Category Archives: Wine Wednesday

Wine Wednesday: Magic Bubbles

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

Here’s a fun little bubbly treat I had at The Bottle Room in Green Bay:

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Take cotton candy and pour some Prosecco or other sparkling wine over the top. Fun and tasty! If you want to try it with kids, I’m sure you could use club soda or something acidic like grapefruit juice.

Enjoy!

Cheers~
Carrie

WW: The Best Bottle of Wine Under $10

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

It’s been a while…

I used to conduct in-home wine tastings where the wines were listed between $12 and $25, but were valued at much higher. For those ten years peddling marketing wine, I developed a taste for those wines and my palate became a little picky. I couldn’t drink that two three-buck chuck stuff. Blech.

My two very favorite wines run about $25 – $40; but we hardly ever buy them. And it’s not just because of the price that they are my favorite wines; they just happen to be! Most wines in that price range, I can’t tell the difference. A wine has to wow me and it has to be a special occasion for me to spend that much.

Truly, I found that my sweet spot for a great-tasting wine is in the $15 – $20 range. The funny thing is that is still a little too high in my world these days. Part of it has to do that since I quit that wine gig, I no longer have two jobs, nor have that discount. But I also save diligently for travel each year. That coupled with savings for other things such as health expenses and home improvement (yes, we’ll finally get that deck fixed/replaced this year!), makes the opportunity to experiment with new wines a little challenging. I don’t want to open a bottle and be disappointed at this point.

But we do have a tried and true bottle of wine under $10 that never fails us:

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The Columbia Crest Grand Estates {it must be Grand Estates version!} Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley Washington clocks in at only $6.99/bottle at our local Costco. ($7.47 at Total Wine). I tend to prefer smaller, lesser-known wineries and vineyards; but this mass-produce wine is tried and true. The vintage, in my opinion, doesn’t matter because it always delivers. That being said Wine Spectator gave the 2014 vintage 91 points. I guess I’m not alone in this opinion!

If you like a bold red that isn’t too heavy or boozy tasting, but full of fruit flavor that is not reminiscent of that fake sweetness I often get from restaurant house wines. I haven’t done a true study of this wine were we used to sit down sniff, swirl taste and describe the aroma, body and taste. Maybe I’ll do that in the future now that I’ve thought of it. Instead, I’ve just enjoyed each sip, even knowing that this bottle of wine cost me about half of what most glasses of wine cost in a nice wine bar or restaurant.

We have made it our house wine. 

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My aunt recently sent me a link to an article about award wining wines $10 and under. In case that link doesn’t work, here are the wines mentioned.

Winning wines at $10 and under
San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition — Best of Class and Double Gold winners $10 and under:
Sauvignon blanc: 2015 Bogle, $10; 2015 Darkhorse, $9.99 — both double gold.
Chardonnay: McMannis Family Vineyards 2015, $10; 2015 ForestVille, $6.99 — both best of class.
Pinot Gris: 2015 Trinity Oaks, $9 — best of class.White blend: 2015 Menage a Trois, $10 — best of class.Pinot Noir: 2015 Three Thieves, $7.99 and 2014 Bubo, $8.99 — both best of class; Smoking Loon, $8.99 — double gold.
Zinfandel: Sutter Home NV, $6.Merlot: Round Hill 2014, $9; Coast 2014, $9; Backhouse 2015, $10 — all double gold.
Cabernet Sauvignon: 2015 Silver Creek, $9.99 — best of class; California Dream 2015, $5.98 and Sutter Home NV, $6; and Trader Moon 2015, $5.99 — all double gold.
Red Dessert Wine: Barefoot Sangria NV, $6.99, and Merritt Estate (N.Y.) Bella Rosa NV — both double gold.

Has anyone had the Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cab or any of the wines on this list?

Thoughts?

Cheers~
Carrie

Québec City – Our First Look

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I chose Québec as our international travel destination this year for a few reasons:

  1. I’d never been to Canada {seriously!}.
  2. To save time and money.
  3. I’m a francophile.
  4. I’ve read that it would still feel foreign.

