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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team 


Most home cooks have a signature dish. You know that dish you make when you want to impress family, friends, or even that special someone. This dish is so good; everyone tells you it should be on a menu somewhere! What if you got that chance? Does your dish have what it takes?

The folks at Carlucci’s in Downers Grove had an open call out for people to submit their best pasta dishes with a chance to be featured on their menu. With nearly 50 entries submitted, executive Chef Kevin Provenzano whittled them down to six finalists. Dishes were scored on taste, appearance, originality, and difficulty to prepare.

The finalists each brought a guest to help judge each others dish. What they didn’t know was that Chef Pravenzano, Joe Carlucci, Suburban Life Publications assistant managing editor Jonathan Schuler, and yours truly were on hand as guest judges.

The finalists and their dishes were:

  • Dan Peloza — linguini misto
  • Colleen O’Leary — rigatoni with portabello bolognese
  • Joan Cerny-Cimaglia — tuna rotini pasta
  • Karen Price — crab bisque ricotta shells
  • James Griseto — rigatoni carbonara
  • Karen Whalen — farfalle with sausage

Coming in third were Karen Whalen’s savory farfalle & sausage. The runner up was Karen Price’s rich and creamy crab bisque riccotta shells. And the grand champion was Dan Peloza’s shrimp and sun dried tomato linguini misto.

Dan’s winnings include his dish being featured on the Carlucci menu for a month, a $200 gift card to the restaurant, and one night stay at the Doubletree. I want to thank the folks at Carlucci’s for asking me to be a guest judge and I would like to offer my congratulations to all the finalists for filling my belly with you terrific pasta creations!

Carlucci Restaurant is at 1801 Butterfield Road in Downers Grove, (630) 512-0990, www.carluccirestaurant.com

 Read more from Hungry Z at HungryZ.com

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D.C. “Fete Select TV” Crenshaw, NBC5 Street Team

After a disappointing experience at the grand opening of the new restaurant Epic, in the downtown River North area of Chicago, I was a little hesitant to return for dinner.  The event that evening was far too crowded and a little unorganized that left me pondering the concept of the new hot spot.  I didn’t know whether they it was a club or a restaurant, so I decided to go back and check it out, after receiving a sincere message from their Maitre De.

Upon arrival, I again had the same thoughts.  Is this a club or a restaurant? But as soon as we were seated in the main dining area, the concept became very clear.  The downstairs bar area provides more of a lounge atmosphere with hip music, couches and hi top bar seating.   The upstairs space is where the feasting takes place.  The entire place is massive complete with four levels, including a rooftop terrace.  Epic’s design is simple and straightforward.  The architecture has a loft like appearance with elements of exposed brick, steel and concrete.  It didn’t wow me, but it got my attention.

Epic’s dinner menu is filled with beef, chicken, pork and fish entrées.  Seafood items plaster most of the appetizer section and they have a nice selection of salads and side dishes to choose from.  Since I’m a connoisseur of lamb shanks, I opted for the “Spiced Lamb Shank” entrée.   Our waiter assured me that their lamb shank would be right up there with the best that I’ve had.  Well, I wouldn’t necessarily give it those props, but it was definitely tender and succulent.  The combination of spices complemented the shank and the lamb jus was pungently flavorful without sweetness.  My dinner guests enjoyed the “Chilean Sea Bass” and “Salt Crusted Market Fish For Two” entrées.  The presentations for both dishes were done well.  The “Brussels Sprouts” side dish prepared with bacon, honey and chestnuts tempted my taste buds.  The sweet and savory combination helped me forget that I was eating brussels sprouts for a moment, but sprouts are sprouts.

Dinner was capped with dessert.  The “Chocolate” and “Pumpkin & White Chocolate” desserts were sampled.  The former consisted of flourless cake, mousse and hot fudge, and the latter was made with toasted white chocolate cake, roasted pumpkin ice cream and chestnut caramel.  Both desserts were solid, but didn’t have me licking the plate.  The service started off a little slow, but picked up as the dinner progressed.  The atmosphere was festive, which helped the cocktails to flow more readily, although, I wouldn’t recommend Epic for a quiet evening at dinner.  Expect to drop $50 per person on dinner before getting your keys back from the valet and be prepared to hang out for after dinner cocktails in the downstairs bar area.  Overall Epic’s cuisine was solid with a good atmosphere and decent service.  My final “Tru” rating is TTt.

   To view my “Tru” rating system for Epic visit www.efete.net/blog.html.
 

