Sunday, March 04, 2012


It was a long time since we'd seen our friend Nora - it's kind of silly how life keeps getting in the way and all of a sudden it's been thirteen years and there's husbands and kids and jobs and stuff. But give it a couple of days getting reacquainted and everybody's having fun like they're nineteen again!

We spent a very busy and fun week staying with Nora and her family just outside Chicago - activities including (but not limited to):
  • skating at the local roller rink on Teens night, during which I skated a bit too hard and split my trousers.
  • a trip to the bowling alley which involved bowling (of course), pizza and darts
  • indoor blacklight space-themed mini golf which just might have overtaken Thai dinosaur golf in our rankings of best mini golf ever.
  • completely rocking the keytar and drums in Rockband
  • a trip up the Willis (formerly Sears) tower and visit to the scary glass platform where you can look down on 103 storeys of nothingness beneath your feet.
  • a trip to the planetarium, since we missed out in Rochester.
  • giving tummy rubs to the two soppiest cats in the world
  • lots and lots of eating
Oh yes, the eating. We've struggled a bit with the food in America - things are sweeter, fattier, larger and with more additives. One of the things that mystified us at the BBQ places in Rochester was the serving of a sweet cornbread muffin on the side of the main courses. Now I like cornbread, maybe cheesy with a bit of jalapeno - but this was honey flavoured. It tasted good, but I can't get my head around caesar salad served with a side of cake.

However we've had some good food - the meat was very nice around Rochester, especially the pulled pork, but it was a little hard to eat healthily and even salads were soaked in dressing and/or served with a cake. We ate very well in Chicago and it was good to be with someone who is at least as enthusiastic about tasty food as we are, not afraid of the more adventurous options and knows where to find the good stuff. Highlights included:
  • Lao Sze Chuan restaurant in Chinatown, at which we tried duck tongue for the first time. Duck tongue is quite tasty and tender, although a little fiddly as it, quite surprisingly, contains a bone and a small bit of cartilage. However, it's best not to think too much about what you're eating. Thoughts may range from "it's kind of like I'm kissing a duck" (we do like ducks, but not in that way) to the realisation that each tongue belonged to one duck, and that's a lot of ducks. (I'm sure they used the rest of it too). Other highlights at Lao Sze Chuan included a beautiful plate of bright purple fried egg plant, and delicious three chilli chicken.
Duck tongueFried eggplant
  • G-in Sushi & Grill, run by a friend of Nora's in Tinley Park near where we were staying. We went here twice, it was beautifully served and was some of the best sushi Dgym and I have had anywhere.
SashimiSushi bombs
  • Triple Crown where we ate dim sum with some more friends of Nora's. We shared several plates including deep fried baby octopuses, tasty little rice pancakes, steamed buns and chicken feet. Dgym declined the feet but I feel he was deeply mistaken as they were very tasty and surprisingly succulent. The US exports about 300,000 tons of feet to China every year - American chickens are bred big and juicy for lots of breast meat, which also makes for fleshy feet: a couple of decades ago these would have gone to waste but they're extremely popular in China.
Fried baby octopusChicken foot
  • Original Triple Crown, a late night authentic Chinese restaurant. We were accompanied by Nora's Chinese-speaking friend Cindy who was able to help us choose some good dishes and also order an off-menu dish of conch salad, which is very thinly sliced snail served with bean sprouts and a dressing. The snail slices were kind of rubbery - interesting and not bad although I'm not sure I'd choose it again! We also had fried smelt fish, congee, greens and more duck tongue which were all very good.
You may have noticed a slight Asian bias, however we did also visit some very good Mexican restaurants, made ourselves slightly sick on enormous ice creams and Nora made us some very tasty homecooked meals of tacos and Sloppy Joes!

We had a really lovely week and were very sad to leave, although somewhat less sad to be leaving behind the coldness of the northern winter for the warm humidity of Puerto Rico!

No comments: