Friday, July 24, 2015

Chicago-Part 2

On Tuesday we were scheduled to meet our friends John and Diane at noon so we decided to visit the nearby Richard Driehaus Museum. The museum is established in the grand 1883 residence of a wealthy banker. The building has been restored to be consistent with the original period and is decorated in furnishings from the collection of Richard Dreihaus representative of the late 19th C Gilded Age opulence, including art nouveau furnishings and a number of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. On the second floor was an exhibition Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry. 
Stained Glass Dome in Dreihaus Museum, 1901
Necklace and original custom designed case from "The Maker &* the Muse" Exhibit
Note that the case is moulded to display the chain nicely curved around.
We then met John and Diane at their place and enjoyed the view over the city and over the original Water Tower that survived the great Chicago Fire of 1871. We had lunch with Diane at La Colonial, a French Vietnamese restaurant and basically sampled our way around the menu.  Everything was great and much lighter than typical French. Bill and I then shopped back to and along Magnificent Mile. 

Wednesday morning we headed north Chicago to explore the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum followed by the Zoo and the Conservatory in Lincoln Park, The nature museum is oriented to kids and covers everything from wildlife, plants and energy conservation. It includes a delightful Butterfly Garden (Note: All Butterfly Gardens are delightful.) There was a section dedicated to Monarch Butterflies and their annual migration to Mexico.

Between the museum and the zoo we discovered The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. 

The zoo has an extensive collection of birds and animals from around the world. 
Meerkats, alert as always
Tawny Frogmouth from Australia (roughly 10 inches tall)
Inca Tern from Peru & Chile.
Love the way the feathers stick out at the base of the nec,.
From the Zoo we headed out to explore the shopping areas of Lincoln Park (that is the name of the neighborhood, not just a park). We strolled along Lincoln Ave., Armitage Ave. and Halsted St. As we wandered we were struck by how green it was with so many tree lined streets. Pat found some favorite shops (Marine Layer & the Peruvian Collection) but didn't find anything to buy. 

Lincoln Park neighbors on Old Town, the location of Second City Comedy Club (home to ever so many comedians we all know and love). Our new friend Jean (a friend of our home exchange host in Chicago who will be joining her in San Miguel) had advised us to take the Second City Tour of Old Town. It provided insight into the history of Chicago and Second City Comedy Club.  We enjoyed it.  After the tour we stopped by to visit with Jean.
Homes in Old Town, built just after the 1871 fire.
Note: These are early pre-fab homes that could be ordered from a catalog.
Thursday we headed south to the Museum of Science and Industry. The exhibits included an iMAX movie on Humpback Whales and their improving numbers. After the movie we learned about a U-505, a WWII German submarine housed in the museum, and the team that captured it. It is quite a story. There was also an extensive exhibit about the Space Program, particularly the APOLLO program and the US landing on the moon. 

Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle is a spectacular miniature castle she had constructed complete with furnishings including a painting by Walt Disney himself, the tiniest bible ever to be written (dating back to 1840) and ancient statues more than 2,000 years old. Colleen was an actress, appearing in silent and later films. She has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. These scale a bit less than 1" per foot...for a great tour of the castle see:

Other exhibits include trains (an engine and a large layout of Chicago), aircraft (from the Wright Brothers to a 727), weather (including a hands on tornado simulator), farming technology, and a model circus consisting of over 22,000 pieces.

Model Train Layout
Farming Technology... turning "poop to power"...
For those who don't know, Pat grew up in a farm, well before such technology.
But apparently she is still intrigued by advancements in the industry.
Circus Parade
After lunch we walked through both commercial and residential areas of Hyde Park. We found the neighborhood quite interesting. There was a really good, high-end super market (Treasure Island Food) and many quite interesting houses (typical Chicago variety of architectures). There was also a very nice park and a number of tree lined boulevards. 
Being squash lovers, we were very impressed with the selection of what we call "winter squash"...acorns,
butter nut and buttercup. The buttercup is our absolute favorite. We NEVER find it in Mexico but OFTEN when we find it in the states, it is labeled "Product of Mexico".
We liked the mushroom selection as well
In the middle of one of the greenest residential areas, a big black car, fences and ugly signs appeared.  We realized that we had discovered "Obama-hood". 

The Secret Service protecting Obama-hood".
Friday we decided to explore more neighborhoods. This time Bucktown and Wicker Park, a bit to the west of downtown. Pat bought some jewelry and a shirt. Wicker Park is also the location of one of Rick Bayless’s Xoco restaurants and we stopped for a taste of Mexico (Sikil Pak - a creamy Yucatecan pumpkin seed-habanero dip best with jicama;  Shrimp Mojo de  Ajo - shrimp with garlic, olive oil, lime and chipotle. Plantain rice; Enchiladas Suizas - tortillas with roasted vegetables, roasted tomatillo sauce, melted artisan Jack, black beans; and a dessert of Coconut Rice Pudding - made with coconut milk, studded with almonds and cherries and garnished with Candied puffed amaranth, toasted coconut).  Excellent. 

In fact so good we decided we simply needed to dine a Frontera Grill even if no reservations were available. Hence the plan for Saturday was set in place to arrive at Frontera Grill before it's 5pm opening.  

Later on our evening walk we decided to check out Navy Pier, getting much closer to the ferris wheel and discovering many cruise boats and tourists and some nice views of the city. But bottom line, don't bother with Navy Pier UNLESS you simply need a new destination for a walk. We took the bus back to our Chicago home and realized we must have missed an amazing sunset while on the bus...see photo of the last seconds below.

View to the east from Navy Pier
The remaining seconds of what have been an amazing sunset.
On our last day in Chicago. The day started with a gorgeous sunrise. 

Sunrise from our balcony
After that we simply took it easy. Our main accomplishments: returning to Eataly (where we mostly perused the wine department and sampled a couple wines). They had a great poster showing the grapes of Italy by region.  Unfortunately you likely can't read the names on the photo below, but our full-size version does include the details and we'd happily share it.

We arrived at Frontera Grill at 4:45 and were first in line (but followed quickly by many more).  It was definitely worth the short wait, it was even worth a longer wait!

One Topolo Margarita (Herradura anejo tequila, Torres orange liquer, 
housemade limonada) and one Blue Agave Margarita (Milagro blanco tequila, 
Cointreau, fresh lime juice). 
Queso Fundido (Baked Cheese)
Carne Asada (done perfectly...very medium rare)
Duck in Yucatan Pipian

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