We wouldn’t have enough time to explore the countryside, but decided to fly into Québec City, stay a few days, then take the train to Montréal. We had learned that Montréal is truly a food destination!

Our flight from JFK to Québec City was overbooked. There wasn’t another flight until the following day. The final going rate for the taker to remain in NYC was a $1200 Amex Gift Card (or flight voucher) and paid overnight stay. If only there had been two seats overbooked!

Arrival at the tiny airport in Québec City did feel foreign! Going through customs took a bit of time, but was uneventful. While looking at our passports, the agent asked, “Are you celebrating anything special?” Just as I was about to respond, “No, just vacation,” Rob declared, POUTINE!” Yes, this made everyone laugh.

I decided to wing it with currency. I figured we’d just hit the ATM upon arrival. However, I was getting a bit nervous when I hadn’t seen one because the only way into the city is via taxi! Luckily, I found the lone ATM at the very end of the airport. Whew!

Our taxi took us to the Vieille Ville (old city) aka Vieux-Québec. Yes, you do feel like you are in a European city with all the cobblestone streets and stone buildings!

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The Château Fleur de Lys was a cute, quaint, cozy hotel that I found it on Orbitz. Beware, if you book this hotel, you’ll need to climb the stairs with your luggage. {This is common in old European hotels, too, and did not bother us because we packed fairly light.}

Québec City {hereafter shortened to just Québec because that is what the locals call it} is very walkable. Just be ready for a lot of hills! Our hotel was located in the heart of Haute-Ville (upper town) in VieuxQuébec, not too far from the most photographed hotel in the world Château Frontenac.

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We could easily walk a couple of blocks to the Terasse Dufferin, which is perfect for a little stroll…

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Overlooking the St. Lawrence River…

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And there she was in all her glory…

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We were recommended to have lunch or a cocktail in Château Frontenac’s cafe or bar. It is highly recommended to go inside to take a peak… But until then, you can get about a 1000 photographs of the hotel at all different angles and light.

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Our room was small, but cozy. {To be clear, I’m jumping back to the Château Fleur de Lys. We did not pay to stay at the Château Frontenac!} Upon arrival, I thought our room was tiny, like many European hotel rooms. But it quickly grew on me. It was comfortable and felt like home at the end of exploring each day!

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Behind that purple curtain, we even had a door to a tiny, private terrasse (patio) out back were we could enjoy local wine and cider that we had picked up. {We quickly learned how much the Québécois love their terrasses!}

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We enjoyed this ^ local cider that was packaged in a wine bottle! We quickly discovered several versions of Les Vergers de la Colline CID Cider widely available the rest of the trip. In addition, we purchased the bottle on the right:

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Maple Cider! I was quickly learning new French vocabulary that I never had to learn in France. Of course, you can find sirop d’érable (maple syrup) flavored anything in Canada! Why not?!

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I wanted to try as many local products as possible. And of course, since this was supposed to be chilled, we had to drink it immediately that night… out on our terrasse. 😉

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But Rob had a different idea about trying the local products…

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He’s been doing this for years whenever we travel. You see, has an obsession with chips, especially anything new to him! I was in awe when I accompanied him on his first trip abroad – to Paris, where he brought a half-dozen different flavors of chips back to our hotel room… If you know Rob personally and are reading this blog, you’ll have to ask him his favorite flavor this trip!

And that’s our hotel and the immediate surroundings… More to come!

Do you have something you always buy or try when you travel someplace new?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

Waconia Brewing & The Iron Tap

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Happy Thirsty Thursday!

Last Saturday, Rob and I walked the Dog Day 5k, which is in conjunction with the Lola’s Half Marathon in Waconia. So as to avoid the chaos with the dogs, we decided to venture out to Waconia the night before to pick up our shirts and packets.

