Posts Tagged ‘Add new tag’

Hungry Z, NBC Chicago Street Team

What’s the difference between gelato and ice cream? Gelato is just Italian for ice cream, right? Wrong. Unlike ice cream, gelato is made from milk and is churned slower to help reduce air content. This results in a dense, creamy, indulgent dessert that is lower in calories. Nestled among a group of boutique shops in Forest Park, Paciugo is the perfect place to set down those shopping bags and indulge in a creamy taste of heaven.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

Read Full Post »

Damaris Woodbury, NBC Chicago Street Team

The Old Town School of Folk Music is offering a series of Wednesday night AfroFolk concerts from now through December 17th. I attended their first concert last Wednesday and was transported to Jamaica for two hours! The concert series kicked off with the West Indian Folk Dance Company. west-indian-dance-company

Under the artistic direction of Alfred Baker, the company revealed Afro-Caribbean history and culture through acting and dance. Each performance was a story. For example, dancers transported the audience into a Jamaican marketplace where they were dressed in their Sunday best to sell the “leftover” crops so that they would be more appealing — a tradition that was carried out in Jamaica in the 1800s.

It was refreshing to see the dances were not classical in the traditional sense. It was not cookie-cutter, counting beats dancing, it is feeling the story and dancing until the story ends.

I didn’t want this performance to end. But, I find solace in knowing that this is the first in a series of weekly concerts. Head to Old Town on Wednesday, 11/12 for Choco Orta, the improviser of “sonero” in traditional Salsa! Orta will perform with Chicago’s best salsa musicians under the direction of Papo Santiago. Then go back again to hear Alisa Simms “The Queen of Chicago Soul” and after that see Barbatuques from Brazil.

Did I mention this concert series is FREE?!!! Every single one of them, except Choco. Now, go get your AfroFolk on!

Read Full Post »

Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

Is there a more famous Chef in Chicago than Rick Bayless? Award-winning chef, cookbook author, and television personality Rick Bayless has done more than any other culinary star to introduce Americans to authentic Mexican cuisine. His goal is to change the image most Americans have of Mexican. In 1987, Rick and his wife Deann, moved from Mexico to Chicago, and opened “Frontera Grill”, which specializes in contemporary regional Mexican cooking. Over twenty years later, “Frontera Grill” remains one of Chicago’s dining hot spots.

 This bustling restaurant surprisingly puts you at ease, with its colorful earth toned walls, beautiful paintings, and wonderful service. To begin your Mexican journey, start simple and go for the freshly prepared guacamole. This ultra creamy blend of avocado, garlic, lime, and cilantro will have your tongue dancing with joy. You’ll really feel like dancing after trying one of their dynamite margaritas. Prepared table side with your choice of tequila, you just can’t beat the fun and flavor of a drink made just seconds before you take a sip.

While there are a few standard items on the menu, tonight it’s time to be more adventurous. Conservative folk can opt for the sampler, which offers traditional favorites such as crunchy taquitos, chips, guacamole, and quesadillas. In addition, it stretches your palate a bit with shrimp ceviche and sliced jicama. The citrus marinated ceviche, produces a fresh, bright flavor, while the jicama bites similar to a pear but with a much milder flavor.

How about chocolate for dinner? Sure it sounds crazy, but it is a delicious and unique way of enjoying your main course. Choose the Mole enchiladas, and you’ll get a taste sensation unlike any Tex-Mex you might be used to. The poblano Mole is prepared with dried chile peppers, ground nuts, spices, and Mexican chocolate. On it’s own, the sauce can be a bit sweet, but when combined with the chicken, soft tortilla, shredded raddish, onions, and cilantro, you get a blissful harmony of flavors. 

 Desserts might be where “Frontera” loses some of it’s harmony. The overly rich desserts should be enjoyed in small quantites. The bannana, blueberry, and chocolate pound cake was inensified with chocolate syrup and a healthy dose of powdered sugar. With desserts this rich, order one, get a few spoons, and then enjoy.

 Overall “Frontera” offers fresh, distinctive meals, killer margaritas, and a suprisingly comfortable atmosphere. This winning combination should keep “Frontera Grill” a Chicago hot spot for many years to come.

445 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Phone: 312-661-1434 | Fax: 312-661-1830

Check out all my reviews at HungryZ.com

Read Full Post »

Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

Rosemont, a city most known for conventions and concerts. But for those in the know, Rosemont is starting to build some serious culinary cred. While many city dwellers (Marcus Riley), don’t even know where Rosemont is (near Ohare), trust me, it’s time to learn.

Rosemont features some of Chicagolands finest restaurants, including “Gibsons” and “Harry Carray’s“. The newest addition to the mix is McCormick and Schmick. Located on River Rd, I had the pleasure of attending the VIP pre opening event. The beautiful restaurant was packed to the gills (sorry), so packed that you made friends rather quickly. So packed in fact, that I could have easily named this feature “Runaway Food”. The servers had to carry the trays high in the air, in order to make it to different parts of the restaurant. After a few hungry patrons made their displeasure known, the trays came down and the consumption began.

The menu featured seared tuna atop a tortilla chip and drizzled with creme fresh, crab cakes, mini burgers, and other bite size items from their expansive menu. It’s not an opening night party without some music and liquid libations. The beer, wine, and champagne flowed freely, while possibly the best lounge singer ever performed. By best I mean cheesiest. Now I’m actually not putting his act down at all. Think of those VH1 “Awesomely Bad” specials, in which you hear songs that are so bad, but can’t help to love. All the basics were covered with classics like “Sweet Caroline”, “Copa Cabana”, and “Celebration”.

All in all it was a fun night, and another feather in Rosemonts culinary cap. Make the trip out to the burbs and see what the new McCormick and Schmick is all about.

5320 N. River Rd.
Rosemont, Illinois 60018

Remember, you can read all my reviews/features at HungryZ.com

Read Full Post »


Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

Paradise means different things to different people. To some it’s a tropical island, but for me it’s amazing food. At times the search for amazing food is just as elusive as that tropical island. A small restaurant claiming to have that special something is “Paradise Pup”. A tiny shack of a restaurant located in Des Plaines, “Paradise Pup” would not be your first stop in your search for paradise. Talk to the locals and they’ll tell you they have the best burgers around, period. Let’s find out.

First thing you notice as you pull into the small parking lot is, that this is a really small place. Step inside and then you really notice how small this place is. This joint is smaller than most people’s living rooms, and that includes the kitchen! Want to sit inside? Good luck, belly up to one of the six possible stools and rest your food on the counter. But the loyal patrons don’t seem to mind. During lunch hours the line stretches out the door (even in the winter). Seating is a little more reasonable during the warmer months since they do have a few actual tables outside.

The menu here is pretty basic and pretty small. Burgers, dogs, Italian beef, a chicken sandwich, and milk shakes are pretty much it. Since this place is known for burgers I decide on the double cheddar burger and a hot dog. Just as my food arrives a stool opens up and I grab a seat. The dog is a hot Vienna beef dog that is good but a little wrong at the same time. Whenever I order a hot dog I ask for everything, this time that included a slice of cucumber. Cucumber? No, I’m not talking about the pickle, but a separate slice of cucumber that had no place on my dog. The other small complaint was that the sport peppers were really dark green and almost as long as the dog itself. The burger on the other hand was 2/3 lbs of deliciously charred beef topped with cheddar, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and ketchup. Wow! This burger was simply amazing. It’s like the sky parted and the heavens handed me a burger! This is stranded on a tropical island with both Ginger and Mary Ann good. Charred on the outside and dripping with juice from the inside. I honestly had to pace myself otherwise I would have finished it in two minutes. Paradise found!

Since my burger was so good I had to stop by again and sample something else from the menu. On this day I went for the Italian beef and seasoned fries. While not as good as the burger, it sure doesn’t disappoint. The thinly sliced beef is tender, juicy, and has wonderful flavor. The bread at some places is too soggy for my taste, but their bread balances crustiness and juice soaked goodness perfectly. The fries were nicely seasoned and had a nice crisp texture.

