Thursday, June 30, 2016

Small Town Brewery Introduces Not Your Father's Vanilla Cream Ale

Hitting stores this month is the newest sibling in the Not Your Father's series of beers - the Vanilla Cream Ale. This is the third such variety, following the Not Your Father's Root Beer and Not Your Father's Ginger Ale. Each one I try, I love more than the last. 

Of course, I love that Small Town beers originated in the Chicago area. They've only been around since 2010 and have become quite a success in a short time. Founded by Tim Kovac, a home brewer for over two decades, Small Town uses gruit-based recipes that were used by his ancestors. 

Kovac has done a spectacular job in incorporating nostalgic flavors into his brews. The Vanilla Cream Ale is reminiscent of those cold bottles of cream soda from a time long ago. It uses Madagascar Vanilla in this 4.1% ABV concoction.

I can't wait to see what's next. Hey, Mr. Kovac, I'm thinking dreamsicle!! :)

Not Your Father's Vanilla Cream Ale is rolling out all across the country starting this month. A six-pack of 12-ounce bottles will go for $10.99.

For more information on Small Town Brewery and Not Your Father’s availability, please visit us at or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

**I did receive a product sample for the purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Easy Peasy Sangria

Sangria is a refreshing summer drink that I usually make when we have summer get togethers. I've scanned various recipes and some have lengthy lists of ingredients, but in the end I go back to my easy version that you can add to based on your guests' tastes.

1 bottle red wine (I used a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon) 
1 carton of strawberry kiwi juice (from Aldi)
1 cup of lemonade
Chopped fruit (this time i used apples, oranges, strawberries and grapes)

First cut up all your fruit and put in the bottom of the pitcher. Use a large spoon to press on the fruit lightly (without smashing it to bits) to release some of the juices. Add wine. Add lemonade. Add juice and stir.

Most recipes I've seen include Triple sec or brandy or gin or vodka or rum. Sometimes I do add that, as well. But sometimes guests prefer it on the not so strong side, so I make it up this way and then have additional liquor that can be added to each glass, if desired. It doesn't taste boozy at all if you follow this recipe. I had some with some Vodquila added to it. That gave it quite a kick. :)

Happy sipping!

Grab-N-Go Salads Available at Timbrook Kitchens

Just a few steps into the state of Indiana, there's this little cafe on Ridge Road that puts out some pretty amazing stuff - savory pies, hand pies, warm pressed sandwiches, soups, slaws, buckles, cinnamon rolls, quiches and lots of other goodies. They also do some pretty awesome salads. And now you can get them ready to go, so you can grab one when you're in a hurry and be on your way.

When I stopped in recently for a sandwich, I got a chance to sample the Thai Crunch Salad pictured here. It included lettuce, carrots, cabbage, crunchy noodles, cucumber, edamame, sprouts and sweet chili glazed chicken with a toasted sesame dressing and honey lime vinaigrette. A nice blend of flavors and textures and a hefty portion for $7.

Stop in to see what else is on the menu (it changes daily.) Another salad I've had there that I really love is the Bistro Bacon Avocado Salad. So, if you stop in and see that on the board, give it a try. Follow on FB where the daily menu items are frequently updated.

Timbrook Kitchens
17 Ridge Road
Munster, IN

***I did receive a complimentary salad for the purpose of a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Celebrate Shark Week with Cake

So Shark Week has arrived on the Discovery Channel....AND the 4th installment of the Sharknado series premieres next month. Somehow, there's just this fun element of watching really big sharks in really cheesy movies. It all started when I watched Jaws as a youngster and was then afraid to go into any body of water thinking that Great Whites would some how make their way into Lake Michigan.

I've had fun with the boys the last couple years as we sit down to enjoy the next Sharknado movie together. Since it's been around the 4th of July each year, it's easy to find blue frosting on the shelves. I picked up some gummy sharks at a nearby candy store and we had shark cake as we watched. :)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dinner at Whole Foods

Ok, if you can believe it, I had never been to a Whole Foods up until last week. For years I've been driving by their distribution center in Munster, Indiana several times a week, yet we didn't have one close by. Until now.

The Schererville location opened earlier this year and I just hadn't made it there yet, but I'd heard many good things about it - especially about the dining area. So, as I made a shopping trip over to the Shops on Main over the weekend to use some soon-to-expire Kohl's Cash with my son, I made a detour to Whole Foods on the way.

The kids hate when we set out for one store and I turn it into a multi-stop outing, but I also hate to shop when I'm hangry, so I insisted on a food stop first. In driving by I had seen that at the end of the building there was a sign for "Brewhouse 41" and I assumed it was another new eatery that had popped up. I didn't realize that Brewhouse 41 was inside Whole Foods. A friend has told me that they had good burgers at Whole Foods, but I wasn't expecting an actual restaurant. It's inside the store, but separated by windows and doors, so it feels like a completely separate dining room. It's not like it's really a new concept. When I was a kid, we would make family trips out to Kmart or Venture to do shopping and we'd have a bite to eat in the cafeteria. If you go further back (before my time), the Woolworth's dining counter was a popular place for the lunch crowd. It makes you wonder why we got away from it in our grocery stores today. Anyway, so it's not like Whole Foods came up with this revolutionary idea of putting a dining spot inside a store...but they did come up with the idea of putting a mini brew pub inside a store. And that's genius. And way better than a Kmart sub sandwich and a slushie.

So, my son and I split a burger and an order of fried pickle spears. The menu isn't huge. I think there were three burgers on the menu, but they also have a burger of the month and that's what I tried. And it was spectacular. The "As Gouda As It Gets" Burger was a mix of ground beef and Italian sausage with smoked gouda cheese, carmelized onions, beer mustard and brown sugar apple slices. With it I ordered a 4 ounce glass of Sun King Brewery's Wee Mac Scottish Ale. I love to try new craft beers, but I just can't do full pints - at least not if I have to drive home. :) I love getting a flight where you get the small 4 ounce pours of several beers. So, it was great to have the option of a small portion. And it was just $2. Can't beat that!

As far as the store itself, it was a 90+ degree day, so I didn't want to get anything that would have to be refrigerated and I didn't have time for a big shopping trip. I'll have to return when I have more time. I did spot a few things that looked interesting and yummy - like the gelato and the salad bar. But whether or not I determine I'd like to shop there frequently, I could definitely get used to eating there.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

From the Inbox: Lobster Festival coming to Shaw's Crab House Chicago

It's time for the annual Lobster Festival at Shaw's Crab House that will be taking place the entire month of July. Take a peek at the delicious details!

(Chicago, IL)- It's that time of year again! Shaw's Crab House is celebrating lobsters this summer at its annual Lobster Festival. Stop by Shaw's Chicago from July 1-31 and try a taste of summer with one of the restaurant's many lobster-centric dishes showcasing the season's best bounty.

Enjoy light, summertime specials featuring lobster and other fresh seafood favorites like:

Lobster Maki Roll ($16)
maine lobster, avocado, cucumber, tobiko, frisee

Lobster Hand Roll ($16)

Soup & Salad
Lobster Bisque ($7 for cup; $9 for bowl)
maine lobster, zucchini, carrots

Lobster Salad ($24)
lobster meat, baby potatoes, green beans, lemon, herb aioli

Shaw's Signature Chopped Seafood Salad ($25)
louis dressing & vinaigrette, lobster, king crab, shrimp, snow crab, hearts of palm, avocado, egg, cucumber, olives, tomatoes, scallions

New England Lobster Roll ($27)
maine lobster, hellman's mayonnaise, diced celery, house-made brioche roll

Lobster Fettuccini ($34)
1 lb lobster, red chili, herb butter

Lobster Cioppino ($31)
Maine lobster, haddock, shrimp, calamari, clams, lobster-fennel broth

Broiled Lobster Tails ($64)
two 8 oz maine lobster tails, drawn butter

Whole Lobster
Lobster Boil ($43)
1.5 lb lobster, sweet corn, red potatoes, melted butter

Lobster Au Gratin ($43)
1.5 lb lobster, garlic-herb crust

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese ($20)

Lobster Fried Rice ($14)
Bean sprouts, pea pods, carrots, red peppers

To make a reservation, please call 312.527.2722 and for information visit this website.

Win a Lobster Dinner for 8!  Sign up for our newsletter and enter to win between July 1 and July 22 to enjoy a fantastic meal during the last week of Lobster Festival!

