CHI TOWN TOOK US DOWN

...okay it really didn't take us down, but my food baby is still kicking. 

I'd be the one to argue that timing is usually not in my favor - however this one weekend it worked out perfectly. Ethan was moving into his new place in Chicago and my sister, Lyndsy was going to be in Chicago for a concert - PERFECT TIMING! 

Thursday was a long hellish day of moving - starting early morning to pack up the U-HAUL, making it to Chicago at 8:30 pm to then unpack the U-HAUL until 2 am. (TIP - Don't try to move a king tempurpedic mattress by yourself).

Friday

We had a bit of a late start with Lyndsy's plane being delayed TWO hours because the pilot no showed...never even heard of that before. Once she got into town, we didn't waste any time. First stop - Au Cheval. Now if you are any sort of a foodie, you KNOW they are known for their burger...and their very long wait time. Being the smart thinkers that we are (and the paranoid person I am), I had Lyndsy jump out and put in our name before finding a parking spot. Shockingly we only had a 30-40 minute wait, unshockingly it took us that long to find a parking spot (West Loop is DEATH). 

Au Cheval.JPG

Let me tell yall - this burger did NOT disappoint. We split the single (which is actually a double) with bacon. Guys...just you have to. Its to die for...seriously, I'd die for it. 

The next stop has a special place in my heart and I want to move in. Sawada Coffee, is another Hogsalt company (aka my dream company) and the vibes were on point. Grunge with patio lights....serving up matcha, doughnuts and alcohol. SIGN ME UP! 

I got the Military Latte, which is essentially a matcha latte with a shot of espresso and topped with cocoa powder. HOLY HELL - it was the answer to all my prayers. The espresso cut any sweetness from the matcha and also gave you the extra kick of caffeine, that let's be real, we all want. Sawada ALSO serves Doughnut Vault (another Hogsalt co) - we snagged a buttermilk togo (we will come back to this). 

Some site seeing was in order next - from Maggie Daley park to Buckingham Palace (LOL JK, I know its Fountain), we ended up at Willis Tower. After an ear popping elevator ride, we made it to the top. Snagged a few pictures around the deck and waited in line for the look out point. Side note - we were casually watching everyone do their poses while waiting in line, but once you get in the box it is intimidating AF to have everyone starting at you. Anyways, we made it to the front of the line...and Lyndsy couldn't look down (it was funny), but we struck a few poses and called it good. Also, it WAS Natty doughnuts day, so I had to shamelessly take a ridiculous photo with my socks and doughnut...which I had been carefully holding outside of my backpack the whole time. 

After Willis, we met up with Ethan to grab our bags and head to our Aunt & Uncle's place. BUT we were both getting hangry and we decided to FINALLY split this beloved doughnut. Before we could devour, Lyndsy had to snap a quick picture...which almost resulted in the doughnut crumbling to its death...but don't worry I saved it and the doughnut was DELICIOUS. 

Dinner was at Summer House, which was also on my Chicago weekend list. Summer House gives you all the vibes of the beach without the annoyance of the sand. I mean this decor is on point.

Lyndsy got the Weekender (there was matcha in it - duh) and I went for the Hootenany (bourbon, blackberry & rhubarb bitters ). I went for a pasta dish, which is very unlike me however the morel mushrooms, pesto and gnocchi were calling my name. The pasta was great, but I felt like I could have eaten more...which is where The Market comes into play. 

The Market is a bakery in the lobby area of the restaurant. Yall...these cookies are the size of my face and I ate 1.5. I personally ordered the one with Rice Krispie chunks but got a bite or so off of everyone else's - peanut butter chocolate chip, oatmeal apple & good 'ol chocolate chunk. I can't wait to go back and get some of these bad boys for an ice cream sandwich. 

Saturday

After the food comma Friday, we planned to walk around the city while snagging a few more good eats. First stop - La Colombe. Now I've had their canned latte (It's at HyVee!) which is unreal, but I went for an oat milk latte - yes, yes yes please. 

Next up, we met our cousin at Left Coast - which is a place I've been dying to try. It is super "basic" as my cousin put it - kale everything, juices galore, and health health health - BUT it was tasty and exactly what I needed from the day before. 

