duncandahusky: (Wine glass)
LTHForum.com, one of the Chicago area's best resources for cooks and restaurant patrons, just posted their 2008-2009 Great Neighborhood Restaurant Awards!

There's lots of fantastic little places listed there, not just in Chicago but all over the area. I am really intriguied by Chaihanna in Buffalo Grove, at the corner of Buffalo Grove and Dundee Roads. It may be the areas only Uzbeki restaurant, and the menu sounds like quite an adventure.

Oh! And here's all of the Great Neighborhood Restaurants (past and present) displayed on Google Maps.
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
A relatively busy weekend and a very busy week.

On Saturday we went to a St. Patrick's Day party; I had wanted to make something in advance but just couldn't muster the motivation, and as it turned out there was more than enough food. The corned beef and cabbage was excellent, and the shepherd's pie was really yummy too. Unfortunately, the evening was clearly taking a turn towards very heavy drinking, something that isn't really a lot of fun to be around when you're not doing the same (usually three drinks over an evening is good enough for me), so we bowed out early. Not that it's any judgment on the people involved, just...not our scene, y'know? (and even less so [livejournal.com profile] takaza's, since he rarely drinks at all)

Sunday was the second in-person Midwest FurFest staff meeting of the year at the Westin Chicago North Shore. I was pretty happy with my preparation going into the meeting, and looking at the meeting notes so kindly provided by [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, I see that we managed to keep the meeting to exactly an hour. This makes me happy. Over eight years, I think I've learned that 60 minutes is just about right for our meetings; any more than that and people get restive and the meetings become more of a trial for everyone involved. I think we had a good balance of stuff addressed during the meeting and stuff addressed in smaller groups afterwards. Several staff members who hadn't seen the hotel got a tour of the place, and everyone seemed suitably impressed.

After the meeting and attendant after-meetings, we adjourned to Claim Jumper, which is located right next door to the hotel. Granted, we had a group of 16 people, but still - 2.5 hours from seating to paying and leaving seems a bit excessive. I will also say (and I preface this by saying that I'm very picky about my restaurants), I don't have much interest in going to Claim Jumper again (sorry [livejournal.com profile] little_wolf!). I've eaten once at the Lombard location and twice at the Wheeling location and I have yet to really be happy with the food there. The prices are a bit high, but that's because you are literally getting two portions (or more!) on your plate; if you don't take the other half home you're really losing out. Sadly, my fish and chips were more batter than fish, and the in-house beers were merely "meh". Oh well - I have two months to try to find the next option for our after-meeting meal.

This week has been a little nuts at work for me. On Friday my boss dropped a quick project in my lap that had me running all over on Monday getting signatures and talking with other departments. Then yesterday, I spent the day across campus implementing a laboratory instrument that I've been trying to get validated for fifteen months now. Maybe now I can finally get it and all of the associated paperwork off my plate! Today will be spent back over there making sure all the lab techs are comfortable using the instrument, then I've got meetings for much of the afternoon. Fun.

Last night brought an enjoyable surprise, though. We got a call from Linnaeus asking if we wanted to join him for dinner. He had to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet to return Briana, their floofy, brainless Samoyed, after R&G had spent the weekend skiing in Maine. We met up at BW3 in Vernon Hills and had an extremely tasty dinner (I tried the mango habanero sauce, which was really tasty but very burn-y too!). We also had a lot of fun playing NTN Buzztime, where I proved I still have my old College Bowl chops :-) Sadly, Roho was detained by his evil employer and unable to join us; this just means that we will need to get everyone together again and drink beer and play NTN. Oh darn!
duncandahusky: (Mmmm...beer)
Yep, it's cold. Just like they said it would. It was 0° F out this morning and will be soaring up to 15° F by this afternoon...all with a 10-20 mph wind. Toasty!

