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Well, I could say I am California dreaming, but the weather in Boston right now is stellar, and I am pretty happy to be right here! I am, however, California wine loving, as always. On a chilly day last week, we opened a bottle of Syrah from our last trip to Sonoma in front of a cozy fire and thawed out, falling once again in love with Enkidu wine.

Enkidu Syrah 2010

Enkidu is right off of the Sonoma Plaza and is one of the stops we made before my busy weekend of work began in September.  It’s a cool, beautiful space, and the staff member pouring was great. He and my husband chatted rugby and Ireland while he poured us Enkidu’s beautiful wines and, now that I am thinking about it, wish we had gone back again when I was done working to really enjoy the space. Oh well, there’s always the next trip!

Now about that 2010 Kick Ranch Syrah. It’s everything I love about a Sonoma County Syrah, earthy, juicy cherries, spice, dried leaves. It’s a big, cozy wine that is the perfect fireplace wine. It was great paired with filets cooked in butter with butternut squash and broccoli roasted in truffle oil. Yum.

What wine are you loving this fall?

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Tags: Sonoma, Sonoma wine, Syrah, Travel, wine, wine of the week, Wine Wednesday

Chicago graced us with gorgeous, warm fall weather, blue skies, and good friends and family. We walked miles and miles and I took hundreds of photos, making it difficult to narrow down photos into blog posts.

Below I have included just a sampling of the sights we saw in Chicago. Stay tuned for some more specific recaps in the next few weeks.

Chicago skyline

Chicago skyline

We made a point to walk along Lake Michigan every day so we could take in as much of its beautiful scenery as possible. The Chicago skyline against blue skies and the grandness of the lake was breathtaking. I want a gorgeous, spacious apartment on the Gold Coast and a dog I can walk along the lake twice a day. Too much to ask?

Public Hotels Chicago

We stayed at the Public Hotel Chicago, and it was absolutely amazing. Our room was simple, chic, and comfortable with an incredible view of the Sears Tower. The hotel decor was just stunning, and the bars served creative craft cocktails and great service. I was so sad when we had to check out of this hotel.

Fado Irish Pub

We visit an Irish bar in every city we go to, and after my friend finished the Chicago Marathon, we had late night drinks at Fado, where the bartender was from the same teeny tiny village in the West of Ireland as my brother-in-law’s dad, who was his family doctor. Small world indeed.

Michigan Ave

Chicago in Autumn

Chicago does it up for fall, and there were gorgeous mum displays, pumpkins, and more everywhere we looked. I adored all of the gardens, and it made me want to pay more attention to all of the beauty in my own city.

The Drake Chicago

The Drake Chicago I am a huge fan of old hotels, so a visit to The Drake Hotel was a must-do for me.  Old wood and leather made for a great atmosphere, and strong Irish coffees warmed us up after walking around in the shade of Michigan Ave buildings. I love to imagine the heyday of old hotels, and of course I like to think there is a bit of haunting history in them.

Navy Pier Navy Pier ferris wheel Navy Pier

Navy Pier was one of my favorite places the entire weekend. The sun was shining, a beer stand sold cold local beers, and we were able to take in the sun, sights, and sounds while relaxing lakeside. There is so much happening at Navy Pier. I loved the lush Crystal Gardens, and I want to return for some Shakespeare in the summer.


Tribune Tower ChicagoChicago Tribune Tower   Tribune Tower

We had the good fortune of having Max The Urbanologist as our tour guide one afternoon, and we met at the famed Tribune Tower, which features pieces from famous structures around the world.


Three Dots and a DashThree Dots and a Dash Max took us along the Riverwalk, showed us points of interest, and led us to the subterranean Three Dots and a Dash where we shared a Zombie Punch, a fun and very large tiki drink.

Chicago Riverwalk

The Riverwalk was another favorite part of our visit to Chicago. I loved being able to watch the boats go by, and we made a couple of stops to Flanders Beer & Belgian Frites to grab beers (Matilda and Sofie, favorites from our Goose Island tour) and fries. I loved that we could take beers to go and wander with them around the Riverwalk. It’s something that would never happen in Boston, but it makes perfect sense and definitely made us feel like we were being treated like responsible adults. We found cocktails available to go in the train station, airport, and other places, and didn’t see anyone abusing the perk.

cocktails to go

Union Station Chicago And finally, there was the architecture. We did an architectural boat tour, which I will recap in a separate post, but Union Station was one of the most spectacular buildings to me. I love old train stations just like I love old hotels, and even if you aren’t taking a train, Union Station is worth a stroll.

Have you ever been to Chicago? What was your favorite part?

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Tags: architecture, Chicago, cocktails, hotels, photography, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, travel posts

We just got back from a long weekend in Chicago that was literally jam-packed with food, fun, friends, beautiful weather, and all of the other things this incredible city has to offer. I forgot how easy Chicago is to get to and how easy it is to get around. I love it.

One of the must-do items on our list was to visit the Goose Island Beer Co. for a brewery tour. Because the brewery is a little out there, we ended up taking a quick taxi ride to ensure we were on time for our tour.

The space is in a warehouse area, and it is really hard to miss. You drive right up and see this big goose taking up the entire corner of the building.

Goose Island Brewery Goose Island tap room Goose Island brewery tour Once inside we checked in for our tour and had time to check out the beautiful tap room, where we decided to share an Oktoberfest while we waited. It was a delicious decision.


Goose Island Oktoberfest Goose Island tap room If you’re not finished with your tap room beer, you can get it in a plastic cup to bring along for the tour, but if you are empty, don’t fret. The tour includes three sizeable tastes of beer. I liked the tour in that it was interactive and the beer tasting was split up throughout rather than saved until the end.

Goose Island Brewery Tour

Our guide was funny and entertaining as he brought us through to see the brewers in action while we tasted a Goose Island IPA. I am often overwhelmed by IPAs, but I loved the pine notes in this beer. It was herbal, outdoorsy, crisp, and well-balanced.

Goose Island IPA

Our tour included a stop in the Innovation Room, where new beer ideas are constantly being tested and tasted and in the wild fermentation room, where Brettanonmyces, a wild yeast strain, is used to make the beer. The yeast is so active that the room is specially designed to not let any air out. If the yeast got out, it could get into the other types of beer, eat the alcohol, and ruin them!

In this room we learned about their vintage ales and tasted one of my favorites of the weekend, their Sofie.

Goose Island Matilda   Goose Island beer Goose Island Matilda I also enjoyed the Matilda over the weekend. Both the Sofie and Matilda were very festive beers, effervescent with fruit notes and a nice body.

We ended the tour in the barrel room at Goose Island, which is just for the purpose of the tour. Their actual really big barrel room is not at the brewery. We learned about a hard-to-find favorite, the Bourbon County Stout, but didn’t taste it, since it is so hard to come by. I’ve had this beer in the past though, and it is amazing (and provides a lasting impression via a pounding headache if you have more than one).

Goose Island Barrel Aging Goose Island Beer Tasting

The tour was a great value at $12, and it helped us to discover some beers we might not have tasted otherwise. I think I have been on enough brewery and winery tours to kind of know the basics and that ends up making me a little less engaged in the tour part. I’m far more interested in the tasting. :)

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Tags: beer, beer tasting, brewery, brewery tour, Chicago, Travel

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