You can read about Part 1 here.
Friday, January 4th was the day – our actual 10 year anniversary. We reminisced a bit while we ate breakfast in our room. We had picked up food from Whole Foods after an inedible dinner at Ed Debevics the night before (go for the atmosphere, not the food) so that we would have snacks that night and breakfast the next morning. It was nice to not rush out, even if the coffee at the hotel was horrible. We ended up wandering out of the hotel and grabbing real coffee at Starbucks and then hitting what we can’t wait to go back to with two little red-heads in tow:
We had so much fun imagining what it will be like when we take the girls there. They are going to flip – much like all the little girls who were there were doing. Too cute. It took a lot of self-control to not go home with dolls for each of them. Oh well, that day will come soon. 🙂
While grabbing a bite to eat for lunch, my brother called to let us know the sad news that our dearest Uncle Ken had passed away early that morning. It felt like someone had sucked all the air out of me. We knew he was in his last days and had even put our trip on hold believing we would be called home early if we went. But our thoughtful family encouraged us to go and felt we would be home before we would need to be at services. You truly can’t be ready for those words even if you know they are coming. We wandered around Michigan Avenue for awhile, trying to make the most of the afternoon, but nothing seemed right. It wasn’t until we got to thinking about Uncle Ken and how amazing he was and what he would have wanted for us on that day that our spirits began to lift a bit. At our wedding reception, Uncle Ken slipped some money into my man’s hand and whispered, “Take her out to a nice dinner”. So, that’s just what we did – and we had a great time. I think Uncle Ken would have been happy.
I’m not sure how well-known this restaurant is, but it should be famous. We dined at Merlo on Maple and had a meal like we may never have again. The chef moved to Chicago from Italy in the last decade and cooks authentic Italian food often from her Grandmother’s recipe book with many ingredients imported from Italy or made from scratch in her kitchen. The food was a.maz.ing. Let me show you:
This is our appetizer: Mozzarelline allo speck e asparagi. I’m drooling just looking at the picture again. The imported buffalo mozzarella was slightly warm, slightly melted and oh so delicious. It was wrapped with speck, a magical type of ham. 😉 Everything on that plate was fresh, perfectly cooked, and a party in your mouth.
This is a horrible picture, but this is Gnocchi di spinaci al tartufo nero fresco invernale in fonduta di Parmigiano Reggiano. My man’s entree since it is not gluten-free, but I am told it was utterly delicious. Spinach and potato gnocchi with a Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh Black Winter Burgundy Truffle fondue. The cheese and the olive oil on that plate alone were amazing. I can only imagine what the gnocchi tasted like!
This was my entree and one of the specials that day – and boy was it special. That right there was made when I ordered it, so about 40 minutes later, I had risotto with lobster sauce, scallops and lobster. OH. MY. Seriously. OH. MY. Who says having to order gluten-free is so bad?
We ended our meal with a chocolate and a coconut gelato, both made in-house, as well as the panna cotta with fresh fruit and homemade caramel. A cup of coffee and espresso went perfectly with all of it.
It was an amazing dinner and so special. A treat that we won’t forget and one that we know would have made Uncle Kenny proud.
The next day, it was already time to head home. We had a few places we wanted to stop before heading back to Union Station, but for the most part, we felt we had done what we came to do and were ready to be back with our girls. We ended up taking an earlier train and I’m so glad we did. We had some special time with the girls when we all got back home and got to hear about all of their adventures and we were able to get organized before the next two days worth of visitations and the funeral.
Overall, we had a FANTASTIC trip. Relaxing, fun, romantic – and just the two of us! Taking time to be alone is so important and it’s so easily what gets pushed aside in our stage of life. I am so thankful we were able to have our get-away. It truly was a blessing.