 

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Hungry Z, NBCChicago Street Team

January is “National Soup Month”, a holiday celebrated annually in the United States. Although this is an American holiday; soups from around the world are celebrated. By definition, soup is a liquid food that is made by combining ingredients, such as meat, vegetables or beans in stock or hot water, until the flavor is extracted. Before there was soup, there was broth, which people used to pour over a piece of bread in a bowl. That bread was known as sop, and from sop came the word soup.

Now that we’ve had our history lesson, let’s talk about how you can celebrate here in your own backyard. City dwellers and suburbanites are both in luck! Chances are no matter what neighborhood or suburban city you live in, there’s a restaurant nearby waiting to warm you up. And with our fine Chicago winter being as cold as can be, doesn’t a nice warm bowl of soup sound good right about now?

Bookbinder and clam chowder at Hugo's

I embarked on my own “Soup Day” adventure recently in suburban Naperville. To make me yearn for soup, I decided to forgo the valet and park a couple of blocks from my first stop and walk through the cold. First stop was Hugo’s Frog bar to help warm my bones. Hugo’s is owned by Gibson’s, which means it’s bold, loud, and plenty of fun. First soup offered was the creamy New England clam chowder that boasted a generous helping of tender clams. Soup of the day was the chicken and rice and was very close to what your mother might have made. My favorite though was the Bookbinder soup. A rich and hearty vegetable and seafood soup that had just a little heat added to help warm your mouth and your soul.

To get that need for soup again, a one mile walk to Meson Sabika was in order. Unlike Hugo’s, the quiet dining room feels like your in someone’s home. In a way you are since this restaurant was converted from a residence to a restaurant some time ago. Three unique soups were available and a sample of them all was in order. The first was the “Sop de Alubias Negras”, a black been soup with chorizo that had a nice smoky flavor. My personal favorite was the “Caldo Gallego”, a hearty white bean soup that had pieces of bacon and Serrano ham throughout. The soup of the day was a cream of mussel soup that was blended velvety smooth and had the flavor of the mussels right on the forefront.

Caldo Gallego at Meson Sabika

Whether your craving cream of chicken or cream of mussels, January is definitely the time to exercise your love for soups. And if you don’t listen to me, listen to your mother, because she’s probably told you eat more soup since you can remember. Below is a list of participating restaurants.

33 CLUB 

1419 N. Wells  St. | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.664.1419 | www.33clubchicago.com

CARNIVALE

702 W Fulton St | Chicago, IL 60661| 312.850.5005 | www.carnivalechicago.com

 CHENS CHINESE AND SUSHI

3506 N. Clark St. | Chicago, IL 60657 | 773.549.9100 | www.chenschicago.com

KOI 624 Davis Street | Evanston, IL 60201 | 847.866.6969 | www.koievanston.com

 DAWALI MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN

4911 N. Kedzie Avenue | Chicago, IL 60625 | 777.267.4200

 GIBSONS BAR & STEAKHOUSE

1029 North Rush St. | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.266.8999 | www.gibsonssteakhouse.com 

5464 North River Rd. | Rosemont, IL 60018 | 847.928.9900 | www.gibsonssteakhouse.com

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE

1024 North Rush St. | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.640.0999 | www.hugosfrogbar.com 

 ITALIASIA

Holiday Inn Mart Plaza | 15th Floor | 350 W. Mart Center Drive | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.529.1157 | www.martplaza.com

 KDK RESTAURANTS: GIOCO, MARCHÉ, OPERA, RED LIGHT

GIOCO | 1312 S Wabash Ave | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.939.3870  | www.gioco-chicago.com

MARCHÉ | 833 West Randolph Street | Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.226.8399  | www.marche-chicago.com

OPERA | 1301 S Wabash Avenue | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.461.0161 | www.opera-chicago.com

RED LIGHT | 820 W. Randolph | Chicago, IL 60607 | 312.733.8880 | www.redlight-chicago.com

 LA MADIA

59 W Grand Ave | Chicago, IL 60654 | 312.329.0400 | www.dinelamadia.com

 LUXBAR

18 E. Bellevue Place | Chicago, IL 60611| 312.642.3400 | www.luxbar.com 

 MESON SABIKA
1025 Aurora Avenue | Naperville, IL 60540 | 630.983.3000 |www.mesonsabika.com

