A Week In The Life Of TLT

Part of my “job” is going out. A typical week usually means I’m out 5 or 6 nights and there are often multiple events in an evening. Recently, however, I had a week that was over the top even for me.

Thursday, May 15: It all started here, with my birthday bash. People came and went throughout the party, which started at 6 and lasted until…let’s just say I stopped at Wiener Circle on the way home.

Friday, May 16: My good friend Merfat took the day off from work and had the brilliant idea of going to a Cubs game. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and we sat in the bleachers in front of a concession stand as the Cubs hit home run after home run after home run. After the game we poured into Cubby Bear. Hint: there’s a second entrance on Addison that doesn’t have nearly the line of the main door on the corner. The bar in the back room is also less crowded. Then we met some friends at Bar Louie for some good food served by a bad bartender (surly – girl, if you don’t want to work so badly you can’t hide it, then don’t!). Quesadillas, wings, cheese fries, and hummus plate. We followed that up by a quick stop at Wild Hare where a crazy man in a boater hat tried to teach me to step dance.

Saturday, May 17: Another gorgeous day, so my friend Elizabeth Grattan and I walked to Navy Pier for the Green Festival. Walked. I live around 3200 North Broadway and she lives in Lincoln Park. I met up with her and we cut through the zoo (now that’s a short cut!) to the lakefront path and strolled down to Festival Hall A. We meandered around with my fellow NBC5 Street Teamers Marcus, Megan & Reggie before getting a quick bite at Sullivan’s with Marcus. We watched the Preakness and shared steak and bleu cheese topped flatbread (fyi – it’s more like pizza dough than typical thin and crisp flatbread). Despite the almost 7 miles we clocked on foot that day, we still stopped into Brendan’s, my neighborhood pub, and had a couple of $2.50 Mike’s Hard Lemonades before calling it a night around 10:30.

Sunday, May 18: I woke up early to get some actual work done in the morning before meeting Phil Rosenberg at Duffy’s Tavern. We were supposed to catch the 2:30 party bus that would take us to the Chicago Machine Lacrosse game down at Toyota Park. The bus never came, so instead we shared a Kir Royale and then a cab with Audarshia Townsend of 312 Dining Diva and her friend Victoria. After our intro to lacrosse we went to Park West to see NYCO. I’d recently interviewed front man Ted Atkatz and was excited to see the band play with the Elgin Youth Symphony, especially since this was their last Chicago show for awhile. Ted was moving to LA, so after a great show we went out with Ted, bass player Mike, and some of his friends at Gamekeepers. (The rest of us had stopped in at Stanley’s to get something to eat first, but it was so insanely busy we had to get out of there. Plus they had live band karaoke.) Elizabeth had helped me interview Ted so she met us out. A couple of hours later she convinced Mike, Ted, and me to go to a 24 hour Korean barbecue spot way north on Western. The heated floors seeped through the pillows to our derrières as we drank Obi beer out of a Kool-Aid pitcher. Our grumpy waitress with pan-caked makeup put plate upon plate of side dishes in front of us and then placed a charcoal brazier in the hole cut in the center of the table. Ted grilled up the ribs and beef and he instructed me on the fine art of Korean Barbecue Lettuce Wraps. We piled back into his VW van (because what else would he have for a road trip to LA) and they dropped me off around 3am.
(Getting tired yet???)

Monday, May 19: Yes! A free day! Not really, but it felt like it… I was actually up early and able to get some work done, since nothing was scheduled until 7pm. After the last three days it was nice to get some keyboard time and I left for the SushiSamba media dinner refreshed. I met Merfat there and as we were led to our table I saw Audarshia and Victoria again. We sat right next to the stage, which I later learned was one of the best seats in the house. It was Brazilian Cuisine Week and they had a band and dancers dressed like showgirls and the same Capoeira troupe I’d seen at Chicago Dance Crash. Unfortunately this was the one time I didn’t bring my camera. It was just a media dinner, I thought, no need to photograph that. Oh well. I took a few really blurry pictures with my cell phone in between bites of palmito salad and huge grilled prawns with tiny couscous and tender tender pork and Brazilian chocolate cake. That dinner finished with a conga line around the restaurant. No, I didn’t end up with a fruit basket on my head, but if they’d poured much more wine and sake I might have.

