10 Cane Rum Hosts Ministry of Bartenders at Le Lan

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bartenders, as we once knew them are becoming extinct. They are being replaced by professionals that are more creative, specialized and that take their craft a lot more serious. The new age bartender has emerged to become a "mixologist" and many of them were on hand at the recent "10 Cane Rum Ministry of Bartenders" at Le Lan restaurant downtown Chicago.

10 Cane Rum is considered by some to be the best rum, based on how it is extracted from the best cane and distilled. The ability to concoct creative cocktails from this spirit makes it fun for mixlogists. The Ministry of Bartenders event featured four different specialty cocktails that were paired with appetizers and a three course dinner. One of the notable mixologists on hand was Adam Seger of Nacional 27. Adam discussed how he uses organic ingredients to mix up his creations and lent a hand to make a couple of the featured cocktails for the evening. The cocktails included:

Georgia Peach - 10 cane rum, ginger peach jam, ginger beer, peach bitters

10 Cane Spiced Pear Daiquri - 10 cane rum, fresh comice pear juice, lemon juice, spiced syrup, (clove, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, black pepper corns, sugar, water) garnish pear slice

Rhubarb Sour - 10 cane rum, rhubarb sour, aperol, lemon juice, egg white

Swan Song - 10 cane rum, tamarind syrup, licor 43, coconut water, lime juice

The "Ministry of Bartenders" was hosted by 10 Cane Rum representative Anna Kimball and was the first event held in Chicago. Bartenders from the Park Hyatt, Aja Steak, and Cuatro also were in attendance.

Log onto www.10cane.com for more information and recipes.

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A List by Amanda Puck

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Over 300 guests at the Tickled Pink benefit on Friday night at The Underground got served! Tickled-tinis by local celebrity bartenders, that is ... All proceeds benefited the Breast Cancer Network of Strength.

1. As an experienced "celebrity bartender," I still managed to spill the most drinks. Second was Sondra Solarte from FOX NEWS.
2. Jonathan Landan told me he was so excited for Moet & Chandon's Oscar viewing party, he painted his toe nails gold
3. Spike TVs "Toughest Cowboy" Contestant Mark Fisher was in attendance, discussing his beautiful handmade cowboys hats made out of beaver, however he wasn't drinking a Tickled-tini
4. All tips went to the charity, and Tera Williams from FOX News (my new bestie) had the best tip of all, "Be Nice!" You know who you are ...
5. (See photo by Elena Bazini Photography - Jan Jeffcoat, Tera Williams and myself)

We all love the red carpet, and as the exclusive champagne of the 81st Academy Awards, Moet & Chandon gave us all a taste of what it was like to be in Hollywood, at a viewing party at Gallery 1028 on Sunday night.

1. Graham Kostic, the incredible Style Editor of CS, hosted the red carpet, awarding crystallized Moet bottles to the lucky few
2. WGN's Micah Materre and her sis Gloria, won an award for what else but "Best Dressed Sisters"
3. Even the Moët Bottles had gold branded locks on their displays cases, tres chic (see photo by Barry Brecheisen)
4. The taste of the night – gooey mini pear and brie paninis, paired perfectly with the sparkling Moet Cocktails
5. Guests got to watch the Oscar action in a private viewing area, complete with personal headphones

"To Do" List

Tonight, Wednesday, February 25 from 7 to 9 pm, is Quartino's Monthly Wine Tasting ( 676 N. State, 312.698.5000 ), featuring 4 wines from
South Africa and light appetizers for $20.

On Saturday, February 28 at 8 am, there are a FEW spots left for a hands-on Vietnamese cooking class at Le Colonial (937 N. Rush, 312.255.0088), along with a trip to Chicago's Argyle Street.

On Sunday, March 1 from 1 to 4 pm, Chef Shawn McClain joins forces with some of Chicago's top chefs for a "Soup Off" challenge at Custom House (500 S. Dearborn, 312.523.0200). Taste sample-size bowls of soups with discounted cocktails and wine. Guest chefs will include Guiseppe Tentori of Boka & Perennial, Bill Kim of Urban Belly, Dean Zanella and several other local favorites. Tickets are $15 per person with proceeds benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository
(www.chicagosfoodbank.org), available at the door.