Shaw's Crab House, a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant, features a 1940s-style take on the seafood dining experience, with retro leather banquettes, polished wood floors, and art deco touches. The Oyster Bar provides a more casual setting for diners and serves up live music five nights a week at the Chicago location. Shaw's - The King of Crab! For more info, call 312.527.2722 (Chicago) or 847.517.2722 (Schaumburg), visit the website at, tweet with The Shaw's Mermaid at, or on Facebook at

Friday, June 24, 2016

Open Casting Calls in Chicago Tomorrow for MasterChef Junior: Q & A with the Casting Directors

Do you know a kid who is a mini version of some of the great chefs you see on television? They'll be happy to know that casting directors are looking for junior culinary masters for the next season of taping for MasterChef Junior. Open casting calls take place tomorrow in Chicago at the Doubletree on the Mag Mile from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Scroll down for more details and some insight from the casting directors on what they're looking for and what they've encountered so far.

Chicago Foodie Sisters threw out some questions to casting director Gina Gonzalez to get an idea of what it's like selecting participants from the show.

CFS: What are some specific qualities you're looking for in kids to appear on the show?

Kids that are very passionate about food and cooking!  We're looking for kids that love cooking so much that they would love the opportunity to learn as much as they can and grow as better cooks.  MasterChef Junior is a true culinary journey so we're looking for kids that have the passion and the potential to become great little MasterChef Juniors!       

CFS: How impressed have you been with the kids you've encountered so far?

That's a hard one to answer - over the moon impressed!  We've been blown away by the kids that come out to audition every season.  It really is incredible what some of these kids are capable of - a lot of them are already much better cooks then their parents!       

CFS: How many cities do you hold the open casting calls in? Are there any cities that seem to produce more talent than the others or where you think the kids just get the most exposure to many culinary cultures?

We go to 6 different cities across the country.  Every season we usually always visit New York, Chicago and Los Angeles - they're all big cities and fantastic food cities so kids there are usually exposed to all different kinds of foods.         

CFS: Any auditions that have been extremely memorable?

Honestly, anytime you can watch an 8 or 9-year-old cook a complete meal that not only smells and looks good but tastes great, it's something to remember!  

CFS: What are some of the most creative dishes you have seen made by these mini-chefs?

We've seen kids cook all kinds of great things - from Duck a' l'orange to Chocolate Molten Lava Cake to Lamb Chops - it's been quite amazing.  

CFS: What are the perfect ingredients that indicate to you that a kid will be a perfect part of the show?

Kids that are EXCITED about and for the opportunity, and  kids that are happy to share their love of food with America as well as share a bit of their lives with us.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Kenosha Welcomes the Border War Beer Fest

I've attended a number of Brewfest Partners events and they're always a good time. I love that they continue to expand and set-up in new venues for beer aficionados to get a taste of some of the best craft brews in the Midwest. 

A new event debuts this weekend at one of my favorite venues that is just over the Illinois border into Wisconsin. The Border War Fest will take place at HarborPark in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a beautiful space right on the shore of Lake Michigan. With the Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum in one direction and a sparkling blue horizon in the other, it's a great spot to enjoy the outdoors and sip on saisons, IPAs, stouts, ciders and more while you gaze out at sailboats and marvel at the beaches and lighthouses. For several years we've made a trip up to HarborPark for the annual Taste of Wisconsin (another awesome event you should mark on your calendar!) More than 100 varieties from 28 breweries will be available for sampling at the beer fest.

The Border War Beer Fest runs from 3 - 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 25 at Celebration Place in HarborPark (5501 Ring Road.) The event will include unlimited 3 oz. pours from Wisconsin and Illinois brewers and live music. Food vendors will offer a variety of foods, including Wisconsin specialties, such as cheese curds and sausage. Tickets are $45 for general admission or $79 for VIP, which allows entry at 2 p.m. Get tickets at
Attendees will also vote on which state has the best brews and the winner will take ownership of a traveling trophy.

