We have to admit, a majority of our TV watching is food-based. From the travel channel to the food network, you can commonly find us sitting on the couch together salivating at something delicious being prepared on our television screen not within our tastbuds’ reach. Sometimes we try to replicate some of the dishes we see, but for the most part, we put them in the back of our minds or jot them down for some far-off travel dreams.
Along with our television habits, Tommy and I are intense researchers and planners,especially when we travel. When we went to Italy, Tommy made an excel spreadsheet with times, destinations, costs, etc. down to the minute (with plenty of relaxation “scheduled” in) for example. This time we were not so detailed in our plans, except for the restaurants we wanted to eat at.
We used a combination of urbanspoon, friend recommendations, and cityview reviews. From a long list of restaurants that looked like they would be fabulous, we settled on 5 places we wanted to visit for lunch and dinner and maybe a few snacks.
We knew our breakfast would be coming from our hotel every morning because we stayed at an Embassy Suites. If you have never stayed there before, you need to. They have a complimentary breakfast with cook to order omelets, pancakes, bacon, sausage, etc., along with fresh fruit, oatmeal, yogurt and an assortment of breads and pastries. We figured it would save us more money to indulge on later meals and drinks. On the first morning I had this delicious plate of breakfasty goodness:
Buttermilk pancakes, tons of salty bacon and sides of blueberries, strawberries, and warm maple syrup to drizzle over my cakes. I also had a plate of fresh pineapple in attempt to cancel out the bacon. To wash it all down I had an ice-cold glass of milk and a glass of cranberry juice. I was a happy girl. Tommy chose the biscuits and gravy along with bacon and included a banana to shovel out some guilt (which was later rotten and tossed to the birds).
The second morning, I had this tasty omelet of egg whites, sausage, mushrooms, onions and cheese with a side of potatoes and a hotlink:
The first food destination the we planned to visit out in the city was obvious for us; no research required. We love coffee, and more specifically Dunkin Donuts coffee. At home, we grind and brew it in our french press at every chance we get, however, we feel it tastes better from the shops. We knew there would be various vendors of this scattered throughout the city and we were elated. We even got excited when we saw billboards advertising it on our way in. We half followed our noses and half followed backwards paths of people holding steaming cups of coffee with a familiar logo on it. We found one, but mistakenly ordered mediums while thinking we could down them in time to enter the place we were going that doesn’t allow beverages. Tommy wishes he could have ordered the size on the window picture. We learned our lesson and ordered larges the next two days.
We planned to have a late lunch that day, so after some activity (to be blogged about by Tommy) we found our way to Gino’s East for some deep dish pizza. Now, as we discovered, people have STRONG opinions on where to eat pizza in the city. While we heard some great reviews for Gino’s, it was the groupon that gave us 50% off our meal that confirmed our tomato pie destination. At Gino’s you can write all over the walls. It is very entertaining to decode the graffiti that covers your surrounding walls as you wait for your deep dish to cook (45 minutes). We also decided we would enjoy a few beverages and an appetizer to pass the time. I ordered a Blue Moon (or two) and Tommy decided on a couple of Chicago’s Goose Island 312’s, while collectively we chose the fried ravioli to munch on.
We ordered a small pepperoni deep dish pizza hoping it would be enough to fill us up. “Small” and “pizza” are usually not two words we use in the same sentence in the Hardinge household. We were assured by our waiter that it should be enough for both of us. Whoa. Was he right.
One piece in each and we did the “Look at the food still left to eat stare” and decided to sit and let it settle before we tried to attack the rest. The cheese was thick and gooey, the tomato sauce was bright and their signature corn-bread crust was crisp and chewy. Had we not indulged in a few adult beverages beforehand, I think we might have made the better decision to just leave it, but something about beer drinking makes a person hungry.
We walked off our supper and headed back to our hotel. The other great perk about our hotel is the Manager’s Reception for two hours every night. Translation: open bar and free appetizers. We snacked on some bar mix and chips and salsa while I sipped on a few margaritas (which I got carded for… the only one in the entire place that did. I should have just shown her a picture of the triplets and a few stretch marks) and Tommy enjoyed his gin and tonic. The second night, the line was too long so we opted not to participate.
We chilled in the room for a while and decided to go out for dessert. We had heard from friends and online reviews that a fun place to grab a quick bite was Ed Debevic’s. Not known for their food really, but more for the experience. The wait staff is paid to be rude and annoying to you. This made Tommy a little nervous because he is overly loving and nice, but I thought it would be hilarious. When we arrived there was a group of African-American teenagers ahead of us. The hostess made them walk “the long way” to their table while another hostess yelled “Way to make the black kids walk around.” (for the record, I thought that crossed the line) Our menus were literally thrown on our table without a word, and we were told we were weird when we ordered a chocolate malt, ice cream cookie sundae… and… wait for it… french fries. Tommy had the great salty/sweet idea so we didn’t get too sugared-out. They brought us what they called “questionably yellow waters” and two paper hats. We couldn’t even finish any of our three selections. Our waiter gave us our bill and promptly said. “Pay me.”
That was the end to day one foodwise. It was just glorious to spend quality time with my BFF and not have to rush through anything. A BIG thanks to my Mom, Dad, and sister Shannon for watching the babies so we could escape. Although the leaving was VERY hard for me, the time spent away was priceless. Stay tuned for more information from Tommy on our activities and our food extravaganza on the second day!