Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Goodies at the ball park

If you've followed the blog or our Facebook page for a while, you know I am head over heels in love with my Chicago Cubs. My sis is a season ticket holder and I spend many days at Wrigley Field each season. A lot of times we just enjoy the game and wait for a vendor to come by with hot dogs or peanuts and that's the extent of our ball park cuisine.

If I feel like roaming around, it's often nachos or a beef sandwich or an Italian sausage/beef combo.

And sometimes, it is just too cold to deal with something messy. That's how it has been on my first two visits this season where we froze our baseball loving butts off.

I did venture away from our seats on the most recent visit because my son requested some cheese fries. And the girl in the next row had a burger that looked and smelled great, so I grabbed burgers for dad and I. It was a fun time with my dad and youngest son, who just turned 9. Nothing cooler than doing a three-generation trip to the Friendly Confines.

So, we managed to eat our burgers and fries without freezing our hands too much.

And the little guy had me all over the park chasing down the guy selling hot chocolate. I was so focused on the game I missed him going by our section and had to follow him through 6 sections to buy the last hot chocolate. And a cookie. :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pepino's, Schererville, IN

For the past 5 years, my middle son has been bowling in a Saturday morning league and Lynwood Lanes in Lynwood, Illinois. At the end of the year, there is a pizza party organized by Bob, the awesome bowling alley manager. The kids get trophies for their achievements and the parents get a chance to bowl with the kids. And…as much as I enjoy that part of it, there's something else I look forward to. The event has always been catered by Pepino's Restaurant in Schererville. I've never been to the restaurant, but every year I get to have Pepino's at the end-of-the-year bowling party.

The menu is always pretty much the same - lots of pizza, which the kids really dig into, and a house salad and some pasta salad to satisfy the adults. The pizza is up there with some of the best I've had and I always leave longing for more of that incredible shell pasta salad that has a creamy garlic dressing that I adore. And now that I'm talking (or typing) about it, it really makes me want to jump in the car and seek out the restaurant. I'm going to have to put it on my foodie bucket list and when I get there, I'll fill you in on the visit. :)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Captain Nemo's in Chicago's Lakeview Neighborhood

This past week Wrigley Field turned 100 years old! Ok, it might night mean much to the foodie's out there, but to a die-hard Cubs fan like me, it's a big deal. No, it's a huge deal. Actually it's a once-in-a-lifetime deal. And on Wednesday, the official 100 mark since the first baseball game played at Wrigley, my dad, son and I attended the game. It was so great to do a three-generations trip to the Friendly Confines with a cool pre-game ceremony featuring some of the greatest players to ever be part of the Cubs organization.

I'm a frequent visitor to Wrigley Field thanks to my sister's season tickets. We have our routine pretty much set. On game day, we get to the Starbuck's lot about a half hour before game time, park, walk across to the gate and get into our seats and enjoy the game. Well, I neglected to realize that it was a big day to lots of other Cubs fans and although we got into Wrigleyville close to two hours before game time, our usual parking lot was full. I dropped Dad at the gate so he could go in and wouldn't have to walk far. Then my 9-year-old and I drove around for an hour looking for a parking spot. I found one close, but she wanted $65 and for us to leave our keys. Um…nope, I don't think so. So, we drove on and on and on and on. Finally, as I drove down Ashland, I noticed a sign at Capt'n Nemo's that said "Cubs Parking - $20." We parked and walked nearly the mile down Waveland and into the park.

Afterwards I knew there was no way Dad would be able to make the walk back, so I grabbed one of the Rickshaws that wait outside the gate by the player's lot on Waveland by the firehouse. I've always wanted to take a ride on one, but since we usually were parked close I never had the reason before.

Our kind Serbian peddler took us back to Ashland for $10 and saved us the trek. We decided to go in to Capt'n Nemos for a Pepsi before heading home, but once we got inside and I looked over the menu, I got hungry. I got a combo with a half sandwich and a cup of minestrone soup with a drink. The sandwich was a cold roast beef with provolone. I loved the crunchy bread and the way it was piled high. It was a great classic deli sandwich. And if I ever find myself looking desperately for parking again, that's where I'm headed for a parking spot and a sandwich. :) I might even have to drive a tad out of my way for a sandwich next time I'm going to a game. It was worth heading out of the way for. There are also locations in Winnetka and Rogers Park.

