Category Archives: holidays

Pre-summer food, music and wine

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Pre-summer blooms off Michigan Ave.

Summer is at hand, people. No reason not to start right now enjoying the music, food and fun that are always on offer throughout our great city from spring through late fall. Here are a few opportunities to get you rolling…

Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival, on Sheffield from Belmont to Roscoe St. Sun. May 27 – Mon. May 28, 2017 – noon to 10pm.  And don’t fail to check out Trader Todd’s karaoke stage and contest – try out for best singer and look forward  to the award ceremonies in June at Trader Todd’s tiki bar, 3216 N. Sheffield. Check out our review on Trader Todd’s brunch here.
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Happy 40thbirthday, Potbelly! Thursday, June 1, they’re giving a $40,000 donation to One Summer Chicago. Check out the limited-time Potbelly birthday menu items,  and enjoy 40% off Originals sandwiches in-shop at Potbelly nationwide between 11am-3pm. Find your nearest Chicago Potbelly location and go enjoy.
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Dog-friendly, burger/beer specials. Burger + Beer promotion at The Patio at Café Brauer. From May 26 – May 29, get a juicy, succulent burger and a domestic beer for $15.95 all Memorial Day weekend. Read our rave review of Cafe Brauer here.
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English: Band shell in Millennium Park by Fran...
English: Band shell in Millennium Park by Frank Gehry – Pritzker, from across Michigan Avenue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Music at Pritzker Pavillion. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer – two weeks before the Grant Park Music Festival season begins. To celebrate, order a One Night Pass and get a reserved seat close to the stage for any Festival concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. And when you order online this weekend, you’ll save 25% on select seats for any concert in June! Use promo code MEMORIAL when you order online at gpmf.org. Offer expires Monday,  May 29 at 11:59 PM. Or,  explore our entire 2017 season. Choose any four concerts (excluding Beethoven Symphony No. 9 on August 18 and 19) with a Choose Your Own membership and we’ll add the Festival’s Independence Day Salute as our way of saying thank you.

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Rich and rewarding Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

For home barbeques or hostess gifts, consider one of these excellent wines from Black Stallion Estate Vineyards. Black Stallion Chardonnay 2015, Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, and Black Stallion Sauvignon Blanc 2015 are deliciously complex and rich tasting. Perfect companions to grilled shrimp or lobster, super-marbled steak cooked a pointe on the grill, and any favorite traditional accompaniments like mustard potato salad, veggie pastasauteed fresh garlic asparagus or superb sauteed mushrooms.  Get your Black Stallion wines from these Chicago area retailers: SavWay Wine & Spirits, Garfield’s Beverage Warehouse, Sunset Foods, Woodman’s, Heinen’s, or talk to your friendly Binny’s folks.

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And if you’re into  higher-end wines, here’s a list of special Black Stallion wines that have garnered serious recognition lately:

  • Wine & Spirits magazine “100 Best Buys of the Year” – 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 92 Points
  • James Suckling’s list of “Top 100 Reds of Napa Valley 2016” – 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 93 Points
  • Decanter: 2013 Barrel Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 91 pts; 2013 Transcendent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; Highly recommended, 91 pts;  2013 Gaspare Estate Vineyard, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 90 pts; 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Highly recommended, 90 pts;
  • Wine Enthusiast: 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 90 pts; 2014 Los Carneros Pinot Noir: 90 pts
  • Robert M. Parker, Jr. / Wine Advocate (Barrel samples): 2014 Bucephalus Red Blend: (91-93); 2014 Barrel Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: (90-92); 2014 Transcendent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: (90-92)
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Kentucky Derby parties and specials around Chicago

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Michigan Ave. spring tulips

Okay, spring is here for sure and tomorrow’s the first big day to celebrate. My daughter’s been giving an annual Derby party for some years now, and Kentucky ain’t got nothin’ on us. Everybody loves dressing up in outrageous hats and fancy duds, drinking champagne, juleps and whatever, and picking horses by lottery.

But whether you study racing stats and place big bets, or you just love looking at those gorgeous horses, the Kentucky Derby is always an excellent excuse to go out and imbibe and eat with friends. And in Chicago there’s never a shortage of places to do that. Here are a few to consider for your drinking and dining pleasure:

Brando’s Speakeasy & The Essaness Room, 343 S Dearborn St., Monday, May 1 through Saturday, May 6, from 3pm: $6 Mint Juleps and FREE fried chicken. on Derby Day (May 6) beginning at 6pm (while supplies last).

