Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cold Night...Hot Chocolate

Goodnight, busy season has fully descended on the land of mischief and ice. Truth be told, there are some benefits. Namely that my weeks of chain gang between computers happens to correspond with a certain bitter chill possessing my second city. So I put my head down and by the time I'm looking around again, the days are getting long, the snow is melting and it smells like Easter lilies. Not a bad deal.

All this silver lining aside, the clouds are convening tonight and this weekend the high is going to hover around 7. Windchill? I can't even speak it. Let's just say, it's not a real number. I would say it's even an irrational number but Pop Pop would end up correcting me.

This leaves us with several options for staying warm (since I seem to have "staying busy" in spades).

1) Exercise- Some of you ski, some of you run, some of you snowboard and some of us need a big heated room with a straightaway to sprint and lunge on or many brightly colored mats. I have to say that after a couple months of just boring myself to tears, being back in action makes my soul smile. Plus I train with 2-3 other people in a circuit so there maaay be a place for that notorious competitive streak. I gotta wide stride and I am not afraid to use it. When I am not at the Loft, I am at Bikram. It is 105 degrees in that room, friends. Tell me that a little frost isn't going to feel damn good after 90 minutes of yoga in a Death Valley spring.

2) Mischief- According to an episode of "Boy Meets World" I saw at some point, it is easier for two people to capitalize on shared body warmth sans parkas. And sans socks, long unders, boots etc. I think Eric was stuck in the mountains with a snow bunny from the ski shop. Anyone? Anyhow, traditional exercise isn't the only thing producing endorphins so those of you in a "position" to stay warm and get your heart rates up this way should really be out there for all of us.

3) Plans- Namely, the kind of plans you can put on your calendar a bit in advance. This way, you not only get the anticipation factor, but you can alert your friend the Zamboni man to get you to the bar on time when you're under 36" of ice and marked up drafts.
* Bonus: Dinner parties. The local chapter of Shady Creek subdivision alums are coming over for dinner on Saturday so we won't even have to leave the house. And yes, recipes will be linked.

4) Books- The writers are still on strike but this leaves all kinds of primetime open for good reads that you kept pushing off. Get Zamboni to drive you to Barnes & Noble, pick up something good and toasty and settle into a sizable chair. Aided and Abetted by #5 and Bookslut.

5) Critters- It's cold. If you don't have someone to keep your lap/toes warm, you should look into heading to PAWS or the Anti-Cruelty Society. HoneyCat has already saved me a small fortune in heating costs and there are a lot of other little (and large) ones out there who could be doing the same for you. Although, look at the pictures and tell me that bringing one home could ever really be just a business decision.

Tonight I was kept warm by #3. Tina was back in town and we managed to avoid a bar fight this time. Lady was in Evanston all day re-living her collegiate aspirations and met Cam and I at Hot Chocolate for dinner. Mindy Segal is pretty spectacular. I had what appeared to be a fishbowl of Edmunds St. John Rocks & Gravel Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah blend.

Dinner was pumpkin pappardelle pasta with braised bay scallops, walnut pesto and sauteed winter greens (so many favorite things in one place). Cam and Tina had the mussels in a light curry sauce. I got through about half of mine before remembering rumor that dessert is what Mindy has been known for since her days with Mr. Trotter. Where there's smoke...there is apparently hot chocolate:
Cam went with Chocolate #2 The Cake & Shake. Four Layer Chocolate Buttercream Cake with a Milk Chocolate shot.
Tina went with Banana: Banana Cream Pie in a pool of homemade toffee sauce and Banana Bread Pudding with toffee and dark chocolate woven in and whipped cream on top. And carmelized bananas for garnish.
I went with the acclaimed Chocolate #1 for those of us who like a little salt with our sweet. A dark chocolate souffle with salted caramel ice cream and two homemade pretzels then drizzled with toffee. We each had two bites of our own picks and of course tried the others.

I'm not one for regrets in general but knowing I'd be back at the loft tomorrow morning at 6am certainly made me feel better about the decadence. Ugh. Better start thinking about bed...

And not that this should come as a sidenote but everyone from the hostess to the waitress and waiters were really cool. Nice, prompt and full of both good suggestions and baked goods.
Poor Tina. Her flight is delayed 4 hours out of OHare due to the ice so she is bundled in my living room watching whatever I have on the DVR. Planet Earth, The Office...that's about all.


Susie said...

All I read was "pumpkin pappardelle." Yummm!

I'm just kidding; I read the whole thing...those desserts look amazingg. Good luck working out tomorrow!

d said...

nice to see a positive review of dinner at HC. i'd been told to go there just for brunch...but who do i know.

great keep warm guide, by the way:)

camille said...

so wonderful to see you and tina! and btw. i am still FULLLLLL this morning from that wonderful meal! best chocolate cake i've ever had.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

You make the most beautiful food i've ever seen. EVER.

ToKissTheCook said...

Sues: I knew you'd find that one, we're both prone to pick anything orange. God that was good. And I'm still livin from the workout this morning but in sore need of a nap:)

D: I was very happy with the dinner scene but I bet brunch would be pretty fabulous as well. And glad you can appreciate strategic warmth...we're going to need it this weekend!

Cam: Seriously, how good was that? I don't need to eat till probably tomorrow.

Chelsea: I WISH I could take credit for doing anything but eating that. No such luck- Charlie Trotter's Pastry Girl Friday gets full credit on this one!

Anonymous said...

Your dinner sounds AMAZING. Particularly as I eat my toasted ham & cheese sandwich while babysitting two five year old boys. (Best birth control going and shakes off any notion that I might possibly be ready to reproduce any time soon - plus I get PAID and buy cute things for myself at Jcrew:) Yep, still too selfish to have kids too.
Those pictures of the desserts make me feel chubby just looking at them. Awesome job on the training, too. Training/competing against other people - that's the best kind of motivation for me!

Anonymous said...

Did I tell you we're getting hot yoga at the new gym I just started teaching at? I'm so excited.