We played Chicago tourists this weekend. Let's see if I can remember some happy moments... There were a lot, really, too many to keep. Holding Nora and reaching for Mia as our Irish rickshaw-bicyclist pedaled us through Chicago traffic. Watching Nora knock down a set of giant dominoes at the kids museum, then cheer, "I won!" to her sister who had just knocked down a couple of bowling pins herself. Helping them help me at the post office. Feeling their hands grab mine as we near a street. People watching on Navy Pier. That ridiculous little 60 foot train ride on Navy Pier that gives the girls more of a thrill than the merry-go-round or Ferris Wheel. Yum Sunday brunch at The Gage where Nora fell asleep in my lap again, just as she did at Russian Teatime the afternoon before. Just everything really. It was a pleasure to be with them, easy in all the big ways, tough in the little ones - how on earth do city moms carry their sleeping toddlers AND get the grocery bags up to the apartment?
And Saturday night - bright moments with hubby. Watching the light leave the sky as we linger over water and beer at a Fulton Street bar, imitating the SNL assholes, "Whatever you say, babe." Ooing and ahing at the fireworks over Navy Pier from our vertigo-inducing balcony.
OTOM was tons of fun; cool décor that matched my dress, thank you very much, jokey entrees and bizarre cocktail combinations. Not that the food was good, exactly, more like clever and interesting. I laughed and laughed, drank three of those pretty red strawberry concoctions that initially sounded gross (balsamic berries and Tawny port?) but tasted pretty sweet, despite my first choice being out of commission ("I'm sorry, we don't have the sangria tonight. The cherries take three days to prepare.") Grateful to see two vegetarian entrees, I asked our server, who laid down the gauntlet. "The tofu is excellent, but more conventional than the TV dinner. Do you want traditional or experimental?" Well, if you put it that way, how could I complain? And I'm not.
Look at this hilarious and beautiful rendering of the TV dinner - in a Russian military issue plate. "We have fifteen or so of these." Edamame and corn in a sweet crust with whipped crème fraiche; whipped cauliflower stood in for the mashed potato volcano and the "chicken" was a red bean puree shaped and flash-fried. The whole experience mimicked my memories of sitting in front of the Mary Tyler Moore show with food cooked in foil: the "dessert" was the best part and the salty and bitter coffee gravy with cloves rendered the rest nearly inedible. Am I complaining? No way. We had a blast. It's so great to see vegetarian food prepared with a sense of humor.
The wait staff was super nice and patient even with my drunken razzing, "Do you have anything with tomatoes on the menu? I really like tomatoes."