Oh, and the soup was fantastic. And there are some really cute booth decorations there. Scroll down to see some of the fun characters painted on the seating spots!

This one's my favorite. :)

Capt'n Nemo's
3650 N. Ashland
Chicago, IL

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Treat yourself to Terrace at Trump

From the inbox this week…

This is outdoor dining at its best on the 16th floor of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago.

Chicago's Premier Rooftop Lounge Announces New Season
Expanded outdoor oasis offers unrivaled views and after-sunset cocktail menu

CHICAGO - April 24, 2014 - The Forbes Five-Star Trump International Hotel & Tower® Chicago is pleased to announce The Terrace at Trump, the downtown Chicago hotel's sophisticated outdoor dining venue, opens early May 2014. The newly expanded outdoor oasis, located on the 16th floor, now seats 250 guests, introducing 50 additional seats from previous years. The Terrace at Trump showcases unobstructed, picturesque views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and its famed bridges, as well as the summer fireworks displays from Navy Pier. 

Outdoor revelers arrive at The Terrace at Trump via the 16th Floor Bridges Room, one of the hotel's popular dining spaces. Upon entrance, an elegant, vibrant atmosphere is revealed, accented by contemporary décor that includes dramatic lighting, lush foliage, and the stars of the show: Chicago's magnificent architecture and waterways. Guests can unwind and enjoy the vibrant scene in custom-designed lounge, booth, and table seating, creating a chic environment to accommodate a range of party sizes. The vibe is accented by an eclectic musical soundtrack that includes down tempo, electronic, big band, cabaret, and electro swing music.

Guests will savor Executive Chef Michael Fiddler's menu of Mediterranean-inspired summer fare that presents a range of crowd-pleasing dishes ideal for sharing or individual enjoyment. Focused on utilizing best-of-the-season ingredients, the menu combines delicate flavors to truly showcase the bounty of the warmer months. Perfect for a warm weather respite and to accompany The Terrace at Trump's beverage selections, the menu celebrates al fresco dining with creative presentations on updated classics and new selections that offer a variety of options to fit any palate.
Guests can begin their culinary journey by starting with a flavorful selection of Bites - pickled chayote and peppers, bacon cheddar cookies, chili lime cashews, and cheese and habanero jelly. Additional menu highlights include three levels of Trump Tower Platters - decadent seafood towers offering fresh oysters, jumbo Alaskan king crab legs, lobster, and more. The Fresco section includes items like Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar with dashi gelee, yuzu pearls, scallion and pink peppercorn; and Octopus Salpicon with roasted red peppers, capers, cornichons, avocado and lime sour cream. The On a Bun category presents upscale sandwiches including P.L.T., a warm lobster tail with tarragon lemon butter, pancetta and heirloom tomato on a toasted new England bun; and Spiced Chicken Triplets with garam masala spiced ground chicken, tzatziki relish and spinach on soft pretzel buns.  Finally, By the Coast showcases guaranteed seafood favorites like Grilled Red Snapper with roasted almond and tomato romesco and charred lemon-dressed watercress; and Tamarind Prawns with glazed and grilled prawns, roasted corn salsa and fried plantain.

