Thursday, July 7, 2011

Restaurant Thursday: Osteria Via Stato


Back in May, Neal's aunt & uncle were in Chicago for a few days for business. We were happy to meet them for dinner, and since they had never been to Chicago, we picked the restaurant. There weren't any near their hotel, so we all took a little walk - okay it was a mile away - to Osteria Via Stato. Neal & I had never been there before, but Italian seemed like a safe bet. Osteria is actually attached to the Embassy Suites. And normally, I wouldn't choose a hotel restaurant. However, I'm glad I didn't know it was right next to Embassy's lobby, because it was scrumptious.

Osteria is known for their 'Italian Dinner Party' where the table shares anitpasti and pasta, and everyone gets an entree. It's a set price and the first two courses are family style. While that option seemed tempting, we chose the ala carte menu.

Neal's uncle picked out a nice red that we all enjoyed. I had the seasonal greens with walnut vinaigrette and the warm, crusty bread. For my main course, the braised beef short rib ravioli. One of my top 10 meals of all time. The short rib filling was flavorful, tender and topped with a perfect sauce. I wanted to lick my plate.

The atmosphere was warm and homey. Our waitress was pleasant and knowledgeable. We could have a conversation easily without shouting or worrying that we were disturbing other patrons. In a word: divine.

I would definitely go back. In fact, the bride from last Sunday's wedding is coming to Chicago next week. We're going to grab dinner after work one evening. And I might just take her here. I've been dreaming about that ravioli ever since May.

They said "I do"

This past 4th of July weekend, Neal & I were in Charlotte for an awesome wedding! Amanda, a good friend from Elon, and her fiance, Frank, tied the knot on Sunday. It just so happens to be the anniversary of another couple who were celebrating 1 year of marriage. I'd say it's a pretty great day to get married.

The weekend started out with driving around from one Men's Warehouse to another and then back the original sotre to get the Man of Honor's tux. Don't worry, the tux was at the first store. We just drove 18 miles one way to find that out. And had to turn around again. I would show you a picture of our exasperated faces, but we were too busy laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Good times, BCG, good times.

On Saturday we had the pleasure of attending a lake day party at the bride's parents' house. We enjoyed food, drinks, fun in the sun (and in the lake) and lots of pool noodle jokes. The bride, groom and wedding party had fabulous tshirts designed by the one and only Rebecca Schum Uri. You can see the happy couple's shirts below. Don't they look excited?

Photo by Cara Eshleman

The wedding day was beautiful and sunny. Everyone had time to sleep in. The bridal party got ready, took pictures and assisted the bride with her gorgeous dress and jewelry. We relaxed before the ceremony with cokes and laughs. All smiles all around. And Amanda's eyes are open!

 Me & the bride!

The ceremony was short and sweet. The couple's friend, Jeremiah, married them after becoming a certified bishop minister via the internet. How fun! Remember on Friends when Joey married Monica & Chandler? It was kind of like that, only Jeremiah has the best southern accent ever. His soft cadence made the ceremony warm and friendly.

Pictures, the cocktail hour, introduction to the reception, the first dance and dinner were to follow the sweet ceremony. Then the party was on! Amanda & Frank opted for cupcakes and the vanilla was divine. I love their cake decoration!

Too funny

The bride and her attendants (me included) performed a sync dance to Slumdog Millionaire's Jai Ho, which is a celebration dance. Fitting, no? We took some moves from the actual dance at the end of the movie and added in a special move for the bride. I think our synchronization was a little off, but we had fun. I'll try to show you a video of the dance in a future post.

 Photo by Brian Uri

It was a fabulous weekend full of friends, good food, laughter & fun! I want a reunion weekend with Elon friends like this every year. Who's getting married next?


 TWO married couples :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Strawberry picking


Tomorrow Neal & I are going strawberry picking! I've never been and I'm super excited. He wants to get a lot for cheap so he can make jam. And I am hoping to convince him to whip up a batch of strawberry custard that we can churn into ice cream. After his last ice cream experiment, things are looking good.