Tuesday, May 20: I thought I was busy the rest of the week. This was the day to end all days. It began with more computer time. See, every time I go out there’s follow-up involved. I had pictures to format, people to thank, and reviews to write, in addition to answering my normal slew of emails, keeping up on my online networking, and updating the events calendar, I was also a little busy with the Promoter’s Ordinance. Anyway…Tuesday was expo day. I took the 145 to Michigan Avenue and got off to wait for the 3 to McCormick Place. I’m not good at waiting, so as I walked to the next stop I saw a man with a mohawk pick up a bracelet and chase after the woman who dropped it.
My first stop was the National Restaurant Association Show. Originally I’d wanted to go on Monday, but I desperately needed a solid work day to try to get caught up. When I finally got there I started in the International pavilion and ate my way up and down the aisles. There’s so much food at this show you can get fat just walking it. On second thought, maybe it’s a good thing I only gave myself an hour and a half.

The NRA Show has vendors providing services and products for every conceivable need. Besides prepared foods, there are farms of all types – meat, poultry, sea, and of course produce – from all over the world. Pampered Chef fans would go insane with all the equipment choices. There are companies that specialize in menu binding, in ventilation, in lighting, in sound, in security, in uniforms, in safety, in inventory, in reservations, in advertising…Touring the NRA would give anyone newfound respect for restaurateurs.

This year a separate part of the NRA was the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event. Despite my obvious proclivity for adult beverages, I only allowed a short time in the curtained and velvet roped tasting hall. As soon as I walked in and saw the big huge sign for The Association of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers surrounded by tables of the glorious wine I both wanted to kick myself and pat myself on the back since zin is my favorite wine. Oh well, it was only 1:30 in the afternoon so I guess it was a good thing I could only try five of them before heading to the next event, especially since their pours were very generous and I even had to dump some of them out (which to me is an absolute travesty!).
Next stop: Candy Expo!!!

I generally try to avoid cliches, but man, I was a kid in a candy store, even though technically I’m nearing 40 and I didn’t have to dig into my pocket for any change. Still, just picture it: row after row of taffy caramel jelly truffle fudge sucker cookies licorice sweet sour toffee marshmallow fruity nutty brittle praline lollipop cocoa dark chocolate milk chocolate chocolate with peanut butter mint chocolate chocolate covered. There’s also a big snack area, so salty fans can find chips and crackers and crisps and nuts and lots and lots of beef jerky. There are even a couple of pickle producers. Oh happy place. After the show there was a cocktail reception for the press where they served super sweet drinks. I took one sip of my rock candy martini and immediately switched to beer.

But wait – I’m not done yet. Next I went to dinner with my friends Teresa Hill (an amazing hypnotherapist) and Niki Kruk. Apparently it was my week for Korean, because we ate at Koryo (2936 N Broadway). Although it’s just down the street from where I live I’d never been there before. They have a half-Japanese, half-Korean menu, but the sushi chef was out sick so we were only offered Korean. We were brought fewer side dishes than what I’d received at the 24-hour joint, but the service was so much friendlier it didn’t matter. We shared a bottle of zin (guess where that idea came from) while trying kim chi man-du, miso soup, Bul Go-ki Dohp Bap, and Bi Bim Bap (check the menu for descriptions).
Finally, I was off to my last event. I met up with Joe Goodkin, lead singer of Paper Arrows, at Wilde so I could interview him. He was featured last week on TLT and his CD release show is coming up on June 6 at Metro. Shortly after we began talking the battery on my voice recorder died and I had to take notes. I like to make eye contact when I’m interviewing so it feels more like a conversation. That’s great and all, and Joe even commented on it, but since I couldn’t look down my chicken scratches are all over the place!

Well, there you have it. Six days in the life of The Local Tourist. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s varied, and boy, is it exhausting! But I wouldn’t have it any other way.






Leave a Reply