The Bristol Rocks

From the minute you walk into the warm atmosphere of The Bristol and try one of their deliciously crafted cocktails, you know you are going to have a great night. With Executive Chef Sean Pharr behind the line and at the helm of the kitchen, you can’t go wrong with anything you may order. I know, because we tasted the entire menu last Saturday night! And it was amazing.

This is the Black Diamond. It is also known at #BDE. BEST. DRINK. EVER. Larceny bourbon, punt e mes, lemon juice and grapefruit juice.

Perfectly whipped, smooth and creamy chicken liver mousse with sweet and gooey blackberries and tangy pickled pearl onions.

Ruinart by the glass served icy cold and perfect with the chicken liver richness.

Grilled octopus with Calabrian chili.


Heirloom tomatoes. Peak of the season dashed with Maldon salt.

It’s great to be the head cheese at The Bristol.

Kale salad with a smoked crème fraiche dressing. Smokin’.

Capellini, perfectly cooked, with roasted garlic, Nichols Farm cherry tomatoes and grana padano.

Malformati with a rich Berkshire bolognese, San Marzano, red wine and grana padano.

Porchetta with summer panzanella salad. Perfection. I hear this is a keeper on the menu.

Skate with braised cabbage and carrot.

Chef Sean we love you!

You can find it all here at The Bristol.

Just Another #ChicagoChefWeek Lunch

When you look at all the Chicago Chef Week menus, you just can’t decide which ones to book. Yesterday a long time friend and I tried Embeya, #delicious. All the dishes were fun to share, colorful, vibrant and full of flavor. The team there does such a great job. I’ll be back for dinner soon! (I promise Attila!)


Clockwise from top left:

Rice Noodle Salad with short rib, rice noodle and lemongrass.

Octopus with confit eggplant, peanuts, coconut (this was not on the Chef Week menu – but we just had to try it).

Shrimp Wrap with shiitake, lettuce and Vietnamese herbs.

Seafood stew with brioche, kale, black garlic and apples.

Matcha Creme Puff – inside out.

Exoctic fruits.

The Best Negroni

I used to think I made the best negronis, and so did #billyisthebest. But then we met Michael at Nico Osteria. Although my favorite gin is Hendricks, Michael prefers Letherbee Gin. We tasted them side by side, and it was a fun way to spend time determining all the flavor components and what we liked about each combination.

Michael takes us step by step on how to make a perfect negroni.

Load up a mixing glass with ice. The most important part is measuring responsibly. 1.5 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of Campari, 1 ounce of Punt E Mes vermouth. We have tried Cocchi Americano and Carpano Antica and now prefer the Punt E Mes. It’s a bit lighter and brighter in flavor and doesn’t overpower the other spirits. Stir vigorously yet gently. Strain and serve up or over ice, and of course garnish with a generous rind of orange.

Or just go visit the cool bartenders at Nico.


Twenty Fourteen, Welcome …


Looking back on 2013 – it was a great year, but we all are looking forward to what 2014 has in store for us, and here is what I’d like to see more of.

1. WINE: On a recent trip to New Orleans, my boyfriend and I fell in love with Chablis at Restaurant R’evolution, and just can’t get enough. I also want to learn more about Italian wines, especially big Brunellos, with the help of Vino Italiano.

2. BAGUETTE: In Paris with my besties, hot dogs on the Champs-Élysées in a baguette are a must-have obsession.  We are talking the thin ‘crunchy on the outside yet very soft and chewy on the inside’ kind.  More delicious things need to be put in a baguette, so chefs please take note. Pastoral does a great job at stuffing baguettes with Jamon Serrano, BLTS and Spanish style tuna on their sandwich menu.

3. SEAFOOD: This Dungeness Crab with fava bean puree, bottarga and radishes is not only a beautiful presentation, but a delicious appetizer served with thin crackers at Nico Osteria. Bacon and pork belly will always be in my heart, but lighter seafood extravaganzas are welcome. You’re welcome.

4. FANCY: Caviar, yes please.  And shaved truffles, please don’t stop. These crème fraîche and caviar numbers were served at the Brioni opening. Class. All the way.

5. ESCAROLE: Can it be the new kale? This salad at Pizza House 1647 is perfectly light yet robust with flavors with the addition of roasted string beans, grape tomatoes, garbanzo beans, a wedge of asiago, fennel and scallions. Chickory and Dandelion Greens are also on my list.  If you have any leads let me know.

6. ARTICHOKES: This is the one vegetable where I can never get enough. Steam them, grill them, stuff them. Just get out of my way when they are done. La Madia grills them with garlic and a creamy mustard sauce.

Well 2014, I can’t wait.

Fun on Wheels

Meals On Wheels Chicago’s Celebrity Chef Ball celebrated its 25th Anniversary this year – and it was such a night to remember.  Meals on Wheels Chicago provides funding to programs that support home-bound senior citizens and people with disabilities, allowing them to continue to live independently in their own homes, with dignity and self-respect.

