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September 2016

Chicago is For Eaters

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Today we are talking about Chicago. My favorite city next to New York, the O.G. Not so windy, mostly just sensational. Literally all my senses are refreshed in this place. Sure, New York will always be my favorite city with all its boroughs to explore and endless adventures and opportunity. But even I can admit that other cities are 1. cleaner, 2. full of visually appealing sights and 3. have competitively excellent food. Sorry New York, I had a quick affair. It only lasted 4 days and it was amazing, not gonna sugar coat it for you but what I learned is that if you could just get a makeover, maybe a new hair do and some more greenery, we’ll be just fine. Except that a year from now, I’ll probably see Chicago again. And maybe the year after that too.

In Chicago, every restaurant, store and shop looks like a home decor magazine threw up all over it. It’s actually disgusting and I’m offended at its superb style. Picture perfect, photo ready, catalogue worthy. Every wall, corner, couch, dish, display, all of it. It wins best dressed for sure. All the food is delicious and I’m going to list below the places where I ate and what I had. Start planning your next trip there now and go into it very hungry and open minded to being so full you can’t walk another step without crying. In the best way. And the worst. Has anyone noticed yet that I like to contradict myself? I hate committing to one feeling because so easily it can be looked at the other way too. Is the glass half full or half empty? In this case it’s so empty. Because I drank it. Even the refills.

We stayed in the River North area in the ACME hotel. Sassy, hip employees (a few too sassy for me but life is all about those moments), comfy beds and a waterfall shower head. That’s all that matters in a hotel. And River North is an amazing area. Almost all the stuff I mention below is basically a 5-10 minute walk from our hotel. A few places were an uber ride away but no biggie.

Day 1:

LUNCH – Where: Federales – The FOOD: carnitas and brisket tacos – the DRINK: raspberry and strawberry margaritas.

LUNCH/EARLY DINNER – Where: Au Cheval – The FOOD: a cheeseburger with thick cut bacon and fries, unlike any burger you have ever tasted, a single is actually a double and a double is really a triple, they speak their own language here and the wait will always be extravagant but it’s so worth it – the DESSERT: Millet Feiulle, vanilla custardy layered heaven.

DINNER – Where: Anelo – the DRINK: wine, lots of wine and no dinner because we were still full from our burger.

Day 2:

BRUNCH – Where: Beatrix – the FOOD: first of all, brunch and pastry counter all in one place, steak chimichurri poached eggs and hash browns, the softest chocolate chip cookie ever and I may or may not have eaten that before my meal, sorry mom – the DRINK: virgin bloody mary, because I hate vodka and I love spicy tomato juice.

LUNCH – Where: Antique Taco – the FOOD: the cheese curds oh my god stoppit and give me a second order, pork bbq tacos and chicken enchiladas – the DRINK: water, so much water.

SNACK – Where: Jeni’s Ice Cream – the FOOD: homemade strawberry and sweet cream ice cream, there were endless flavor options and combos and they let you try a million of them and suggest pairings.

DINNER – Where: Siena Tavern – the FOOD: kale caesar salad because I have to start every meal with a caesar, wagyu beef meatball so so good,  jumbo lump crab spaghetti in a magic sauce, prosciutto and sausage orecchiette pasta in another magic sauce – the DRINK: bubbles – the DESSERT: what are you crazy? We were so full there was no room for dessert…this time.

BAR – The disco club above Celeste: literally the floor lights up and they’re playing disco music, Parliament: another club, not disco, more like a rave with the loudest music on earth and we were in the middle VIP section because we fancy, NBD. Entertainment was all around and I felt kind of old but at the same time it was truly enjoyable to be brought back a bit, especially afterwards going partially deaf and mute for approximately 6 hours.

Day 3:

BRUNCH – Where: The Hampton Social, the FOOD: corned beef hash and the most decadent homemade waffle with chocolate sauce and bourbon maple syrup, this item was shared amongst three but I for sure could have taken the whole thing down on my own – the DRINK: another virgin bloody mary and a tea (most mornings I drank a tea actually, never mentioned it because it seemed uninteresting but it is how I start all my days).