Commonwealth Tavern Roscoe Village, 2000 W. Roscoe St., Saturday, May 6, open at 10am, drink specials $2, $4 and $6 Win Place Show special all day featuring $2 14-ounce Miller Lite drafts, $4 Blue Moon pints and $6 Buffalo Trace Mint Juleps. $7 to $14 food specials include a Kentucky Hot Brown (smoked turkey, bacon, tomato, parmesan, beer cheese, sourdough; $14). Watch the race on eight TVs including a 70-inch plasma.

Easy Bar, 1944 W. Division St., Saturday, May 6, from 3pm, $8 cocktail specials and a special Basil Mint Julep for $10 all day (while supplies last). Watch live coverage on TV.

Estelle’s, 2013 W. North Ave., Saturday, May 6, open at 5pm, $8 Mint Juleps. Plus get $1 off your first drink if you’re wearing a derby hat.

Kanela Breakfast Club, Saturday, May 6 from 7am to 3pm, $6 Mint Juleps and complimentary starters. Derby attire gets you a complimentary starter to share.* Kanela’s starter options include the Kanela Roll, Monkey Bread, Loukoumades, Chia Seed Pudding, Potato Pancakes, Mac and Cheese, Greek Yogurt, and Steel Cut Oatmeal. Locations – Andersonville: 5413 N. Clark St., Lakeview: 3231 N. Clark St; Old Town: 1552 N. Wells St.; Streeterville: 502 E. Illinois; Wicker Park: 1048 N. Milwaukee Ave. *Parties of two or more only. One per table.

Remedy Bar, 1910 N. Milwaukee, Saturday, May 6, from 4pm, $8 to $9 drink specials. $8 Maker’s Mark Mint Juleps as well as complimentary Kentucky Burgoo (traditional stew). Anyone dressed in derby hats or attire will receive $1 off drinks. Sound on!

Roanoke Restaurant, 135 W. Madison St. Saturday, May 6, from 10am. $18 to $22 food specials including a Hot Brown (rotisserie turkey, thick sliced house cured bacon, hearth toasted brioche, veal demi glaze, fried egg), Burgoo (confit of duck, rotisserie pork shoulder, rotisserie chicken, lima bean puree, wilted red cabbage, roast potatoes, Cipollini onions, carrots, tomato sauce and beef broth), Country Ham Sliders (house made buttermilk biscuits served with thick sliced true Southern-style country ham, oregano and orange butter, blackberry country mustard) as well as individual Bourbon Pecan Pies.

Tavern On Little Fort, 4128 N. Lincoln Ave., $7 Buffalo Trace Mint Juleps and $6 Kentucky Mules (Moscow Mule with bourbon). TVs in the bar and beer garden (weather permitting) with the sound on. “Best Derby Hat” contest. Large groups can book parties in the Beer Garden which accommodates up to 68 guests.

 

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3 Chicago restaurants with news for spring 2017

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Firecakes inside Lou and Grey

Firecakes Donuts will operate for two months a pop-up donut counter inside Lou & Grey, the contemporary women’s apparel store at 3442 N. Southport Ave. Locals and visitors alike are finding it a place to grab a great cup of coffee and a fabulous donut. Or visit Firecakes Lincoln Park store, 2453 N. Clark St. or its Hubbard Street location, 68 W Hubbard St.

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Firecakes Donuts also operates a Donut Truck in the Loop on weekday mornings and, in season, in the evenings and on weekends at various neighborhoods around Chicago. The Donut Truck also can be booked from private events and catering; please call 312-329-6500 for more information. Delivery, catering and pre-orders are available. Please place orders by 3 p.m. for next day pickup or Chicagoland delivery.  Firecakes also serves a giant birthday cake donut that serves 2-3 people and an ice cream donut sandwich. Firecakes Donuts serves coffee from La Colombe Roasters. Major cards are accepted. For more information, please call the stores at 312-329-6500 (W. Hubbard St.) and 773-666-5277 (N. Clark St.)
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Weber Grill Restaurant in Chicago
Weber Grill Restaurant in Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weber Grill Restaurant539 N. State St. (also Lombard, Schaumburg, Indianapolis), on Easter Sunday (April 16th) offers  grownups traditional holiday favorites, plus either Mimosa ($7) or Backyard Bloody Mary (Absolut vodka, housemade bloody Mary mix served with smoked sausage & Gouda skewer and a mini backyard brew 10.5). Along with their brunch plate, kids get Easter eggs filled with candy and special treats.

