In Austin there isn’t really a first day of Spring. You just start to notice fewer days of winter. Then the pink trees come out and the masses move in for SXSW and it is just one big party. I kind of miss that first excitement though, like in the Northwest when it finally stops raining and everyone kind of looks up for the first time in months. In Chicago, the first day that you don’t really have to wear a coat anymore is the happiest day ever. Everyone starts wearing their brightest colors and every dog in the city is panting from their first long walk of the year. I was so excited that this year I got to experience it since they happened to have the first nice day while I was visiting. I even got to ride a bike on the lake trail which was super exciting because I haven’t been able to walk since last June without assistance and being on a bike made me feel so active.
I loved all the shiny happy people and listening to Sufjan Stevens rock out on my headphones.
They opened up a Native Foods in Wicker Park a few months ago two blocks from my sister’s place which is so freaking convenient. You can even order on the internet and they have it waiting for you! I wish we’d get one here. I love that you can get relatively healthy bowls (I loved the Gahndi bowl with blackened tempeh, vegetables and curry sauce but not as much as the soul bowl I had last time), salads, or the incredibly decadent Oklahoma bacon cheeseburger.
The fried pickles were totally awesome but it still didn’t match the tastieness of the fast food-style bacon cheesburger from Arlo’s in Austin. The Ensalada Azteca which was surprisingly not fresh tasting though it was the dead of winter, at least theoretically.
Since it was near St. Patrick’s day I kept seeing giant billboards for the Shamrock shake which made me really nostalgic, until I went to the Chicago Diner and got the vegan version! It was a million times better and went perfectly with my monte cristo sandwich.
I have the hardest time ordering there! Every single thing I try is a new favorite.
Another night we went to Athena in Greektown to celebrate my friend’s upcoming wedding and I was surprised that there were so many vegan options on the menu. Our waiter was named Socrates. It would have worked a lot better if I had ordered a combination plate but I really wanted to try the gigante beans.
They were, in fact, enormous. My friend’s dad really wanted me to put a quarter on the plate for reference and I wish I would have so you could see! They were really good, flavored with lots of oregano and tomatoes, but I felt pretty silly just eating beans.
While visiting my uncle I took the required shots of slivovitz. Then I had to take a picture, I just love this character on the bottle, I don’t know if it is because the mustache that make him look so shady or that those plums are so so large they resemble maracas but it is definitely better than the homemade stuff in back.
Back home now and the countdown begins to Texas Veg Fest!