I also get to celebrate a lovely friend who is getting married in 21 days! The festivities are a surprise to the charming bride, so I can't give any more details. But I'm so looking forward to having fun with her and the rest of the ladies.

And, as if this weekend couldn't get any better, Neal & I are finally heading to the newly opened Chick-fil-a this evening for dinner! You might remember I was just a little excited for it to open.

To top it all off, we get to enjoy the Fountain Square Art Festival in downtown Evanston on Sunday after church. And then see a showing of X-Men: First Class with some fellow Virginians. What a wonderful weekend ahead! Do you have any fun plans?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Restaurant Thursday: 5 Guys

I recently added a new page to my blog: Favorite Restaurants. Currently it lists the name of the restaurant under a category and has a link to the restaurant's website. But I want to expand. I was inspired by one of my favorite blogs, which debuts a sandwich every Monday - cleverly calling it Sandwich Monday - to review/give ordering tips about the restaurants on my list. Most restaurants are located only in Chicago, so many of you might not be able to frequent them. But it'll just give you another reason to visit Chicago!

Luckily, today I'm reviewing 5 Guys which is now in more than 40 states! So it's likely you'll be able to find a location near you.

Oh how I love 5 Guys, let me count the ways.
1. The chain started in Virginia!
2. It's delicious.
3. It's cheap.

5 Guys burgers are great, not too greasy and topped with all of your favorites at no extra charge. In fact, you can get more than 15 toppings, if you so desire. For the average person (not included: growing teenage boys, pregnant women, persons with extra-large appetites) I suggest getting the Little Hamburger. It has one beef patty = approximately 1/4 lb. The Hamburger has two beef patties = approximately 1/2 lb. Fries are a must. And the Regular size feeds two people. That doesn't mean when I go to 5 Guys alone I don't ordered the fries. I get fries and end up throwing half of them out. If you go with someone and share a drink, you've got dinner for two for around $13.00 (depending on the tax in your state).

It's a great bargain for delicious food. Sure, you don't want burgers everyday. But when you are craving a burger, check out 5 Guys.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Burnt Sugar (and butter) Ice Cream

Shelburne Falls

Last summer when Neal & I were visiting his family in Massachusetts we drove to Shelburne Falls, MA and spent the afternoon enjoying the quaint town. There is a lovely pedestrian bridge, the Bridge of Flowers, which the locals maintain with many varieties of native plants and flowers. It's absolutely gorgeous and even has its own website!

We happened upon an ice cream shop along our walk through town. And who can resist an ice cream shop? Especially one that serves homemade ice cream? Not this girl. And what do you know, I found my new favorite flavor: Burnt Sugar and Butter. Smooth, just the right amount of sweetness, satisfying after taste, delicious. I've never found it anywhere else, which is a tragedy. Because it is so good. And everyone should have access to it.

About a week ago, Neal found a recipe for Burnt Sugar ice cream in Martha Stewart's The Martha Stewart Living Cook Book: The Original Classics. I was convinced it wouldn't be the same - it was only burnt sugar, not burnt sugar and butter - but excited to try it all the same. Neal labored away; apparently it's very difficult to make the burnt sugar custard. Burning the sugar just enough but not too much is a tricky task. But the result is a slightly bitter, light rust colored concoction that tastes like...burnt sugar. I know, that's a terrible description. It has a distinct burnt flavor, but also a sweet after taste. It's truly unique. If you have the patience, or a wonderful husband to make it for you, I highly recommend it.

However, I'm still on the search for burnt sugar and butter ice cream.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wimbledon Update: Day 2

Day 2 at Wimbledon:
Serena scared me a little by dropping a set. But, ever the champion, she served her way out and won it in three: 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. It was so great to see her back on court. All the commentators are predicting she'll have a hard time during this tournament, since she's been gone for so long. But I have a feeling that she'll make it all the way to the finals. She always performs amazingly well in majors. Go for #5, Serena!

