Today I'm in Chicago, a town I've never been to before. Earlier this year Nancy and I were in Boston, this in some ways reminds me of that experience. Discovering new amazing places and then crafting that experience in a short period of time is an art.
Because time is limited this actually helps me design a list of places to see. Reviews, speaking with people that have been here, and then sculpting the list to conform with our own interests creates the perfect vacation strategy.
It's been years since I fondly remember the days of frequenting the Jazz nightclubs of San Francisco. Friday night we heard the Denise Thimes Quintet at the Winters Jazz Club in Chicago. What an amazing ensemble featuring drums, bass, guitar, piano, and of course, the vocals of Miss Denise Thimes. The harmony and driving beat behind the sensual yet powerful voice of Denise Thimes was something I will never forget.
Denise was personally asked by Aretha Franklin to sing at her 70 birthday party in New York City. Only a select few elite musicians were represented at that event. I admit I had no idea who Denise Thimes was. After about three minutes I quickly discovered that inner smile you can only associate with the moment you discover something special. I found the driving rhythmic sub plots and the complex tonality of chord changes within the context of many of the Jazz standards to be an elevated level of musician ship rarely witnessed in small Jazz venues.
After the Jazz we finished the night at an acclaimed Chicago fine dinning restaurant, BOKA. Finishing strong is important and BOKA didn't disappoint. The chef sent out several treats as compliments to enhance the meal and set the tone for the dining experience.
Ricotta dumplings topped with fresh black truffles were among the surprise gifts from the kitchen. Jon Leopold the general manager was very kind and gracious coming to our table to help orchestrate the food and wine.
I'm not sure how much restaurant people realize their dialogue, graciousness, and personalized touch enhance what would otherwise be just another good meal. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that at that point I had to reach out to Mr. Leopold and tell him about PAZAZ ™ and the brand I am very proud to have created.
The next day was filled with discovery as we took the Architectural Boat Cruise up and down the Chicago River. What a wonderful way to hear about the history of Chicago through the historical insight of those that helped create its beautiful sky line.
After the boat cruise it was on to the Chicago Art Institute one of the oldest and most respected museums in the United States. I was in awe as I stood so close to the original art of Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Matisse, and so many more.
I'd have to say that my favorite painting was "The Old Guitarist" painted by Picasso when he lived in Barcelona. Picasso was 22 years old at the time and this period was called his "blue period" (1901-1904). The painting reflects the artist's sympathy for the downtrodden as he knew very well having been penniless during all of 1902.
That night, after being very active all day, we dressed for dinner and went to what turned out to be a very magical dining experience. It is rare when you come upon a restaurant, Spiaggia, that evokes the feeling of rapture. By mere definition it is "the transporting of a person from one place to another" or "the feeling of ecstasy, bliss".
I want to thank Lucas Chapman the general manager as he and his staff conducted, performed, and executed a dining event that will never be forgotten. Just one example was the chef coming to our table and personally shaving white truffles into a hand crafted gnocchi. There were so many wonderful nuances that were added by Mr. Chapman and the staff with each course being performed flawlessly.
Again I promoted PAZAZ ™as the ultimate Silicone Baking Mat (used in chef Jean Georges Restaurant at the Aria Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, and Michael Mina's restaurant, Bardot, at the Aria), Heavy Duty Baking Sheet Pan, and the Steel Mesh Cooling Rack. I will be sending Mr. Chapman samples to enhance their experience in the kitchen of Spiaggia using the finest kitchen tools, PAZAZ ™.
Today it was the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. Soon we'll be leaving this amazing city but what I've taken away from this town is that as in any city its the people you meet that helps create the experience that eventually turns into something you'll never forget.
Beyond the musical and culinary treats their is so much beauty within the windy city.