Celebrate Good Times

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!  And Happy Belated Mardi Gras!  And for all the Catholics out there, Happy Belated Ash Wednesday!  And I suppose I should also add Happy Belated Chinese New Year (in Korea, known as Seollal)!

Wow that’s four completely unrelated celebrations in one week.  How do we manage?

In honor of these holidays, this past week (and thus, this blog post) was jam-packed with fun-tivities, which unfortunately did not include moving back into our apartment (I remain optimistic for next week), but fortunately involved a lot of good food and friends.

One of the more exciting developments for me can be summed up here:

Me with new camera

We got a new camera!  It’s the Nikon D5200 which was just released in the U.S. this past January.  As much as we love our Nikon D40 (which came onto the market circa 2006…), it was time for an upgrade.  I plan to write more about this in an upcoming post, but you can see some of the photos taken with our new camera here.

Backing up a bit…

Last Saturday, Patrick and I celebrated an early Valentine’s Day dinner at The Stained Glass here in Evanston.  I pass this restaurant almost daily since it’s only a block down the street from us, so it was great to finally check it out from the inside as an actual patron and not just as some estranged passerby glancing inquisitively into the windows as I rush to pick up milk from CVS.

While the candlelit atmosphere was ideal in setting a romantic mood, it was not so ideal for photo-taking, so I only have this one underexposed photo to show for it: Stuffed Artichoke

Much unlike this photo, the baked artichoke was phenomenal.  Probably my favorite of the entire meal.  We also shared the crab cake appetizer and the Cider-braised Short Rib entree which was surprisingly quite massive — imagine one rib large enough to feed the both of us with leftovers!  Not your average short rib.

The next morning on Chinese New Year, we celebrated with a quintessential American brunch at Walker Brothers with our friends Shindo & Haruka.  I keep hearing how amazing this place is and I’m now going to add to that buzz.

They are known for their pancakes, particularly their gargantuan apple cinnamon pancake, but since Patrick’s complex taste buds do not include a predilection for cooked fruit, we ordered this German Pancake instead, which was equally as fun and gargantuan:

Dutch Apple Pancake

You could fit a good-sized baby in that thing.  In fact, I bet it would double as an excellent cradle.  What respectable baby wouldn’t want to take a nap in there?

On top of its versatility, what surprised me most about this pancake was how light and airy it was.  It was also probably a week’s worth of carbs but who’s counting anyway?  If you’re looking to satisfy a pancake fix (or perhaps celebrate Chinese New Year), this is your place!

On Tuesday, when Mardi Gras rolled around, we celebrated in style with a masquerade themed pub crawl in Lakeview (which was also a birthday celebration for our friend Chris-Happy Birthday!).  Here’s me and Haruka — notice our matching winter coats — and our friend Jim photobombing in the background.  I was a huge fan of Haruka’s peacock mask.  As you can see, I went all out with a $3 mask from Party City and couldn’t quite decide if I was supposed to be channeling Cat Woman or Zorro.

MARDI GRAS

That night we made it through Mystic Celt and Southport Lanes before going home to bed… (hey, it was a work night!)  I started the night out with a Seabreeze, and then later copied everyone around me and upgraded to a Hurricane, which I found out is a traditional New Orleans cocktail consisting of fruit juice, rum, and grenadine (yum!).  Although in some ways the Hurricane seems a bit too appropriate of a drink to represent New Orleans considering what happened with Katrina…

The following night, we had a special visitor in town:  Uncle Mike!  He was in Chicago on business and we coerced him to drive an hour up to Evanston to see us.

DSC_0025

Since it was Ash Wednesday, we enjoyed a lovely Japanese meal at Kansaku, our favorite sushi restaurant in Evanston.  Just like Jesus and his disciples.

Patrick ordered the Vegetable Udon…

Udon

I went with my favorite standbys: the california roll and the crab crunch.

MakiCalifornia-Roll

Uncle Mike ordered the sea bass, which was definitely the most aesthetically pleasing dish on the table.

Sea-Bass

Thanks for coming, Uncle Mike… it was great catching up!

Dinner with Uncle Mike

On Valentine’s Day, Patrick had to fly to California for a job interview, so my friend Kelli was kind enough to step in as my Valentine that night.  Actually, we completely forgot it was Valentine’s Day when we first made plans and somehow we were able to find a table without a reservation!

We ate at Blind Faith Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant in Evanston.  They have a great selection of food there, ranging from Asian to Mexican to veggie burgers with sweet potato fries.  I ordered the teriyaki tofu fried rice bowl which I highly recommend.  But even more so, I recommend their desserts.

Kelli ordered the Vegan Chocolate Cake which has inspired me to try more vegan desserts:

photo-1

And I ordered the peanut butter chocolate cake, which was like a Reeses peanut butter cup in cake form.  It came with raspberry sorbet on the side, which is actually quite the winning combo (think peanut butter and jelly).

photo

After a week of festivities, I decided to wind the week down on a bit of a quieter note.  Patrick is still in California so last night I decided to stay in.  I suppose living in a hotel does have its advantages, one of them being…

room service

… room service!  Some of my coworkers are convinced that staying in a hotel means I order room service every night, but this is actually only my second time in four weeks.

I ordered the Soup of the Day, which happened to be Black Bean Soup,

Black-bean-soup

the Caprese Salad,

Caprese-Salad

and the chicken quesadilla.

Quesadillas  

The best part was that I didn’t even have to do the dishes.  When I get my apartment back, I’m going to try setting my dirty dishes out in the hallway and see what happens.

Hope you all had an equally enjoyable week.  Next week appears to be a little less hectic on the holiday front, but I’m sure we’ll still find something to celebrate 🙂

Apparently President’s Day is on Monday.  Hmm.. what can we do in honor of that?

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3 thoughts on “Celebrate Good Times

  1. What an amazing week! I’m so happy that you went to Walker Bros. and loved it — the German pancake is my favorite. I think you’re on to something with that baby cradle idea… 😉 I also am drooling over the desserts you and Kelli had at Blind Faith Cafe. I’ve only had their lunch menu before, but you’ve inspired me to go back and fix that ASAP. I hope you’ll join me when I do! Oh and that room service? Looks amazing! I need to try that whole putting the dishes out here, too.

    • Monica says:

      Kelli and I were just talking today about how we want to go back to Blind Faith Cafe… it would be even better if we all went! I’m already craving another piece of that peanut butter chocolate cake 🙂

      And yes, Walker Bros. was amazing.. a new favorite of mine for sure. And I think I recall hearing that the Dutch Baby Pancakes are a speciality of yours… would love to learn how to make them from you sometime! Since it requires a special pan, maybe we can make them whenever we finally visit you in AZ? 🙂

  2. Susan says:

    Mmm… delicious pictures, and the camera looks great. Glad you got to go out with Uncle Mike, too!

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