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Archive for December, 2009

Chicago

I most definitely have been slacking on the posting as of late. Work travel had be all over the place the last few weeks. In my last post, I chronicled a quick trip to Boston. This past week, I was in the great Windy City, Chicago.

I spent my time in Chicago with a group of male coworkers. Try as I might, we ended up sticking to some pretty safe food choices. I was dying to go to Frontera Grill or possibly throw some of my per diem at a Moto or Schwa dinner, but it just wasn’t happening. Oh well.  Some spring and summer events may have The Boy and I making several trips to Chicago – maybe I will be able to try one of those places on the next go-round :).

However, please don’t think I was eating Subway the whole time I was in Chicago. I certainly was able to enjoy a decent meal or two…

Lou Malnati’s – One must do deep dish while in Chicago. I have previously been to Giordano’s and think I may have preferred it to Lou’s. However, this stuff was still gooey and tasty and hit the spot after a long day of travel. We hit up the North Wells Street location.

giordano's - 2008

Hannah’s Bretzel – (180 W Washington) – This tiny lunch spot came recommended by a Chi-town bestie (thanks Jul!). I ended up having lunch here twice during my stay. I had the Sergio’s Special (mango chutney, ham, gruyere, jalepenos) and also a prosciutto and goat cheese sandwich. It appears the place uses top quality ingredients and yummy pretzel baguettes. This was a cool little joint.

Hub51 – (51 W Hubbard) – We hit Hub51 on a Tuesday evening with a group of five. This was definitely a great ‘happy hour’  spot. Slightly trendy, lots of young people. I had an Asian chicken salad and a really nice glass of pinot noir. Some others had burgers. The food was solid – not outstanding, but certainly not bad.  Maybe this was just my opinion because I was comparing my dish to the Thai Beef Salad I had at Houston’s last week. That thing was damn good for chain food.

Sushi Samba – (504 N Wells) – I had never been to a Sushi Samba before (I believe they have locations in Vegas, NYC, etc). To be honest, I was not impressed with the sushi here. Maybe I just ordered badly? I had an eel and avocado roll and a vegetable roll. Eh. Others seemed to enjoy their meals, so maybe it was just me. The place definitely has a cool interior and overall funky, night on the town vibe. I definitely enjoyed that.

Harry Caray’s – (33 W Kinzie – Can you tell I was with all guys yet?) – This old school steakhouse was a ‘must do’ for the group I was with. I ended up ordering pasta with red clam sauce here – random but tasty enough. It was a cold night and the cozy hustle and bustle of Harry Caray’s was a welcome reprieve. The bar area was also quite lively. I probably would not return here but it was fun, pub like restaurant.

I managed to squeeze in a super quick Michigan Avenue shopping on Friday afternoon before I had to hit the airport. I have done Michigan Avenue a few times in the past – but never at Christmas. There was a little magic in a the air and I wish I could have spent more time there. I ended up with a sweater from Express and a small ‘mix’ (cheddar and caramel corn) from Garrett’s Popcorn. The smell coming from that place is in-sane.

I am now back in the ‘burgh until the day after Christmas, when The Boy and I head to Costa Rica! Yes, we have the travel bug and we have it bad.  I hope to post before then but if not, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

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Boston

This week, I was working in Boston, learning about some super cool tax accounting software. Wild times!

(Pic from here.  Camera died once again.)

I ended up having part of Thursday open for exploration. I took full advantage and conducted a self-guided mini walking tour from my base – The Hilton – Financial District.

I saw bits and pieces of Boston Common, Newbury Street, Beacon Hill, Quincy Market, and the North End. Here are some places I nibbled.

Mr. Dooley’s –  (77 Broad) – Irish pub close to the hotel. Food was so so but the place was cozy and pretty crowded considering the area pretty much shuts down after dark.

Houston’s – (60 State) – Upscale chain. They don’t have a Houston’s in Pittsburgh and I was actually pleasantly surprised by my dinner here. The restaurant space (near Quincy market) has a trendy and warm feel. I had the Thai Beef Salad which was pretty darn good. Filet, mango, peanuts, noodles, spicy Thai dressing. In fact it was so tasty that I just might seek out a Houston’s in another city to to get this salad again. Great combination of flavors. Houston’s menu included everything from sushi to steak.

