Friday, August 20, 2010

C is for Chicago and Cake

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Last night Michelle and I made a pact. We would not leave St. Paul without a morning walk and a good breakfast. Only one of these things happened. The humid summer heat of the midwest did little too smother our enthusiasm for movement as we walked briskly through Annah’s neighborhood. Greeting the local Minnesotans with hearty “good morning”s. By the time we showered and were ready to head out of the apartment complex I was in a foul mood. It was nearly 10:30am and we hadn’t even had breakfast yet. There was no way we’d get to Chicago by a reasonable dinner time! (Funny how our travel plans are now dictated by where we’re going to get our next meal.)

Fast forward 20 minutes and Michelle and I are seated, rather uncomfortably, at an establishment called Day by Day Cafe. I say uncomfortably because the booths were wood slabs, and were like something fit for a prison cell and not for a restaurant. The complete lack of invention that characterized the seating should have given us a hint as to what we could expect from the kitchen. We decided on tofu veggie scrambles with potatoes (I stress that the menu said potatoes) and whole grain toast. This surely would have been enough food but we hadn’t eaten anything yet that day and were completely tempted by the homemade buckwheat cakes so we agreed on a short stack. Our food arrived and the portions on each plate were fit for at least 2 people. The flavor on the other hand was fit for no one for it didn’t exist. Michelle claims she’s never seen me grab so furiously for the salt and then the pepper and then the salt and then the pepper and finally the tabasco sauce desperately trying to give my taste buds something to do. The so-called potatoes were actually once frozen rectangles of hash browns that were crispy golden brown on the outside ( a nice touch) and undercooked on the inside. No amount of ketchup, salt or pepper could redeem them. We ate quickly and sadly left quite a bit still on our plates. The pancakes we took to-go.

Through the last bit of Minnesota and then Wisconsin and into Illinois we subsisted on pancakes smeared with peanut butter (after a failed but creative attempt at an apricot-walnut buckwheat wrap), yet another Raw Revolution bar and a couple Tic-tacs (original flavor).

I should mention that we made an attempt to stop in Madison, WI only to find ourselves heading in a westerly direction with my temper heading in a northerly one. Michelle expertly guided us back on track maintaining her cool as the temperature in the car got just a tad hotter. We’re close to Chicago and I want to say we’re optimistic about the dining options that await us but I for one am not holding my breath.

Kopi, A Traveler’s Cafe, was where we met up with my cousin Rachel and her girlfriend, Caelyn upon arriving in Chicago at a rather punctual 7:30p. Yes, my earlier tantrum was completely unfounded, as I guess all are. Sitting down we realized we were ravenous for both food and alcohol. Michelle ordered her usual Malbec and I shared a Organic local hard apple cider with Cae. Both extremely satisfying after a long day’s drive. A look at the menu revealed a rather small array of salads and sandwiches along with all-day breakfast fare. By that point in the trip I was tired of ordering and pleaded with the waitress to choose some sort of dairy-less option for me. I ended up ordering a tuna salad sandwich with avocado on sourdough and Michelle got a red bell pepper and goat cheese focaccia item. Both were just hearty enough to soothe our savage appetites while leaving room for one of the mouth-watering dessert items we had each ogled earlier on the way to the restroom.

Being health conscious individuals who believe in moderation we ordered just 3 desserts to share among the 4 of us. This was especially appealing as we absolutely could not decide between the german chocolate cake and the banana torte. So we ordered one of each and then added on an italian themed berry custard dessert that I shamefully do not know the name of. All were amazing but the banana torte was otherworldly. Quite possible the moistest piece of cake my mouth has ever had the pleasure of interacting with. A few more drinks as we polished off the sweets and off to bed eager to start a day that would involve NO DRIVING or moving vehicle of any kind.

Touring Chicago on foot,

Jenna and Michelle

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