So back to the weekend. [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I met up with [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] datahawk, [livejournal.com profile] roho, and [livejournal.com profile] genet for lunch at my favorite suburban beer outpost, The Firkin in Libertyville. I had a fine time, sampling some truly excellent beers: Lagunitas Brewing's Lumpy Gravy American Strong Ale (celebrating the 40th anniversary of Frank Zappa's seminal album of the same name), Lagunitas Brewing's Brown Shugga Barley Wine, and Unibroue's Trois Pistoles Strong Dark Ale.
Given that the first was 7% alcohol and the other two 10% and 9% respectively...yeah, I really enjoyed those beers! The chicken and shrimp etoufee was only OK, but with beers like that, who cares? The downside is that for a little more we could have gone to Tramonto's Steak and Seafood and gotten a much better meal, so The Firkin isn't someplace we go all that often.
After lunch we all headed up to Roho and Genet's place in Antioch and admired their bowling-alley-in-progress (well, not really - they're installing hardwood floors, and [livejournal.com profile] feren commented on the similarity to a bowling alley...) and then relaxed with multiple episodes of Ninja Warrior and some fun conversation.

Sunday? Yeah. Lots of laundry. All day long. OK, and lots of Psychonauts, too, since I'm re-playing my way through the game. I also broke down the ten-pound pork loin we bought the weekend before into meal-size packages of pork chops, and then ground up the trimmings into sausage and froze that as well.

That'll hold for now. More to write but I have to tend to a few things...
duncandahusky: (huskypuppy)
Goodness, I guess I've been a bit quiet of late. We're dealing with some health issues reasonably well, which makes me feel a lot better. So. The weekend...

Saturday morning I woke up on the early side and was feeling...spontaneous. Yeah, this is surprisingly rare for me, sadly enough. Anyway, I decided to make a quick run up to Milwaukee to check out the Milwaukee Public Market, since I've heard good things about it. Plus, Milwaukee is all of an hour from our house yet we never go up there.

Well, I discovered one good reason not to go up there: I-94 is under some serious construction by the IL/WI state line, then again in downtown Milwaukee. I navigated around that, though, and found my way down to the market. Wow, that place is pretty darned nifty! I picked up a number of interesting cheeses (including litteria, a Romano-like cheese native to Wisconsin, as well as Juusto, which I've been curious about. I also got some fabulous homemade pasta, a tasty loaf of asiago-garlic bread, and a couple of other goodies. When I finished at the market, I ventured further north into downtown to The Spice House, where I picked up some spice blends we had run out of (apparently my timing was off; if I'd been around earlier I might have run into the Furconsin crew!). I finished off the visit with a trip by the lakefront location of my drug dealer coffee purveyor, Alterra Coffee. I found that 1.) their parking lot is wholly inadequate, 2.) the only thing worse then stupid people is stupid people in groups, and 3.) I want to have Alterra's triple latte's babies. I had fun getting lost as I left town (I'm sure I went right by [livejournal.com profile] rolliebear's place, though!) and avoided the worst of the construction on the way home with some judiciously-timed detours. Dinner for [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I was an alfredo-esque sauce made with the litteria cheese over fresh pappardelle. Delicious!

Sunday found me driving allover Schaumburg and Rolling Meadows finishing off gathering data for the Midwest FurFest Restaurant Guide. We dropped about 10-15 places (closed, have closer locations to the hotel, etc.), but we picked up a couple too, including Pierogi Place, my new favorite place for a quick bite anywhere near Schaumburg. When I was done, I met up with [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell and [livejournal.com profile] midwestcougar for a truly delicious lunch buffet at Gaylord India Restaurant. I'm pleased to say that the restaurant is everything that the effusive Restaurant Guide review that I inherited promised that it is. The northern Indian cuisine was a wonderful contrast to the southern Indian of Bombay City in Gurnee both were good in their own way, but very different flavors. I'd love to go back and order off the menu!

