Chicago is one of those cities that has it all: great food, a famous music scene, shopping and just to rub it in — a beach. As a New Yorker I find it hard to contain my jealousy as I jog along the lakefront watching Chicagoans lay out in the sun, play beach volleyball and swim. But then I remind myself that they have only three months of nice weather
I stopped at a great neighborhood bar called the Map Room that serves over 200 types of beer that represent thirty different brewing styles. I feel at home because it’s called “a travelers tavern” you could taste a world of beers without ever leaving your stool.
Moto is one of those restaurants you can’t believe exists. Chef Homaru Cantu is a chef/molecular scientist/modern day Willy Wonka. Moto is one of the few places in the United States where you can experience molecular gastronomy. Which is a mad scientist approach to cooking to challenge the way we perceive and eat food. One thing is for sure this is a lot more fun than the ubiquitous male’s club steak house. No offense but how much 15 dollar creamed spinach can you eat?
I get to join them in the kitchen, which is equally a lab. I help make a dessert that captures grapefruit juice in a solid sphere form that bursts in your mouth with an incredible flavor.
And I helped cook a rather large piece of meat with a blow torch.
Chef Cantu has an incredible sense of humor one of my favorite dishes is tuna tartare wrapped in seaweed to resemble a cigar that is then laid in an ashtray with salt and pepper made to look like discarded ashes.
We stayed at the uber stylish James Hotel. It’s a great location right next to all the shopping but what makes me really happy is that Trader Joes is right across the street.
Next up — Critical Mass. Critical Mass is an organization that promotes bicycles over cars. Every month nearly 2,000 cyclists come to the downtown area where the police close down the streets to automobiles.
Many cities across the US have their own critical mass — it’s a great event and the energy created feels wonderful. I am always happiest on a bicycle — I think it just goes back to being a toddler when I got my cherry red tricycle with streamers on the handlebars.
Not everyone in critical mass is channeling her inner four year old. While shooting a man keeps driving by our cameras yelling *&@# the media!!! Our soundman James keeps yelling back “we are not the media!” But that doesn’t deter our chummy anti-establishment guy from doing more laps and yelling more expletives at us.
While I am standing with my bike on the sidelines waiting for my crew to catch up with me a women goes by, points at me and yells “I hate you, your show *#@+’s!!
I yelled back “oh yeah, well your Bicycle *#@+ ‘s!!! (I’m kidding I really didn’t say that) but I did think to myself how can you be in a bad mood on a bicycle?
I have been working with Christina (my stylist) for two years now and I just got mad and yelled at her for the first time. As we were crossing the street she was texting on her phone. I was like, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT! NO ONE IS THAT IMPORTANT! If I EVER see you do that again so help me …” I have also started scolding her for not drinking enough water and not using an earpiece for her phone.
Then it was time for me to perform improv on stage at Chicago’s famous Second City. It’s with their new students on their experimental stage but I really don’t think I have been this nervous in a long time.
I used to do improv a lot in college and was apart of a sketch comedy group in my early years in NYC. I love it but know that being able to improv is like a muscle that you have to keep in shape. Right now I am the comedic equivalent of a couch potato.
I think I held my own, but I won’t be going on Second City’s professional stage anytime soon.
After we were finished my soundman James Demer confessed that he thought I was going to bomb.
We end the Chicago episode doing my favorite thing: the River architecture tour. This will make it my third time and it never gets old. That’s probably because I have terrible memory retention and don’t recall what I learned the last time.