STRETCH RUN SPORTING CLUB & GRILLE

544 N LaSalle | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.644.4477 | www.stretchrunchicago.com

 SUSHI TAIYO

58 E Ontario St | Chicago, IL 60611 | 312.440.1717 | www.taiyochicago.com

 TAPAS VALENCIA

1530 South State Street | Chicago, IL 60605 | 312.842.4444 | www.tapasvalencia.com

TRADER VIC’S

1030 N. State St. | Chicago, IL 60610 | 312.642.6500 | www.tradervicschicago.com

 SUBURBAN EVENTS

 CARLUCCI  RESTAURANT

1801 Butterfield Road | Downer’s Grove, IL 60515 | 630.512.0990 | www.carluccirestaurant.com

 DUKE’S ALEHOUSE AND KITCHEN

110 N Main Street | Crystal Lake, IL 60014 | 815.356.9980 | www.thedukeabides.com

 DURTY NELLIE’S

180 N. Smith Street | Palatine, IL | 847.358-9150 | www.durtynellies.com

 HUGO’S FROG BAR & FISH HOUSE – NAPERVILLE

55 S. Main St. | Naperville, IL 60540 | 630.548.3764 | www.hugosfrogbar.com 

 PINSTRIPES
1150 Willow Rd | Northbrook, IL 60062 | 847.480.2323 | www.pinstripes.com
100 West Higgins Rd | South Barrington, IL 60010 | 847.844.9300 | www.pinstripes.com

 THE LUCKY MONK

105 Hollywood Blvd | South Barrington, IL 60610| 847. 898.0500| www.theluckymonk.com

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

Yesterday, Tomorrow was Today . . .

Every year we make resolutions that we can’t or don’t keep.  We set ourselves up for failure by setting unrealistic goals or by not establishing a plan of action to reach those goals.  When we fall off the wagon we say – I’ll start again on Monday or on the first or, the infamous, “tomorrow.”  Well, keep in mind that the “tomorrow” that we talked about yesterday is now TODAY – so let’s get 2010 off to a good start with a few tips for maintaining your resolutions and solutions for common resolutions!

  • Put your resolutions in writing.  Nothing beats the accountability you’ll feel when you re-read the promises you’ve made to yourself.  Post them on your computer as a screen saver or on sticky notes on your computer, desk phone, bulletin board, dashboard or all of the above!  Let them serve as ever-present reminders of your goals.
  • Develop an action plan.  What are the steps to reach your goals?  Plot those steps on your calendar, setting reminders and breaking your resolution into manageable chunks so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by your ultimate objective.
  • Chart your progress.  For those long term goals, be sure to monitor your progress.  Give yourself a pat on the back (or massage, purse, Wii game or a lite beer!) for those first five pounds, five new customers or five stacks of unopened bills that you’ve finally gone through!
  • Be realistic.  Be sure that your goals are set high enough that you really have something strive for, but not so high that they are unattainable.  Stretch yourself – your mind, body and spirit!
  • Yesterday, Tomorrow was Today!  If you fall off the wagon or get a little off your path, “now” is always a good time to self-correct!  You don’t have to wait until tomorrow, or think Monday morning is a magical start date.  Acknowledge the slip, determine the reason (if you can), adjust your game plan (if necessary), dust yourself off, forgive yourself and make it happen, baby!

Now that we’ve got a game plan in order, here are a few common resolutions and some things To-Do in connection with them!