Another reason to do this was that we don’t get out that way too often. There was a new-to-us brewery to try! In fact, Waconia has a couple of breweries, wineries and a distillery, so I had to narrow things down a bit. Eventually, I decided it would be best to park once and walk. Waconia Brewing Company is just a few of blocks from our packet pick-up location.

Also, I found the Driftwood Gin Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout on Waconia Brewing’s online tap list and was just dying to try it! It’s aged in J. Carver gin barrels – the distillery located right in Waconia.

But alas, upon arrival, I found this:

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Instead, I settled for the rich Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter:

Tasty! I really liked this taproom – the layout, the tables, the bar. I found a really nice pullover I wanted to buy, but it wasn’t in my size. I could have gone with another color, but since my KonMari-ing of my wardrobe, I have learned that I have to love an item for me to wear it. Otherwise, it’ll just sit in my closet.

{Note: We went back after the race the following day so our friend Terri could try that Chocolate PB Porter, but Steve and I waited outside with the pooches. {There is no patio.} Right as we were about to leave the owners showed up and told us that we could bring our dogs in if they were on leash. Good to know!}

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After a pint, we walked a couple blocks back toward our car and decided to stop for dinner at the highly-rated-on-the-interwebs Iron Tap.

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I like the rooftop patio, as well as the covered patio in the back. However, we took our usual seat at the small bar inside. For an establishment that most definitely has the best tap selection in Waconia, the interior wasn’t very big, with just six seats at the bar.

{Note: What I can tell you is that dogs are not allowed on the patio here. Knowing that the Waconia Brewing Chocolate PB Porter was on tap here, we inquired after the race if we could have a beer on the patio with our pooches. Regretfully, no. That’s why we went over to the taproom.}

There were several beers on tap that I’ve never had.

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This may have been the first time I’ve seen one of Indeed Brewing‘s beers from their Wooden Soul series on tap outside the taproom! Many of the beers at the Iron Tap are local, too. I tried this wonderful collaboration beer by our local Indeed Brewing Company with the nationally-known New Belgium Brewing.

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Indeed/New Belgium Come Together Honey Wheat Wine

The menu had items that sounded so fresh and wonderful! The salads intrigued me most, but I thought I should have something a bit more substantial.

SHIITAKE THYME 9 Italian sausage, Shiitake Mushroom, Thyme, Red Sauce

SHIITAKE THYME PIZZA – Italian sausage, Shiitake Mushroom, Thyme, Red Sauce – $9

It looks tasty, right? But, in essence, it was pretty boring. There wasn’t a ton of sauce and there seemed to be barely any sausage because I couldn’t taste it. The only saving grace was the cheese. I ate about half of this pizza really only because I needed some food. As I saw salads coming out of the kitchen, I had ordering remorse! I should have went with my gut.

Rob, on the other hand went absolutely nuts over these nachos!

NACHOS 10 Homemade Tortilla Chips, Chipotle Cheese, Lettuce, Pico de Gallo, Cilantro Lime Sour Cream Add Chicken or Beef 2

NACHOS – Homemade Tortilla Chips, Chipotle Cheese, Lettuce, Pico de Gallo, Cilantro Lime Sour Cream – $10 {Add Chicken or Beef $2}

Now this one photo is the opposite of the last. Neither of us thought the nachos looked tasty, but they truly were! There was so much flavor in here that Rob kept telling me how good they were that he finally offered me a bite! 😉

Yes, if we are in Waconia again, the Iron Tap is where we’ll be stopping. Now we have yet to try Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery, Parley Lake Winery and J. Carver Distillery. But we either need to try them one at a time or take a tour. Unless someone is going to be our chauffeur? Anyone? No?

Do you ever drive further out to check out another city or try a new restaurant?

If so, what has been your great find? 

Cheers~
Carrie

Monello – Italian Coastal Cuisine

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MotorettaCarpano Bianco, Genepy, Gin, Orange Bitters -$8

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RED PRAWN – Charmoula & Ramps -$15

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GRILLED OCTOPUS – with Pine Nuts, Paprika & Grilled Cucumber -$18

She loved it! The octopus, understandably, reminded her of calamari. Then came our pasta courses. All the pasta is made fresh and in-house here! You have the option of ordering a small or large portion. Sally and I both went with smalls because we had our starters.

