Jasmine at Camp 2013

July 15, 2013 by  

Where do I sign up to go to camp next summer?

You had a good day?

March 17, 2011 by  

Try having any day, then coming home to this and tell me your day could be better.

Christmas 2010

January 11, 2011 by  

We spent Christmas at our place this year and had a great time opening presents and spending the day together :) These are the last pictures of 2010! Happy new year everybody~

Jamaica 2010

January 10, 2011 by  

For Thanksgiving this year, we went to Jamaica and these are the pictures from our trip :)

Chicago 2010 – Happy 3rd Anniversary (Day 3)

July 23, 2010 by  

After Jason and I found out that we were having a little mini-us, we decided that we would take a trip somewhere for a few days without her for our anniversary each year. If you have been a reader of ours for at least a year, you will recall that last year we went to New Orleans and it was a big eat-fest. Our trip to Chicago this year was quite similar to that. Follow me as I take you through our vacation :)

North Avenue Beach

Day 3 – Friday

We had a full day of food-related activities outside of downtown Chicago planned so we rented a car from Budget for the day. Prior to the pickup at the hotel, we walked to Xoco and picked up breakfast. All I can say is, if Xoco opened by my apartment or by my office, I’d be getting breakfast there. Every. Day. I told Jason that the next time we visit Chicago, my only requisite would be that we have to stay at a hotel closer to here.

I got the breakfast special which includes one of their hot chocolates, an empanada, and a churro. I forget how much it cost though but it was definitely worth it.

Xoco

One of the best hot chocolates ever. I opted for the classic which is a chocolate shot with 2% milk. The chocolate flavor was deep, almost raisin-like, but not bitter at all.

Xoco

Ham, egg, and cheese empanada with a freshly fried churro. The churros alone make the cost of the meal worth it. The best I’ve ever had.

Xoco

Jason got a made to order breakfast torta. This was a little bit pricey at $7.50 but large so more than enough to share along with a churro or two. Never skip the churro.

Xoco

I saw this sign and was extremely tempted to the soft serve with the maple-pecan-bacon-streusel and salted caramel sauce. I was trying to justify it as breakfast food because of the maple and bacon but Jason talked me out of it. I only relented because I thought we’d be going back but unfortunately, didn’t end up doing so. Moral: never put off bacon.

After picking up the car, we picked up our friend C, who came into Chicago the day before for work and was spending the rest of the weekend with us, along with our friend J, whose flight was arriving in a couple of hours. Make sense?

We made our way outside of the city to Hagen’s Fish Market.

Hagen's Fish Market

This was just a pit stop on the way to our real lunch so I ordered sparingly just to try their popular and fresh, fried seafood. The people behind the counter were super friendly and even offered to fry me up a piece of something for free if all I wanted to do was try. I felt bad doing that so I got a few pieces of shrimp and a few scallops for us to share. J was on his way from the airport to meet us at Hagen’s so I knew I’d have an eating companion even though Jason and C said they were not hungry.

Hagen's Fish Market

Smoked salmon candy. I got some of this and it was super delicious but unfortunately, we were out and about the rest of the day when it was about 100 degrees out so I had to throw most of it out.

Hagen's Fish Market Hagen's Fish Market

Fried shrimp and fried scallop. These were not greasy or heavy at all because they were fried perfectly.

After J arrived in a cab from the airport, the four of us headed over to our real lunch destination, Smoque BBQ.

Smoque

Part of the menu board. I loved that they offer half sandwiches here, especially since I had already eaten so much earlier in the day.

Smoque

My half brisket sandwich. I love brisket more than any other BBQ meat and this didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had but it was still delicious. I liked that it wasn’t fatty but managed to avoid the biggest offense of any brisket, dryness.

Smoque

Jason’s half pulled pork. As much as I love brisket, Jason loves pulled pork. He really enjoyed this as well but I think he said it could have used a bit more pepper.

Smoque

Our sides of french fries, cole slaw, and mac and cheese. The fries were good but nothing special. I liked the mayo-less cole slaw since it provided an acidic counterpart to the sweet and smoky meats. My favorite was the mac and cheese though; as evidenced by the fact that Jason only got one bite before I housed it.

Smoque

A side of cornbread which was also delicious. I’m a big fan of cornbread but for some reason, many places don’t do it right. By right, I mean the way I like it of course. Smoque’s cornbread had the perfect texture and sweetness.

