We were in Chicago this past weekend so my husband could go to a chado (Japanese tea ceremony) seminar on Saturday. My Dr. Cousin lives in Chicago so she put us up for the weekend and she had the weekend off so I got to spend lots of time with her. When we got in we had a little talk on gluten and what it was since she really didn’t know. However, she was a wonderful cousin and looked up gluten-free restaurants in Chicago before we got in. Surprisingly, she found quite a few, including a gluten-free pizza place, that was specifically gluten-free.
We went to Aki Sushi for dinner Friday night. Usually in Japanese restaurants, I stick with sushi without shoyu (soy sauce) or tempura because of the gluten in the wheat and the potential for gluten in the tempura batter. Some people make tempura without regular flour, but to keep from being the one asking a million questions, I just tend to keep away from it. That night though I did have a little exposure to tiny amounts of shoyu and tempura. Dr. Cousin wanted agedashi tofu, which has some shoyu in the sauce and is tempura battered. Some places serve the dipping sauce on the side, but this place had poured the sauce over it and so it was served sitting in the sauce. I had one piece. On the left are pictures of 3 of the rolls we had that night – Mini Godzilla, Ocean Roll, and Vegetarian Supreme. We also had the Totoro Kani, Alaskan, and White Dragon rolls. I think the only one we weren’t too thrilled with was the Totoro Kani. The Totoro Kani roll also had some shoyu decorating the plate, but I think I was able to get pieces that hadn’t touched it. Then, the White Dragon roll had shrimp tempura inside, of which I had several pieces. I only meant to have one piece, but it was so good I couldn’t stop myself. I love that I can normally have dessert in a Japanese restaurant. Mochi is a rice flour dessert that I grew up eating. Aki Sushi had regular mochi that was filled with red bean paste (very common in Japanese desserts) and mochi ice cream. My husband and Dr. Cousin had mochi ice cream, while I had regular mochi. I knew I was bad enough that day having had an Almond Snickers on the road (which was so sweet it will be a LONG time before I have another one).
Dr. Cousin and I had planned on going to the opening day of her Farmer’s Market on Saturday, then going to Aloha Eats for lunch before going downtown to the MCA and Mag Mile. Dr. Cousin slept pretty late and I didn’t wake her. I have a thing about waking my host or even my guest unless it’s really important that they get up. We wound up missing the Farmer’s Market and started off with the MCA. My husband called saying he was done not long after we started our self-tour, so I told him to go ahead and have lunch with his friends and we’d hook up later. I called him when we were done and they were still eating. We wound up playing phone tag for a bit after that. The stores were so loud and crowded I couldn’t hear my phone then he had poor reception in the Hancock Building on their Observatory tour. Before my cousin and I realized, it was 4pm and we hadn’t eaten lunch. Since my husband was in the Hancock Building, we walked back there to check out the places there to eat. We came across The Cheesecake Factory and she mentioned she had never been. I was shocked. The Cheesecake Factory was something Granny and Auntie Boogie always took me to. It was tradition when we went to Rodeo Drive. So, I told her we had to go. However, the wait was insane and my husband and his friends had come to join us, but his friends had to leave. We wound up getting cheesecake to go and eating it outside. I asked for the crust to be cut off of mine and when I opened mine, it was still on. I was very careful about how far down my fork went and when I got near the outside crust, I stopped. My husband and cousin were ready to take it back in and make them cut it off, but it was too crazy inside to mess with that.
After a lot of walking around downtown through the Mag Mile and the parks, my cousin and I declared we were done with walking. We got about 6 hours of walking in with a break on the train to downtown, a small one in the MCA while watching one of the videos, and to eat cheesecake. We had already decided to save Aloha Eats for dinner so my husband didn’t feel like he missed out. Walking into the place was like walking into one of the drive-ins back home. I felt like I was home. Everything on the menu is local food. Local meaning, local Hawai`i foods. Teri beef, BBQ chicken, katsu, loco moco, Spam musubi, mac salad, haupia, and even Hawaiian juices. Most of the menu items are not gluten friendly at all, which will pose an interesting challenge the next time we are home visiting. I knew the Kalua Pig and Cabbage is gluten friendly and pretty much had my mind made up that I would have that. In Hawai`i, plate lunches come with the entrée, two scoops rice, and 1 scoop mac salad. At Aloha Eats, you could choose either the mac salad or fries. I was prepared to say neither, but when I ordered, she asked if I wanted extra rice instead of the mac salad or fries. So yes, I had extra rice. My husband got the same thing only he had the mac salad. Apparently he enjoyed it so much, he had a dream about kalua pig Saturday night.
For our last meal, my cousin took us to The Buzz Cafe in Oak Park. It was reminiscent of many cafe’s on Bardstown Road in Louisville that support local artists. This was the best part of the place though, they offer their dishes either organic or non-organic. While trying to figure out what I wanted, my cousin noticed on the menu that gluten-free bread or wraps could be substituted for 50 cents more. I was all over that. I got the Organic Hearty Vegetarian Breakfast Wrap with the gluten-free wrap. I also had the Mexican Spiced Hot Chocolate, which I recommend to anyone who loves chocolate and cinnamon. The wrap was pretty good, but the wrap itself was a little tough. I think I chewed off all the calories as I was eating. There was also goat cheese in it which I hadn’t noticed on the menu. I think I was too excited about real gluten-free options and the veggies in the wrap to notice the goat cheese. I was nearly done and had opened up the wrap to just eat the veggies and egg without the wrap. I was trying to figure out the white stuff still on the wrap. I knew it wasn’t cream cheese, mayo, or sour cream. My cousin is the one that said it was goat cheese. No wonder I couldn’t figure out what I was tasting! I’m not fond of goat meat or any goat by-products because of something that happened when I was little. It is very rare that I actually want to eat feta. So, it’s not surprising that I couldn’t place something I’m not used to eating.
Now, I must get back to catching up on my routine. I love weekend getaways, but I have a ton of cleaning to do.