FAZZOLETTI with Poached Lobster, Hazelnuts & Saffron 12/19

FAZZOLETTI – with Poached Lobster, Hazelnuts & Saffron $12/$19

Sally said she wanted something with a rich sauce, but the fazzoletti dish wasn’t rich at all. I think he may have recommended it because it was a brown butter sauce and perhaps one of the “richest” on the menu.

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RICOTTA TORTELLI – with Preserved Lemon, Ramps & Asparagus $11/$18

Ryan and I both ordered the Tortelli. The difference between the small and the large was four versus eight tortelli, respectively. You can’t see the beautiful tortelli in this photo, but it was phenomenal – fresh-made and delicate with pillowy ricotta inside. The sauce was like a pesto. This was my favorite dish of the night… and pretty much everyone else’s, too!

Rob had a large serving of pasta for his main course. There wasn’t much on the menu he could have, being that the focus at Monelli is on seafood. Have you noticed how beautifully plated everything is? I felt like we were on Top Chef.

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AGNOLOTTI with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese & Sweet Sausage $12/$19

I was surprised that Rob ordered this dish because of the goat cheese, of which he is not a fan. He expected a few little clumps of it. However, the dish tasted very much of goat cheese because the agnolotti were filled with it. He said he could still appreciate the perfectly cooked pasta. Unfortunately, he only had three little pieces of sausage. Although he did like this dish, he much preferred my pasta to his.

When you are at a restaurant that prides itself on offering Italian Coastal Cuisine, get the seafood, right?! I really wanted the scallops, even though the description sounded a bit boring.

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SAUTEED SEA SCALLOPS with Zucchini, Tomato, Eggplant & Red Wine Vinegar $29

And it really was. The scallops were cooked nicely, but the rest was just… boring. Sally ordered the same. I still liked the crispy basil on the top. And I’m very glad I got a few different courses so that I discovered something I really liked. {The pasta!}

Plus, I asked for a wine pairing recommendation to go with my scallops and got to try a new-to-me varietal! Timorasso, Colli Tortonesi-Derthona La Colombera 2011 ($15) – described as a “rare varietal from the Piedmont that delivers an umami hit like a secret handshake.” Yes, it was a unique white wine!

While the tortelli seemed to be the star of the entire night for all of us, Ryan said his steak was right on par.

GRILLED BEEF TENDERLOIN with Morel Mushrooms, Romanesco & Red Wine 35

GRILLED BEEF TENDERLOIN with Morel Mushrooms, Romanesco & Red Wine $35

So when in doubt, I’ll go with the steak and pasta here. Monello has received many, many rave reviews. I can see why! While I didn’t love everything I ordered, it’s probably just because of my not-completely-refined tastes. Everything was delicately plated and there was so much attention to detail. The service was top notch, too. Recommendations were always offered and each dish was described as it was delivered.

Chicago – Sticking Near the Hotel

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On this trip to Chicago, I planned to explore some different neighborhoods! We’ve always stayed in the Near North/River North area close to attractions, but that really isn’t necessarily when you have the “L” train to get you everywhere.

Still, that first day, we had to stick close to the hotel…

On our first morning, I was on a mission to find a cronut – you know, that famed croissant-doughnut hybrid originally created in NYC. I first had one, at Dunkin’ Donuts of all places, in Arizona. We don’t have DD in Minnesota and there is supposedly only one place that offers a cronut in downtown Minneapolis. So I gave the hunt a go in Chicago. Based on this list, we tried West Town Bakery, not even a block away from us in the in the Acme Hotel, {none in sight} and the Alliance Bakery {pastries and macarons only} that day and finally settled for the nearest Dunkin’. ‘

I asked if they “any of those croissant donuts.” They only had two left! Score! The flavor is Strawberry Shortcake.

