food and art

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Someone's been slacking! Forgive me, then, for a few posts in a row tonight. I'm going to make myself a schedule or at the very least, try and space out my posts so that I keep updating throughout the week rather than churning out a bunch all at once. So.

What have I been up to? Don't worry, you haven't missed too much. This past week at least has not been very picture-worthy, as I've been spending a lot of time outdoors getting sunshine, taking walks, lounging in parks, running, things like that. I realized that while there is certainly a lot to do and see in this big city, I don't have to do it all at once, and I needed a few days to not only take care of some school things, but relax and get a feel for things, clear my head a bit. Not to mention, a lot of the touristy things I want to do cost $$ and I've been playing it by ear, waiting for the free days or less-crowded times (it is spring break and summer is fast approaching).

But, I have definitely been out and about! Let's rewind to a fun little story from last week...I was running errands one day and needed to go to the grocery store. I went to this multi-story place which had a Trader Joe's in it, which was the best in terms of price and location to my house. I'm in the phase of transitioning from jamming my little car CHOCK full of groceries at H-E-B, to making quick stops at the store at least twice a week to pick up a bag full of groceries. This new way certainly takes a little more planning, but I'm finding it is more economical and healthy for me. It also keeps me sort of responsible, because in college sometimes I would go a whole month without buying actual groceries. Oh, the days when pizza was the meal of choice each meal of the day for a week.

Anyway! So I was at this grocery store, and looking around for certain items, when I realized I was not in Trader Joe's quite yet. Why they have multiple grocery stores in the same building, I don't know. I left the weird version and found the right place, which was naturally very crowded in contrast. As I was minding my own business, trying to dart in between people to snag the right foods, a middle-aged guy suddenly popped up in front of me and started speaking to me.

Distracted, I said, "What?" and he proceeded to launch into a tale of how he had seen me downstairs looking at the asparagus (I hadn't been-there wasn't any asparagus downstairs as I recall). His remarks confused me so I just kind of laughed in agreement and went on my way.

Well, I saw him in the checkout line, and he smiled at me. And not a nice smile, if that makes sense. This was one of those, hairs-on-the-back-of-you-neck, creep smiles. I was getting the worst vibe from this man. I sort of hung back so he would be gone by the time I finished checking out, but as I was watching him out of the corner of my eye, I noticed he kept looking back at me and had stopped right outside the door, waiting. I resolved myself to walk straight on by and ignore the guy, but as soon as I passed him he made some comment about asparagus again, and started to follow me.

I was walking as fast as I could toward the exit, which was either an elevator that I would have to stop and wait for, or the empty stairwell. At the moment I didn't think to just stay in the store, or tell one of the cashiers or something, I was just trying to get the hell away from this guy. I opted for the stairwell and practically ran down it as fast as I could, groceries and purse and arm, this dude RIGHT behind me. I made it out onto the street, where there were people here and there, but I didn't take my chances - thank God there were two cabs nearby and I got in the second as fast as I could. One last look behind me and I couldn't see the guy anywhere, but as soon as the cab sped off I felt SO relieved.

I don't know if that guy was just weird, or what he was all about, but I'm just thanking my lucky stars that I didn't find out and was able to get away from that place as fast as possible. But seriously...what was his problem? Why did he follow me? I just wish he'd left me alone. I was just buying groceries for goodness sake! I was shaken up for a few days, but I guess I've learned a valuable lesson.

Happy timing, then, that I received this little baby in the mail the following day. My dear older bro is looking out for me, I tell you!!

Yes, it is really cute and pink. Who knew mace could be adorable? It's also really easy to use. I tested it out on my roommate. I feel a lot better now that I have this on my keychain, let's just hope I never have to use it! Oh, and just kidding about my roommate...I tested it on the mailman ;).

Thursday (3/15) it was sunny and warm, feeling a lot like an early Texas spring. To match my giddiness at the beautiful bright weather, I decided to throw on a fun outfit - floral blazer I got for dirt cheap at Primark, Forever 21 dress plus a woven belt, boots and a crossbody bag from Miss Selfridge. 

Too bad after walking outside for about five minutes, I turned around, went back to my house, and changed into a t-shirt and shorts. It was a little too warm for being cute and I had too far to walk, so.  Yup.

Famous sign, from - you guessed it - the Chicago Theatre. Hopefully I go here sometime!

