Meaning Of Loaf

       Taking the easy road through life

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Chicago - The People

So now for the final part in the Chicago series, and I'm sure the one that most people have been waiting for; The People.

First of all, I have to mention the American people in general, who were just so friendly! Going into any shop, I would always get a seemingly genuine smile and a good morning, and in several instances a cheery "have a nice day!" as I left. Now not saying that the British equivalent are not as friendly, as there are a few shops you'll get that kind of response here, but it's still pretty rare compared to the States.

But onto the other people I met in Chicago, namely, the Chicago bloggers...

First up, I met Cherry and Anesthetised Aussie, since they'd been kind enough to put me up at their place for the length of my stay, which was quite a brave move considering I'd only been known for about 4-5 months by that time, and they were already willing to give some strange Englishman keys to their door and access to their fridge. Glad to say they were both great hosts and certainly made sure I didn't go hungry!

On the second night (since the first one was pretty wiped out recovering from the flight), we headed out to an Irish theme bar to start getting warmed up for the main event of St Patricks Day on Saturday. This was my first lesson in tipping the bar staff, and through a mixture of poor maths and favourable exchange rates, the tips soon won favour with the bar staff! Later on, we were joined by LP, Classy and Dr Ken, to properly kick the evening up a gear; the drinks began to flow quite freely, as did the randomness of conversation in proportion to the drinks, and I even had the chance to see Classy’s much anticipated Little Superstar dance routine, which was totally worth it!

Although precise memories of the evening were a little fuzzy, I do have a distinct memory of Aussie picking up a homeless woman who was wandering round outside, asking for cigarettes, since it was her birthday. The look on Cherry’s face as this woman hung on Aussie was priceless, and I believe there was a comment about him being thoroughly showered before getting near us again!

The day after was St Patricks day itself, and despite feeling a little delicate the next morning, we did manage to get into town to see the river dyed green and catch the parade. Or at least we would have caught the parade if we’d been a little quicker. And known where we were going. Anyway, we saw the last few floats and got the gist of it, so we were happy!

After a rest in the afternoon to recoup ourselves ready for the next round of celebrations, we headed on to the one and only, Liars Club. Now, I was a little apprehensive as we walked up to what appeared to be a derelict building with a large metal door and just a small sign indicating the bar, but once inside, I was impressed! While it may not be the kind of place you’d want to take a lady for romantic evening out, it is most defiantly the place to hear some quality music and dance until you drop, which is exactly what we did. On this evening, we were also joined by 5 of 9er, who despite having just got back from South by South West, still made the effort to come out and join us for a few drinks! Yet again, more generous tips, more generous measures, and an evening of dancing that I most definitely felt the next morning!

The night after that, it was out to some more bars (spot a theme here?), courtesy of 9er. Now I’m not even going to try and remember the names of any of the bars; I couldn’t even remember them the morning after, let alone a month and a half later! I do remember the first bar was what seemed like a sports bar to me, with several televisions lining the walls, all tuned to various sports. After that, we went onto a more ‘interesting’ bar, which appeared to have some live experimental music going on, but thankfully we managed to find seating away from the full effect of it, and 9er introduced me to some of the local beers, which have convinced me that not all American beers are watered down and tasteless!

The next night, it was on to Gino’s for pizza with Aussie, Cherry, LP and 9er, but since I’ve already covered that night in the food post, I won’t repeat it. Plus this post is getting way too long already!

On the final night, Classy took me for a final meal in Greek Town, which was excellent, although again, I don’t want to repeat too much from the food post. After that, it was down to the pier, although unfortunately it was closed since they were still running on the winter opening hours. We continued on a drive-by tour of the city, including such sights as the fountain from the opening credits of Married with Children (yes, I’m cultured), before heading on to (you guessed it) a bar for drinks. In the first bar, I was introduced to Sangria for the first time, and made friends instantly, although not sure if it’s a drink I could stay on all night! After that, it was onto another local bar, which to me felt close to an English style bar on the inside, and which had some great live music.

So finally, to all the people I met while I was over there, thank you! By taking it in turns on getting me out just about every night of my stay over there, you managed to ensure complete exhaustion, a fair workout of my liver, and a great week that I thoroughly enjoyed! Expect to see me back in the Windy city again before too long!