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So good, but almost a little too sweet!

It was before we ate our cronuts that Rob was starting to feel not-so-hot.

In fact, he took one bite of his and it was all he could muster. At this point, I had finished the book I brought. I told Rob that he should relax for a bit and instructed him to drink the water bottles that our hotel left in our mini-fridge.

That’s when I went out in search of the bookstore I posted about here. I spent some time there, wandering a bit around the neighborhood Chicago afterwards, before picking up a few provisions {aka 6-pack of water and some chippy-chips to cheer Rob up back at the hotel}.

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He eventually started to get hungry {good sign!}, but we decided to play it safe by sticking near the hotel. We chose a restaurant that was not on our original list but that we spotted on the way back from Dunkin.

What intrigued us?  The sidewalk sign that read:

Calamari Fries

Fried Avocado

Curious?

You bet we were! So we pulled a seat up to the bar at Copper Fox Gastropub, a newer restaurant now open in the Courtyard Marriot. Look at all of these local beers on tap!

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Chicago doesn’t seem to have as big of a local craft beer scene as Minneapolis. You’ll see Revolution and Half Acre pretty much everywhere, but here were others! Many of which we hadn’t hear of before!

  • Metropolis
  • Off Color
  • Forbidden Root
  • Local Option
  • Moody Tongue

The bartender was the perfect resource for our beer questions. She was as excited about these beers as we were!

Are all of these beers local?

Yes, of course!

What’s a WPA?

Wildflower Pale Ale! Would you like a sample?

What’s your Moody Tongue?

An IPA. The best I’ve had!

I don’t normally order regular old Pale Ales, but I loved the sample. Done deal! {You know how I love the unique stuff!} Rob got all up on that IPA and detected a fruit flavor in it, so he inquired. “That’s nectarine!” So. Good.

We researched a few of these breweries in search of their taprooms. Forbidden Root seemed to be a bit off the beaten track, so we likely wouldn’t have made it there this time. Moody Tongue had a tap list that had us drooling – Bourbon Barrel Aged Chocolate Barley Wine! Shaved Black Truffle Pilsner! Alas, their taproom, set to open this spring, was not yet open!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed {maybe I do because I post about what we eat}, Rob has lately been ordering either two sides or an app and two sides, rather than a traditional meal! Such was what he did this day, too. These chips came out first…

ROSEMARY POTATO CHIPS ...................................4

ROSEMARY POTATO CHIPS$4

“How is it that YOU get the executive chef to cook all of your food today?!” our bartender smiled as she walked passed, coming back from the kitchen. {The other chefs either hadn’t come in yet or were on break!}

Rob was debating between the fries and those rosemary potato chips, finally going with the chips at the recommendation of our bartender. The chips did not disappoint! While you could see rosemary seasoning on the chips, the flavor was such that I thought the oil they were fried in was infused with it, too. I helped myself to nearly half of those chips {aka Rob shared them with me.}

The  BAKED GOUDA MAC AND CHEESE smoked gouda cheese, cavatappi, cheddar bread crumbs 9, 

BAKED GOUDA MAC AND CHEESEsmoked gouda cheese, cavatappi, cheddar bread crumbs – $9

This mac and cheese was oh-so-creamy – you know, that perfect consistency. Rob commented that some dishes like this are just cheesy without seasoning, but this one had some flavor. Still, Rob could barely eat half of it!

When I ordered my dish, I asked our bartender “Would you recommend the Fried Avocado Salad?” When her eyes got wide, she smiled and she nodded slowly while saying, “Mmm-hmmm…” I was sold.

FRIED AVOCADO SALAD heirloom tomatoes, candied jalapenos, pickled onions, charred corn........................................................................................................ 10

FRIED AVOCADO SALAD heirloom tomatoes, candied jalapenos, pickled onions, charred corn – $10

Wow. Just wow. All of these flavors came together in such a unique way! Candied jalapenos? Who knew that you could have sweet and spicy in that kind of combination? Alone, they would just be too much, but mixed in this entire salad with the pickled onions and fat from the avocado… was quite the flavor combination. As pointed out by our bartender, the breaded avocado is not actually deep-fried, so don’t feel so bad about this addition!

