On Thursday, Bob and I spent the day in Chicago with our good friends, Jeff and Marla. Thanks to Marla’s amazing planning skills, she had an itinerary prepared that allowed us to do everything we had in mind while we enjoyed walking the beautiful streets of Chicago.
- Meet at Ogilvie Transportation Center (F) around noon (we took the train from the suburbs into Chicago)
- Visit Bob’s favorite Chicago coffee shop (B): Intelligentsia
- Peruse the Farmer’s Market located at the Daley Center Plaza (C)
- Indulge in a Chocolate and Wine pairing at Vosges Chocolate in Lincoln Park (D)
- Detour for Jeff and Bob to check out the new toys at the Apple Store
- Dinner at Avec (E)
We started with a little caffeine at Intelligentsia . . . I ordered an Americano, while Bob had his usual shot of espresso. Intelligentsia’s Black Cat is excellent.
The Farmer’s Market was packed with goodies. Marla found some delicious cherries, garlic and a strange-to-us melon.
I picked up some sugar-snap peas, shiitake mushrooms, and garlic scape. Everything was so fresh and tasted great (we couldn’t help but snack on the cherries and sugar-snap peas throughout the day).
After exhausting every vendor at the market, we headed to Lincoln Park to find Vosges Chocolate. It took a while to walk there, but it was well worth it.
We sampled four different pairings (two white wines, two red wines). Wow. It doesn’t get much better than having wine and chocolate together. There were additional pieces of chocolate that we were able sample, one of which was exceptionally unique and delicious: The Black Pearl Exotic Chocolate Bar. It was dark chocolate with ginger, wasabi, and black sesame seeds. It was my favorite of the day!
After resting our legs at Vosgos, we were ready to start the trek back into downtown Chicago. Of course, the boys couldn’t pass up a detour to the new Apple store. We played around with some of the “toys” for a bit.
We made it to Avec by about 6:45, and found out there was a 1.5 hour wait. We decided to put our name on the waiting list, and went around the corner to Sepia for an appetizer and cocktail. After 7.2 miles of walking, we were happy to sit and relax. All of our cocktails were delicious, but the star of the show was the appetizer we decided to order.
Marla asked if I would try sweetbreads. Sounds innocent enough, right? Sweetbreads. Maybe a platter of sweet doughy pastries? Thanks to Google and having technology at my fingertips, I found the following:
Sweetbreads or ris are culinary names for the thymus (throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread) or the pancreas (heart, stomach, or belly sweetbread) especially of the calf (ris de veau) and lamb (ris d’agneau) (although beef and pork sweetbreads are also eaten).
Ewwww. But, I figured if I was ever going to try it, this should be the time. Marla had been willing to try some new wines today, and who knows, maybe it would taste like chicken?!?
It came wrapped in bacon, with a few sautéed morel mushrooms and carrots. The presentation was nice, but after trying a small bite (fyi, it did not taste like chicken), I decided that it wasn’t for me. But, hey, at least I gave it a try! You only live once.
We were finally seated at Avec around 8:30 pm. The restaurant is known for using fresh, local, and organic ingredients. The dishes are served tapas style, which seems to suit us well. We all love to taste and try different foods, so being able to order an array of dishes makes it especially fun.
We ordered: smoked trout salad, bacon wrapped and chorizo-stuffed dates, squid, a cheese plate, and pork shoulder. Lots of flavors and textures to taste-test. Overall, an outstanding dinner. Actually, an outstanding day!
Marla and I have already planned another cooking date, so stay tuned!