  • Get Physically Active!  Getting fit isn’t just about going to the health club.  Here are some other ways that you can meet your fitness goals.
    • The Mature H.O.T. Women’s Program liberates the spirit of the dancer to reign free in every cosmopolitan woman. This workshop is designed to strengthen the body, challenge the mind and nurture the soul through the synergy of modern, ballet and jazz techniques.  Classes begin on January 18th and are offered on Monday evenings in the Loop and Wednesday evenings at the South Shore Cultural Center.  Check out photos from the first workshop series!
    • Sno Gophers – While skiing may not be practical for an everyday fitness routine, it is great exercise!  Sno Gophers is an African-American ski club and each year it plans a number of regional and national ski trips.  The regional trips include day trips and overnight trips and each trip includes generous amounts of camaraderie amongst ski enthusiasts and rookies!  You don’t have to break a leg or go for broke to take part in this exhilarating winter sport!
    • The Chicago Park District is offering you an opportunity to “Break a Sweat, Not the Bank!”  Continuing through Sunday, January 10, 2010, work out for free at all Chicago Park District Fitness Centers.  Even after the 10th, you’ll find that the CPD has ϋber reasonable rates and there’s probably a fitness center really close to where you live and/or work!
  • Start My Own Business!  Whether there’s an idea that you’ve dreamed of pursuing for years, or you’ve dabbled at something without giving it your full commitment, there are low cost options available to assist you in making your dream a reality!
    • The Chicago Urban League offers a Business Boot Camp that will guide you through a number of critical areas, including writing your business plan, financing your business, marketing and much more.  The 16-week series begins on January 12th and you can either register for the entire series for $200 or drop-in on the classes that interest you for $20-25.
    • Since 1986, the Women’s Business and Development Center has helped prospective and established women business owners achieve economic independence through entrepreneurship. From workshops and seminars to business coaching and financial assistance, they will help guide you to business and economic success.  Here, too, you will find reasonable prices and programming that addresses some specific issues faced by female entrepreneurs.
    • SCORE Chicago is another excellent resource for new businesses.  SCORE Chicago provides free business counseling, management consulting, and low cost workshops.  They advise on how to get a business loan and offer other resources like templates for a business plan.  SCORE counselors can help the entrepreneur start a business or a small business owner grow and prosper.  The organization has more than 25 locations in the Chicago area.
  • Travel!  If the travel bug’s gotcha, there are some real cool opportunities to take part in a variety of travel adventures!
    • The University of Chicago’s Graham School of General Studies offers, among other fantastic opportunities, a variety of “travel study” programs.  Through the Graham School, you can visit any number of exotic locations in small groups designed to ensure that you get the most out of the experience.  Lectures, discussions and exploration will provide you with a thoroughly enriching cultural experience!
    • Black Girl Travel creates extraordinary travel opportunities for extraordinary women!  The tours are designed from scratch by Black Women for Black Women.  Coming up in 2010:  Italy, the French Riviera, Spain, Egypt and more!
    • Sankofa Odyssey is another cool way to make your way around the world – by sea!  Their trips include travel from luxurious yachts to “bareboat chartering” (where everyone participates in sailing, cooking, cleaning and partying!).  In July, Sankofa journeys to St. Martin, St. Barts, Anguilla and the Leeward Islands!
  • Find Love!  If the club, bar and party scene didn’t do it for ya in 2009, try something new in 2010!  Explore some of Chicago’s art exhibit openings this year or attend art lectures.  If music is your thing, take advantage of some of the world music series or the lunchbreaks at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Winter is a great time to take in some Chicago theater!  Plan your attendance around opening night or on nights with a post-performance discussion or reception.  The point is that by regularly participating in specific cultural events that interest you, you are bound to start regularly coming across people with similar interests.  Soleil’s To-Dos can help, because we have the most comprehensive listing of culturally diverse Chicago events!  Take advantage of our search options by viewing only those categories of events that interest you.
     
    Whatever you decide To-Do, make it a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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Cara Carriveau, NBC Chicago Street Team

Lady Gaga will invade Chicago next weekend, but now it’s at a new location. Turns out the production of her show just won’t work at the Chicago Theatre so now her shows on January 8-10 will happen at The Rosemont Theatre.Lady Gaga

Here’s the kicker: if you were fortunate enough to land tickets to any of her sold out Chicago Theatre shows those tickets are not automatically good for the The Rosemont Theatre. YOU MUST TAKE ACTION TO KEEP YOUR TICKETS VALID….AND YOU ONLY HAVE 48 HOURS TO DO SO, beginning at 5pm today!

If you have Lady Gaga tickets here’s what you need to do: return your Chicago Theatre tickets for a full refund at your point of purchase – then you will be given the information on an exclusive presale for The Rosemont Theatre shows at that time.  So, in essence, you have to buy your tickets all over again.  But rest assured, ticket holders for the Chicago Theatre show(s) are guaranteed the same amount of tickets to the Rosemont Theatre show(s) on the same night they bought originally. This guarantee is only valid during the 48 hour presale time.

Confused? For any ticket holder questions, go to www.ticketmaster.com or call ticketmaster customer service at 800-653-8000.

All of this is good news if you didn’t score Lady Gaga tickets the first time around. Since The Rosemont Theatre is a bigger venue that means more tickets will go on sale this Monday morning, January 4, at 10am via www.ticketmaster.com or at any ticketmaster outlet. Get more information HERE.  And…even better…you can win FREE tickets for Lady Gaga next week with Eric & Kathy on 101.9 The MIX!

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Janelle Rominski, NBC Chicago Street Team

Chicago is an amazing city for many shows to shine. Whether it is a pre-Broadway production, post-Broadway tour or a one night only concert – this city has many wonderful options to choose from.