I’d come back here and try so many other things on the menu! That would include the scallops, salmon and risotto based on the way they are described. One diner’s Kale Caesar looked fantastic with its block-sized croutons and the other couple at the bar was swooning over the Biscuits with Honey Butter. There was something special about them {the biscuits, not the couple}, that was also noted on the sidewalk board; but I can’t quite remember.

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After lunch, with our tummies full, we headed over to Eataly of all places. It was on our list of things to do and close to the hotel. MAN, THIS PLACE IS HUGE! A city block of Italian craziness! Kitchen utensils, espresso bar, wine shop, wine bar, cheese shop, pasta bar, pastries, restaurants, salami, beer bar… It was all soooo… overwhelming!

Here, I can imagine that the food would be absolute deliciousness hailing from Mario Batali, but it would not be relaxing. I’m so glad that we had lunch beforehand and here we could just wander. Rob went in search of a bottle of wine from the vineyard in Italy where he proposed {he never found it}, while I discovered this:

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Yes, a Limoncello Bar! I just had to try the raspicello and the peachello. Both tasty, but I think I’ll stick to my traditional limoncello and sister citrus-cellos, like the ones we sip after dinner at Sul Lago.

And just look at all of meats and these cheeses!

Rob contemplated the thousands and thousands of dollars worth of cheese they must keep on hand, while I contemplated the thousands of cheeses they have on hand. If I were to buy some, how would I decide?! Then I saw these little assorted cheese plates:

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Or, if you’d prefer, go to the fresh-made Mozzarella Bar where you can watch burrata being made by hand! {Was I really glad we ate lunch already?!}

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On our way back to our hotel, after wandering around Michigan Avenue a bit more, Rob made a sound that I can’t describe, but can always decipher – it’s the one when he sees a car that he lusts over…

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Yes, a Lamborghini. I never spot expensive sports cars on my own. {Well, except for the one with Batmobile cones when we were in Beverly Hills, but who could miss that?} As much as he goes ga-ga over them, Rob laughs and says if we had money to buy one of those, we could pay off our house, buy a new one and travel!

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As for dinner, I had all of these great restaurants picked out in great new-to-us neighborhoods. Rob tends to crave Italian wherever we go (like here, here, and here.) Since he wasn’t feeling all that hot, I let him choose. Spaggia is always on our list to try in Chicago, but the price tag is hefty. The chef from Spaggia has a newer restaurant called Monteverde in the West Loop; but Rob wanted to stick close to home base.

So we stopped for a quick aperitif at Side Door to discuss our Italian options. At least we had narrowed down our choices!

We were seduced by the perceived-elusiveness of Side Door, but were not all that impressed by their offerings for their price and service. Instead, we’ll elect Pops for Champagne next time for some stellar bubbly and service. But do not worry, Pops was close enough to our hotel that it was not missed on this trip!

Our final choice for Italian was La Stanza Ristorante at Labriola. Labriola, as it so happened, was on a list I made of best burgers for Rob! But Italian was his go-to that night.

I’ve read that while Chicago Deep-Dish pizza is a must-do if you are an out-of-towner and have never had it before, Chicagoans in general tend to go for the lighter, thinner crust on most occasions. There was a Chicago Deep Dish on this menu, on top of which they plastered their “best-in-town” accolades. “Sure, they all say that,” I thought. This really skinny guy at the bar ordered one all for himself. And to be honest, it looked insanely good. That is coming from someone who’s had Chicago Deep Dish twice and was underwhelmed. If I were to try it again, I would definitely do it here!

