I lived in Chicago for 14 years, leaving in late October of 2013 after completing an all-consuming, sleep-depriving special project in the publishing industry — editing (and writing much of) a 300-page magazine.
I got out just in time, too, as I’m pretty sure this born-and-raised California kid would not have survived the Windy City’s brutal winter of 2013-14. Friends tell me the combination of cold and snow over such a prolonged period of time was unmatched in their memories.
I paid a visit to my old stomping grounds earlier this month, en route to an annual music event in St. Joseph, Mich., called Smooth Jazz at Sunset.
My lady and I flew to Chicago on the redeye so I could work in a morning visit to my dentist’s office before heading out of town. While I sat in “the chair” with my mouth wide open, Michelle made a beeline to an Italian market we’d heard about called Eataly.
“Italian market” doesn’t even begin to describe this place, conveniently located downtown, not far from Michigan Avenue. It features two floors packed with purveyors of Italian delicacies, including hand-stretched mozzarella made fresh daily.
The “fresh departments” also include a bakery, butcher, fishmonger, pasta, salumi and a wide range of formaggi.
There are small restaurants offering sit-down and stand-up dining, two coffee bars and, of course, a wine bar.
Vegetables? Vibrant in hue.
Michelle spent three hours there, rounding up salumi, cheese, bread and dark chocolate for a feast that night in St. Joe. She said she easily could have spent twice as much time, as each stand or kiosk offered something enticing to taste or inquire about.
Were I still living in Chicago, my before-concert stop would now be Eataly and its two floors of Italian culinary decadence.