I was privileged to spend this past weekend in Chicago with my two best friends, Kristin + Julie. These 2 are my oldest and dearest friends. I love them like sisters and have so many amazing memories with them: high school, college, weddings, and now, BABIES! Just 3 short months after telling them about our little bundle of joy, Julie announced she is also expecting her first little one! (Although we would love for Kristin to join in on the baby bug, she’s still a newlywed and needs that time with her hubby.)
We had an amazing weekend together! Since Julie lives in Chicago and we only get to see her a few times each year, it was great to be able to catch up with chatting, shopping and, of course, delicious food! Including, one of the BEST ice cream creations I’ve EVER had… and you know, from me, that says a lot!
Our first night out, we had to go “Classic Chicago” with deep-dish pizza. We didn’t go all-the-way-classic with Lou Malnati’s, but Gulliver’s definitely left an impact on me! Julie + I split a green pepper + mushroom pizza. Saucy, cheese, and absolutely delicious! Definitely a change from the thin crust, sweet sauced St. Louis style pizza I’m used to.
During dinner, I mentioned that I’ve never had gelato. *gasp* I know… I claim to love every style of frozen ice cream-ish dessert, but gelato places are few and far between in the suburb I live in (I know there are several in downtown St. Louis, but none where I live). So, Julie insisted that we go to this cute little gelato place, Via Gelato.
I got a scoop of the classic vanilla bean and a scoop of stracciatella, which is a vanilla base with chocolate shavings. Although they were both excellent, it definitely pales in comparison to my beloved frozen custard. (Julie got vanilla bean + mint chip, and Kristin got blood orange and chocolate.)
Friday, we headed out closer to the downtown area of Chicago and visited some of the shops (mostly baby shops) in Lincoln Park. We originally planned on having dinner at Cafe Babareeba, a cute little tapas bar, but it was a 2 hour wait – and with 2 starving pregnant ladies, 2 hours was not going to work!
So, instead, we walked a couple of blocks down to a cute little pasta place called Pasta Palazzo. No wait, delicious food, and great service!
I ended up getting the Conchiglie Gorgonzola: Shells with spinach, gorgonzola, cream and fresh tomatoes.
Although I was a little worried about the spinach at first since spinach is still difficult for me to stomach, but it was cooked, making it much easier for me to handle. And the gorgonzola sauce was absolutely amazing, so rich and creamy! Something I will be trying to recreate at home in my own kitchen, minus the spinach and maybe a little less oil.
After dinner, we of course “needed” ice cream (can you tell why I love these girls?!), so we walked back to where we started to a cute little frozen yogurt shop called Starfruit. Only it wasn’t frozen yogurt – it was frozen kefir! Kefir is sort of like a liquid form of yogurt, so the taste + texture is no different from your normal fro-yo, but the health benefits are a little better.
I went with the original flavor, which was pretty tart and not too pleasing on my taste buds, but the local granola and chocolate covered raisins helped in go down pretty easily. I don’t think I would go back though, especially after our next ice cream adventure!
We did a lot more shopping on Saturday, heading down to the cute little downtown area of Naperville, Illinois. It reminded me of my hometown of St. Charles, but with more high scale and popular shops. Instead of dinner on Saturday, we decided to go out to lunch at Egg Harbor Cafe, which Julie explained as “like First Watch, but better.”
I was definitely not disappointed with my Summer Vegetable Skillet, with potatoes, roasted red peppers, onions, zucchini, sundried tomatoes, portabella mushrooms, mozzarella, and 2 scrambled eggs on top. (Sorry, I was done with my meal before I realized I needed to photograph it!) Yum!
After a few hours of very successful shopping (I scored lots of baby stuff this weekend), we were starting to get hungry for a snack. Little did I know that I was about to discover the BEST ice cream treat I’ve ever had in my entire life!
Cookie Dough Creations is a raw cookie dough and ice cream shop. Their cookie dough is made without eggs, so there is no fear of salmonella or E.coli from uncooked egg yolks in the dough. You have the option of getting (1) just ice cream in a cup, (2) just cookie dough in a cup, or (3) a scoop of ice cream with a scoop of cookie dough on top. Yeah, I went with option #3…
I love how Kristin ended up in this picture next to a “peanuts” sign – she’s extremely allergic to peanuts. I’m sure she won’t think it’s as funny as I do.
I decided on the Zorreo ice cream, which was Zanzibar chocolate ice cream mixed with chocolate shavings, marshmallow cream, and Oreo cookies with a scoop of the Oreo cookie dough (!!!!) on top.
So seriously sinful + rich, but totally worth every one of the, I’m sure, thousands of calories I consumed. I don’t really think I need anything else in my life now that I have found this creation. I am so sad that Naperville is 5 hours away from home, otherwise, I would seriously be here every.single.day. I WILL be recreating this, although I’m pretty sure I will come no where close to this deliciousness.
Overall, a delicious weekend of eats and a wonderful time with my 2 best friends! The next time the 3 of us will be together is at my baby shower next month! Can’t wait!
I’m also happy that this was my last trip until probably after the baby comes. And after a crazy busy July of travelling, I’m pretty happy to have the rest of my pregnancy low key.