Executive Pastry Chef Aya Fukai has created a whimsical series of summer desserts, showcasing her modern interpretation of nostalgic summertime classics full of bright, bold flavors. Guests seeking an indulgent finish to their meal may select from five desserts, including a foot long Coconut Cream Pie with coconut custard, rum chantilly and espresso; Nutella Chocolate Profiteroles with hazelnut profiteroles, chocolate ice cream and Nutella fudge sauce; a lovely presentation of Posch Melba with almond financier, raspberry coulis and peach sorbet; a trio of Whoopie Pies with banana caramel, chocolate marshmallow and red velvet cream cheese flavors served with a glass of bourbon-spiked milk for dipping; and Fruit Raspado with fresh berries, vanilla ice cream, shaved ice and choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic fruit syrups.
The Terrace's cocktail program features a bevy of unique cocktails created with rare ingredients, custom-made flavored ice cubes and creative presentations. The expert beverage team has developed a list of balanced, refreshing cocktails, with highlights including Sacred Lotus with Sochu Yokaichi Mugi, Griffard grapefruit liqueur, roobis tea, lemon juice and rose water; Grand Cru Punch with Courvoisier VSOP, Perrier Jouet brut, maraschino liqueur, lemon oleo syrup, grapefruit juice and eucalyptus & pink peppercorn tea; the Spanish Crown with 10 Cane rum, Mount Gay Black Barrel, Mount Gay Eclipse, whiskey barrel bitters, pineapple gum syrup, lime, and pomegranate passion fruit sorbet garnished with a caramelized pineapple slice; and a Manhattan/Boulevardier that features Larceny Bourbon, Carpano Antica, and angostura bitters built over Campari ice cubes that transform the drink as the cubes melt and the flavors blend.
New this year, a Reserve List of cocktails - only available after sunset - takes the cocktail and ice creations to new heights. Inspired by the four elements of water, wind, earth and fire, the reserve cocktails present unique flavors served in handmade ice sculptures. Guests can enjoy The Rock with pisco, lemon juice, and pineapple gum served in a vessel carved from a large ice cube as well as The Teardrop that features vodka, acai liquor, ginger, lychee, lemon, lime, and crushed blackberries served in an ice creation shaped like it's namesake.

A boutique selection of wines and craft beers from around the world offer a distinct variety of flavors to complement the dining experience. Craft brews from local breweries are highlighted, including the newly launched Five Rabbit Cerveceria from Bedford Park, IL and Greenbush Brewery from Sawyer, Michigan. There will also be a rotating list of ciders, including Citizen Cider from Vermont, and a wine list that will change throughout the season with a selection of varietals that complement the weather.

Providing personal service unrivaled in the city, The Terrace's fashionable staff is outfitted in stylish uniforms ideal for a cosmopolitan outdoor environment. Designed by Chicago craftsman Nicholas Joseph, the uniforms for male staff members feature black and red gingham short-sleeve dress shirts with black trousers, while the women don fashion-forward dresses in navy blue, eggplant, orange and cobalt created by lauded local designer, Anna Fong.

The Terrace at Trump will open daily from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m., weather permitting. Guests may call (312) 588-8600 for more information, or visit

About Trump International Hotel & Tower® Chicago
Trump International Hotel & Tower® Chicago, located in the heart of the city at 401 N. Wabash Avenue, welcomed its first hotel guests in January 2008. The hotel, comprising floors 14-27 of a 92-story residential tower developed by the Trump Organization, features 339 luxuriously appointed guestrooms including one-, two- and three-bedroom suites; Sixteen, the two-star Michelin-rated restaurant featuring the modern American cuisine of Executive Chef Thomas Lents; The Spa at Trump® with 53 specially appointed spa guest rooms; the Trump Health Club; Rebar, a chic cocktail lounge; The Terrace at Trump and more. Designed by the noted architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with interiors by McGinley Design, Trump International Hotel & Tower® Chicago is a stunning addition to Chicago's distinguished skyline. The hotel and restaurant were each awarded five stars by the esteemed Forbes Travel Guide in 2014. The property has also been recognized by Travel + Leisure as one of the top 5 hotels for business travelers in the "World's Best Awards" 2012 and named one of the "World's Best Hotels" for 2013. For room and event reservations at Trump International Hotel & Tower® Chicago, call (312) 588-8000, (877) 458-TRUMP (7867).  Click here to follow the hotel on Twitter. Click here to find the property on Facebook.

For information on owning a Residential Condominium or Hotel Condominium in Trump International Hotel and Tower® Chicago, please call (312) 644-0900. Prices start from the upper $400,000s.