 
Brunch “A-la-carte” Features Served Until 2:00pm – Grilled Steak & Eggs Southwest Style Skirt Steak and Eggs Any Style Guajillo Salsa, Breakfast Potatoes ($17.50); Chocolate Cherry Pretzel Bread French Toast Fresh Strawberries, Whipped Cream ($10.50); Double Smoked Bourbon Glazed Ham Benedict, hollandaise, toasted English muffin grilled asparagus, breakfast potatoes ($14); Kid’s Brunch Plate (Twelve & Under), choice of scrambled eggs or pretzel bread French toast ($6.50).
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Weber’s full Dinner Menu served all day plus two specials: House Smoked Bourbon Glazed Ham, horseradish cream sauce, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus ($16); and Wood-Roasted Leg of Lamb, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, rosemary jus ($20).
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Snap Kitchen is excited to introduce three internationally inspired dishes, each boasting a unique primary health benefit. With an obsession for food innovation and believing that eating healthy should be really fun, Snap Kitchen was inspired to create three incredible new Bowls with Benefits, available in store or for delivery. The product of the collaboration between Snap Kitchen’s research and development chefs and dietitian, each bowl is based on a super-flavorful take on cauliflower rice, topped with nutrient-rich ingredients. The lineup includes a Whole30-approved bowl and vegan option.
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The Tex-Mex Chicken Bowl is Snap Kitchen’s take on the classic burrito bowl, with anti-inflammatory ingredients and superfoods like turmeric and spirulina for a whole new spin. The Tex-Mex bowl contains:
  • Spanish cauliflower rice with a smoky flavor from smoked paprika and mega anti-inflammatory benefits from turmeric;
  • spirulina crema made from cashew, avocado, and spirulina that offers up healthy fats and B vitamins;
  • topped with fajita veggies and chicken, and homemade red salsa.
Meatball & Kimchi Stir Fry Bowl with natural probiotics and nourishing prebiotics to get your gut in check. This bowl features:
  • kimchi fried rice made from cauliflower rice stir fried with fresh garlic, ginger, and kimchi;
  • grass-fed beef meatballs made with sautéed ginger, onion, and mushrooms for a tender texture and veggie bonus;
  • kimchi with fermented cabbage and sea vegetables featuring naturally occurring probiotics;
  • plus organic edamame, stir fried veggies, and ginger sesame vinaigrette.
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Packed with plant-based ingredients full of antioxidants, the Mediterranean Mezze Bowl is the most beauty-full meal at Snap Kitchen yet. This bowl features:

  • kale and cauliflower tabbouleh with zucchini, onion, jalapeno, and garlic;
  • golden turmeric chickpeas full of nutrients from turmeric, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast;
  • vegan tzatziki that starts with cashew crema with chopped cucumber, lemon zest, mint, and dill for a tangy addition to the bowl’s flavor lineup;
  • beet hummus full of nutrients like betalains with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification benefits that give your skin a healthy glow;
  • plus roasted red bell pepper and eggplant, and Kalamata olives.
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Order ahead or get them for delivery on the new Snap Kitchen app for iOS – it’s a beautiful app with full color pics that’ll make you even hungrier.

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St. Patty’s Day in Chicago with D.E.W. and a Brew

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One blazing-hot late morning, many summers ago, one of my then-husband’s acquaintances stopped by our house – probably to borrow a tool or something. I reflexively offered him a beer. He looked somewhat aghast and said, “Well I don’t think the sun is over the yardarm yet.”

I looked back at him with my eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. I said “What the heck is a yard arm?”  (See here for the origin of the expression.) He told me, and I snorted a little bit. “Hey,” I said, “I’m Irish. We don’t even know where the yardarm is.”

You won’t, therefore, be surprised to learn that my dad loved his shot-and-a-beer boilermakers. And what more perfect combination for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

Tullamore Dew is an Irish Whiskey
Tullamore Dew is an Irish Whiskey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey is on an educational “D.E.W. and a Brew Tour” multi-city adventure to educate drinkers on how different beers complement the malty and sweet flavors of Tullamore D.E.W., the second largest Irish whiskey producer in the world.

