The year 2015 was a good one! First, I am grateful for good health and a deepened spirituality. I am grateful for family and friends, and I’m grateful for new opportunities. This was a year of treading new territory — new vision, new habits, new friends and even a new business! I found myself in the midst of enjoying many new adventures. “New” was the operative word. Below is a recap of my 2015.
The High Speed TGV at Gare du Nord, Paris, France!
The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France!
INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC TRAVELS
At the onset of 2015, I was only slated to take a trip to Northern California to hang out with my best friend for our birthdays in January, along with 11 cities in France. Normally, two trips, especially where one would be spent overseas, would leave me satisfied, but in making a commitment to remain open to what the universe delivered, Here is what my 2015 travel itinerary looked like:
- January — traveled to Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco;
- March — traveled to New York City;
- June — traveled to Montreal and Oka, Canada;
- September — traveled to 11 cities in France*
- October — traveled to Cincinnati and Oberlin, Ohio;
- November — traveled to Sydney, Australia
Me, happy as can be, at The Eiffel Tower, Paris!
A Youth Hostel Near My Hotel, Sydney, Australia!
In all of these destinations, I got to eat well (I had delectable macarons from Laderee), visit some of the most iconic tourist attractions (The Eiffel Tower, The Sydney Opera House), and I met incredible people everywhere I went!
In St. Tropez, France!
Street Cafe in Monaco!
Iconic French Street Musician, Arles, France!
SAMPLED NEW RESTAURANTS — You don’t have to have known me a long time to know that one of my favorite pastimes is to sample a new restaurant.
In 2015, the new restaurants that I visited were Greek Islands in Chicago’s Greek Town. I am not normally a big fan of Greek food, but I must admit the The Lolipop Lamb Chops, along with a most delicious and uniquely seasoned skinless baked potato was out of this world! It was also a great place for an annual gathering of former co-workers.
I truly dined sufficiently at Mexique (French and Mexican Fusion) on the west side of Chicago! As a matter of fact, this eatery was my favorite find in 2015. I, along with a small group celebrated the birthday of a friend during the restaurant’s Sunday brunch. Although all of the food was outstanding, I am still dreaming often of their crepes and their Tres Leche served with a scoop of peach ice cream. It doesn’t get much better than that!
St. Tropez Market, Olive Stall
Batter and Berries was another major culinary surprise! Can you imagine lemon, strawberry, carmel or my favorite blueberry French Toast? I couldn’t at first, but can’t imagine life without it now. If you want to try out all of the favors, order The Flight of French Toast. I promise you that you won’t regret it. Owned by two fraternity brothers, Batter and Berries has expanded its reputation as a breakfast hot spot, so be prepared for a long, yet quickly moving fast line. I can’t forget my dining experience at Jaime Oliver’s restaurant in Sydney, Australia. His polenta fries were outstanding!
Breakfast at QVB, Sydney, Australia!
To round out my dining experience, I revisited some of my favorite restaurants — Salpicon! (Upscale Mexican) in Old Town, Chant (Asian Fusion) in Hyde Park, Francesca’s in Little Italy and Maggiano’s (Classic Italian) in River North.
THEATER OUTINGS — Chicago and New York
There is nothing like seeing a live theater performance. I saw some awesome plays in 2015.
In Chicago, I saw Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s “Get on Your Feet.” The music was great and brought back memories of their days with The Miami Sound Machine. A Conga Line was even formed and traversed the entire theater. I also saw a riveting production at The Court Theater of Richard Wright’s “Native Son,” a moving and riveting performance of August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean,” an absolutely fun production of “Gotta Dance” and “Kinky Boots.” Oh, I almost forgot the ever classic August Wilson play “Two Trains Running” staged at the Goodman Theater.
In New York City, I saw “Brothers at The Bottom” at The Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Broadway rendition of “Kinky Boots.”
DANCE PERFORMANCES — 2015 brought the annual appearance of the phenomenal Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As in years past, the company debuted some new works, but no performance would be complete without seeing their iconic “Revelations.” As many times as I’ve seen that piece, it’s always delivered in a fresh way. I never tire of it.
2015 also brought The Dance Theater of Harlem back to Chicago after a 16 year absence. I had almost forgotten how superb they are! Known for performing classical pieces, DTH introduced some contemporary numbers thus showcasing their versatility.
A Ballet Performance
A Bouitique in
MUSICAL PERFORMANCES — January afforded me the opportunity to see the wonderful jazz guitarist Bill Frisell in Oakland at Yoshi’s. April brought Ellis and Delfeayo Marsalis to the Reva and David Logan Center. September delivered the well organized Hyde Park Jazz Festival in Chicago — I saw Regina Carter and Maggie Brown! In October, phenom Cecile McLorin Salvant treated Chicago jazz lovers to a whimsical evening, also at the Logan Center.
From a Performance with Violinist Regina Carter, Chicago!
LIVESTREAM PERFORMANCES — I have grown more and more amazed at how many live performances I have seen right in the comfort of my home on my iPad or my desktop. Thanks to Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) under the leadership of the great Wynton Marsalis, I have been introduced to new artists (e.g. Alicia Olatunja, Briana Thomas and Denzal Sinclaire), reintroduced to well known artists (e.g. Dianne Reaves, Rubin Blades), and we are always graced by the sounds of The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALCO).
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra! CD Released in 2015!
I even watched The Harlem Book Fair in July and Rick Steves Travel Conference in November via Livestream. Wow, what we are able to do now given the wonders of technology — we can be there and yet not be there!
I am looking ahead to 2016 with a renewed mindset, an eagerness to try new things and to look at the old with a new set of eyes!
Shopping at The Queen
Iconic Provence Lavender
*Paris, Avignon, Arles, Aix, St. Tropez, Lyon, Nice, Monaco, St. Paul de Vence, St. Balme Maxime and Cannes