Happy Birthday Blog!

My first post was on this day, one year ago.

Happy birthday, blog!

I started Wistfully Wandering just as a way to keep up a travel log for myself, and to share with a few of my family and friends around me, who are always asking what I have been up to.

Now, I have grown to enjoy starting my day musing about my travel experiences and dreams.

Thank you everyone for reading about my wistful wanderings and wonderings!

Check out my first wandering post:

One thing I am getting into lately is themed trips. Pick a topic: a culinary journey, architectural experience, vineyard voyage, historical encounter… Not all trips can be categorized, but when I go for the short, in-out experience, sometimes a specific theme will help the experience (and help with my packing!)

Chicago skyline from the Hancock Tower

So – Chicago

Theme: No heels

This weekend (2.5 days) was about SPORTS and PIZZA, causal, relaxing, fun.

The one city in the USA that I thought would be on my top three (New York, San Francisco and Chi-town). It was very true. But let it be known, as you have read above, I am still relatively new to this traveling thing. I haven`t been to that many places around the world (shock!!), and I really have to visit Boston and Portland in the USA to get a feel for what I like as well, as I have heard from many a people.

So anyway, back to Chicago. It is really tied (for US cities) with New York and San Francisco. They are all so different, but all so loveable in their own ways. New York – you have the gritty, magnificently old buildings with a history and a famous story to tell. So many people, so many options and things to experience there. San Francisco – The hills, the stucco homes, and the hiking! Something about the west coast. Geography/geology/healthy living/outdoors vibe going on.

Chicago…sorry, I was distracted again. The buildings and architecture for what it is famous for, and the deep dish

Pizza at Lou Milnati's

pizza. This weekend was dedicated to baseball, hockey playoffs, and deep dish pizza. All were so much fun, and I can’t wait to go back and meet more amazing people, food and architectural venues.

Wrigley Field was crazy! So many random adventures going on in and out of the stadium. Everyone is a fan. Baseball is a bigger sport me thinks (as my man pointed out) than hockey. Two teams in baseball versus one in hockey. The real baseball experience was just what I have always dreamed of after attending countless games at the SKYDOME in Toronto. Of course, the old Yankee Stadium was also the same deal as Chicago, so lets include these two stadiums in my judgement. THIS is real baseball. Come on Toronto, get in the game.

Next, seeing a play-offs game Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks…not exactly my passion, but still was absolutely a better experience than even my baseball games that I always love. Makes me want to take back the comment about Chicago being a baseball city.

A play-offs game! Imagine wearing Canuck’s gear to a deciding game. I was a bit nervous, but wanted to see what the reactions would be. Who would have discovered that Chicago had the nicest people in the US? Everyone was making sure we were being treated well and felt safe during the game.

United Center

Where was the heckling? The booing? Afterward, when the Canuck’s lost, we were welcomed open-armed into a pub to drown our sorrows…drinks on them.

Finally, let’s talk about the food…I mean the deep dish deliciously delectable pizza pie. Mmmmm. Please visit Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s for their pies. The rumour was as well that Gino’s East was to be included in the list. Unfortunately though, over Easter weekend, this restaurant was close for my tasting pleasure. Oh well, next time!

This could go on for a while. So why don’t I just post a picture or two or three.

Wrigley Field

Hancock Tower

The Water Pump

5 things that make me smile

1. A delicious looking meal that is placed before my starving belly

Lou Malnati's deep dish in Chicago

2. Coffee that’s ready for me to enjoy – especially first thing in the morning

Mmmmm cappuccino in Quebec City

3. My dog (when he is behaving)

Hanging on the beach in Toronto

4. Exploring a new city on foot

Stepping out into the amazing city of Rome

5. Sunny days

My seal friend in Cabo soaking in the sunshine

A day at the tracks

The trip to Hamilton to attempt to take photos of trains passing by at a busy junction turned out a bit differently than planned…

Only 1.5 trains were spotted (the 0.5 being an engine slowly passing by).

But who could complain? It was a gorgeous 18 degrees and sunny out, at a beautiful location along the escarpment.

AND after an afternoon long waiting game, I was rewarded with a trip to Niagara Falls, New York to visit Target and a great meal of pizza and wings at Gagsters. YUM!

Check out my one and only train photograph (my camera was acting up all day…grrrrr):

The waiting game...