Launched in October 2007, TRUMP HOTEL COLLECTION™ is the next generation of luxury hospitality - one that is raising the bar in the top-tier travel experience with a level of customized service unrivaled in the market today. Presided over by internationally renowned developer Donald J. Trump and his three grown children - Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric - the prestigious portfolio includes the highly acclaimed Trump International Hotel & Tower® New York, Trump International Hotel & Tower® Chicago, Trump International Hotel™ Las Vegas, Trump International Hotel™ Waikiki Beach Walk®, Trump SoHo® New York, Trump Ocean Club® International Hotel & TowerPanama, Trump International Hotel & TowerToronto® , and Trump National Doral® Miami. Trump® International Hotel, The Old Post Office, Washington, D.C. is slated to open in late 2015, followed by Trump International® Hotel & Tower Vancouver in 2016. Reservations can be made or by calling (855) TRUMP-00 (878-6700). TRUMP HOTEL COLLECTION is headquartered at Trump Tower, 725 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10022. Connect with TRUMP HOTEL COLLECTION on its social media pages.

Philadelphia cream cheese with crisp garden vegetables

Once in a while I find a product I just love and I want to share it with others. No, the cream cheese company isn't paying me for this post or supplying me with complimentary product. I just stumbled upon this at the store and fell in love.

I'm not a huge breakfast eater, but I do like to have a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese quite frequently. It's a common afternoon snack, too, or even lunch when I don't have time to stop for a long meal.

When I go to Panera, I love to get the cream cheese with veggies, so I was excited to see this in the dairy case recently. And since I've bought it I have been eating it on a bagel every day. I love that little bit of crunch and the fresh taste that the veggies add. Give it a try for yourself and I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Easter dinner

Our Easter was pretty low key this year. My husband often ends up working on Easter Sunday and this time he had the day off, so I cooked up a big meal and we enjoyed a nice meal with all of the kids. My oldest is working three jobs now, so it's not too often we all sit down to a meal anymore.

We had:

Spiral sliced honey ham
macaroni and cheese
mashed potatoes
green bean casserole
garden salad
pasta salad
cottage cheese
deviled eggs

I did bow out on making dessert. I'd planned on making a carrot cake, but when I was shopping at Gordon Foods the day before, this cheesecake was calling my name.

Cadbury Chocolate Creme Egg

One of my favorite Easter items is the classic Cadbury Creme Egg. I am sometimes guilty of hoarding them and hiding them away so that I can get a taste of them later in the year. This year I also found that Cadbury makes an egg with chocolate creme that is no less delicious - and maybe moreso than the plain creme egg. It's chocolate paradise. Get one if you can still find one! :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Olive Garden adds small plate options

Sharing a variety of small plates to pass around the table over a heavy entree is a current trend in the restaurant industry, allowing guests to sample a number of flavors often at a fraction of the calories and the cost. Olive Garden's new menu features eight appetizers in the $4.50 to $5.50 range that are perfect for sharing. At a recent tasting event at the new Melrose Park location, I had a chance to try out a few of the new dishes. My dear friend, Jo-Ellyn, who owns a local restaurant and pub, J.J. Kelley's, joined me for a feast of flavors inspired by different regions of Italy.

Polenta Shrimp alla Greca
The first small plate we tried was the Polenta Shrimp alla Greca. I covered it in detail in this previous post. It really transports you to a different place.

Next we tried a limited time item, the Spicy Calabrian Wings - chicken wings tossed with garlic and chili peppers from the Italian region of Calabria, served with gorgonzola dipping sauce. Increase the heat by adding the signature Calabrian chili paste.

Spicy Calabrian Wings
I have a wimpy palate and wasn't sure I'd be able to try this, but once I did I wanted more. I wasn't brave enough to try the paste, which the server told us added quite a bit of heat. The wings alone had a bit of a kick, but one that I really liked and that those with more tolerant taste buds will surely love. I made my way through two wings and enjoyed every bite, especially because of the accompanying gorgonzola sauce. Yep, I could have sat and eaten the entire dish with a spoon - it was that delightful!

On to the third taste, which included one of my favorite foods, risotto. The Crispy Risotto Bites were wonderful. Encased in a light fried batter were a blend of Italian cheeses and some creamy risotto served with a perfect light portion of marinara. Mmm…think high quality mozzarella sticks with a creamy rice in the middle. These were my faves - (go figure, I was drawn to the fried serving!)  There were six in an order, a perfect sharing portion.
Creamy  Risotto Bites 

The last sampling in the small plate category was the Paremsan Olive Fritta. It wasn't much different than the risotto bites in preparation (both are blended with Italian cheese and lightly fried), but it differed much in taste. The combination of olives that are enclosed are distinctly different, yet meld so well. You can dip these in the gorgonzola sauce as well (can never get enough of that) or in a fabulous citrus aioli.
Parmesan Olive Fritta

Jo Ellyn and I enjoyed making our way through the 12-course tasting and we're sure you'll love some of the new Olive Garden menu items. Watch the blog later this week for more on our experience at the tasting event!

Deviled Eggs with Mom's secret ingredient

I'm a big fan of deviled eggs. They're really pretty simple to make. I've had them with a variety of ingredients, but in reality all you need is some eggs, mayo and mustard and you're good to go. You can add other items to enhance the flavor - hot sauces, spices, vinegar, wine, bacon bits. This time I kept it simple, but used my mom's secret ingredient in a batch. Mom's deviled eggs were the best and that unique taste came from PICKLE JUICE! It adds a little bit of a sour taste that I love.

I have to admit I get lazy on making deviled eggs and I apologize for the presentation. I made this batch to use up boiled eggs from Easter and I knew my family would have them inhaled in a matter of minutes so it didn't make sense to spend an hour smoothing the filling and piping it in into pretty flower-like arrangements. My husband and kids scarf them down usually before I can even think about taking a picture. And really, I prefer the yolks to be a little bit chunky. So, that's how I make them. I mash them slightly with a fork.

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved with yolks removed
About 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon of yellow mustard
1 tsp spicy yellow mustard (here's where I get my favorite)
1 tsp pickle juice (I used juice from Claussen sandwich slices)
Hungarian paprika

Mash yolks with a fork. Add mayo and mustards. Blend well. Add pickle juice and stir. Fill a scoop into each egg white half. Sprinkle with paprika.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Olive Garden unveils new menu selections

Olive Garden recently introduced several new menu items and Chicago Foodie Sisters was invited to a tasting event to check out the new menu. They're offering a variety of fresh, trendy ingredients that really elevate the selections to something you'd expect to find more often in a fine dining establishment than a restaurant chain.

Over 20 new menu items broaden the selections and introduce a new blend of flavors using new cooking techniques. They've also added ways to customize your meal, such as adding new "toppers" to your salad or the Cucina Mia three-step selection which allows you to choose your own pasta, sauce and meat or shrimp topping for a combination made just the way you like it.

Along with some nice wine options, Olive Garden has new new beers on the menu. There are also some temping signature cocktails, such as the Italian Margarita, Peach Bellini, Sangrias, Daiquiris and Margaritas. Pictured is the Strawberry-Limoncello Martini, which was very refreshing.

For the Menu Tasting Event, we sampled TWELVE courses! Yes, twelve. We slowed down a bit half way through but made it to the end trying at least a couple bites of each course.

There's an Olive Garden down the street in the town I live in (Lansing), so I've been eating there for many, many years. I must say, I am not real adventurous and although I go there once every month or two, I could count on my two hands the number of dishes I've tried. Most frequently I go there for lunch with my Dad (it's his favorite place) for  soup, salad and breadsticks. If I have a heartier appetite, I most likely order Fettuccine Alfredo or sometimes lasagna or a chicken dish. So, in attending the tasting event, I was thrilled to be able to try out a lot of dishes I may not normally order. Take a peek at the list below where we checked off each course and offered our comments and suggestions for those at the corporate office.

