Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cupcake Vineyards Photo Contest

Check it out, Cupcake is hosting a photo contest for a chance to win an ipad and 500 entries will have a chance to win a t-shirt. Neat!!
They just came out with some new varieties I can't wait to pick up. I'm dying for the Prosecco! Yum.

Cafe ba-ba-reeba!

Well, here you have it. Cafe ba-ba-reeba; the Lincoln Park Spanish tapas college staple which has transcended the depaul hood, and is still a great time post-college. This place has been around for over 25 years, in fact they just celebrated their anniversary in Jan. This past weekend I got to return and try out some classics as well as some new dishes. This place never disappoints and is always a great time for groups and out-of-towners. This particular evening was just as fun and started with a pitcher of their house red sangria. They also have other options like white and different flavors.

We started with the  lamb empanada special with a side of yogurt taziki. Then the seared scallops, with raisins, couscous & pine nuts. Followed by the staple potatoes with spicy tomato alioli. The meatballs with a tomato sauce, a plate of a combination of sausages, the escargot on garlic bread with a sherry aioili, fried calamari, and a beef skewer with horseradish cream and caramelized onions. And finally the dessert was a mango sorbet and a coconut flan.  

Heaven! Everything was delish, some more than others. The beef horseradish sauce with onions was soooo good I used my potatoes to get the remainder of the sauce. The lamb empanada was so tasty too and of course the potatoes are always great. The escargot was the only dish that needed some tweaking. The sauce was way too thick and you lost the flavor of the escargot itself. Other than that- so good. 
I would most definitely recommend going and make sure you get the cocunut flan. It was THE BEST flan I've ever had. Tasted more like creme brule with coconut flavors than a simple boring flan. So good!! 

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 25, 2011

Walking to Gilt Bar...

Check out a few pictures of my walk to Gilt. This is my absolute favorite view of this city, right here, at sunset. The lull before the sunsets; just after the work day concludes and before the night sky lights up the river. I love this city.

Gilt Bar

I finally got a chance to head over to Gilt Bar in River North, just a quick walk from my place in River West. A Thursday night without reservations may be hard, but call a bit early and you might get lucky with a cancellation. Which is exactly what happened to me. The interior is dark and intriguing with fine details like the huge light fixture in the center of the dinning space, the peek-a-boo kitchen, and the lovely lounge space in the front room and center. So cozy.

The food itself was rustic and refined. We started with the bone marrow and jam pickled onions on toast. The bone marrow was a nice ample portion and tasted great with the jam. I had the rosemary lamb meatballs on top of grits, and my friend ordered the paprika mussels with toast. We each ordered a couple glasses of wine, sat back and enjoyed. I loved the ambiance, food and decor. Such a great new place in Chicago- and only a short distance away. Next time I'm ordering the pot roast and a mixed drink. Can't wait.

Don't forget to check out the downstairs lounge on your way to the bathrooms. And speaking of bathrooms... loved them as well.

Gilt Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ted's Hot Dogs- Buffalo, NY

Last weekend I went home to Buffalo, NY and as soon as I drove past Ted's Hot Dogs (Transit Road location is my favorite) I knew I had to make a pit-stop for an appetizer. And by appetizer, I mean 2 regular Sahlen's dog's and a foot long with the fixin's and their home made hot sauce. I've been meaning to post more about Buffalo eats but honestly every time I go to Jim's steakout or Pano's I have this weird auto reaction to start stuffing my face and totally forget about my camera. 
So here it is, a nice box of Ted's that managed to make it home to my parents kitchen, opened, and eaten in 2 seconds flat. 
I love Ted's. And if you know me, you know I have an obsession for all things Pho-like and hot dog-like. Ted's is amazing because like all dogs in Buffalo, they use Sahlen's hot dogs. This aint Vienna beef people. It's so much better. 

Ted's Jumbo Red Hots on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hubbard Inn

Here it is, my new favorite bar - Hubbard Inn. A third because of the dark and old school interior, a third because of the unique drink choices (very Violet Hour-ish) and a third because of our bartender Benjamin. I heart you Ben, and I heart your ensemble, and your sweet mixology skills. Not to mention the drinks that got my sister and I bombed, and resulted in a dance party in my living room.

We stumbled in here after the post-st.patty's day options grew tiresome and I was not in the mood for another cat-call from a drunken non-Irish celebrating Chicago's biggest "holiday". Ok, I'm really not so anti-St.Patty's day I love me some green river like the rest of them, but I was feeling more low key this year.

Hubbard Inn is brought to you by owners behind English and LaSalle Power Co. but this place is more my type. A restaurant, tavern, library, lounge - I'm not really sure but I like it. The dark woods, Ernest Hemingway -inspired decor, Victorian chairs and brass fixtures speak to me. The drink choices include unique drinks like the "river north smash" with makers mark, lemon grass, simple syrup and mint or the straight-up classic the Manhattan. The bartenders here make you feel like a guest and the scenery is enticing.  This time around I didn't get any food but I'll try to order some grub the next time I'm here. I def. recommend this place. Thanks Benjamin!

