Of all of the cities that were scheduled during America! The Road Trip (yes, I really do use the entire title every time I think about it), Chicago was the one city that I hadn’t really thought all that much about.
Somehow its architecture, food, the ridiculously nice people won me over and it turned out to be my favourite city on our entire holiday (the copious amounts of alcohol we consumed may also have something to do with this).
After 2 weeks of driving it was a relief to leave the car behind in Phoenix and hop on a plane to Chicago. Funny story, we read about a Fried Chicken store in Phoenix with reviews where people swore it was the best fried chicken ever. It took us a wrong turn and U-turn to make our way to the store. Only to find it closed because of a fire outbreak in the kitchen. Woe.
Sadly we ended up in the local KFC where I found out that KFC America still serves corn and the Double Down!! And also saw a lovely offer of all-you-can-eat KFC for $9.99. America, eat your heart out (literally).
I’m a city girl at heart, and something about being surrounded about Skyscrapers was ridiculously soothing… My favourite was easily Marina City, a pair of towers affectionately nicknamed ‘The Corn Cobbs’, the first 19 floors are actually a spiraling path up the tower that function as a car park! I’m not sure why I was so excited about that fact, but it seemed really cool to me (lol).
A fun touristy thing to do in Chicago is to take one of the Architectural cruises that weave their way along Chicago River while a guide tells anecdotes about the various buildings that pass by. Sounds dorky, but is actually really interesting as we learnt a lot of history about the city at the same time. I fell in love with these strange triangle houses just on the water!
We couldn’t have timed it any better if we tried, our cruise coincided with sunset perfectly giving us some gorgeous shots (while making it absolutely freezing at the same time!).
The Willis Tower is the tallest building in America and we couldn’t resist going up to the Skydeck for a dose of touristy fun. Situated up on the 103rd floor are a number of glass boxes that protrude out from the side of the building letting you see allllll the wayyyyy doowwwwnnn. I’ve never had any issues with heights before standing out on the glass had me sweating instantly!
It was in Chicago that we realised that we had broken D.
He’d been outpacing us at every single meal, often finishing off our food. It took about 2 weeks for his stomach to finally give up on him and suddenly we found ourselves eating… the appropriate amount of food per day. It took us a few days and a fruit food reset before we could even think of eating second dinner again, but oh we made up for it.
But first, some Deep Pan Pizza.
The Purple Pig
Chicago takes its food seriously. Every other block that we walked down seemed to have an organic market stall and the sheer number of restaurants I wanted to visit seemed never-ending and overwhelming. In the end it was the proximity and the promise of Pork that drew us to The Purple Pig.
With a Mediterranean focus on dishes, there’s an endless selection of Antipasti, Smears, Fried Items and ad hoc dishes that make narrowing down our choices difficult. Luckily our waitress is ridiculously helpful and our table quickly fills up with pig, pig and more pig.
Roasted Bone Marrow. C’mon, there wasn’t any way I was going past it.
The boys aren’t entirely sold on the fatty glory of the bone marrow spread over the crispy bread but I’m happy that they give it a go at least, because it means that I don’t have to feel any guilt about finishing off about half the dish all by myself…
It’s the Pig Ear that our waitress is the most excited about, and I’m a little perplexed by the dish that’s just arrived at our table. I have to admit I’d envisioned an entire pig’s ear, so it’s a surprise to be presented with a sunny side up egg sitting on top of fried kale and sliced deep-fried Pig’s Ear.
Following the instructions of our waitress we attack the dish Bibimbap style, mixing the hell out of it! Oh the gloriousness that is runny egg yolk mixing it up with crispy kale, sweet banana peppers and the crunch of the Pig’s Ear, hands down my favourite dish of the night and is ridiculously addictive.
The antipastos and fried items arrive in a never-ending parade, but we’ve got our eyes out for the Pork Blade Steak. For those who don’t know, Nduja is a spicy spreadable sausage that is made out of pork (it’s ok if you didn’t know this, because I didn’t either).
That’s right, it’s a Pork Steak with a sauce made out of more pork. I don’t know who thought of the combination of sweet pork with spicy pork but that person is a genius.
Despite our recovered stomachs, by the end of the meal we’re only committing to one dessert. Luckily we’ve decided to make it count and go straight for the Sicilian Iris, aka Fried Brioche. It’s everything you want in a fried dessert, fried to a soul satisfying crunch all the while filled with delicious deliciousness.
Life is good in chicago.
The Purple Pig
500 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Ph: 312-464-1-PIG (744)
There’s a lot more that happens in Chicago, a visit to the beach, a touch of culture at the museum, and a very memorable visit to a prohibition bar in the loop. My advice? Pre-pack your bags the night before you’re due to leave on a 9am flight, then just go out and have a blast.
I know we did (except we didn’t do the pre-packing part D: ).
Next up: Boston!
Check out the rest of the America! The Road Trip posts here!