Over the weekend, I trekked across Chicago to meet my friend Anna for brunch. She just moved to Lincoln Square, a neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side known for its eclectic shops, delicious restaurants, and lederhosen.
Yes, that’s right, lederhosen…The neighborhood has a strong German heritage, and when I arrived for Sunday brunch, there was a huge sausage and beer festival taking place right next to the subway stop.
Despite the fact that I heard traditional German pub music, and smelled roasted sausage, it wasn’t until after brunch that I saw people in German costumes. When I paused by a fountain in the middle of Lincoln Square, a couple walked by in full attire…and bore a strange resemblance to Heidi Klum and Seal. Apparently, they were used to this kind of attention, and didn’t mind my paparazzi-esque behavior.
For brunch, Anna introduced me to Julius Meinl, an Austrian coffee shop and café that offers high-quality coffee, tea, pastries, and a full breakfast/brunch menu. We both ordered the coffee of the day, which came (in true European style) with a small glass of water, a tiny pitcher of cream, a packet of sugar, and a caramel-flavored coffee biscuit. Everything was so elegantly presented, and as I dunked my cookie into the hot coffee, I felt a little like I was sitting in a café in Orléans.
I was tempted to order the Baked Banana French Toast, but I ended up ordering the “Kaiserschmarren,” or Austrian-style pancakes. I had never tried Austrian pancakes, and was expecting something akin to a crepe or Swedish pancake. Instead, the pancakes arrived at the table in pieces…which seemed strange, but ended up being delicious. The pancakes were served with a side of house-made jam and whipped cream, and lightly dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon. There were also a sprinkling of plump golden raisins throughout the dish. They reminded me a little of funnel-cake, just not so deeply fried. They were crispy on the outside, and light and fluffy in the inside…and it was fun to eat them one piece at a time, dipped in whipped cream or jam.
Today, I did some more exploring in Evanston, and found one of the best views of the Chicago skyline so far. On the far edge of Northwestern’s campus, there’s a beach where you can rent sailboats and kayaks. If you stand on the far side of the beach looking south, you can see the city.
Later this afternoon, I went to one of my favorite beaches, about two miles away from Northwestern’s campus. I like this beach because it’s usually secluded, but today there were lots of young families…and seagulls. I tried to get some good photos of the seagulls standing on the beach. They were very polite, and didn’t even stand on my beach towel when I went to walk in the water.
As I lay on my towel and looked up at the sky, I felt a sense of contentment that I haven’t felt in awhile. As corny as it sounds, I’m starting to fall in love with Evanston and Chicago, and I feel so grateful for this new chapter in my life. I started reading a new book today on the beach, and found this quote from an e.e. cummings poem:
“i thank you God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes”
…I couldn’t have said it better myself.