All that’s left is dessert. My brother orders their Oreo shake while I go for the banana and coconut shake. Both shakes start with real ice cream and milk, my brothers is loaded with Oreo and is really good. My shake is a little different since they blend a whole banana in the mix and then top it with whip cream and toasted coconut. Different and wonderful.

Want to stop by and grab some dinner? Forget about it. Hours of operation are 11am-5pm Monday-Saturday. This place is family owned and operated and they are happy with their hours as they are. Prices are bargain for the high quality of food here. A double cheddar, fries, and a pop will run you about $8. Worth every penny. Overall “Paradise Pup” offers excellent food, good value, short hours, and cramped seating. My recommendation? Come after normal lunch hours or take it to go, and you’ll have one of bestburgers anywhere.

1724 S River Road
Des Plaines, IL 60018
(847) 699-8590

Check out all my reviews (good and bad) by clicking here. Search by city and/or cuisine. And don’t forget to email suggestions of where you want me to visit next!

Read Full Post »

Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Team

Last weekend thousands braved rain, humidity, and sloppy terrain to take part in Pitchfork’s annual music festival. Over 30 bands graced 3 stages complete with artists ranging from hip hop legends Public Enemy to Japanese experimentalists Boris. Along with hours of music the fest included an abundance of food, activities, and DIY artwork from a wide variety of vendors. For the total Pitchfork wrap-up and huge photo galleries by Playboy.com photo editor James Trevenen and myself, head over to our editorial feature in the arts and entertainment section on Playboy.com.

See photos from Pitchfork Music Festival

See Full Pitchfork Galleries and Coverage on Playboy.com Editorial

(Type “Maureen Vana” into the search bar at the top of this page to see my past concert photography and reviews)

Read Full Post »

Reggie Brown, NBC5 Street Team

Last night I attended the Skyy Infusions unveiling party at Zed 451. The party highlighted Skyy Vodka’s newest flavors including Cherry, Raspberry, Passion Fruit, Grape and my personal favorite, Citrus. I was surrounded by familiar faces as the scene was filled with many of Chicago’s chic restaurant industry insiders. 

While the bartenders were mixing up some innovative cocktails behind the bar, by far the coolest aspect of the party was that the power was put in the hands of the partygoers with the installment of the Mixology Station. We were urged to create new cocktails with the infused vodkas and an abundant mix of fresh fruits and mixers.

I made a few interesting concoctions but the tastiest of them all was a libation I call TheRegMaingo: Muddled mint, grapes and mango topped off with Skyy Citrus and finished with Sprite. It is a refreshing summer drink inspired by the classic mojito. In addition to the bar, Zed 451 provided delicious appetizers and their amazing rooftop, which in combination with the beautiful weather provided all the right elements for an amazing evening out.

Read Full Post »

Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

#2 on the “Best Suburban Burger” list is Poochies in Skokie. Keep reading to find out why.

By definition a hamburger is a sandwich that consists of a cooked patty made of ground meat and is generally served with various garnish or condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and cheese toppings, placed inside a sliced Hamburger bun. But those who know burgers, know that there’s much more that goes into making a burger great! Enter “Poochie’s”, a hot dog joint I’ve frequented for much of my life. Most people think you can only find hidden gems in the city, but they would be wrong. Drive past this place, and you’re quite possibly passing up burger heaven. If you make the wise choice to check out “Poochies” you’ll notice a small place, a store front to be exact, that is making some of Chicagolands best “street food”.

Once inside you notice just a handful of tables, most of the eating is done by pulling up a stool and enjoying your food along the counters stretched across the restaurant. Opened in the 1960′s, the very relaxed decor includes red and white tiles, red and white paint, and a wall filled with newspaper and magazine clippings singing the praises of this little gem in Skokie. The staff led by owner Chris is friendly and efficient in handling your order. Come often enough and they’ll know your name, and trust me, you will come back.

The menu covers the basics such as hot dogs (steamed and charred), polishes, top notch burgers, and fries. Just becuase they cover the basics doen’t mean they’re not doing it better than most anyone else. While I have sampled much of this menu before, my favorites include the 2/3lb double cheddar burger, char salami, barbecue chicken sandwich, and fries.

