Hello there, blog friends. It has been a while.
So how have your last two weeks been? Good? Mine too. Between Ohio and Tennessee and North Carolina, I’ve been getting to be a pro at vacation. A pro, I tell you. I’ve eaten well, in the homes of friends and in quality restaurants; I’ve seen new places, from Nashville parks to Durham campuses; I’ve, mostly, spent time with great people, all over the country, and I’ve loved every bit of it.
Now, while I work on getting good at other things—namely, the everyday tasks of working and cooking and so on—why don’t we talk about my last trip, the one to the Research Triangle of North Carolina, a destination chosen for, what else, the food. It was the most relaxing vacation I’ve taken in years, one which we did little else but eat and lounge around, a practice that has seriously opened my eyes to what vacation is supposed to be like.
So in true Food Loves Writing form, here are all the details:
Before my plane landed in Tampa Friday afternoon (where it would be a balmy 74 degrees!), I did a lot of thinking about the last time I’d touched down in the Sunshine State, back when I was an unhappy freshman, and about how strange our life paths are, with mine taking me from Illinois to Florida to Wisconsin and to Illinois again, and how here I was nine years later, wanting to be in Florida for the weekend when before, I had wanted to be anywhere else.
My friend Elizabeth picked me up at the airport. We had lived together in Unit G—the bed bug unit—and reconnected only recently, through Facebook, drawn into deeper correspondence through, well to be totally honest, this blog, and she lives in the same town as one of my roommates from that college in Wisconsin I ended up transferring to, a roommate who also likes to cook, isn’t that crazy?
Over our fast weekend, we did simple things like eat Thai food at Elizabeth’s favorite hole-in-the-wall place, where I tried Pad Thai for the first time (and loved it):
and grabbed breakfast at a bagel place (twice!) where Elizabeth and her family know the people by name, that’s how much they love it (that curly-haired girl is her daughter—gorgeous!):
and, the highlight of the whole weekend, attended the kumquat festival in Dade City, all because I saw it online and thought it was just crazy enough to be fun, which it was, even with the rain that hit us after about 45 minutes there:
By the time my friend Michele mentioned the Chicago French Market to me last Friday, there’d already been a lot of buzz on it (plus more specific calls to us as individuals: an e-mail to me and a handed-out-on-the-street coupon to Michele) but neither of us had yet been to visit, so we declared 9 AM on Saturday morning the perfect time to do something about that.
Part of the MetraMarket at Ogilvie Train Station in the West Loop, this market dubs itself as a European-inspired marketplace, filled with products from local farmers and artisans—sort of a year-round indoor farmers’ market that’s easily accessible for commuters.
And while it turns out to be more like an upscale version of a shopping mall food court than an indoor version of a street in France (think fluorescent lighting and shiny grocery-store floors), it does have some notable features.
Like, for example, bakery: