Old (Town) Style...

As you may have noticed from last night's date night, I'm slowly motivating myself to get out of the apartment more. Today, I even managed to drag myself (and my mom) up to the neighborhood of Old Town to take advantage of one of my favorite summer happenings in the city -- the Old Town Art Festival. As I've mentioned in the past, the Old Town Art Festival is one of the few remaining independently-produced art fairs in the Chicagoland area, and the panel in charge of curating it has impeccable taste, or at the very least, we seem to share a similar aesthetic. Given my recent attempts to scale back my spending and monitor my finances more carefully, it probably wasn't a good idea to go to this today, but I just couldn't resist.

Predictably, I ended up dropping some money I didn't really have on a set of three photographs from an artist that I encountered at the festival for the first time -- Xavier Nuez. His work really blew me away; he uses a vintage film camera and very long exposure times (up to a half hour), to capture images of urban ruins and other dilapidated, forgotten elements of our decaying infrastructure. During his long exposures, he changes the lighting set-up to create other-worldly colors in his photographs. The resulting pictures are hauntingly beautiful, despite their unconventional subject matter. Check out the gallery on his website here; it will be time well-spent.

While we were in the neighborhood, we also decided to check out the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company, a restaurant that's been featured on several television shows concerning Chicago travel and tourism. The restaurant is notable for its unique gimmick: the pizza pot pie. In a city where deep dish is king, the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company literally turns the tradition upside down, by placing all their cheese, toppings, and sauce in bowl, topping it with pizza dough, and un-molding the creation tableside. I've been meaning to try it myself for years, and have actually recommended the place to out-of-towners looking for something a little different.

Pizza pot pie -- looks kind of like a stuffed portabello mushroom cap in my opinion.

Now that I've actually been there and sampled the pizza pot pie for myself, I would like to apologize to anyone that I ever recommended this place to. It's fame is solely based on the novelty of its featured menu item, not due to the quality of the pizza in question. The cheese was passable, but not outstanding; the sausage, which comes standard and cannot be left out because it is part of the sauce, was flavorless and lacking in fennel -- it easily could have been mistaken for ground beef; the tomato sauce tasted like it came from a jar; the crust was soft and chewy, but due to the cooking method, lacked any of the exterior crispness that makes a good pizza crust worth eating. Truly, it was a disappointing experience, though I'm glad I tried it once, for the novelty, and at least I can say that I scratched another Chicago experience off my list...

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