Birthday Weekend Part 2.

Well my birthday month has come to a close. So it feels necessary to update with the rest of my birthday weekend. I have been extremely busy with work and getting ready to move. I thought that the summer would allow me more time to just write and be carefree. Well, those summers I remember as a child/teen are over. Summer proves to be just as stressful as the school year.

But one weekend I felt like nothing was stopping me, on top the the world feeling, was my birthday weekend. The day of my birthday was so relaxing, almost as if I knew Id need it for the adventure to come the next day. My friends and I set out to see Jenny Owen Youngs at a venue downtown. We were going early so we could have a nice dinner at the Chicago Diner.

The four of us piled into my car to get to the train station. Had the most hilarious, yet sad train into the city. A woman obviously on many assorted illegal drugs was our entertainment. Her hair was everywhere and she wore these great pink bath slippers. At first she was very angry and yelling at this man who tried hard to pretend he wasn't hearing. Then she started to laugh and sing. Her lyrics went something like this:

"My momma was a drug dealer who kept me up. My daddy was a drug dealer who kept me up" "Im 5 days old, 5 days old. Gonna bring me up" "Pissin, pissin, pissin in a cup" "Singin, singin, singin for rock. Singin, singin, singin for crack"

All were to the same little beat and tune, a guy on the train was recording her. The lady sitting across from her had the hardest time trying to keep a straight face. We sadly had to get off before her concert was over.

So while waiting for our transfer train to arrive, we all were extremely giddy and excited from the funny train trip. After we made the transfer and
got up to the north side of the city, we trekked on over to the famous diner. I recognized it the minute I laid eyes on the building, right next to abundant sex shops, which got my friends even more giggly. There was a 10-15 minute wait to sit outside, but the day was gorgeous and we did not want to be inside on such a lovely day. So we waited outside for maybe 20 minutes, but once we got our table the service started immediately. The garden was so sweet and beautiful. I had a bit of a heart attack when I realized they didnt have any diet coke products. So I settled on getting my caffeine fix with a large glass of ice tea. We all decided we wanted to try the Cheesy Artichoke Calzone for a starter. It was a little small for sharing, we each got a small piece. But it was an appetizer so we all decided that was fine. It was very delicious, very creamy and cheesy and the pizza dough was fabulous. It came with piping hot marinara sauce, a really delicious little treat while we all were stilll deciding on what to get.

We did finally decide on our meals. All my friends were omni, but wanted to get all vegan options so we could all try each other's meals. I was soooo excited and all happy to see them trying some different foods and really embracing the full experience. I had been so worried that theyd all hate the food. My friend Teage settled on the diner's Reuben. I have heard great things about it, and now I know why. The seitan meat had the perfect thinness, crispiness, and flavor of a corned beef. Teage thought it was even better than a meat version. The thousand island dressing was delicious and it was just the perfect sandwich. She paired it with their Spanish rice. Next time I go, Im really tempted to get this again.

My friend Kim was torn between a few different entrees. She decided to try the Portabello Caesar Wrap. It was filled with long strips of 'chickin' seitan strips and portabellos, cabbage and lettuce, melted cheese, and creamy caesar dressing. Served in a spinach flatbread. She liked it, it was HUGE. It was impossible even with all of us tasting it to even finish half of it. I am not a fan of mushrooms, so Id probably not choose it myself, but the caesar dressing was delicious. I miss caesar and ranch dressings the most, I love creamy paired with crisp greens. She paired it as well with the Spanish Rice.

My friend Christina and I both chose the Chickin Ranch Sandwich. It had 'Chickin' seitan milanesa, guacamole, cucumbers, onions, large pieces of fresh lettuce, and their creamy ranch dressing. My oh my, was this a mouth full. It was so delicious. The ranch dressing was very good, I wish I could just bottle it up and take it home. It was tangy and sweet and extremely creamy. The seitan was delicious. I LOVED this sandwich to pieces. I forced myself to finish it, since I knew I wasnt going to be carrying it around at the show. Christina also enjoyed her sandwich, without guacamole, tomatoes, and onion. Our waiter asked if she was sure she even wanted the sandwich. I think its funny since normally at restaurants I have to just say what I DO want on my choice. Always have to say no this, no that, and so on. But this time I didnt have to do it!

