enjoying the foliage

Archive for the ‘trips’ Category

Last year, Pratima wrote about her trip to Chicago and her fantastic excursion to Lou Mitchell’s, a diner with excellent omelettes and cute old ladies who hand out donut-holes foryou to nibble on while you decide what you want for breakfast. I second her exultations!

I was in Chicago for a couple of days for a philosophy conference last month but spent the first day wandering around the city (the lakeshore and the Art Institute are great!). My first stop was the diner–we directed our cab from the airport to it straight away. It was lovely and delicious, just as Pratima described. The omelettes were incredibly fluffy–just the thing to start our adventure.

Of course, I vowed to try and replicate the omelette experience at home, and I think, as of today, we’ve succeeded. Behold, the spinach and feta omelette (what Lou Mitchell’s calls the ‘Spinach Special’):

Note: One of the most important things about fluffy omelettes, or so I’ve read in various places, is making them in a small skillet so that the eggs don’t spread too much and actually have a chance to rise. An 8-inch skillet should do, though we found a 7-inch Earth chef skillet recently at the Bay for about $13–ceramic nonstick and oven safe.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 3 or 4  large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 25 g or so of feta, cubed
  • milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Put cubed butter in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Sautee onions with a bit of oil and salt over medium heat until soft and slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside in another bowl.
  4. In the meantime, wilt spinach (I just nuke it in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds). When it cools, wring out the excess water, and chop it finely.
  5. Add chopped spinach and feta to onions.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and yolk vigorously for a minute or so. Add milk, salt, and pepper, and beat some more, incorporating air until bubbles form around the edges of the mixture. Right before you’re ready to put the eggs in the pan, add the frozen butter to the egg mixture.
  7. Add a bit of butter to the same skillet when hot (again on medium heat). After it foams and melts, give it a swirl, and then add the egg mixture. Using a small spatula (silicone seems the best option), dislodge the edges of the omelette from the pan as they start to cook, letting uncooked egg take its place. Keep doing this until the bottom of the omelette towards the centre starts to set. Add the spinach, onion, feta filling and incorporate into the eggs. When the omelette is almost set–the top will still be slightly runny–stick in the oven for about 3 to 3 and a half minutes or when the surface of the omelette is fully cooked.
  8. Remove from pan, fold in half, and serve with toast. 🙂

This omelette is pretty easy to make with a bit of practice. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures. I can’t seem to find my camera anywhere.

So I have lots of things to say about being in old country, but what I feel like mentioning briefly right now is the matrimonials section of one of the large papers here.

Yes, yes, it’s a meatmarket, and totally plays to the stereotype. It’s pretty ridiculous. Kind of comical. What is deeply, deeply, interesting however, is how much sheer diversity there is. It’s almost a billion people so there must be, of course. But how many times do you read of a 30 year old female Muslim officer in the Indian military?

I tell you, personal ads are a great way to keep one’s finger on the pulse of society.

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I got back yesterday night after four fabulous days in Chicago. I stayed with my cousin, who lives downtown in the heart of the West Loop. I can’t upload my pictures yet, but here are some thoughts:

  • Downtown Chicago has awesome street furniture. I know street furniture is a topic of contention in Toronto, and I think the city could learn something from Chicago. The city’s street furniture is streamlined and pretty much free of those ugly ads that are plastered all over Toronto’s huge garbage cans. Of course, I suppose that everything on the street has to be designed to live up to the architecture. In general, everything is really elegant and doesn’t have that trying too hard feeling that Toronto has. The subway entrance shelters are especially pretty. I don’t have pictures and I don’t want to steal, so check out this article in Spacing.
  • The people of Chicago are disturbingly polite. I’ve never met so many nice, nice, NICE people. It wasn’t something I expected in a big city and I was completely overwhelmed by how lovely everyone was in all of the restaurants and stores we went to. Jeez, people of Chicago. Way to make Torontonians look really bad.
  • The food was fabulous. My cousin is especially skilled at picking really excellent restaurants, and she is lucky enough to live in an area that is practically bulging with them. My favorite was Lou Mitchell’s, where we went for breakfast on Sunday morning. I love breakfast, and Lou Mitchell’s was probably the best place to enjoy it. It has a vintage-y diner feel and has been around forever. As soon as you come in, an adorable little old lady gives you a donut hole to munch on as you wait for a table. On the way to your table, they give you a little box of milk duds and you can snack on them while you pick from their huge breakfast menu. I ordered a spinach omelet, which came with actual hash browns (not the nasty McD’s kind) and toast. At the end of the meal they give you a tiny cup of soft serve ice cream. It was delicious and decadent and I thought maybe I could die right there.
  • The multilevel streets in the Loop area are amazing and give the feeling of being in an awesome video game. Downtown Chicago has a handful of double-decked and triple-decked streets. They are surprisingly unchaotic and make for a really visually interesting streetscape. The pedestrian bridges are also all individually lovely in their own right. My favorite was the Madison Avenue biscule bridge:

Chicago feels elegant and sophisticated, but strangely open and welcoming, in a way I haven’t experienced in any city in Canada. I love Canada, but it has a lot of catching up to do. I was disappointed that I didn’t have time to visit the Field Museum and the Art Institute (which is home to American Gothic!), but overall it was a really good trip and has given me another possible city to move to during/after grad school.

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