In 2008, Stephen White and Bill Hamar crafted a tour to Chicago that soon became one of their all-time favourites. Its combination of architectural walking and boat tours, entrances to galleries, dance performances, and even a cooking class, combine to capture the heart and soul of this magnificent city. I was excited to join them for my first trip to Chicago this past May 1-7th.
Follow me on Day 5+6+7 of the tour after the break:
Day 5: Chicago
The day started with a subway ride to the Oak Park neighbourhood of Chicago. After manoeuvring around some construction in the route, we still managed to make our reservation for brunch. Nothing gets in the way of brunch. I realize now that I forgot to take some food photos from the meal…repeat: Nothing gets in the way of brunch.
We caught some sun and warm weather (finally!) in time for our walking tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright neighbourhood. The docent led tour included a full tour of FLW’s family home and studio, followed by a guided tour of the houses that he designed in the few block radius of his home. Although the particular style of the architecture wasn’t to my personal taste, I can appreciate how revolutionary the vision and design was at that point in history. I loved the Oak Park neighbourhood – it felt very much like our Rockland area. I wondered though: How would I feel if my historic house was constantly on display? Tour groups and architectural fans would be stopping, pointing, and photographing my home countless times per day. Would I end up living life with the curtains drawn? Or would I submit to the idea that it is my obligation to share my home and the historical significance of it. How would you feel about it?
The majority of the group headed to a theatre production by the award-winning Steppenwolf company, and some others broke away to get to see “The Book of Mormon”. Nathan and I, Stephen, and 4 other friends from the group had reservations to check out the renowned steakhouse Gibson’s. With the smallest steak weighing in at 10 oz, this restaurant is a place for sharing. We saw mostly large groups, and very few couples dining here. There’s no wonder why as the menu is geared towards catering to big eaters. Want some potatoes with your steak? The one sized fits all portion of mashed potatoes is about 6-8 Canada Food Guide Portions. Needless to say, we each order a couple of dishes and shared. The food was great and the atmosphere was a blast, and PACKED for a Sunday night. I’m glad we went for the experience, but I wasn’t very successful in making it through my meal. Recommended for hearty eaters only!
Day 6: Chicago
Today we learned to cook – Southern Style. We headed out to “The Chopping Block”, a large, industrial size kitchen that caters to cooking classes for large groups. Think “The London Chef” but way bigger. All 42 of us filed in, split up and created the most delicious feast under the direction of 3 very lovely, friendly chefs. We made fried chicken, collared greens, fried green tomatoes, biscuits, apple tart and bourbon caramel sauce. One of our tour members kindly created and edited a video of the class so you can see for yourself the delicious feast we made:
We finished the day with a wine and cheese tasting at Bin 36. There were 16 wines to try in total, and with the generous pouring, I couldn’t get through them all. New Rules: Nathan learned that blue cheese can actually be paired with the right white wine! The group then moved on to a local blues club for some drinks and dancing.
Day 7: Chicago/Victoria
A late afternoon flight home allowed for valuable sleep-in time, as well as a lunch with Stephen and Bill. They kindly treated us to the meal in return for helping with the group this week. We chose the Frontera Grill, a Rick Bayless restaurant specializing in Mexican cuisine. I’ll leave you with the photos, but just warning you – you’re going to want some taquitos after viewing.
Thank you, Chicago, for a wonderful week and to Dance Victoria for the introduction to this cultural city! Until next time.