Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chicago...Day 2

[Continued from day 1]
Amazingly, considering we didn’t get to sleep until about 3:00am…we were “up & at em” by 9:00am on Saturday morning.  After getting ready, we took the Red Line up to Belmont Street to Ann Sather’s for breakfast.  Yum.  Ann Sather’s is a Swedish restaurant that has THE BEST Cinnamon Rolls in my opinion.  The rest of their food is fabulous as well.  The great thing is that you don’t have to choose whether you are going to have cinnamon rolls or breakfast food…cinnamon rolls come as a side with most breakfast meals.  Normally, we hit up Ann Sather’s on the last morning of a Chicago trip, so we can take our cinnamon rolls to go (& order more for our offices)…but that wasn’t going to work out this trip.  So for the first time ever, we ate them with our meal…Totally overly indulgent, yet fabulous.  The Hubs chose Steak & Eggs Benedict ($9.95) for his meal…which was 2 English muffins, topped with several slices of grilled beef tenderloin, topped with poached eggs & served with a side of Hollandaise sauce.  He also chose the hash browns as his 2nd side.  For my breakfast I had the Swedish breakfast sampler ($9.95), which is 1 egg, 1 Swedish pancake with lingonberry sauce, 1 Swedish meatball, & 1 Swedish potato sausage.  For my sides I chose hash browns & cinnamon rolls.   Ann Sather’s also has delicious potato pancakes.  They also make a version of French toast that involves stuffing 2 cinnamon rolls with a mascarpone cheese mixture, & battering & frying them like French toast (this dish was featured on one of Rachael Ray’s shows).  One of these times I WILL try that for breakfast…because it looks delicious.
Gooey, delicious cinnamon rolls...

The place mat menu with their cute logo.

Our table packed with our breakfast fare.
After we had thoroughly stuffed ourselves at breakfast, we ventured over to the Lincoln Park Zoo to go hang out with the animals for the afternoon.  It-was-hot…but we had a fun time hanging out with the gorillas & chimps (something the Indy zoo lacks), laughing at the mountain lion that thinks it’s a giant house cat, & just overall enjoying the zoo.  Lincoln Park Zoo is by far one of my favorite zoos…and it absolutely amazes me that it’s free.  It also surprised me that it wasn’t PACKED with people since it was Saturday.  The heat must have kept a lot of people away.

After the zoo we headed back across town to Goose Island-Clybourn.  The Hubs is a homebrewer and frequently has a keg of some delicious beer in our basement.  Normally when we are road tripping, we try to hit up a brewpub for a tour/tasting.  We have wanted to go to Goose Island for awhile, since we love several of their beers, but it hasn’t worked out in our previous Chicago trips.  This time I made it a priority when planning our weekend.

The tastings during the tour at Goose Island-Clybourn
After a tour & tasting ($10.00 & you get a souvenir glass), we settled into their brewpub for dinner.  During our time at Goose Island we tried a few of their beers that we can’t get on tap in Indy & tried a few of their small plate food items as well.

