Pizzas, Clowns and Miniature Rooms

Chicago is known to have great restaurants with unique food offerings, and one of the great dishes that was invented in Chicago is the deep dish pizza.  Pizzeria Uno’s head chef Rudy Malnati is now credited with originating this dish back in 1943, and as the years have gone by, other restaurants joined the trend and started serving this yummy treat.   We were on the hunt for the best tasting pizza pie Chicago had to offer and were told by locals to make our way to Giordano’s main restaurant at 223 West Jackson Boulevard.

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GIORDANO’S SPECIALIZES IN FRESH ITALIAN FOOD AND DEEP DISH PIZZA

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MUGS OF COFFEE ONLY COME IN ONE SIZE … LARGE 

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Deep dish pizza is cooked in a steel pan, and because it is deeper than regular pizza, it takes longer to cook.  To prevent the cheese from burning on top due to the longer cooking time, the pie is prepared with the ingredients layered in the reverse order.  So first there is a pie shell, and then a deep layer of cheese, then the meats or other ingredients are added, and the tomato paste goes on top.  Even small pizzas can take up to 45 minutes to cook through,  but the results are worth the wait.  Giordano’s had a lunch special that included a personal  6 inch pizza with a salad for under $10 which was bursting with flavour and the tomato sauce on top was DELICIOUS.

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A PROPER CHICAGO DEEP DISH PIZZA PIE

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Now that our stomachs were full, it was time to feed our minds. Our plan was to make our way towards the Art Institute Of Chicago.  But on the way, we were distracted by a building that had large metal owls on the roof.  The building was only 9 stories tall, and we weren’t sure exactly what it was.

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WHAT WAS THE 9 STORY BUILDING WITH GIANT OWLS ON TOP?

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We soon discovered that it was the Harold Washington Library Center.  We took a quick detour and spent the next 30 minutes exploring each floor and making our way to the top of the building.   When you reach the uppermost level there is a fantastic terrace called the Winter Garden where you can hang out.  It is sunny and bright and inviting.  If I lived in Chicago I would come and read here all the time!

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THE TOP LEVEL OF THE CHICAGO LIBRARY IS AN OPEN COURTYARD FOR EVENTS KNOWN AS THE WINTER GARDEN

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It was nearly 2:00 PM and the Art Institute of Chicago was only open until 5:00, so we headed back out the door and down the street.  The AIC is best known for its impressionist paintings, but with a collection amounting to over 87 000 pieces of art, there is something for every taste.  In 2009, a modern wing was added to the museum which houses 20th and 21st century art and you could come back day after day to explore the various treasures on display.  Admission to the museum is $25, but children under 14 are free, and there are discounts for seniors, Chicago residents and residents of Illinois State (who can get in free on Thursday nights from 5-8 PM).  If you bundle the museum with other attractions through a Chicago City Pass, you can see multiple attractions at a discounted rate.  In our opinion, the collections were well worth the admission price.    They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are pictures of a few works that we were attracted to.  Of course a picture of a picture hardly does it justice, but some of them were simply so evocative … well we had to try.  For greater detail, click on the picture and a larger version will come up on the screen.  Then press the back arrow at the top left of the screen to return back to the blog.

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THIS GORGEOUS PAINTING OF A PARISIAN “WOMAN AT THE PIANO” WAS PAINTED BY RENOIR IN 1875/76 

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“THE OLD GUITARIST” WAS PAINTED BY PICASSO IN LATE 1903 ( DURING PICASSO’S BLUE PERIOD) AND EVOKES SO  MANY DIFFERENT EMOTIONS AS THIS IMPOVERISHED BLIND MAN CLINGS TO HIS GUITAR.  WHAT COULD HE BE PLAYING AND WHAT WOULD IT SOUND LIKE?