COFFEE BREAK – Where: Restoration Hardware Cafe, okay so this place is about 5 floors with a big, beautiful, serene garden cafe in the center and essentially you order coffee, tea and pastries at a counter and then you are allowed to walk around the entire showroom and just test out all different room setups, couches, beds, chairs, you name it, while drinking your beverage. Who wouldn’t want to furniture shop that way? Insane psychopaths, that’s who.

LUNCH – skipped because brunch took place during lunch time, but we did pick up a snack from Chicago’s Eataly, right around the corner from the ACME hotel.

DINNER – Where: RPM Italian – the FOOD: this is where we get serious. We saved the best for last and didn’t even know it. Well our companions who live in Chicago and brought us here knew for sure but I as a newcomer, had no clue. To start we had butternut squash blossoms, party in my mouth, then 600 day prosciutto and burrata with plum jam, more please. I’m getting hungry as I write this. For dinner we all had something different, each one equally as good as the other. Here we go- Pasta Carbonara, Chicken Parm, Steak Grigliata and Bucatini with meatballs. I mean can you even take it? The service here was scary good so you can fantasize at how incredible the food really was – the DESSERT: cheesecake, my heart is aching with desire. Make reservations at this place like the day before and plan on feasting your face off. Also arrange for a wheelbarrow and a wheelbarrow puller to pull you out of here.

BAR – Where: The Freehand Hotel downstairs lounge, aztec/global themed decor, chairs, couches, poofs, blankets and pillows scattered all about, clearly meant for digesting enormous dinners and unwinding before bedtime. Which is exactly what we did.

Day 4:

BRUNCH – Where: Beatrix (again, I know but it was close and awesome and we had a plane to catch) – the FOOD: Dr. Bob’s (ridiculously stupid delicious) turkey burger.

SNACK – Where: Fire Cakes, donuts. Oh yes.

All of the above I would do over and over again. Go see them for yourselves and add in a few more places. This city is full of ever-changing experiences, most of them meant to happen in your mouth. And it seems you can’t go wrong. Everywhere you turn, in all the different areas, there’s something special. This post was meant mostly as a guide to eating your way through Chicago and to once again share my love of all things edible. Thanks for reading (*she says to hopefully, at least one person, besides my mom*).

 

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Here are the October Calendars!

Desktop / iPhone

OctoberDesktop2016

Summer, Why You Gotta Leave Me?

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The weather is changing, people. The nights are cooler. I bought a scarf the other day. And boots. I am using a lighter shade of foundation. I started baking (this is a fall/winter activity for me because who cares about what we look like under layers and layers of sweater, am I right?). We can’t fight it. So stop being dramatic and accept it. *she says to herself*

This summer was a whirlwind, as always. But particularly so because I felt semi-more official as a business person. New ventures began. Journeys are happening. Renovations took place. Flowers were painted. New gouache was purchased. For those of you who use gouache, you know it lasts almost forever. So when you have to buy a replacement color, you’re like whaat?

So what I’m doing here is recapping, incase you couldn’t tell. Below I’ve compiled a summary of photos from this summer’s artistic endeavors. From tequila events, to baby showers, to weddings, to stationery, to prints & pattern. We (it’s just me) did it all here at Stephanie Tara Stationery. I do hope the fall and winter keep me equally as busy and inspired. Or I’ll have to take another road trip to Terrain and WE ALL KNOW HOW DANGEROUS THAT WOULD BE. Who are we trying to kid? (again, just me) It’s happening regardless. Christmas decorations, here I come. I’ve already started rolling quarters. No sense in fighting it or lying to you all. Let’s just rent a bus and get wild. Self control is a virtue that I don’t have or even want. Enjoy the photos. And thank’s for reading along.

 

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Here’s the September desktop calendar!

Desktop / iPhone

SeptemberDesktop2016