

While Chicago bagels are passable, they still aren't NYC bagels. It's funny how much you miss something like that once you've gotten accustomed to it.

Wrigley is awesome - I'm of the opinion that there might not be a bad seat in the house.

I think those Ferris Bueller tours sound awesome. Would you have to call in fake sick to your boss or have your friend do it for you to start the tour?