I never thought I’d suffer from homesickness. I left the continent at 18, quickly locked down an apartment on Ave. Emile Zola, pivoted to the highway oases of Iowa, then motored (once via Greyhound) to freespirited and unleashed Montana (see below for details).
When people would ask me about home, I’d rail against the oppressive white sky of winter, the shabbiness of the Chicago Tribune, the toxicity of Cubs fans and their pickled valor.
All of a sudden, I miss Chicago. A lot.
This weekend, the El ran effortlessly (for me, at least). I shoveled deepdish to my face twice, saw Peter Sagal MC Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me with grace and poise, ate ice cream with Tiny in Bridgeport, drank Lienie’s where it was cheap and readily available, got a driver’s license (heaven help you!), hit the Botanical Garden, was smug about the Art Institute, and strolled along the Lake. It was damn near perfect.
One of the best treats about going home is staying with Adrienne in Andersonville without being formally invited. I love the books, food, and furniture stores in that neighborhood, and she totally called me out on my lust for a distressed dresser: “It’s not ‘distressed’ Vanessa, it’s OLD. You’ve been living in Brooklyn too long.” Woof!
For sure Andersonville has a colorful bent, but it also has a distinct Scandinavian vibe (hence the functionalist/modernist furniture galleries) and the Swedish Bakery peddles solid kolachki, brioche, and imported dry goods.
(I’ve never seen these at IKEA. Maybe in the IKEA of my dreams?!)
The wholesome bakery assistants, who are pert in a sort of militaristic way, deftly swipe, box, and tie pastry with a precise economy of movement.
Later in the afternoon I went to visit my intellectual nemesis Dave, who has again outpaced me by taking up residence at Pastoral, an artisanal cheese shop in Lakeview.
Pastoral puts cheese front and center, but they also assemble sandwiches, sell cured meats, fresh crusty bread, and wine.
Other identifying feature to note viz cured meat: San Daniele prosciutto is sold WITH the leg, which is referred to as a “trotter.”
Since it pays to be difficult, I asked Dave for a sheepsmilk with bite and character, the item with the bizarrest backstory, and for a series of action shots.
Item: Jamon Iberico is a Spanish cured porcine product with a production story that edges upon myth: the black-hoofed pigs feast only upon chestnuts to foster their exquisitely marbled tissue. At $89.99/lb, that fat should be salty silkworm spun through the meat!
Since Dave has taken such an intimate interest in all things fromage, I plan on peer pressuring him to guest blog here soon. All of his fierce food knowledge is going to waste in that lil blonde head of his!