And here we are well into the week already. The great news is that it looks like the River Trip coming up this weekend is still on, and the weather is going to be fabulous. [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I will be joined by [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus and [livejournal.com profile] daveqat. Our itinerary is (loosely) going to include spending Friday night in Moline, IL, then Saturday night in Decorah, IA. Sunday, we'll probably skim southeastern Minnesota (sorry, [livejournal.com profile] foxfeather! We just won't have time to visit this time around) and either head up to La Crosse, WI and then down on I-94 (boring!) or head due east from Prairie du Chien, WI (and with a name like that, how could I not go there?). The latter route would take us through little towns like New Glarus, WI. Now whatever could we find there, I wonder?

And now, back to watching Heroes!
duncandahusky: (License)
Well, I guess I'd better get my trip report together and posted before the whole thing drains completely out my ears. Thus, I present to you:
Duncan and Takaza Go To Maine! Part 1 )
duncandahusky: (huskypuppy)
Last night was really nice. [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar had mentioned the possibility of getting together for dinner. I decided to try to come up with a place we hadn't been to before, so I turned to my favorite place for Chicago foodies, LTHforum. That led to a neat initiative that they have instituted called the Great Neighborhood Restaurant program, whereby people nominate GNR status for the little local places that they think are worthy of greater notice. eatchicago.net took the last few rounds of winners and made a fabulous Google Map mashup. After looking around, I came up with two choices: Spacca Napoli or Laschet's Inn. We opted for German over pizza, so Laschet's Inn it was.

We met up with Sirius and [livejournal.com profile] simbalion at the restaurant and I have to say it was a great choice! I had the very tasty Leberkase topped with a fried egg, German potato salad and sauerkraut, chased by a Spaten Optimator. Just delicious! [livejournal.com profile] takaza's cheeseburger was only mediocre, unfortunately, but that kind of says that you have to play to your strengths. The apple strudel was a mushy mess that couldn't hold a candle to L. Wood's wonderful homemade version, but at least the apple crisp a la mode wasn't bad at all. Following the meal we chatted a bit in the pleasant evening air then headed home.

And here we are just before the holiday weekend. Sharp-eyed readers may note that I have not said anything about going to Mephit Furmeet, which started today; with the wedding in Maine next weekend, there was just no way for us to swing MFM financially. Next year, though, I suspect we'll be there. I hope everyone there has a good time, and be sure to thank the good, hardworking staff of MFM - they've earned it!

So what are our plans for the long weekend? Um, not much of anything actually. Sleep in, do some prep for the wedding. Maybe do brunch at Tre Kronor. That's about it, really. Hey, if anyone wants to get together give us a shout - maybe a movie, or just hanging out. I expect by Sunday night or Monday I'll be going nuts for some social interaction :-)

I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend, and if you're traveling be sure to stay safe!
duncandahusky: (Chewy!)
Well, that was a really enjoyable weekend, for all that we didn't really have much plans initially.

We were just thinking about putting together some kind of dinner on Friday when I got a call from [livejournal.com profile] jimcyl asking if we'd be interested in coming over to their place for burgers and poker. Well, heck yeah! [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I CTA'ed it over there and enjoyed a great evening of wine, poker, wine, burgers, good conversation, and wine. I'm a complete novice at Texas Hold 'Em but I acquitted myself quiet well, mainly due to Jim's going all in on his three queens against my four tens in the first hand. Yeah, that was ugly :-)

On Saturday Dan and I had a nice, lazy morning then eventually got motivated enough to head out to Hot Doug's for a late lunch. The selection of gourmet "encased meats" is always fabulous, but I chose the cognac-infused smoked pheasant sausage with truffle sauce moutarde and foie gras "butter" (the latter a nice tweak at the Chicago City Council). I also opted for the duck fat fries of course. It was a delicious meal, but it always is at Hot Doug's. (Oh, a side note: I came across a cool bookmarklet that lets you tag pictures on Flickr with a link to where they were taken. It's geeky, but cool!)