Give Again
On Tuesday, March 3, from 7 to 11 pm, Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia
(980 N. Michigan Ave.) will host Una Notta Speciale , A Special Evening, to raise funds and help defray the costs of celebrated Sommelier Henry Alfred Bishop III's throat cancer treatment. Tastes will be served by Chefs Mantuano, Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan, Priscilla Satkoff and Erwin Drechsler, among others. A $100 donation per person is suggested. Reservations can be made online at www.henrybishop.net or at (708) 386-5994.

Amanda Puck


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The Health Conscious Foodie - It's not Delivery, It's Delicious!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So you've been eating healthy all week and you don't want to blow it. But suddenly this craving takes over you, "you need to be bad", and you rationalize that you definitely deserve it,"PIZZA!" Well, before you lose it and speed dial Guilt-ordano's, grab for this delicious and nutritious version of an Italian Pizza Pie instead. This is a rich and decadent pizza that is by no means lacking in the flavor or fulfillment department. It has the CHEW Chicago stamp of approval.

It's Good For Me Pizza

(local or organic encouraged)
1 Whole Grain Pizza Pie Crust
4 Cups Chopped Spinach
4 Slices Chopped Lean Turkey Bacon
1/2 Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cage-Free Eggs
Freshly Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 450 Degrees. On top of whole grain pizza crust, begin building with spinach, drizzled with EVOO. Continue with the turkey, goat cheese, garlic slices, and cracked pepper. On top of the pizza, add two uncooked whole eggs. These incredible edibles are going to be "over easy", all over your pizza. Place Pizza right onto oven rack, turn heat to 425 degrees, and cook for 15-20 minutes depending on how runny your like your eggs. With this recipe you can have your pizza and eat it too!

Happy CHEWing,

Jessica Marie CHHC AADP
Holistic Nutrition &
Lifestyle Improvement

Complete Health Education & Wellness - CHEW Chicago


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Chef Wallack & Sola's "Wagyu Beef Burger" Heading To Miami's South Beach

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A burger is a burger right? Wrong; Well, at least not to foodies and culinary experts. In-fact, I bet that most folks around Chicago can probably tell you where to find their favorite burger, even if they aren't foodies. I recently tried a burger that is vying for the "best burger" title at the "Amstel Light Burger Bash" and I liked it. I really, really liked it.

Carol Wallack, is the Executive Chef at Sola restaurant and one of two Chicago chefs (Rick Bayless) invited to participate in the "Amstel Ligh Burger Bash" competition. Hosted by Rachel Ray, the event takes place in Miami on Thursday February 19th and is part of the 2009 Food Network South Beach Food & Wine Festival. The South Beach Festival is one of the premiere culinary and wine events in the country and features some of the biggest culinary stars in the industry.

Chef Wallack is competing against some top notch chefs, but I think that her "Wagyu Beef Burger" may have a chance. The signature "Wagyu Burger", which has taken Chef Wallack over 20 years to perfect, is Allen Brother's Wagyu Beef, cambazola cheese, house-made bacon, carmelized onions and arugula all squeezed between a soft pretzel roll. The Chef likes to serve the burger medium, which I normally don't do, but her suggestion went over very well. Of course, you can't have a burger without their truffle fries, which were the perfect complement to the beef.

In celebration of the "Burger Bash", Sola is serving the delectable burger all weekend long (February 19th - 22nd). The burger is normally only served during lunch and dinner on Thursdays and only during lunch on Fridays.

Sola is located at 3868 N. Lincoln Ave. (773) 327-3868. For more information log onto www.sola-restaurant.com.

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To Dine For By Maddie: Piccolo Sogno - Little Dream, Big Flavor

Not only have I enjoyed two great meals at Piccolo Sogno (464 N. Halsted), but I have also heard great praise of the food from a number of friends and fellow foodies. The Midnight Blue and Chocolate Brown decor have completely transformed the space that once housed both Thyme and Timo, and the outdoor patio can be considered the most beautiful in the city of Chicago.

