Tag Archives: cocktails

13th Anniversary

Naoto and I celebrated our 13th anniversary on Sunday. It was such a perfect weather day–60s and sunny. spent the morning on the balcony opening our gifts and drinking coffee and then we went to the West Loop for brunch. Three cheers for our gift wrapping this year! Naoto’s gift came in a huge box, so I had to use roll wrap for it. I was able to fold some tucks into the wrapping so I had a little pocket for the wooden card I gave him. And Naoto used this lovely gold and yellow handmade paper for my gifts. He’s come a long way in his wrapping skills. The thirteenth anniversary gifts are textile and lace. I gave Naoto a pillow made with Japanese sashiko fabric. I think he really liked it. And he gave me an Irish table runner and some Irish tea, Barry’s Black, (which Presley’s head is conveniently blocking above.) We went to Saint Lou’s Assembly for brunch. We got there just as the kitchen was closing, so we were able to squeeze in our order and then enjoy leisurely cocktails and peanut butter & jelly soft serve after our meal. The cocktails were amazing, and the atmosphere was very casual and fun. We are looking forward to going back for dinner and frosé outside once the weather warms up again. After brunch, we stopped in Open Books right across the street. (Naoto was very into this Edward Hopper book.)Since we ate such a late lunch and didn’t want to venture out again, we made a mini cheese platter for ourselves and had a little happy hour on the newly lit balcony instead of going out to dinner. We drank yuzu & soda cocktails and finished out the day wrapped in blankets. I’m so thankful for such a gorgeous day, and for thirteen years with this guy.

 

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The Darling

In March, Naoto took me to The Darling for Sunday night birthday cocktails. (I’m very behind on blogging!) It came highly recommended for the drinks and the experience. We had a fabulous time.

There’s very much a speakeasy vibe here. When you go in, it looks like you’re in a weird flower shop, until the host breaks open the wall so you can enter the bar area. There are cozy leather couches and lounge-seating, and that night, there was a fire crackling in the fireplace.

We started with a Buds of May (me) and a Paddington’s Marmalade Negroni (Naoto.) Both were really delicious, and mine was served at the table from a teapot and the presentation was everything. The next round, I got the Mary Poppins, which had strawberry-flavored boba bubbles in it that popped when you bit into them. It was a fun drink, a little on the sweeter side. Naoto got the Curious George because I was curious (for lack of a better word) about it with the chocolate and banana and whiskey, and we both really liked it.

Naoto was in an especially goofy mood and made me laugh the whole night. The video is a little hard to hear, but he’s channeling Bob Harris in Lost in Translation.
Our last round was something I can’t remember and a Secret Garden (the one with the pretty flower on top.) All of the cocktails were well-crafted and interesting. We did get a few small bites but nothing was super memorable or mind-blowing. The drinks and special touches around the place make The Darling and must-return for us, probably for before or after dinner drinks.The check is presented in an old book with two tiny glasses of Last Words. We’re planning on visiting the West Loop this weekend for our anniversary, so maybe we’ll pop in again before dinner…

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Naoberly’s Noodle Tour: Ramen Takeya

The day we went to the taping of the Very Serious Crafts Podcast was cold and snowy, so we decided to stop in the West Loop for some ramen. We went to Ramen Takeya, a sister restaurant of one of the best rated ramen shops in the city, Wasabi. We haven’t been able to get up to Wasabi yet, but Ramen Takeya specializes in chicken broth ramen, which seemed interesting. Plus we have quite a few friends who don’t eat pork, so we figured we’d do some ramen research for them!

We got to the restaurant a little before they opened, so we had a chance to scope out the menu outside in the snow. When we got inside, we were barely greeted and I just had a bad feeling about the whole thing. (Basically, the host–who also was our server–tossed our menus on a table and walked away while we were still at the front of the restaurant.) The shop was decorated with old metal Japanese signs and advertisements, including an old Japan Post sign. I just loved the “old Japan” feeling of the place! We ordered drinks, a beer for Naoto and a lychee cocktail for me. The drinks were good, and so were the buns (pictured above.) But the service continued to be…cold. I got the Osaka Shio ramen, which has both pork and chicken broth. It was good. I enjoyed most of the toppings and the noodles, but I felt like the pork was extra fatty (which I know some people love, I’m just not one of them.) I also got buttered corn as an add-on, which would have been delicious if it didn’t come freezing cold. Naoto ordered the Chicken Paitan Ramen with fried garlic as an add-on topping. He really enjoyed his bowl (and half of mine!)

At the end of our meal, we weren’t offered another cocktail, or water, or dessert, or any sort of friendliness, so we just paid our check and left…which seems like all they wanted anyway. I feel bad writing a negative post, but man, customer service is important…especially when there are so many ramen restaurants in Chicago. And I think our experience was just so shocking for us because the West Loop has so many great places to eat and we’ve always had stellar service in that neighborhood.  On the way home, I checked Yelp and all of the negative reviews mentioned the service and most of those people had our server, so…apparently no one at Ramen Takeya cares enough to give this dude some feedback. So, all-in-all, we’re glad we tried it, but a second visit isn’t in our plans. (Sorry to be a Debbie Downer today!)

