Fab Finds: Chicago Adventures (Part 1) & OSL Music Mondays

It's time.  I'm finally going to break down my entire Chicago trip and will do so in parts, mostly by day.  I definitely recommend putting on your stretchy pants for this read!

Every year I attend a food-show called IFT which stands for Institute of Food Technologists and we have a booth there showcasing our new products and capabilities.  This is a great way for us to network with other companies looking for suppliers like us and also for us to see what's new and exciting out in the "foodie" world!  For the past two years, the show has been held in Chicago and lucky for me, Chicago is one of my absolute FAVORITE cities, so I have gladly volunteered to join the team! 


|| The First Night - Friday ||

After a nice long day of travel, we checked into our chic hotel The Gwen around 9:45pm and my traveling buddy Robert and I had decided since the minute we left home that our first stop was deep dish pizza. Duh. We're in Chicago, it's a must.  We remembered this place last year we went to called Giordano's that some guy on the street recommended to us.  Turns out, this place is the like the "In-N-Out" of pizzas in Chicago.  A must go to when in town.  So we walked a couple blocks from our hotel and got ourselves a table.  

Last year, there was one particular pizza that made quite the impression on us, so we KNEW we had to order that one again: Bacon BBQ Chicken - BBQ-basted chicken, bacon & balsamic onions with BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce.  Oh man.  There are absolutely no words.  Still dreaming about it.   

Soooo, we didn't stop there.  We wanted to try another pizza, so we ordered the Meat & More MeatPepperoni, sausage, salami and bacon.  Our waiter literally said the words to us "You know that's going to be a lot of food, right?"  We said "Yup, fully aware!" haha #crazytourists Two are always better than one! 

BBQ pizza for the win!

So that left us each with a box of pizza to nibble on during the week, so it all worked out!


|| Officially Day One - Saturday ||

This was the only full day we had to ourselves before the show started.  And by show I mean food-show/trade-show/work for the next three days.  

We decided we wanted to make this our "out to breakfast" day and find a cool place to try.  I was of course the designated food finder and found us a yummy breakfast place a couple blocks from our hotel called Beatrix, the Streeterville location.  

When we walked in, there was already a 25 minute wait, so I immediately knew I picked a great place!  Luckily inside, there was a coffee bar, so I told the guys, let's just grab a coffee and sit on the patio while we wait for our table.  Genius idea.

I ordered the honey & cinnamon latte and it was deeeelish!!  The honey acted as a natural sweetener and of course I'm all about cinnamon in my coffee, so those two flavors in a latte were perfection. 

Not long after we got our coffee we were seated.  Time to eat!! Their menu was so unique and everything sounded delicious that I honestly couldn't decide!  I really wanted the braised pot roast & egg sandwich, but ended up going with the light & fluffy lemon pancakes and boy was I glad I did!  These pancakes were truly the best pancakes I have ever had in my life.  I don't normally order pancakes, but when I'm told they use ricotta in the batter, I'm completely sold!  Also, they served them with this amazing lemon syrup that completely brought the dish around full circle.  Simply divine. 


After breakfast, we decided we needed to fit in a little work and head over to the convention center and make sure our booth was set up properly and in tip-top shape and all details were in place!  Lucky for us, it was perfect and looked STUNNING!

Once we finished up last minute logistical details, we were outta there! (Keep in mind, they don't turn the AC on until the show starts, so while setting up, it's EXTREMELY hot!)


We told our cab driver to take us over to Millennium park, or more-so "The Bean" because everyone knows when you come to Chicago, whether you've seen it once or 30 times, you gotta go see The Bean.  So that we did.

Walk over to The Bean, take your obligatory picture and peace out.

This little beauty caught my eye while walking away from The Bean


While waiting for this really cool rooftop bar to open, we had about and hour and a half to kill, so we decided to pop into The Art Institute Chicago for a quick little art tour.  I hadn't been into an art museum in a long time, and I have to say, it truly took my breath away.  It's amazing to really stand there and think about how far back these paintings and sculptures date back.  All the history behind them, the pain and sadness or the joy and happiness that went into each piece.  Art is an honest expression of how someone feels and I was so happy to have had that short opportunity to experience those pieces. 

These are a few of my favs!

One of my all time favorite paintings: Pierre-Auguste Renoir "Woman at the Piano" (1841-1919)

Colyn de Coter "Virgin and Child Crowned by Angels" (1450-1540)

Frans Pourbus the Younger "Marie de' Medici" (1569-1622)

Aelbert Cuyp "A View of Vianen with a Herdsman and Cattle by a River" (1620-1691)

Jan van de Cappelle "Fishing Boats in a Calm" (1626-1679)

Pieter Claesz "Still Life" (1597-1660)

Jan Steen "The Family Concert" (1626-1679)

Carl Blechen "The Interior of the Palm House on the Pfaueninsel near Potsdam" (1798-1840)

LIOOOOONNNN!!


It was finally time to head over to the infamous Cindy's Rooftop Bar and see what all the fuss was about!  Cindy's is located inside and atop the Chicago Athletic Club Hotel which was really cool to see itself!  I had never even heard of this place.  Located right across from Millennium park and the museum, you couldn't ask for a better location.  Did I mention, there's a Shake Shack INSIDE the hotel!?!?  More on that later.  Anyways, as soon as we get inside, there's a line for the elevator to take you up to the top, which seriously felt like we were waiting to go on the Tower of Terror ride at Disneyland!  We waited maybe 15-2o mins, and finally it was our turn.  As soon as the doors opened, it was like a whole other world.  So bright and airy, like a giant green house, like I was in Ferngully. Why!? I have no clue.

My cocktail of choice was the "Kick in the Daisy" which is what they describe as a watermelon Margarita with hints of marshmallow giving way to a lingering burn.  It was SO good!  After we grabbed our drinks, we headed out to the infamous patio with a view that absolutely took our breath away!

I can only imagine what the view looks like at night!  That'll definitely have to be on my to-do list for my next time in Chicago!


Later that night, our whole team met up for dinner at this uniquely radical smokehouse called "Green Street Smoked Meats" and let me tell you, if you're a meat lover, you gotta try this place out!

As you can see, we ordered everything. Literally, everything.  My favorite was the sliced brisket...oh wow.  The flavor was unreal and out of this world!!  My favorite side dish was the baked beans, with chunks of bacon in there you can't go wrong!

If you're looking for a place with an ambience that is completely outside the box, a place where the music has your head bobbing, a cocktail menu that is just as fun as the people serving it, and of course a tasty meat selection that will blow your socks off, then you must put this on your to-do list, ASAP!


Our last stop for the evening was a place we found last year, The Redhead Piano Bar.  For some reason we were drawn back to this place so we had to stop in for a little nightcap! 

Ya hungry yet!?

Day one, down.  We sure accomplished a lot in one day!  More exciting stops coming up, so stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow! 


|| OSL Music Mondays ||

We're two weeks away from Outside Lands and I can hardly contain myself!!  Today's music is all music that will be played on day three of the festival.  You guys, I get to see Lionel Richie.  Come one.  Among that is Lana Del Rey and Third Eye Blind, so I'm pretty stoked!!