Week #22 – Mah Jongg Event at the Chicago History Museum

Our friend Megs, who took me around the Chicago History Museum earlier this year, invited Nate and me to an event to play Mah Jongg…what the heck is that? After getting clarification that it’s a Chinese tile game that Jewish women began to play in the early part of the 20th century, I was in. Nate loves to beat me mercilessly at games, so I knew he’d particularly get a kick out of it. I especially wanted to go because the name of the event was “Memories, Martinis, and ‘Mahj”. How could I refuse?

By the time we arrived, the games were in full swing. You could tell the people playing were pretty serious, so I knew early on that I’d be a spectator at this event and not a participant. Not to mention the fact that there are 136 tiles with different Chinese symbols and numbers in the set, and there’s a guide book needed to play. (I now know why they offered an info session!) So we headed over to the photo booth (woo!) to start out the night.

The photo booth, which was a photographer taking photos, was fun because of the props. Nate was a great sport and dressed up in a tie, hat, and 50s glasses! The full-size photos were ready later in the evening, and were a great keepsake from the event.

After photos, we grabbed a cocktail. I believe mine was called the Red Dragon (cosmopolitan) and Nate got a Manhattan (I forget the name!). Very tasty! There was also a spread of Jewish appetizers, followed by sweets and tea and coffee.

We hung out for a while…mingling, chatting with our fellow partygoers, learning trivia about Jewish Chicago, reading the Mah Jongg memories in the scrapbook they were putting together at the event, and…waiting for the raffle. If there’s one thing I love more than photo booths, it’s raffles! I earned a raffle ticket for my “50s-style dress”, and was excited to possibly win some swag: mugs, tote bags, and even a new Mah Jongg set. Did I win? YES! What did I win? Free parking to return to the Museum, which I’m excited to use. I’d really like to bring my nieces and Nate’s nieces to the Museum to learn more about my great city.

The Chicago History Museum has a ton of really cool events happening all the time, so make sure to check them out!

Chicago History Museum
1601 North Clark
Old Town

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Week #21 – Little Market Brasserie

Ok, I’m at it again. I’m on a restaurant streak!

This time, Lindsey and I ventured out to Little Market Brasserie, a little spot in the Talbott Hotel (which is really cute, by the way).

I made a reservation for two on Monday evening at 6 pm, and the crowd was definitely light, which is to be expected. I sat down right away (the host asked if I was there to meet my sister—Lindsey is a tall, thin, blond…), and we ordered cocktails. Good thing, because it was one of those days when you just need to leave work and have a cocktail (those of you who know me know that that’s pretty out of the ordinary).

Little Market touts their “charged sodas,” where you choose from one of five sodas and pair it with a suggested spirit. Mix and match, if you will. We asked the waiter for a recommendation, and he brought out two small samples of the cucumber lemon (which Lindsey ordered with vodka) and the orange hibiscus mint (which I ordered with vodka). These were so refreshing and delicious. Had one, probably could have sucked down three.

For food, we decided to go with one of our waiter’s food suggestions, which was the ceviche. Man, did this dish deliver. I wasn’t surprised, seeing as Mercadito Hospitality, which is also behind Mercadito, Tavernita, and so many more top restaurants in the city, also owns Little Market.

Deviled eggs have become a Second City Gal favorite in the past few years, so I wanted to try them, but I wouldn’t really recommend these unless you love horseradish. I could barely eat one it was so strong.

Our goat cheese and beets salad was good, and so was the pork belly share plate, but the pork was probably a little too heavy for late spring/early summer. An ordering error on my part.

We were way too full for dessert, so we sipped our cocktails, caught up, and enjoyed the décor of the restaurant. It actually reminded me a lot of The Smith in New York City—creative lighting, black and white everything, and bistro styling. The smaller bar just beyond the host stand is especially my style with its well-lit shelving, sweet potted green plants, and recycled ceiling tiles (which I have in my apartment). I’d like to ask the interior designer if she does in-home consultations…

For cute atmosphere and tasty cocktails, head over to Little Market Brasserie!

PS—Linds gave me the cutest gold leather bow bracelet (see below). Tres cute!

Little Market Brasserie
10 E. Delaware Place
Gold Coast

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Week #20 – Cafe Iberico

This week brings sad news—my co-worker and friend, Jeanne, who was a huge inspiration for this blog, has moved on to greener pastures. California, to be exact! I am so excited for this new chapter in her and her boyfriend Jim’s lives, but selfishly am sad that I don’t get to see her Monday through Friday anymore. So this post is “totes” dedicated to my girl, Jeanne.

For our last lunch as a department, Jeanne chose Café Iberico, which used to be a hangout for my co-workers when our office was near the famous Spanish tapas restaurant. I feel like Café Iberico is one of those places that everyone has been to, so I was glad it was finally my turn!

We were seated quickly, and it was a nice-sized crowd for lunch (apparently it’s so busy at dinner that it’s hard to hear!). Jeanne and my boss Amy knew immediately what they wanted to order, and I was happy to enjoy their recommendations. (There’s nothing like excellent suggestions when you’re trying something new.)

I must say, the menu is very helpful for newbies like me because every dish has a photo, which I’m a big fan of. (I like to know what I’m getting myself into. Ha.) I decided to start with a house salad (I’m doing a salad-a-day challenge this month), and Jeanne and Amy chose the rest of our meal, including Tortilla Espanola, Patatas Bravas, Queso de Cabra, Gambas al Ajillo, and Fig-Wrapped Dates. My co-worker Mark’s paella was too beautiful not to photograph (see below).

Want to know what the best sign of good food is? I kept diving right in instead of taking pictures of this delicious food for you! I really enjoyed all of the selections; I think my favorites were the dates and the baked goat cheese—yum!

There’s nothing like getting together with your co-workers to relax, unwind, and enjoy a meal—especially when it’s to honor a friend. Miss you already, Jeanne!

Cafe Iberico
737 North LaSalle
River North

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