Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas In The City

Living and working in the suburbs of Chicago can make the city seem like it's a million miles away. On a clear traffic day I'm only about 25 minutes from downtown Chicago.   If there is traffic well, then we're talking an hours drive and it's not pretty.  I've got two major expressways that can get me into the city and on any given day they can be backed up for miles for really no apparent reason, just too many people going in the same direction.

Now that my daughter moved to the Wrigleyville area I find myself spending more time downtown.  I'm either down there watching her play a rugby game for school or dropping her off after a visit home. 

Yesterday we decided that we wanted to visit Lincoln Park Zoo because they set up a holiday lights display.  My friend also wanted to head down to the Loop because she wanted to check out the grand opening of a new gourmet shop Eataly Chicago.  My friend is 100% Italian and loves specialty Italian shops.  She's a fantastic cook and gourmet shops like this place are like a trip to Disney for her. 

We decided to combine our trips.  Head over to Eataly first and then head to the zoo and wait for the lights to come on. 

Eataly was amazing but was so crowded it was nearly impossible to get through the place.  From the minute we stepped through the winding doors we slammed into a sea of people.  It was probably because they had only opened this past Monday and probably because it's the holiday time and a Saturday.  A perfect storm for a not so great shopping experience.  My daughter and I found the brewery right away and I tasted a glass of sour beer made with Raspberries.  HOLY COW it was disgusting but the bar area was fantastic and you could order food there and hang out.  We moved on to the wine bar right away and ordered our wine so we could walk around with it.  Now that was some good shopping, walking around with a wine glass while checking out the meats and cheeses of Italy.  We didn't buy a thing except for our wine and then some amazing desserts on the way out.  My friend bought a few things to take home to surprise her father.   I live near several specialty stores and the taxes are much lower in my county then in Cook County where Chicago is.  So, being the cheapskate I am I would rather wait and buy it in my own area because honestly most of the stuff there may be unique but I'm not that much of a foodie to notice the difference.  We plan on going again when the weather warms up and the crowds die down.

My daughter hanging out with her wine.  Behind her is the beer brewery area.

My friend with her Moscato D'Asti sparkling wine. This wine was amazing. 

A quick shot of us enjoying our pastries.  I think I died and went to chocolate Heaven with my chocolate covered sponge cake with apricot filling.  I just love chocolate and apricot together.

Just a random shot of the place in the front.  The down escalator was broken so it was a little rough in that area.  I can't wait to get back and check it out again.  I saw someone sitting in one of the restaurants eating oysters on the half shell.  Yum! 
Our next stop was Lincoln Park Zoo.  We got there fairly early and decided to wander around waiting for the lights.  Oh my was it cold alongside the lakefront.  I was layered up with clothes so I didn't feel it too bad but my daughter and friend forgot their gloves.  We went and visited a few animal exhibits and then headed over to the café.  Man, the zoo has certainly changed from when I took my children.  They have a nice food court and even serve beer and warm spiced wine!  I passed but we did get some hot chocolate and some Nachos.  Which is really funny considering we came from a gourmet eatery and end up eating Nachos at the zoo. 
When the lights finally came on we went outside and my daughter was so excited. She said "Wow, I'm really glad we came now!"  She was starting to fade inside and was thinking it would be lame.  At 23 years old it's hard to be impressed with a bunch of Christmas lights, but the Zoo didn't disappoint.

And today it's freezing cold and snowing and the roads are scary.  I'm not looking forward to my morning commute to work. I am thankful that it's only a ten minute drive away.  I love Christmas in Chicago but at times like this when the weather is dangerous I'd love to be living in a warm place.   
Until next time,

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