Monday, April 13, 2015

The Week of Eating Dangerously: Part 1

Our friends the McGills (note: not their real name) came to visit us this past week during our/their spring break.  We knew them from Yonkers where their son and the Bear were best friends all throughout pre-school.  So naturally we became close friends as well.  They are actually probably our closest parent friends from NY.

We've never gone camping together (we are not "camping people", and neither are the McGills) but if we were, we'd go camping together. Maybe some glamping. We've visited them at their beach house in the summer the last 2 years, and now they've visited us at our Chicago beach house (which is also our Chicago regular house) and although it hasn't quite worked out yet, I could easily imagine going on vacation (cruise or resort) with them.  That's about as camping as I am willing to get.

The McGills are foodies, and that's just one of our many mutual interests.  In New York we went on several debauched food extravaganzas with them as our wingmen. (Or perhaps it was vice versa, we were their wingmen.)  So when we first planned their trip to Chicago (summer 2014), it was no surprise that it was mostly about the food. Oh we planned other things, but food was definitely at the forefront of our thoughts.

And once they got here, it became the Week of Eating Dangerously.
(WARNING: Do not try this at home.  Seriously. Come to Chicago, you'll be much happier.)

Breakfasts were all at home. The McGills are late sleepers, and rather than hurry them out the door, we thought it best to provide them with decadent cereals, pancakes, and coffee. Lucky Charms, anyone?  We even snuck in an occasional fruit.

Also, God bless my wife, who has been suffering with some kind of food thing, and is in the (hopefully) last throes of an elimination diet to see what's been ailing her.  Right now she's on a no-gluten, no dairy, no eggs, no soy, no nightshades, no sugar, and yes it's that difficult to go out to eat.  Combine that with her already pretty picky self (won't eat fish or shellfish, won't eat mushrooms, won't eat meat off the bone) and we are talking some serious modifications.  Yet somehow she managed to play along, and not even be too upset/disappointed when she didn't get to eat all of the delicious fabulousness.

They arrived from the airport, and as expected they were famished. Fortunately, we had anticipated their needs and ordered a veritable Mediterranean feast from our local purveyor: Le Pita Fresh. Rice and salad and chicken kebab and beef shwarma and a host of other delicacies.  Ended up with more rice and salad then we knew what to do with.  I ate those for breakfast 2 days straight, and there was still more left over!

We then went to a local park by the beach, although it was much too cold (at least for adults.)  Kids seemed to have no problems what so ever in terms of playing.  They were just so HAPPY to see one another.

The McGills went out with some other friends who they didn't think they'd be able to see while they were here (turns out, they did see them at our Day 4 extravaganza.)  After some deep food consultation, we sent them to Giordano's for some famous Chicago deep dish pizza, which they truly enjoyed.  They are from New York, so they don't quite get the whole "eat pizza with a fork" kind of thing.  But they still enjoyed it.  They had my wife's personal favorite, the stuffed spinach pizza, and found it "fork-worthy."

We got up relatively early for the McGills and were out the door at around 11:30 am. While Mrs McGill had a work meeting in Northbrook, the rest of the clan drove up to Skokie for a famous Chicago lunch at Portillo's.   There they were amazed by the traffic for the drive through (five employees outside directing traffic and taking orders)  We went inside where hamburgers, Italian beef, and Chicago style dogs were the order of the day. (My wife had a pretty sorry looking salad.)  Mr. McGill (a Philadelphia native, and no stranger to beef sandwiches) had a dipped Italian Beef no peppers, and half of one of my Chicago dogs.  While he doesn't like pickles or hot peppers generally, he marveled at the sport pepper and wondered a little where the ketchup was.  We disabused him of that notion.  We then planned an all hot dog outing to compare and contrast various Chicago dogs-- alas, we never got that opportunity.  Next time, Mr. McGill.  Next time.

The bear designing
his own face.
After lunch, we went to the Kohl Children's Museum, where the kids had a blast playing with water, painting their faces, building blocks and knocking them down. My wife and I are at a little bit of a disagreement.  She feels that Kohl is the best Children's Museum on the planet. I feel that it's very good, but the one we visited in Argentina was a little better.  We'll have to agree to disagree. What we agree on is that it's darned good and our kid loves it! Mrs. McGill joined us at the museum and had lunch at the resident Cosi. It was good, but it was no Portillo's!

After the museum, we came back to the house for a little downtime. And whatever anyone says, we did not, repeat NOT, stop at Dairy Queen.

My kid introduced the McGills kids (they have two) to the wonders of Disney Infinity (sorry McGills) and they all geeked out playing the WiiU and talking about Minecraft. Later they had a babysitter, and some delicious chicken nuggets/pizza leftovers.

Meanwhile, the adults got ready for our main food debauchery of the week.

As soon as we confirmed their arrival, we started figuring out where we could take them.  There was a short list of restaurants, and Moto or Alinea were just too pricey for our blood.  Instead we went to that stalwart of creativity, the Girl and the Goat.

 Our dinner was fabulous, with a number of amazing/astonishing/interesting dishes. We each ordered two dishes, and there were none that didn't deserve serious consideration.  The goat empanadas were delicious, as were the warm marinated olives. Sadly, the guy confused my shrimps with ramps order with the pork belly.  (Which was delicious!) We have to try shrimp with ramps another time.

The McGill clan and our family had
a great time at the Girl & The Goat.
They were also super accommodating of my wife's restrictions, sending over the general manager to mark up a menu for her to make sure she got what she wanted/needed. The waiter was also very knowledgeable and very helpful.  They earned high points from us for their attentiveness.

The desserts looked pretty amazing, but none seemed to satisfy the need for sugar (and the need for a walk after eating so much food.)

Instead we decided to make a minutes before closing stop to donut legend Firecakes Donuts. There we purchased an ungodly amount of donuts, including an amazing ice cream donut sandwich that featured a giant donut cut in half, filled with ice cream and chocolate fudge.  Standout donuts also included the butterscotch praline and the pistachio donut.  We kept most of these donuts for  upcoming breakfasts and snacks.

Oh, the decadence! We came home, paid off the babysitter, and then sat in our house having some more great conversations until we collapsed.

This post is getting a little long in dangerous eating.  

You can read part 2 , where we eat outrageous sushi, visit the best museum in Chicago, swing in slow motion, and eat near the zoo.

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