If you're traveling from the Chicago area, make a weekend of it. Use that extra time to chill on one of the beaches that have free admission and free parking, visit one of the museums, do some shopping at the outlet mall, take a ride on the electric street car system or plan a day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Go to for more info.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Try Minerva Dairy During National Dairy Month (product giveaway)

Did you know June is National Dairy Month? In celebration of the natural goodness produced by our nation's dairy farmers, Minerva Dairy, the country's oldest family-owned cheese and butter dairy farm is offering a giveaway of some of their flavored butter.

Now operated by a 5th and 6th generation, Minerva Dairy dates back to 1894. They still produce an 84% Batch Churned Amish Butter as well as a variety of cheeses -  among them Swiss, Gouda, Colby and Cheddar. Gift baskets are available online for those cheese lovers in your life who enjoy fine varieties of cheese.

Besides natural flavored butter produced by pasture-raised cows, you'll find flavors such as garlic herb, maple syrup and cinnamon.

Find out more about the company and their products and order online at

To enter to win a prize pack of flavored butter from Minerva Farms, enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest runs through June 28. Good luck!

For an old school dining experience, visit Town Club Restaurant

When I was writing an article recently for a local paper on dining spots in Highland, Indiana, I came across one I hadn't heard of. I don't live too far from that community and have visited many of the restaurants there, mostly on Indianapolis Blvd and a few in the older downtown area.

So, when the name "Town Club" was suggested because they've been in the region for decades, I was perplexed. How had I never heard of it? Well, it is located in the southeast corner of town that I really don't drive through very often. I mentioned it to my dad, who is my frequent dining buddy, since he lives in the bordering town. He said he'd never heard of it, either. He asked the address and said he'd look for it next time he took my mom to get her hair done, which is in that area.

After interviewing the owner, Mark Hines, and hearing about a lot of the menu items, I decided I'd have to give it a try. Dad was interested, too, so I told him I'd take him for lunch to celebrate Father's Day. The place dates back to 1947 and has that old school supper club feel with dim lighting and dark decorating - where you could picture Frank Sinatra sitting at the bar with a scotch and a cigar. You've got to love that.

Since Hines had mentioned their "famous donut shrimp" I couldn't pass them up. They were very good with a light breading. He said that Town Club is the only place that makes them that way - and I can say I have never seen it before.

My $10.95 lunch portion included bread, a soup or salad and a potato of choice. Whether or not I get soup or a side salad always depends on if they have garlic dressing (entree salads are a different matter, but for a simple side salad, I have to have garlic dressing.) I LOVE freshly made garlic dressing when I dine out. If a place doesn't have garlic dressing, I usually go with soup. When I asked about garlic dressing, she said that was their house dressing, so that's what I got. The dressing was perfect and the salad was fresh and crisp. That made me a very happy camper.

I did wrestle with my decision. There was a ribeye sandwich that sounded pretty good (according to Hines, they have great steaks) and I understand they are also known for their perch, so I considered that, as well. I'm also told they make great tacos that are served on Wednesday nights, a recipe that hasn't changed since the 1950's.

Dad  decided to get the cream of mushroom soup and then he decided to have the 1/4 lb. grilled Johnsonville Brat with french fries.  I look forward to a return to try out some of the other menu items. For more info, visit

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Honestly Cranberry

I'm a huge salad fan and love adding different textures and ingredients beyond lettuce and tomato. At the Good Food Festival in Chicago this past spring, I was introduced to Honestly Cranberry. I sampled some at the vendor table where they emphasized that they are all natural with no added sugars, juices or oils.

I had really never given any consideration to added ingredients in cranberries. It was a label that I had never bothered to read, but once I went back home and took a look I was really surprised to see that there were 26 grams of stages and 33 grams of carbs in a 1/4 cup serving in the brand I had been using to supplement my salads.

In sampling it on its own, it was more tart than what I'd been used to, so I was anxious to try it in a salad and see how it blended in with other ingredients.

The folks at Honestly Cranberry were nice enough to send along a full package for me to use at home. My first concoction was this salad of spinach, yellow and red peppers, cucumbers, goat cheese crumbles and cranberries with a maple vinaigrette. Once combined with all these other veggies and lightly tossed with the dressing, the tartness was much less noticeable. The chewy texture was a nice addition to the salad and now that I know better when it comes to all the artificial stuff that normally go into dried cranberries, I probably should order some more. This Wisconsin product is available online at

Celebration at Maggiano's Little Italy

When you go out to dinner for a celebration, you can't go wrong with comforting Italian food. So, last week after we proudly watched my nephew graduate from the police academy before embarking on his new career as a law enforcement officer, we took a little drive to Maggiano's Little Italy in Oak Brook.