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Naoberly’s Noodle Tour: Ramen-San

I’ve been fighting a losing battle with a cold since the new year, so Naoto’s birthday was a little bit neglected this year. But I think I made up for it by making reservations at Ramen-San, a ramen shop in Chicago. It was a pretty warm night in Chicago (for January) and it felt good to get out of the house for awhile and a hot, salty ramen was very good for my cold. First things first…the drinks! Naoto had a very cold Asahi in a frosty mug. He actually had three of them. The draft beer is run though a specialized chiller to make it extra cold. A super-cold beer is the perfect thing to drink with ramen, (or so they tell me…I don’t drink beer.) I had the Cilantro-Lime Margarita, which also has yuzu in it and you know how much I love yuzu! It was amazing, and also really nice with the ramen. Ramen-San also offers a yuzu lemonade which I will have to try next time.For our starter, we ordered the raw tuna on sesame crisps which were just enough to enjoy without spoiling our giant ramen dinner. I ordered their special for the night: a roasted garlic ramen. I have to say, this is the least photogenic bowl of ramen I’ve ever had, but it was so, so tasty. (I know it would have been more photogenic with more add-on toppings, but I can never finish an entire bowl of ramen, and really, I’m just here for the broth and the noodles.) It came with an egg, scallions, and shredded pork. The pork was so tender and flavorful. The broth was made with a garlic and miso and it would have made your Italian grandmother cry tears of joy. It was so garlicky, I honestly felt like it could have cured my cold right then and there…but really, that’s asking a lot from a bowl of ramen.Naoto ordered the kimchi and fried chicken ramen, which again, sorry for the terrible food photography, but he loved it. He even got a second helping of noodles to finish off his broth. For dessert, we shared this giant bun filled with matcha cream and coated in matcha sugar. It was incredible.

We’re already planning our next ramen outing so hopefully I’ll have another Noodle Tour update for you soon. In the meantime, catch up on previous Naoberly Noodle Tour adventures here.

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Hasegawa Happy Hour Cocktail Napkins

Hasegawa Happy Hour custom napkins

Hasegawa Happy Hour got an upgrade this Christmas! My incredibly talented coworker, Alicia, designed these mid-century style cocktail napkins for us. Aren’t they fantastic? We kind of fell off the Hasegawa Happy Hour wagon last year and didn’t invite as many people over to drink with us, but we’d like to start things up again this year. I think we need to menu plan and jump right in for January. (Because I love a good theme party!) Who’s in?

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Middle Aged Woman in Front of Her Christmas Tree

Inspired by this online article about these fabulous middle-aged women in the 1950s and 60s, Naoto took a few pictures of me with our Christmas tree this year. I put on my new blue velvet dress and I poured myself a glass of prosecco for the picture. (This lady was my inspiration.)  I took a couple of shots of Naoto and Presley. I know her face says otherwise, but she really does like to wear her scarf. Naoto liked this one because Presley is sleeping above me on the books.

I really think this is going to become a tradition. I always try to get a good picture of our tree but I enjoyed being IN the picture, too. I love the fancy shots, but maybe next year, I’ll take a risqué shot in my pajamas like this lady! (Ok, probably not.)

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Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour

 

Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Omotesando, Tokyo, JapanTraveling to Japan in the fall meant it was “planner season.” All of the 2019 planners and calendars were out and huge planner displays were featured at all of the big stationery stores. Naoto was in the market for a Hobonichi this year. He’s doing freelance translation work now and needs something a little more detailed than his tiny planner from 2018. We made a little pilgrimage to the official Hobonichi shop, Tobichi, in Omotesando one afternoon. The facade of the shop is pictured above, an amazing patchwork of weathered wood that distinguishes it from the other houses and buildings in the neighborhood. Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Omotesando, Tokyo, JapanWe didn’t take many pictures inside the shop because they were filming for something, but Naoto took this one of me checking out the accessories. We ended up buying our 2019 Hobonichi Techos at Loft because Loft offers tax-free shopping*, which saved us several yen on each of our planners and accessories. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Hobonichi stamp, Frixion stampBut I bought a little Hobonichi stamp (pictured above with two new Frixion stamps) at Tobichi and it was fun to see all of the Hobonichi products in a bright little shop. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, When we got home, Naoto was excited to open his planner up and get started. So, we held our first annual Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour on “Black Friday” and it was so much fun! Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Calendar CocktailWe ate leftover veggies and dip from Thanksgiving and pretzels with blue cheese mustard and I made Calendar Cocktails (which were really just Cynar Manhattans.) I showed Naoto all of the bells and whistles of the Hobonichi and he started filling out December.  Naoto has seen my Hobonichi before, but he was really impressed with how flexible it is to use. Also, I have to say, the layout of the Japanese version is way better than the English version. The hourly timing is better and there’s a small area for a checklist, still leaving plenty of room for journaling or other notes on the main pages. I may have to get the Japanese version next year, or use my vast collection of washi tapes and stickers to define areas on the daily pages for myself. I’ll have to experiment and report back. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Calendar layoutNaoto refused to use washi tapes and stickers on his monthly pages…but I think I made up for it with my December. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, PresleyI sort of feel like recreating this party with some friends who like to decorate their planners. I like to get birthdays and other special days documented on my monthly pages at the start of the year, so I can use my old planner as a reference. I still need to set up my 2019 planner, so Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour Part 2 could still happen.

