Dear Spring:

April 11, 2009 at 4:04 pm (BYOB, Our Favorite Things, Uncategorized, What we are eating, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

[Three weeks ago] Are you there, Spring? It’s me, Erin. I have some questions for you, if you’ve got just a— no wait! Come back! I hate you.

[Now] Okay, you little tease. I’ve got one wary eye on the sky and another on Tom Skilling, but it seems like you might actually be here for good. Now, I know I’m usually a hater–and can you blame me? Spring, you’re a little too windy and rainy and allergy-y for my taste– but you do have some things going for you. I will list them in alphabetical order: asparagus, bunnies, Dark Lord Day, IPA, gruner veltliner, less curl-up-and-sleep thought patterns, Lush patio-friendly weather, ramps, sailing, saison beer releases, and sunshine.

Now that spring is here, I have been more prone to cycling around our fair city [aghast at all the crater-sized potholes, by the way] and exploring new spots that I heart, to steal Kelly’s word. One such place is Chickpea, which is a new Middle Eastern joint on Chicago Avenue. It’s small and cute, and there are awesome posters on the walls–Arabic writing, but for American films, like Die Hard and Rocky. Went there for the first time two weeks ago and met Mama, who makes all the food. Then I re-met her at the Time Out Chicago Eat Out awards [more on that later], where they won best Middle Eastern! So happy for them. Get the Laham ma Hummus, which has juicy bits of tenderloin over rich hummus.

Yesterday, in a spate of sunshine-induced craziness, I biked against 30 mile-per-hour gusts and braved rampaging truckers on Damen Ave. in order to meet Ms Jane of LUSH fame for our weekly lunch date. We are ladies who lunch. We settled on Habana Libre, which was a recommendation from a favorite Halsted customer, Raul Campos, aka MartyGrumps. Damn, the place is great. Perfect size, lots of fun, lots of garlic. It’s BYOB and conveniently located just a few storefronts down from where Lush v.3 will be, at 1440 W Chicago Ave. Got the ropa vieja sandwich, which was messy and delicious. The folks there are sweet and even kept my cell phone ready and waiting for me when I returned 45 minutes later to reclaim it after leaving it on the table in a fit of food-coma senility.

We needed something sweet after this meat-fest, so we ambled down to Hoosier Mama Pie Company, which is AMAZING. Amazing. Tiny and cute and traditional, full of hardworking gals cranking out dough and serving up delicious treats like the coconut custard pie I had, paired with some local Metropolis Coffee, named for one of my favorite Czech stories, The Good Soldier Schweik. The custard was perfectly silky. Nom nom. We sat in the little front window nook, watching people invariably walk by, double-take, and then come inside. It was warm and we were with full bellies. It was sublime. There’s an inspiring quote on their site from 1902: “Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can ever be permanently vanquished.” So get patriotic, people, and eat more pie. Apparently the very witty Helen Rosner of MenuPages was there just after Jane and I left. Helen, what did you get?

I suppose that I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of those experiences if it had been a gray January day, so this time, Spring, you win. Love, Erin



  1. lushrachel said,

    Ms. E,
    I LOVE Chickpea, too. I am so happy they won! Delicious.

    I had to run away to Arkansas for several days to get a dose of spring, and hope very much that ‘Spring’ is awaiting me this Easter afternoon when I fly back into Chicago. Fingers crossed, pretty pretty please bring spring to stay.

    Now, I want pie. But, I will have to settle on the China Town excursion that myself and the ‘lunching ladies’ are embarking upon tomorrow morning.

    Good times. Thanks, Erin.


  2. Helen said,

    I had coconut creme AND coconut custard (compare/contrast, naturally). Much preferred the creme, though my pie-eating companion was the other way around. You?

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