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This is going to be photo heavy.  And some are the exact same angle over time.  But I was having too much fun last week taking (hopefully) undercover photos.  Something I am going to explore a bit more.  Minus the 1st photo & the plane photos, the rest were taken as I charged my phone near the Starbucks in Terminal H at O’Hare.

In April 2009, I ate at this Chili’s (above) while waiting for a flight to San Francisco to meet my BFF.  That trip started a chain reaction that brought me back to the west coast.  Three months later, I moved cross country.

These kids reminded me of Hewey, Louie & Dewey w/ their baseball hats.

Taken slightly right of my perch was this group of photos.  How any woman can wear these heels traveling is a marvel.

To the left of my seat: looks like I got caught.  Hopefully he was just checking out the Starbucks menu.

To my immediate right & behind me: ordering & waiting for coffee.  I’m a bit shocked they even turned out (any of these photos) because there were often some phone gymnastics to get these shots.  I’m undercover, remember?

And right across from my perch was the gate documented below.  Although they may not be the best photos, I am totally fascinated by them.

And finally, few plane shots prior to boarding…


Originally, visiting Buddy Guy’s Legends was on my 36×36 list but realized I wouldn’t travel to Chicago until October (after I turned 36).  The plan to visit in October was crossed off too (cost assessment of Chicago vs Victoria marathon & later by a wedding).

Strangely, I have had the opportunity to visit twice in the past two months and have totally fallen in love with the city.  O’Hare has been incredibly cooperative as well.  Due to the second trip, I decided Buddy Guy’s had to go back on the list.

And man, totally worth it.

My love of the blues may have been inspired by Adventures in Babysitting or maybe any gritty voice and a steel guitar hit me deep.  buttahcup & I arrived after taking the train to Lula’s Cafe and a delicious dinner.  The bouncers are no joke here; no smiles – all business.  Actually, none of the staff seemed to be overly personable.

But the music… the music made up for it.

After the opening band played, it was a potpourri of musicians on the stage à la open mike night.  Maybe it is more amazing because in learning to play an instrument, the process was more an academic endeavor.  The random musicians they placed on stage had only a few seconds before their set to figure music & logistics to play together.  And then be flexible for individual riffs.

The second group of musicians were my favorite; maybe because the lead singer had the gritty voice I love & played a steel guitar.  The bass player was from the Legend’s house band and he was impressive.  (No photos because my phone ran out of battery.)

There won’t be another trip to Chicago this year (unless I can find a sponsor) but I am already planning a trip next year in my head (Wrigley Field, Shedd Aquarium, Topolobampo,…).  The other option is to move there.  Did I just say that out loud?

The class: Secrets of Perfectly Prepared Fish
The heroes: Squirrely & moi
The villian: Janet

The set-up:  Apparently, Janet & I started off on the wrong foot.  I took two spaces that appeared to be empty, only to have Janet tell me she was already stationed there.  After I moved, she turned to me & said I didn’t have to move.  My boss shared this with a coworker recently: “Nicole loves humanity but she hates people.”  And its totally true.  Especially when you have to deal with the Janet’s of the world.

Dish 1: Ginger Glazed Mahi-Mahi
Instead of mahi-mahi, we used escolar (not recommended – for taste & health reasons).  My job was to hand squeeze 1.5 cups of orange juice.  I cannot really tell you much about the glaze we made because, well, Janet made most of it with Squirrely’s occasional* reprimands.  Our finished escolar product was hard to swallow for this fair-weathered eater.  Can a fish be mushy & bouncy at the same time?

Dish 2: Roasted Cod with Thyme, Olives & Cherry Tomatoes
I have no clue what I did for this dish – maybe I was still squeezing oranges.  I noticed Squirrely gave Janet the job of de-leafing (even a word?) the thyme far away from our camp stove.

Dish3: Grilled Tuna w/ Sesame Sriracha Aioli
There are a few things I’m good at: spelling, board/card games & anything that requires brute strength.  I was in charge of whisking the aioli as Squirrely poured the oil.  I had no clue mayonnaise was so easy to make.  There were four groups in our class & each group was in charge of making aioli differently: via mini food processor, big food processor, some special blender contraption & by hand.  My group mode was hand powered.  And each of us let out a lil groan for that.  Between Ashley (the other girl in our group – a good one) & my whisking skills plus Squirrely’s slow oil pouring skills, we made the best & only usable aioli in the class.  I guess machines are not always the best option: the food processors & blender created a watery mixture.

Salmon w/ Lemon Chive Beurre Blanc / Tuna Sans Aioli / Cod w/ Olives, Tomatoes & Feta

Dish 4: Seared Salmon w/ Lemon-Chive Beurre Blanc

I was semi in charge of the beurre blanc on this one.  And besides Janet almost burning the pink out of our salmon, it was a quick dish.  (Salmon below was from another group.)

And the infamous sesame sriracha aioli (at 3 o'clock)!

Thumbs up to the salmon although I could take or leave the beurre blanc & the tuna w/ aioli (minus the burning sriracha tongue – mine).  The cod had a strong olive-y taste which was a tad bit offensive (insert a Squirrely side eye for the use of a tad bit.)  And the bouncy, mushy escolar was too sweet.

I did learn a bit in the class.  And I am interested in taking future classes although I will say a prayer Janet is not in the class.  The chef instructor was awesome as was the English grandmother sous chef I want to adopt.  Plus I got to hang w/ Squirrely who could have taught the class.

Squirrely would give me the evil side eye for the use of the word “occasional” because she nearly lost a finger when Janet reached across Squirrely’s station (Squirrely was chopping onions) & there may have been 2 or 3 (or more) times she nearly burned Squirrely with our camp stove.

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on the road