Even though we were all extremely full, we had heard so many good things about their dessert menu, we had to venture on and try. So we planned on splitting, yet we couldnt decide on one to split. So instead we got two. Christina and I got the Cookies n' Cream cake. A mix of chocolate and vanilla cake with cookie pieces within the filling. It looked AMAZING. So beautiful presented. But I fel the cake was a bit dry, I like my cake moist, and it was lacking. The flavors were there, so I bet it was just our one cake. Maybe next time.

Kim and Teage's cake was a different story. They shared the Lemon Raspberry Cake. Moist yellow cake with raspberry filling and lemon custard, topped with frosting. Holy shit, this was to die for. It was so sweet, but since it was a yellow cake the sweetness wasnt overpowering with richness. It was heavenly. We were able to finish the entire cake and probably could have taken a full one home with us. Very delicious for such a lovely summer night.

After we emptied our wallets and slowly tried to even get up, we walked to Schuba's Tavern to see Jenny play. I was like in a mad rush to get there so we didnt miss anything. I was quite determined. Once we got there, I felt a bit more relaxed seeing that the starting act hadnt even gone on stage yet. We took a bathroom break, and caught the first song of Caleb Engstrom. His good looks matched his performance. My friends fell in love with his lips and lyrics. Kim bought his cd and it really is great.

After Caleb finished his set, it wasnt long til I saw Jenny come from the audience up to the stage and start setting up her one-woman show. She had no supports, just her and her guitars. I was so squeamish with excitement. We were second row, in such a nice intimate venue. She started off telling us how she lost her car keys and spent the last 4 hours of the day with a locksmith and shelling out 400 dollars to get car keys. She said she was really upset, but glad to be playing for her favorite city :) So things got started off and it was amazing. She said she didnt have a set list, so we were able to request any song we like. And she played every song from her album and a few new songs. It was just a beautiful show and I was beaming and laughing the entire time. She really is funny. I was so happy when she said she'd be selling her own merch after the show. So I went to the table and got in line. She was taking pictures, signing autographs, and more. So I was patient and anxious. But my time arrived and I got to meet her. We probably had a good 5 mins of time together. I got to ask her about her decision to go from veganism back to eating meat. She said it had to do with always being on tour and having to try and eat healthy and how all the soy in her diet was causing her vocal cords to be sore and inflamed. After she switched to a less soy-based diet, she said she saw results almost instantly. I also got to tell her how I had called in to a radio show she was on earlier in the day and ask her more. We took a photo, did some signing, and she even tape a video for my friends who are also HUGE fans of her. You can check out my videos from the show and the message to my friends on my youtube account.

I had the most amazing birthday weekend. I was beaming and freaking out from all the fun I had over the weekend. I could barely sleep that night. It was definitely a birthday I will remember forever. Im so glad I got to share it with my family and friends and of course, you guys :)


Ruby Red Vegan said...

I'm glad you had a good birthday weekend -- happy birthday, by the way! And you sure know how to party at the Chicago Diner! You definitely had the right idea going with a lot of friends so you can all taste each others' food. (And it's awesome that omnis liked it.) My friend and I are talking about going to Chicago together this fall, and we've each been to Chicago Diner once before and wanna go back really badly. I keep looking at their menu and the reuben is catching my eye!

Anonymous said...

Happy (belated) birthday! Looks like you had a wonderful month of celebrations. All of your posts have me seriously missing Chicago. I really fell in love with that place when we visited and want to go back.

That lemon raspberry cake looks incredible. I think I need to make something like that ASAP!

Joanna said...

That cake looks crazy good!!! I hate when other people at the table get something really good and your food just sucks. I remember that happened to me, so I pretended there was hair in my mac and cheese so I could order something else.