Tortuga torta, Cafe con Leche | Canon 5D, 80mm, 1/100, f4, ISO 800
In tribute to the Nervous Eaters’ song “Get Stuffed” (see video below), I resolved to eat as much as I could while in Chicago for the HoZac Blackout music festival over Memorial Day weekend. No, the song isn’t about stuffing oneself in a gastronomical sense, but doing so is certainly the preferred alternative.
Unfortunately, I forgot I have trouble reaching my stomach’s maximum capacity whenever I travel. I can’t recall one single trip in which I had to unbutton my pants, waddle out of a restaurant clutching my belly in pain, or fall into a deep stupor shortly after a meal. Not even in Italy, where pizza comes in one size (12″?) and is meant to be consumed by one person—before continuing with the rest of the meal, which likely includes pasta, meat/seafood, salad, and dessert. And not even at Fresc Co in Seville, Spain, a branch of the all-you-can-eat buffet chain that seemed to be one of the few Spanish eateries that offers fresh vegetables and fruits that aren’t fried, deep-fried, or drowned in oil.
Oh wait! One time in NYC, after the Radio Heartbeat Power Pop Fest, I had two lunches two hours apart—one vegan lunch special at Sacred Chow, followed by $16 worth of sushi rolls and sashimi at Noodle Cafe Zen, one of those half-price sushi joints on St. Mark’s Place. I really didn’t need that second meal, but the goading and gusto of my visiting Italian friends created a moment of unexpected gluttony that I apparently remember with fondness.
Other than that, I seem to have a mental and physical block against gorging in destinations other than my home turf, which is not a bad thing. The last things I need are gastrointestinal discomfort and ill-fitting pants getting in the way of my rabid sightseeing or, in this case, hours of standing in front of deafening speakers with no indoor plumbing in sight.
So I failed my mission to stuff my face to the fullest this weekend (see rundown below), but did manage to eat well regardless. Thank you, Chicago! May I eat your deliciousness again soon!
[NOT PICTURED] 1:00pm: San Francisco Soup Company at SFO—Large Southwestern corn chowder in sourdough bread bowl. I ate all the soup (highly recommended if you’re looking for relatively cheap but filling airport food) and saved the dense, chewy bread bowl for the flight. Good thing, too—not only was our plane late, we sat on the tarmac for at least an hour before taking off.
[NOT PICTURED] 11:30am: Big Star—4 fried tilapia tacos topped with a smoky, addictive chipotle mayo, 1 spicy ejote (green beans) taco. I meant to eat only one fish taco but it was too good to stop at one. As for the green bean taco, the texture of a green bean just doesn’t work well.
11:30am: Yuca Cafe—2 poached eggs on challah bread with home fries (sausages went to M), a dish called “Rocky Mountains” on the menu. I ordinarily associate this food term with bull testicles, but if it means I don’t have to agonize over ordering something sweet or savory, I’m all for it. By transferring the eggs onto the potatoes and smothering the challah (flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and lightly fried) with pure maple syrup, I essentially had two breakfasts. OMG, can you hear me drooling all over again?
"Rocky Mountains," Yuca Cafe | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/40, f4, ISO 1250
[NOT PICTURED] 1:00pm: Bake—1 chocolate chip banana cookie, 1 pretzel chocolate chip cookie. They were exquisite but too melty to be photographed.
[NOT PICTURED] 11:30pm: El Cid—3 grilled fish tacos, rice, beans, and 1,000 chips. The tacos here were a letdown after Big Star.
[NOT PICTURED] 12:15am: Longman & Eagle—Small plate of decadent beef fat fries that killed my craving for any more food. And then my moist pineapple upside-down cake with boozy cherries and toasted coconut arrived. It was flavorful but I was glad everyone wanted a bite.
12:00pm: Cafe Con Leche (Wicker Park)—Baskets of freshly made chips and salsa; huevos montados (poached eggs over thick sopes, or corn husk shells) with two kinds of salsa and black beans. It was satisfying but not mind-blowing. Perhaps I should’ve gotten a tostonillo instead, a sandwich that substitutes bread with fried plantains.
Chips & salsa, Cafe Con Leche | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/50, f4, ISO 640
Huevos montados, Cafe Con Leche | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/100, f4, ISO 800
(This was the day we checked into Longman & Eagle. Check out their see-through shower; the frosted-glass toilet is right next to it.)
Room, Longman & Eagle | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/50, f4, ISO 1000
7:00pm: New Wave Coffee—Vegan chocolate cupcake, simple, moist, delectable. I can’t believe I didn’t get more over the weekend.
Vegan chocolate cupcake, New Wave Coffee | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/80, f5.6, ISO 100
1:55am: Longman & Eagle—Small bowl of mixed nuts.
After hours at Longman & Eagle | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/25, f4, ISO 1250
1:00pm: Longman & Eagle—”Market scramble of roasted Nichols Farm peppers, Werp Farms arugula, foraged mushrooms, and housemade fromage blanc” served over a croissant with home fries. Tasty! Since I didn’t have dinner the night before and knew that I’d probably skip dinner again, I also ordered Bananas Foster french toast with banana pudding, bourbon caramel sauce, and goat cheese semifreddo. I liked it, but the french toast could’ve been soaked longer for a more custardy texture.
Scramble over croissant, Longman & Eagle | Canon 5D, 70mm, 1/40, f4, ISO 1250
Bananas Foster french toast, Longman & Eagle | Canon 5D, 82mm, 1/40, f4, ISO 1250
12:00am: Rockin’ Horse—Veggie burger and too salty cajun fries. Thanks to Jason Morgan (of East Bay Grease, who have a single titled “Just Head”) for buying.
Burgers & fries, Rockin' Horse | Canon 5D, 24mm, 1/8, f6.3, ISO 800
[NOT PICTURED] 3:00pm: Zen Noodles & Sushi (delivery)—Cambodian fried rice. I love plain ol’ Chinese fried rice, but adding basil pushes it to another taste dimension.
8:00pm: Boiler Room—Hummus with the best grilled flat bread ever (dense, chewy, almost like focaccia); too-tangy salad with pieces of grilled focaccia. It also has Jameson soft-serve ice cream, which 1 out of 4 people in our party liked. The bathrooms are like mini CTA trains!
Hummus and grilled flat bread, Boiler Room | Canon 60D, 50mm, 1/6, f1.8, ISO 1600
1:00pm: Handlebar—Vegan biscuits with seitan sausage gravy and poached eggs. It was really toothsome but almost had too much gravy. M and I split the hot, gooey fried pies: one filled with PB&J and the other with blueberries. They reminded me of being at a county fair.
Vegan biscuits with seitan sausage gravy and poached eggs, Handlebar | Canon 5D, 105mm, 1/50, f4, ISO 800
Fried pies and ice cream, Handlebar | Canon 5D, 93mm, 1/50, f4, ISO 800