With Guy Laliberté, Founder and CEO of Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel: A New Twist on Vaudeville is previewing at the Chicago Theatre until January 3, 2010 before it embarks on a new journey to Broadway in early February. The show has mixed reviews. It’s heavy on comedy and choreography, blending slapstick with tap and hip-hop dance forms. The show’s plot revolves around a producer named Schmelky who is trying to put together a variety show. This production is very different than other Cirque du Soleil shows. There aren’t as many aerialists, contortionists, etc. Come in with an open mind.

Another show that’s set to appear on Broadway is The Addams Family Musical, currently playing at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre until January 10, 2010. Veteran actors Nathan Lane (Gomez) and Bebe Neuwirth (Morticia) star in this unique musical. The Addams Family musical takes place as Wednesday Addams is older and the show’s two hot topics were love and sex. Lane was amazing portraying Gomez and Neuwirth did a decent job as Morticia.

With Zachary James who plays Lurch and Kevin Chamberlin who plays Uncle Fester in The Addams Family Musical

In an interview, The Addams Family musical actors Zachary James (Lurch) and Kevin Chamberlin (Uncle Fester) noted the show has been cut down 30-minutes from the original time. It will be interesting to see what the show is like once it graces the Broadway stage.

The New Mel Brooks Musical, Young Frankenstein, just wrapped up their tour in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre last night. The production began on Broadway where 484 shows were performed. The musical features Desperate Housewives guest actor, Roger Bart, as Dr. Frankenstein. The actors in Young Frankenstein were brilliant and notable songs included “Puttin’ On The Ritz”, “Transylvania Mania” and “He Vas My Boyfriend”.

With Kleetus, Guy Fieri's friend and sous chef

With Kleetus, Guy Fieri's friend and sous chef

The Guy Fieri Road Show stopped for an evening of fun at the Rosemont Theatre. Fieri is known for hosting Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. He says the show “is food, rock n’ roll and everything they won’t let me do on TV!”

The opener for Fieri was Australian native and World Champion Flair Bartender, Hayden “Woody” Wood. Wood was dancing, clapping and twirling bottles during his presentation. He made apple spice martinis, pear margaritas and eggnog.

Once Fieri took the stage, he got the audience dancing to good ol’ rock music. A DJ was supplying all the tunes while Fieri shared his cooking stories, Thanksgiving turkey mishaps and answering questions from the crowd. Fieri also had a karaoke contest and pulled members of the audience up on stage to sing for prizes.

Coming soon to Chicago theatres near you are the following shows: In The Heights (which opens tomorrow), The 101 Dalmations Musical, Mama Mia!, Annie, Dreamgirls, Billy Elliot The Musical and more!

For ticket information, visit www.Ticketmaster.com or www.BroadwayInChicago.com.

Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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Eric Smith, NBC5 Street Team

On location at Eve’s Parlor in Humboldt Park.

On a recent evening, I was given a unique look into what I makes Chicago tick. And what makes Chicago tick is the unique personality of the artistic community that beats to their own drum. In this instance I had the opportunity to meet Chicago’s very own Angela Eve.

Eve's Parlor

Angela Eve is a Headliner, Producer, Artist, Model and photographer. She is an accomplished multi-media and performance/dance artist-graduate of The Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in Fine Arts. She is a professionally trained actor and graduate of The Second City Conservatory. She has her own line of wearable art, toured with major music festivals including OzzFest and has established her own Twisted Tassel Burlesque Festival among quite a few noteworthy accomplishments.

It could be easy to see why she is a person of interest; as a driving force and icon on the Chicago art scene. But even more compelling is what is in her heart and the compassion she feels for others. Splitting her time between Chicago and New Orleans, Angela Eve-along with fellow artist Anastasios Ketsios-has been at the forefront of a fine art photo documentary project entitled, “Home, This Was”-a narrative involving the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the people and their daily lives. Together they examine and analyze this narrative through the lens of a camera for all to see and experience.

Even more close to her heart has been the recent diagnosis of her mother having breast cancer. While the debate rages on in Washington for Universal Health Care for all-in Angela Eve’s case it couldn’t be more obvious the importance of the matter. Her mother, who is far from wealthy, has insurance coverage…although no where near adequate to cover the whopping $15,000 deductible required for treatment.

It will be Angela Eve’s new mission to raise the money to help her mother in this time of need-the best way she knows how. As such she will be organizing her only Fall show/benefit-“Kinky Xmas” on Wednesday, December 9th at the Debonair Social Club with two performances at 10pm and the other at Midnite-admission is free. Ring in the holidays with a sense of purpose and have some fun while you’re at it!

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