Sponsored by Time Out North America, the tour helps consumers appreciate the joys of sipping an Irish whiskey alongside a beer. Partners include Time Out, the trusted global brand for inspiring and enabling people to make the most of their city, and a dynamic group of independent breweries across the country. Below are the three Chicago spots where you can hunker down with D.E.W. specials and be part of the fun:

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Winter bar news – aliveOne and Fifolet

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aliveOne Bar comes alive in a few new ways this month. Every Sunday beginning February 19, aliveOne will host Living Room Sessions, an open mic comedy event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Amateur comedians who want a shot at the stage can sign up starting at 5:30 p.m.

  • Every Sunday
  • 6 pm to 1 am
  • Free to attend; $4 to $5 drink specials
Following Living Room Sessions, Dead Comedy at aliveOne will kick off at 10 p.m. featuring a two-hour stand up showcase with some of Chicago’s best comics. Sunday specials will include $4 Temperance brews, $5 Absolut Bloody Mary’s and FREE pool.
 
aliveOne and Bell’s Brewery will host a Hopslam Ale tapping on Wednesday, February 22; Hopslam beers are $7 all night.
  • Wednesday, February 22
  • 5 pm to close
  • Free to attend; $7 Hopslam beers

Every weekday from 5 to 7 pm, aliveOne’s Happy Hour features half-price beer and cocktails.

And when you’re in the mood for old-school classic house music, aliveOne welcomes “Gramophone Records Presents – Clark St. Jams” in the back room starting 10 pm.  No cover charge. How cool is that?

Fifolet to Host Four-Day Mardi Gras Celebration

Since we can’t all make it to Bourbon St. for Mardi Gras, Fifolet Cajun & Cocktails will be bringing the famous New Orleans festival to you right here in Chicago. Starting on Saturday, February 25th, the new Wicker Part restaurant and bar will be ground zero for all things Mardi Gras.  Four days of festivities will include everything from live music, Hurricane cocktails and face painting to authentic Creole/Cajun food specials, limited edition beers from New Orleans’ favorite brewery, Abita, and more.

Saturday, February 255:00 pm – 2:00 am. 30¢ Beer Flights for 30 Minutes. For one night only, guests can enjoy 30¢ Abita beer flights for a period of 30 minutes. Guests will have the chance to partake in this promotion two times throughout the evening.

Taste of New Orleans. Executive Chef Kevin Crouse has created a special menu designed to allow guests to get a real taste of the Big Easy.  Dishes on the Taste of New Orleans menu are available in half size portions to allow diners to taste as much as they want.  In addition to signature menu items like Gumbo and Jambalaya, the following specials will be available:

Red Beans and Rice, Slow-Cooked Red Beans | Smoked Pork | Andouille | Herbed Wh.te Rice. Mac & Cheese.  Pimentos | Peas | Wild Boar Bacon. Shrimp and Grits – Creamy Stone-Ground Grits | Andouille | Shallots | Garlic | Brussels Leaves | Cherry Tomato | Rich Shellfish Broth. King Cake – Cinnamon Swirl | Mardi Gras Icing *with hidden baby toy. Beverage pairings of Cognac Flights ($15) and Abita Beer Flights ($12) will be available to round out your dining experience. Enjoy Chicago’s largest selection of Abita Brewing Company beers,

Sunday Feb. 25 5pm-12am
Monday Feb.27 5pm-12am
Tuesday Feb.28 5pm-2am

*all available while supplies last. 

Then come to join Abita Brewing Company’s Official Mardi Gras Party at Fifolet, where they proudly host the party for New Orleans’ favorite brewery!  $4 Purple Haze | $4 Light | $4 Mardi Gras Bock

Find the Abita rep at the party and your first beer is on him/her. And party to one of Chicago’s best New Orleans-style bands, Four Star Brass Band, all evening long.

Fifolet will offer a family-friendly environment from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm.  Kids are invited to partake in face painting and non-alcoholic Abita Root Beers. Face painting, 5pm to 8pm. Local artist Amanda Cohen will paint the fun-loving faces of Fat Tuesday party-goers.  Can’t decide on a design?  Look to one of the many Mardi Gras masks that line the walls of Fifolet for some colorful inspiration!

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