". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mom & Dad's Day Out

Last week my husband and I enjoyed a rarity: an entire day to ourselves! Of course, I just happened to take along my camera . . . .

Our day began with a 7:30 a.m. slog through Chicago morning traffic to attend Phil's Composing for the Liturgy class at Concordia University Chicago. This was the final class meeting and consisted of singing and playing through all of the student compositions for the entire course. There were only four students in the class, but each of them composed a hymn concertato as well as an entire setting of the liturgy that included both ordinaries and propers. So there was a lot of music to get through. In addition to the students, there were several instructors as well as the music department secretary and myself present, so the students were able to hear their works sung by a group. It was very interesting to experience the widely varying responses to the assignments from the students in the class. And who can complain about singing hymnody and liturgy for three hours?

Once class was over it was on to lunch. Back in December our adult choir had presented us with a gift certificate to one of our favorite Chicago restaurants: Fogo de Chao. So on this day we had no trouble deciding where to go. Here I am standing outside by the restaurant sign:

Eating at this Brazilian steakhouse is truly a unique experience. Meat is roasted "churascarria" style over an open fire and carved tableside by "gauchos" who walk around the restaurant carrying various cuts of beef, lamb, and pork.

But while the hallmark of Fogo is the meat, the restaurant also boasts one of the best and most extensive salad bars in the city, featuring all of the usual items as well as such extras as an assortment of specialty cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, fresh salmon, prosciutto, asparagus spears, fresh green beans, tabouli salad, mushroom caps and more.

Once seated, diners are invited to indulge in the national cocktail of Brazil, the caipirinha. One of these drinks goes a long, long way!

After cocktails and salad, it's time to get down to business with some meat! To facilitate the serving process, each diner is supplied with a cardboard medallion that is used to signal to the gauchos whether or not he desires them to stop at his place. The red side of the medallion says "Nao Obrigado" ("No thanks"),

while the green side says "Sim Por Favor" ("Yes, please!")

When one is ready to "go green" he simply turns over his medallion and the gauchos appear, each one with a different cut of meat. The diner states his preference for rare, medium, or well done and then waits with fork ready to transfer the slices of meat to his plate.

Hmmm, Phil is looking pretty happy right now!

Happier still!

Side dishes at Fogo are not ordered but are automatically delivered to one's table. Pictured below clockwise from the top left are black beans, mashed potatoes (a nod to the Midwestern palates who must have them when meat is served), fried bananas (sometimes these are plantains--I guess it depends on what is available), and polenta. (As you can see, I didn't take this photo until we had already been eating for a while!)

After a long lunch, it was on to the main event. For our big birthday/anniversary splurge of the year (frankly, probably several years), Phil and I got tickets to see The Police in their reunion tour performance at Wrigley Field. I snapped this photo from our car as we drove by the venue but unfortunately at that moment the sign was flashing "Live in Concert" instead of "The Police."

We parked in the bus lot several blocks away and took the concert shuttle to Wrigley Field, arriving before 5:00 p.m. Since the doors were not yet open (the concert didn't start until 7:00 p.m.), we passed some time walking around "Wrigleyville." We were fascinated to see how many buildings around Wrigley Field have additional seating on the upper level and the roof so that events can be viewed even from outside the field.

Once inside, we took turns sitting in our seats in the sunshine and walking around the venue to cool off. We also made several pilgrimages to the one or two lonely water fountains we were able to find in the whole place, refusing to pay the $4 price for a bottle of water. When one of the snack vendors invited us to spend money at his stand, we refused and said we would eat when we got home. He agreed that home cooking is best and said that he personally was looking forward to some greens when he got off work. This led to a discussion of how best to cook greens (I think he was surprised to find that we actually eat them in our house, much less cook them from scratch!) and we walked away with a tip to throw in some smoked turkey wings (I usually season my greens with bacon or salt pork).

I regret that I have no photos from the concert or from inside Wrigley Field. Our tickets clearly stated "no cameras" so we dutifully left ours in the car, not wanting to be refused entrance to the concert. Imagine our dismay when we witnessed a group of young people snapping photos right outside the entrance in clear view of the ticket takers only to have those very same ticket takers allow them entrance following a bag search moments later. So much for following and enforcing the rules.

As we waited the two hours for the concert to begin, Phil and I enjoyed some rare uninterrupted conversation. But once the opening act began (a group called FictionPlane fronted by Sting's son), we high-tailed it to the vendor we had earlier seen offering $2 ear plugs for sale. I honestly could not believe how loud the music was. We have been to other concerts over the last few years--people like James Taylor, Bruce Hornsby and Elvis Costello--and the decibel level was loud but tolerable. This was unbearable. When The Police came out things improved slightly. I was happy to have the old guys take over!

Speaking of aging, it is ironic that in the days leading up to the concert I had fun telling friends that Phil and I were going to attempt to reclaim our lost youth by attending a rock concert. If anything, going to this concert drove home the point (as it seems everything does these days) that we are getting older. There were a few teenagers & young (college age) adults in attendance but the majority of the audience members were our generation or older. I'm sure they noticed my wrinkles as much as I noticed theirs. I also felt my years when Sting's son sang a song with several prominently placed profanities and all I coud think was "But your father is right backstage!" And as I passed time looking at the concert attendees I found myself shaking my head time and time again at the bizarre hairstyles, piercings, tattoos, and fashions (what is the deal with women intentionally displaying their bra straps these days?)

Then again, a lot of those things were sported by people as old or older than ourselves. On second thought, maybe I'm not old, just old-fashioned!


Mumme Mom said...

We ate at a similar restaurant in New York the fall of 98. WOW! It was wonderful and we loved it and still talk of it to this day. We'll have to remember there is one in Chicago and splurge one day.

As for the concert and earplugs, we went to a Van Halen concert a year or two ago. Boy were we sorry we didn't have ear plugs! Our ears rang and rang and rang! I think it was worse than the noise at the NASCAR Brickyard 400 we went to last year! But oh was it fun! :-)

elephantschild said...
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elephantschild said...
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elephantschild said...

ARGHH! I did it again.

I am OUTTA HERE! (See you Aug. 4th!)