Category Archives: Illinois

Peterson Garden project /community cooking school in Chicago

Playing catch up here.

During a recent trip to Chicago, I made an interesting visit to the community cooking school run by the nonprofit  Peterson Garden Project in the massive former armory on Broadway in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood (where my stepdaughter and her husband happen to live). 

For visitors to Chicago, The Peterson Garden Project offers cooking classes, usually accompanied by a meal, (including “Top Chef-style classes” and pop-up dining events. For more information click here.

For Chicago residents, The Peterson Garden Project is a great option for learnig how to grow your own food.  The project operates seven community gardens on Chicago’s north side that get a mix of people. (Membership is a reasonable $85 and includes in-garden classes, other support, some supplies, shared tools and a small plot to garden — a 4×8 raised bed filled with organic soil.)   The goal is to teach people how to grow and cook their own food — and to build community in the process. There are garden socials, all-garden work days, classes (cooking and gardening) and a cool volunteer option — the Give2Grow program, which donates produce from the garden plots to food pantries.



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Poke at Revival Hall, Italian at Nonnina — Chicago


I visited Revival Hall, an upscale food court in a stately early 1900’s building due west of the art Institute, at the right time, this time. It was lunch time on a weekday and the place was packed with young downtown workers, ncluding my stepdaughter. the line for poke was long but moved swiftly and we easily found a seat at a high top table since the place is designed for people to eat and run. The last time we visited was in the late afternoon on a bitter cold weekday during the quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s. The place wasn’t hopping. Other options that looked good include the BBQ and the hot chicken places.

Dinner was classy But friendly Italian (a Chicago specialty) at Nonnino on North Clark near Wacker, west of downtown near The River. We shared a Caesar salad and two entrees (spaghetti with meatballs, veal Marsala) which was too much. Next time, one shared entree…good spot though! The night before we went a little more casual at a longtime fav, Santorini in Greektown and MAT showed me around all the new West Loop development including the Fulton Market District, which has lots of restaurants and a little retail.

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Revival Food Hall, Bridgeport, The Wormhole/Wicker Park – frigid Chicago

With subzero temps and icy snow on the ground, Christmas 2017 in Chicago was not conductive to outdoor activity, which is a big change from last Christmas when it was so pleasant we took our dog for a romp on the beach near my stepdaughter’s condo in Edgewater. But this year, we walked as much as we could tolerate, with help from two pairs of socks, down jackets, thick scarves covering our face from the nose downward.

We enjoyed well-deserved hot chocolate at The Wormhole, a bohemian coffee house in Wicker Park and made it about a block in the bitter cold to a little boutique for some post-Xmas sale shopping. At Night, we met my old friend Polly and her husband Jamie (who drove down and around from their home in Traverse City) for dinner at a favorite restaurant, Andy’s Thai Kitchen (the one in Edgewater, which is not only more convenient to where we stay but takes credit cards).

On Wednesday we talked ourselves into thinking it was slightly warmer (it wasn’t but the sky was brilliantly blue over the icy pale blue lake) and walked from my aunt’s apartment on Astor Street to Uniqlo on Michigan Avenue for some sale-priced winter gear and then to chaotic Eataly, the Italian food madhouse for some fresh prosciutto, mozzarella and fungi pizza, sitting at a high top table in the middle of a rush of shoppers. Our only other purchase was rustic bread with cranberries and apples, which made a delicious breakfast today. We kept walking, over the river to Revival Hall, a new food court/Hall in an old building. I’m told the poke place, the bbq place (smoke) and the Thai noodle place are good to try but we only had coffee and some too-sweet bakery goods. I was Intrigued by the”Detroit-style pizza” place, something this native Detroiter never heard of before. Dinner was with my dear aunt at one of her favorite places, Shaw’s for fresh fish, creamed spinach, hash browns and peppermint ice cream with hot fudge.

Today was cold and grey. We wandered a few blocks in Andersonville, shopping at Foursided and the bookstore, Women and Children First, and ending up eating at the nearby Middle East Bakery & Grocery after we learned that Edzo’s was closed (we drove all the way to Evanston, only to discover this). Now driving in the dark across Illinois. Fortunately it stopped snowing after the city of Peru. Our best meal was Emma’s fabulous homemade Korean brisket, roasted rosemary potatoes, collard greens and chocolate cake (with ground coffee but no flour)…not available to the public, sorry.

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when next in Chicago…Food Hall!

From the story above: In downtown Chicago, the 15-vendor Revival Food Hall opened last year on the ground floor of a 110-year-old, 20-story office building designed by Daniel Burnham. The food hall’s developer, Craig Golden, is finishing a renovation of the property, now known as the National. He and the restaurateur Bruce Finkelman worked as partners on Revival, which features taco, seafood, poke bowl and other restaurants as well as a book and record shop.

“We wanted to bring in what we thought was the best food in the city,” said Mr. Golden, whose Blue Star Properties portfolio includes a number of restaurants and entertainment venues. “When people come downtown to work, the choices are limited.”


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Chicago- Chicago Athletic Association Hotel/Cindy’s; Mango Pickle in Edgewater

On the way to and back from London, I stopped in Chicago to see family and have some new adventures. My Aunt and I lucked into a table at Cindy’s – a rooftop restaurant inside the fantastic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, formerly a private athletic club circa the 1890’s,  with an open-air terrace looking out across Millennial Park, the Art Institute and Chicago’s skyscrapers to the lake. Glorious.  I’d been curious about the place when I was down at Millennial Park and looked up to see people gathered on the rooftop terrace of the stately old building on Michigan Avenue. The restaurant has a glass roof, so full of light — and good food too (recommend the lobster roll on brioche). We wandered around the building afterwards – very old world, old money. Cool space where the indoor pool used to be. And another interesting-looking restaurant (minus the view0 – the Cherry Circle Room. Glad we were let in!

Also ate at Mango Pickle, an Indian-inspired place in Edgewater, near Emma & Rocket’s. Hard to explain the food – interesting is the best word I can come up with.

Must try again. Joined a big crowd afterwards at the neighborhood frozen custard place.


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L.Woods/Chicago (by way of Wisconsin) and Sapp Brothers Gas West of Peru, Illinois 

Uneventful drive from Des Moines to Chicago today on Interstate 80, which is the way I like it although it was strange to think that dirck was flying above me somewhere near on a flight to Chicago and then frankfort and Warsaw. The highlight of the drive was cheap gas at Sapp Brothers ($1.93 a gallon) just west of the bigger Peru exit where the gas was $2.24.

MAT, emma, Rocket and I had dinner at L.Woods in Lincoln woods, just west of the Edgewater neighborhood. The place looked like a real Wisconsin backwoods lodge with piney wood walls, rugged decor, outdoorsmen gear, dim lighting, leather but beyond the kitsch the food was good and yes, hearty. Excellent western style brisket, ribs and fried walleye. MAT liked table 133 (I think) in a less crowded rear room where it was easier to hear our conversation.

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Ithaca in Joliet

Greetings from the Comfort Inn in Joliet where the highlight was this car’s bumper stickers (purity ice cream and Ithaca is Gorges)! beyond that, what a news day with Comey testifying in DC and the Tories falling apart in England….

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