Postcard from Chicago: Treats in the Streets

Soft Serve Ice Cream Cone by Jim Bachor in Chicago

During my latest trip to Chicago, I stumbled upon this really awesome piece of street art. And by stumbled, I mean I had researched the artist in advance, figured out it was the most accessible piece I could get to given where I was staying and my tight work schedule and ubered there ūüėȬ†Artist Jim Bachor has been filling the city’s many potholes with whimsical¬†mosaics since 2013. In a nod to Belgian surrealist painter Magritte, one of his pieces states “this is not a pothole” in black and white tiles.¬†I loved his¬†most recent series,¬†‚ÄúTreats in the Streets,‚ÄĚ because it combined two things I love: street art and food! The treats in this instance are¬†classic frozen treats mosaic, like the soft serve ice cream cone¬†I spotted, that fill potholes in Chicago and¬†Jyv√§skyl√§, Finland. One of his previous series focused on flowers and he also has one that features classic fashion prints like Burberry and Louis Vuitton. How fun!¬†

Jim Bachor fils Chicago potholes with cool mosaics

Soft Serve Ice Cream Cone by Jim Bachor at 1451-1453 West Grand Avenue in Chicago

It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, and the colours were quite faded so I almost missed it when I walked by. I also almost got run over while trying to photograph it, so my tips if you’re going to try and spot some of Jim’s art is a) check out his website for a handy map of where each of the pieces are located¬†b) look carefully as the pieces are smaller than you might think they would be and most importantly c) be safe… you don’t want to get caught ‘gramming by a car ūüėȬ†

ps: wondering how to say pothole in French? I mean, you never know when you might need that word right? Anyhoo, don’t believe google translate that would have you think it’s trou de pot. Technically, that’s a correct (and very literal) translation. Yes pot is a pot (though that’s more something you’d plant flowers in)¬†and yes hole is trou… but the correct word is nid-de-poule or hen’s nest. Because hens love to nest in holes… of course! It’s cute right?¬†

5 Things I Ate While I Was in Chicago

Another week, another express work-cation, this time to Chicago in the mid-west. I’d been to Chicago a few times before, including for a hot 16 hours last July 4 and back in 1994 during one of my very first trip to the United States. Despite having a lot of meetings,¬†I tried to squeeze in as much sight-seeing as I could in 36 hours, including catching the Van Gogh’s Bedrooms exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.¬†And eating of course… Here are some of my favourites from my express ‚Äúwork-cation‚ÄĚ in Chicago:¬†

LIQUID ENERGY AT INTELLIGENTSIA COFFEE

First things first after a 6AM flight from¬†Reagan to O’Hare, I needed caffeine! But not just any coffee would do. I wanted some¬†Intelligentsia Coffee¬†since¬†the roasting company started and is still based in Chicago. Bonus, their location at¬†53 East Randolph Street is around the corner from Millennial Park so I got the chance to squeeze in a little sight-seeing too!¬†

Intelligentsia Coffee at the Bean

Intelligentsia Coffee has many locations across town, including 53 E Randolph Street, 1609 W Division Street, 3123 North Broadway and 2642 N Milwaukee Avenue.

 

POTATO DUMPLINGS AT PIEROGI HEAVEN

As many as 1.5 million Chicagoan claim Polish ancestry and Chicago bills itself as the largest Polish city outside of Poland. Pierogis, delightfully doughy Eastern European dumplings, are pretty easy to find around town. For a quick lunch, I headed to Pierogi Heaven in the loop, a hole in the wall kinda spot that’s popular with nearby office workers. You can choose from 11 different pierogi fillings, all of which come with fried onions, bacon and sour cream. I polished off a plate of¬†potato cheddar dumplings, with extra sour cream and a cup of hot¬†red borsch.¬†

Potato and cheddar dumplings at Pierogi Heaven

Pierogi Heaven is located at 169 North Wells Street

GARRETT MIX AT GARRETT POPCORN

On paper, cheddar cheese and caramel popcorn don’t sound¬†like they’d mix well together. But in a bucket of Garrett Popcorn, the salty-sweet combo known as Garrett Mix¬ģ is one of the most addictive¬†thing you’ll ever eat. This staple Chicago food counts a lot of fan…¬†Oprah listed it as one of her “favourite things” on a couple of occasions, President Obama gave a tin to Vice President Biden for his birthday and Beyonce herself declared it Deeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrricious” on instagram.¬†I never leave Chicago without a bag ūüėȬ†

Garrett Mix at Garrett Popcorn Garrett PopcornThere are many locations of¬†Garrett Popcorn, including one at151 North Michigan Avenue by Millennium Park, 625 North Michigan Avenue¬†and 2 at O’Hare airport (there’s one at the¬†Fashion Centre at Pentagon City too…)

CONFIT GOAT BELLY AT GIRL AND THE GOAT

Stephanie Izard’s Girl and the Goat inevitably comes up every time I ask anyone for restaurant recommendations in Chicago. So this trip, I actually made my way there! Forty five¬†minutes and one “my little kumquat” cocktail later, I finally snagged a seat at one corner of the bar.¬†I definitely blew my per-diem on that meal, but it was SO worth it. Everything I had from the¬†kohlrabi salad with¬†fennel, evalon, toasted almonds, autumn crisp apple and shiitake mushrooms to the¬†goat carpaccio and the¬†goat cheesecake with pretzel cream and beer caramel was amazing. But the real standout of the evening can be summarized in 4 words: Bourbon. Butter. Poached. Lobster. As if that didn’t sound amazing enough, that was just the side for a confit goat belly, which also came with a fennel puree and fennel salad (I’ve been really into fennel lately.)¬†No wonder everyone and their mothers has been raving about Girl and the Goat ūüėȬ†

Bourbon butter poached lobster and goat belly confit at Girl and the Goat

Girl and the Goat¬†is located at 809 W Randolph street. There’s now a Little Goat Diner¬†right across the street too that offers more casual food, as well as breakfast all day.

ROASTED BONE MARROW AT THE PURPLE PIG

I talked my colleagues into squeezing in a late lunch/early happy hour at¬†the Magnificent Mile gastropub¬†The Purple Pig, I couldn’t convince them to try the roasted bone marrow with sicilian sea salt and herb salad (with Italian parsley, thin-sliced white onions and capers) smear. More for me right? Right!! It was a beautiful, warm day in Chicago so we ate outside, sorta overlooking the river. And of course, warm sunny days call for ros√©, and the bone marrow paired perfectly with a glass of Scea Andre Roux Clos Cibonne c√ītes de provence. Sadly, my colleagues are not as adventurous eaters as I am and I really couldn’t justify ordering the pig’s ears on top of the bone marrow… I guess I’ll have to go back and eat my way through more of the decadent meat-centered menu at¬†The Purple Pig.¬†

Roasted Bone Marrow Smear at The Purple Goat

The Purple Pig is located at 500 N. Michigan Avenue.

I also found a little time to swing by the stunning Palmer House. Now owned by Hilton, it’s the oldest hotel in the city and¬†claims to be where brownies were invented. The¬†Palmer House Brownie with walnuts and an apricot glaze (check out the recipe in Epicurious) is still served at the hotel’s restaurant and bar.¬†

Palmer House ceciling

Since I can’t eat chocolate, I settled for another local favourite, a quick Goose Island Honkers Ale, which I enjoyed under the magnificent ceiling fresco by French muralist¬†Louis Pierre Rigal. Not a bad spot to wrap up the trip!

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I think I did pretty good in less than 36 hours Where would be your five foodie stops or top foodie bites if you were to spend a few days in Chicago?