After lunch, we headed to a Cubs game at the iconic Wrigley Field. Jason got us great seats that were in a covered section so even though it was sweltering, we were at least shielded from the blazing sun.

Wrigley Field


* Lest you think I’m completely out of control, those ridiculously large order of nachos in a Cubs helmet were NOT ours. They were property of the two friendly guys who were sitting next to us. I just had to take a picture and they happily obliged.

After the game, we headed over to Pequod’s to try their deep-dish pizza.

Pequod's Pequod's

Whole pizza and my slice

I had deep-dish pizza a couple of years ago in Chicago and even after giving it another chance at a local place as opposed to a chain, I still can’t get behind it. On paper, deep-dish pizza sounds delicious. It’s got bread, tomato sauce, cheese, sausage, and pepperoni. But in practice, it doesn’t work for me. I don’t think Pequod’s is bad by any stretch of the imagination. The pizza was perfectly fine and I ate my piece happily. Deep-dish pizza is just not for everybody. It’s certainly not for me.

As an aside, whoever opened this place is some kind of perv. My case in point:

Pequod's Pequod's Pequod's

The name of their company, the header on their sandwiches, and their logo which is a shark with a thong over it’s head.

After our early dinner and on our drive back to our hotel, we stopped by Tom and Wendee’s for Italian ices. I read that they have some of the best in the city so I was excited to try it out.

Tom & Wendee's

Chocolate ice which was super creamy and refreshing. I thought this was good but wouldn’t travel out of my way for it.

After this full day of eating/grazing, we went back to the hotel and relaxed for a couple of hours before heading out to Nacional 27 for a few drinks. I didn’t bring my camera but there wasn’t much to shoot anyway. The drinks were okay but not worth a repeat trip.

The next post will be shorter and less picture heavy. Therefore I’m going to combine the last day and a half of our time in Chicago into one :) See you then!

Chicago 2010 – Happy 3rd Anniversary (Day 2)

July 13, 2010 by  

After Jason and I found out that we were having a little mini-us, we decided that we would take a trip somewhere for a few days without her for our anniversary each year. If you have been a reader of ours for at least a year, you will recall that last year we went to New Orleans and it was a big eat-fest. Our trip to Chicago this year was quite similar to that. Follow me as I take you through our vacation :)

Waiting for the bus

Day 2 – Thursday

Jason and I started the day bright and early by picking up breakfast at Pierrot Gourmet before hopping on a bus to Lincoln Park Zoo. We happily ate on the bus on the bus and I took a few shots before we wolfed it all down.

Pierrot Gourmet

Canele, which we’d both never had before but loved. It was like a chewy/crispy bread pudding.

Pierrot Gourmet

If there’s an almond croissant to be ordered, you can be sure I will be ordering it.

We got to the zoo and were pleasantly surprised when we found out there was no admission fee! We did feel a bit odd though being one of the only few people there without children. I think I made up for it with my excitement and enthusiasm though. I haven’t been to a zoo in a really long time so it was pretty surreal to see giraffes and zebras. I couldn’t help running from exhibit to exhibit!

Lincoln Park Zoo

After the zoo, we headed to a newly opened lunch spot that Jason had chosen, The Purple Pig.

The Purple Pig The Purple Pig

It was pretty busy when we got there around 12:30 so we grabbed two seats at the bar to avoid the wait time.

The Purple Pig

The lightest, fluffiest focaccia I’ve ever had

The Purple Pig

Ayinger beer on tap

The Purple Pig

Mortadella spread with aged balsamic and crushed pistachios

The Purple Pig

Jamon iberico

The Purple Pig

Camembert

The Purple Pig

Spring peas, farro, feta, mint, and lemon salad. I need to replicate this at home or an impromptu trip back to Chicago may be in order.

The Purple Pig

Pig’s ear with crispy kale, marinated cherry peppers, and fried egg. The richness of the egg yolk cut by the tartness of the pepper along with the crispiness of the ear and kale made this dish irresistible. I loved it with my beer.

The Purple Pig

Porchetta panini with a salsa verde spread. The pork was great and the salsa verde made an untraditional but delicious condiment. We were so full at this point that we were only able to eat half of it though.

