Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I went to sleep early at 8PM last night in hopes of catching enough sleep to prepare for my trip. Unfortunately, I did not sleep a wink and so spent the hours fantasizing about my adventures on the East Coast. Come morning, those fantasies were realized and I made my way to El Cerrito High School to meet with Don and my fellow ILCers who would be departing in a few hours. Three o'clock before sunrise was much earlier than I(as well as most people) was accustomed to being conscious at, and despite my lack of sleep I was brimming wit energy. 
Don checking Christian's luggage.

Don weighed my luggage and I now currently hold the record for the lightest check-in luggage at 20.2lb. An information session and photo shoot soon proceeded and before I knew it I was on an airport shuttle to the San Francisco airport. After a few bumps in the road, the Cornell cohort made it in time for our boarding. The flight was long and I was relieved when the plane finally touched down- rough as it was. Just a little over half an hour after 12PM, Mr. Chan-Law, Michelle, Tamilyn, Rochelle, Christian, Tomi, and I had arrived in Chicago.

Chicago is well known for its architecture and just an hour after arriving, it is clear why. The gothic architecture is more apparent in older buildings, but inside the city there is a definitive “old-city” air to the area. Underpasses are marked with skilled graffiti, many buildings still sport gargoyle carvings, and the streets are bustling with activity. Skyscrapers tower above, but lining the streets are numerous rows of greenery and various art sculptures. The water is a gorgeous turquoise in comparison to the murky San Francisco brown, and the Chicagoans’ appreciation for the water is apparent in the quantity of boats visible in the Navy Pier. The Pier in and of itself is a sight to behold. The enormous Ferris wheel gleams white against a backdrop of low buildings and pale blue sky. The colorful flags and shelters are analogous to that of a circus, and while the colors of the city are quieter, the vibrancy of Chicago’s culture is never lost.

Sand-colored buildings construed of stone and glass retain the natural and homely character of the city, eliminating the cold, polluted persona I often feel in industrialized cities. A walk in Chicago takes you through renowned brands as Louis Vuitton and Gucci, as well as more obscure names such as Yolk. The streets chorus with honks from frustrated drivers as buses, taxis, and domestic cars race to their destinations; buildings tower above, some glittering glass giants, while others sturdy stone monoliths; the streets below are surprisingly clean, and various trash cans and recycling containers line the streets. The people chat animatedly as they dart through streets and red pedestrian lights, and their energy is almost contagious. Their energetic dispositions, however, are not the main source of rejuvenation, but the food.

As of yet, my stand on Chicago's food is based solely on my experience in one restaurant, but if Foodlife's Mity Nice Bar and Grill is the best Chicago has to offer, that is more than enough for me. Inside the Water Tower Place, up two escalators, then down one onto the Mezzanine level, in the back left of the food court is an upbeat dining venue that entertains a new, somewhat unconventional dining experience. Upon entering the restaurant, customers are handed plastic cards which resemble debit cards and run on much the same concept. Diners can order food from any of the booths inside, swiping the card each time before paying for the total at the end of the meal. Craving Asian food? Help yourself to the stir-fry, sushi, or wok booth. Want something American? The grill has a rich assortment of hot dogs, burgers, and kabobs ranging from shrimp to chicken. Want Italian? Choose a classic deep-dish pizza or pasta, or both!
A heavenly vanilla cupcake in the guise of a snow cone

After the entree(s), indulge in the unique desserts. Pistachio ice cream may not be uncommon, but what about blueberry cookie ice cream in a white chocolate- dipped waffle cone; or a delectable vanilla cupcake in the guise of a snow cone? The latter was truly scrumptious and while it took me a while to fully consume the overwhelming quantity of calories, the quality and taste was worth every bite and however many pounds I may have gained. The bakers did not hesitate on the vanilla extract, and the butter cream frosting was not only perfectly balanced with the amount of cake, but it is the best I have ever tasted. Unlike the sugar-concentrated specimens usually sold in stores where the bakers attempt to exchange quality for sweetness, the frosting of this masterpiece was smoothly whipped, beautifully proportioned, and coated with colored sugar crystals so that when the butter had melted in a fountain of flavor, the crystalline coating remained to entertain the customer with a sweet crunch of delight.

Fortunately, many of the calories I gained from the meal were burned during an eventful trek through Chicago and its many sights: the Water Tower Place, Millenium Park, Nichols Bridgeway, etc. The cupcake had been one of many surprises and I look forward with gusto to seeing and experiencing all the East Coast has yet to offer. One day down, twenty four more to go.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect it took longer to read about that cupcake than it would have taken me to inhale it and wolf it down.