I started my holiday vacation with an overnight in Ottumwa with friends. My first breakfast on the road amounted to a slice of bread with peanut butter, mayonnaise, and a spicy pickle spear. Living the dream, baby!
Lunch aboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr bound for Chicago was a $10.50 Angus burger. No discount applied for requesting no potato chips; that must have explained the extra pickle spear I got. The bun was the most bread I had eaten in one day, let alone in a meal, in weeks. Plenty of tomato and lettuce, but not so much for onion. Amusingly for mayonnaise, Amtrak accommodates both coasts' brand preference.
That evening in Chicago, after checking in at DeWitt Place, I took a stroll around the Near North Side. Plans to visit the John Hancock Observatory were scrapped due to heavy fog enshrouding the city.
For my first meal in Chicago I revisited Gino’s East on Superior St., known for deep dish pizza but they also make a thin-crust as well. Piqued I ordered a medium with pepperoni and fresh garlic. It was on my first visit to Gino’s where I became acquainted with the taste and aroma of fresh garlic on pizza [see blog post].
After a month without a beer, I indulged myself with a pint of Dirty Bastard, a Scotch ale from Founders Brewing of Grand Rapids, Michigan. And at 8.5% ABV, its a whopper! Impressively malty with a decent amount of hops.
Gino's thin-crust pizza isn’t cracker thin, but it exhibits a crunch not too dissimilar from a crispy breadstick, but with a more tender crumb. That said, the crust could easily handle a heap of toppings. Pizza sauce made with ground tomato and Parmesan is thick and rich, and its no slouch for mozzarella either – neither lean or overburdened.
I hardly ate half and could have easily spent the wee hours of the night noshing on the leftovers, but as I made my way up Michigan Ave. I gave it to a street person, panhandling for change. You can’t buy a bottle of Thunderbird with leftover pizza from Gino’s East, but I hope it gave him a modicum of pleasure.
Before retiring, I popped into Water Tower Place to browse about at the LEGO® Store. I so wanted to walk off with the life-size LEGO® Iron Man on display, or the LEGO® Super Star Destroyer [see blog post], but settled for a tiny Hulk on a keychain instead.