Hubbard Inn on Urbanspoon


Don't these pictures make you thirsty? I started salivating as I posted them, and they were just as good as the look, trust me. The other night my sister and I had sister date night so I finally took her suggestion and tried Mercadito for the first time. She's been here a couple times, but I've been avoiding this place - why? I'm not really sure. When it comes to Mexican I'd rather go to a dive than a dressed-up tourist attraction and I guess I categorized this place as the latter. It's really not so bad. In fact, the restaurant itself is very fun. It's lively, great music, attractive ambiance and clientele (not to mention the several suited up men prancing around, oh la la).

Onto the food.

 So we started with a couple of the sexiest margarita's I've ever had. I ordered the traditional (with tequila blanco, grand marnier, lime juice and agave nectar) and my sister got the "misty's sleeve" (which is el tesoro blanco, ginger, hibiscus, valencia orange, chile serrano,  and hibiscus salt). I'm more of a traditional marg drinker so I don't like all the fuss, but her's was amazing. The chile on the side was so tasty I wanted to lick the glass!

We ordered a couple items and quickly realized we ordered way too much. The "granada" guacamole with pomegranate, tomatillo pico de gallo, queso fresco, habaneros was heavenly. I loved the sweetness of the pomegranate's mixed in with the spice. The "callo" ceviche with bay scallops, red grapes, lime-morita broth, and mint had great flavors as well. I liked the sweetness of the grapes with the lime but I could have done with a few less grapes overall. The ceviche came with a very sweet crusty bread that was delish! I could eat that alone.
Then we had a the pollo tacos: grilled chicken, cactus salad, tomatillo salsa, and avocado. What's the deal with not letting us mix them up? That was a let down. We should've stopped there but we also ordered the tampiqueña: rosemary marinated skirt steak,potato-rajas-cactus fundido,  & mole enchilada. Oh man, I really wish we stopped bc that steak was not good at all! I don't know if it was the cut of meat itself or how it was prepared but it felt like eating my shoe. Ugh. So awful. I'm usually not so rude, but I was really disappointed. If we stopped before gluttony took over I would have been so pleased, but the steak really ruined it for me.

After the meal we headed downstairs to the little "VIP" lounge by the bathrooms. It's really cute and tiny and I think they're trying to make it very exclusive. On this particular night there were only a handful of people down here.

I'd like to come back for marg's and taco's maybe with a larger group because the ambiance is so lively. But for a quality meal that's unique, authentic, and fresh I don't think Mercadito hit the mark.

Mercadito Chicago on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wine Series - Line 39, Cabernet Sauvignon

Time for another wine series! Lets talk about Line 39's Cabernet Sauvignon. This lovely blue bottle has been sitting on my shelf since our Christmas Party (thank you to whomever brought it, but I don't remember who!) and after a long week needed to be opened tout vite!

So Line 39 winery is located in Lake County AVA A region in California just north of Napa Valley. AVA stands for American Viticultural Area which basically means it is an area of land designated to grape-growing, defined by it's geographic features by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau and the US Dept. of Treasury. Line 39 is the specific latitude where this winery is located. How neat. You just learned something new!

On to the wine itself. The Cabernet was quite delish, it opened well and after airing for a moment it settled into itself to taste rather flavorful. The winery describes is as "aromas of bright red fruits, blackberry, tobacco and cedar". I could smell the fruit which was offset by cedar, a great balance. The flavors were dark yet not overpowering. I think it would taste great with a nice steak salad or pasta dish. Even on its own it tastes lovely and not overpowering.

Overall I like this wine, for a very reasonable price it's a nice wine to have on hand. But it's by no means my most favorite wine. Something good to try though, especially after a long day. Enjoy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Art Gallery Series: I am Logan Square Gallery Debut

I think I'll start a series about gallery openings since I've been meaning to check out more of them. Logan square will kick it off! I got an email from I am Logan square about their opening night gallery featuring artists: Lauren Feece, Chris Tavares Silva, Robert Stevenson, and Lindsey Meyers. So the boyfriend and I headed over to the space on Milwaukee Ave. and were surprised to find such great art and great food! All the food was catered by Cafe Con Leche and was so tasty. It included plenty of the best guac. I've had in some time.  The desserts were catered by Paper Moon pastry and included key lime pies, tasty brownies and chocolate covered strawberries. Yum!
Overall it was fun to check out some art, sip some wine and eat local food. My favorite piece was the painting way up top (blueish). It's sort of chaotic yet serene at the same time. I love it. If you can't make the gallery make sure you keep July 29-31 open because Milwaukee arts fest takes place in this hood and it is by far my favorite way to check out local artists in Logan Square.
I think I'll check out Cafe Con Leche soon.