Chilling in Chicago with sightseeing and great food

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So after a bit of a hiatus…I’m back! Having just started at a new job followed by a 3 week trip to America and Canada with Jon I have been struggling to find time to develop recipes. But now all that excitement is over I should be able to try and spend some more time back in the kitchen. In the meantime however I really wanted to share the best bits of my holiday with you and try to recreate some of my favourite meals from our travels.

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First stop on our three part tour was the windy city of Chicago (apart from the fact we went in the summer so it was not so windy). We had plans to attend a wedding at the end of the week so started off exploring downtown.

The Sights
After arriving late on a Monday evening it really was exciting to leave the subway station to a glistening city towering above us. I was in awe at the sheer height of everything around us and spent most of the journey with my neck craning upwards. Some of the buildings are twice the size of those in the UK but by the time we left New York at the end of the holiday I had fully adjusted to how everything is just so much bigger and more outlandish over here.

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I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from America’s ‘second city’ but it offered the perfect mix of busy and bustling city life along with plenty of places to chill out after a packed day of sightseeing. I was also struck by how clean Chicago is kept, you don’t often find a city that is so well maintained and looked after.

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One of our favourite parts of Chicago was the John Hancock tower. We opted for the sun and stars ticket which for just a few dollars extra allows you entry to the sky high viewing platform both during the day and the same evening. This is was a great way to view out across the city but I enjoyed it most in the evening when we went back for sunset and the city looked beautiful as the sun set in the distance before turning into a futuristic metropolis as the lights came on. A lot of guides will recommend to go up the slightly taller and more popular Willis (Sears) Tower instead but the John Hancock actually offers better views across the city.

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Cloud gate is a huge metallic piece of art known as ‘The Bean’ and it must be the selfie capital of the world. Using the reflective surface it shows off the towering city behind you in a totally different perspective.

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For slightly less sunny days it is worth checking out the Field Museum towards the south of Millennium Park which is one of the largest in the world. The Shedd aquarium is also next door but despite it again being one of the world’s oldest and largest, we weren’t too impressed (especially once we checked out Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto!)

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The Food
And now for the part you probably all want to know about as this is a food blog and America is probably as famous for its food as anything else…where to eat! Before I left I tweeted a few fellow bloggers for suggestions on where to go and was inundated with places. There were too many for one trip unfortunately but thank you so much to everyone who replied. The one thing I noticed everywhere I went for food was that almost everyone knew what gluten free was. They could tell me straight away what I could eat on the menu and I always had plenty of choice.

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The Original Pancake House – Locals were queueing out of the door for brunch when we arrived so I knew we were on to a good one. I had so many options but I couldn’t resist a gluten free waffle with chocolate chips and cream. They were huge, my first experience of American sized portions and super fluffy. Jon went for a just as large breakfast skillet full of meats and egg which could also have been prepared gluten free.

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Stan’s Donuts – Chicago has a donut shop on every corner but this one is extra special, Stan’s sell gluten less donuts. They have a few locations spread out across the city so be sure to check them out if you miss gluten free doughnuts as much as I do. When we visited they offered two ‘gluten less donuts’ meaning they can’t guarantee it hasn’t been in contact with gluten so coeliac’s beware. I opted for a chocolate glaze and it was rather scrummy.

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Jason’s Deli – At the wedding I had one too many to drink so the next day I had a terrible hangover. I just needed something to eat and fast but luckily we stumbled into a great deli near our wedding hotel just outside Chicago in Naperville. Jason’s Deli is a chain with hundreds of locations across America so wherever you go in America it is worth remembering this one. They use Udis gluten free bread and individually wrap up your sandwich. They offer a plethora of fillings and this sandwich literally saved me as I struggled through my hangover. Melted cheese, avocado and chicken was the perfect cure.

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Bandera – my favourite meal of this part of the trip. A slightly more classy restaurant than one Jon and I would usually eat in. The low lighting and dark decor reflected the luxury feel and the menu was just as high end. Jon had slow cooked and super tender beef ribs while I had a gorgeous crispy BBQ salmon fillet with crunchy broccoli and super smooth mash potato, plus plenty of wine! The lighting was too dark to take a picture good enough of the food to do it justice so here is one of the city at night instead :)

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Check back for America inspired recipes and the rest of my trip including a proposal story!