I never like to miss a food event, and this one seemed like not one to be missed!  UNICEF’s Taste of Tap event took place on March 23 at the Centered Chef. Celebrity chefs Sprout’s Dale Levitski and Centered Chef’s Ryan Hutmacher and A Razor, A Shiny Knife showed off culinary skills and UNICEF-inspired dishes- all of which benefitted UNICEF’s save-saving water programs.

Taste of Tap is a celebration of World Water Week (March 19-25) and UNICEF’s Tap Project, a fund-raising campaign aimed at granting clean water to the 900 million people around the world who currently lack access to it. The core of the project works on a simple concept: restaurants asking their patrons to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free during the week. 

The event raised over $7,000 for water sanitation programs.

Chicken Potsticker with Orange Gastrique by Ryan Hutmacher, Centered Chef.

Seaweed soup from Sprout by Chef Dale Levitski.

Chocolate Guinness Beer Cake with Bailey’s Whipped Crème Topping by Vanessa Moses, The Cooking Chicks Chicago.

Photo credit: Braxton Black

For more on the Tap Project.


The newly re-dazzled Allium at the Four Season Hotel in Chicago is rooted in local flavor, literally, with local farming, beer and even bourbon partners. Chef Kevin Hickey grows his own veggies on the roof, and gave me some gardening tips for my newest obsession – KALE! We’ll get to that dish in a minute … Most of all this menu is fun to read, eat and drink your way through. And that is what it is all about, isn’t it?

The Cardamon Chai homemade soda sparkles like the view.

Chorizo and Cheese Chips with pickled green peppers.

How many of these Bacon & Onion Buns will you be able to eat?

Lean, earthy and delicious Bison Tartare with waffle chips and beer mustard. 62 degree egg.

Gratuitous and sexy runny egg shot.

This salad is a life changer. Kale & Sweet Potato with Fregola and Toasted Hickory Nuts. I love kale in case anyone didn’t know, and this ups the ante with a sweet puree of sweet potato and toasted nut crunch.

See you UP at Allium!

Lunch @Tavernita

You know you get the week started off right when you have Monday lunch at TavernitaRyan Poli’s much anticipated menu and venue exceeded our culinary expectations, with our return visits booked on our way out the door.  With discussions about food, fashion and what is new in Chicago – we started the meal with one of the fresh and vibrant crudos.

Snapper Ceviche with a great small dice of celery, tomatoes, ginger, cilantro and orange.  It was swimming in springtime.

Next delivery was an order of bocadillos (small sandwiches) perfectly assembled with pork belly, pickled red onion, apple jam on a brioche bun.

This photo can speak for itself, but these frites bravas were CRISPY and happy to be dunked in the spicy tomato sauce and creamy garlic aioli. Perfectly seasoned.

Meatballs are always a treat.  Rolled with wagyu beef and pork in a traditional romesco sauce that was tangy – and had a spicy kick.

We had to try another crudo – hamachi with avocado cream, lime, jalapeno and cucumber.

Next stop will be Barcito for some pinxtos – I never had a pinxto I did not like!  And those kegged cocktails sound pretty good too.

sunda funda day

Filming for watch312.com’s brunch episode led to a girl’s Sunday Funday with Shannon Binder and Meghan Goulette.  We tasted our way though brunch from East to West, and there was a bacon rimmed Bloody Mary in it for me, which was my favorite part.  Sunda is great when you want to try something new with their unique offerings, not to mention a build your won Bloody Mary Bar.

Garden Eggs Benedict – Poached Eggs, Toasted Brioche, Sautéed Spinach & Tomato with Herbed Hollandaise.

Tempura French Toast.

Braised Pork Belly on Crispy Rice Patties with Poached Eggs and Sunda Egg Sauce.

They have a selection of dim sum, shu mai and sushi for a new approach to brunch.

Bacon and Togarashi spice rimmed Bloody Mary.

aloha from brunch at sola

Aloha!  sola is a great place to go anytime, but Chef Carol Wallack also serves a great brunch.  All her dishes are fresh and full of flavor, with a Hawaiian point of view.  The wasabi pea rimmed Bloody Mary packs a punch, and she has mini beer backs - ready to go!

This one was my favorite – house smoked salmon with miso yogurt and pickled vegetables from her trips to the farmer’s markets. 

Short Ribs Benedict – Carol’s prize-winning short ribs, eggs, cheddar biscuits, pesto and delicious hollandaise.

Ham and Cheese French Toast with mustard honey and plum-ginger preserves.  Very much like a breakfast Croque Monsieur.


To see sola and our brunch adventure – check us out on watch312.com – dish IT! with Amanda Puck.

Oyster Obsession #2 – Shaw’s Oyster Bar

Part two of our oyster taping of dish IT! with Amanda Puck was at The Oyster Bar at Shaw’s Crab House.  An old school favorite – and the site of many a fun lunch for me sipping white wines and enjoying the raw bar.

Before we got into the half shells, we got on a conversation about Oysters Rockefeller, and here there were large oysters richly topped with spinach and breadcrumbs.  Rooted in New Orleans, this dish was named after John D. Rockefeller, and the dish is as ritzy as the name.

We tasted from east to west.  And then from west to east with flavors from the Kusshi (British Columbia), Umami (Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island), E. Beach Blondes (Charlestown Salt Pond, RI) and Hog Island (Tomales Bay, California).

They all paired well with a gin martini – straight up with a lemon twist. 

You can see the episode here on watch312.com.