Tuesday, April 17, 2007

C'mon, Baby don't you wanna go...

Sorry, last week was a busy week in the Smith household. Easter weekend was spent at the parents house in Williamsburg, VA - typically an increasingly more difficult weekend trip as traffic woes worsen between Washington and Richmond (yet for some reason traffic was reasonably light - especially considering it was a holiday weekend). The last half of the week was spent on a business trip to Chicago (for you blues fans out there, yes the title of this entry is a reference to the old Robert Johnson song "Sweet Home Chicago" covered so well by the Blues Brothers).

Chicago was rainy, snowy and cold for two of the three days we (my wife and I) were there and we were largely chained to the neighborhood in which the convention which took place in a neighborhood I believe is called the Near North. We made it into The Loop a couple of times, but never got to see the neighborhoods that make Chicago...well...Chicago.

The area in which we were stuck, a stretch called The Magnificent Mile, was reminiscent of mid-town Manhattan along 5th Avenue. While it was nice to get into a big city again, and to go someplace I hadn't been, I really prefer to go to someplace that's unfamiliar - and this neighborhood felt all too familiar to me (although I would recommend that anyone going to Chicago venture to the Nordstrom's on the Magnificent mile for a visit to Vosges Haut Chocolates - some of the best chocolate I have ever had).

We did see the IAC, an excellent art museum which most people my age might have initially been exposed to in the movie Ferris Beuller's Day Off, and got some good wandering in on the one sunny day which happened to be the day we departed. On that final day we had lunch at Harry Caray's, right next to the Chicago House of Blues. It was one of the two truly excellent meals that we had - if you're heading that way, I recommend the house specialty; Chicken Vesuvio (warning, it is cooked in peanut oil for those of you with severe allergies). The chicken Marsala is also excellent.

The other place we ate that was good...the only chain, though we weren't previously familiar with it, was an Italian restaurant called Buca di Beppo. The food was very good (and I hold a pretty high standard on my Italian food - my mother's family is Italian...grandfather came through Ellis Island) and served family style. The platters seem expensive until you realize that the $17.00 dish you're ordering is intended to feed two. I recommend the gnocchi (small potato dumplings/pasta).

Overall I was disappointed, however, I do realize I was there on limited time and covered only a very limited area. I failed to make it to Wrigley Field as I had hoped, and didn't make it to any of the Blues bars/clubs. I do plan to go back, possibly next year for the annual Chicago Blues Festival and get more into the neighborhoods that give Chicago its sense of self.

The photos you see here were taken by my wife, Kelly.

Coming soon, my review of Grindhouse...

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