Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chicago Restaurant Week a Gem

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After last week's excursion to Blackbird, I am marking my calendar for Chicago's 2015 Restaurant Week. Despite the fact that last Wednesday was one of our more remarkable Polar Vortex, freezing cold, snowstorm days and the 35 minute drive took 1 1/2 hours it was well worth the trip. For $22, I experienced a three course menu at a four star restaurant. I can't wait to go back to Blackbird with its contemporary, minimalist design and delicious cuisine. 

Carrot soup with ricotta, pear and potato crisps.

Wood-grilled sturgeon
And, for the piece de resistance!

Winter coupe with salted caramel ice cream,
 brownies,candied almonds, fudge sauce
and whipped cream. 
Thank you West of the Loop for dragging me out in the cold.  

Rowena

Monday, January 27, 2014

Time to See "Mr. Chickee's Funny Money"

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(click image for high resolution version)
Photo Credit: Charles Osgood
If you are looking to escape the polar vortex that has once again descended upon Chicago, the show Mr. Chickee's Funny Money is the answer. It will transport you into a world of good, 'ole plain fun. Based on the popular children's book by Newbery Award-winner Christopher Paul Curtis, Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, is on now through March 2 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago. Book soon. Once word gets out, tickets are bound to sell out fast.


Photo Credit: Charles Osgood
Hannah and I ventured out this past Saturday to see this terrific, new R&B musical. It left both of us dancing in our seats with smiles on our faces. Not only is the singing, live orchestra and choreography fantastic and the show thoroughly entertaining but it has deeper, valuable themes for children.


Flint future detective, Steve, learns that the value of friendships should supersede the temptation of money. Actor Jonathan Butler-Duplessis plays the role so well that the big smile on his face is irresistible and contagious.


(click image for high resolution version)
Photo Credit: Charles Osgood

I loved fourth grade Detective Richelle (below). She is a smart, confident girl who wants to take on the world and won't give up. What a great role model for my ten year-old daughter, Hannah! 

(click image for high resolution version)
Photo Credit: Charles Osgood

And, for the pleasure of parents there are some educational elements as well. If you do book now through February 9, use the promo code TREASURY and get 20% off tickets for Friday-Sunday performances.


Stay warm and enjoy!


Rowena

Friday, January 17, 2014

Eataly Chicago - A Foodie's Nirvana

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The grocery scene in Chicago has radically picked up. Yesterday, I met my Mom at Eataly Chicago for lunch. As I entered Chicago's newest hip food establishment, I was wowed by its contemporary decor, neutral color scene and clean lines. It was a little overwhelming to determine our plan of attack. (The place is huge.) But, a very helpful employee gave us the run down and some tips. 


In a nutshell, the first floor of the two-level store is intended for those looking for a quick, casual meal. You can indulge in a crepe at the Nutella bar; enjoy a panini at Il Panino; or indulge in some extravagant patisseries and a scrumptious latte at Grand Bar Lavazza. Warning: no calorie counting!


Stroll upstairs and you will find four sit-down restaurants on the outskirts of the store with a series of appetizer bars in the center. The idea is that you start off at one of the appetizer bars and then head to the restaurant for your meal. We ate bar side at I Salumi a Formaggi and enjoyed a delicious cheese and charcuterie platter. (Of course, groceries, cheeses, produce and housewares are spread throughout to tempt your wallet.)

Once we recovered from some sticker shock and food coma, my Mom and I gave Eataly a thumbs up. Nothing is inexpensive but as a customer you are paying for top quality food. Eataly Chicago is truly a foodie's nirvana. And, it is ideal for those sophisticated enough to appreciate New York prices and gourmet foods.

Three hours later we rolled ourselves out, barely able to walk straight and ready to hug our pillows and dream about our next visit to Eataly Chicago.

Have a great weekend.

Rowena

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Tweens

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I do not celebrate Christmas. But, I do have a recommendation for the perfect stocking stuffer gift for girls. And, I promise you that it will be something your daughter/niece/granddaughter has never received before. One of the advantages of having so many birthdays and Hanukkah all fall in December is getting a preview of the incredibly unique gifts out there.

Hannah just received this Zipit Rainbow Pencil Case as a Hanukkah gift. It zips and unzips easily and is adorable to boot! It's the perfect size to fit your pencils and pens and all the rest.



What about for boys you are wondering?  Stay tuned!

Rowena

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Eggs Masala

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Somewhere between Thanksgiving and New Year's I enter a food black hole. I love the flavors and comfort of traditional American holiday foods. However, one can only consume so much parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme before suffering some sort of culinary breakdown.

Starved for something with a bit of a different flavor, I came up with this pretty simple breakfast dish. It's a nice alternative to Eggs Benedict, but still makes for a lovely meal and presentation.

I was inspired by the Italian "eggs in purgatory" and my obsessive love for Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burgers. Hey, I never said that this was sophisticated food.

Happy Cooking!
Jena

Eggs Masala
serves 4

1 tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 Vidalia onion thinly sliced
15 oz. crushed tomatoes (always use Muir Glen's fire roasted variety)
Kosher salt, to taste
Crushed red pepper, to taste
4 Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burgers
4 eggs

  • Melt butter over med-low in a medium non-stick frying pan. Add onions and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add tomatoes, salt and crushed pepper. Simmer for a few minutes until tomatoes are fragrant. Off heat and cool.
  • Once tomato sauce is cool, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and reheat on low.
  • Meanwhile, cook the veggie burgers according to package instructions. I recommend cooking them on the stovetop in oil so that they have a crunchy hash brown like exterior.
  • Also meanwhile, poach the eggs. I usually use these amazing cups to poach eggs without a huge amount of manual intervention. While they are terrific, I had fun making this recipe using the traditional method.
  • Once all the elements are ready, plate the burger with the egg and sauce on top. If you are feeling crazy, garnish with some parsley or basil. While the recipe tasted amazing, it could have used a little pop of color.




Friday, December 6, 2013

Silhouettes Make for Meaningful Gift Giving

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I have just completed an iron man marathon! Hosting Thanksgiving went well. Wednesday was the final night of Hanukah. And, I can almost take a breath before moving on to Andrew's birthday party this Saturday. During these last couple of weeks though, I had a refreshing reminder of the intention of gift giving. It is so easy for us to get caught up in meaningless consumerism. We need a gift for a person so we can cross it off our list and move on to the next person.

For a while, I have been wanting silhouettes made of the kids. I recently saw that Portrait Artist Cassidy Alexander was coming to a local bookstore. Although the kids were reticent about sitting for a portrait, they had as much fun in the process as I did. It was fascinating to watch Cassidy cut the kids' profiles as they sat. And, the resemblance is remarkable. What a perfect gift for the grandparents!



Cassidy is located in the Chicagoland area. She prefers to work with live subjects but said that she frequently does silhouettes from photographs as well.

Have a great weekend.

Rowena

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Most Creative Floral Arrangement Ever

Pin It Check out this fabulous floral centerpiece. I saw it recently while attending a dinner event with my foodie friend, West of the Loop, in Chicago. The event was sponsored by Bolthouse Farms and Thrillist at the restaurant, Carriage House. Who would have thought of creating a vase from fresh carrots? And, I love the combination of flowers and vegetables, such as artichokes. For those of you looking to add some gusto to your holiday table tomorrow, this arrangement will "wow" your guests. And, if you are not feeling quite so ambitious, check out these more simple floral arrangement tips.


 
 
And, let's not forget to be thankful for all we have in our lives!

Best,

Rowena
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