Last Christmas/Chanukah, which seems a lifetime ago, Noah and I gifted each other a foodie weekend in Chicago. We planned it for the first week in April and we were each responsible for three meals. We had so much fun planning it and researching the restaurants that were going to be our surprises to each other. We anticipated memorable meals, lots of walks and the kind of talking and reconnecting during both that can only happen when you carve out time for just the two of you. We couldn’t wait.
You know the next part. Among the many tragedies that can be blamed on the pandemic, our cancelled weekend of gluttony and mother son bonding falls very, very low on the list, but that won’t stop us from whining about how much we were looking forward to it and how much we hated having to miss it. I was particularly sad about it because Noah lives far away and is newly married, so time alone with him is much harder to come by than carving out that same kind of time with the girls. It has to be carefully scheduled and coordinated and there needs to be an understanding from both of our spouses that it is okay to prioritize this kind of getaway.
So when I was asked to give some talks in Chicago this week, we saw our chance. David and I spent the weekend in Madison visiting Noah and Leigha and their adorable pooches,
and then on Monday David flew back to Charlotte and Noah drove me to Chicago. It is certainly a far cry from the weekend we had planned, but we feel so lucky to get it in at all. And it is not the eating extravaganza that we had eagerly anticipated – options were limited with closures and very few restaurants offering outside dining, and then the weather didn’t cooperate for that anyway. So we ordered in from a nearby Mediterranean restaurant, Aba, that came highly recommended from some Chicago folks I met in Greenville, SC a few weeks ago. We ate in our hotel room rather than from a rooftop overlooking the Windy City, and we had to make do with plastic cutlery and to go containers, but it was all delicious.
Obviously this wasn’t the weekend we had planned, but one of the great things about food in general is the way it brings people together. And as this blog has shown over the last five plus months (wow!), a love of food has always been a bedrock of my relationship with my mom. And so even though it wasn’t what we had envisioned, sharing time and some still truly terrific meals together has been a highlight of this very weird year. It just goes to show that we can make the best of any situation – a lesson my mom has always instilled in us.
And in those bright spots within the bad, here are some of the silver linings of all this craziness. The fact that Noah is now teleworking meant that he could drive me to Chicago and work remotely from my hotel so that we could have this time together. And the extra safety precautions the hotel is taking (which we appreciate) meant that we had to sign up for an hour of pool time and we had the entire pool to ourselves! We swam laps while chatting about all sorts of things and building an appetite for the Mediterranean feast that was delivered to us shortly after we dried off.
Here’s what we ordered:
Spicy sweet corn hummus – corn pudding and black lime brown butter.
Green falafel- avocado tzatziki, garlic tahini and dania spice
Lamb and beef kefta – lemon, olive oil, tsatsiki
Village Salad – cherry tomatoes, Persian cucumber, red onion, feta, Greek vinaigrette
House pita bread
Black Garlic Shrimp Scampi – lime pickle chillis and parmesan bread crumbs
The corn hummus was amazing. Why isn’t this a thing everywhere?
Getting to cook together (read: Noah cooked and I marveled at his culinary skills) and dine together for a few days has been such a treat. Now back to our respective kitchens…