Photo of the Day – Chicago at dusk

Here I was atop of the Hancock Tower in Chicago last spring catching the view to the north of this spectacular city:

The timing was perfect as I ran around the city that day attempting to soak up as much architecture and deep dish pizza as I could. Dashing to the elevator that would take me up the tower, I was able to pop out on the 94th floor just in time to catch the sun setting around the loop and the city beginning to light up for the evening.

Photo of the Day – Matera


Sitting on a patio in Matera, Italy.

Overlooking the “Sassi di Matera” – ancient houses that were carved out of the soft sedimentary rock.

Sipping on southern Italian red wine.

Waiting for my prosciutto and melon, and my marinara pizza to arrive.

I saw this ornament silhouetted beside me as the sun was deciding it was tired and heading for a nap.

Big sigh!

Pizza pizza pizza!

Shout out to my boyfriend today for this post. The ultimate pizza maniac I have ever, and will ever know.


Lonely Planet came out with an article on the best pizza in the USA. It mostly discusses the debate between New York or Chicago style pizza. As a person who has only had Chicago deep-dish, and has tested it a total of 4 times at different places, I have to say that it would be very tough to beat this ooey-gooey-cheesy goodness.

Here are their top picks:


1. Joe’s in the West Village

2. John’s in the West Village or Midtown

3. Patsy’s uptown.



1. Grimaldi’s, under Brooklyn Bridge

2. Di Fara (1424 Ave J)

3. Franny’s in Prospect Heights

4. Totonno’s by Coney Island

5. Lucali’s in Carroll Gardens


1. Giordano’s in the Near North

California, New Haven, and St. Louis are also mentioned. Which I found came right out of left field!

I was a bit disappointed that they only listed one pizza restaurant in Chicago. Me thinks Lou Malnati’s and Gino’s East should be included as well. (read my review of Lou’s on my Restaurant page!). Can’t complaint too much since Giordano’s is where it’s at!

In Canada, I have a few to add to the list:

Toronto, Ontario


1. Queen Margherita Pizza

2. Terroni’s

3. La Vecchia

4. Mercatto

5. Camerra’s

Kingston, Ontario

1. Wooden Heads

Halifax, Nova Scotia

1. King of Donair (KOD)

Quebec City, Quebec


1. Portofino

2. Savini

Vancouver, British Columbia

1. Hell’s Kitchen

2. Incendio

Victoria, British Columbia

1. The Joint

Waterloo, Ontario

1. McMullens

I think the most entertaining aspect of this article are the comments at the end. Some people, like I just did here, recommended their own favorite pie places.

But a few actually were offended by this piece of writing. Come on, it’s pizza! Everyone has their own tastes, don’t be a pizza party pooper.

Mmmmmm pizza…

Savory Saturday: Tuscany

Saturday’s are usually the day I attempt to create a new recipe. I have the day off, and a lot of time to mess things up, and start over. As part of a new Saturday post, I am going to try to create a new recipe from a different culture/region every week. Mmmm, let’s call it ‘Savory Saturday’.

Today, my mood is set on Tuscany. And what better site to be inspired by a great recipe as Tuscan Recipes.

Here’s my mmmmmeal:


Pizza, Florentine Style

In Florence, pizzerias make pizzas with thin crusts and bake them in wood burning ovens. Here is a basic recipe for the crust, plus the ingredients for making a simple Margerita Pizza. Pizzas are also generally individual size so the recipe below would be for one person.

Makes: 2 thin medium size crust pizzas


  • 2 ¼ teaspoons of dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups bread flour

For toppings:

  • 800 gr fresh tomatoes or canned
  • 4 medium sized fresh mozzarellas
  • salt
  • ground pepper
  • 12 leaves of fresh basil
  • good olive oil
  1. To prepare the dough: Mix the water with the sugar and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes until dissolved and the yeast starts to bubble. Add the salt, olive oil and 1 cup of the flour and mix well. Add 2 more cups of flour, dough should be still a little sticky but should be able to form a ball. Turn out onto floured surface and start to knead, adding a little bit of flour as needed, until your dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form a fall, place into an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth napkin. Let dough rise for 45 minutes. Punch down and divide in half.
  2. To prepare pizza: Lightly oil your baking pizza pan. With your hands, press on the dough to spread it out over the size of your pan, to about 1/2 cm high (very thin). If using canned tomatoes, make sure they have been well drained and distribute over the dough. If using fresh tomatoes, cut into slices and spread them out on dough (for a different flavor, try my favorite tomato sauce as a base!). Cut the mozzarella into thin slices and spread over the top, then salt and pepper to taste, adding washed basil leaves last. Let the pizza rest for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, heat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Drizzle olive oil over the top of the pizza before placing into the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the mozzarella has melted and the crust is golden.

