Chicago, Illinois

One of the most satisfying feelings in life is knocking an item off a to-do list. The satisfaction is especially great when it involves not just any list or item, but rather, those that keep getting brushed to the side by others and end up leering at you from a dusty corner.

I am personally very happy to say, that after years and year of having a 'visit to Chicago' at the apparent 'top of my list' of places to go, I finally made it! This weekend I took the opportunity of a 3 day break from the Ballet to hop on a plane and visit my friend Olivia, all while exploring a city I know boasts some of the best food and drink in the U.S.

Fresh off of my early morning plane, I went straight downtown (so easy with their CTA system) to meet Olivia at Ballet Chicago. I snuck in a quick class as well, nothing like some pliés and battements to get your limbs working again:)

 Good morning cappucino from Intelligentsia

Good morning cappucino from Intelligentsia

Of course, once in Chicago, my list of things to do were straight forward: indulge in as many food and drink experiences as possible. This began right after class with a trip to Intelligentsia Coffee. Nothing like a beautifully crafted cappuccino to get geared up.

After catching up, refreshing and deciding on a neighborhood, we headed out to West Loop around 6 so as to get in as many spots as we could. I always love bar hopping: getting a drink here, a snack or two there and always sitting at the bar. This is just what we did. Our first stop was Girl and the Goat where we put our names down for a couple of hours in the future. We then went across the street and hit up Bar Siena for a much needed cocktail.

 Butternut Squash Cocktail

Butternut Squash Cocktail

We then went down a bit further along Randolph to check out Tete Charcuterie...three guesses as to what we had there:) To pair with our charcuterie, I ordered their seasonal 'First Fire' cocktail. I was intrigued about the butternut squash element and apart from needing to stir every now and then, it was a smooth and tasty drink, perfect for the fall.

 Charcuterie tasting from Tete

Charcuterie tasting from Tete

Their small charcuterie sampler is pictured above...definitely not small by any means. The terrines and pâtés were by far my favorite and their head cheese was quite exemplary. Tete is the only restaurant in Chicago which makes everything on their boards from scratch - it's a must visit!

 Mixed berry scone from Scone City

Mixed berry scone from Scone City

After our trip to Girl and Goat for darkly lit cocktails, octopus and beets, we hit up one of Chicago's famous speakeasy bars near Wicker Park - Bordel...And then it was time to turn in. Thoughts of cappuccinos and baked goods wafted in my dreams and...in no time at all, I found myself staring at just that from Scone City on Division in Wicker Park.

For the remainder of that day, we walked around various neighborhoods, ended up at a Second City comedy show and then checked out some other spots in the Downtown area.

By day, Chicago is full of activity, exuding a blend of elements from Toronto, San Francisco and New York with unique elements all of its own. Although we went big and hit up a lot of spots, I know we barely scratched the surface. Looks like my list still contains a 'trip to Chicago...take 2'.