Stumbling in for a late lunch one day, I enjoyed many Italian delicacies so authentic that I felt transported back to the time when I studied abroad in Florence. The Pugliese (a region of Southern Italy) Burrata con Culatello, a Hand Stuffed Mozzarella with Artisan style Prosciutto was incredibly fresh (pictured). The cheese so moist and buttery it was undoubtedly made on premises. Enhancing this dish was the Piccolo Sogno Olive Oil, aged Balsamic Vinegar and ridiculously fulfilling bread basket on every table. The Griglia Mista, a green salad topped with wood grilled Calamari, Shrimp, and Octopus was dressed in a lemony caper olive oil. A great course for lunch or dinner. On another visit, I had the Insalata di Pere, a lighter salad of arugula, roasted pears, and laurel chenel goat cheese dressed with lemon oil.

The handmade pastas at Piccolo Sogno are not to be missed. Chef and Owner, Tony Priolo, formerly of Coco Pazzo has most definitely not lost his touch creating the lightest most delicate raviolis and tortellinis I have had in ages. The Ravioli Piccolo Sogno, a four cheese stuffed pillow sitting in a butter sauce with a Marsala glaze, pine nuts and Parmesan shavings had my Mother left wanting to lick her plate. I personally was blown away by the Torteloni, a hand crafted little purse pasta stuffed with creamy sweet butternut squash, nestled in a brown butter and thyme sauce, and topped with toasted walnuts.

For entrees, the consensus on not-to-miss dishes is the Polleto alla Griglia, Pesce Intero and the Rosticciana. The Polleto, a flattened and wood grilled Spring Chicken is served with a tangy lemon sauce and rapini. The Rosticciana, a red wine braised beef short rib, is not light but a great dish for sharing and served with sweet roasted Cippolini onions and a heaping pile of creamy polenta. The Pesce Intero, or fish of the day (ours was Salmon) is a Wood Fired Whole Fish baked in a Sicillian Sea Salt Crust served with braised fennel and a citrus-caper infused olive oil. Molto Bene.

Sadly, on both trips I was a bit too full to order a major dessert, though they have many. I did enjoy the Sorbetto Arancia Rosso, a sweet and refreshing Blood Orange Sorbet. I also love their biscotti and Fragola - a wild strawberry Liqueur.

I must mention that although the prices for wines by the glass are competitive, we found a bottle of Antinori Tignanello for $150, a price far better than one would expect! An all-around FABULOSO experience!


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Meet Me For Dinner at Park 52

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dinner and Wine (optional)


Hosts: D.C. Crenshaw, Craig Morton, and Spencer Leak Jr. invite you to the first "Meet Me for Dinner" dining series, featuring Park 52 Restaurant located in Hyde Park.

Enjoy live entertainment and cocktails, while feasting on a three-course prixe fixe dinner menu, specially selected by Executive Chef Chris Baron.

Wednesday March 11th, 2009

7:00 pm seating

The Menu
3-Course Prix Fix Menu

First Course
Caesar or Mixed Greens Salad

Second Course
Seared Tilapia
Lemon Butter & Broccoli

Honey & Habanero Glazed Chicken

Grilled Skirt Steak
Hand Cut American Fries

Third Course
Chef's Selected Specialty Dessert


*Price does include tax and gratuity*
Wine and Cocktails not included
Add $20 for wine pairing with each course


Not valid with any other offers or promotions
Pre-paid reservations are required

Park 52
5201 S. Harper Ave
Hyde Park, Chicago 60615
773.241.5200 www.park52chicago.com


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Fashion Forward by Renae: White House Fashion

With our hometown heroes in the White House, do you think their fashion choices will change over the next four years? With President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama now settled in, and with the new issue of Vogue coming out with our First Lady on the cover (only the second First Lady on the cover in the history of the magazine --the first was Hillary Clinton), I thought this would be a good question to ask a fashion expert. A well-known, up-and-coming local designer seemed to me the best person to ask, considering the First Family is from Chicago, and Michelle Obama often turns to local designers such as Maria Pinto for her fashion inspiration.