If you have a hearty appetite, the family-style is the way to go for a group of four or more. However, everyone in our party had something different in mind and we went with a few appetizers: calamari, bruschetta and stuffed mushroom. Totally top notch - such a good way to start the meal.

I opted for the lighter take on the fettuccine with chicken and asparagus. Several of their menu items are offered as Lighter Take versions. They do a great job of staying close to the original dish and not sacrificing flavor in reducing the calories in the dish by a nice amount. This was also one of the menu items that allowed you to choose an entree to also take home to enjoy the next day, which is a fabulous deal.

(my nephew opted for mussels, which he quite enjoyed.)

DMK Burger Bar and Fish Bar at Navy Pier

Last fall DMK Burger Bar and Fish Bar debuted at Navy Pier carrying over some of the favorite menu items from the popular Lakeview location.

The grass fed beef at DMK Burger Bar has a list of options - some topped with chorizo, guacamole, chipotle aioli, fried egg, marinated tomato and other goodies. There's also a bison burger, a turkey burger and a house veggie & grain burger. A few delicious-sounding salads are on the menu that also can be ordered with griddled chicken breast or grilled salmon. Fry options include parmesan & truffle cree, sweet potato with lemon tabasco aioli and Wisconsin cheddar & scallions.

On the Fish side, options range from fish & chips to calamari to gumbo and clam chowder to sandwiches of cod, crispy chicken, salmon or crab as well as fish sliders and a Satchmo Po'Boy with shrimp & crawfish. I opted for an order of two crispy shrimp tacos with cabbage slaw and guacamole. The tacos were fantastic and it left me wishing I could order a larger portion of the shrimp. Even with my usually light appetite, the two tacos didn't do it for me. I could have easily eaten two more - or a big plate of those shrimp with some cocktail sauce. So, I'd plan on it as an appetizer to a burger or sandwich or double up on the order.

There's also a cocktail and beer menu and you can enjoy it in their small dining room or out on the patio overlooking the lake. For more info, visit

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Taste on Chestnut Offers Summer Cooking Classes

One of my favorite restaurants that I visited last year was Taste of Chestnut when I attended the opening reception. Everything was absolutely amazing and so beautifully presented. I thought I'd share the upcoming dates for cooking classes being offered there by owner/chef Steven Leviton. What a wonderful way to spend a summer evening! 

Learn how to prepare the finest dishes using summer produce from your home garden or farmer's market at Taste On Chestnut. Join chef and owner, Steven Leviton, in our open kitchen and create culinary masterpieces you can learn to make (and eat!) then recreate at home! Cost is $55 per person.
Tasteful Tour of the Mediterranean
Wednesday, June 29, 5-7 p.m.
Grill Masters
Wednesday, July 27, 5-7 p.m.
Couples in the Kitchen
Wednesday, August 24, 5-7 p.m.
Call 847-441-0134 to reserve your spot! 
 For more information, email

Taste On Chestnut
505 Chestnut
Winnetka, IL 60093
P: 847 441 0134

From the inbox: Olive Theory offering dads a treat this weekend


DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (May 23, 2016) – Join the Olive Theory family to celebrate what it means to be a dad.  On Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19, all fathers are invited to visit Olive Theory Pizzeria, located at 1400A Butterfield Road in Downers Grove, and show a photo of what fatherhood means to them.  Each dad will receive a customized signature size pizza (value $7.99) built with his favorite house-made sauces, cheeses, meats, vegetables and finishes.

“As a family owned company, fatherhood is special to us at Olive Theory, and we can’t wait to see how our customers share the sentiment,” said John Kwok, owner of Olive Theory Pizzeria. “With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, dads can take a well-deserved break with the special people in their life and enjoy a meal exactly how they want it.”