Beers we tried:
  • 312- American Style Wheat Ale- 4.2% alcoholGoose Island DescriptionHazy straw color, light orange hop aroma, fruity ale flavor, creamy body.  Ok…so maybe I can get 312 on tap in Indy.  But it was HOT outside and we had been outside all morning…I knew I loved 312 & that it would be a good “cool down” beer (along with the 2 glasses of water I consumed before drinking it).  312 was my beer of choice to drink during the tour. It’s crisp, refreshing & delicious.
  • Smoked Helles- German Style Helles- 5.4% alcohol. Goose Island Description: Golden color, light lemon aroma, slightly acidic fruit flavor, dry body. This was the Hub’s choice of beer for drinking during the tour.  It was the first time I had ever tasted a smoked beer, and overall I was a fan.  I thought it would be a fun beer to pair food with because of its smoky undertones.  However, it’s not something I could ever picture myself drinking more than 1 glass of, because the smoke flavor really builds in the back of your throat while drinking it.
  • SofieOak Aged Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale- 6.5% alcohol. Goose Island Description: Champagne color, white pepper aroma, citrus and vanilla flavor, sparkling body.  This was my “dinner beer.”  I love Goose Island’s Matilda…but I know I can get that both on tap & bottled around the Indy area.  I decided to try Sofie because it sounded like an oak-aged version of Matilda, and was served in a chalice. What can I say…drinking beer out of a wine glass is fun.  I loved the flavor of the Sofie Ale. It had the same sparkling, fruity notes that I love in the Matilda, but it also had a deeper, more complex underlying flavor.  It’s kind of like Sofie is Matilda’s twin sister that likes to debate complex ideas & go out and have fun on the weekends…as opposed to her white glove wearing, prim & proper sister… [photo below]
  • Fleur- Belgian Style Pale Ale- 5.2% Alcohol. Goose Island Description: Rose color, strawberry and hibiscus aroma, sweet and tart berry flavor, crisp body. This was the Hub’s 2nd choice for his dinner beer (his first choice, the Maduro- English Style brown ale, blew/ran-out).  This one was also served in a chalice, because real men can drink rose beer out of a girly glass and still be secure in their masculinity. J  Overall, I didn’t see the “rose” color that the description implied, but it was a crisp bodied beer with delightfully complex fruity undertones.  I enjoyed stealing a few sips during dinner. [photo below]
  • Honest Stout- English Style Foreign Stout- 6.2% Alcohol. Goose Island Description: Rich mahogany color, dark chocolate aroma, honey, oats and roast malt flavor, medium body.  The Honest Stout was my “dessert beer.”  We got a taste of it during the tour, and I knew I wanted a glass of it that evening.  I love a good stout…and this was a good stout.  It wasn’t overly in your face, & it didn’t sit overly heavy in my stomach.  It had a decent creaminess to it, without being overly bearing. Not to sweet, not too bitter…just good.  The one disappointing thing about this beer, is that I expect stouts to make great “beer animals” on the edge of the glass.  This one’s head didn’t cling as well as other stouts, making the “beer animals” less fun.  
Goose Island Honest Stout
  • Patriot Red Wheat- Red Wheat Ale- 5.5% alcohol. Goose Island Description: Auburn color, banana aromatics, peach flavor.  The Patriot Red Wheat was Jason’s “dessert beer.”  This is another ale that we got to dry during the tour/tasting…and it was really good.  I was debating ordering it as my dessert beer, but was afraid the “banana aromatics” would strengthen while drinking it (which frequently can happen).  So the hubs ordered it instead, & we switched beer glasses back & forth.  It worked out well.  Overall, it was an excellent beer.  A little thicker of body than your standard red ale, yet still crisp & refreshing & not heavy.  Surprisingly…this beer made great beer animals.
Patriot Red Wheat
Food we tried:
  • Malted Sea Wort Bread- $6.00- honey butter, bacon jam. Yes…you read that correctly, bacon jam.  Let’s begin with the word “wort”…for those of you that don’t live with a homebrewer, wort is the grain, malt slurry that later gets yeast added to it to ferment & become beer.  Apparently this can be used to make bread…which is now on my kitchen to-do list the next time the hubs brews beer.  According to our waitress, the “malted sea wort bread” at the brewpub is ever-evolving, based off what they are currently brewing.  The bread arrived warm, and it was tender, delicately-crusted & flavorful.  It was served with 2 condiment cups.  The first one contained a honey butter that was subtlety sweet, & tasted like it was made with freshly churned butter. Super creamy.  The other condiment cup contained the “bacon jam.”  I don’t know if I would have used the word “jam” to describe this topping, but I do know that the word “delicious” applies.  This description is not going to do the bacon jam justice…but it is a spreadable topping made of finely shredded bacon that has strong undertones of smoky & sweet. Yummy. 
Sea Salt Wort Bread, Honey Butter & Bacon Jam...
shown with a glass of Sofie.
  • Spicy Siracha Wings-$9.00- wasabi aioli, scallion. The order came with 8 chicken wings coated with a spicy-sweet Siracha sauce. Overall, this dish was pretty good.  I am curious to experiment with how they might have made their wing sauce…because I think I can replicate it at home.  The wasabi aioli was also very good, and an interesting pairing with the wings.  Normally you expect a wing dipping sauce to cool down the heat of the wing, not add to the heat & the complexity of flavors.
The wings...a couple were missing by the point the photo
was taken...
  • Sweet Potato Fries with Curry Catsup$5.00.  We got these to pair with the chicken wings…overall, they were decent sweet potato fries.  Nothing special, but they did taste like they were fresh-cut, not frozen.  The curry catsup was ok, not the best I’ve had, but not bad.  
Sweet potato fries & curry catsup,
shown with a glass of Fleur.
We had intended on trying a couple more small plates because they sounded delicious…but given the huge breakfast, the heat, & the beer…we were done after the wings & fries.  Bummer…I guess that just gives us a reason to go back. :-P

After dinner we wandered down the block to the Crate & Barrel Outlet store to check it out & walk off part of our dinner…we found a couple of good small finds. Then we headed back downtown.  We decided to stop by the shopping district on Michigan Avenue.  I always forget how much I LOATHE the “Magnificent Mile.”  To me it’s magnificent if I can get out of there without strangling someone.  Over-commercialization & large masses of annoying people…not my idea of a fun time.  That being said, we browsed in a couple of stores in Water Tower Place, & stopped by Wow Bao for a couple of dessert Baos.  We tried the coconut custard bao, the chocolate-ginger bao, & their homemade ginger ale.  The bao were pretty tasty, and the ginger ale was tasty as well but very spicy/gingery.  It’s not something I could drink very much of unless I was severely nauseated (and I love ginger).  I honestly think they should sell it in 4 oz glasses it’s THAT powerful.  

We had the opportunity to go to fireworks Saturday night in Chicago, but decided to forgo the crowds, grab a bottle of wine, & head back to the hotel room just to relax.  I think we made a good decision, especially after the Magnificent Mile consumerism headache.

[To be continued...]

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