Monday, October 28, 2013

Good Food, New Hair, and Apple Picking with Mom

A couple weeks ago my lovely mother came to visit me here in Chicago for a couple days.  We planned it so it would be on my two off days which happen to be in the middle of the week and it worked out quite well.  I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again, I love spending time with my mom.  We like pretty much the same things (that mostly includes food and exercise) and we always have a good time together.  
Tuesday morning we started with a swim at the pool.  My mom was a competitive swimmer in high school so I asked for some tips with my swimming form.  She gave me some tips to make my stroke more efficient which I have been practicing ever since.  

After our swim we walked over to Over Easy Cafe, which is one of my favorite breakfast places and has become my mom's as well on her visits to the city.  We split two plates - the Weekly Special Scramble which was full of goodness and the Fleur-De-Sel Fig French Toast which had a creme in between the toast, raspberry syrup, and fresh figs and raspberries.  Over Easy can do no wrong; everything is so damn good!  

We then made our way downtown to Studio 110 which is a fancy salon in the Gold Coast.  I have heard lots of good things about it from guests and coworkers so mom and I decided to splurge on fancy haircuts.  The salon was really nice and my stylist was great.  Isn't getting your hair washed the best?  She gave me lots of tips for caring and styling my hair.  I'm usually a pretty quiet person, but she was a great conversationalist and we chatted the whole the time during my haircut about everything from restaurants, family, and our favorite TV shows.  It was a pricey haircut, but honestly well worth it.  I have been going to the Aveda Institute, which a beauty school for years, but I think I've found a new stylist and will be going back in six weeks time.

After shopping along Michigan Avenue a bit we stopped briefly back at the apartment we headed off for an earlier dinner at Mindy's Hot Chocolate.  
We had both been there for hot chocolate a few times, but decided to sit down and enjoy a meal there too.  We got a seat right away and ended up selecting five different plates to share.  First was the house made pretzels with pepper jack cheese dip and the zucchini and squash dish.

Then we split the Panzanella salad which was full of heirloom tomatoes, with house made croutons, avocado puree, and parmesan.  With that we had a bowl of their Mac Cheese which was uber creamy and rich. 

For dessert we split the Wedding Cake which was buttermilk cake, raspberry jam, cream cheese butter cream, cinnamon sugar pouring cream, and raspberry sorbet and glass of the Black & Tan Hot Chocolate which had hot fudge on the bottom with the medium hot chocolate on top plus a fresh marshmallow.  So good!  The fresh marshmallows are out of this world so fluffy and light. 

It was a great meal and clear to see how Chef Mindy has been a James Beard Nominee and the 2011 Pastry Winner!  I can't wait to go back!

The next day we got up and ran about 4.5 miles to the Green City Farmer's Market so I could pick up a few things.  My leg felt a little off during the last mile, but otherwise it was an ok run.  We ended up splitting a Seedling Smoothie and exploring the local goods.  

That day I rented an iGo car so we could drive out to an Apple Orchard.  Before leaving the city though we had breakfast at Little Goat Diner which is on Randolph Street.  This is Stephanie Izard's second restaurant here in Chicago.  I went once before seeing Book of Mormon a few months earlier and knew I had to bring my mom there to try the food.  Our waiter was a very cute and friendly guy which made the dining experience even better.  We started off with the homemade cinnamon bun which came out warm and gooey.  

Then we ended up splitting the Corn Beef Hash with Eggs and the Parathos Burrito which was out of this world.  I was a little unsure about it as first, but with the recommendation from our waiter we figured it was worth a shot.  Why not try something different?  All the flavors were just perfect with flatbread, spicy sauce, avocado, and greens.  Yum!     

We then drove down to Indiana and went to County Line Orchard.  I had never been apple picking before and thought it would be fun.  We arrived and saw tons of school buses in the parking lot.  It was a busy day at the orchard with schools.  It was near the end of their stay so it wasn't too bad.  

We checked out the giant pumpkins and then went inside the barn to check out all the apple treats. 
I knew we wanted a doughnut and split a delicious pumpkin parfait.  It was a fresh pumpkin doughnut with vanilla soft serve with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel and honey.  It was fabulous.  

We then got on the tractor trolley for a little tour of the orchards before actually picking.  Honey Crisp, which are our favorite had all been picked, but we found a few gala and macintosh apples.  It was neat to see apples actually growing on trees!  

We made our way back to the barn and where we split a cup of apple cider.  Mom picked up a six pack of pumpkin doughnuts to take home as well.  Plus a lucky find was the Wild Friends Nut Butter (formerly Wild Squirrel) for sale in the barn.  We had seen them on Shark Tank a few years ago and ordered some.  They are delicious but not sold in any many stores.  I had to pick up a jar of the Honey Pretzel PB to take home myself. 

While we had the car for the day we drove out to Bolingbrook to stop at IKEA.  I needed a bookshelf for my room and a bedside table.  We were there awhile and I went back and forth on couple of things, but finally decided on something with the help of my mom.  We got back into Chicago a little later than planned so stayed nearby and had burgers at Bad Apple.  You can always get a good grass fed- burger here and there hand cut specialty seasoned french fries.

The next morning it was time for her to head back and me to get ready for work.  Our visits always go by so quickly, but it was fun few days.

Hopefully I'll be seeing her and the rest of my family for Thanksgiving if everything works out with my schedule!

Have you ever been apple picking?  What is one of your favorite restaurants?  What do like to do when family is visiting?