I posed the White House fashion question to Borris Powell, Chicago-based women's wear designer. His response:

"In regards to the New President and our First Lady, nothing should change. Just because they are now in office doesn't mean that they should suddenly change their look. They both have such a unique and polished look that it should go forward. I love seeing Barack in dark suits with pops of color. The added color really looks amazing on his skin. Michelle is fabulous at mixing high-end pieces with affordable wear. This is real for her and I'd hate to see her lose what has carried her so far. I like to see her and recongnize it as 'Simple Chic.'"

The First Lady does seem to enjoy wearing new designers (Jason Wu, for example)...so perhaps down the road she'll consider a look from Chicago's own Borris J. Powell Designs! For more information, visit http://www.borrispowell.com/. (Photo courtesy Borris Powell.)

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The Health Concious Foodie - Chocolate Yoga

Looking to boost your endorphins during the cold February week before Valentine's Day? Yoga Now and next door neighbor, Greenheart, will be joining forces to bring Chicagoans a double dose of inner sunshine this Valentine's Day.

The evening will start out at 5:45 PM at Yoga Now, Chicago's only all eco-constructed yoga studio, where they will host a 40 minute gentle yoga class. However, because of the overwhelming interest in this event, the 5:45 PM yoga class is full. The endorphin party will then proceed to Greenheart Shop, where fair trade wine and refreshments will be served throughout the evening for mingling and last minute (fair trade) Valentine's shopping. At 7:00 PM, Cru Cacao will perform a raw vegan fair trade truffle-making demonstration with samples to follow - come early to get a seat! They will be offering a second 7:30 PM, one and a half hour, yoga class on a "first come, first sign- up" basis in order to accommodate everyone interested in this event.

Please contact the Greenheart Shop for more information:
746 N LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: 312.264.1625

Love, Light, and Happiness,

Jessica Marie CHHC AADP
Holistic Nutrition
Lifestyle Improvement


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The Real Deal on the New River North Sports Bar Bull & Bear

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Upscale tends to be the trend in sports bars these days. Or at least the hope is to attract a more sophisticated and trendy crowd that would typically choose a hipper environment to spend their Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights. The new River North sports bar, Bull and Bear, not only lures the hipsters, but attracts businessmen and women during the lunch hour.

The name Bull and Bear obviously recognizes two of Chicago's major sports teams, but also refers to the financial world and appeals to the CBOT crowd. The restaurant has a nice layout and designs, but can get a little too close for comfort when crowded. After talking with a few friends about the menu, I wanted to see if their food matched the upscale vibe. Well, let's just say that it didn't measure up.

The Bull and Bear menu has a ton of starters, salads, main courses, sides and short order options. There are a plethera of burgers and sandwiches to choose from as well as a few non bar food entrees. The "Onion Tower" and "Sweet Potato Fries" were typical. Nothing great, but nothing bad about either dish. The “Lobster Bisque” was deemed to be a signature item and would have been if it wasn't served luke warm. The "Double Cut Grilled Pork Chop" was a little dry and didn't live up to the waitresses billing, but my dining guest really enjoyed his "Pulled Hammy" pork sliders. We were graciously served with a sampling of all of their desserts, which consisted of a chocolate chip cookie draped in vanilla ice cream, cinnamon doughnut holes with three different dipping sauces, peanut butter bread pudding, and a "Thrilla in Vanilla" shake with Filandia Vodka and Godiva Dark Vanilla Royale. They were all savory, but I wouldn't necessarily have paired peanut butter and bread pudding together. The service started off sketchy, due to a mishap with my reservation, but the owner and waitress attempted to make up for it. Don't expect upscale service during crowded nights though, because it is still, however, a sports bar.

A unique feature to Bull and Bear are their 5 premiere booths with Personal Table Taps. Each booth has two taps (1 domestic, 1 import) that dispenses beer, which is recorded on a meter at the table. The goal is to allow guests to pay-as-they-pour and enjoy a no-wait standard of service. This feature should be a big hit for beer lovers.

