Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Abe

We left Cincinnati, Tuesday, Feb. 10, in our old green Honda CRV headed for Springfield, IL and Lincoln's 200th Birthday celebration. Six hours later we arrived and registered at the Hampton Inn, a block away from where President Obama spoke Thursday evening, where we meet the rest of our party. There were 10 of us, in all, the men had all gone to the University of Michigan and been in the same fraternity. That friendship has lasted 60 years and we all try to get together, with spouses, at least once a year. Geographically 4 of the couples are in the mid west while the other join us from California.
We had taken rooms including one suite, so that we had a meeting place throughout the day and evening.
The genesis of the idea came from an Elder hostel trip which perked our interest. We decided that we could do it on our own and divided the effort with one charting activities and the other handling logistics. I got the food, surprise.
After wine and "munchies" the first night, and all others, in our suite we went to "Indigo", 3013 Lindberg Blvd,-217-726-3487, a steak and seafood restaurant in the Southwest suburbs. The ambiance is a mix between a nice cocktail lounge and white table cloth restaurant. They had one long table for the 10, not the best arrangement, for conversation, and were served by a very attractive and competent server. I wish the kitchen service had been as competent. The food was good, but not outstanding. I had very good fried Oysters with a very interesting, spicy, non mayonnaise, remoulade sauce, a large Caesar salad and an appetizer portion of "jerk" rubbed, braised short ribs, enough to serve 3 people. I never saw such a large portion listed as an appetizer. I ate one and shared the others with the table. On the whole my meal was satisfactory, although the kitchen seems to function one order at a time, which slowed the whole process and the enjoyment.
The next morning, after Breakfast, always provided free at the "Hampton Inn", we took off for downtown Springfield. First stop, the Lincoln Library, which we found to be mostly research, over 12,000 books have been written about Lincoln.
Part of the group moved on the the Lincoln Museum, across the street while 3 of us went to an enactment of Lincolns life in Springfield thru his departure, as President, for Washington. The enactment was attended by more that 5000 school children and a fair number of adults.
We meet up with the rest of the group, had lunch in the museum cafeteria and spent the early part of the afternoon touring the museum. The displays are well done and quite a bit is interactive. A very good presentation and quite educational. It was then on to the Lincoln Tomb and a talk by a docent after a tour of the edifice.
That evening, after rest, our "get together" and much conversation it was on to"Maldaner's",222 South Sixth St.-217-522-4313. "Maldaner's" first opened in 1886 and reminded me of "The Tadish Grill", in San Fransisco or "Lockober's" in Boston, in the ambiance. Again we were seated at one long table, this time one side being a banquette under a mirror with gaslight fixtures, modernized. Being downtown, near the Capitol, it is a home for many politicians, lobbyist's and locals. After my Bombay, Marilyn and I split a salad which I followed with Calves Liver for my main course. The sauteed onions had been combined with some chopped bacon and served in a light sauce. I asked for pollenta instead of mashed potato's and the dish was appetizing if not memorable. For dessert I had a piece of dark chocolate and cranberry tort with whole, pitted, marinated dates on top, very interesting and delightful.
Thursday, Feb 12, the day, we visited and then left early for an 11:30 Lincoln Society lunch. Over 350 people showed to listen to Steven Burlingame who has just published a large, two volume, history of Lincoln. This time we had a round table which we all enjoyed, but not quite as much as the wonderful, entertaining talk by professor Burlingame. He is knowledgeable, speaks well, laces his talk with humor and historical information. A real treat.
After lunch our group split, with one couple returning to St. Louis and the others, 4 and 4 going in some what different directions. We went to the C Span mobile studio to learn about their coverage, then on to the old state house to buy Lincoln first day cover stamps and then for a tour of the Lincoln home and visitors center. Incidentally the Lincoln home is the only National Park in Illinois and is run by the US Park Service. The other group after buying stamps went to the Governor's Mansion for an open house and to meet the new Governor.
That evening, the 8 of us, followed our set routine and then went for dinner, this time with a round table, at "Sabastian's Hideout", 221 South Fifth St., a block away from the previous evening but miles away in decor.
After or typical chicken luncheon we all ate lightly. I chose a Perrine salad, baby greens, dried cranberries, raisins, pine nuts and Stilton followed by very good Tuna Tartare, served on as rice cake with all the appropriate condiments. Marilyn had a Caesar Salad and a stuffed Portabella Mushroom. The food was very good and it was a wonderful way to end a delightful time of being together.

No comments: