Juicy Olive

The quest for “the good life” should never be complete but it should definitely begin now.

An Abusive Relationship June 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — juicyolive @ 6:37 pm
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When Charlotte and Chicago first got together, everyone was envious. Chicago was big, dynamic, sparkly, sophisticated and appealed to all of Charlotte’s interests. She’d send emails to her friends about how awesome Chicago was and quietly felt sorry for them that they hadn’t realized the kind of relationship she had with Chicago. With Chicago, Charlotte tried new things, reached new heights and felt certain she had at last found a long-term relationship with a quality partner.

Hello, Lover...

Hello, Lover...

And for many months, Charlotte seemed content. But then she started to notice the subtle signs that something was off. She had gained a few pounds. She was scowling more often. She was always cold. The bottom of her pants were always dirty. She would sweat inside that damn puffy coat but shiver without it. She got dark circles under her eyes and her skin took on an unsavory gray pallor from being held captive inside her condo night after night.

Bruised and Battered...that's no kind of romance

Bruised and Battered...that's no kind of romance

Those who were friends with Chicago defended Charlotte’s relationship. Somehow they saw redeeming qualities: great social life, theater dates, easy transportation, variety, etc. But people who hadn’t met or barely knew Chicago wondered what Charlotte was doing with her life. She complained – a lot – about the lack of sunshine, the gray days and the seeming dearth of green pastures.

Yet again, months would pass and Charlotte would perk up. Her friends thought, “At last, Chicago has started to treat this lady the way she deserves.” She’d become active again. She felt comfortable leaving her home. Charlotte would  laugh more often and you could visibly see that she was less stressed. And this would remain…until November.

Over the years, people have reluctantly come to terms with Charlotte’s abusive relationship with Chicago. Time and again, winter after cold, dark winter, she gets beaten up, and yet she returns to Chicago’s open arms each May. The promise of flowers, al fresco dining and sex…I mean SUMMER…lure her back.

Happy days are here again

Happy days are here again

Some day – who knows when – Charlotte will probably leave the hot-and-cold, back-and-forth life she’s created in Chicago for a more consistent and mild lifestyle. But for now, cut the girl some slack. It’s June. The running trails are open. The sidewalk cafes are packed. The music from the street fairs is rockin’. It’s clear she’s in love. Let her be – for now. But don’t go too far. She’ll be needing a shoulder to cry on come January.

So, let's get this straight, I'll be seeing this tough guy again in only six months?

So, let's get this straight, I'll be seeing this tough guy again in only six months?

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Brunchola, Bruncharoo, Le Brunch, Brunchito June 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — juicyolive @ 5:58 pm
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Seriously, what other way would you want to start your day on a weekend?

Seriously, what other way would you want to start your day on a weekend?

I’ve been living in Chicago for more than five years. I can’t believe how much time has passed and how quickly it has flown. There is much that I miss about my old stomping grounds. In Colorado, I skied like a maniac, had a killer vegetable garden and played golf whenever I pleased. Before that, in Nashville, I listened to live music, walked “the loop” around Vanderbilt’s campus and mastered the art of margarita consumption. But here in Chicago, we’ve got the Cubs, the lake and – of course – the food. Ask someone what their favorite restaurant is, and you may never get the same answer twice. That’s because this city is a breeding ground for creative, innovative chefs to practice and perfect their arts. Whether it’s taking a simple hot dog to new heights at Hot Doug’s, making a mockery of all the other sushi in the world at Kaze or surprising us with the simplicity of fresh, local ingredients at Uncommon Ground, Chicago’s dining scene has something for everyone.

 Without fail, I get to tempt my tastebuds every week at brunch – the official weekend meal of true Chicagoans. By mid-week, my friends and I are already discussing weekend plans, who’s free for brunch and, of course, where we’ll go. There truly seems to be a brunch spot for every situation. Consider the following:

  •  Ladies Who Brunch – for my birthday last year I eschewed the idea of a meet-up at a bar in favor of a fun girly brunch with my gals. A perfect setting for this gathering was Jane’s. It’s a convenient location and has wonderful food.
  • Big Spenders (aka “Mom and Dad are in town…let’s go to brunch!”) – there’s something quintessentially Chicago about the Ralph Lauren restaurant on Michigan Avenue. With the high-backed leather chairs and beautiful service, you can’t help but feel like fashionable, urban royalty while eating their steak tartare followed by crab cake benedict.
  • Hangovers – this is an obvious one. You go out on a Saturday night and tie one on. The only thing that can cure what ails you on Sunday morning is a stiff breakfast cocktail and grease. Definitely go to Stanley’s. This place has a serious buffet that includes macaroni and cheese, an omelet station, lox with bagels and – my favorite treat – the waffle boats with fruit and whipped cream. The bloody mary bar is also a winner.
  • Kid AND Adult-Friendly – Recently, my friends and I have been hitting Wilde when their kiddos are in tow. It’s big and noisy (thanks to the crowds and the excellent tunes the DJ spins) but features very good pub fare. I’m a major fan of the fried egg sandwich with grilled tomatoes, caramelized onions, thick-cut bacon and sharp white cheddar.
  • Sports Watching – Any other day of the year, you wouldn’t catch me at Duffy’s in Lincoln Park. But when a non-stop set of football games are on, this place is excellent. The brunch buffet has a little something for everyone, and the umpteen flavors of mimosas keep me entertained almost as much as the games.
  • Cuddly Morning with your Sweetie – When l’amour is in the air, the surroundings should simply nurture your inner love-bug. Think about hitting Big Jones in Andersonville or Hot Chocolate in Bucktown. Someplace where you won’t have to wait, and you’ll be encouraged to linger at your table long after the French press coffee is finished.
  • Healthy Habits – It sounds abhorrent to go for the low-cal, no-fat, all-healthy approach on a weekend morning, but on the off chance I’m seeking a dose of goodness, I head to the Chicago Diner in Boystown or Lola in West Town.

 Of course, one of the best ways to spend time with friends over our favorite combo meal is to host your own. That’s exactly what Tiz and Mike did for Tiz’s recent birthday celebration. Everyone brought a dish (still dreaming about Lindsay’s breakfast casserole!) and we all plopped down for food, drinks and relaxing conversation in the comforts of a friend’s home. When in doubt about where to break your fast, open your pantry doors, bust out the speed-dial invite list, tune up some good music and prepare for a great time!

Breakfast of Champions - brunch with friends to celebrate Tiz!

Breakfast of Champions - brunch with friends to celebrate Tiz!

A special BrunchCake to fete Tiz on her birthday!

A special BrunchCake to fete Tiz on her birthday!