Instead, I went off their separate Neapolitan Pizza Menu…

Salsiccia Pizza - Fennel Sausage, San Marzano Tomato Sauce, basil and fresh mozzarella cheese - $13.95

Salsiccia PizzaFennel Sausage, San Marzano Tomato Sauce, basil and fresh mozzarella cheese – $13.95

Chewy crust, bright SM tomatoes and the perfect balance of sausage and basil. That price wasn’t so bad either! I ate about half of that pie, which was way too much… and brought the rest back to our hotel. Rob did not come here for a burger. It was all Italian…

Garganelli - hand rolled penne, prosciutto, peas and parmesan cream - $19

Garganellihand rolled penne, prosciutto, peas and parmesan cream – $19

Horrible photo, but the pasta was perfect in every way. Those little hand-rolled penne are what all good fresh pasta should taste like – and perfectly al dente. There was a little too much prosciutto for my liking and a little too many peas for Rob’s; but having too much of anything is rarely a complaint in a bowl of pasta, amiright?! Still, Rob’s tummy could only handle half of this.

All-in-all, we still had a great day out-and-about around the hotel. But Rob’s stomach did not fair well throughout the rest of the night, which made for a very interesting next day… our anniversary…

To Be Continued…

To read about the our late night arrival in Chicago, click here.

Cheers~
Carrie

Watershed

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What do you do when you see a $19 each way flight

to Chicago the weekend of your anniversary?

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You check to find a decent hotel and you book it!

Okay, so the $19 flights were only for Saturday nights and Tuesdays; so we were okay with bumping the price up a bit to fly out on Friday night and return on Monday. But it was still quite the deal. I have so many new places to share with you that it would it take weeks if I put them all in separate posts, so some of them may be mish-mashed together, depending how I’m feeling when I’m writing… m’kay?

Of course, we didn’t miss one of our faves, Pops for Champagne, which we discovered on an overnight trip on our way to Ireland a couple of years back

While scouting out places to try on this trip, we discovered online that Pops has a little beer and cocktail haven in their basement called Watershed!

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{For the record, that didn’t stop us from stopping upstairs at Pops on one occasion, though, too.}

Since our flight arrived late Friday night and we didn’t check in to our hotel until after 10pm, we popped to this late-night dining spot upon arrival. I had already eaten at my favorite Surdyk’s stop at MSP airport on our way out. Rob ordered a burger here at Watershed {not pictured}. It was fine, but nothing to write home a blog post about. Rob didn’t think it was seasoned.

What’s unique about Watershed is that nearly everything on the drink menu is local to the Great Lakes Region! There is a huge map of the Great Lakes on the wall. Check out this wine list:

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Wines from Michigan, New York, Illinois… the bottled beer list is similar. We saw beers from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana… There are only two beers on tap at a time.

Rob was lucky to try the Lagunitas High West-ified Imperial Coffee Stout. What’s that you say? Lagunitas is from California? Well, right you are! But did you know Lagunitas’ founder Tony Magee hails from Chicago? In fact, he started brewing some of his beer in Chicago last year. It doesn’t state so, but this particular beer is barrel-aged and very scarce. He enjoyed every sip of it!

Likewise, the liquor used in all of their craft cocktails also hail from the distilleries located in the Great Lakes Region. While you can’t tell on this menu, there is another page listing all the spirits they carry and what state they are from.

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They sure now how to make a cocktails here!

Fave fave was the Take 5. Although, the barstaff made us some off-menu cocktails that they were currently working on, too. I love being the guinea pig! You can get your classics here, too.

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I love the ambiance at Watershed. It’s more of a lounge and great for groups. My only gripe about this place {besides the oak wall against the bar – ugly!} was that there were low seats at the bar, which was higher up, making it awkward communicating with the bartender. They were always looking down us.

But I will tell you that they take care of you here! We loved learning from Adrian so much that we came back on our last night – the night of our anniversary – for a nightcap and some fries. They are the same ones they make upstairs at Pops for Champage And they hit the spot.

watershed  – an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.

I think the name fits.

What is your favorite restaurant or bar that supports your local area?

Cheers~
Carrie