At Olive Theory, pizzas, pie sandwiches and salads are made fresh to order, in house and your way. Choose from Build Your Own or House Favorites, all $7.99 each. Personal 11-inch pizzas feature fresh, high-quality ingredients and house-made dough.  Specialty pizzas include Buddha’s Karma; fire roasted garlic olive oil, mozzarella, spinach and Parmesan, and Darwin’s Natural Selection; classic red, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, Italian beef, ham & bacon. Calzone-style pie sandwiches include Hermes’ Hoagie, garlic pesto, prosciutto, red onion, tomato, provolone, lettuce and garlic olive oil, and all are seasoned with Poseidon’s Blessing, a house blend of parmesan, oregano & sea salt.  Greens include the Mediterranean and Anti-Pasto. And, for dessert try one of the in-house, daily baked Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Beer is now available to pair with a pizza, pie sandwich or salad. Choose between Miller Lite, Blue Moon Belgian White, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, Revolution Anti-Hero or Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

For every ten pizzas purchased, Olive Theory will donate one pizza to support like-minded organizations who want to give back.  Currently partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank to distribute “Pledge Pies” to community members who need it the most, the nonprofit is a member of Feeding America and works to solve hunger in northern Illinois through innovative programs and partnerships.

For more information, visit or call (630) 519-5152. Connect on Facebook and Instagram.

About Olive Theory Pizzeria
Established in 2015, Olive Theory promises to Eat Well and Do Good. Inspired by Greco-Roman mythology, Olive Theory’s mission is to create a business that promotes sustainable growth for the community through learning and education. They strive to inspire and empower individuals and communities through the love of food, learning and philanthropy. They also believe food is personal and should be made just the way you like it. That’s why everyone is encouraged to customize with a variety of house-made sauces, cheeses, meats, vegetables and finishes. Olive Theory is open daily from 11a.m. to 10 p.m. For catering call (630) 519-5152. Visit Olive Theory Pizzeria at olivetheorypizzeria.comFacebook, and Instagram. For more information about their 1/10 Pledge, visit

Information provided by Margie Korshak, Inc.

Pizza night with Sprigati

I love finding local products that I can use in the kitchen. I'd seen a few posts showing up in my feed in recent months promoting a new gourmet pasta sauce and I learned it was produced nearby in Munster, IN. 

When attending Fetching Market last month, I met Vivi, who owns Sprigati with her husband. It's actually his recipe that is in the jars and I got a little sample while I was there. To me, it was so thick and flavorful that I instantly thought of it making a great pizza sauce. So, this week I pulled a bunch of ingredients out of the fridge and got to preparing some pizzas to make on the grill. Pizza is something I love to make on the grill. It's quick and easy and a great way to use fresh vegetables. I usually use tortillas as my crust. Sometimes I use French rolls or English muffins for the kids. I've even used portobellos as my base topped with pizza sauce, cheese and veggies.

Anyway, I used the large flour tortillas for these and I double them. It makes for a nice crispy crust as it browns slightly on the grill as the cheese melts. I also made some on Turano French bread. I topped each with Sprigatti and then made each one a little different. Only pepperoni for one of the kids, pepperoni and spinach for another. Mushroom and pepperoni for another. For me it was a veggie loaded version with red and orange peppers, onions, spinach and mushrooms. I used some pizza seasoning kits that I had gotten from Urban Accents, as well. The Grecian kit went nicely on my veggie one, which I topped with both mozzarella and feta. Would have been great if I'd had some black olives, too.

So, Sprigati gets a big thumbs up as a pizza sauce. I'll have to get another jar to make a pasta dish. It's also a great dipping sauce. I'm sure it would be fabulous with some fried mushrooms, zucchini or mozzarella sticks. I reserved just a little bit and used it to dip Italian bread into and it was a great little snack. Check out for more info and to find out where you can buy it. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Treat Dad to a Beer Dinner or Brunch at Pinstripes

If you're still contemplating how to celebrate Father's Day with Dad, Pinstripes has a couple events this week that will help you celebrate that important guy in your life.

The Two Brother's Beer Dinner takes place in Chicago and Oak Brook on Thursday, June 16  and in Northbrook and South Barrington on Friday, June 17 from 7 to 10 p.m. with a four-course interactive dinner that will cover how each pairing enhances the dining experience. The menu will feature stuffed grilled avocado, rain crow ranch bistecca and more paired with Two Brother's Award Winning Beers. Cost is $45 per person.