Our evening began with a taste of the Polenta Shrimp alla Greca, which is inspired by the southern coast of Italy. Sautéed shrimp is served on a creamy polenta and topped with a fresh blend of olives, capers and tomato sauce. It's part of the revamped appetizer menu, now termed "small plates." Such small plates or tapas have become increasingly popular in the restaurant industry, helping to ease back on portion size and giving the opportunity to sample a variety of items when a few different small plates are passed around the table. This was was definitely a winner. They had me at capers (I am a super fan.) The polenta paired very nicely with the shrimp and the olives were the ultimate compliment to this taste of Italy.

Here's a list of all the menu items we had a chance to try. I'll get to the rest of it in some more posts. 

·         Polenta Shrimp alla Greca (“Small Plates”) – Sautéed shrimp served on creamy polenta and topped with a fresh blend of olives, capers and tomato sauce.

·         Risotto Bites (“Small Plates”) – Bite-sized blend of Italian cheeses and rice, lightly fried and served in marinara sauce.

·         Parmesan Olive Fritta (“Small Plates”) – Blend of olives and Italian cheeses rolled together and served with a choice of citrus aïoli or gorgonzola cream dipping sauce.

·         Spicy Calabrian Wings (appetizer) – Chicken wings tossed with garlic and chili peppers from the Italian region of Calabria, served with gorgonzola dipping sauce. Increase the heat by adding our signature Calabrian chili paste. Available for a limited time.

·         Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper – Fresh mozzarella bites, roasted tomato, bell pepper, basil, kale and an extra-virgin olive oil drizzle.

·         Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich – Smashed chicken meatballs with roasted bell peppers and mozzarella on a focaccia bun. Served with garlic parmesan fries.

·         Large Paccheri with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Chicken Meatballs, and Bucatini with Spicy Diavolo Sauce and Shrimp – both part of Cucina Mia:

o    Choose your pasta: New Large Paccheri, New Tri-Colored Vegetable Penne, Bucatini, New Cavatappi, Whole Wheat Linguine, New Gluten-Free Rotini
o    Choose your made-from-scratch sauce:  New Creamy Garlic Alfredo, New Primavera, New Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato, New Spicy Diavolo, Fresh Tomato Pomodoro
o    Add a topping (additional cost): New Chicken Meatballs, New Sausage Meatballs, Meatballs, Sautéed Shrimp

·         Pappardelle Pescatore (Olive Garden Specialty) – Sautéed shrimp, bay scallops and clams tossed with pappardelle pasta, fresh asparagus and tomatoes in a creamy red pepper seafood sauce.

·         Chicken Abruzzi (Olive Garden Specialty, Lighter Italian Fare [under 575 calories]) – Grilled chicken breast in a savory broth simmered with cannellini beans, kale and garden vegetables.

·         Chicken Primavera with Giant Fusili (Spring Seasonal Menu) – Sautéed chicken breasts with snap peas, asparagus and Italian vegetables tossed in a fresh tomato pomodoro sauce over giant fusilli pasta.

·         Wild Berry Layer Cake – Layers of moist vanilla cake and Italian cream topped with seasonal berries and white chocolate shavings.

Seven must try items at Produce Depot

I am absolutely in love with Produce Depot, which has locations in Dyer and in St. John. It's a great place to pick up your every day produce, but you'll find so much more there. Here are some things you won't want to miss:

1. The freshly baked bread. Foccacia is my favorite, but you'll find a variety of other breads there that are as fresh as you'll find - hand made with quality ingredients.

2. Spices, herbs and greens from the cooler. I love the walk in cooler where you can get everything from cold, crisp lettuce to fresh mint and oregano and much, much more. Very reasonable prices. At a local grocery story, I've paid $4 for a few fresh basil leaves. Here you can get a full bunch for a dollar.

3.  The soup. Another homemade item, the varieties change often, but everything is warm and good and satisfying.

4. The hard to find veggies.  I've yet to find fingerling potatoes or cipollini onions at any area grocery stores, but I can find them here. 

5. Organics.  Not everything in the store is organic, but there's a pretty good variety and they're well-marked.

6. Smoothies. There's a long list of smoothies on the menu or you can create your own. I recommend Banana Bonkers. If green smoothies are your thing, this is the place to get one!

