I can remember the very first time I arrived in Chicago. I was fresh off the plane from England and coming here to intern at CBS Chicago and stay with friends. I stayed only 3 months that first time but immediately fell in love. Every day as we’d drive into the city I’d gaze at the huge buildings and feeling a sense of awe at the people that built them. Those priceless memories and smells are things I can still vividly remember.
I marveled at the beauty of the Hancock Building, the smells and sights near the old Marshall Fields (now Macy’s) and loved the sound of the “L” as it rattled by.
Chicago is the complete city: it’s got the amazing beaches and the beautiful sunny summers. It has the gorgeous lake that you can swim in and yet has great snow filled winters to enjoy and then there’s the city itself. An awesome, inspiring place that makes it easy to love.
That first time I only stayed for 3 months but I met the love of my life; a Chicago boy who’d never left the country and with a city like this how could I blame him? 14 years and 2 kids later we’re still living in Chicagoland and now I too call it Sweet Home Chicago.
My parents have been visiting here every year for the past 14 years but it wasn’t until last year that my Dad and I got to check off something on his bucket list and walk to his favorite view of the city at night by Lower Wacker Drive. That fun Daddy Daughter Date Night has become one of the many reasons why I love this city.
Eataly Chicago Opening
By the time Eataly Chicago opened on December 2, 2013, they’d already garnered over 7,000 Facebook likes! I got an invite to attend a special event there and boy was I in for a treat. They didn’t open to the public until 4pm and yet at 11.30 there was throngs of people trying to get a peek of this unique Italian experience.
There’s already an Eataly New York and after the huge success there they decided to open one in Chicago. Oscar Farinetti is the brainchild behind Eataly and is backed by Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich and Adam and Alex Saper. These famous restauranteurs all bring a bit of their own flair to the place and have created an experience unlike anything else in Chicago.
Where else can you see a live olive tree, shop at a delightful market, taste an array of truffles or simply come in and read a book at the bookstore? As Chicago has the third largest Italian American population in the United States, Eataly is sure to be a welcome treat for those craving authentic Italian cuisine.
Oscar’s aim is to make high quality Italian foods available to everyone, at fair prices and in an environment where people can shop, taste and learn and that is what Eataly is. I was stunned by the two storey building with escalators and glass elevators as well as beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. Then there’s the pizza ovens. Recently a whole portion of Ohio Street was closed to get two 5,500-pound Italian-made wood-burning pizza ovens up to the restaurant’s second floor but it was all worth it.
Another thing I noticed was the variety of all the offerings. From coffee to chocolates and meats and cheeses, you won’t be stuck for choices. I wandered over to the sweet treats counter and spotted my favorite dessert: Tiramisu. As a Chicago foodie, I pretty much rank food places based on the quality of their tiramisu if offered and then I realized that as I’m now on a gluten-free diet this was going to be tricky until I spotted the sign: Gluten free Tiramisu. Oh. My. Word! I sampled and am here to tell you that the Eataly Gluten Free Tiramisu is worth devoting this whole blog post to! Not only was it smooth and had a great texture but somehow those clever bakers made it gluten free and yet full of taste!
Over the past 14 years I’ve spent many days and evenings heading into the city to sample the sights, the sounds and all there is to do in Chicago and have captured many memories on camera so I thought I’d share some other reasons why I love Chicago.
5 Reasons I love Chicago
If you’ve never been to Chicago, here are some really good reasons that you should put us on your bucket list!
1) Our Sports Teams
We are privileged to live in an area that not only has one or 2 but lots of amazing sports teams from the Chicago Bears to the Chicago Cubs, the Triumphant Chicago Blackhawks and more. Besides being a spectator at one of the games, there’s lots of sports to play in and around the city or fun things to do like taking a Segway ride around for fun.
Although we may get laughed at for the Chicago Cubs anyone who steps in there wipes away the smile the minute they see the incredible stadium. Wrigley Field is nicknamed The Friendly Confines, a phrase that “Mr. Cub”, Ernie Banks, used a lot and is the oldest National League Ballpark, something we’re very proud of.
2) We Have 2 Great Zoos.
I’ve got little kids and they love seeing animals which is why I love the fact that I have two choices. My favorite by far though is the Lincoln Pack Zoo in downtown Chicago. Not only is it free but there are amazing views of the city and a great place to bring a picnic lunch and look at the sights and sounds of the city. Plus if you’re lucky you can score a cheap parking spot on the street and really have a cheap day out. Between now and January 5, 2013 they have the Lincoln Park ZooLights which is an awesome spectacle to see.
Where else can you see a giant snow-globe containing my sons’ favorite Star Wars characters?!
3) The Beaches
Sure it can get realllllllllllly chilly during the winter but during the summer there’s so much to do and see in and around the city. I’m a city loving, beach girl and there aren’t many places in the world that you can go and get both. One of our favorite beaches is the Foster Park Beach that usually doesn’t have tons of people around and is still pretty and big enough for the kids to play. Take a drive just one hour outside of the city to New Buffalo, Michigan and see more of Lake Michigan as well as taking a stroll down some of the cute boutiques that the quaint town has to offer.
4) The Magnificent Architecture
Chicago is world renowned for it’s architecture and even though most buildings were destroyed during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, it has rebuilt and now has some great landmarks like the Willis Tower and the Hancock Building. If you want to catch the best view of the architecture the best way is down the Chicago River on a boat. We’ve done many of the tourist boat options like the Wendella but last year enjoyed renting a boat for two hours and driving ourselves. My children and nephews were giddy to help be the captains!
5) The Cultural Experiences.
Chicago is truly a melting pot of all different cultures and it’s year long festivals showcase this. The beautiful Christkindlmarket is one holiday tradition that we always take the kids to as we enjoy strolling around and seeing the German holiday traditions and when I’m feeling homesick it’s easy to find a place for Tim and I to go and watch an English soccer game and sit next to other English people cheering on Liverpool!
I’m hoping the relationship MasterCard has with Eataly will help enable even more priceless experiences because I truly #LoveThisCity. Speaking of things to look out for…..
Squuuuuuuuuuuuueee, Eataly is opening Baffo soon!