Monday, August 20, 2012

Being a Cheesehead

Hello fellow travelers! For those that don't know, I am from Wisconsin, where us Wisconsinites are best known for eating cheese and drinking a lot of alcoholic libations. Of course, there is more to this wonderful state than just dairy and beer, but why not indulge from time to time? By the way, our cheese curds are to die for. I'm fairly certain there is nothing quite better than a fresh & squeaky cheese curd. 

So enough with the food talk, and onto the main subject here, which is being a cheesehead. What is a cheesehead? The word was first originated by Illinois football fans back in the day, which was supposed to be offensive. We Sconnies embraced the word though, and now use it to describe ourselves as fans of the Green Bay Packers. We even wear big foam cheese blocks on our heads to drive home the fact that we love our team (Yes, I own one). The Packers got their name in 1919 by Curly Lambeau (of whom the field is named after), because he asked for funds for uniforms from his employer, the Indian Packing Company, on condition that the team be named after the company. Thus, the name "Packers" was born and is still in use to this day. The best part, I think, about the Packers is that they are the only non-profit organization in the NFL (and other professional sports teams for that matter), AND they are community owned which means that any one can buy stock and therefore be an owner of the team (no other professional team in the US does that). Add to that having the most NFL Championships of any team, and one can understand why we cheeseheads love our Packers. 

Cheesehead 4 lyfe
I was able to go to my first ever Packer game last week at Lambeau Field. We purchased a package of tailgating and tickets, so we arrived to Green Bay at 4:00 PM to start the festivities. The tailgate party was in the parking lot of Brett Favre's Steakhouse and included all you can eat (burgers, brats, etc.) and all you can drink pop, screwdrivers, bloody mary's and good ole' H20. They also played some good music and had some activities going before the game started at 7.

Lambeau Field
So, at 6:30, we made the walk to the stadium. There were multiple tailgate parties going on, plus lots of things for sale and different things to do, like free hair painting, if you so wished. We got inside and walked to our seats in the 11th row. I was so excited being able to actually see the players faces, and tried desperately to get Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers attention by flailing my arms and screaming, but alas, no luck. The Pack was not doing so hot against the Browns, and it kept raining every 5 minutes or so, so we decided to leave at half-time. I know, we get a C- as fans. But, in my defense, it was pre-season AND we had a 3 hour drive ahead of us. Regardless, we had a really fun time and it was so much fun being surrounded by devoted fans of all ages. The only thing missing that night was a good bag of cheese curds. 

Fan Appreciation Night 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Day in the Windy City

Yesterday, I joined my boss and co-workers on a super fab day trip to Chicago. It was originally her idea (how lucky am I to work for someone like that?), and the rest of us girls decided we wanted to spend the time at the Navy Pier and doing some shopping (imagine that). If you've never been to Chicago before and only have a day there, I highly recommend following our sort-of itinerary.

We got to Chicago a little before noon, and our first stop was the Navy Pier. It just so happened to be a drop dead gorgeous day out (sunny and 75 degrees with not one cloud in the sky, and a perfect breeze) so we were happy that we picked such a great day to enjoy the outdoors. The Pier was all a-hustle and bustle and I couldn't wait to explore it.

Beginning of Navy Pier

The first thing that caught my eye was the ferris wheel, which we didn't get a chance to go on but I can only imagine the amazing view you get to see from up there. We then walked by the Shakespeare Theater which was currently playing Beauty and the Beast. We also saw they had an IMAX theatre and a Cirque Shanghai show to watch, ensuring one can never be bored while on the Pier.

Ignore my intrusive finger

Apart from all the activities available (I haven't yet mentioned the Children's Museum, various rides, segway tours, etc.), it was impossible to miss the amazing view of Lake Michigan, all blue and sparkling and magnificent.

End of Navy Pier facing the city

We marveled at the water and skyline for awhile before deciding where to eat lunch. There were a lot of restaurants to choose from, but the City Porch reeled us in with its chic yet laid-back vibe with views of the water and skyline. I loved the breezy white decor, paper lanterns, and mason jar candles tied to the trees. 
The perfect blend of laid back and posh!

City Porch opened in June, and I had no idea that it is actually a "pop-up restaurant" and will only be open until September (SO bummed about that). Each month of the summer features a different guest-chef, and August is chef Jimmy Bannos. The menu was perfect for me, open to many foods but just picky enough to not eat everything. I had a hard time deciding what to get as the menu featured many different types of salad and sandwiches and a lot of hors d'oeuvres type food. I ended up going with a Cheese Stuffed Pretzel and Havarti Mac & Cheese (both were under the "Small Plate" section). They were each $6, which I thought was a very reasonable price as this restaurant was not only in Chicago but had one of the best views as well. The Pretzel came out first and I was pleasantly surprised; it was good sized and had a house dipping sauce. With just a few bites in I realized this was the best soft pretzel I'd ever had; it was soft but crispy on the outside, the outside was lightly salted and seasoned, and the cheese in the middle was the perfect touch. The dipping sauce was just the cherry on top of the cake. A few minutes later, my Mac & Cheese came and it was also delicious with great texture! I was so happy with my meal and all of us girls had no complaints (and everyone got something different). If you are in Chicago anytime this summer, you HAVE to check this place out before it's gone!!

Hello pretzel, my old friend...

After enjoying all of our delicious food, we thought it was time to be on our way to do some shopping. And where better to do that but on Michigan Avenue? For those that don't know, Michigan Avenue (AKA the Magnificent Mile) is 13 blocks long filled with stores, restaurants, hotels, and various attractions and entertainment. It is impossible to see everything in an afternoon, so we decided to visit the Water Tower Place, a glorified 8-level shopping center, and we even had time to step outside to visit Tiffany & Co and Saks Fifth Avenue (and even the Ghirardelli store, YUM). We certainly got our fix of retail therapy! Sadly, our time was soon up and we had to get back to the limo (yes, our boss got us a LIMO) to head home. 

John Hancock Center & Water Tower Place

I can not wait to get back to Chicago, hopefully before summer ends! There's just so much to do in this city that even if you lived here, it'd be hard to see it all. 

Did I miss out on visiting anything spectacular? I'd love to know so I can visit again.