The salami is an 8 inch piece of Vienna Beef soft salami that is charred on the grill and served on french bread. I add grilled onions and mustard. This is unlike any salami sandwiches your mother made for you. Slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside make this a sandwich that is truly unique. The chicken sandwich is a large grilled chicken breast that is grilled to a slight char and then basted with their tasty BBQ sauce. It’s served on a bun and I add grilled onions, lettuce and tomato. The sandwich is big, juicy, and very flavorful. Before we get to the burger, let’s talk fries. The fresh cut fries are served up hot, crisp, and have a very real potato taste to them. Many times fresh cut fries can be greasy, but these are hot steamy nirvana. They are a nice change from the fast food fries many of us are accustomed to.

If you want a true taste of heaven, order up one of their fantastic burgers. All patties are 1/3 lb and can be had in either single or double variety. Opt for the double cheddar, and you get a burger you won’t soon forget. “Chef” Jimmy chars mine up to a perfect medium, and it almost seems illegal for a burger to be this good. The big 1/3 lb patties are charred perfectly on the outside, while the beef flavor practically explodes in your mouth! Top this beauty with some fantastic grilled onions, and you’re one step from heaven. One bite and you’ll have the juices running down your arm, a true sign of greatness.

I have frequented “Poochies” many times before and have found that just about everything on the menu is top notch. Everything from the char salami, skirt steak, polishes, char dogs, and the BBQ chicken sandwich are unbelievable. But, if you’re only going to try one thing, then it has to be the burgers.

Pricing is more than fast food chains(well worth it) and lower than a sit down restaurant. Food quality is very high, as is the friendly atmosphere. It’s that combination that keeps winning “Poochie’s” new fans every day. “Poochie’s” in Skokie is worth the trip if you live anywhere in the Chicagoland area.

3832 Dempster
Skokie, IL 60076

Check out all my reviews (good and bad) by clicking here. Search by city and/or cuisine. And don’t forget to email suggestions of where you want me to visit next!

Read Full Post »

Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

Alright, here is the official HungryZ guide to the taste. Print this up and take it along with you as you explore this years festivities. As you know I sampled 41 vendors this year. To make the guide a little more complete, I included my reviews from last year for some of the places I missed (noted) and thus bringing the total to 48. Enjoy!