LeftCoast1.JPG

Lyndsy & I split the Guapo - turkey chorizo, egg whites, roasted red pepper, avocado, roasted hominy, spinach, salsa verde wrapped in a whole wheat wrap. Our cousin got the Chronic - steak, 7-minute egg, avocado, carrots, red onion, spinach, chimichurri. SO SO good and fresh. 

We had decided to sit outside, which was great for the first 30 minutes but then got really chilly...so what do you get on a windy Chicago day? MATCHA!

Gueen.JPG

A few google searches later we found a place called - Two Hearted Queen. Although the matcha doesn't hit my top 5 (don't get me wrong, it was really good - I just have had a lot of matcha). I LOVED this quant little neighborhood café and the staff was amazing. Also, since it was our first time they play a little game with you - if you choose the Queen of Hearts out of a deck you get your order 50% off (I picked an Ace.)

Then back to our family's place to get ready for dinner and to send the crew off to the concert! Luckily, the concert and dinner was in the South Loop, which is where Ethan just moved to - so we were all able to meet up for dinner with the whole crew. (The crew included three 14-16 year old girls and their moms en route to a T.Swift concert)

Now I just might think a lot of places are hidden gems because I know nothing about Chicago, but if you don't know about Café Bionda, you should. 

Started off with a very strong Negroni, just a few days shy of Negroni week and some French bread. They also serve their bread with olive oil/parm AND marinara sauce. I ordered the chicken Milanese with roasted veggies - I honestly could have just had a big bowl of the veggies and been a happy camper. They also have a secret menu of pizza, which a couple of the girls ordered (I snagged the extras to take home for leftovers and it was goooood thin crust pizza). Thee real show stopper was the meat lasagna. My picture in no way does this justice, but it was by far the best lasagna Ethan and I have ever had. It was more cheesy than saucy, which created this creamy texture...yall, I'm drooling thinking about it. 

Fam.JPG

After dinner, the rest of the crew headed to the concert and Ethan and I headed home. The rest of the weekend included shopping, cleaning, organizing, and eating leftover pizza.  

SliceBaby takes the PNW

OFF TO THE PNW

With year 25 coming to a fast close, I had the sudden realization that I've never taken a "real trip" before.

DISCLAIMER: I am well traveled and have been very lucky with volleyball (high school & college) as well as family getaways to have had some amazing trips in my lifetime.
DISCLAIMER #2: I am not spontaneous and this trip was decided within a week and booked with two weeks before departure date. 

Day 1: Chicago - Seattle

Of course my first pit stop was Whole Foods and then off to the airport with an obligatory travel caffeine pick me up. We ended up staying with a really good family friend (Thanks Karma & John!) which was great to catch up and see their new Seattle home base. Karma had these Angry Orchard Rosé's on hand that I had been wanting to try as well as some CPK pizzas ready to go for us - both pretty damn tasty. 

Day 2: Seattle - Vancouver - Squamish

Of course first thing's first was coffee - I got a match latte & Ethan got a mocha from this cute place Third Culture in Bellevue. We then ventured out way to Vancouver - we were very lucky and hit little to no traffic even crossing the border. After getting some cash switched over we hunted down some food. We couldn't resist the smell of Belgian waffles, so we made a quick stop in Nero for 2 mini Belgian waffles (almond & plain). I could have devoured this whole case. After much debate we finally settled on a lunch spot, Peaked Pies. We got the Butter ChickenIndiana Butter Chicken with a hint of Cayenne & Chunky Pepper SteakChunky steak pieces in a cracked pepper sauce. My first meat pie experience did NOT disappoint.

Then it was time to for some views. We drove across Lions Gate Bridge to Stanley Park to get some great views of Totem Poles & the water. Next stop was my favorite stop of the trip - Lynn Canyon Park. We ended up hiking around this park for a while, but the main showstopper is the suspension bridge. This place was stunning. We continued our drive to Squamish, BC with a few stops on the way - one random lookout where the water was like glass and then another pitstop at Shannon Falls (cue the waterfall). 

