vermillion horizon

Monday, April 30, 2007

New York treat

I haven't had a chance to travel overseas in the past several months, but I have been to New York, where each city block feels like a new country - and every time I go, I spend hours seeking out things Japanese.

On my most recent trip to New York, I visited Cafe Zaiya, a tiny cafe located just a few blocks from Grand Central Station. To be honest, I go there every time I visit New York (in fact, I think I have blogged about this place before!) I love its convenient location and nostalgic qualities - the efficient, friendly workers with bandanas tied around their hair, the stacks of bento boxs and donburi bowls in the refrigerated case, the neat rows of fresh baked pastries like anpan and melonpan, the J-pop playing on the stereo system. Going into Cafe Zaiya makes me feel like I just stepped into Tokyo.

Chicago needs a place like this!

Cafe Zaiya
18 E. 41st St.
New York, NY 10017

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The competition is on

This weekend the US Olympic Committee selected Chicago as America's candidate for the 2016 Summer Olympics. With its dramatic Stir the Soul theme and its comprehensive proposal featuring a "magical" lakefront Olympic village and world class venues, Chicago beat out Los Angeles and will now move on to compete against Tokyo, Prague, and Rome to become the latest Olympic host city. The International Olympic Committee will announce its final decision in October 2009. That seems like a long time away - but Chicago is a city used to waiting!

In the meantime, check out details of Chicago's Olympic bid.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

5 things

So it's my turn to write a "5 things" list. But I don't feel like writing 5 things about myself (what could I really say that anyone would feel compelled to read??), so instead I will write about something a little more interesting... Chicago! The top 5 "can't miss" things in the Windy City (in no particular order):

1. Wrigley Field - there is no better place in the world to watch baseball than the Friendly Confines (though if the Cubbies keep playing like they did last year, the atmosphere may turn hostile pretty quickly!) Watch as the Bleacher Bums throw back home run balls hit by opposing players and sing along to Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch. And if the Cubs pull out a victory, celebrate in Wrigleyville after the game. (As a bonus, head down Addison to the Viennese coffeehouse Julius Meinl, where you can wind down with live music and strong coffee served to you on a silver platter.)

2. Millennium Park - Chicago's latest tourist attraction lives up to the hype. Thousands of visitors have snapped photos of the Cloud Gate sculpture (or "The Bean" as it is more commonly known) and kids splashing in the water under the scary faces of Crown Fountain. Almost every evening of Chicago's short summer, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion features live performances ranging from the Grant Park Orchestra to the Made in Chicago jazz series (and the Dalai Lama will be there in early May!)

3. Chicago Botanic Gardens - this stunning 385-acre garden is not technically in the city, but it is worth the ride to the ritzy suburb of Glencoe to stroll through some of the 23 display gardens and three natural habitats. Cross the footbridge to explore the extensive Japanese Garden, stop to smell the roses in the Rose Garden, and get lost in the maze of the English Walled Garden.

4. John Hancock - for the best views of Chicago, head to the top of this North Michigan Avenue skyscraper. Bypass the observation deck and instead go to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor, where you can get a birds-eye view of the city while relaxing with a drink and appetizers. Sure the drinks are ridiculously expensive, the the view is worth every cent - espeically if you go at sunset and get to watch the city light up.

5. Ethnic neighborhoods - OK, this is cheating, but I couldn't pick one neighborhood over another. From the pho on Argyle (especially at Pho Xe Tang, aka Tank Noodle) to the tres leches in Pilsen (try Bom Bon Bakery or Kristoffer's), Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods showcase the diversity of the city and offer a smorgasbord of culinary treats. Don't miss Andersonville (Swedish), Humboldt Park (Puerto Rican), Ukrainian Village, and of course Chinatown, Greektown, and Little Italy.

These are the top 5 "can't miss" things that came to my mind for now - but on any given day, the list could change completely! Chicago's attractions are so diverse and comprehensive that there is something here to suit any mood.

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