Bull and Bear has only been open for about 3 weeks, so they may still be working out the kinks. Although they didn't meet my dining experience expectations for what they deem as an "exclusive luxury sports bar", I may give them another shot once the madd rush dies down.

Bull and Bear is located 431 N. Wells St. For more information log onto www.bullbearbar.com

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To Dine For By Maddie: Sepia Bar Bites and Bartender!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A great day at work calls for a delicious cocktail and perhaps a tasty treat to accompany it. We have all had our fill of Happy Hour, but let's face it, the first watering hole you come across on your way home is rarely going to be the same caliber as Sepia (123 N. Jefferson).

Great food, funky decor, and warm ambiance is here to stay at the West Loop hotspot, however, famed Mixologist Peter Vestinos is not. Vestinos has been mixing up a bevvy of taste bud tantalizing cocktails and defining mixology for some time now, but he will reluctantly move on to corporate America next week. Not to worry, Vestinos is set to be the head mixologist for a well known beverage distributor.

My personal favorite Vestinos creations have become the French 75 - Hendricks Gin, lemon sour, orange bitters, and topped with Bugey Cerdon Demi-Sec Sparkling Rose and the Monk's Daiquiri -based on the Hemingway Daiquiri - with Cockspur Fine Rum, Yellow Charteuse, grapefruit juice, lime juice and simple syrup. Another crowd driving Vestinos touch on the Sepia bar scene has been his seasonal spin on an Old Fashioned (pictured) currently featuring the Cocoa Old Fashioned, with cocoa nib infused Ridgemont Reserve 1792 bourbon, housemade vanilla and toffee bitters, muddled orange, and brandied cherries. Be sure to stop in THIS WEEK to have Mr. Vestinos personally mix up one of his concoctions.

The small plates offered at Sepia are fantastic (the entire menu is available at the bar) specifically, the lamb shoulder flatbread with carmelized onions and olives served on a plank of wood (pictured). Other not-to-miss items include the charred baby octopus in tomato sauce, roasted brussel sprouts, and whole wheat pasta carbonara with pecan, pumpkins, and guanciale. As we were simply enjoying the "bar bites" and the bartender, I intend to go back this week to try the roasted cobia with spaghetti squash and wild boar sausage with paprika sauce and the duck fat fried potatoes - the smell of which permeated the entire bar area - in a good way!


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Another Option to "Dine" in the West Loop

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

There are so many choices to enjoy a great meal in the city that a lot of restaurants simply get looked over or don't make the cut. Some places that are decent, but won't blow your socks off, still have a place for foodies. Dine, located in the West Loop, is such a place that could be added to your dining options.

Executive Chef Chris Turano uses unpretentious ingredients and escalates them. His menu consists of American cuisine that has a lot of options. Some of the more memorable items were from the starter side of the menu, which included "Braised Veal Cheek, Caramelized Cauliflower Puree, and Mustard Seed Consomme". The "Cast Iron Seared Wild Alaskan Scallops, Soft Porcini Polenta, Parmesan, and Baby Arugula" also received high marks. Although I sampled their "Bone in Ribeye" and "Braised Domestic Lamb Shank" entrees, I preferred the "Block Island Monkfish, Wild Mushroom Broth, Beluga Lentils and Shellfish Mushrooms". The best dish of the evening came via the "Finishing Touches" dessert menu. I indulged in the "Red Velvet Cake" that had me licking the cream cheese frosting from my fingers.

Dine is a 1940's - style eatery and design essentials include vintage elements such as antiqued glass, terrazzo flooring, and over-sized printed art. It doesn't have that contemporary feel of other popular West Loop restaurants, but could be a good alternative to the contrary.

Dine is located at 733 W. Madison St. and is connected to the Crowne Plaza Hotel. For more information check out www.dinerestaurant.com.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
wat do u think of their vegetarian options? do they have any?
February 7, 2009 4:08 PM  
Anonymous La said...
You know better than to lick your fingers so you MUST have really loved that frosting.
February 7, 2009 4:09 PM  

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