After checking into our AirBNB we needed some food - ASAP. Ethan had been recommended this brewery/pizza joint when he was there last in early January so we decided to give it a try. Backcountry Brewing was a hit - small place that fit about 50 people. Their beers were solid & their pies were better...can we also talk about that view?! I got the Sour Bastard Beer, E got the Trailbreaker Pale Ale. For pizzas we got the Margherita - San Marzano tomato sauce, taleggio, fior de latte, parmigiana grana padano, mozzarella & ProsciuttoSan Daniel prosciutto, roasted red pepper, arugula, chili, San Marzano tomato sauce. Let me just say, we left satisfied. I loved everything about this place - especially people watching the townies. Following dinner was a stop at the local Walmart for some essentials - I don't quite know how to explain it but was definitelyy different "food shopping" experience. 

Day 3: Squamish - Whistler

So, if you don't know me - you don't know how uncoordinated of a human being I am. Take the D1 athlete out of it and I am a 6 foot tall Bambi. But...despite my better judgement, I decided to go skiing for the first time at Whistler Blackcomb. With a new ski jacket, Ethan's old ski pants and the rental boots, skis & helmet I was semi ready to go. We made it through a couple bunny hills, one chair lift and one green run....with only a few tears and a lot of patience (on Ethan's end)/ 

That black circle was my home base - we have video...but I am not showing them. 

Whistler also has a Peak2Peak Gondola - which held the world record for the longest free span between ropeway towers— (1.88 miles) until 2017. It is still the highest point above the ground (1,430 feet). Man...was this beautiful. We rode the Gondola across to the Blackcomb mountain, had some chili (not pictured) rode it back, where Ethan then proceeded to ski down the mountain as I rode the Gondola down. 

Last thing, but of course not least was dinner. I had seen Mag's 99  on a few lists but was still a little nervous. Yet again, we were not disappointed. The former Taco Bell / KFC chain kept the tradition with Mexican and fried chicken, but kept the layout as well. We ordered a taco salad & burrito to go. Taco Saladcrispy flour tortilla bowl, lime vinaigrette, crispy romaine, chicken, pico, lime slaw, cheese, guac, beans & salsa. Holy Hell yall - I have never been more satisfied from a taco salad before in my life. The night ended with binge watching ManHunt & eating popcorn in bed. 

Day 4: Squamish - Whistler - Vancouver - Seattle

I tapped out on skiing after one day, so Ethan took the slops and I took the Village. I posted up at this little coffee shop called Lift for yet another Matcha latte. After a couple hours of searching where to go to eat, I walked around and ended up posting up at the bottom of the slopes - it was a BlueBird day as they call it and absolutely perfect. I also got a free beanie from Roots! We were then on the road all the way back to Seattle - with one more view pitstop at the Mt. Tantalus look out.

One more stop in Vancouver for some Asian Fusion at Bao Down's Gastro Pub. The vibe in this place was amazing with old school movie posters & music plus the food was to die for. I got the Same Same but Different - pad thai with cage free eggs & chicken, Ethan got the Fly Rice - cooked sisig style, water chestnuts, herbs, garlic fried rice, XO sauce, sunny egg & chicken. I think I could have ordered everything on that menu. 

One more latte for the road from Blenz Coffee (repeat our Hazelnut Mochas & Matcha latte's all week) to use up the last bit of our Canadian money. Rolling into Seattle, dinner was late night pizza from Big Marios - New York Style.

Day 5: Seattle - Chicago

With very little time in Seattle, we decided to make the most of it and head over to Pike Place. It was a little overwhelming with everything going on, but we ended up at the local diner for an easy breakfast. Sidebar - I am still kicking myself for not going to Honest Biscuit or Biscuit Bitch. We did get away with some amazing dried strawberries & kumquats. 

The obligatory Gum Wall happened with a little gem in the alley - Ghost Alley Espresso for our last latte of the trip. Tucked away in the corner of the alley they made their own syrups and I tried my first oat milk latte. They got bonus points for having some DubbleBubble as we did not plan ahead for our gum debut. 

After a long day of travel and finally getting back to Chicago, we opted for some Pequods deep dish pizza to cap off the weekend...just a casual pizza 4 times out of 5 days! 

Now I have the travel bug...where to next? 

D-TOWN CHRISTMAS 2017

THE BEDELLS LIKE TO EAT & DRINK 

We love our food and the holidays emphasize that with our many traditions. Here's a little run down. 