I decided to spend my afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago. You may have seen these kittens before.

Southern lion.

As you can imagine, the Art Institute was amazing. I feel so fortunate that I've been to some of the world's best museums (Smithsonian, Holocaust, British, Louvre, National Gallery) but one thing I've learned is to not take pictures of everything. I've definitely made that mistake before!! It always seems like a good idea at the time, but museums are obviously one of those things you have to see in person because pictures (and certainly not my pictures) can't do it justice. And if you're just taking pictures of everything, it takes away the enjoyment and appreciation aspect. 

I took just a few shots, though.

American Gothic by Grant Wood.

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

The Bedroom by van Gogh. Okay, this isn't the real thing, but the Art Institute does have the real one! This is a bad knockoff the previous tenant left up in the hallway. You get the idea.

Here are a few more (taken from Google images) that I saw, just to give you an idea of the fabulous art the Institute houses.

Woman Descending the Staircase, Gerhard Richter.

Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat

The Old Guitarist by Picasso.

El Greco's Assumption of the Virgin.

Venus de Milo with Drawers, Dali.

Okay, now, onto food. Because I can. And I will. And because I've been comforting myself with delicious food lately like a morbidly obese person with emotional attachment issues. Wait, what?

Give me a month and this will be me.

Moving to a new city means not only accessibility to great restaurants and such, but new availability of grocery stores. So far I've been hitting up a place called Dominick's for things I need in a rush, and Trader Joe's for planned out trips. 

I'd heard of Trader Joe's before, and knew it was similar to Whole Foods in terms of granola-y-ness. Organic, green, free trade, etc. Not that that stuff isn't great, but c'mon, I'm an H-E-B girl! Have been my whole life. Anyway, it's been fun to buy groceries (really? Fun and groceries in the same sentence...) at a new shop, and to try out new things. Such as chocolate, one of many necessities including milk, bread, eggs...

On the left is heaven in bar form. I'm not kidding, the next time I go, I'm going to stockpile this goodness. I love the combination of sweet and salty - I'm someone who indulges in milkshake and French fries or tortilla chips and chocolate covered bananas. Uh, yeah. 

What my Friday nights look like.

Okay but seriously, the combination of dark chocolate (my fave, and good for you in moderation), caramel, and sea salt is to die for. Way to go, Trader Joe's, way to go. The dark chocolate truffle was pretty good too, but not as memorable as the other. 

Back to the day I checked out the Art Institute - as soon as I got home, I knew I was too tired to cook up anything so I decided to order in. I went with a trendy place in Lakeview called Real Kitchen. From their blurb on their website:

"The three chefs behind the stoves and ovens at Real Kitchen hail from some of the finest restaurants in the world. After spending years creating ‘art on a plate’ for privileged diners, they decided to go back to their roots and begin cooking the real food that real people eat every day. Executive chef, Nick Schmuck (Charlie Trotter’s), sous-chef Shannon Dudas (North Pond), Andy Kim (Takashi), and Cody Brewer are passionate about creating the most delicious “home cooking” you’ll ever eat."

So, a really great collaboration from some great chefs - if I'm correct two of those restaurants are even Michelin starred. The menu is very fresh and it changes every day, and their baked goods are apparently just as delicious. Their delivery was really fast and shorter than their already short ETA for Chicago - 45 min to an hour, and I swear it was here in twenty. Oh, and it's really affordable. And hey, they even replied to me on Twitter. 

Salad of blood orange, fennel, almonds, and Parmesan. Really really tasty!!

Introducing food of the gods. I don't know if it was because I was seriously hungry after a long day that involved a big workout as well, but I couldn't eat this giant sandwich fast enough. This is one of their more popular items, the BBQ pork belly sandwich with sweet potato chips and coleslaw as toppings. Not to mention copious amounts of some insane sauce. This was melt-in-your-mouth, perfect combination of fatty-flavor, crunchy texture, and just a hint of sweetness from the potatoes.

And lastly, a homemade apple fritter that tasted like something I'd eat in Texas or Mississippi, made by someone with love. Delicious.

Alright, until next time! Promise I'm working on making posts shorter! 

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  1. Yuuuum. That sandwich looks ahhhhmazing. I confess I have been eating like crazy since hubs and I moved to the Chi. Thank goodness I've also been biking and walking like crazy or I'd be 800 lbs.


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