On Father's Day, you can treat dad to Pinstripes' backyard BBQ brunch featuring a carving station, fresh seafood, a waffle bar, made-to-order omelets, a dessert station with a chocolate fountain and endless mimosas. On the grill will be summer favorites like BBQ ribs, Italian sausage, corn on the cob and more. BBQ brunch is Sunday, June 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Adults are $34, kids age 6 - 12 are $15 and kids age 5 and under are free.

And, of course, don't forget how much fun you can have with dad in a round of bocce or a bowling game. Call your local Pinstripes for reservations.

Beer Cruises on the Mystic Blue

What's better than a beer fest? A beer fest ON A BOAT!

Sipping on craft brew in the sun on beautiful Lake Michigan overlooking the most beautiful skyline. What could be better?

I enjoyed the recent Chicago Small Craft Beer Cruise on the Mystic Blue out of Navy Pier, one of several beer cruises planned this season by Brewfest Partners.

The cruise I attended was on June 5th and it was a perfect day to be out on the lake. It was kind of a two-for-one trip: part beer fest/part boat excursion. Not only did we have a chance to try out beers from several craft breweries located right in the city of Chicago, but we were able to take in the spectacular scenery of the Chicago skyline and sailboats in the distance. And I took that opportunity to snap some beautiful photos.

Another nice thing about the cruise was that there was a decent buffet that was included with your general admission price. Normally, in attending a beer fest, you have to purchase a VIP ticket to have any food included. However, on the beer cruises everyone is a VIP. The buffet included pulled pork sliders, mac & cheese, cole slaw, beer nuggets, veggies with dip and a very nice selection of desserts.

A number of ales, saisons, IPAs and other brews could be sampled in your commemorative take-home beer pint. It was the second cruise this year, but there are two more coming up

On July 24: Toast to Belgian Independence

October 2: Brewers of the North Suburbs

Get your tickets at

The Belgian Beer Cruise sounds awesome as it's my favorite style of beer and the October cruise should be a good one featuring some of the great craft breweries of the burbs.

If you'd rather sip your beer on land, Brewfest Partners has lots of beer fun planned this summer throughout the Midwest, including the Border War Beer Fest, an inaugural event in one of my favorite summer spots, HarborPark in Kenosha on June 25. For the full schedule, visit There's also a form on the website to enter to win tickets!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Omelet at the Riviera Restaurant

A place I first visited last year after driving past it several times a week for the nearly 25 years I've lived in this neighborhood is a cozy little diner where they serve up big portions of good old breakfast comfort food. The Riviera on Ridge Road in Munster, Indiana offers a breakfast and lunch menu of the typical breakfast and diner fare, with specials each week.

I could eat eggs for every meal, so each time I've been there it's for some kind of eggs. My most recent stop involved a big fluffy Denver omelet loaded with ham, green pepper and onion. It was big enough that half was breakfast and the other half was lunch. And if you like Eggs Benedict, you've got to try them at Riviera.

Riviera Restaurant
616 Ridge Road
Munster, IN
(219) 836-0001

Monday, June 6, 2016

More than coffee at Grindhouse

I'm not a coffee drinker. I haven't had a full cup of Joe my entire life. Yet, one of my favorite spots in northwest Indiana is a coffee house. I don't go there for the coffee, obviously, although I hear they brew a mean pot. I go there for the sandwiches. Well, it's been mainly one sandwich - the Croque Grindhouse. It was the first sandwich I tried there and was my go-to on every visit afterwards. I was smitten with this ham and provolone with sliced apple on sourdough sammie. 

On my most recent visit, I finally talked myself into trying something else. I tried the Bleu Cheese Beef Bomb and LOVED it. From now on I'll have to rotate between the two. It has roast beef with bleu cheese and aged horseradish cheddar on ciabatta.

I also love the scones and always grab one to go when I'm there. And although I haven't tried the coffee, I'm fond of the tea. Well, one tea that is. I found my fave - Jamaican Rooibos - on my first visit and well, I haven't strayed. Baby steps. New sandwich this time. Maybe next time I'll give a new tea a try.

Check out Grindhouse Cafe in downtown Griffith  at 146 N. Broad St. and visit them online on Facebook and Instagram.