Friday, May 27, 2011

Finding Spring in Chicago

"Bet your bottom dollar that you'll lose the blues in Chicago...."


And so I did. All winter blues ceased. I found spring. And when I left, Michigan Avenue was still awash in gaggles of tulips that would make Holland smile... the temps were in the 70's and 80's...I wore short sleeves... capris...sandals...

And I came home to lilac week.

And phlox and tulips.
And 50 degrees.
Matthew decked out the home with vases filled with lilacs as a welcome home.


Our first day was warm and gray.

Until we found Team Lizard down at the Navy Pier. If there is no sun, create your own!

Millenium Park was all angles and spirals and silver. We walked 12 miles the first day.

I love the green spaces in urban areas. The NYC child in me will always be a city girl - with a longing for green.

And the skies cleared and the next day we walked another 6-8 miles. The juxtaposition of the parks and the skyscrapers heartened. Chicago celebrates the accomplishments of mankind with its bustling downtown loop but gives way to the spirit and the beauty of the earth by melding green space and cityscapes. Lake and river. Scope and height. And when the sun warmed us, Paul and I decided to not go inside a building unless it rained.

It didn't. And so we gleefully played outside just as we did 25 years ago as newlyweds on Maui. And walked. And walked. (Until I discovered 8 blisters on my toes. Not to be dissuaded, we found band aids and walked some more.)

And when I came home to chill and clouds, I "cooked" spring. After reading Bon Appetit on the plane, I craved color. And so it came to pass that I made something similar to the recipe I had read - Halibut with mango salsa. Red, green, white and orange sitting on a plate as prettily as my phlox and lilacs. As beguiling as the tulips I left behind.

Halibut with Mango Salsa - serves 4
(Use any whitefish that strikes your fancy)
1-1/2 - 2 pounds halibut
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - divided
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 mango peeled and seeded
1 avocado, diced into small chunks
1 pint cherry tomatoes - halved or quartered
a handful of slivered basil
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk 1 tablespoon of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Brush liberally on the halibut and salt and pepper it to taste. Let sit ten minutes. Grill or bake halibut until desired doneness. I hesitate to give times - my halibut was thick requiring 12 minutes on one side and 12 minutes on the other - and yes, it rained so it was baked in a 350 degree F oven.

In a medium bowl, combine diced avocado*, diced mango**, cherry tomatoes, basil, the rest of the olive oil and lime juice and zest. Salt and pepper to taste. Let sit at room temperature or cover and chill for the day.

When halibut is done, spoon over the fish and serve. Find spring during the dinner hour!

*I tried Bon Appetit's suggestion of immersing the cut avocado in ice cold water to prevent browning. Lo and behold! It worked!
**I chased the slippery sucker of a mango all around the kitchen as it tried to escape after being peeled. I have since learned to cut the cheeks of the mango. Dice without cutting into the skin and then cut the peel off.

We did go inside for meals and yes, of course I ate my way through Chicago. There was no way I was going to tell Chicago, "Oh! I'm "mindfully eating" - can I have a wedge of iceberg lettuce?" Part of the wonder of enjoying the city was because of the advice from fellow bloggers. I'm grateful for the advice of Marie from Proud Italian Cook and Pat from Mille Fiori Favoriti who steered me in the right eating direction. The blogging community truly opens up new avenues of discovery. As I try to recreate some of the Chicago meals at Quartino, Floriole and Gioco's in the coming weeks I shall give you a sampling and a few recipes of the wonder that is dining "Chicago style." (And sorry, it doesn't include hot dogs and pizza - although they were pretty tasty!). Chicago is a buffet. And we gleefully stepped up to the plate.

44 comments:

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Sounds like a great trip Claudia and so glad you got to see a bit of the tulips still in bloom. You have quite the prolific lilacs, lady. You and Pat and Marie have me really, really wanting to visit the city. Happy Anniversary.

Chris's Gourmet Fashion said...

Claudia that halibut and mango sounds like a great marraige but your anniversary adventure outshines it. Sounds like you had a great time, excited to revisit these restaurants with you (I mean through your posts0. Have a great weekend :)

SKIP TO MALOU said...