Abbey Pub-Piece of cod fish: The fish was very tender, flaky and fresh. Plus, it had excellent batter with a crunchy coating. It was delicious!
Aunt Diana’s
- Chocolate frozen banana:I liked that I could see steam coming off of it because it was so frozen. I was close to heaven just looking at it. It has nice milk chocolate and a thick frozen banana. Definitely hits the spot on a hot day. Thumbs up!
Billy Goat Inn
- 1/2 Cheeseburger: The buns are nice and fluffly and I’m a big fan of the doubles and triples. Of course, ya gotta love the Billy Goat, so you gotta love the ‘cheeseboigas’.
B.J.’s Market
- Mustard Fried Catfish: This portion has a great bread crumb coating with sweet mustard sauce on top. The fish is nice and flaky. A definite winner!
Bolat African Cuisine
- Grilled plantain with spicy peanut sauce: The plantain was nice, crisp and sweet. The sauce was a spicy peanut butter, but very smooth — unlike a normal thai sauce not like thai. Overall, it’s a little different but worth a thumbs up!
- Stuffed sausage pizza: It had a nice sturdy and flaky crust, however the sausage seemed to be hiding a bit. There was loads of cheese that was melted well. Thumbs up.
- Canoli: Very creamy center with chocolate chips running throughout. It has a nice crisp outer shell. It could have used some pistachios, but overall a thumbs up.
C’est Si Bon!
- Meatballs. It’s very spicy. You can definitely taste the cayenne pepper, but I was disappointed with the texture. It tasted too over-processed. Thumbs down.
Canady Le Chocolatier
- Rasberry and Blueberry Sorbet: This hits the spot, it’s the perfect treat on a hot day like this. This is definitely a must stop on the ‘Taste’ trail. However, if fruit sorbet isn’t your thing, you can sample any gelato flavor at this stand!
Celebration Creamery
- Cup Of Vanilla Ice Cream: It has a rich and creamy flavor. Delicious. Not much else you can say for vanilla ice cream, but in 90+ degree weather- it’s heaven sent. Thumbs up!
Chicago Chocolate Company
- Turtle: Sweet caramel filling compliments nicely with a slight salty pecan. Very rich and creamy milk chocolate. A definite winner!
Chicago Joe’s
- Chili: The chili con carne is very good. It’s very rich and meaty. However, it’s so hot out today I wish I wasn’t eating chili. This is a thumbs up and definitely worth trying.
Connie’s Pizza
- Meatball sandwich: Tasty but not spectacular. Pizza should have been taste portion.(2007)
- Saganaki:Not really saganaki. Not flaming cheese. More like a mozzarella square. Tastes ok(2007)
- 1/2 Watermelon: Really nice. The melon is about 3 inches thick and there is nothing better on a hot summer day. It was dripping on me, but you should take the plunge and try some, but move on to eat more.
Eli’s Cheesecake
- Plain Cheesecake: It’s excellent with a good cheese flavor. The cake is dense with a nice browned top. It’s a must try at the Taste.
Father & Son
- Cheese Pizza: When you get this one, check out the bottom of the crust. It’s golden brown with butter! The sauce is slightly spicy but not sweet. A definite thumbs up!
Fireplace Inn
- BBQ meatballs: Meaty and saucy. Sauce is on the sweet side.(2007)
- 1/2 BBQ buffalo burger: I had to add extra sauce, but it was still a little dry, gamey and overcooked. Too chewy for my tastes. I’m not a fan of this one.
Grill on the Alley
- Gazpacho with avocado and chopped chives: Very refreshing. There is a lot of tomatoes, but not a lot of onions. There’s a good crunch with a different texture. If you’re a fan of gazpacho, this is a winner on a hot day! Be adventurous and check it out.
Guey Lon
- Vegetable tempura: If my mother would have fed me vegatables that were fried, I would have eaten them more often. It was nicely battered and not too crispy. Plus, the little bit of sweet and sour sauce was a perfect touch.
Harold’s Chicken
- Chicken Wings: Best chicken in the city. They’re slightly salty with a fresh crunch. Overall, it’s nice, moist fresh chicken. Thumbs up!
Hash Browns
- Sweet potato hash browns: I really like this. It’s a little breakfast at lunch. A little different, a little change of pace, but definitely good.
JR Dessert Bakery