After lunch we met up with [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar and [livejournal.com profile] simbalion and wandered around Boystown for a while. We didn't have any real destination in mind, we were just enjoying the marvelously cool evening and window shopping. After a while, Dan began to feel a bit ill, so [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus was kind enough to drive down to meet us and let Dan take the car back while Linnaeus walked a bit more with us. We found a great (and oh-so-gay) pet shop, where I got to spend time with a very laid-back and amiable black lab and the cutest tortoiseshell kitten, who was having a ball playing with all the cat toys on the counter by the cash register. We walked a bit more down to Reckless Records, which is always a neat place to browse, and then stopped by Intelligentsia Coffee and just sat around and chatted some more. We headed home after that, but it was a really great way to spend the evening.

On Sunday we drove out to meet with [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin, [livejournal.com profile] crim_ferret, and [livejournal.com profile] foxish; Crim is thinking about a new car and wanted to test drive my Element to see how he liked it. We took this as a great excuse to grab brunch with friends! We went over to Juicy-O, the restaurant opened recently by Heaven on Seven owner Jimmy Banos. I was hoping for an experience as good as Ho7 and I wasn't disappointed - the complimentary homemade doughnuts were delicious, and my strip steak skillet was to die for. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the place, and I'm confident we'll be going back soon. Afterwards we chatted over at Crim and Kyttin's place as we suffered through our food comas. Eventually, though, Dan and I headed back home and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watching some TV.

This coming week looks to be a bit busy. Tomorrow we'll be hitting The Hopleaf with friends, then on Wednesday it's the August Coffee Night at Bobtail, which I'm sure will be a lot of fun. This coming weekend is the Milwaukee Irishfest, and then on Sunday is the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. Busy busy busy!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
OK, so I've been feeling like organizing something, so here's something:
What: Coffee (And Ice Cream) Night!
When: 7:30 PM - 10:00 PM, Wednesday, July 26 (this coming Wednesday)
Where: Bobtail Soda Fountain, 3425 N. Southport, Chicago, IL
That's a half-block north of the Brown Line Southport station, and the El is by far the easiest way to get there. Street parking is available, though you may have to hunt a bit (the Cubs are not playing at home that night). Bobtail has very tasty (Intelligentsia) coffee, and excellent ice cream as well. They don't serve much in the way of non-dessert food, but there is a Potbelly Sandwich Works right across the street. [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I will probably hit Potbelly at around 7 PM for a quick dinner if anyone wants to join us there. If you'd like us to save you a seat, just let me know, here or by e-mail!

Edit 7/24/06, 8 AM: In response to a question elsewhere, there is a chance this may become a regular gathering, though it would be monthly, not weekly like before.
duncandahusky: (Thoughtful)
So, as I said in my last post of any substance, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I spent Friday evening off together. He chose the hotel (with some help from [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell. Thanks Stevie!) and let me choose the restaurant for dinner. I knew exactly what I had in mind, but I wanted to surprise him, so I told him we were going to a good Italian restaurant in Naperville. It turns out that one of his cow-orkers lives in Naperville, so when he asked me which one I was caught flat-footed. LTH Forum to my rescue! Why, it's Pasta Amore - fortunately, I chose one that actually had a pretty good reputation. Once we parked in downtown Naperville, we walked around a bit then I abruptly turned into a restaurant as we passed. Dan said, "Wait! That's not the right place. That's Heaven on Seven." I replied that yes, it was the right place - that's where our reservations were :-) Dinner was, as expected, completely fabulous. Dan's country fried steak over garlic mashed potatoes was tasty, though not quite as good as past versions at other Ho7 locations. I had the "Feed Me Jimmy Junior" tasting menu, which included crawfish cake, gumbo, turtle soup, a cheddar-jalapeno muffin, a Voodoo chicken enchilada, beef tenderloin over garlic mashed potatoes, and chocolate pecan pie. Ye gods, that was amazing! Afterwards we retired back to the hotel room to relax.

On Saturday, I let Dan sleep in as I poked at my laptop a bit and got some of the free "breakfast" downstairs. Eh, a bagel works when it's all ya got. Once we got rolling, we stopped by the grocery store to pick up some things for Stevie then headed over to the LAFF softball game. We hung out there for an hour or so and chatted with friends, then retired over to [livejournal.com profile] crim_ferret and [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin's place for Crim's birthday. We really enjoyed hanging out there, chatting, and the steaks were just delicious! Unfortunately, Dan was feeling under the weather so we had to take our leave on the early side.

Sunday? Sunday was the kind of day where you look at the clock and say, "Huh. It's 5 PM. I guess we should take a shower." It was quite nice, actually, and dinner was tasty too (sautéed pork chops accompanied by potatoes roasted in goose fat. Yum!)

I didn't sleep too well last night, and we've had a bit of surprising news today that has me a bit off-kilter and stressed. Nothing bad, just...wow. More on that soon, I'm sure.
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Goodness - one public post in the last week? Honestly, last week just wasn't that interesting. The weekend, however...

On Friday, I got home and just felt generally tired. I skipped the gym and was even thinking about grabbing a nap when [livejournal.com profile] takaza called on his way home and suggested we go out and do a bit of shoe shopping. He needed my help because he has been dealing with a nasty pinched nerve in his back which limited his mobility somewhat (he's very much on the mend now, fortunately). After some shoe shopping we decided to grab dinner out. We opted to investigate Lincoln Square. We grabbed a good parking spot and had a brief browse through The Chopping Block, a neat kitchenware store, and enjoyed a bit of music from the busker in the square. Our first choice, though it looked quite tasty, didn't really tickle Dan's fancy, so we walked a bit further down to La Bocca della Verita'. Dan had a very tasty (though somewhat plain) gnocchi pomodoro, and I opted for the ravioli Anatra, which had a duck breast, sage, and shallot filling. Rather good, I'll say. Alas, the atmosphere was a bit too bustling and loud, and I doubt we'll return.

On Saturday, Dan had to go in to work. I spent the morning and part of the afternoon hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] datahawk (who had spent the night) and filing my taxes (hey last-minute folks: Taxact will e-file your state and federal taxes for $16!). After some false starts (I fumbled some employer ID numbers on my W-2's), I submitted my taxes and had notification back within a few hours. The nice refund of $900 will go...well, it'll all go towards credit cards, which is pretty boring. Yay for debt reduction, though!

At about 4 PM Dan, Data, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus and I headed out on the El down to River North for a truly wonderful early dinner at Heaven on Seven. We were joined by [livejournal.com profile] emrldgirrl, [livejournal.com profile] wiktowasichu, [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar, [livejournal.com profile] simbalion, [livejournal.com profile] lisagems, [livejournal.com profile] moryssa, Dan's cow-orker [livejournal.com profile] nymphara, Data's mom, and Data's brother R.C. Dan had the extremely tasty country fried steak (again), and I splurged a bit and got the "Jimmy Jr. Feed Me!" a four-course meal of whatever the chef decides to give you (the larger "Jimmy Feed Me!" is seven courses). This was truly amazing. I started off with two demitasses, one with their delicious gumbo and the other with a delicious turtle soup. This was followed by a jalapeno-cheddar corn muffin and Cajun-seasoned halibut that was nothing short of astonishing - flaky, tender, and perfectly-cooked. Not too spicy either! After this was beef tenderloin served on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes. Yum! (By this point I was sharing the dishes all around because there was no way I could finish all of it myself!) They finished things off with my choice of dessert from their dinner menu; I opted for the chocolate pecan pie, which everyone agreed was tasty, but the crust was a bit too tough (Lisa guessed, and I agree, that they probably let the dough get too warm as they were rolling out). Regrettably, we were a bit rushed by the end to make our next appointment, but I would absolutely order this again when I have time to savor things a bit more. It's a hell of a deal at only $24.