This post is bursting with spring... the cheerful colors of the flowers, the soothing warmth of the sun, the bursting flavors of the plate and most of all the beautiful story written by both of you in those 25 years... happy anniversary Claudia thank you for sharing it with us! It made me smile!
xo
Malou

Angie's Recipes said...

wow This entry screams spring out loud! The halibut with mango salsa looks out of the world delicious!

Rebecca from Chow and Chatter said...

wonderful post so sweet and a well deserved break love Chicago thanks for sharing your tips on being a New Yorker in a different place look up and admire you Claudia

Marcellina said...

Such a colourful and fresh dish! I didn't know that trick about the avocado - good tip! I love the way your photos take us on holidays with you! It sounds fantastic!

Pegasuslegend said...

Wow what a great time... awesome photos... so much fun you captured so glad you have a great time you deserve it!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I am so glad that you had as nice a time as we did in Chicago, Claudia--and I'm jealous of the nice weather you had! We did a lot of walking there also -- it is a very walkable town!

I love the avocado tip and your halibut looks so delectable covered with this sweet and savory salsa!

The Mom Chef said...

Even though I haven't lived there, your post has made me so proud of what I still consider "my" city. Compared to many of the big ones, it it so clean and beautiful.

I also am very jealous of those gorgeous bouquets of lilacs. They get a root fungus down here so don't grow well and I miss the fragrance very, very much. My favorite flower. Thanks for the picture of them!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I'm so glad you had a great time here, a little food, a little romance on your 25th and nice weather to boot! You brought back memories of blisters I got when we went to Italy, nothing was going to stop me from walking all over, after countless bandaids and limping from pain, I bought some razor blades and cut the back off of my 100.00 shoes and made a pair of mules. Relief! Can't wait to see your food posts from here!

Drick said...

sounds like you had a great time, all the walking and blisters, cannot believe it is still somewhat cool there but thank goodness it is not as hot and humid as it is here.... very nice salsa, had not heard of cutting under ice water, huh... funny 'bout the mango, I know what you mean, I had to tie mine to a lease

Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog said...

How many colors here between flowers and the Halibut is a perfect delicious match :)

Cheers,

Gera

Anna Johnston said...

The Vases of Lilacs are gorgeous, your home must of smelt like heaven? And looked so pretty too. Matthew is a darling indeed. :) I am so envious of the Mango in your food, oh how I dream of Tropical Fruits. The Halibut looks AMAZING. Absolutely 'screen lickable'.

Beth said...

I love your photos and your stories. I'm looking forward to all those recreated Chicago dishes. Sounds like a wonderful holiday!

Mary said...

It sounds like you had a fantastic getaway. Your photos are wonderful and the halibut screams to be tried. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Roz from 'la bella vita' said...

I'm SO glad that you had such a great visit with wonderful weather in Chicago, Claudia. It really is a winner of a city these days versus the old days. My son lives in Chi-town and I visited him last during May . . . maybe I saw the same gorgeous tulips! Thanks for the recommendations, cuz I'm going to be visiting him again in July! Also glad that you returned to spring when you arrived home. YOU DESERVE IT, GIRL!!!

Roz from 'la bella vita' said...

oh and I forgot to say thanks for the B.A. tip for the avocados!

Mother Rimmy said...

I never knew about the ice water trick to keep avocado from turning brown. I like that because I don't always want to add lime or lemon to my avocado just to keep it from turning. Wonderful dish!

Sandra said...

Looks like you had wonderful trip..your pictures are fantastic, full of happiness and color!!! and your dish looks very tasty!!!
Have a great Sunday!!

Jeannie said...

Chicago looks beautiful through your eyes and the manggo salsa sounds delicious!

Lizzy said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful trip, Claudia! And it's warmed up (and dried up)since our trip a couple weeks ago!

Your halibut looks delicious...and glad you tested out the avocado trick for us all :) Welcome home!

Reeni said...

It seems like you walked off any of the calories you ate plus some! How nice to come home to a house full o flowers - I love phlox! We used to have an entire side of a hill growing with them and now we have none. Boo. Your fish and mango salsa is indeed a breath of Summer! I'm glad hearing you had a nice trip.