- Plain Cheesecake Square: Nice and dense. Very rich, but not quite as good as Eli’s because it’s missing the carmelization on top. Thumbs up.
- Beignet: greasy and not very good. Disappointing.(2007)
La Justicia- Enchilada
: The enchiladas had a tough exterior. It was a tad bland, even salt and pepper would liven up this dish. This one’s not a winner-thumbs down.
Los Dos Laredos
- Steak Taco: fresh ingredients, tasty, steak could be more charred.(2007)
Lou Malnati’s
- Chopped Salad: Crisp lettuce, bacon, and mushrooms are dressed beautifully in their sweet onion dressing. Thumbs up.
-Blue raspberry Italian Ice: This italian ice is SO COLD! It has a good flavor and it’s definitely not watered down. This is a thumbs up, especially in this weather.
Noodle, The
-Sesame beef on a stick. It’s a good-sized portion. The sesame flavor is good, but the beef is slightly tough and very chewy. Thumbs down. Good flavor but the texture is too tough and chewy.
Now We’re Poppin’
- Plain Popcorn: Truth to be told, it tastes stale. The popcorn is chewy and it’s sticking to my teeth. Thumbs down.
-Celtic Corn: Sweet/ buttery. Adding the Celtic seasoning= the best corn at the taste.Must try!(2007)
Original Rainbow Cone
-Rainbow cone: This portion is a ‘Taste’ staple. There’s real pistachio chunks, real strawberry pieces and palmer cherry pieces. This combination is beyond normal neopolitan. A thumb’s up!
Polka Sausage & Deli
- Pierogie: Lightly sweetened and could use some sour cream, but the cheese is nice and creamy. Good carmelization! Overall, I’d say a thumbs up.
Polo Cafe
- Garlic Mozzerella Cheese Bread: It has a nice layer of paprika on top giving it a great smoky flavor. It’s very buttery, very garlicy, and very good. Thumbs up.
Reggio’s Pizza
- Italian Ice: The little lemon on top is a nice touch. However, quite honestly, there is more ice than flavor. It’s not as good as the rasberry italian ice at Celebration’s.
-Italian breaded steak sandwich: The sandwich is a huge portion, but really good. The steak is sliced thin and breaded very nicely. I’m tempted not to talk, just so I can enjoy it! If I could, I wouldn’t be anywhere else than at this tent and my wife agrees whole-heartedly.
Robinson’s #1 Ribs
- BBQ Rib Tips: This was a HUGE portion of ribs. The sauce is sweet and the meat has a good, smoky flavor. I give it a thumbs up!
Sole Vegetarian
- Vegetarian BBQ twists. It was almost like a meatloaf. The texture was spongy, but thank goodness for the carmelized sauce. Overall, it was a marginal thumbs up
Sweet Baby Rays
-Boneless rib sandwich: Sweet sauce & tender pork make this a winner(2007)
- Thin crust sausage pizza: It had a good crust and good sausage, but the cheese ruined it. The cheese might have been made with low-fat milk. In my opinion, cheese is such an important part in a pizza. I’m going to have to give this one a thumbs down.
Tiparos Thai Cuisine
- Shrimp Fried Rice: It took too long too cook and they were took stingy on the portion size!! However, the scallions on top gave it a nice bite.
- Toasted Cheese Ravioli: It has a nice crisp coating. It’s fillied with riccota cheese with flakes of parsley and basil inside. Definitely one of my favorite tastes today!
Tutto Italiano
- Italian Fries: This portion resembles curly fries with lots of extra seasonings. It tastes very good. The seasoning includes arregano and romano cheese. It’s a thumbs up for sure!
Vee-Vee’s African Cuisine
- Jerk Chicken With Rice and Beans: The chicken is not anywhere near as spicy as jerken should be — not a good thing. The rice and beans are very dry. Not a winner.
Vermilion Latin/Indian Cuisine
- Mango cumin-dusted fries with chutney: It had a smoky flavor with a sweet sauce. It’s a nice twist on regular firies. A thumbs up!
Vienna Beef/Gold Coast
- 1/2 Hot Dog: It’s a nice steamed bun. The extra special touch is definitely the poppyseed encrusted. The only problem is that it has a pickle slice instead of a spear.
Wow Bao- Chicken Teryaki Bao: I never had this before even though it’s a Michigan Ave. staple. The doughiness threw me off at first, but that’ s ok. The red pepper and green onions in there are a nice touch. It’s a nice portable way to eat. A definite winner!

