Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mainstreet Libertyville Eats

I took a long weekend visit home to see the family this weekend. I spent my tween and teen years in the Midwest-North Suburbs of Chicago. On my flight into Milwaukee, a couple asked me if it was my home and I responded the only way I knew how-I grew up there but can’t stand the cold and really consider myself a southern girl at heart. The kicker or rub of that story was that when I moved in 1985 I vowed to myself I would get out of here as soon as I graduated high school and head back down to where I felt I belonged, but the universe likes to have a laugh with me now and again and I not only did I start college at Illinois State, but finished undergrad FARTHER NORTH in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota!
Right now, things in life have to be taken a day at a time and the last few trips home are difficult thinking of how I wanted to get out and light up the world. I can drive by my old high school- the old historic building, Brainerd, lying in wait-hoping to be restored and the upperclassman building that has now had many a renovation as well as a split to two schools in the district. I drive past my favorite teacher’s house- the one that his parents-both teachers at the high school built and now sold after his death but well taken care of and preserved. I see the old dance studio and the first boyfriend’s house property as well-the house is gone, but the memory of the first kiss and first heartbreak in the back of my head. Many things have changed, many are guideposts to the grey matter of my mind.
The one thing that has changed for the better and makes the visits enjoyable are the passion of my parents in supporting local business and volunteering with the organization MainStreet Libvertyville. Dad runs the local farmers market in the summer, mom has volunteered to work the Christmas Tea and both have done many more for the organization to keep our historic downtown Libertyville thriving. Always on a brink of needing new business in its storefronts, the organization and volunteers work to keep events going, and supporting the businesses.

My first day in town, the request was for lunch at Mainstreet Smokehouse. I’ve had many a great taste in barbeque from many regions and Mainstreet Smokehouse seems to do many types VERY WELL. As stated from the beginning, I moved into Libertyville from Texas and barbeque to me is beef brisket and this spot in Libertyville is a reason to visit-It’s the best beef brisket outside of Texas. Mom testified to two guys waiting in line to pick up some food and the owner said she was the best advertising the joint had. As a family, we have a get together of neighbors at Christmas and the menu of barbeque stays the same. The last two years, we have had Smokehouse do the meat and we fix the rest of the fixin's.  Although our family makes our own soppin' sauce, I am partial to MainStreet's Maple Chipotle sauce even though there are three others to try as well.  I was in at Christmas time and saw a businessman eating the tacos and had to give it a go.  Pork tacos DID NOT DISAPPOINT!

The next day, the parents and I did our best by heading out to Libertyville’s local microbrew, Mickey Finns. One boyfriend over 10 years ago showed his love for the shop by getting very happy drunk on hefeweizen, saying it was the best hef he had had outside of Germany. I can’t argue with that and in the summer Mickey Finn’s Heif is a no brainer for me. I tried the British Invasion India Pale Ale and was not disappointed. I had never had nitrogen drafted beer and was lead to believe it helped with the smoothness of the drink. The IPA was great although I usually love to have one with a more of a bite and bitterness than this batch had. Being Friday, Dad and I also flexed a little Midwest Catholic muscle and ordered the fish fry. Cole slaw was great, beer battered cod fried to perfection and the chips with vinegar were just like I like them.

As we finished lunch, Mom and I noticed that due to other plans, we would be missing the blessing of the miebach that afternoon at 5, keeping with German tradition. Mom’s new tradition was waving through the window to the beer master as we left and we received a big wave goodbye.

We hopped in the car to head home and at the traffic light, I  asked what the corner shop kitty corner to Mickey Finns was and Mom said ohhh Lovin’ Oven! I’ll show you-we’ll stop in. It’s beautiful and it’s a lot like the movie Chocolat. Lovin’ Oven is Libertyville’s Cakery and it did not disappoint. There were many glass cases with many lovely sweets and the question was just what did I really want? Cakes were in the front as you stepped in the door. There were cupcakes and small cakes and big cakes. As we worked our way around, I saw that there was also fresh bread to buy and moving along from the cakes there was an equally large selection and great variety of cookies to choose from as well. We settled on cupcakes after debating on a small heath bar cake. The cupcakes we chose to go were a mocha buttercream and a red velvet.

Last stop on the Mainstreet Libertyville Buy Local Foodfest was for Mother's Day where we went to Trattoria Pomigliano.  Mom's were getting a free rose for the special day and my parents told me that any  military personnel that show up in uniform get their meal on the house.  We had to wait as the place was jumping with activity and we sat at the newly installed bar that is gorgeous and looks like it's always been there.  Cocktails and wine were ordered, we ended up chatting with a man who was a retired plumber and talked about all things Libertyville. We then sat down at a table and Mom ordered the Chicken Marsala-great tasting, I had the lasagna that was really good and although I didn't try it, Dad seemed to be pretty pleased with his sausage and pepper dish.  Our waiter Anthony was really funny and a character who kept trying to push drinks on us and did have Mom and I try a Mainstreet. The cocktail was one I had never tasted, served in a Martini glass. I'm told it's a twist on a Cosmo. I had already had an amaretto sour so the sweetness of the Mainstreet was almost too much for me, but it was a lot of fun to be out and see families together and people celebrating mom.

So if you think there's really nothing in Libertyville, think again-at least foodwise.  Summer is coming soon and with it also brings Out to Lunch, otherwise known as Lunch in the Park where on Fridays people come out to the square and enjoy music and eats.  There you can get lots of tastes from more local  vendors in Libertyville.  Enjoy! _______________________ _________________________________

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