We went to Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, and my mom had made lunch reservations at the Signature Room at the 95th, a restaurant at the top of the John Hancock building. The view was incredible: Lake Michigan sprawled out like an ocean, tiny matchbox cars quietly puttering along the grid, large buildings looking strangely small from our vantage point so high. The food... well, I was STARVING by the time we sat down to eat and of course the server laid a platter of freshly made rolls in front of us prior to our meal. Oddly enough, I wasn't that tempted to eat one -- maybe because white bread doesn't appeal to me much anymore or maybe because I still don't know what eating a gluten-laden roll would do to my digestive tract while out in public. We've all seen the unfortunate soul out in public whose caught in the middle of severe digestive upset one way or another and I did NOT want that to be me, if you get my drift.
Anyway... I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich without the bun, which would have been absolutely perfect if they hadn't smothered 1/2 a pound of cheese on top (I'm mainly dairy-free as well, only occasionally eating cheese made from raw milk). Now dinner... that was AWESOME! We went to the 676 Restaurant on the 4th floor of the Omni Hotel right off Michigan Avenue. This time, I asked for a gluten-free menu and they had one! It's the first time I've done this, and I was pleasantly surprised! Secondly, the server came out with a plate of gluten-free flat bread for me to enjoy with the butter and herbed salt. However the best part about this restaurant was that the menu was almost entirely made from local, Midwestern ingredients. Most appetizers and entrees stated where the main ingredients came from, be it a small town in Indiana, the water of Lake Michigan or some place in Iowa. They supported small, local farms and the whole restaurant was based upon this concept. Their dedication to using local ingredients and supporting small farms coupled with their guten-free menu made me want to rush up and hug a manager (which I didn't do, by the way).
All in all, a successful trip eating out. Granted, my gut was still a little unsure about the foods I had ingested as they were more rich than what I'm used to cooking and eating at home, but my experience could have definitely been worse. My confidence in eating out while traveling was renewed.
Did I mention it was incredibly cold in Chicago? Yeah, about 25 degrees with a brisk breeze off Lake Michigan. Makes me hungry for a hot soup. This recipe is for Chicken and Rice Soup, however you could also use turkey if that's what you have in your freezer. In fact, I did make this with turkey, but I think chicken would be the more popular choice to most folks.
Chicken and Rice Soup
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 stalks celery, washed and cut into 1/4 inch slices
10 cups chicken broth (or 8 cups for a chunkier soup)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
3/4 cup white rice
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cups kale, washed, stems removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery and season with salt and pepper. Saute another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour chicken broth, thyme and rosemary into dutch oven; stir to combine. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to low and add rice. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until rice is cooked and just tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Add chicken and kale, stirring to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Continue to lightly simmer until kale has turned bright green and slightly wilted, about 10 minutes. Serve.