Tradition Number 1 - Rise No1

Champagne is always a must.
Marshmallow soup (aka - tomato basil soup with mini soufflés and pesto) & French onion soup
Cauliflower & Brie // Truffle Infused Mushroom Soufflés - the chunks of brie were UNREAL
Grand Marnier Soufflé

All of the Beers

Dave's very own kegerator with his home brews
Cedar Creek Brewery drafts 

Fancy AF Cocktails

Henry's Majestic - Eastern Medicine - Scotch, Apple, Citrus, Black pepper ginger reduction
The Porch - American 75 - American Whiskey, Elderflower Liqueur, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Sparkling Win
Up On Knox - Madame Butterfly - Tito's, grilled pineapple juice, lemon
At the Bedell House - Waterloo Antique Gin

Finding little coffee shops with fun walls 

Houndstooth // Sip & Stir // Oak Lawn Coffee

Miscellaneous Eats

Eatzi's - Build your own sandwich aka HEAVEN
Henry's Majestic - Short Rib Mac & Cheese for the table / calamari / reuben & marrow spiked burger - side bar one of the best burgers I've ever had
The Porch - Pimento Cheese - Wood Grilled Baguette, Country Ham, Arugula
Dave's famous Christmas morning breakfast

LAST BUT NOT LEAST -
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Christmas Eve is filled with a dinner spread straight out of Bon Appétit. However this year, cinbeds (mom) decided to switch it up a bit - we went for the twelve days of Christmas. every meal was absolutely amazing

The first day of Christmas my true love sent to me - 
1 - carmelized pear Brie grilled cheese
2 - turtle bean hash
3 - coq au vin tartlet
4 - Mexican mole chicken
5 - onion rings & golden tequila
6 - salmon eggs Benedict
7 - sea bass wrapped in prosciutto & butter sage
8 - tres leches
9 - lady fingers cake
10 - caramel cashew popcorn
11 - blackberry syrup champagne
12 - chocolate pretzel drumsticks

IMG_5838.JPG

WELL...let the food hangover commence 

Marquee Pizzeria

So here's the thing... I'm in love. 

I think we all know that I have a special place in my heart (and my stomach) for pizza. Whether that be because my food name is "slice baby" or because I have a pizza tattoo...it's an undeniable fact. Anyways, this little place in Marquee has stolen my heart. Okay, I will fess up and say I probably have some sort of bias as one of my good friends is the man behind the madness.  BUT...once I share all of my reasonings you will shortly see this place is purely magic. 

Reason #1: The ambiance. 

You walk in and feel like you've apparated to Little Italy ( I told you it was magical 😉 ). Between the velvet chairs, reclaimed wood, porch lights, and Ninja Turtle posters - you feel at home. Not to mention the floor to ceiling windows & massive garage door, that yes, will be open on beautiful days (like in late November when its 70 degrees). You have the option of the bar, the "head table" (front line to the oven), family style tables, and high or low tops. My favorite spot is the sofa and rustic table to just post up - get comfy, little boozy & very full.

Reason #2: The oven.

Yes, this thing does deserve a reason all to itself. First of all...it's beautiful and such a showstopper. My favorite part about this whole place is that you are able to see whats happening at all times no matter where you are in the restaurant. This beauty is specially ordered from Modena, Italy (home of the Ferrari). It's the real magic maker- as you will see Chef Will and co. slinging some dough, making simple products turn into pure masterpieces. 

Reason #3: The booze. 

When people have been in the biz for a while, they know what people want. Well...people who know their shit (sorry Iowa folks who love their Busch). Don't get me wrong, you'll be able to get all of that...stuff here, but you won't find it on tap. Those 20 taps are saved for the special craft brews - whether you love a classic IPA or a good 'ol stout you'll find something for those taste buds. Not a beer drinker? No problem, there are a handful of red, whites, and cocktails for you to choose from. Oh and the man behind the magic? He has a thing for some good whiskey...so don't be afraid to ask for some of that. Now we all know what you're interested in...the happy hour. Every day, from 3-6pm - wine by the glass, canned beer (calling all you domestic drinkers) and select drafts are two for one. 

Reason #4: The people. 

Another disclaimer - I was a waitress at Blackstone for four years and those people become your family. Now, three people from this family are housed at Marquee. But again, I have some unbiased reasonings. Let's start with the pizza master - Anthony Falco aka Falco aka @millennium_falco - an International Pizza Consultant, founder of Roberta's in NY. Once I heard he would be consulting for Marquee's pies I was itching to meet him...and he lived up to the expectation. I absolutely loved observing him teaching all things 'za and seeing how the perfectionism came so naturally. Everyone else on board front of house & kitchen are great people. They always greet you with a smile on their face and ready to serve you the best eats.

