The Curragh

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

While I’m neither Irish or a Guinness drinker (especially now!), I had to tag along as my friends met up for lunch at The Curragh in our old stomping grounds of Edison Park.

We met up on a Sunday afternoon and enjoyed some traditional Irish fare (think corned beef and fish and chips), as well as tasty bar food staples like cheeseburgers and spinach artichoke dip. Their fries are out of this world!

It was quite crowded, which made for a lively atmosphere, perfect for our big group. The Curragh is a great place to bring anyone, from babies to grandparents. There’s a little something for everyone!

I have to mention that we had a great table in the back corner, too, right next to the fire place. Bonus points for having hooks to hang coats and jackets (yes, I am a dork and enjoy the little conveniences in life!).

Stop by for a pint soon!

The Curragh 

6705 North Northwest Highway 

Edison Park





I Heart Eataly Chicago

I love Mario Batali for many reasons. Here are just a few:

1. First and foremost, he is an amazingly talented chef on the Food Network.
2. Mario has red hair, like my handsome husband.
3. His wife’s family owns a dairy goat farm (I have a current obsession with goat farms after meeting Gretta of Gretta’s Goats).
4. Mario is a Midwestern man during the summer; he has a home in Michigan.
5. He—and his lovely business partners—gave me Eataly Chicago.

I know I go to a lot of restaurants, but this one is oh-so-different. The first time I went (and, I confess, I’ve been back since!), I was like a kid in a candy store—except my candy includes cured meats, cow’s milk-alternative cheeses, fresh pasta, a Nutella bar, and made-to-order sheep’s milk cannoli.

Eataly takes up at least a city block, and it’s a sensory overload from the moment you walk in. It’s two floors that consist of a fine Italian market, restaurant, brewery, and more, all in one. Because it’s a bit overwhelming, I’ve developed a system to navigate the space: walk counterclockwise around the perimeter of the store. It hasn’t failed me yet!

My first visit to Eataly was with my good friend, Lindsey. I took the subway from my office and arrived in 10 minutes (dangerously close). We wondered around the first floor, wide-eyed. It’s there you’ll find the information desk, produce, a Panini bar, a coffee bar, Nutella bar, gelato bar, sweets bar, housewares, packaged sweets, jams and jellies, and packaged dairy (milk, butter, yogurt, and eggs too).

We walked up to the second floor, where we were greeted by a fried food bar to our left, cheese and cured meats to our right, and a wine bar directly in front of us. We opted for wine first: Prosecco for me and red for Lindsey. One of the many good things about Eataly: you can drink and shop. Mario, you’re one smart cookie.

We then decided to stop at the cured meats and cheese bar. Because I try not to have cow’s milk cheese in January—call it a New Year’s cleanse, of sorts—we ordered a wooden board of delicious cured meats. I found out when I went with Hope (in February, post-cleanse) that when you order the meat and cheese platter, you get sweet jams and honey on the side, too. I dare you to try both!

Next, we wandered around, passing the rotisserie bar, peeked in the brewery, and made our way to the refrigerated cured meat and cheese section. I was in heaven. Friends, take note: Eataly is the best place to build the perfect gift basket.

Past the fish and butcher stations, you’ll pass the fresh pastas. During my first visit, I brought home some fresh pasta, as it was part of their weekly special. Yes, every week, there’s a new deal on everything from pasta to fish (Branzino this week!) to toothpaste to pasta sauce. What a great way to sample some of Eataly’s finest!

If you’ve ever wanted to see endless varieties of dried pastas, faro, risotto, sauces, pestos, olives—this is where you want to go. Then, comes the best part of Eataly: the pizza and pasta restaurant. I’ve sampled the pizzas with buffalo mozzarella (apparently I’m not allergic to buffalo milk!), and had a fresh pasta dish (with mushrooms) and a dried pasta dish (with pork, parsley, and pecorino) from their menu. Not a bad meal yet; although, during my visit with Hope, I was completely stuffed because of my lack of self-control around mouth-watering carbs. Whatever you do at Eataly, you need to eat at this restaurant.

After the carb fest, the rest gets blurry. I blame it on the food coma. There’s a bountiful wine section (as you would imagine), fresh breads (watch the bread makers—they’ll toss flour at you!), beauty products, and lots and lots of olive oil.

Each time I’ve been, I have been too full for dessert; however, why not bring some home for my hubby? First, fresh cannoli, and then a rich semifreddo sweet with a blackberry on top, both packaged to perfection.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: go to Eataly. I haven’t even begun to share all of the elements I love about this place, but you have to discover them for yourself. Mangia and salute!

Eataly Chicago
43 East Ohio
Streeterville

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Week #41 – One Strange Bird & Innjoy

Jill and Erin, my friends (and co-workers!), and I bought Groupons months ago for One Strange Bird, where they have tons of art classes available. After the lace plate classes Jill and I did earlier this year, I’ve been eager to find more new ways to be creative.

The store has many different class offerings, from painting to drawing to stationary making and fabric printing. But we wanted to take it one step further. Enter: jewelry making.

After some delicioso tacos and chips and guacamole at Big Star, we walked over with our chocolate and wine (did I mention the classes are BYOB?!?). One Strange Bird has a super cute storefront with a little shop when you walk in, and they had fresh white canvases set up on easels for a painting class that night. In the back of the store was another studio where our jewelry class was held.

Now, one might think that making earrings and necklaces is easy, but I beg to differ. Our teacher was awesome, and taught us two wire techniques to create wire earrings and necklaces.

If you’re Jill, you pick up on accessory making with ease. Erin’s designs were unique, and she listened and took the time to get them just right. I, on the other hand, was a hot mess.

First of all, I thought it would be fun to do chandelier earrings. Why not, right? I struggled a bit, but with Jill and the instructor’s help, I made assisted in making a pretty hot set of earrings. Because they took me almost the entire class to make, Jill kindly helped me made a long necklace so I would leave with what we were supposed to make. Ha!

The moral of this adventure is: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. I’d love to try another class at One Strange Bird, but I think I’m going to leave my accessory making to the experts.

After the class, Erin, Nate, and I headed over to Innjoy, a fun local bar, for a few drinks outside. I think it was College Night because we got free tequila shots, a Coors bottle, and a free t-shirt. I’m not sure if this made me feel young again or really old! But it was a fun way to end a great evening.

One Strange Bird
2124 West Division
Wicker Park

Innjoy
2051 West Division
Wicker Park

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