Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nibbles in Normal

Mark and I continued to sample the flavors and meander our way through each little town, we found ourselves amidst a corn festival in downtown Normal, IL! Driving from the Chicago airport, there were nothing but fields of corn, corn and more corn. I was definitely NOT in the Carolinas anymore. I have never seen anything like it. Corn practically serves as a natural landscaping material up there. I mean these people must have corn as its own food group. Roasted corn, grilled corn, kettle corn, popcorn, candy corn, corn many options for those precious golden kernels.

Our first experience in Normal was a festival. I am sure by now
you can guess what kind...that's right...corn! The streets were filled with people munching on cobs of the fresh yellow stuff, live music and a perfect blue sky. I always thought there was nothing like a Carolina Blue sky but is there such thing as Midwest Blue!? This sky was gorgeous and the clouds were like delicate white puffs of angel kissed fluff. Oddly enough, we did not indulge in any corn at the festival but we did enjoy tasty subs from Jimmy Johns and homemade ice cream in cones from a local vendor. While walking through this quaint little town, we stopped in a local coffee shop to use the facilities and upon opening the door I discovered the most ador
able paintings on the wall...stripes with small objects in between them. Teacups, eggplant, apples, ice cream cones, strawberries and my very favorite...a Muffin!

Our stomachs were about as full as they could get but after a late afternoon snooze we were feeling fresh and ready to take on the quest for a Saturday night dinner. My taste buds often crave very specific flavors and as we walked downtown searching for the perfect bite, I decided a citrus shrimp dish would be just the ticket. We remembered a restaurant that we saw at the festival earlier in the day and as soon as we walked in, it was just what we were looking for. Medici (which Mark insisted on pronouncing in the most ethnic Italian way possible), was a delightful establishment with a history dating back to 1957 when the restaurant was first established in 1957 in downtown Chicago. The decor in the restaurant was one of the most ecclectic I have ever seen. The owner had a passion for woodworking and that is evident throughout the restaurant. The tables are unique pieces of wood and in the midde of the dinind room stands a large tree with an interesting shape unlike any tree one would normally see. The food was excellent and the service was great with an energetic and pleasant staff. I enjoyed a penne pasta tossed in a sherry cream sauce with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, chicken and basil and Mark twirled his fork into a chicken florentine linguine. Other items on the menu included a wide range of fresh and seasonal foods. Pizzas, fish, roasted chicken, salads, sandwiches and all baked goods come from their bakery next door. I usually prefer to end a meal on a sweet note and as much as he laughs about my insatiable sweettooth, Mark never puts up a fight, so we ended the night with a divine slice of chocolate cheesecake. It was surprisingly light and the chocolate flavor provided a harmonious pairing to an otherwise basic dessert. The chocolate drizzle on the plate made for an elegant presentation. By the time we thought to take a picture for proper documentation, we were almost done and ready to lick the chocolate off of the plate. And any dessert plate in my book that deserves to be licked is worth every bite. There's always room for dessert.


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