I highly highly recommend this restaurant if you’re in the Chicago area. Every single dish that we had was a hit and the beer on tap is great too. They also have an extensive wine list, which we didn’t take advantage of at this meal, but we came back two days later and did then. Yes, that’s how good it was. We were on a 5 day trip and we “used up” two meals here.

After our rather gluttonous meal, we cabbed it over to Shedd Aquarium (it would’ve been a long walk!). I love going to aquariums so was really excited about going here. Unfortunately, other than the aquatic show, it was kind of a disappointment. It just didn’t compare to aquariums I’ve been to in the past, especially the National Aquarium in Baltimore. It was run down and dark without much to see. It cost us $30 a person to boot! Compared to the zoo that’s free, this didn’t hold a candle.

Here are the pics I took during the aquatic show.

We took the bus back up Michigan Ave to the Hancock Observatory after that. The price of admission is a little bit high for what it is (riding up an elevator and walking around the top floor of a building) but they include a free self-guided audio and visual tour narrated by Chicago native and actor, David Schwimmer. It sounds a bit cheesy but the information included in the tour about Chicago is actually quite interesting.

After the observatory, we headed around the block to the Four Seasons Lounge for dinner. Our friends S and C, who went to Chicago last year, highly recommended the sliders there and Jason is not one to pass up a recommendation for a good burger. The lounge literally looks like a lounge with sofas and coffee tables. This made it a little awkward to eat but the casual atmosphere, coupled with the fact that there was practically nobody there, made it perfect for sitting back and relaxing.

Four Seasons Bar

Complementary trail mix and Asian snack mix. We devoured the snack mix and left the trail mix for the birds :)

Four Seasons Bar

Aforementioned sliders which were in fact, one of the softest burgers I’ve ever eaten.

Four Seasons Bar Four Seasons Bar

Homemade Chicago style hot dog. Everything on the plate but the bun is made in house.

So ended our second day in Chicago :) Stay tuned to the next posts where our friends J and C join us on our trip!

Chicago 2010 – Happy 3rd Anniversary (Day 1)

June 30, 2010 by  

After Jason and I found out that we were having a little mini-us, we decided that we would take a trip somewhere for a few days without her for our anniversary each year. If you have been a reader of ours for at least a year, you will recall that last year we went to New Orleans and it was a big eat-fest. Our trip to Chicago this year was quite similar to that. Follow me as I take you through our vacation :)

Chicago Theater

Day 1 – Wednesday – Our actual anniversary day!

Our flight landed in Chicago around 11 and we decided to be frugal and took the El to our hotel. It’s a pretty straight forward means of transportation but there the closest stop to our hotel required that we transfer trains. That meant going up and down a lot of stairs carrying our heavy luggage. Not a wonderfully relaxing way to start off our vacation but after almost missing our flight and leaving my cell phone at home, it was a walk in the park. We got to our hotel around noon but our room wasn’t ready yet so we ventured over to the Trader Joe’s, which was conveniently located across the street, to grab some bottles of water.

When we got back our room still wasn’t ready yet so we hung around in the lobby and Jason checked work emails while I snapped some pictures. We didn’t really mind waiting because we were early and the staff there was just so nice that it was hard to be annoyed. In general, I can’t say enough good things about the service and facilities at The James.

The hotel is a bit far from the El but it’s very centrally located to all the things we wanted to do, only 1 block from Michigan Avenue, and in the middle of tons of restaurants, as well as across from the aforementioned Trader Joe’s. We ended up either taking a bus, catching a cab, or walking everywhere we went anyway so the distance from the El wasn’t really a problem.

James Hotel



After getting settled, we ventured out to our scheduled lunch at Blackbird. We caught a cab there since we knew we’d be walking around the rest of the day and were in a rush to get to lunch before they closed. It worked out well because we happened to drive along the river while a drawbridge was going up!

Drawbridge
Drawbridge

The architecture in Chicago is amazing. Look at this building~ The bottom floors are open garage spaces and the top floors are the residences. Jason said it wouldn’t be fun to get your car out of their in the winter; I can see that.

Apartment building

Here are some pictures from our meal at Blackbird.

Blackbird

We opted to share a salad to start which was quite honestly, one of the best I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take a picture because the host who served it to us broke it up and served it to us quickly. I’ll direct you to this picture I found on Flickr since I don’t want to post it here and look like I’m taking credit for it. The salad is arranged inside of a fried spun potato cup that acted as the “croutons” to the dish. Best. Croutons. Ever.

