About Me

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Lansing, Michigan, United States
I am a Lansing townie, lawyer, and restaurant reviewer for the City Pulse. I love traveling, reading, yoga, and baking, but my favorite hobby is stuffing my face.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Happy Christmas (Bar is Over)

A week and a half ago I took the Michigan bar exam. All of my time since mid-May had been completely devoted to learning as much law as I could, which meant no trips, no going up north, no yoga (until I started going nuts and Mom directed me to return to a few classes a week), and no hanging out with friends. My meals were unvaried- oat bran, salad, tofu. Vats of coffee. I even started drinking an occasional Diet Coke, which I have since remembered is disgusting. That temporary habit has been abandoned.

My bestie, whom we lovingly call Kitty, is getting married in September. She had been a dreamboat in understanding that my wedding-planning involvement would be minimal until post-bar exam, but after the exam, I would throw myself into my Maid of Honor duties. So, two days after I emptied my brain and poured it into bluebooks, Team Kitty headed to Chicago to celebrate her.

I hadn't been to Chicago since I was in high school. I know. It's three hours away, get with it. Well, the Windy City has come roaring back onto my radar and I will be sure to head there more often in the future. We got in on Friday night, cleaned up and changed into dresses and heels at the hotel, and headed to Las Palmas on the advice of a true Chicagoan. See, Kitty's got a real thing for Mexican food. I myself could generally take it or leave it, so when we eat Mexican in the Lansing area (which is always at Kitty's insistence) I always just order whatever she ordered.

This time I decided to read the menu and order something different. Ok, the real motivation was to order whatever Kitty told me to order, so she could taste it. She's the bride, she gets anything she wants.

We were starving when we arrived at the restaurant and immediately ordered guacamole. I've never been more impressed by a mashed-up avocado. It was the creamiest, most fresh-tasting guac I've ever had. I'm not saying that I'm a guacamole expert or anything, but it. was. slammin.

We ordered it with medium heat and it worked for me. Some of my wimpier friends thought it was too spicy. I told them to grow up.

My entree was the BARBACOA DE CORDERO- Braised lamb in guajillo peppers, maguey and avocado leaves served atop Mole de Mayo with asparagus & a crispy arepa (Voted best mole in Chicago 2011.)

The fork sneaking in is Kitty's. She couldn't wait.
 The lamb was tender. The dish was flavorful. I'm always intrigued by the idea of chocolate in my mole, and I couldn't resist a statement like "best mole in Chicago 2011." I think the asparagus was kind of a weird addition, but I cleaned my plate.

The next day we headed to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. Kitty talked about eating a hot dog 67 times before we got to the game, and her excitement was only ramped up when I read her a report from infallible Four Square that Wrigley and Yankee Stadium have the best stadium hot dogs in the country. After watching the actual baseball for .7 seconds, we turned our attention to the concessions.

You haunt my dreams. 

It was incredible. I scarfed it. Then we sat in the bleachers until we all started sweating, at which point we went downstairs and stood around trying to decide what to do with ourselves. During this interlude, I ate ANOTHER HOT DOG. That was one of the best decisions I've made. The last bite was the best bite of anything I had taken in days.

On another note, the employees at Wrigley were wonderful. They were so welcoming and delightful. I'm not kidding. I hope that the employees at Tigers Stadium, errr. . . Comerica, are as nice.

Later in the day we ate some inconsequential pizza. Much later, after spending several hours watching Olympic swimming, we went downstairs to the restaurant in our hotel, the Westin on Michigan Avenue. I didn't have high hopes. It's a hotel restaurant, after all. Kitty and I love oysters on the half shell, and I knew they were available. I thought maybe a half-dozen and a salad would satiate our 10:00pm hunger. Then this happened-

me: "Do you want a salad? Maybe the panzanella?"
Kitty: "Sure." (long pause) "Do you want to split a steak instead?"
me: "Thank God you said that."

We had a bleu cheese and herb encrusted filet that was delicious. I knew when I cut through it that the meat was perfectly prepared. The accompanying spinach mashed potatoes were good, but they were an afterthought. After focusing on the half-dozen oysters (yes, we ate those too) and hoovering the filet, the potatoes remained on the plate.

Earlier in the day, after the game, we headed to a few stores to look for wedding shoes. We were hungry. We were tired. We needed a snack. The heavens opened and we found ourselves standing smack in front of Sprinkles, which I had never heard of but is apparently "the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze." Thanks for showing me that you know the word "progenitor," Los Angeles Times.

I am always disappointed with commercial cupcakes. I fancy myself quite a baker and what I make at home is, without fail, better than what I find for sale. This place was no different, but it was a darling bakery and the banana cake with dark chocolate frosting could give me a run for my money.

We chased that cake, and the strawberry (dry and meh) with coffee and their last glass of skim milk.

Blood sugar savior.
 This little snackie fueled us up for our trip to Bhldn, Anthropologie's bridal shop, so my crazy friend could contemplate a $300 pair of shoes. We still live in Lansing, Michigan, right? Who balls that hard?

We ate on Sunday, too. But I want you to come back and read about that later. And you should, because it was one of the best meals I have ever had.

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