Friday, September 30, 2005

Sweet Home Chicago


Scalzi's weekend assignment is to write about Chicago. About damn time. Since Mrs. Linklater has stuffed pizza, Second City and da Bears in her DNA, she can barely contain her happiness at getting to write about her favorite town. However, real llife intervenes for now, so a picture of an evening with the girls at Ravinia Festival will have to suffice until she can free up some time to pimp Shecawgo.

Weekend Assignment #79:  Chicago! It's a toddlin' town. Share some of your favorite things about the City of Big Shoulders. If you've ever been to Chicago, memories of your visit would be a topic. If you live in or near Chicago, some hometown favorite things would be good. If you've never been, share your favorite Chicago-related thing, from the Jordan-era Bulls to the Blues Brothers to Ferris Bueller. As long as it's tangentially related to Chicago, it's all good.

Extra Credit:
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza -- the best pizza ever? Your thoughts.

Let me start with the extra credit portion by saying my favorite deep dish pizza in Chicago is from Edwardo's -- the tomato sauce is so fresh I swear they grow their own tomatoes out back. And the mozzarella has a delicious texture and exuberant flavor I love. Giordano's isn't bad either. Hey, Scalzi loves it, how bad could it be? On the other hand, I think thin crust New York style pizza, sliced like a pie and folded in half lengthwise for eating is too chewy and skimpy for me. Don't tell my friends in New Jersey.

For thin crust pizza I like, try Pizza D.O.C., a Chicago  neighborhood restaurant up on Lawrence Avenue east of Western. They have the closest thing to real Neapolitan pizza that I've ever had. Even a brick oven to cookit in. Thin, thin, very crispy crust with wonderful, imaginative toppings, as well as the traditional tomato sauce and basil sprinkled with cheese. There's place in the northern suburbs called McCarthy's that I also love. Usually the one of a kind places have the best flavor, variety, and freshness.

After you eat, go ride the ferris wheel at Navy Pier. It takes ten minutes to make the full rotation, so you won't upchuck. The view of the city is spectacular in a city with great views everywhere. And take a sunset ride on the Odyssey, that's one of the boats docked there. Maybe book a romantic dinner for two.

The Museum Campus lets you walk between the Field Museum to the Shedd Aquarium to the Planetarium or Soldier Field.  Along the lakeshore. The Art Institute is just a short cab ride away and a short walk from Buckingham Fountain. With Orchestra Hall across the street. And Millennium Park and The Bean across another street. The Museum of Science and Industry is fascinating, just fifteen minutes down the road, near the University of Chicago, which is itself a beautiful example of gothic architecture. The University of Illinois at Chicago, a short drive from the Loop, attracts architectural aficionados from all over the world.

I live in the northern suburbs where we have the Chicago Botanic Garden within walking distance of the Ravinia Festival. You can spend the day wandering the garden's 325 acres, eating their wonderful food, shopping for gifts, attending a class perhaps, then walk over to Ravinia for an evening of music from blue grass to classical on the lawn. Or you can sit in the pavilion. Then catch the train downtown -- it stops right at the Festival.

My favorite candy shop is in one of the southern suburbs, Lockport. Holllingworth candies [spelled without an"s" if you Google them] has the best homemade caramel apples and English toffee I've tasted.  I drove forty-five minutes from my house just to buy some. The caramel is thick and gooey enough to rip out your crowns. They even warn you. It happened to me anyway. And they use huge, tart green apples to balance the sweetness.

There are not one but two excellent zoos.  One's in Lincoln Park -- the Lincoln Park Zoo, right near the lake. The other is a train or car ride away in a southwestern suburb, Brookfield, but its size, over 300 acres, animal collection and and magnificent habitats make it worth the trip, because you'll want to spend the entire day.

No matter what season you come to Chicago, take a walk along the lake or get a bike and ride the twelve miles from the north to the south side. What a terrific view of the city, from either direction. Take a ride down the Chicago River if you can, in one of the scenic tourist boats. Check out the archtectural tours, too.

If you like wonderful quirky shops, don't miss Armitage Avenue on the north side. Southport is another great street for creative clothing and accessories in the Lakeview neighborhood.

Try Hot Tix for half price seats on the day you want to see a performance.  There are always shows in town.

There are so many great restaurants all over town, from Gary to Lake Forest. Google Check Please, the PBS show that reviews local restaurants every week for suggestions and reviews.

For a great hot dog, Hot Doug's on California is something else.  Fries cooked in duck fat on the weekends.  And that's just for starters.  The best dogs in town as far as I'm concerned. But you'll get an argument on that one.

Chicago is a great sports town, but tickets are usually scarce during theseason -- even for Sox games lately. Two baseball teams, two hockey teams, men's and women's pro basketball teams, professional soccer, and football. There even used to be TWO football teams -- but the Cardinals left years ago.

Google Metromix to check out what's going on in town from shows to restaurants to shopping to festivals.

Walk Michigan Avenue [the Magnificent Mile]. Stroll down Oak street. Take a right on Rush Street. Or go around the corner for a bowl of bookbinder soup at the oyster bar in the Cape Cod Room at the Drake. Walk two blocks to Oak Street beach. By the way, just try walking to the beach in the middle of any other major metro area in the country. Go across the street and take the elevator to the top of the Hancock. Tale in the view from the Sears Tower, see a show at Second City or Steppenwolf, visit Hyde Park, the Garfield Park Conservatory, the Morton Arboretum, the list goes on and on,

And I haven't even hit the night spots.


robbush6 said...

Classy little picnic you have here. That woman in the pink needs a belt.

suzypwr said...

Chicago is great! Let's not forget two baseball teams!

meforevermore said...

You made me want pizza lol :o/


ladeeoftheworld said...

Long time reader.....first time writer....

I love an elegant evening outdoors!  Nothing better.   Great photography!

sunnyside46 said...

wow what a classy picnic

gaboatman said...

Mrs. L
The picture of the picnic looks great, simple but elegant!  The description of Chicago is awesome.  I've only had a day or two to spend there and now I want to go back to take in some of your great suggestions.   Fries cooked in duck fat?  Who knew?

belfastcowboy75 said...

You forgot my favorite--the DNC, Mayor Daley, and the siege of Czechago.

ber144 said...

You have missed you calling as a travel writer.  Couldn't agree more with your selections.

onemoretina said...

I've got a sister in Kildeer ... no one ever seems to know just WHERE that is. Tina

jevanslink said...

I don't know where Kildeer is, but at least I've heard of it.  Mrs. L

mombzbe said...

Now that I've read this, I can understand why every transplanted Chicagoan I've ever met doesn't feel like here is home.  :)
Mmmm caramel apples...definately worth the risk to the dental work~~