Reason #5: The menu

I mean, lets be real - you should never neglect yourself of some pizza...BUT there is plenty to offer incase you're staying away. It's broken down by Garden & Market, Not Pizza and Pizza (we will get to the pizza later). My all time favorite non-pizza item are the brussels - cranberries, pancetta, hazelnuts, and a calabrian honey mustard. I'm not kidding yall, I will burn my mouth every time I order this dish because I simply can NOT wait. Another gem...the brick o mozza - and they aren't kidding. Imagine a mozzarella stick in a massive brick form. They also offer some other green dishes, a burger, cheese & meat plates, fries, burger, and pasta dishes. Now I haven't been able to try everything, but by the looks of it - the tastiness flows across all dishes. 

 Reason #6: THE ZA!

I know it's taken me a while, but save best for last right?!
How do you like it...Classic? Spicy? Cheeseless? Cheesy? Nontraditional? They've got you covered. 

IMG_7368.jpg

The basic bitch who always gets invited - "Margherita"

IMG_2937.JPG

Tastes like home - "Grandma's Hands"

IMG_3064.JPG

Sweet & Spicy - "Sweet Angelo" - pickled chillies & hot honey are the kickers.

IMG_7131.jpg

No Cheese, No Problem - "The Falco" (self explanatory) - Chunks of garlic & pork sausage steal the show. 

IMG_7367.jpg

Brussels & Pizza = "Brusselmania"...you knew I had to love this one. 

IMG_3042.JPG

You like mushrooms? The Wulfy - "Wulfenstein" is for you. 

IMG_7234.jpg

Fall is calling - "Squashed" - don't forget the goat cheese 

The one's untasted - Young Cheezy (the white pizza of everyone's dreams); Coppa Cabana (the pasta pizza sans noodles) and Spicy Pie (need I say more). 

 

This was a lot of words, but it's simple as this. Do you like pizza? Go to Marquee. 

IC BLOCK PARTY

Who knew drinking in the streets could be so much fun...

Iowa City Downtown District always has something going on - different festivals multiple times a year to get the community together. These festivals have lots of activities, beer gardens, food carts, and live music. This year, they threw one for the books...the Downtown Block Party. 

This "party" had lots of activities including a sand volleyball tournament, dueling pianos, a fashion show, ping pong tables, tether ball, and so much more...ALL in the streets of our downtown. Here's a glimpse at the layout of the whole day...oh and did I mention the best part?! YOU COULD DRINK IN THE STREETS!!

All you had to do is purchase a $10 cup, receive a wristband, and then you could purchase a drink from one of the outside vendors. A lot of the restaurants had tables set up selling food & booze...well beer & wine only. 

Like I mentioned there was a lot to do and see - like an on going beach volleyball tournament in the middle of the streets. I opted out of playing, but it was fun to watch...as long as you weren't getting hit in the head by a wild serve. 

First stop was outside of Java House for Clinton Street Social Club's $1 oysters...yup, you read that right. ONE DOLLAR. It was Ethan's first time to give them a try, I think it may have been his last. BUT, I sure enjoyed mine. 

Our go to for the night was Pullman's frosé. Probably one of the "pricier" options of the night, but $7 for a cocktail is never bad in my book. I think we each had 3 of these...damn it was great. 

Next up was PiZan Pizza. This is a new joint in town where you order Subway style - pick what you want and they cook it right there. We went with the Average Joe - red sauce, fresh mozzi, Graziano's sausage, Citterio pepperoni, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, 86 mushrooms (not my choice). Overall solid quick pie...and it was under $10. 

E was still a little hungry so he went for Mama's Deli . He grabbed two tacos - pulled pork and chicken. 

The best part about this event was that there was always something to do and people to see. I'm always a fan when I get to see this gem of a human and all of her Iowa City friends...

This was one hell of an event. Great food & drinks, plenty of things to do, being able to be free and walk around with some frosé in hand, while chatting with everyone around! I think they thought of it all, they even had FREE parking until 10 am the next day to allow peeps to leave their cars and get them the next day, safety first!

IOWA CITY...CAN WE DO THIS EVERY WEEKEND?