Hello Fellow Travelers:
Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Chicago .
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Recognition: We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides. In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.
As the Midwest’s melting pot, Chicago has become an urban setting for cultural attractions, shopping and a huge variety of excellent restaurants. Chicago’s Loop area is very walkable and a good option for getting around.
As the birthplace of the skyscraper Chicago has something new to be proud of: the “Green Roof”. Chicago is home to over 200 “Green Roofs”, more than any other U.S. city.
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In and near Chicago you can see these species: Ribgnecked Ducks, Double-crested Cormorants, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler (particularly suited to the Chicago climate), and the Lesser Scoup.
The Chicago Region Birding Trail Guides (http://bcnbirds.org/birdtrail/) – is a great resource for the counties surrounding Chicago.
The Chicago Ornithological Society (http://chicagobirder.org/) – provides local information on past pilgrimages and upcoming events.
The Chicago Park District (chicagoparkdistrict.com/facilities/birding-areas/) - site shows the best park places to bird.
Grape Experience – The Illinois Winery site (illinoiswine.org/vineyard-winery.html) – includes more than 100 wineries and 450 vineyards plus where and when.
Shopping: Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is the 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue that runs from the banks of the Chicago River to the south, to Oak Street to the north.
Shopping doesn’t get much better than this. Warning: This could be a major activity.
Transportation: Check out (transitchicago.com) for the best way to get around town.
Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) – Your connection to more than 500 stations in 46 states. For online information and train schedules visit www.amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
Day One: It’s time for lunch at the Frontera Grill - L & D: Tu-Sa, 445 N Clark St, 312-661-1434
The Yucatecan ceviche is steamed Mexican blue shrimp & calamari, lime, orange, habanero, avocado, jicama, cucumber & cilantro with crispy tortilla chips.
The stuffed jalapeños are filled with Veracruz-style chicken picadillo (tomatoes, capers, olives, herbs) with cilantro crema, peashoots and añejo cheese.
Lastly the chicken in mole de calabaza is garlic-marinated chicken breast, red kuri squash mole, roasted local sweet potatoes and beet watercress salad.
Don’t miss the mojitos and margaritas.
After lunch Cousin Bob suggest a visit to the Art Institute - M-W: 10:30-5, Th, F: 10:30-8, Sa, Su: 10-5, S. Michigan Ave at Adams, 312-443-3600.
The Art Institute, founded in 1879, now has approximately 300,000 works of art in its permanent collection. This collection is housed in eight buildings comprising nearly one million square feet—in the heart of Chicago.
Obviously you won’t see it all. So enjoy a tea break in their Caffè Moderno. This is one of the world’s great museums.
Dinner is at Stephanie Izard’s (Izard is the name for a goat found in the Pyrenees Mountains) The Girl and the Goat - D: Nightly, 809 W Randolph St, 312-492-6262
Start with the mushroom ragout with sweet potato agnolotti, shroon crème fraiche and capers or the grilled baby octopus with guanciale, celery root and braised pistachios.
The ‘09 Drew, Fog Eater Pinot Noir is from one of our favorite places – the Anderson Valley.
Day Two: Breakfast was at 2 Sparrows – B & L: Daily, 553 W. Diversey, 773-234-2320
The duck hash has duck confit, sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, poached eggs, fresh greens and the chile relleno is a poblano pepper stuffed with goat cheese, cheddar cheese, queso fresco and almonds, roasted red pepper sauce.
Their coffee is well regarded.
The Museum of Contemporary Art – Tu: 10-8, W-Su: 10-5, 220 East Chicago Av, 312-280-2660 is next on your agenda.
The MCA offers exhibitions of art, programs, performances and an educational mission for important ideas in contemporary art.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Collection has outstanding examples of visual art from 1945 to the present with a strong focus on surrealism, minimalism, conceptual photography, and work by Chicago-based artists.
You can’t pass up Longman & Eagle - B,L,D: Daily, 2657 N. Kedzie
Ave, 773-276-7110 (No Reservations).
To be kind they call it brunch. The PBR Breakfast is two eggs any style, Nueske’s bacon or house made sausage, house potatoes and an ice-cold can of PBR.
For lunch you could share a warm salad of foraged mushrooms, frisee, sunny side duck egg, grana padana, brioche crouton with sherry vinaigrette.
And then share the pan roasted Walleye, Maine lobster, potato gnocchi, radish, carrot, salt roasted beets, foraged mushrooms (again) with a warm porcini vinaigrette.
The Le Chemin des Reves ‘Saltimbanque’ Carignan, 2010 will aid digestion.
The Shedd Aquarium - M-F: 9-5, Sa,Su: 9-6, 1200 South Lake Shore Drive, 312-939-2438 is lots of fun.
It’s Chicago’s # 1 cultural attraction. As you explore by animal – you’ll be awed by the amazing creatures that live at Shedd – all 32,500 of them! They swim, crawl, slither and fly.
They’ve got otters, octopus, whales, penguins, lizards, rays, jellies, dolphins and a sea turtle. And, of course, a wild assortment of fish, from frog fish to sharks.
After all of these fish stories we decided to visit The Smart Museum– Tu-Su: 10-5, Th: till 8, 5550 S. Greenwood Av, 773.702.0200
As the art museum of the University of Chicago, the Smart Museum of Art is home to acclaimed special exhibitions and a permanent collection of Asian art, European art, modern art and design, and contemporary art.
Dinner is at Vera– D: Nightly, 1023 W Lake St, 312-243-9770
Start with a couple of snacks such as the fried garbanzos and Tracy’s spiced pecans.
Go for a glass of Idas Fi Cava, Xarel-Lo, Macabeo, Perellada, Peuedes, Spain NV, which is interesting.
The clams, chorizo, squid ink fideos or the duck paella, chicken, chorizo, chestnuts and roasted shallots are specialities.
And so is a bottle of Les Brugneres, Gernacha Blanca, Priorat 2010.
Day Three: You might want to see what the Pump Room at The Public Hotel– is all about. B,L,D: Daily, 1301 N. State Parkway, 312-787-3700.
The fresh fruit plate with yogurt parfait, homemade granola and berries or the smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese are excellent.
After breakfast head to Millennium Park - Daily: 6 AM-11PM, Bordered by Michigan Ave,Columbus Drive, Randolph St, and Monroe St.
The 24.5-acre Millennium Park is a public-private partnership that has become a modern achievement for Chicago. Here you’ll discover a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design and art.
Make the Welcome Center – 201 E Randolph St. your first stop when you arrive at the Park, and meet with a visitor specialist to help plan your visit. For more information, call 312.742.2963.
It’s impossible to be in Chicago and not have some bar-b-que so that’s why you’re going to Lillie’s Q - L & D: Daily, 1856 W North Ave, 773-772-5500.
You can start with some oysters and fried pickles, then share some baby back ribs with collard greens and corn bread. Years ago we used to drive to the Homestead for some great racks, but Lillie’s is pdg.
Wash your Q down with a few Lagunitas Pils.
Until next time, best wishes and safe travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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