Read Full Post »

Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

The Taste of Chicago was born July 4th in 1980, and is now the second largest tourist attraction in Illinois. For ten days, this free- admission festival is the place to be, injecting the city with a spirit of hunger and attracting a few news stories along the way.  To add some spectacle to all the gluttony, there will also be a performance by Cirque du Soleil as well as live concerts daily by artists such as Chaka Khan, Josh Kelley, and more.


But when it comes to the food, how do you know what to try? With 65 different vendors serving well over 300 different food items, it’s easy to be intimidated. My friends, that’s where Hungry Z and my very large appetite come in. No need to walk around aimlessly and try random items you’re not sure you’ll enjoy. That’s my job. In an effort to create a comprehensive guide to the Taste, this Friday I will bring my large appetite to Grant Park, and sample something from all 65 vendors!


My quest for 65 is one I fully intend to achieve.  In an effort to resurrect my teenage appetite, I’ve been training! My regimen is as follows; I have hit the gym 12 out of the last 14 days, drinking a gallon of water each day, as well as eating 6 meals and 4 snacks each day.

To document this I will be making an appearance on the NBC5 morning news this Friday at 5:45am, Tivo it if you can’ wake up that early. I’ll also be live on the 4:30 p.m. newscast.11 a.m. and will hopefully finish at 5 p.m.  That means I have to try something new every 6 minutes. I’m going in order 1-65, so it’ll be real easy to track my progress. In addition there will be a live roaming Web camera Taste tracking my progress, which you can link to from this page, and I’ll also be doing a live blog right here so everyone can keep up with my opinions of each dish. I’m starting my eating at 11 a.m. and hope to finish up at 5 p.m.

To help me truly “Taste Chicago”, I could use everyone’s help. Stop by the Taste this Friday and show your support. High fives and cheering will be much appreciated. And don’t think that you won’t be able to spot me, I’ll be the guy with a NBC t-shirt on and a camera following him. Thanks, and here’s hoping that I don’t puke!

Read Full Post »

Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team



Just one night after the sneak peak of his new restaurant C-House, comes word that Chef Marcus Samuelsson will appear on “Iron Chef America” on food network.

Who does he challenge? Who else, but Bobby Flay (does anybody else ever get challenged)? Will the judges favor Chef Samuelsson’s worldly cuisine, or will Chef Flay’s Southwestern flare win the judges hearts/stomachs? The battle will air this Sunday at 8pm on Food Network and then re-run a hungred times after that.


June 08, 2008 8:00 PM

June 09, 2008 11:00 PM

Read Full Post »

Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Tea

Earlier this month Megadeth’s monster metal Gigantour came to Chicago for a visit to the Aragon Ballroom. This year’s ticket included High on Fire, Job for a Cowboy, Children of Bodom, In Flames, and was topped off by a lengthy set from Megadeth. Gigantour 2008 brought a manageable quantity of bands which gave fans more time to settle in and enjoy as opposed to previous festival style years.

The evening went by fast with little down time between sets and even less interaction from the performers. Perhaps the distant and to the schedule theme of the night was brought on by the Aragon’s giant looming stage or the spacious barricade penning fans far from the bands. The 2006 tour at the Congress Theatre proved to have a more unified feel with a low stage and smaller pit allowing some eye contact and keeping the possibility of throwing a hand in the air to be greeted by a metal hero an option.

See Photos from Gigantour 2008Children of Bodom

Although the distance in the air was unsettling, the bands were on there A game when delivering the goods. High on Fire brought some dirty rock and roll in the vein of Motörhead to get the early birds rolling, while In Flames delivered near perfection to a crowd who expected nothing less. Aside from a string tasting Alexi Laiho, a dread whipping Anders Fridén, and a really cool winged flying v covered in blood splatter (courtesy of Dave Mustaine), there just was not much action going on. The music sounded great, but next year bring this one back to the small stage so we can feel Gigantour and not just hear it.

(Type “Maureen Vana” into the search bar at the top of this page to see my past concert photography and reviews)

Read Full Post »

Hungry Z, NBC5 Street Team

New details are in! Beginning on Friday evening, September 26th, Chicago Gourmet will offer three days of activities featuring the cream of the crop in food and wine through a full slate of events in Millennium Park.

Tickets will be $150 per person and these lucky folks will be granted full access to the Great Lawn and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion to enjoy cooking demonstrations and premium wine tastings.

  • Cooking demonstrations will offer  the chance to sit on-stage, up-close-and-personal, as celebrity chefs demonstrate their personal passion for great food.
  • More than 150 premium wineries from around the world will welcome attendees and discuss and share wine in the Grand Tasting Tents on the Great Lawn.

Beyond the general admission activities, Chicago Gourmet will also offer additional events including an Opening Night Gala, a Grand Cru tasting, a Family Pavilion, a World of Flavors tent produced by the Culinary Institute of America, and a series of individual seminars about today’s hottest gourmet food and wine topics. Tickets for each of these exclusive events will be limited and sold separately from the General Admission passes.

There are currently 25 chefs participating including Rick Bayless and Gail Gand. To view the full list of chefs and events, visit http://www.chicagogourmet.org/

Read Full Post »

Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Tea

Last week My Chemical Romance paid a visit to Chicago for two back to back dates at the Congress Theatre on Thursday and Friday night. Fans were treated to a more intimate setting to view the successful rockers that have been packing arenas with their hit album “The Black Parade”. MCR headlined the shows with a lengthy set along side openers Billy Talent and Drive By.