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Before I get on to the final Chicago post, I can now say I've passed the half way mark and met 54.4% of my blogroll!

On Thursday, after having to be dragged into central London for yet another incredibly pointless business meeting, I had the opportunity afterwards to meet up with a true celebrity; Miss Recken of ReckenRoll Lifestyle and her entourage.

Now this is always the problem with meeting someone from another country who has lived in London for more than a month; they shame me by knowing way more about my country's capital than I do! My excuse for this is that I grew up in Oxford, and even now only live on the furthest borders of London, so the rare trips into London are considered a big thing. Anyway, determined to get to know the place a little better, so that when someone suggests somewhere to meet, I'm not straight away reaching for the maps and travel planner.

We had a great night out at a pub I'd not tried before; The Lamb & Flag, and managed to cover such topics as work (inevitable), TV, travel and religion. All a lot more high brow than the conversation I'm used to! (Sorry guys, but you know it's true).

So hopefully, I now have some more excuses to venture into London, as Miss Recken teaches me a little more of the town I should know more of.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Chicago - The Food

It's the start of a new month, and time to get off my @$$ and start writing again! And, after much delay and anticipation, here goes the second post on my Chicago trip; The Food.

After a week of living in Chicago, it's easy to see why obesity is a problem in America; they just don't do small portions! Whenever we ate out somewhere, every meal seemed like a meal for two to me, and by the end of the week, I'd pretty much given up on the idea of a belt.

So, onto some of the highlights:

Hot Dogs
Naturally, I had to try at least one hot dog while I was over there, and although I didn't find any of the stereotype hot dog stands like we see on so much American TV, I did find somewhere with a pretty good selection of dogs on offer. I decided to go for the chilli dog, since this is something familiar to me, but what was handed to me was a far cry from the chilli dog I know! Back here, the local snack van brings round chilli dogs, which are a large sausage with chilli inside, topped with chilli sauce for added bite. The American version I tired was basically a Frankfurter, covered in chilli con carne and cheese, which although quite a bit different from what I'm used to, still rates very highly!

Going to Chicago and not trying authentic pizza would be rather like going to Paris and not bothering to see the Eiffel Tower*; it's just not right. Fortunately, I was taken to Ginos for some proper Chicago style pizza, and to put another inch on my steadily expanding waistline. I have to say, this was great pizza; quite a bit different to the style I'd normally go for, as I usually favour a thin crust myself, but I'm always open to trying new things. Again, size got the better of me. When ordering, I was surprised to hear that we'd be sharing two medium pizzas between five of us, after all, I'll happily get through a medium Domino's pizza by myself back home. Still, I decided to stick with the advice of the locals, and was glad I did, as it was some of the most filling pizza I've had, and at best, I made it through about two and a half slices before I couldn't take any more! If you're in Chicago, Ginos is a must!

Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich
Sadly, this is not something I had a chance to actually try while I was over there, despite us getting all the ingredients in. However, I did take note of how to make it, and decided I would give it a go when I get home. I've since tired it, and I'm just left wondering how Americans can possibly stomach that mixture. I did get through about two mouthfulls before the gag reflex decided I wasn't having any more. Sorry America, you can keep this one!

Greek Town
On the last night, Classy was kind enough to drag me into Greek Town to try out some of the fine eating that was to be had there. Now I can't remember exactly what it was I ordered, but I was impressed to be presented with a plate of nothing but meat, and rare as it is, I think I actually found my meat intake limit. All the food we ordered there (of which there was plenty), was excellent, and I could quite happily have eaten in Greek Town each night!

Melrose Diner
During my week in Chicago, I managed to become somewhat of a regular at the Melrose Diner, stopping in for breakfast or lunch, or even for an end of the night feast after the St Patricks Day celebrations. This was also my first experience of the never ending coffee; I'm not usually much of a coffee drinker myself (stereotypical English tea drinker), but I thought I'd go give it a go, and it seemed every time I looked away, the waitress would whisk in a top it back up for me, forcing me to move the coffee cup out of reach to prevent a caffeine overdose. But the burgers there were great, and the huge omelette's where an excellent start to the day.

So overall, I don't think I can honestly say I had a bad meal while I was over there, and I've been on a strict diet since I've been back to try and regain my former waistline. If you're going to America to sample the food, leave the belt at home!

Next up; Chicago - The People

*I'm running low on metaphors.