7. Sandwiches. There's a counter where you can have a sandwich freshly made and they're some of the best you'll get. Lots of choices for meats, cheese and breads and then a lot of toppings to choose from. Be sure to get the seasoned tomatoes!!!

Produce Depot
8126 Wicker Ave.
Saint John, IN

Thursday, April 24, 2014

From the inbox…new restaurant Current opens next month

Here's one from the inbox. Looks like a great spot to add to the Chicago foodie bucket list!


Cornerstone Restaurant Group is pleased to announce that this May, Current - a social, Italian-inspired restaurant with Executive Chef Gregory Elliott at the helm - will open in the W Chicago - Lakeshore.

True to its name, the menus at Current will feature a fresh, modern take on seasonal Italian cuisine showcasing Chef Elliott's simple and soulful ingredient-driven dishes. "Having worked in this location leading up to the opening of Current, we really developed our menus with our guests in mind," explained Chef Elliott. "Pair our made-in-house pastas, pizzas and salami with our hand-crafted Italian cocktails, boutique wine list and array of local micro brews, and you can't go wrong."

Celebrating the New & Now: A Look at Current's Menus
Upon completion of  the multi-million dollar construction project by owner Chesapeake Lodging Trust, Current will celebrate the new & now, beginning with menus that will showcase both up-and-coming Chicagoans who are making things happen in the city - including rising fashion designer Alexander Knox and Catapult Chicago Co-Founder and President Ryan Leavitt - as well as local landmarks, including The Art Institute of Chicagoand Lincoln Hall. Profiles will change quarterly and guests can nominate both notable Chicagoans and their favorite Chicago landmarks on Current's Facebook and Twitterpages.

When it comes to the cuisine, expect Chef Elliott to serve seasonal, Italian-influenced flavors with a modern twist morning, noon and night. To start the day, the breakfast and brunch menus will allow guests to choose between starting guilt-free with a smoothie or granola, or filling up on decadent options like pastries; Nutella Stuffed French Toast made with brioche, Frangelico and bananas; or Frittata made with mortadella, sharp provolone, peperonata and chives. Lunch guests will choose between Cicchetti (bite size starters),Antipasti, Zuppa & Insalate (appetizers, soups and salads), Sandwiches & Paninis, Pizza & Pasta, Secondi (main course) and Contorni (sides). And for those opting for a fun and festive dinner in Current's modern dining room, Chef Elliott's favorite dishes include the housemade Stracci with wild mushrooms, pecorino and oregano; Sea Urchin Risottowith scallop and tarragon; and Grilled Slagel Family Farm Pork Chop, Bisteca, 15 oz. bone-in ribeye, lardo-rosemary pesto.

After dinner, Current will encourage guests to socialize a little longer and sample sweetdolci like Chef Elliott's Torta Tenerina, flourless chocolate cake with espresso gelato and grappa cherries, or the Tiramisu made with mascarpone, ladyfingers and topped with cocoa powder. Because dessert is always a good idea.

Bevande! Cordials, Vino, Cocktails and More
Time to unwind... whether a glass of wine at lunch, a cocktail on the patio or a late night microbrew (or two), guests will be able to have their libation of choice in Current's lively open dining space. The extensive menu will include a variety of Cordials (including Romano Sambuca and Frambuie), a selection of Single Malt Scotches (including Glenlivet, Takisker and Oban), hand-crafted Italian cocktails (like the Venetian Peach made with bourbon, luxardo apricot and egg white and Lavender Fizz with Ciroc vodka, domaine de canton and lavender soda), a boutique wine list (including more than 100 varieties wines by the bottle and 26 by the glass) and an array of local micro brews, giving guests a reason to linger a little longer after their meals.

Step Inside Current
Once guests enter into Current's lively and inviting space, they will notice interesting design details inspired by the restaurant's prime location situated between sprawling Lake Michigan and the stunning Chicago skyline. With the use of cool tones and highly reflective polished chrome mixed with earthy stone and silver-washed wood, Current will invoke a modern and funky vibe for its guests. Current will also offer a stunning lakefront patio with unparalleled views of Lake Michigan. 

