Another Taste

I seem to be frequently put in charge of organizing office team outings. Usually it's with a little bemusement, since many team members are pretty ambivalent in their participation. (Attendees to the AIDS 5K walk on a Saturday morning included just the two managers who'd suggested it'd be a great idea and asked me to organize.) Though I'm sometimes reluctant, I'll admit that on the rare occasion that I am not asked for my organizer's opinion, I do get a little offended.

So no surprise that I was consulted for the spring outing, for which I proposed a Chicago food tasting tour. (Readers with a very good memory will recall this was a gift from mother-in-law Nancy a couple years ago.) And it worked out very nicely for our team of 15 on a warm and sunny spring Friday.

We toured the Near Northside, enjoying pastrami reubens, fancy iced tea, chocolate, olive oils and balsamic vinegar, and of course, some Chicago pizza.

Here is the tea from Tea Gschwendner, where we learned that the tea you've been buying at the grocery store is considered the "sawdust" of the tea world. At the Spice House we tasted cinnamon straight up, which was surprisingly good, while listening to a history lesson on the spice trade. Even though I rarely pull my act together for sophisticated cooking, their herbs inspired me... and reminded me of the many yummy spices we've received from Jason's Aunt Cherie and Uncle Charlie, sitting full of promise in my cupboard.At the Fudge Pot, custom molds of chocolate greeted us. Yes, that's a chocolate cheeseburger in the bottom left corner. My favorite stop surprised me, since it was a store I'd never set foot in, Old Town Oils. A store with just olive oil and balsamic vinegar? What could I need there? But after drinking shots of tasty combinations of oil and vinegar I went back the following week for their Blood Orange Olive Oil, to pair with the Tangerine Balsamic Vinegar for the perfect summer salad dressing. (This is obviously not my photo, since the date is 2010.)

The tour won positive reviews from the team, and my tummy.

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