I have been a very busy lady recently with two back to back weekend trips. As always, I do love to travel but after an exhausting stint in the LaGuardia Airport last night, I am happy to be back in Chicago!
Two weekends ago I traveled with two of my closest college friends for a girls weekend in Door County, Wisconsin (a peninsula just West of Green Bay in Lake Michigan). It was a bit of a drive but luckily I have a fabulous driver friend and I really enjoyed being passenger. I had plenty of opportunities to soak in the Door County culture on the drive and gazed longingly at all the farm stands and multitude of markets along the way. The sun was shining, the corn and soybean fields were gently blowing in the wind and it was the sort of scene that you would imagine typifies rural Wisconsin.
Door County is known for their cherries, though not the sweet kind as you might expect. These are tart cherries that are best used for baking. Anytime I saw that there was something cherry on a menu I had to order it -- cherry vinaigrette dressing, cherry jam on my cherry filled pancakes, a wrap with dried cherries and of course cherry pie. I had phenomenal cherry pie at the Greenwood Supper Club in Fish Creek and I brought home a mini pie made by Sweetie Pie which coincidentally ships their 30 different varieties across the country. If you're in the Midwest and don't mind a drive I recommend a relaxing weekend in Door County. There are some shops and some activities, but mainly you relax and plan what foods you'll be enjoying in the day ahead!
I had a very different vacation last weekend when I visited my sister, brother-in-law and adorable 3-year old nephew in New York. I went from one extreme to another not just in terms of scenery (I am a city girl and do love exploring parks, shopping and restaurants by foot) but also in the types of food I was enjoying. We had brunch at a Cuban restaurant called Cafe Con Leche, traditional Jewish deli food at the 100 year old Barney Greengrass, and gourmet cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop (oh yes, their cupcakes are not only beautiful to look at but also very tasty!) There were a plethora of dining options for every palate and as in only NY everything seems to be open well past my bedtime.
I did bring back some of my favorite H &H Bagels, because really I can't leave NY without bagels, but I had plenty of time to ponder a few monumental food differences between the Big Apple and the Second City while I waited in the LGA Airport:
1 - In NY there seem to be long stretches of streets (like Amersterdam, Broadway & Columbus to name a few) that have restaurant after restaurant -- we just don't seem to have the population density that allows this in Chicago even though we are a foodie city
2 - Street Vendors. Why oh why can't Mayor Daley allow street vendors in Chicago? The food is oh so delicious and typically less expensive. I was especially impressed by the number of vendors selling fresh produce from their carts and my sister says they have a push for more of these carts in neighborhoods that might not have the produce options on every corner.
3 - Fresh fruit, veggies and flowers seem to be everywhere on every corner of a neighborhood! In Chicago we just don't have those corner markets displaying the seasonal fare out on the sidewalk.
Definitely some things to think about and I'd love for you all to weigh in on what you think and if you notice any other differences. Chicago is my city and my home. I love our food culture and the burgeoning passion that Chicagoans have for our food, but there are still so many opportunities for us. One place I know that Chicago outranks NY? Our airport dining! At both Midway and O'Hare Airports we have a variety of dining options that are sure to entice any stranded passenger!