Saturday, August 19, 2023

Chicago Getaway Features Favorite Destinations and Activities

Chicago Getaway Features Favorite Destinations and Activities

Continuing our wedding anniversary celebration Chicago getaway, we did several of our favorite sites visits and activities. Yesterday's blogpost discussed our Spectacular Memorable Anniversary Celebration Evening and Dinner at the St Regis Hotel Miru Restaurant Chicago. That was the beginning of our wedding anniversary getaway in our beloved Chicago doing many of our favorite destinations' activities.

Following that fabulous dinner, we attended the theatre production of MJ The Musical at the magnificent James M. Nederlander Theatre.

MJ is the story of pop icon Michael Jackson, one of the most talented, greatest entertainers of all time, and the making of his 1992 Dangerous World Tour. As promoted, the multi Tony Award®-winning new musical was Created by Tony Award®-winning Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. The show, "MJ goes beyond the singular moves and signature sound of the star, offering a rare look at the creative mind and collaborative spirit that catapulted Michael Jackson into legendary status". 


The following day, we took the Chicago Architectural Boat Tour, There are several cruise boat operators offering such tours. This one is offered in concert with the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) whose highly trained and volunteer CAC docents (guides) conduct the detailed narrative of Chicago's numerous architectural styles and the stories of the legendary figures who designed and built the great city.

Chicago’s iconic architecture is showcased aboard TripAdvisor’s #1 rated boat tour of the city and was also voted as one of the Top 10 Boat Tours in North America by USA Today readers for 3 years in a row!

Chicago has a rich architectural history with some of the most incredible architecture offering some of the best skyline views in the world, best seen from the lakeshore, the lakefront and in these instances, from the river.

Above, the Bank of America Tower riverfront, and river walk view with my office overlooking the river in the background.

From the Chicago River, the tour covers fascinating stories behind more than 50 iconic and historic buildings along the Chicago River and Chicago's rich history, how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the world's largest cities in less than 100 years. 

Other architectural boat tours are offer by:  

The original Chicago boat tours - Wendella Boats - and ,

We love the Chicago boat tours. Even though we've done the tour many many times, and I could almost give the tour, as a docent interpreter of the Frank Lloyd Wright architectural tours, myself, we love taking the tour again and again. I know many of the docent guides and the intensive training and preparation they go through to conduct such tours. 

I gave the public tour the day of this post at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio in Oak Park. Catch me there many Sunday (or Saturday) afternoons in the Summer, Fall and Spring.

Indeed, my (day job until I recently retired) office overlooked the river and had a birds-eye view of the tour boats on the river (shown right).  

This photo, taken from my office, shows the river cruise boats on "bridge day", one of the Wednesdays in the early spring and late fall when the fleet of boats are moved to/from Lake Michigan up/down river to/from their winter storage sites, and the orchestration of opening the draw bridges to let them pass, street by street. 

We then visited another of our favorite Chicago destinations, the magnificent Art Institute of Chicago - Downtown Chicago's #1 Museum. We've been members for decades and visit regularly, most notably during special exhibitions. This was our third visit this summer, to see the Van Gogh special exhibit, once again. 

Founded in 1879, it is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world. It is sited on Michigan Avenue in Chicago's scenic Grant Park.It houses many iconic works such as Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Pablo Picasso's The Old Guitarist, my favorite, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, and Grant Wood's American Gothic. Its permanent collection holds nearly 300,000 works of art hosts more than 30 special exhibitions yearly.

The AIC was rated the best museum in the world by TripAdvisor and the only museum in the world to be ranked among the world’s best by TripAdvisor four years in a row. The fabulous collection features many iconic works - many of our favorites by Masters such as Renoir and Claude Monet, and some of our favorites ... Nightlife by Archibald Motley, and Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

We then headed home to the western suburbs, and stopped enroute in Oak Park at Hemingway's Bistro for dinner. We had reservations downtown but opted to beat the traffic and get out early, choosing Hemingway's despite the fact we dined there just last week, as featured in this blogpost - Lunch at Hemingway's Bistro Oak Park after FLW Tour

Continuing our anniversary celebration we started with a Champagne toast with two of our favorite Hemingway features, the Foie Gras with Candied Peaches and Baked Brie Cheese with Almonds and Honey.  

Baked Imported Brie with almonds, Apricot preserves, wildflower honey

Foie Gras du Jour with Caramelized Peaches, candy onions, parsnip puree, balsamic vinaigrette

For our dinner entrees, Linda chose the Crab Cake and I had a new menu entree selection offering, the Veal Chop. 

Lump Crab Cake Apple endive salad, grain mustard sauce

Wisconsin Veal Rib Chop with truffle creme corn, morel sauce

For our wine selection we had from the winelist this Santa Ynez Valley Andrew Murray Vineyards Syrah. The winelist offers six sparkling wines, 22 reds and 22 whites, predominantly French, with a dozen WBTG - Wines-By-The-Glass.

Andrew Murray Vineyards Tous les Jours Santa Ynez Valley Syrah 2020

We saw the Andrew Murray estate vineyards and winery when we visited the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County and drove the Foxen Canyon Wine trail. The trail follows the Santa Ynez Valley from Santa Maria down to Los Olivos and is home to numerous continuous estates and vineyards the length of Foxen Canyon Road.  It is home to Fess Parker Winery, Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards, and a dozen others, around the corner from Tensley Santa Barbara County Wines - many labels you'll see featured in these pages.

This wine is from the Curtis Estate, approximately 100 acres of uplifted, gently sloping vines, in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley. The site has gravelly loam soils over a deep bed of ancient maritime sand.  

The vines are 15 to 47 years old divided into several Syrah blocks of various clones. 

This Estate Syrah is derived from several block from multiple clones to give ample fruit, solid structure, and that cool-climate Syrah flavor profile. One clone's small, round, marble-shaped berry has a tight skin, which results in more structured wines. Another Clone is similar, but with a bit more fruit-forward note. The main block was grafted a few years ago onto Viognier vines and has quickly become a favorite block of Syrah and results in a very delicious and complex wine. 

Each fermentation lot is kept separate throughout the entire 18 months élevage after being barreled down in a mix of new and 1–4-year-old French oak barrels. The Estate Syrah is always crafted from the best of these barrels each vintage. 

Winemaker notes - "The 2020 vintage is nearly opaque in the glass with a blue/black core and bright red-black at the rim. The primary fruits are cherry and raspberry, balanced by a dusting of white pepper with a lovely and fully integrated toasty oak finish from the nearly 25% new French oak. The mid-palate is energetic and massive, while the finish is rich and long. Notes of Wild Raspberry Jam, Black Cherry, Purple Flowers, Crispy Bacon, Cinnamon Stick, and Toasty Oak.