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VINCENT VAN GOUGH PAINTED THIS PICTURE OF HIS BEDROOM WHILE LIVING IN THE YELLOW HOUSE IN ARLES IN 1889 … THE YEAR AFTER HE CUT OFF HIS EAR 

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IVAN ALBRIGHT’S “PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY” IS MACABRE AND DEEPLY DISTURBING.  THIS PAINTING WAS INSPIRED BY OSCAR WILDE’S TALE OF A MAN WHO COMMISSIONS A PAINTING OF HIMSELF IN THE PRIME OF HIS YOUTH AND THEN TRADES HIS SOUL FOR LIFELONG YOUTHFUL APPEARANCE.  WHILE DORIAN GRAY CONTINUES TO LOOK YOUNG, THE PAINTING DECAYS AND ROTS IN RESPONSE TO HIS CORRUPT INNER SOUL.

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WALT KUHN’S “CLOWN WITH DRUM” PAINTED IN 1944 IS WHIMSICAL AND INTRIGUING.  WHERE MIGHT THIS CLOWN BE GOING WITH HIS DRUM?

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“NIGHTLIFE” BY ARCHIBALD JOHN MOTLEY JR. PAINTED IN 1943 CAPTURES A VIBRANT MOOD IN BOTH TONE AND COLOUR.  EACH PERSON IN THE PAINTING HAS A STORY THAT CAN BE GLEANED BY THE EXPRESSIONS ON THEIR FACES

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THIS IS NOT A PAINTING, BUT A REAL CHAIR … A “COBRA CHAIR” CREATED OUT OF WOOD, PARCHMENT AND COPPER BY CARLO BUGATTI IN 1902.

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THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF A JOSEPH CORNELL BOX, A WORK MADE OF FOUND OBJECTS ARTFULLY ARRANGED IN A SHADOW BOX.  THIS PIECE DATES BACK TO 1954 AND IS UNTITLED.

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PETE LOOKS ON AT ONE OF THE MANY PICHVAIS FOUND IN “GATES OF THE LORD: THE TRADITION OF KRISHNA” EXHIBIT.  THE COLOURS ARE VIBRANT AND THE FIBRES AND PAINT ARE OFTEN MIXED WITH THREADS OF REAL SILVER AND GOLD.

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THE CHAGALL “AMERICA WINDOWS” WERE FIRST REVEALED IN 1977.  THEY ARE TRULY STUNNING 

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SOMETIMES LIFE CAN IMITATE ART, BUT SCOTT DOESN’T HAVE AS NICELY A SCULPTED FIGURE AS THIS GASTON LACHAISE PIECE ENTITLED “WOMAN (ELEVATION)”

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THIS LOOKS LIKE A REGULAR ROOM, BUT IN FACT THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN LOOKING INTO A PIECE OF ART IN THE “THORNE MINIATURE ROOM EXHIBIT” ON THE LOWER LEVEL OF THE GALLERY.

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HERE IS PETE STANDING BESIDE THE SAME PIECE.  THE COLLECTION FEATURES ROOMS OF HOUSES FROM AROUND THE WORLD, CREATED IN INTRICATE MINIATURE DETAIL AND THEN LOVINGLY LIT.  THE HOLE IN THE WALL AT THE FRONT OF THE ROOM IS GLASSED OVER AND FRAMED.  FROM A DISTANCE THE ROOMS LOOK LIKE  PAINTINGS … UP CLOSE … WONDERS OF DETAIL, LIKE MINIATURE THEATRICAL SETS.

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THIS IS THE LIBRARY OF KING LUIS THE XV RECREATED IN LOVING MINIATURE … ONE OF 68 MINIATURE ROOMS IN THE EXHIBIT

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Needless to say, we used up most of our three hours in the gallery.  It was a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.  At a certain point, the mind and soul get over-full, and we decided it was time to get outside and start the saunter back to our hotel for the evening, but there was still a few things to do on the way home.

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Tomorrow … Millenium Park and The Purple Pig  with

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Fenton & White (or in this case … White & Fenton)

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