After dinner we stumbled downstairs and stuffed an insane number of people into a cab and headed over to the Cadillac Palace Theater for the evening's main event: the final Chicago performance (this time) of the musical Rent. Dan and I both went in cold, not having seen the movie or listened to (much) of the soundtrack. The performances were solid (although the actress playing Mimi was rather dreadful and in the first act wandered off-key several times) but the experience was marred by an incompetent sound mix that rendered the vocals into mush. When you have a performance where all of the exposition is sung, this meant that I spent a lot of the time trying to guess what was going on, who was who, and what each character's motivations were. As a result the play really fell flat for me, because I was unable to connect with the characters or really care what happened to them. The songs were pretty good, though, so the evening wasn't completely wasted. I hope to watch the movie sometime soon and hopefully will maybe get a bit more out of that. After the play we dispersed (slowly - inertia being what it is), but made a stop by the truly tasty Bobtail Soda Fountain for some ice cream with Lisa, Sirius, Simba, and Data. Then it was on to home and collapsing into bed.

Sunday started out slowly, as might be expected given the late night Saturday. Dan had to tend to a few work items, though he fortunately could do that from home. Later in the afternoon we drove up to McHenry to Dan's mom's place to drop off her taxes (which Dan had filled out) and visited with her for a bit. We drove back to the city through the pouring rain and arrived just in time to meet Simba and Sirius for dinner at Calo Ristorante. Much pizza was eaten, and it's always fun hanging out with friends. We trundled off to bed shortly after we got home.

So then we have this week. We have the final volunteers meeting tonight for Night of 100 Champions. This will pretty much be eating up our time next weekend, both the gala on Saturday and the brunch on Sunday, so we'll probably miss the MFF staff meeting on Sunday. Other than that, I have a couple of MFF registration projects I'm working on that I would like to finish this week. Right now, though, there's work here I need to do so I'm off. Hope everyone has a great week!
duncandahusky: (Looking Up)
Man, am I getting slack at updating or what? I do try to make up for it in comments in other people's journals, though.

Not a whole lot happened last week, so it's not really worth mentioning. We were going to try to do some scouting for FRAC but [livejournal.com profile] takaza was feeling a bit under the weather so we got a late start. We were able to drive around and nail down a few locations, though. This edition is going to be a real hoot, I think, and folks are going to have a lot of fun. Look for some announcements on this very soon.

On Sunday we took things kind of slow, though we did eventually get out to make the rounds of shopping. The Suncoast Video store at Randhurst Mall is closing so we stopped by there to look at the store fixtures and see what was left in the picked-over DVD inventory. I got a copy of Passion in the Desert and we picked up a copy of Escanaba in da Moonlight for [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, both for about four bucks. We also picked up a nice shelving unit that will be helpful for MFF, possibly for holding stuff on the freebie table, and some small plastic sign holders (that they threw in for free) that will be handy at Anthrocon. Dan's going to go back on Friday to see if he can get a deal on the registers - the main units are crap, and beat all to hell, but the cash drawers aren't bad and could be useful for a future POS system at Anthrocon. They'll have to be extremely cheap, though.

Dan and I broke our usual after-work routine on Monday by going to the volunteers meeting for Night of 100 Champions, a fundraiser for Gay Games Chicago. It was amusing that, while they were expecting two, maybe three hours out of their volunteers, we pretty much said we'd be available all day and into the evening, plus we'd help out at the brunch the following day. It sounds like we'll be helping with setup, "entertainment assistance" (still to be determined, but helping out with the evening's musical entertainment somehow), and possibly even welcoming people into the Soldier Field parking lots on "Segway patrol" (though that depends on whether they'll waive the 260-pound Segway limit). It's going to be a really impressive event, and the raffle and silent auction items are quite impressive (15 round trip airline tickets donated by Orbitz, complete cruises for eight donated by Olivia, and a lot of other cool stuff). Dan is trying to get his employer (a certain large German multinational corporation) involved as a sponsor for the Gay Games, and thinks that there's a good chance of that. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in helping out, they still need volunteers! There will be a last-minute planning meeting on Monday, April 17 (at DeVry at Belmont and Western, I think?) where you can show up. We'll be there, and it would be great to see some of our other friends involved.