Blackbird

Lamb burger with taleggio cheese and black onion

Blackbird

Pork belly with cole slaw

We both agreed that the lamb burger was unremarkable, the pork belly sandwich was well balanced, and the fries were incredible. If I learned anything about Chicagoans in my trip, it’s that they know how to do fries right.

After lunch, we walked to Millennium Park, which is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s so well-organized and groomed. The appreciation of art and architecture by the city is obvious with the huge pieces like the Silver Bean and the BP Bridge by Frank Gehry.

Millennium Park

Silver bean reflecting a gorgeous day in Chicago

Jason said that the Buckingham Fountain was closeby so we wandered around looking for it. After about half an hour of wandering around in the sweltering heat, we finally spotted it like an oasis in the dessert. We walked across Grant Park and took tons of pictures of the fountain made famous (at least to us) by Married With Children.

Buckingham Fountain

Self portraits are hard with SLRs with zoom lenses :)

We walked back to the hotel around 4 (I think we walked a total of 4 miles that afternoon) and decided to take a quick nap before dinner. The next thing I know, Jason is tapping me on the shoulder and telling me it’s 7:45! I think I could’ve went back to sleep and slept through the rest of the night but since it was our anniversary night, I thought it’d be best if we went out :)

We had Rick Bayless’s

Frontera Grill

Spiced nuts

Frontera Grill

Delicious margarita

Frontera Grill

Chips with chipotle salsa and salsa verde

Frontera Grill

Cheddar fundido with short rib and roasted poblano

Frontera Grill

Ceviche trio (marlin, shrimp/calamri, tuna). All three had completely different tastes and textures.

Frontera Grill

Shrimp in a guajillo-mango sauce with red rice

Frontera Grill

Roasted suckling pig served with pickled onions/habanero salsa and flour tortillas

Frontera Grill

Fried sweet plantains with homemade sour cream and cotija cheese

Frontera Grill

Fruit soup with a creamy (but cream-less) avocado/lime ice cream

Frontera Grill

Super full but very happy

We walked back to the hotel after this and went to bed so we’d be refreshed for our next full day of walking :)

Post on day 2 to come!

Random pictures of Jasmine

June 14, 2010 by  

I don’t know if you’re tired of random pictures of our girl but these are for those of you that like them. I seriously can’t imagine that a second child, if we ever decide to have one, will have as many pictures taken of him/her as our first child.

A lot of the pictures that I take (and love the best) are around the apartment and spontaneous versus posed. These are no exception :) Please excuse the pants-less child.

Memorial Day 2010

June 12, 2010 by  

Here are some pictures that L took when we went over to her apartment in LIC over Memorial Day weekend. Her and C live in a building with a great outdoor area on the 6th floor that has communal grills with picnic tables and bench. There’s also a large astro turf covered area with lawn chairs and plenty of space to put down blankets so people feel like they are lying on real grass in a real park. We had a really good time grilling up meat that C won from a raffle that a burger truck held last year and drinking cold beer on a hot day.

And yes, those are pictures of a vodka watermelon in progress. Because we’re classy like that.

First balcony garden

June 11, 2010 by  

I plan to post more “in-progress” pictures when I get a chance but for now, here are pictures of Jasmine and me planting the first of many pots for our balcony garden. I’ve planted:

1. Herbs – basil/rosemary/cilantro
2. Peppers – baby sweet/turkish hot/jalapenos
3. Tomatoes – roma/cherry
4. Cucumber
5. Zucchini
6. Flowers

Unfortunately, it’s already looking dubious that all the plants will produce but I’m not giving up hope. Really I’m using this year more as an experiment to see what’s able to grow on a balcony and apply that to next year’s garden. Of course if things don’t grow this year, I will probably chalk it up to the roots not having enough space in the pots. That will lead to me asking Jason to build me a garden bed on the balcony and I’ll just plant the same things over again regardless of whether they survived this year. I can see this attempt to grow my own fruit/vegetables to save money actually costing me much more in the long run.

On a happier note, the herbs are doing wonderfully and it’s great being able to enjoy the fruits of my labor already! (pun intended) It was also nice to be able to garden “with” Jasmine. I use the term loosely because I did more of the heavy lifting and she did more of the walking around. In her defense, she held a duster the whole time and swept away any soil that didn’t make it into the pot. Yes, she gets that from Jason.

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