Martha (MM) said...

You said you couldn't participate at the party but this is EXACTLY the kind of posts I am looking for!! Hope you will link it up :-)

Mari said...

The halibut with mango salsa looks delicious. You've made a wonderful combination of flavors. Nice spring pictures of chicago and I have to say the flowers are beautiful, those lilacs, to gorgeous to just look, I wish we could be able to smell them.

Have a wonderful week.

Kristen said...

What a glorious time! Those flowers are gorgeous. Yeah for spring!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a fun read. I chuckled at the slippery mango. How true, how true. I'll have to try the avocado tip.

Happy anniversary.
Sam

Bridgett ~ La Bella Cook said...

Wow, sounds like a delightful trip, minus the blisters and bandaids! The tulips look amazing and so very colorful.

Amy said...

Hi Claudia! Aren't you glad that we are finally having warmth in MN?! I am enjoying all of the blooming lilacs and flowers as well :)! Your trip looks like a fun time! This fish recipe looks perfect for memorial day, love all of the color in the veggies! Hope you have a wonderful week :)!

Miri Leigh said...

Sounds like you had a great trip! And thanks for the salsa recipe :)

Jill@MadAboutMacarons said...

Love your post, Claudia! I so want to go to Chicago even more now after reading this. I can smell that lilac in the house, too. Good for you for doing all the walking - I bet you felt great after all that, in spite of the blisters ;-) I'm like you: one of the highlights of a getaway is catching up on reading recipes in magazines. Thanks for sharing this one.
I can just imagine you chasing the mango around the kitchen! :-)

spcookiequeen said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip, I would have thrown mindful eating out of the window too. Pretty architecture, can't wait to hear about some of the foods you had. So glad Spring has finally sprung for you. The halibut is not so shabby either. Welcome home.
-Gina-

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

Wow, wonderful trip for you, and for me !!! I dream of knowing Chicago....The fish couldn't be fresher!!
Thanks!

Barbara GF said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful trip, Claudia. How fun you went to places recommended by Marie and Pat. And then to come home to such gorgeous flowers - ah, sweet spring! And congrats on your anniversary!

Kate@Diethood said...

You just got real lucky with our Chicago weather... it usually sucks! :-) I joke that the weather out here has some bipolar issues. But, I am glad that you enjoyed yourself.

Wanda..... said...

Loved your adventure in Chicago, Claudia...enjoyed the photos! Thanks for the ice water tip!

5 Star Foodie said...

Glad you had such a nice time in Chicago. The halibut sounds excellent with mango salsa!

Juliana said...

Claudia, thank you so much for sharing beautiful pictures of Chicago, most of the time that I've been to Chicago had been during Fall/Winter, so I am happy to see Chicago in a different perspective.
As for the halibut with mango salsa...it sure looks so tasty and very "springy". Hope you are having a fantastic week :-)

OysterCulture said...

Happy Anniversary,

That sounds like a wonderful trip. I love Chicago and I agree half the fun of visiting is eating your way through. You have to use all of your senses after all.

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

This makes me want to visit Chicago. Great photos Claudia. The halibut looks delicious. I'll try it with the salsa the next time have this tasty fish. Cheers!!!

Kim said...

Claudia- Your pictures of Chicago are so stunning and make me wish I could be there as I type this. I can only imagine the incredible food that can be found in that city! I love the halibut dish (and the tip about the avocado). A gorgeous springtime meal that does indeed match the color of the flowers popping up everywhere.

So glad that to hear your area has warmed up!

Lori Lynn said...

Love your pics of the City. Looking forward to reading more about your food adventures there.
Halibut is sounding mighty tasty too.
LL

That Girl said...

It looks like spring in Chicago!

Magic of Spice said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic trip and these photos are gorgeous! Sorry it is still chilling for you at home but looks like your flowers are doing beautifully :) Beautiful dish as well, lovely and colorful :)

Dentist West Hollywood said...

Beautiful flowers! And don't even get me STARTED on that mango salsa, it looks amazing! Anything that includes mangoes and avocados is okay by me. :)

~Rosie