As an aside, a nice bit of Gay-Games-related news: The Crystal Lake City Council voted 6-1 last night to allow Gay Games Chicago to use Crystal Lake for their rowing competition. I especially liked this quote: "This issue, for some reason, has become quite an emotional issue in our community," [Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron] Shepley told residents before the public comment. "We will treat each other with the respect we owe each other as human beings." Awesome! The next step is that the request has to go before the Lakewood Village Board next week (hopefully) for approval.

Yesterday Paul and I both had our annual physical exams (we go to the same doctor), so we decided to meet up for dinner with [livejournal.com profile] datahawk (Dan opted for a quiet night in). We wound up going to Froggy's, a fabulous French restaurant in Highwood. Unfortunately, compared to the previous two times that we've been, the chef's choice menu wasn't quite up to snuff. While the rabbit casserole was tasty, the venison (though tender) was prepared in a way that gave it an acidic taste (not unlike sauerbraten) and the pheasant mousse stuffed with spinach wasn't particularly flavorful or exciting. It wasn't a bad mean, mind you, and it may just be that it was a Tuesday and the chef was off, or some such. Nevertheless this has spurred me into seeking out more restaurants in the area that have nifty (and inexpensive) tasting menus, and also to investigate other French restaurants on the North Side.

Tonight it's back to the gym for an extended workout; to make up for the awful schedule I've been keeping there I'm going to have to go this Saturday and Sunday mornings to get back into the swing of things. It sounds like Dan's going to be working late, so the grocery run may be put off one more day. Even though I'm out of milk for my cereal, I'm not missing it much (note to self: don't ever buy Sugar-Smacks knockoffs again. Ick). I also need to start making lists for the weekend, since it looks like I'm going to be making quite a bit of chicken and dumplings for Saturday. Oh darn.

Well, time to get some work done!
duncandahusky: (License)
Gosh, this seemed like it was going to be a nice calm week when I made my last post. Yeah, right...

[livejournal.com profile] takaza got the word on Tuesday that he was going to be going down to his employer's St. Louis, Missouri, branch to help out with some training there. Once they got the scheduling worked out, I went to work to figure out how I could get down there economically and we could hang out for the weekend. Flights were out at this late date - the cheapest I could find was over $100. Amtrak, though...they even had a schedule that worked for me. A nice bonus was that I found a great website that posts discount codes for Amtrak (typically these are the ones that are mailed out to their Guest Rewards program); that netted me a quick 25% off.

So, for $60 I've got a business-class seat on the Route 305 - State House train from Chicago-Union Station to St. Louis, departing at 5:15 PM on Friday and getting in (theoretically) at 10:43 PM. I say theoretically because, looking at the last week, the train arrives somewhere between five and thirty minutes late. Eh, it's worth it, I think. We'll be down there through Sunday afternoon, and Dan will be at the regular Friday night Furry Coffee gathering. On Saturday we'll be hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] ramalion and K and hopefully [livejournal.com profile] tygercowboy and company as well. Sunday we'll do lunch with my sister's family before driving back to Chicago.

Also, in a nice "Power of the Internet" moment, I just spent the last ten minutes or so using Google Maps to talk Dan through a detour off of I-270 around a nasty accidenton the Illinois side of the Mississippi River that had stopped traffic for miles. It was very odd to be talking to him and relating what he was seeing real-time to landmarks I saw in the satellite photos.

Going back a bit earlier in the week, I did have my physical health assessment at the gym on Monday, as I mentioned. The good news is that I'm not quite as bad off as I thought I was - I weigh a little less than I thought I did and my nutrition is "average" where I thought it would be "poor". The bad news is that apparently, for a 37-year-old I have the body of a 50-year-old, according to their "Body Age" testing thingy. Yeah, that's something to work on, I reckon. I've got another appointment on Monday evening to set up a program for cardio and strength training, and then I'll be good to go. I'm such a creature of habit - once I can get a good regimen going, it's pretty easy to stick with.

