During my Vice President's recent visit, he and I shared a brief conversation on home offices. At one point, he asked me about my home office. More often than not, people associate me with Chicago since I went to Northwestern. I cheekily smiled and said, "I like to consider myself a wanderlust, but I'm technically tagged to the San Francisco office." He, too, gave me a slightly confused look and responded, "Well, that's a little strange." To be quite frank, I only had an enviable apartment in the cool district of SoMA, neighboring South Beach amongst other hipster neighborhoods. Nothing else, really. Yet, despite never having really lived there, I paid for the monthly rent, utilities, internet/tv, furniture, and living essentials for an entire year, which still causes me to shake my head. The squared-away area is, without a doubt, a beautiful metropolis but is not "home" for me.
Given my "wanderlust" nature, it's difficult for me to call anywhere home. I know the ins and outs of the best restaurants in Los Angeles as well as the "SoCal" culture and jargon, but I don't own a piece of the city like my dad who grew up here. Having been born and raised in this beachy SoCal region, I naturally feel comfortable when my plane lands in LAX. However, I lost all attachment to the city of glam while attending college in the greater Chicago area (Go Wildcats!). And while I can firmly proclaim my affinity for Chicago, it does not quite feel like home to me either--at least anymore. With another city, Dallas, under my belt, I truly feel lost in my allegiance. Dallas (okay, perhaps, more like the suburbs of Dallas) is familiar yet so distant. As much as I loathe being bloated after a plane ride, I am constantly itching to hop on the next flight to somewhere to explore and satiate my food-venturous life.
Thus far, here are my top memorable meals and recommendations:
1. Xoco* - Chicago, IL - Churros, ice cream, Tortas
2. Mercat a la Planxa* - Chicago, IL - Paella is a must!
3. Geja's - Chicago, IL - Best fondue. No question.
4. Scarpetta* - Los Angeles, CA - Polenta, Spaghetti
5. Sun Wa BBQ - Chicago, IL - Duck, duck, and more duck!
6. Palm Court at Drake Hotel* - Chicago, IL - Most fantastic tea time (better than Peninsula's!)
7. Kansha Creamery - Gardena, CA - Black sesame ice cream
8. Nancy's Fancy Ice Cream - California
9. Bonjour Bakery - Gardena, CA - Freshly whipped cream, strawberry shortcake
10. Stephan Pyles - Dallas, TX - Everything
11. Delbe's Corner* - Evanston, IL - Bagel sandwiches (avocado with hummus and alphalpha is my favorite...)
12. Empanadas place in Pilsen, Chicago, IL*
13. Thai Sookdee* - Evanston, IL - Salty food like all Thai food, but Thai Sookdee will always remain close to my heart.
14. Superba Food & Bakery - Venice, CA - Croissants and tartines (prefer Superba's over Tartine's)
15. Manhattan Beach Post* - Manhattan Beach, CA - Stuffed french toast, coffee, charcuterie, griddle cake, cheddar biscuit
16. Tartine - San Francisco, CA - Croissant without a doubt; my first food-gasmic encounter with croissants. Nothing else was too impressive.
17. Storyville - Seattle, CA - Americano
18. Union Pizzeria - Evanston, CA - Golden beet salad with quinoa
19. NoMI* - The chirashi and salads at the Garden Terrace in the spring
20. Walker Bros. and Clarke's - For when you're just beat up and need a pick-me-up.
21. Gialina - San Francisco, CA - You cannot go wrong with thin-crust Neapolitan pizza.
22. Lou Malnati's - Evanston/Chicago, IL - How can I forget good ol' Lou? Classic, simple Chicago pizza.
2016 may be filled with just as many new stories for the pages of my book. From Virginia to Kentucky to Oregon to New York to... who knows where?
As I try to gain full closure on 2015, I hope all of you are excited for the new year and have been more successful than I in reflecting about the last 12 months. It was--for the lack of a better word--one heck of a ride.