Upon opening, Current will be open Sunday through Thursday from 8am to 10pm and Friday and Saturday from 9am to 11pm, with the bar open nightly until midnight. For more information, visit or the restaurant's Facebook and Twitter pages.

About Current
Located at W Chicago Lakeshore, Current combines Executive Chef Gregory Elliott's simple and soulful ingredient-driven dishes with an extensive beverage menu including hand-crafted Italian cocktails, a boutique wine list, wines on tap and an array of local micro brews. With its stunning backdrop (Lake Michigan and Navy Pier are just steps away), Current is open Sunday through Thursday from 8am to 10pm and Friday and Saturday from 9am to 11pm, with the bar open nightly until midnight. For more information, visit or the restaurant's Facebook andTwitter pages.

About Cornerstone Restaurant Group
Cornerstone Restaurant Group and affiliate Jump Higher, L.L.C., led by restaurateurs Jonathan Albert and David Zadikoff, in partnership with Michael Jordan, oversee all Michael Jordan-brand restaurants, including Michael Jordan's Steak House (Chicago, Connecticut and New York), Michael Jordan's 23.sportcafe (Connecticut), and SolToro Tequila Grill (Connecticut). Additionally, Cornerstone Restaurant Group's growing Asian ventures with Chef Bill Kim include bellyQ, Urbanbelly and Bellyshack, all located in Chicago. Cornerstone Restaurant Group also manages operations for Current at the W Chicago-Lakeshore, ENO Wine Room (Chicago, San Francisco and Washington DC) and ZYLO at the W Hoboken. For more information, visit

About W Chicago - Lakeshore
Located on Chicago's famous Lake Shore Drive in the heart of the City and just steps away from Michigan Avenue and Navy Pier, W Chicago - Lakeshore is currently undergoing a $38 million dollar relaunch.  The hotel's full-scale redesign by Meyer Davis Design reflects the energy of the city onto the glittering waters of Lake Michigan which sets the stage for the W brand's fully integrated lifestyle experience.  W Chicago - Lakeshore features a 9,600 square foot signature Bliss® spa and FIT gym that overlooks the lake, the cuisine of Current, where Executive Chef Gregory Elliott showcases his simple and soulful ingredient-driven dishes along with an innovative beverage menu, as well as over 12,000 square feet. of meeting space including SKYLINE and Altitude on the 33rd floor which offers 360 panoramic views of the lake and skyline with floor to ceiling windows.  The hotel's 520 stylishly re-designed guestrooms, including 23 Marvelous suites, 1 WOW suite, and 1 Extreme WOW Suite all incorporate the innovative designs found throughout the property. Facebook: wchicagolakeshore // Instagram/twitter: @wlakeshore

About Chesapeake Lodging Trust
Chesapeake Lodging Trust is a self-advised lodging real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on investments primarily in upper-upscale hotels in major business and convention markets and, on a selective basis, premium select-service hotels in urban settings or unique locations in the United States.  The Trust owns 20 hotels with an aggregate of 5,932 rooms in eight states and the District of Columbia. Additional information can be found on the Trust's website

Veggie Foil Packets

I love having a heap of fresh veggies with dinner. Foil packets are an easy way to make a nice veggie blend that makes a great accompaniment to a steak, chicken breast or piece of salmon. Here's what was in this one:

1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
About 6 cremini mushrooms
one stalk green onion
one stalk leeks
grape tomato mix
1 tsp. butter
juice from 1/2 lime
Italian seasoning

Wrap in foil and tent. Put in oven for about 15 minutes. Also works great on the grill! :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Loaded veggie scramble

My favorite breakfast by far is eggs. And while plain old scrambled eggs with a slice of toast are just fine, eggs that are loaded with fresh veggies are the icing on the cake. Here's a recent skillet scramble.

wilted spinach
green bell pepper
green onion

And it's best with a bit of shredded cheese melted on top.