Did you miss me?
I mean, did you miss the blog? Where I usually fill this space with update minutiae of my last few days in California? Or did you miss me when I visited Chicago for Christmas? Or did you miss me when I returned to Long Beach to close out 2014?
Thanks to a potential weather episode and friendly American Airlines customer service, I was able to re-route my flight arrangements for Christmas Eve and be unexpectedly home in time to join the family at church. Instead of connecting in Tucson and being tardy for Christmas dinner, I flew direct from LAX to ORD and made it into the pew with time to spare. Once home the indulgence could begin with various snacks and hors d’oeuvres and a proper eggnog cocktail. I may or may not have finished a small bottle of Captain Morgan while giggling over silly definitions and interpretations while playing Balderdash and watching Elf. The main Christmas feast featured many of our traditional favorites: Honeybaked ham, Swedish meatballs, and potato casserole.
Christmas morning started with discovering all that Santa had delivered and devouring another delicious meal. There was French toast and eggs and (leftover) potato casserole and danish to help soak up their gourmet coffee. At some point we napped or walked off breakfast and reconvened at the dining room table for another feast, this one provided by Fausto’s. The pans of lasagna and mostaccioli were literally too large to fit into the oven, and took some of mom’s ingenuity to properly reheat for maximum enjoyment. Christmas dinner without dessert is incomplete, so there was an amazing red velvet bundt cake and a variety of cookies that kept getting passed around the table to pair with the Cupcake wine. We eventually escaped family time long enough to watch Home Alone with some townies at Whiskey River, then hang out with some young punk kids at Gatsby’s. No visit back home can be considered complete unless a night at the Gat is involved.
Another must visit is Garibaldi’s. We went for lunch there nearly 80% of the time during open campus lunch second semester senior year of high school. We still get the boys back together and order a slice and tell the same stories from the glory days when we caused mischief but were too well-behaved to get into any actual trouble. I made a quick appearance at Hersey and saw some of my former Junior Huskies and embarrassed myself by taking a few jump shots in the east gym. Thankfully I left campus with my dignity and without any pulled muscles.
Top of my wish list for my visit was a trip to the City. There were no firm plans where we would go or what we would do, but I was hoping to discover a new favorite to go along with Big Star, Nellcote, and Homeslice. We were successful in choosing Urban Belly on Randolph Street in the West Loop. Case and I sampled Sweet Potato & Maple dumplings, Duck & Pho dumplings, then he got the ramen and I went for the Udon Primavera. Cutlery was provided so my ineptitude with chopsticks was not on display. Since the beers on the train or over dinner were not enough, we had a few more Schlitzes nearby at Lone Wolf. I’m sure this was a fun night in the City, but things get fuzzy after that first shot of whiskey. Who’s idea was that anyway?
My primary request for “welcome home” was for Real Urban Barbecue. Those plans got jostled a few different times, but we still made the journey to Vernon Hills for a late lunch before my Monday flight back. RUB never disappoints, slathering their brisket in sweet & spicy sauces and accompanying the meats with sweet potato soufflé and mac & cheese. I dozed off during my delayed flight back to Orange County, but dreamed of the fantastic “last” meal.
Until next time (suburban) Chicago…
The Original Locations of 30 Famous Food Chains
Ever wonder where your favorite fast food chain first popped up? (via Mental Floss)