Sunday, December 13, 2009

Evanston – The Big City With A Small Town Feel

I started working in Evanston this past year and really love the town. Northwestern University adds a lot of character and I try to imagine what it was like back when my dad was in the Marine Corps and attending classes there back in the 40’s. I am sure that my parents loved Evanston too so my ties to this neighborhood are both old and significant.

When my son Tommy was little, we attended BullDog Boot Camp in Evanston and spent the better part of a month on the lakefront killing ourselves (it was the chin ups from the get go) and trying to get fit. That was one of the most memorable times that we have shared together. A bonding moment that I still laugh about hysterically. I could barely run a mile back then and now I’m running over 15.

I like the Century movie theater in Evanston. A block from the train, you can pop in on a Saturday or Sunday for the first show and it is hardly ever crowded. I plop myself in the front row and cry my eyes out … last time between a mother of 8 who just had to get out of the house and two guys who knew the plot, the storyline and even the ending…they had seen this movie before. In fact, it was their 7th time.

As I said in an earlier blog this past fall, Evanston has one of the best Farmers Markets in the city. There are so many cute, little shops, along with dozens of great restaurants. Two of my favorite places to eat are:

LULU’s – 804 Davis Street

I discovered LULU’s years ago and eat there often. Now it is just a few doors away from where I work. Some of the things I order off their menu are:

THE BENTO BOX. – I LOVE THE BENTO BOX. Bentos are popular in the Philippines, Korea, Taiwan and India. For $11 you get sample sizes of a lot of different dishes.

Other great eats at LuLu’s are the Hot & Sour Soup, Vegetable Spring Rolls, Pot Stickers and Ginger Chicken Salad.

Personally, I cannot get enough of the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad - Chilled rice stick noodles, grilled beef, lettuce, crispy spring roll,ground peanuts, cilantro and mint. In fact, LULU’s was my first introduction to good Vietnamese food. I’ll be doing a post on this salad as the flavors are delicious and something ethnic you can do to impress your friends and family. It’s so easy and so good!

Bravo - 1701 Maple Avenue

Bravo’s is known for their outstanding Italian food. I am a creature of habit and always order the chopped salad and a Flatbread Appetizer Pizza – the Margherita with thinly sliced, ripe tomatoes with fresh Mozzarella and fresh basil. It is always good BUT my friend Mike ordered wood-grilled Tilapia and when it came to the table I took one look and realized that I need to start branching out from my “usual”. The Tilapia was so DELICIOUS it made me wish that I had “gone out of my box” and ordered it myself. Good thing to start doing as you can really get caught in a food rut by ordering the safe favorites all the time. Try something new the next time you go out and always try to order something that you will not make at home.

I instantly made one of my New Years resolutions for 2010 - not to order the same thing twice at any restaurant. Let’s see how long this one lasts!