ChiTown


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Chicago has always intrigued me. Ever since I was younger and my dad came back from business trips with stories about the clean, modern city in the midwest. So some twenty years later I finally got to travel to this city of skyscrapers.

I honestly had no idea it was such a tall city but after an architectural boat tour it was made clear that this city claims some of the tallest buildings in the world (one of which I went to the top of and literally hung off the edge*). To me the best part about Chicago is that it doesn’t feel big. This must be in part because of the wide streets where light passes through the buildings (almost the opposite to Manhattan’s streets). This city, to me, felt cozy and inviting.


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We were able to explore several neighborhoods during the extended weekend. As one would expect, each had a different flare, architecture and people. You could definitely notice the differences, which is something I love about NYC’s various neighborhoods as well.

Although my concrete jungle has water surrounding it, Chicago’s lake felt so much better than the rivers around Manhattan. First of all, it is clean water and you can literally jump in off the Gold Coast walkway. Second, it transcends into the city center making for lovely boat tours and bridge walks through center city.

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Selfishly, this trip was also a chance to check out another city’s “booze scene.”** With the help of colleagues living in the area and social media suggestions, I was able to curate a nice list of bars and restaurants, most of which we ventured to. The highlights included the swanky high-profile Aviary, the amaro selection at Billy Sundays, tacos at Mercadito and the surprising dive-bar we ended up singing karaoke in on the last night.

Chicago, I will return. There is more on my list to explore…

*formerly the Sears Tower

**I did mention I sell alcohol in NYC..right?

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Smorgas Saturday

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This summer New Yorkers from all boroughs have been flocking to Brooklyn on the weekends for a food lovers heaven. Smorgasburg is a food flea market offering some of the most innovative and delicious treats. From flavored horseradish (‘Dish) and truffle honey samples to jumbo ice-cream sandwiches and ramen burgers; this place has a little bit of everything.

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The gates open at 11am and my recommendation is to arrive as early as humanly possible. We arrived at noon and were able to make a loop of the area with ample space to meander between vendors and no lines to wait in. By our second loop (about 12:45pm) the space was already getting tight and not even my hunger could justify the length of the lines at some of the top spots.
After committing to a few items (ice-cream, fancy lemonade, tacos and pizza), we took ourselves to the lawn and relaxed in front of the city view.

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When we had enough of the warm sun, we jumped in a cab and went down to DUMBO (the area where Smorgasburg is held on Sundays FYI) for a quick afternoon cocktail at Atrium.

A top-notch Saturday afternoon if I do say so myself.

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Little trivia for you: DUMBO means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Underpass. Did you know that?

The Search for Vin Chaud

With the temperatures in NYC beginning to drop, I have begun craving vin chaud.  For you Americans, you would call this mulled wine.  In Europe it was something that I found at will, no matter where I was, but mostly at the many holiday markets during this time of the year.  So a few weekends ago, I traveled around Manhattan with my fellow Francophile friend, trying to find a nice cozy place to curl up with our hot wine. Unfortunately, we came up short on the drink but did find a great French restaurant, Sel et Gras, where we enjoyed some escargot and true French ambiance.

The following weekend, my craving still hankering, I had a sip of what has become the next best thing…Hot Toddys. How did I not know about these before? Oh, because I was enjoying my vin chaud in France.

And then, just when I had stopped searching for it, vin chaud landed on my lap –or better yet, in my mug.  This weekend I was introduced to homemade mulled wine. My friend made a simple, delicious recipe: apple cider heated on the stove with some red wine. We used a simple carton of apple cider and a bottle of Barefoot Cabernet Franc.  I suggest not getting a crazy expensive bottle because you’ll be heating it anyways and adding flavors.

 

On that note, computer must be turned off in preparation for this Hurricane to barrel on through. Be Safe!

Je veux boire un coup

My blog roll varies.  When I began blogging, I was living in France. I enjoyed following fashion, cooking and lifestyle blogs.  The genre of francophile/French blogs didn’t really interest me; after all, I was living there myself.  I wrote my own posts about being in France, but spent my time linking and reading blogs outside of my own genre.  It is fairly easy to find new and interesting (time-consuming) blogs to get lost in! 

When I came home to the States, all I wanted was FRENCH FRENCH FRENCH.  I decided to continue writing my blog with a quasi-French perspective and began frantically bookmarking all the francophile bloggers I could.  These sites allow me to escape back to the place I love!  After some time now I have chosen my favorite daily delves, but am amazed to still find so many French-inspired sites lurking in the blogosphere.  Unfortunately, these blogs tend to sing the same song, or at least hum a similar tune.  Most of the “french” blogs chronicle someone’s move to France;  an expat’s perspective if you will.  From these, a staggering amount are centered around food; a good majority about baking.  So when I came across Forest Collins’ French blog I knew it was something special.  Forest has decided to write a blog about drinking in the city of lights!

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Her plan: Try a martini at various night spots and compare.  Simple enough, and super fun!  Inviting her friends along, they indulge on martinis and house cocktails taking notes as they travel the menu.  This then becomes a tell-all post for you and me as Forest gives her opinion on each spot every Wednesday.

In a Francophile world where conversation centers around macaroons and fine wine, it’s nice to read an expat’s adventure in Paris’ cocktail bars.  I may have to take my own notes from 52 Martinis as I prepare for my return visit to France this summer!

Heels in the night by Deniooo