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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.

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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!

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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.

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

Check out all my reviews at HungryZ.com

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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.

Location
5320 N. River Rd.
Rosemont, Illinois 60018
(847)233-3776.

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

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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.

Location
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!

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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)

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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.

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