Oh, and finally, two cool items from today's paper of interest to [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and [livejournal.com profile] feren: a comparison of stir-fry restaurants in the Chicago area, and a nice review of my favorite tea house, Infini-Tea.
duncandahusky: (Default)
This past weekend was pretty good, actually. I declared on Friday that, dammit, we were going out for dinner. After a year of driving past L. Woods Restaurant on Lincoln in Lincolnwood (right by the dreaded Purple Hotel), we agreed that it was time to check it out. Now, I'll admit I had some trepidation - the place always seems packed, and it was a Friday night. A quick check on Metromix showed that the entrees were in the $8-15 range, and that it was a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant (a local chain of restaurants that are pretty much excellent in quality). [livejournal.com profile] takaza phoned and we were told that they took call-ahead seating (i.e. put your name on the list before you get there) so we were off!

We were seated immediately, but the menu...well, $8-15 isn't quite accurate. I'd say $15-30 is more like it. Not awful, but not what we were looking to spend, either. Fortunately, they had a small section ("The Lighter Menu") that was essentially their lunch menu for dinner - $10 or so entrees. Hmm, that might work. Dan had the bacon cheeseburger, and I opted for the beef brisket sandwich. Both were OK, but the mashed potatoes that came with mine were excellent, and worth coming back for. The real draw that will bring us back are two things: Sprecher sodas on tap (root beer, cream soda, and orange cream soda), and cooked-to-order desserts. We got the large apple strudel ($12, serves 4) that was divine. I'd also like to try their "Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Cake". I'm also intrigued by their "Supper Club" menu for six, which is $28 per person for a whole lot of food! (Granted, as [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus points out, for $28 per person you could go to Sal e Carvao or Fogo de Chao, too...).

Saturday was pretty mellow; Dan had to work and I took care of some Midwest FurFest-related stuff, then attempted to take his car over to the nearest Currency Exchange to get new plates. I had the bright idea that I'd avoid the lines at the DMV by taking care of it there, but I didn't account for the extra $45 they wanted to charge in service fees, on top of the $78 for new plates (they also expected to sell me a new title, but I'm not certain that's necessary. More research needed on that). So that idea got aborted. That evening, Paul and I had the bright idea that socializing would be good so we went over to LAFF bowling (Dan was smart and stayed home). You know, there's not much to say; we went, we bowled, we left. There may have been stuff that went on with the rest of the group, I have no clue. We pretty much just stuck to our lane and drank beer :-) My bowling was awful, though, and between knee and back problems I dropped out after two games.

On Sunday [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar came over early and he and I drove the circuit around Woodfield Mall to collect the last of the information for the MFF Restaurant Guide. His help was very much appreciated! The MFF staff meeting went well and was quite productive. Dinner at Fuddruckers afterwards was quite tasty, and the conversation was quite entertaining and informative.

Not a lot happened yesterday - went to work, did laundry, and we watched the latest Monster House, which I swear is getting more and more stupid ("Let's see how badly we can bitch up these poor saps' house!"). Since Paul and I have read Anthony Bourdain's excellent book of the same title, we also decided to watch the premiere of Kitchen Confidential on Fox. We made it through about 18 minutes of it before we turned it off and deleted it from the TiVo. Yeah, it was that bad. Think all the stupid parts of "Hell's Kitchen" meets "Sex and the City" with a dash of every stock sitcom character you've ever seen, with awful, self-conscious dialogue.

I'll be coming in at 6 AM for the rest of the week to make up for the afternoon I'm taking off on Thursday (to be detailed in a later entry). And on Wednesday, Dan and I are going to an eye doctor that [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn recommended so I can get both new glasses (my current ones are five years old and scratched all to hell) and finally get some prescription safety glasses. Hopefully the doctor will be as cute as advertised :-) And now, back to that aforementioned work!

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