Cheers to an organized December!

*Many larger chains and even some smaller stores offer tax-free shopping to tourists in Japan. You usually have to spend a certain amount and you always have to present your passport, but it’s a great savings if you are buying a lot of stationery and other souvenirs. So, pro-tip: carry your passport with you everywhere in Japan!

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Christmas: A Cocktail Story…A Tradition

Christmas A Cocktail StoryFor the third year in a row, Naoto and I held the Galaxie Safari Christmas Party at ch Distillery. Every December for the past few years, the distillery changes their menu to an A Christmas Story theme. I’ve written about it before here and here.cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distillery cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distillery We enjoyed a couple of cocktails, a grilled cheese, and some potato wedges. cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distilleryNaoto celebrated his status as Employee of the Year for the second year in a row…cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distillery, eggnog, moose glass …and I still regret not ordering a second cup of eggnog…there’s still time to return before the season is over! naoto, kimberly and presleyOh, and Wednesday was the seventeenth anniversary of the night I met Naoto…isn’t that crazy?! (Here’s an old blog post about that.) We took a little family selfie to mark the moment…you can tell Presley was really happy to participate.

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Cocktail Perfected: Twentieth Century

Twentieth Century Cocktail, vintage cocktailsI’ve been working this week on decorating and pulling out some of my Halloween mail art supplies. I’m hoping to have everything done tonight so I can enjoy the season and maybe make a cheesecloth ghost or something. It was really hot on Wednesday, so I was able to finish the balcony. Temperatures dropped yesterday and leaves are actually falling, so I’m definitely feeling like getting cozy and reading spooky books this weekend.

Ok, so the Twentieth Century is not a true Halloween cocktail, but there is a hint of chocolate so we can consider it grown-up Halloween candy-esque. I had this cocktail for the first time at Fitzgerald’s a few years ago and it’s a favorite classic cocktail of mine. It was created in 1937 as a nod to the Twentieth Century Limited, a train that went between Chicago and New York City from 1902 until the 1960s. You might think it sounds weird with the creme de cacao and the lemon…it is strange but it works. Trust me.

Twentieth Century Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces gin

3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc (We use Cocchi Americano if we have that on hand instead.)

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce white creme de cacao

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake until fully chilled and strain into a coupe. Enjoy on a chilly fall night. (Or a warm summer night…it works.)

P.S. Two true Halloween cocktails: Purgatory and Corpse Reviver #2

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Our Fourth

July 4th dinner, patriotic, independence dayJuly 4th seems like weeks ago. I remember when I was a kid, it felt like July 4th was the end of summer…like it had this power to make the rest of summertime rush by. As an adult, I still kind of believe this, especially since school supplies are already out at Target. (Really…it’s ridiculous.) But really, there’s so much summer left! plot 6, forest park community garden, community gardening, raised bed gardeningIt was soooo hot and humid on the 4th. It rained a teeny bit, but not enough to really impact the garden, or the heat. I gave our plot a good soak during the community garden BBQ. Our tomato jungle is coming along nicely…no tomatoes yet…but our edamame is growing like crazy and the rabbits haven’t eaten it yet! cherry manhattans, vintage glasses, july 4th, hasegawa happy hourNaoto and I had a mini Hasegawa Happy Hour and made Cherry Manhattans (recipe from Leopold Bros.) Cherry Manhattans have become our lazy summer drink.  Despite what this picture shows, we drank them inside because it was too sweaty to be outside. We had Chicago-style hot dogs, corn on the cob, and baked beans for supper. It was the epitome of America. fireworks over 290, circle bridge, forest park fireworksWe ended up watching fireworks from the Circle Bridge over the Eisenhower (Interstate 290 for you non-Chicagoans.) I love fireworks, but I hate crowds, so it was kind of the perfect spot. It was still so hot, but there was a decent breeze (from the traffic?) and the were no mosquitos, plus it was only a few blocks from home. (What can I say? I’m a lazy reveler!) vintage postage, patriotic postage, galaxie safari, red, white, and blue

Oh! And here are those vintage patriotic stamps in action!

I’d love to hear about your Fourth/last Wednesday!

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