WEEK #19 – Traditional Afternoon Tea at the Drake

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all of the mothers out there! I need to give a special shout out to my extraordinary mother. She has taught me to love many things, but one thing that always brought us together was our late night cups of tea. So where better to bring her than for tea at the Drake?

My sister-in-law, Melissa, rounded out our reservation for three for tea. We arrived to the open and airy room that was surprisingly loud. I always imagined ladies who tea to be dainty and quiet, but the acoustics just carried the sound. Plus, tea is a popular spot for parties and tourists alike (we saw both), so I guess I shouldn’t be that shocked.

We sat at a nice table near the entrance, and had a nice little corner to ourselves. We combed through the pages of tea, and decided on:

  • Mom: Earl GreyWith organic cold pressed Italian Bergamot Oil, a rare variety of Citrus
  • Stephanie: Chamomile CitrusMade with Soothing Egyptian Chamomile flowers and subtle slices of citrus fruit, this vibrant blend will rejuvenate the spirit
  • Melissa: Wild Blossoms & BerriesBlackberry and black currant, infused with lemongrass, hibiscus, chamomile, mint, licorice root and spices – its best without milk.

All of the teas are served loose. You get your own tea pot with the loose tea and hot water inside, and then you must strain the tea when serving. (We kept forgetting this part!) I thought my tea was delicious, until I tasted my Mom’s…it was awesome. I had a second sample of hers it was so good. What’s so great about the tea service is that the waiters keep coming around with hot water, so the tea is endless!

The “bottomless” tea pairs well with the three tiers of charming breads, scones, finger sandwiches, and decadent desserts. Even though I requested extra egg salad sandwiches (who knew I liked egg salad?), I would say the pastries were my favorite. There was one that tasted like a peach pie–I will dream about that little bite of heaven until I return!

We stayed for awhile and chatted, never feeling rushed. The service was excellent, with not having to wait long to be seated and, like I said, the hot water was flowing. Ha.

Oh, and the harpist—when she wasn’t playing “Happy Birthday” for different groups—was a nice touch. There’s something about a harp that’s so soothing, don’t you think?

I think my mom enjoyed herself…I know I did. Do I smell a new tradition?

I love you, Mom. Thanks for being my confidant, my advisor, and one of my best friends. I hope that one day I have a daughter, and she loves me just as much as I love you. XO

Tea at Palm Court, The Drake
140 East Walton Place
Gold Coast

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Week #18 – WhirlyBall

Well, friends, the mystery is solved. I now know first-hand what WhirlyBall is…and it’s pretty fun!

I was excited to see WhirlyBall on the agenda when I received the invitation for our friend Scott’s 30th birthday. I asked around a bit to see if other friends had gone and what they thought of WhirlyBall, and I only heard positive things. How’s that for word of mouth advertising?!

Saturday night was the big night. After filling up on Art of Pizza (some of the best pizza in the city!) and homemade cake at Scott and Katherine’s, we were ready to compete.

I played about three games, always on Team Red. (Tip: the black cars were rumored to be the faster cars.) My strategy was to knock the whiffle ball out of my opponent’s scoop, and T-bone people to throw them off when trying to pass. Ha.

If I’m going to be brutally honest, I was terrible at offense, but was confident in my defense skills (I was always a badass full back in soccer), and I was terrible at scooping up the whiffle ball. (I got extremely nervous and usually lost out to my opponent who was faster than me.) Needless to say, I never scored.

The biggest surprise I found—other than how much fun it is to hit your friends in bumper cars—is that you get really hot, temperature-wise. I really didn’t think I’d have to put too much effort into it, but if you take it seriously, you can get heated up!

Other nice surprises of the WhirlyBall facility are the big bar area where they have huge TVs and an excellent craft beer selection (I had a tangerine wheat beer named Clown Shoes), along with many arcade games, air hockey tables, pool tables, and—you guessed it!—a photo booth. (See below for my photos with Nate.)

Some unofficial rules I learned from playing WhirlyBall. 1. Ladies, don’t wear high shoes. My wedges looked really cute when I was hanging out in the waiting room, but they were not nearly as cool to drive in. 2. Prepare to get banged up! I have four sizeable bruises on my legs. Ouch!

If you have a fun group of friends who aren’t afraid to get competitive, WhirlyBall is a must. I’m so glad I tried it, especially while celebrating a good friend. Happy birthday, Scott!

WhirlyBall
1880 West Fullerton
Bucktown

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