I'm in Chicago visiting Linzer. Picked up Grace along the way on the midnight train, took a Tylenol PM, and woke up somewhere in Ohio. The overnight train is good like that, making Pennsylvania a distant memory.
Now we're in a gorgeous hotel with an amazing view. A day into an adventure that read something like the following ramble.
If you're in Chicago with an hour to kill and a belly grumbling after the overnight train, go to Flaco's Tacos. Order three of the special (Pork Siracha pictured here) and a sangria. (Or margarita, but note that they only do frozen. If that's you're thing.) Here's the thing about the tacos - they're dry, flavorful explosion in a double (because it's the ONLY way to go) soft corn taco. The dry part seems weird, and it is at first if you're used to picking up a taco only to have it drip down your fingers as you eat it as fast as possible so it doesn't. fall. apart.
But Flaco's? None of this happens. Instead, you can take your time enjoying each bite. Talk with folks. End up without a belly ache. And drip, drip, drip, from the two magic bottles of amazingly tasty sauce on the table into your taco, bite by bite. It's inexpensive, festive, and delicious. Go.
Then to meet up with Lindzer for shopping at the most magical grocery I have ever visited. Mariano's, you take the cake. It's everything you remember Wegman's being back in the day, but with the friendliest staff you'll ever meet and libations. Yes, that's right, you can walk around this store with a glass of vino or a beer and actually relax and enjoy shopping. There are tastings of food everywhere, but they aren't IN THE WAY which made me totally break my "no eating food from a hotplate in a grocery store" rule. I think doing it while holding a glass of pink sparkly helped. Anyway, I have to admit I started to cry. It really was like my personal heaven and if having one of your best friends live in Chicago isn't enough of a reason to live there, I think Mariano's would be.
The highlight, however, came at about 10pm that night as I sat around a large table with 7 of the most lovely women I have ever met. After the salmon was cooked, cocktails poured, and brie devoured we settled in. Swapped stories. Shared moments and lessons. And laughed. A lot.
My only regret is that I did not get up the courage to ask these wonderful women to pose for a group picture.
It's been a long time since I've not been in mixed company (Okay, the boys were there for one signature cocktail before they magically disappeared. Honestly, where did they go?), and a girls night out beyond Linzer, Grace, and Jillybean has never been my bag. But this was different. I wanted to swim in the sea of these smart, funny, honest, and non-agenda women forever. It was a gift. A gift from the gods and one I feel incredibly blessed to be given at the very right time.
The Signature Cocktail
This is what we drank at lady's dinner. It's what kind of happens when you've been drinking in a grocery, are making a herb encrusted salmon, and are faced with a cabinet of ball jars. I'd call it the Gracie, as all I did really was add the parsley and make sure everyone had one in hand - but this was what it was referred to for hours by the magical Linzer. So this is how it stays.
Also, a side note on blush wine. It's Spring, it's back, and it's not the boxed wine by the pool from your childhood. Add it back in your wine rotation. You can thank me later.
- 1 bottle of chilled blush sparkling wine (We used J Brute Blush)
- 1 bottle of Chamborde
- Ice cubes
- Fresh curly leaf parsley
- Half-pint mason jars
Pour 1.5oz of Chamborde in the mason glass. Fill with champagne (pour slowly down the side of the glass so as not to fizz all over your purple sweater. Ahem.) Plop in an ice cube and add a sprig of curly parsley. Sip while discussing the process for shocking fish, the first year of marriage, or how to expose your children to religion. Your choice.