Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A food blog, inspired by Charlotte

So first of all, let me begin by saying OH MY GOD I'M SORRY! I have been catching hell from all sides about my lack of blogging over the last two weeks - I honestly had no idea that my life was so exciting to you people but I will say that I am flattered that you have all missed my random blabbing. Or maybe you're just bored and waiting for the latest CSI rerun to come on, I don't know. Anyway, I am going to write a Chicago vacation update very soon (tonight or tomorrow depending on when my Oregon body decides to go to sleep on Illinois time) but right now I have to write a blog for one of my best girlfriends in Oregon, the fabulous Miss Char.

Before I do that I have to formally congratulate her in text on the birth of their new princess. Congrats again sweetie and I am so sorry that I missed the big event but I totally can't wait to get home and make you a tater tot casserole.

(For the record, I won't actually make a tater tot casserole. I mean, have you SEEN tater tot casserole? I like my friends!)

Anyway, Char inspired this blog tonight because she introduced me to the Restaurant Rule when I moved the Oregon. When you live in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge, your dining options can be less than stellar. I mean, we have options. If you consider fast food an option we totally have those - I think we have representation from just about every major fast food chain somewhere within city limits. And we have a 24 hour Denny's, which is great for rowdy girls' night dessert sessions where we talk loudly about things that are probably completely inappropriate for a group of grown women, and where we all leave feeling like we just ate whatever that stuff is that's stuck in a deep fryer after they drain the oil out of it to donate to some hippie for his alternative fuel scooter.....

But I digress. The point is that we have NO REAL CHAIN RESTAURANTS if you want to go out for a nice dinner to the kind of place where the menu is the same in all two hundred and twenty six locations. Where you can get the same chicken cheese pasta in Oregon as you can in New Hampshire. Where everyone is thinking Outback tonight, or where it's always Friday. Zip. Nada.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all about supporting the local mom and pop places. And we've got a couple of good ones. But every so often, you want something familiar. You want something comfortable. And you don't want it to be served to you in a paper bag.

Hence my introduction to the restaurant rule through my dear friend Charlotte, who explained patiently to me that whenever you have the opportunity to leave city limits and you find yourself in need of nutritional sustenance, you absolutely MUST eat somewhere that you cannot eat at home. No exceptions.

So in honor of Charlotte, here is a list of all of the places we have eaten here in Illinois. Illinois people, I know that you just don't understand, you of the 24 hour grocery stores and gas stations with mini marts. But trust me when I say that anyone I know in Oregon definitely gets why this is a big deal. At least, everyone outside of the Portland metro area.

Here we go:

~ Panera Bread

~ Red Robin

~ Buffalo Wild Wings

~ Steak and Shake (for a chocolate shake with Jax)

~ Cold Stone Creamery

~ Noodles and Company

~ Chili's for queso and dessert (Thanks Jax)

~ The Oswego Family Restaurant - one of my Mom's favorite spots, a total dive in town with great cheap breakfast. I ate there with the kids and two girlfriends for under thirty bucks.

and last but not least...
~ Portillo's - trust me, it's a Chicago thing.

Still on the list:
~ Ach N Lou's pizza place - my family's number one pizza place for about 25 years. It's a hole in the wall that has been around forever, cuts its pizza into squares, and was the location of my rehearsal dinner. It is far and away my favorite pizza in the world no matter what Skippy says.

~ Our old Chinese place in DeKalb (the name escapes me but I'm sure Skippy knows it) - I plan on hitting it when I go out there next week if at all possible. Once upon a time they knew Skippy by name and would have his order ready to go when he walked in.

~ Ollie's Custard - Another throwback to the college days. I have yet to find an acceptable ice cream place anywhere in town at home. I can't wait.

Apparently I'm quite happy eating my way through my vacation! And because this is a Charlotte inspired blog, I am sitting here typing and remembering the very first time I met her, in the McDonald's play place with a book in my hand. She sighed wistfully while chasing her daughter around and wondered (out loud to me by way of introduction) when on earth she would be able to sit and read a book again. So to date on my vacation I have been able to read:

~ One entire issue of Parents Magazine without interruption.

~ The Other Boelyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

~ The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner

~ And just tonight I finished Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin

So in conclusion, vacation has been full of good things to eat and good things to read! I promise a real update is coming soon!


Anonymous said...

I didn't even want to weigh myself after i got home from Chicago. So Portillo's is a staple on our side. Everytime we come to Chicago it's usually the first place we stop at. It was so good to see you (even if it was only for a little while).


The crazy one said...

I can officially say that I HATE you! Ok so not really, but you are kiling me with all the places you have gone to eat. Oh how I miss a nasty chain restaurant like Friday's or Applebees. However I did get hit up California Pizza Kitchen while in Seattle... they have the BEST chopped bbq chicken salad ever!

When will you be home? ANd can you bring one of those Portilos sammmys back?! :)


Tracey said...

Hey, don't be dissing the tater tot casserole! Sure, it looks like vomit, but it's so tasty.
Give me a call if you've got a free night to meet for dinner while you're in town.