Thursday, May 22, 2008

May Favorites

What can I say - it's almost June and still rediculously cold out. Which wouldn't be so bad in a bubble, save for the fact that we had two seventy degree days about a month ago and I presumptuously packed up my entire winter wardrobe to make room for shorts and spaghetti straps and slingbacks, OH MY! Of course, the next day it snowed. My toes have been in a quasi-state of frostbite every since - but the pedicure sure looks nice! Here are some ideas to get you through the next few weeks... months... will-summer-ever-come moments. Hang in there. It will. Sometime between realizing-you-planted-those-tulips-too-early and next Christmas. In the meantime:

Learn to cook.
Cooking is an invaluable skill and one that far to few have actually mastered. Plus, it's a great way to wow a date (for the reasons listed above. Since it's too cold to grill on the beach, grab your favorite bottle of Pinot and head on over to The Chopping Block for a few hours of culinary fun and a respite from the cold, dreary countdown to summer.

Learn to dance.
You'll be ready to shake it like a polaroid picture when the summer finally heats up. Here are a couple of places to learn new moves or brush up on your old ones:

Latin Street Dancing
I took 12 weeks of salsa lessons my first year in Chicago. Not only was it a great time and a good workout, now I can salsa, merengue and cha-cha-cha my way to a good time any night of the week! Once you've got the basics down, check out Lalo's (500 N. La Salle) on Wednesday nights or Nacional 27 (325 W. Huron) and Rumba (351 W. Hubbard) on weekends!

Big City Swing
Swing dancing is also a jolly good time and a great skill to have for big-band weddings!

Check out a museum.
Chicago is known for having a smorgasboard of great museums. But if you're anything like me, this is not how you plan to spend your sunny summer days. So, though it may be too cold to sail around lake Michigan, it's just warm enough to walk on over to any of the following museums and up your IQ for the day (I included a description, just in case):

Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive:
Nature & Culture since the beginning of time.

Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive:
Science and Industry (all I know - haven't been there yet).

Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive:
Grab your honey and gaze at the stars.

Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive:
World's largest indoor aquarium!

Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave:
One of the most famous art museums in the world, known for its French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection.

John Hancock Building and Observatory, 875 N. Michigan Ave:
View from the top! Stop in for lunch at the Signature Room (96th floor) and take in the breathtaking panorama of Chicago and Lake Michigan.

McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, 445 N. Michigan Ave:
Everything you ever wanted to know about the 1st ammendment.

Spiritual Museum, 4328 N. Lincoln Ave:
Voodoo dolls, ghostly photos, a howl of a visit.

Summer in Chicago is one of the best things going. Don't waste your time waiting for it - get out there and have fun in the meantime and the warm days will be here that much sooner! Time flies when your toes are tapping!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mayhem: Medium Rare with Tattoos on the Side

You can get a bacon cheeseburger just about anywhere. But I would bet money that there is no other place in the city of Chicago - or anywhere else, for that matter - where you can order a Goblin's Cock and not be thrown out on the street.

My BF and I got a tip on great burgers a couple months back while I was playing "Nine" at the Theatre Building on Belmont. Of course the tip came from his cousin who is a bit more progressive than we but nevertheless, we hear "great burgers" and we run to them like a beacon in the sea of boring (healthy) food.

When we arrived at Kuma's Corner around 11PM (post-show) on another typical Saturday night, we were thrilled to discover they had their own parking, tucked against the building. Looking up at the restaurant, we saw dark curtains covering all the windows and I believe I remarked, "wow... it looks nice..."

Sidebar: When playing a show, I carry my violin around with me EVERYWHERE. There is a reason. I'm not nuts. The insurance does not cover if it gets stolen from a car. And my BF doesn't have the best of luck with his car. So one plus one equals driving home to drop it off or - such as this night - dragging it around Chicago with me and praying I don't ram it into too many people. So get the mental picture. BF in a button down and jeans. Me in fancy black show-playing attire and a 10 pound violin case strapped over my shoulder.

We walk in and are immediately assaulted by the sounds of thumping, blaring, ear splitting heavy metal. On sensory overload, we recover our bearings. The bar is dark. And boisterous. And filled with piercings and tattoos and goatees, oh my. And then there is me, BF and the violin - which I had a helluva time trying to tuck under our table-for-two in the middle of the restaurant, within sneezing distance of the other couples to our left and right. One guy looked just like Jim Morrison and was probably just as stoned (I'll admit, I referenced, "Jimmy Hendrix" at first and BF replied "Jimmy Hendrix was black... You mean Jim Morrison?" Yes - that's what I meant - work with me.

We get a table right away, and aside from their intimidating appearance, the hostess and waiters were all incredibly friendly! (Thank goodness... I was starting to look for exits). We ordered some drinks and sat squinting in the darkness and trying to read through the menu - with over 20 types of burgers to choose from, it took some time. I ended up deciding on the "Neurosis" (appropriate) - Cheddar, Swiss, Sauteed Mushrooms, Carmelized Onions and Horseradish Mayo. BF went with the "Black Sabbath" - Blackening Spice, Chili, Pepper Jack and Red Onion. The burgers were amazing. It was too loud to talk but we screamed across the table anyway, seemed to fit right in. What an adventure! I told BF "we don't need to go on vacation - we can just come here...!" We had a fantastic time and an excellent meal.

We went back a few weekends ago and the agreement was that though we loved what we had last time and would be more than happy to rinse and repeat... we would step out of our burger box and try a different one.

I went with the "YOB" this time (don't ask) - Smoked Gouda, Bacon, Roasted Red Peppers and Roasted Garlic Mayo and my BF had - you guessed it - the "Goblin Cock" (I think he just wanted to say that in public) - Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, 1/4 lb Vienna Hot Dog (yes, right on top of the burger), Tomatoes, Onion, Neon Green Relish, Sport Peppers, Pickles and Celery Salt Mustart. Talk about a mouthful.

Kuma's Corner is not only an amazing cultural experience - but it's also reason #2360 for why I love Chicago. Try it if you dare. You wont be disappointed!

Kuma's Corner
2900 W Belmont
Chicago, IL 60618
Phone: (773) 604-8769