Lets Go to Uncommon Ground

It’s very common for me to hang out in and around Wrigleyville. I’m a Cubs fan. I go to shows at Metro. It’s always just been a really familiar area to me. More »

Locals Recommendations

Check out where the locals like to eat. More »

Derek and I recently caught up with Ian Graham from the Lansing, MI band, Cheap Girls. More »

 

Amy’s Taco Quest 2016

Earlier this year, many people were busy making their new year resolutions or talking about their anti-resolutions. I was over here, just picking myself up and putting myself back together while thinking about my taco quest.

 

I’m off to a solid start on this quest. This is really just a personal goal for myself but the idea has generated quite an interest from friends and acquaintances alike. From people who would like to join me on my quest, to people who readily offer up their suggestions for best taco joints in and around Chicago. I’m open to all of the above. Join me…give me recommendations…go on your own quest. Just do something.

My goal is a simple one: Dine at 20 different taco joints in 2016. This should be easy enough. I want to do something that I think is fun and this seems like a fun, attainable goal. So, I’ll update the blog periodically with where I’ve been and where I’d like to go on this quest. Recommendations are always appreciated, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

Interview with Ian Graham of Cheap Girls

Ian Graham. Cheap Girls. Photo by: Mat Stokes

Ian Graham. Cheap Girls. Photo by: Mat Stokes

Derek and I recently caught up with Ian Graham from the Lansing, MI band, Cheap Girls. The band played a sold out, three show stint with The Loved Ones and Roger Harvey last weekend. It was great to sit down with Ian at Cobra Lounge and talk about what’s happening with his band, where he eats when he’s in town, and what kind of food quest he’d conquer. Oh, we couldn’t end the conversation without talking about loading up on candy, either.

Have a listen:

I haven’t written a damn thing

in quite a while. I’ve been keeping it all in my head or spewing my randomness to friends.

That’s my daughter. Her mouth is full of marshmallows.

My life has been full of ups and downs for quite a while. I’ve made some life-changing decisions. Nothing regrettable. I’ve been muddling through my thoughts and my actions.

I’m slowly breaking through this mental writing block. Baby steps. I’m getting there. I’m getting somewhere.

While I’m finding my way back, feast your eyes upon this amazing plate of food from Kuma’s Corner. What you see here is the Pantera. There’s an amazing burger buried under all of that goodness. Good lord, what took me so long to finally eat there?

When we say “Swallow This, Chicago” we don’t actually mean for Chicago to swallow things

Photo by Nancy Loo

Photo by Nancy Loo

So, this happened earlier this morning. A huge sinkhole in Chicago. Lots of flooding around the area today. Stay safe, people!

Click here for the video of the white car plummeting into the sinkhole.

 

Instameet in Streeterville

Let me tell you what an Instameet is.  It’s a gathering of a group of people who share a common interest, in this case, Instagram. What do we do with this common interest? We take to the streets and capture art, people, buildings, etc. We then upload our photos to Instagram and share them with the world. In Chicago, we have instameets at least once a month. Friends and strangers gather together and capture the beauty of this architecturally amazing city. Kind of geeky you say? I say, bring on the geeks!

This month’s instameet took place in a part of the city known at Streeterville.

streeterville

We spent a good amount of time on our walk admiring and photographing a Chicago landmark, Prentice Women’s Hospital, which is unfortunately slated for demolition.

prentice_womens_hospital

If you’re an instagram-er yourself, search hashtag #igcprentice to view all of the photos of Prentice that have been uploaded from our meet-up (plus other uploads from the walk).

Here are some of my other creatively edited photos from the instameet:

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After our walk around Streeterville, some of us went to Sable Kitchen & Bar. It was my first time there. We had celebratory birthday drinks with a fellow IGer and all-around laughs and a good time.  After drinks, we made our way over to Club Lago for an amazing Italian dinner. Now, this is a restaurant I will most definitely return to.

Stay tuned for more instameet goodness! I rather like wandering aimlessly around Chicago with friends and strangers.

Let’s go to Uncommon Ground

Uncommon Ground - Clark Street

Uncommon Ground - Beer

It’s very common for me to hang out in and around Wrigleyville.  I’m a Cubs fan. I go to shows at Metro.  It’s always just been a really familiar area to me.  Before Derek and his wife moved into town, they were here for a visit and we found ourselves over on Clark Street after enjoying a cocktail at the top of the Hancock.  It was during that visit to Uncommon Ground that I recall pointing out my sister-in-law’s old apartment above the The Piano Man and telling them how her German Shepherd escaped from her apartment and ran down Clark Street…during rush hour.  That story still cracks me up.

But I digress.  Uncommon Ground has since become a common place for us to end up when we’re in the Wrigleyville area.  They’ve got a nice selection of local craft beers and I’ve come to learn that they grow their vegetables and herbs in their organic roof top garden over on Devon (Uncommon Ground’s second location).  From what I gather, they are the country’s first certified organic roof top farm. Ya learn something new every day.  You can check out more of Uncommon Ground’s “Green” efforts here.

So, as you can see, I’m pretty stoked on this uncommon find in a common area.  I look forward to visiting the Devon location in addition to more patio hangs at the Clark location.

*Also, we were Uncommon Ground’s 1000th Twitter follower.  Score!

A Chicago coffee staple

Intelligentsia coffee

I grew up with coffee as an ever present beverage in the hands of my great grandmother, grandparents, and my father. It was with coffee that you started the day and often what kept you going. I had my first cup around ten or eleven years old and have been drinking it ever since. It wasn’t until my first year in college that I began to see coffee as something more than a quick pick me up or a black liquid inside a ceramic mug beside my breakfast. A friend introduced me to coffee made in a French press. The process of heating the water, grinding and steeping the beans, and then the physical press of the device was incredibly captivating. I can’t say how or why, but it was. It was in that friend’s apartment, on that fall evening that I can point to as the turning point for my relationship with coffee.

Intelligentsia Cup

I am slightly older now and my understanding of coffee is that it is not a commodity that is made and disposed of in under seven minutes. Rather, it is an artisanal craft with varieties of growing methods, roasts, brewing devices, and social structures that reside within. In recent years there has been a movement in the coffee industry referred to as the “Third Wave” where coffee growers, buyers, and roasters are elevating the status of coffee in the public sphere. Intelligentsia are one of the big three shops in the United States that have been doing a large part in this elevation of coffee. No pun intended.

Chicago is fortunate enough to have four Intelligentsia locations. One in Millennium Park on Randolph and Wabash, one on Broadway, one inside the Monadnock Building, and most recently inside the Merchandise Mart on the Near North Side. While I have only visited two of them, the Broadway and Millennium Park locations, I am confident that the quality of the coffee and level of service at the other two are equal. The Millennium Park location is one that sees a lot of foot traffic and seems to have a faster work pace due to its location in the bustling Loop. Intelligentsia on Broadway has a much more relaxed feel thanks to the rustic, wooded decor which contrasts the Millennium Park location’s slick, modern look.

Intelligentsia on Broadway

Design and decor are great, but, a coffee shop is nothing without quality, delicious tasting coffee and Intelligentsia delivers. With single origin, seasonal offerings from Panama to Mexico and blended roasts like “El Diablo” and their “Sugar Glider” espresso. But, let us not forget that drinking the coffee is the last step in a far reaching process. While you wait for your coffee to be served to you, you can watch the baristas craft your drink. Their fluidity and proficiency behind the espresso machine is inspiring to a nerd like myself. The calmness with which they brew using a Chemex or a Hario V60 dripper (the manual equivalents to a Mr. Coffee drip pot) gives me insight, just by watching, on how I can improve my brewing technique when I’m at home. Intelligentsia is accessible to patrons of all types, from the chronic Starbucks drinker to police officers and business persons. It feels like a safe space where you can enjoy your drink, converse with your friends or do work and not have to worry about anything hindering you from enjoying your day.

By now, you may be asking yourself “yeah, but how does the coffee taste?”  Well, I can answer that.  In one word? Great.  In many words?  Well, I can start saying that this or that coffee has notes of blueberry, bergamot, or honey, but I won’t bore you with that in this post.  Intelligentsia has coffee making down to a science, as well as an art form.  Every cup has the right balance of water to coffee and is given to you at a temperature that doesn’t force you to set it on the table and wait a few minutes to take your first sip.  If you like it black or with soy or whole milk, you will be pleased with what what you ordered, whether it comes out of a demitasse or a cappuccino cup.  If you especially like what you sat down and sipped, you can ask the staff what beans were used and you can more than likely purchase a bag for yourself to take home.

Each location is easily accessible by car or a number of CTA options. In my opinion, it is definitely a place that helps prop up the local coffee scene, among a heap of other shops and small roasters. They are a great resource for learning about the coffee process thanks to their tours and barista classes at their roasting works on West Fulton. If you are interested in coffee in any form, Intelligentsia is the perfect place to start because of its fair pricing, accessibility and instant familiarity.

I’d rather be eating Indian cuisine.

Instead of enjoying the summer day with friends and family, I’m inside of the house hanging out with my super contagious virus. I’m very bummed about this.

There are a ton of things I could do around my house right now but, the more things I touch, the bigger the possibility is of spreading this virus. Sigh.

*Think happier thoughts*

Earlier in the week, I joined a bunch of my lady friends at a local joint up the road called OMango. I have eaten at a handful of Indian restaurants in the past, so I was somewhat familiar with the bold flavors of Indian cuisine.

OMango

I only live approximately five miles away from OMango, so the fact that I can go there, eat great food that doesn’t cost a lot, and hang out with friends who live close-by is ace.

Johanna (aka Momma Cuisine) had a little get-together at OMango. We chatted up a storm and snacked on delicious things, like, Chicken Tikka, Samosas and Naan Sticks.

OMango snacks

I don’t think anyone at the party was too upset when they brought out the Mango Phirini (I know I wasn’t).

Mango Phirini

Um, hi? Are you still there?

Goodness me. My inbox has been bombarded with domain expiration notices from the half dozen or so domains I purchased “thinking” that I was going to create an army of blogs in the AmySphere. Uh. Time and energy do not permit. I sound like a broken record, I know.

I’m bound and determined to keep this one alive. Cheers to that.

Raspberry Fizz at the 96th floor Lounge

Lately, I’ve been visiting with lots of friends and checking out some new (to me) restaurants. Some, I’m looking forward to returning to and some I could care less if I ever step foot in again.

As for right now, our house guest is making me itch, so I’m off to take some allergy medicine. Do your house guests make you itch?

I like to know where other people like to go. Ya know?

Locals CollageWith 200+ square miles filled with restaurants and bars, it’s nice to have a little help from your friends on where to go. So, I’ve gone ahead and gathered recommendations from some of my friends on where they like to go in Chicago for a drink or a bite to eat, or just somewhere to enjoy the ambiance. Check out our Local’s Recommendations page to find out about the places these locals like to frequent.

Want to be featured in our next Local’s Recommendations list? Shoot us an email at: info [at] swallowthischicago [dot] com