Djokovic looked liked the amazing player he's been all year and won easily: 6-4, 6-1, 6-1. I love his new game, serve and confidence! If for some reason Nadal gets knocked out, you better take it all, Nole!

World #1 Caroline Wozniacki had a shaky start, but her vigilance paid off. She beat down Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-2, 6-1. Caroline doesn't have a lot of umpf to her game. But give her time and steadily, she wins. I'm still not convinced that she should be ranked #1 and has yet to win a major, but no one asked me when they came up with ranking system.

The infamous Isner/Mahut rematch! As I guessed, someone (Isner) won it in straight sets: 7-6, 6-2, 7-6. Mahut didn't seem like the same Mahut from last year. And Isner made some great shots. Let's hope he does well next round, too.

Soderling struggled a little bit, but pulled it out in four sets: 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6. Eh, Soderling is my least favorite player besides Federer, so I would have been okay if he lost.

Oh yeah, Fed won.

Roddick rocked it in straight sets -- 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 -- and had 30 aces! He's looking good and I hope he goes far this year.

Sharapova also beat down her opponent, Anna Chakvetadze, 6-2, 6-1. She look confident and I like it. Though, I'm still hoping Serena wins it all.

Azarenka advanced after Magdalena Rybarikova had to retire. But Vika was already leading with a set, so I think she would have advanced anyway.

What a great day 2! I can't wait until day 3!

Looking forward to seeing you again


A month from today Neal & I will be making our way to Lincoln Park (the actual park) to the annual Green City Market Chef's BBQ. We were lucky enough to go in 2009, but had to miss out last year since Neal was out of town. It's no fun to go alone.

The Chef's BBQ features 100 local chefs serving up tasting portions for 2 1/2 hours. Also serving up concoctions: local breweries and wineries. The last time we went, I was nervous we wouldn't get to try every tasting station. So I made Neal run around like a mad person - "We have only two hours! We have to go!" - and we scarfed down everything in sight. But got full very quickly.

This year the plan of attack will be slightly different. I plan to savor the tasty treats and indulge in some cocktails along the way. It's such a fun event to look forward to and only a month away. I can't wait!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The allure of grass

It's Day 1 of Wimbledon. Venus is back from injury. So is Roddick. And of course Rafa is ready to defend his title. Tomorrow my beloved Serena is finally back after 50 weeks away due to injuries. Also tomorrow, Djokovic continues his amazing 2011 season. I'm excited to keep up with all the players and see the results of their matches. I even joined twitter so I could follow my favorites and get the inside scoop; you can find me: @brynspeak.

Probably the most interesting thing about this year's tournament thus far is the re-match of John Isner (USA) & Nicolas Mahut (FRA). You might (or might not probably don't) remember their infamous 1st round match last year. The longest match in history, spanning three days, taking more than 11 hours to complete and with the 5th set score of 70-68. I'm pretty sure that with all the hype surrounding this re-match one of them will win in straight sets tomorrow. But it's pretty unbelievable that they're meeting at Wimbledon in the first round, again.
While you're waiting for tennis coverage to resume - because you're all waiting, right? - you can check out this article that a lovely friend passed along to me: The most beautiful game by Geoff Dyer. Aside from his obvious adoration of Federer (ack!) it's a wonderful love letter to tennis. And I can't resist a good love letter to tennis.

Anyone else a tennis fan? Oh, just me? That's okay. I'll be sure to keep you all updated. Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dream come true

Now I really can Eat Mor Chikin. Chick-fil-a opened its first Chicago location today at the corner of Chicago & Wabash. (Remember when I got a little worked up a few months ago?) It just so happens it's right on Loyola's Water Tower Campus. And steps away from the Chicago Red Line stop. I'm just a little bit excited.

I plan on going this weekend. I also plan on bringing my elbows and a little sass as I'm sure it's going to be cri-zay-zy up in there. Don't worry, it'll be worth it. I can almost taste those waffle fries. Mmmm.

Check out all the people who lined up to win Chick-fil-a for a year.


I don't think my mom will know what to do when I come home now since the first stop I request is always Chick-fil-a.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...