We totally lucked out at the dinner and were assigned a rock star team at our table including Chef Rick Gresh of David Burke’s Primehouse, Chef Aaron Browning of Tavernita, Chef Jeffrey Mauro of JAM, Pastry Chef Dana Cree of Blackbird, Revae Schneider of Femme du Coupe and our hostess with the mostess Liz Grossman with Plate Magazine.  They all made our dinner special – and we had the chance to chit chat and watch them as they prepared the meal.

We started out with Artichoke-Ricotta Raviolis with Olives, Piquillo Peppers and Saffron from Chef Aaron Browning.

A signature dish from Chef Gresh at David Burke’s Primehouse – Surf & Turf dumplings: Lobster with Charred Lemon Chutney and Beef Shortrib with Spicy Mustard.  He was even kind enough to pass around seconds of this crowd pleaser.

One of my all time favorite dishes, the 55-day Dry Aged Rib Eye from David Burke’s Primehouse, cooked to perfection.

And of course there were great photos and PIC (partners in crime) Kiki Luthrighausen and Lorin Adolph. Not to mention #billytisthebest scored us a great food trip to San Francisco from the silent auction, with an amazing dinner at SPQR and a signed book from Chef Matthew Accarino - we’ll be seeing you soon!

The event was also sponsored by William Grant & Sons, so the mixology team was really put to the test and created unique cocktails from the William Grant portfolio. Revae made this one in particular with Sailor Jerry. It was so good we had to have two.


1.75oz Sailor Jerry

.75oz Lemon Juice

.75oz Ginger Zest

.75oz Lustau Rio Viejo Oloroso

Glass wash Combier Kummel

2 Dashes Regan’s Orange

Full list of participating Chefs and Sponsors

Japonais by Morimoto

If you have heard the news – for sure you are excited about Chef Morimoto’s collaboration with local favorite Japonais, soon to be “Japonais by Morimoto,” opening later this year,  after redesign to the space.

This video from our wine and spirits gurus at Tenzing Wine & Spirits really shows the excitement we are feeling for our hometown, especially when Chef Morimoto threw out the first pitch at the White Sox game a few weeks ago.

Watch the video: Chicago Welcomes Chef Morimoto

Read about it: Crains Chicago Business

Video by Banner Collective.

In the mean time – you can still enjoy Japonais’ signature dishes, like The Rock – thinly sliced marinated New York Strip, cooked on a hot rock presentation.  So get it while it is HOT ;)


Chitarra + Chicken = Classic

One weekend date night brought us to The Bristol, a true Chicago classic. You can always find your favorite dishes on the menu, and also have a chance to try Chef Pandel’s seasonal specials – and start off with a great cocktail. We could not turn down the Smoked Sicilian Manhattan – which is a rich and sexy cocktail crafted with bourbon, averna and regan’s orange no. 6. And the music is pretty good too.


I love this dish – one of my favorites of all time – chitarra with snail bolognese, soft herbs, and breadcrumbs. The pasta was perfectly cooked with great bite and the breadcrumbs give it the extra crunch.


Speaking of crunch the spaetzle in the Millers Farm Roasted Half Chicken makes me crazy it is so delicious. Chicken done really well is hard to come by – but this dish is obviously made with lots of love and attention.

Follow owner John Ross for updates on what they are serving at The Bristol and also Balena. Good stuff!

Photo Credit: John Ross, The Bristol

Back Yard Tea and BBQs

Hopefully by now we are all getting ready for our Fourth of July BBQs! Our friends from LeaderBar gave us some #burgerlove and topping tips, so any spread can look like it’s done by an expert grill master.

We already got the party started with the upbeat crew at You and Me This Morning on WCIU – and if you didn’t see it live – you can catch it here. Matt Roan was spinning, Corri McFadden was glamming-up and host Melissa Forman and I were getting the Sailor Jerry cocktails ready!

The El Diablo is the spiciest burger on the planet.  If you like HOT – this summer add some spicy pepper jack cheese, habanero relish, jalapeño, grilled onions and sriracha mayo to your burger. On the menu – this comes with a WARNING.

Baked goat cheese in marinara, served with crostini. A crowd pleaser. I might make this for a party I am going to tomorrow.

Todd Rubin from LeaderBar and I celebrating with some Sailor Jerry Backyard Tea.

“Stuzzi & Spritz” at Spiaggia Bar

We all know Mondays can be the WORST. But now they just got so much better – at Industry night at the Spiaggia Bar. Start your week off with Stuzzi & Spritz aka Snacks and Spritzers.

Mondays, from 4:30 till close at the bar, Spiaggia’s amazing pastas, Italian beer and wines by the glass are all half price.

Not in the industry industry – don’t worry everyone is welcome!

Me enjoying the 2008 Barolo, Grasso, La Morra, Piemonte.

The Stuzzi from last week – smoked salmon rillette with pickled onions on fennel-raisin crostini and house cured lardo with sour cherries and rosemary on walnut crostini.

Ci Vediamo al Bar!