Weekending It Chicago Style

I can’t believe I’ve been in Chicago for a week!  I also can’t believe it’s already September.  Umm…when did that happen!?   As I was looking through my planner this afternoon, penciling in a bunch of key events/dates, I thought to myself, “2014 has been the busiest/fastest year yet.”  Does anyone else feel this way?

Anyways, this was my first full weekend in Chicago (a long weekend at that), and I can honestly say I love this city.  There’s so much to do, eat, and see!  I feel like we’re only going to scratch the surface over the next few weeks!

First, I have to mention that the weather has been absolutely gorgeous.  It’s hard to imagine it ever being cold and snowy.  Personally, I think I brought the sunshine with me!

Chicago 1 
Next up, the food.  Oh the food!  Chicago is a food lovers paradise – there is no shortage of amazing restaurants. 

Over the weekend, we tried Taco Burrito Express, a true hole in the wall that did not disappoint.  My sister highly recommended it (she used to run 3 miles just to eat here!) and said she would be mad if I didn’t make the effort to go.  Ankita and I shared a veggie burrito and tostadas – yum!  Unlike most traditional Mexican restaurants, TBE uses all kinds of veggies in their dishes.  Ours included zucchini and broccoli – unusual in a very good way!

photo 3 (6) 
Vishnu and I also enjoyed date night at Piece Pizza.  This is definitely one of those must try restaurants if you’re a pizza lover.  Not only is the food delicious – NY style pies – but the atmosphere is fun and laid-back.  But be ready for a wait – this place gets packed!

Piece Pizza
We started with a couple of beers – Vishnu opted for one of Piece’s home brews while I chose something called Stiegl Radler (a grapefruit soda and beer blend).   The pizza we ultimately decided to order was a traditional red (the BEST red sauce and mozzarella) with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, and ricotta.  YUM!

I also enjoyed a couple of iced soy mochas from Caffe Streets on both Saturday and Sunday.  The coffee to chocolate ratio was perfect (re: not too sweet).  I really hope our neighborhood in Miami gets it together and opens up a place like this!

This weekend weekend was also the start to college football season.  I watched the UGA vs. Clemson game and loved every minute of it!  All I have to say is Todd Gurley is a beast!  He dominated on the field and definitely helped seal the deal for a Georgia win!

todd gurley 
I have a good feeling about this year!  GOOO DAWGS!!!

Well, my first week here was filled with excellent meals, fun with friends, and some quality time with Vishnu!  Here’s to another great week in the Windy City, which will include all of those things plus a little shopping!

Are you a college football fan? 
What was the absolute best thing you ate this weekend?

FFF: Fantasy Football Friday

Every year around this time, Vishnu turns into this crazy guy who only talks about football.  Fantasy football. 

Quarterback this, tight end that, points this, playoff that. 

Honestly, I never really cared about all the hype.  It actually annoyed me that football ruled our lives. 

Football Fantasy 2

Until this year that is. 

This year a group of eight girls in Chicago decided to find out what all the hype is about.  They wanted to know why their husbands/fiances/boyfriends spend hours agonizing over something called a draft.  They wanted to understand why someone would “throw away” hundreds of dollars in multiple fantasy leagues.  They wanted to understand why the crazy smack talk was even necessary.

And so the girls set up their own fantasy football league (with the help of my awesome colleague Thea!).  They picked a date and time to conduct their draft.  They created a draft order.  They came up with fun names for their teams (i.e. Par’s a Playa, Show Me Your TDs, Anksta’s Gangstas, The Plastics).  They even have a “no involvement from your significant other” rule.

And then they drafted their teams.

Sure some of them may have picked players based on how strong they looked or by how cool their names are or if their names sounded vaguely familiar.  But let’s be honest, most picked top ranked players because that’s what the system told them.

And of course, the night of their draft Yahoo was acting up and randomly kicking people off.

But these eight girls persevered.  Even though none of them had ever participated in anything like this before, they persevered. 

Fantasy Football
This year’s goal!

And now…let the games begin!

RPM and Siena Tavern

Needless to say, my first couple of days in Chicago have been nothing short of fun. Not only was I reunited with Vishnu after three weeks of living apart, but I also got to try two amazing Chicago restaurants!

RPM

My friend Ankita made a reservation for me and Vishnu at RPM for Monday night– our first date in three weeks (I am so dramatic)! This was my second time dining at RPM and Vishnu’s first.

Let’s just say this was the perfect way to kick off my month in Chicago! As we walked in, I couldn’t help but notice the chic décor – beautiful chandeliers, soft curtains – so romantic!

After being seated, we spent a few minutes deciding what to order. In the end, we decided to share a few different things.

We started out with two cocktails. I ordered a strawberry spritzer type of drink and Vishnu got a ginger blueberry drink – summer in a glass. When our waitress told us about the appetizer special, we knew that was what we had to have. I’ll describe it as best I can – mozzarella, ricotta, mascarpone, basil and tomato stuffed baby squash tempura battered and lightly fried. Essentially mozzarella sticks taken to the next level! For our entrees we ordered two dishes – eggplant parmesan (SO cheesy, so good!) and this seasonal corn pasta (little ‘purses’ stuffed with roasted corn, ricotta, and mascarpone in a light butter sauce). And the grand finale was light, fluffy donuts coated in cinnamon sugar served with two dipping sauces – Nutella and whipped mascarpone.

Warning – [crappy] iPhone pics ahead!

RPM

RPM 2

RPM 3

The food was just as delicious as I remembered! And every dish that passed by our table looked so good!

During dinner, Vishnu and I talked non-stop, catching each other up on life and planning other fun things to do in the city. I missed my man so much!

Siena Tavern

On Tuesday night, we went to Sierra Tavern, except this time it was a group date! Jayesh, Ankita, Samir, Roshni, Vishnu, and I spent the evening stuffing our faces eating and talking…and laughing.  Oh the laughing!

Siena Tavern 
No pics of food – just three lovely ladies!

This restaurant also has a very special, laid back vibe. The décor is unique and welcoming – perfect for a big group of people. And our server was very accommodating and offered lots of recommendations.

We were promptly seated. Then began the deliberations about what to order. We decided to order a few different things and share, which was the perfect plan because I got to try a little bit of everything!

We started with beers for the guys and sangria and wine for the girls. Food wise we ordered mushroom truffle pizza, shaved Brussels sprouts salad with almonds and some kind of cheese, potato gnocci in a cream sauce, and tagliatelle with mushrooms in a truffle sauce. Jayesh and Vishnu ordered a couple of meat dishes that they also loved! And of course, we had to order dessert – donuts! The difference between these donuts and the ones at RPM is that they were bigger and came with three sauces that you ‘infuse’ into the donut. Delicious and cool!

There is a reason why everyone was so hyped to eat here. The food is out of this world!

To all my fellow foodies, please make an effort to visit both of these restaurants the next time you are in Chicago. I promise you won’t regret it!

Have a great Wednesday!