Last night I was walking around River North, which I haven’t done for quite a while. A lot has changed since our office moved from River North to Lakeshore East about a year ago. The thing I’m most excited for is Eataly, especially after having just been there in New York! On their site it says they’re scheduled to open this fall.
Last week I was out in New York for work for a few more days.
Like every trip, mine began with a stop at Tortas Frontera at O’Hare. I was actually kind of afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop because of timing, but then my flight got delayed an hour and I had more than enough time. I changed it up this time and instead of getting a torta, I got the tortilla soup and the fully loaded guacamole. The soup broth was really rich and flavorful. The guacamole was good, but getting all of the toppings was a mistake, I think. I’d stick to just one or two or none next time. Also, maybe it was a fluke, but the chips were SO salty.
Even though my flight was delayed, I arrived early enough to visit with Jeannette and Yvan and Juliette (6 weeks old now, I think). The skies were bright and mostly sunny in Long Island City, so I don’t know what was up with the delays. It seemed fine on the Chicago side too. It didn’t even start raining in New York until later at night. Dallas was flying to Newark at the same time I was flying to New York and he had way more issues than I did.
I stayed at an SPG property called the Element Times Square West, located at 39th and 8th. I booked the room because it was a good rate, but it ended up being pretty nice and spacious for a New York City hotel room. Not that I used it, but each room in the hotel had a kitchen with a big fridge, two burners, a sink, dishwasher, microwave, dishes.
Even though I think the Element was on the lower end of the SPG spectrum, they still had the Heavenly bed that they have at the Westin, which was nice.
The view from my room at the Element.
Most days I took the subway to and from work, which made me feel like I was living there again.
The food in New York is always great! With my coworker, Stephanie, I had lunches at Flavors Cafe, where we got some great salads, and CRISP, a modern Mediterranean spot. My coworker from Chicago, Ranee, has been traveling to New York a ton and took me to Zaitzeff, a great burger spot. The menu is short and to the point, not straying all over the place with fancied up burgers. All the beef is grass-fed here. I got a cheeseburger with avocado and grilled mushrooms and it was amazing. Ranee and I split fries and neither of us finished them, but I was so full from the burger that I didn’t even eat dinner really! I think I had a fruit cup!
I also met up with Jess one night and we had dinner at Tia Pol, a tiny little Spanish tapas spot on 10th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd. I’d hoped to see her new apartment that she just bought and moved into the week before, but it was getting late. I was still glad we could catch up while I was in town!
Lastly, but not leastly, the food highlight of the trip was when I finally visited Eataly with Ranee and her cousin, Isabelle. Eataly is a high-end 50,000 square foot Italian food market and shopping center. Mega chefs Mario Bitali and Lidia Bastianich teamed up with restauranteur Joe Bastianich (Lidia’s son) for this amazing creation. The shopping and the tasting rooms are all mixed into one huge crazy experience. You walk along and look at meats and cheeses and then theres and area to sip wine while eating meats and cheese. You’re looking at the bins of fresh produce, when you stumble upon the vegetarian restaurant. There’s seafood and freshly made pasta, a beer garden, an amazing bakery, meats and produce and a whole line of Italian desert stands. I could have spent all day there!
In the end, we put our names in for the pizza and pasta spot and there was a wait, so we went to the vegetarian restaurant, sat at the bar and shared and artichoke that was BY FAR the best artichoke I’ve ever eaten. As we were finishing, with perfect timing, we were texted that our table was ready for dinner. I love gnocchi, but a lot of places screw it up, so I don’t order it too much, but I figured this was the place to get it. The gnocchi here was served with braised lamb shank ragu and was AH MAZE ING! To finish, I had the salted caramel gelato. OMG. So done. I’m sort of glad I don’t live in New York because I’d go broke at this place!
The view from my New York hotel. Empire State Building on the left!
After a long day of meetings, my team went out for dinner at Brasserie Les Halles. This is the French restaurant that is the home base of Chef-at-large Anthony Bourdain. I had the French onion soup and the cassoulet (a French casserole with a white bean base, three kinds of sausage, duck confit and pork belly!). For dessert I had chocolate mousse that was made with Valrhona chocolate, a high-end French chocolate. Everything was SO delicious. My coworkers and I just kept commenting how great everything was!
There was a Dean & Deluca cafe just down the block from my hotel. Very different than the Soho market I used to visit, but still very good when I stopped by for breakfast.
The Roundarch Isobar office is not far from the Word Trade Center. This is One World Trade Center, otherwise known as “Freedom Tower.” Just a few days earlier, “on May 10, 2013, the final component of the spire was installed atop the skyscraper, making One World Trade Center tentatively the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the third-tallest building in the world by pinnacle height, with its spire reaching a symbolic 1,776 feet (541 m) in reference to the year of American independence.” Look at how incomplete the building was about a year ago when I was in New York.
I had ricotta ravioli with asparagus and it was served in a crispy Parmigiano Reggiano bowl! The food here was so good. All of the pasta was freshly made on site!
I left New York to go to Boston, but before going to the airport, I met up with Jeannette and Yvan and Juliette for coffee.
Juliette is so precious! Only a month old!
Dallas used to live in Boston and I spent a lot of time there last year so it was fun to walk around and talk about places we both had visited. This building is behind a plaza where I used to visit food trucks at lunch. It wasn’t painted like this last year!
Dallas showed me this place, Chau Chow City where he used to go to dim sum with Billy and Ging and Josh. He said it was the best dim sum in Boston. Funny because I used to walk past this place every day when going from my hotel to the office.
After lunch we walked around Beacon Hill and then through Boston Common, where there was a Youth Pride event going on.
I stopped at the Intercontinental Hotel to use the bathroom and we ended up staying for a while to watch the Blackhawks lose to the Red Wings.
That night we went to Colleen’s wedding. More on that later!
I had to head out of Boston in the evening, but before doing that, Ross and Chelsea picked us up and we went to visit Matt and Molly. We’ve hung out with their daughter Lucy many times, but it was our first time meeting their identical twins, Theo and Quinn!
I’m holding Theo and Dallas has Quinn. They are about three months old.
Uncle Ross, Lucy and Quinn.
Aunty Chelsea and Lucy were picking flowers in the backyard. We had an impromptu barbecue and sat outside to eat. It was so nice out. And Matt and Molly’s whole yard is in full bloom. I especially liked the lilacs and they have a ton of them!
Excitement at the airport in Boston. I was just sitting there when all of a sudden flashing lights and an alarm went off… throughout the terminal. Everyone just acted like it was nothing but then I saw some firefighters walk by. A few minutes later the alarms turned off. False alarm?
In the cab home. I never noticed the vomit clean up fee.