I awoke this morning to an empty stomach and an empty fridge. I knew I needed sustenance for my Trek Across America, so took a deep dive into one of the temples of Middle America: IHOP.
|After all, nothing says “I’m going to drive through the Midwest” like a plate of
eggs, sausage, bacon and French toast, with a side of pancakes
Thus fortified, I dropped my apartment keys at the front desk and headed westward into the wilds of . . .
Which felt very much like home. Only I noticed, as I drove through familiar territory, just how much construction there is right now. I mean, I could come back in six months not recognize this place! I started to get emotional, but then the soundtrack to Thoroughly Modern Millie came on and I was all, like, “I’m a PIONEER WOMAN, pal!” and got all sassy about going someplace new (I glossed over the part about how she was leaving the Midwest and going to the big city, whereas I was leaving the big city to drive into the Midwest…). And before I knew it I had crossed the bridge into . . .
But let’s just call a spade a spade: Maryland is basically Virginia. Snooze. On the other hand, by the time I got to . . .
I felt like I’d been dropped into some revivalist Christian summer camp. Every single radio station was either piping out Christian talk radio Southern-inflected voices telling me how to get saved, or playing some awkward mix of goopy Christian pop music and commercials that were basically a cross between the NPR pledge drive and fast and testimony meeting. It was interesting at first, from an anthropological perspective, but then I just couldn’t wait to get to . . .
Which was moderately less Christian but turned out to be SUPER BORING instead. I mean, the entire state is one long turnpike with flat farmland on either side. And more billboards than I’ve ever seen for plus sized clothing. There mud be a lot of big people in Ohio. But there wasn’t any sense in complaining, because after 300 miles of Ohio turnpike, I crossed the border into . . .
Where I discovered that Indiana was indistinguishable from Ohio, except for the fact that it smelled bad (all that heavy industry) and had a lot more of those fancy semis with race car logos all over the sides.
By this time the day was drawing to a close and I was SO ready to get out of the car. I can’t say how happy I was when finally I entered . . .
Once I was in Chicago, I knew I was nearly there. Google maps took me right to Vanessa and Steven’s cute little house, where I was able to stash my bike in the garage and my suitcase upstairs before running out for . . .
As luck would have it, neither Vanessa nor Steven was around — Vanessa is in Florida for business, and Steven was out at dinner with some friends — but that didn’t prevent me from having a fantastic gastronomical experience worthy of Chicago’s foodie reputation! Before leaving Vanessa (a fellow foodie) had sent me a list of nearby restaurants, including Longman & Eagle, a Michelin-starred gastropub that was only a few blocks away. I walked over, not sure if I’d be able to get in, but discovered — to my delight — that it’s no problem at all to get a table for one on a Sunday night. (Sorry for the bad lighting!)
|Amuse-bouche: chilled turmeric and cardamom soup, with caramelized marshmallow|
|Lamb tartare with pickled green beans, quail egg, celeriac remoulade, brussels sprout leave
and mustard foam
|Steak with emulsion of foie gras, fried parsnip strips, asparagus, baby potatoes, and
manicotti stuffed with ricotta and something else that I can’t remember
|Black sesame donuts, coconut tapioca, black sesame puree,
powdered coconut, coconut sorbet, and
lime & palm sugar granita with coriander and cilantro
The food was all very good, but I think the portion size was off. I came away feeling over-full, which in my experience is uncharacteristic of the better Michelin-starred restaurants. I’d be curious to go back with someone else — my sense is that it would have been better to split everything roughly in half (which is what the couple next to me did; they just shared everything).
By the time I’d finished dinner, Steven had gotten back from his dinner, and so we chatted for a while about life and leaving big law firms (he made the leap about six years ago and has since become a solo practitioner). But soon I got droopy and knew that I needed rest before another big driving day tomorrow.
And so with that, goodnight!