Try your favorite toppings, such as mushrooms, olives, bell peppers and pepperoni (in the US it is called peperoni, here in Italy it is called salamino piccante)!

Buon appetito!

If you own a pizza stone, the pizza cooks faster, like in 8-15 minutes. The pizza stone cooks your pizza like a brick oven would. There is nothing like a pizza cooked on a pizza stone, the next best thing than eating at a pizzeria with a wood-burning brick oven!


I need to talk about this bar/restaurant I went to in Gardiner, Montana that is the sort of place that you just know the food is going to either be the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten, or the most amazingly delicious food you would have never thought to try.

Let me start with what K-Bar looks like. On the outside, there is a huge red sign with those light bulbs framing the word K-BAR in that clown-ish font. The sign on the outside of the bar read, “must leave alcohol inside” and on the inside, “No Hunting or Trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Survivors will be prosecuted again” and “patrons are requested to refrain from disposing of cigarette butts in the urinals as they become soggy and difficult to light”. Just the look of it says, late night, smoke filled, shady pool hall in small town USA.

Next, I’ll tell you about the people. The cook in the bar is the owner’s son, who must be 14 years old. The bartender/waiter resembles a stereotypical mountain man, complete with the requisite mountain man beard – and on the day I went, he had just finished for the day at his other job as a white water rafting guide.

So the food should be on par with an awful, cliche dive bar, right?


The K-Bar pizza is one of the greatest pies I have ever tasted – and I have tasted plenty! The sauce is what got me; I absolutely loved it. When I asked the owner what the secret was, he said it was his wife’s secret, but might have to do with a lot of fennel and garlic. My boyfriend feels it’s the cheese that makes this pizza. Apparently, the wife of the owner grew up on a dairy farm, where this unique cheese was discovered and made en mass by the family. Deeeelicious!

Can I tell you, also, that the from the owners to the staff to the patrons, you will not find a nicer group of people than at the K-Bar? Bar none, they were the nicest people I met on my trip. They all came out to make sure we had the best food experience of our lives. Which brought us back two nights in a row…during our 2 night stay near Gardiner, Montana.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton… I am daydreaming about this place right now. It was absolutely gorgeous there, when I went about a month ago now.

My boyfriend and I decided to head there first via Toronto, then work our way north to Yellowstone and then the Canadian Rockies. So my first glance of gorgeous mountain landscapes were the Tetons. What a good start to the trip!

For the 6 days we hung around the park, we saw so many amazing animals and scenes. One of the most fascinating shows we witnessed was a world famous grizzly bear, called 399 and her 3 cubs. They were, as predicted, out and about every day to greet us. Another bear, 610, who was a former cub of 399 was also out and about with her 2 cubs. So many great photos!

610 and her cub

Aside from bears, we were able to see elk, bison, coyotes, and wolves…and let’s not forget, the gorgeous scenery! Anything that is set in front of the Teton backdrop looks so majestic.

One other thing I should mention about Grand Teton is the PIZZA! If you go, make sure you test out Leek’s Pizza. Deeeelicious! Again, the setting of this restaurant is against the Tetons and a picturesque harbour. One of my favorite places on the trip.

The harbour at Leek's Pizza

Can’t wait to return to this place and check up on 399 and her cubs and gaze at the amazing mountains from Leek’s patio on the harbour.

Gino’s East

The trifecta of the supposed top three pizza destinations in Chicago has been completed. Earlier on this year, I visited this beautiful city to test out the famous deep dish pizza.

1. Lou Milnati’s – it was decided that this pie had the best sauce. Crust was not a favorite, when compared with:

2. Giordanno’s – best crust, best cheese, best overall experience. But the sauce needs to compete with Lou’s exceptional chunky, real tomato, garlic infused sauce. Drool…

3. Gino’s East – finally tested and quite good. A great overall pie but doesn’t quite have an amazing sauce or crust or cheese to help edge it out of the crowd of deep dish delights in the city.

So, having said all of that. I would still visit Giordanno’s if I were only able to choose from one pizza pie.

This time, a few locals we went for a drink with suggested the following EVEN BETTER (they say) places.

1. Peqoud’s Pizza
2. Uno Duo
3. Great Lakes Pizza

Oh boy….. Chicago Part III, I’m coming for you!