leave your inhibitions at the door
I went to Chicago recently.
I know what you’re thinking – I’m from there and I’ve made it a point to mention Chicago when I can. So what’s the big deal? Well, I’m embarrassed to say that it was only the second time I was there this year. And I can’t even remember the last time before that. When we moved to Ann Arbor I vowed to go back MONTHLY, which lasted all of 3 months. Then it became every other month. Then 3-4 times a year. And then…
A few weeks before the trip I saw an article on the third annual Kultura Festival, a celebration of Filipino food, music, and culture in Chicago. I sent the link to a bunch of family members there in case they were interested. It just so happened that I received a work email saying that I had some vacation days to burn, so made the decision to go. We’re all a bunch of hardcore foodies so decided to make it one helluva culinary weekend.
– El Douchebag – A cousin who lives in Chicago who I was going to stay with. He’s knows all the great restaurants. Definitely the perfect Chicago Restaurant Sherpa.
– Chemical Al – A cousin from Indianapolis who has a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales.
– Not Really Pam – El Douchebag’s beautiful, sweet, and hilarious girlfriend. Her penchant for Guilty Pleasure music almost approaches my stratosphere, which I hope to talk about in future posts.
– Sh!tshow – My awesome niece who lives in Chicago. Long-time readers may remember her from when she was a student here at the University of Michigan.
– My Mom – Because of course I’m going to hang with the OG.
The ride on the Megabus – and there’s no other way to put it – sucked donkeys. We were going through an unusual late September heatwave and the air conditioning wasn’t working. It was literally 85 nautical fucking degrees fahrenheit. I mention this because by the end of the ride I was dehydrated and full of angst – the wifi on the bus didn’t work either. So when I got to El Douchebag’s, they were already a few drinks ahead of me. I may or may not have done some catching up and overtaking prior to dinner.
We went to the Duck Inn, a completely out of the way place in Bridgeport, a neighborhood not particularly known for trendy restaurants. I love those kinds of hidden gems and Chicago is full of them.
Some of the things we had…
The food was solid. but what I really loved were the presentations. They sounded good on the menu, but so much care was put into how it looked – especially the foie gras that were shaped into Lego blocks. Sure, the Pigs Head looks like a vomiting frog, but I really appreciate that they tried. Not many places like this would.
Then a funny thing happened – we did a Bang Bang. That’s where you go out and have a full meal. And then immediately go somewhere else to have another full meal.
Ours was a little less planned than Louis CK’s. El Douchebag was raving about this cake at Mastro’s Steakhouse and none of Duck Inn’s desserts were screaming at us. At least not as loudly as Mastro’s cake.
Then the conversation made a hard left turn to cake shakes from Portillo’s, which is exactly what it sounds like – a shake made with a hunk of frosted chocolate cake mixed in. D-Bag whipped out the phone and started ordering for a delivery to his place. Well, you know that I wasn’t going to let a visit to Portillo’s pass me without getting an Italian Beef sandwich. Yes, we weren’t actually going to Portillo’s, but my stomach didn’t know the difference.
It was perfect – two minutes after we go there, this arrived.
We went to a little diner on the Near West Side called Uncle Mike’s. Like all other breakfast spots there were the usual suspects – omelettes, pancakes, eggs, etc. But check out the specials –
HELL FUCK YEAH!!!
For whatever reason, they serve the classic Filipino breakfast – fried rice, eggs, and a choice of Spam, longaniza (sausage), tocino (cured pork shoulder) –
or bangus (fried milkfish)
And they even give you a free bowl of lugaw, the Filipino version of congee – rice porridge with ginger, chicken, fried garlic, and lemon.
Stay tuned for Part 2.