See Thursday Night’s concert in photos

(Type “Maureen Vana” into the search bar at the top of this page to see my past concert photography and reviews)

Read Full Post »

 Chasity Chaos, NBC5 Street Team  Video

If Hip Hop was a family, KRS-One would be that cool ass uncle. You know the one I’m talking about. The uncle that you would look up to and go to for advice because he is one of the few people in the family that’s been where you’ve been and that has already arrived at the destination you’re trying to get to; the only adult in your family that really understands you, doesn’t judge you, and mentors you instead of lecturing you.

Beyond his obvious skills as a lyrical mastermind, KRS-One is one of the few MCs that has taken their involvement in music beyond that of pure showmanship and cultivated it into the constant development of Hip Hop as a culture.

For those of you that don’t know, KRS-One is an essential pioneering figure in Hip Hop. Known to some as “The Teacha,” he is said to be on of the greatest MCs to ever hold the mic. KRS-One has been active in the Hip Hop game for well over 20 years. He is most widely known as a member of the historical Hip Hop group Boogie Down Productions.

In 1989 as a response to the ever growing violence in Black communities (KRS-One’s business partner and fellow group member Scott La Rock died after being engaged in a violent event) and Hip Hop (during a concert by Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy, a young fan was killed in a fight), KRS-One galvanized into action and formed the Stop the Violence Movement. Comprising of some of the biggest stars in contemporary East Coast Hip Hop at that time – Boogie Down Productions (KRS-One, D-Nice & Ms. Melodie) Stetsasonic (Delite, Daddy O, Wise (DJ) & Frukwan) Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Just-Ice, Heavy D, Public Enemy (Chuck D & Flavor Flav) – the movement released a single (‘Self Destruction’) in 1989 with all proceeds going to the National Urban League. ‘Self-Destruction’ was produced by KRS-One and D-Nice of Boogie Down Productions.

Fast forwarding to today, over ten years after the birth of the Stop the Violence Movement, KRS-One has reincarnated the movement. Now the movement is aimed at raising funds for edutainment using the fundamental core elements of Hip Hop to educate the world against gun crime, violence, and other major social issues in the local neighborhoods, without any discrimination.

With a revitalized concept in mind, KRS-One decided to roll through Chicago in order to spread his message of nonviolence. (His presences in Chicago could not come at a better time considering the recent uproar of violence among CPS (Chicago Public School) students.) He has been a prized guest of Chicago for the past few days, appearing Flawless Barbershop for a BBQ, Cubby Bear for a fundraising concert, Stagg Elementary School for a lecture, in addition to appearing at numerous radio stations throughout the Greater Chicago Area.

Tomorrow, April 15th, during KRS-One’s last day in Chicago, he will lecture at Crane High School at 10am, attend a Township Hall Meeting at Michelle Clark High School at 7:30pm, and end his day with the “Stop the Violence” reception at Blu 47 which will be held from 7pm to 10pm. I hope to catch some of you out there supporting KRS-One and his vision at some of the events tomorrow.

Be Peace!

Read Full Post »

Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Tea

“Beyond the Permafrost” is the best parts of thrashing guitars, melodic riffs, speeding bass drums, and a dash of Viking force stirred up into twelve tracks. This is Skeletonwitch’s second full length album and only title on their discography still in print (CD and black vinyl). The 12″ blue vinyl pictured below is an unlikely find, but well worth tracking down.

Both CD and vinyl feature artwork by John Dyer Baizley and were released on Prosthetic Records. You can pick up a copy of the CD from the Prosthetic Records Store and on black vinyl at Robotic Empire Online. The band is currently on tour and will be playing at the House of Blues Chicago with Hate Eternal and Soilent Green on April 23. Give them a listen on Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/skeletonwitch and come out to the show to toast a mug of ale or lovingly smash into your fellow bearded metal brother (or non-bearded sister) in the pit.

Track Picks: “Within My Blood”, “Beyond the Permafrost”

Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 74 other followers