Finagle a Bagel – (Various locations) – Reasonably close to the hotel and a Boston chain. Thought I would check it out. My bagel wasn’t bad (veggie with light cream cheese – certainly better than the Dunkin Donuts cardboard bagel I had the day before) but the decor of the spot left a bit to be desired. I was at the Franklin Street location. It looked like a subway station, in a bad way.  

Neptune Oyster– (63 Salem) – When I found out I had some free time yesterday afternoon, I contemplated my lunch options. I was leaning toward something quick near the hotel but decided at the last minute to take full advantage of my location. I hiked a mile or so to the North End and landed at Neptune Oyster. A glass of prosecco and a buttery lobster roll later, I was stuffed to the gills. I felt like I wouldn’t have to eat for another 3 days – that’s how much lobster was involved.

To be totally honest though, I thought the lobster was a touch chewy. I altogether enjoyed my meal and will likely remember it for quite some time. But the $25 price tag on the lobster roll (as well as my proximity to Boston) may have made this a once in a lifetime treat. If I ever find myself back in Boston, not sure I would return here, but it was cozy, tasty, and good for solo dining.

Bell in Hand – (44-55 Union) – Near Quincy Market. I had a drink here with some coworkers. Cheery little place, all decorated for Christmas. Heck, the bartender even made a Christmas tree outline in the foam of a coworkers Guinness. Can’t beat that. Apparently, this place is also the oldest continually operating tavern in the US or something like that. Nice little pub.

Other places I considered going but did not make it to:

-Pizzeria Regina

Mike’s Pastry

-Oishii

-Sakura Bana

-JP Licks

Now it is back to the grind in P-burgh. It is colder here than it was in Bean-town!

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Lately

So I had a lovely Thanksgiving.

It really was nice – my aunt and uncle had everyone over to their gorgeous home. There were appetizers and deep fried turkeys and wine and sweet potatoes and pies and plum pudding. We had a group of around 25 or so.

My uncle is certainly a Snickie supporter and I fully intended to take some photos of the spread. However, I got caught up in the day and forgot :(. Sometimes that will happen.

The rest of my Thanksgiving ‘break’ was spent with friends/fighting a cold.

The ‘friends’ part was good stuff – I reunited with my three best friends, two of which now live out of state. We managed to drink cranberry margaritas and Mad Elf on Wednesday night, followed up by buffalo chicken dip, puppy chow, and late night gyros. We tried hard to keep it classy but may have reverted back to our college ways. Again, sometimes that will happen :). 

I spent more time with these darling ladies on Friday afternoon, at our ‘Annual Christmas Party’. What started as a group get together in high school has dwindled down to the four of us making and eating large amounts of food, exchanging gifts, and chatting for hours. This was officially the ’10th Annual Christmas Party’.  This gathering contained a ‘new to me’ dip – Hoagie Dip. I would imagine you might only find this is Southwestern PA and I will admit I was a bit suspicious of the concoction. I will post the recipe once I get a hold of it, but I believe it contained deli meat, mayo, tomato, maybe lettuce and was served with rounds of italian bread.

Oddly enough, I liked the dip. Nostalgic. It reminded me of the ‘hoagies’ sold during elementary school fundraisers. Anyone else remember the distinct scent that would fill the hallways when those hoagies were stacked up for delivery?

Other items at the party included wedding soup, cookies, a fig/walnut/goat cheese crostini, egg nog, and greek dip. Yes, there were only four of us. Don’t judge.

Sadly, the day after the party, I felt sick/achy/congested. I curled up on the couch, ate espresso gelato, and watched crappy TV.

Fast forward a few days, and I am feeling better. Nothing mind-blowing has been happening in the Snickie kitchen, but I have been munching on some new items.

Loving on this bread - I have been using it to make paninis on my foreman - who needs a panini press?

a small mug warmed is the perfect night-cap

my go to cheapie pinot - consistently on sale for under $10 at the PA state stores

I hope to return to the kitchen this weekend. Stay tuned for some Snickie snacks 🙂

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