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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

I’m not here to provide a history lesson, but I have to address the fact that today is Bastille Day. While you may see it as an excuse to dine at a resto in town that’s offering a special menu, the day actually commemorates the storming of the Bastille (a prison),

Monet - Bastille Day

Monet - Bastille Day

which took place on July 14, 1789 (the theory behind those crazy priced menus you might see this week.) While it sounds like a horrible reason to celebrate, the act actually symbolized the fall of the king’s power.

While my favorite Bastille Day memory was sitting with my mom on our hotel balcony (in our pajamas, I might add) watching the French soldiers march off to the annual parade on the Champs, I managed to make my way to the kitchen this morning to make up a batch of crepes for old time-sake. The truth of the matter is, I own Charles Aznavour CD”s and most would consider my apartment a mini Parisian flat in the heart of Chicago. While I try to get away for a short visit once a year, I fill the time in-between with events and experiences to hold me over until the next visit. Whether you love France or just good wine, Bistro 110 has a Tour de France Wine Tasting Series that will be venturing into the Loire Valley on Thursday, July 23 from 6-8 p.m.

Chateau de Chaumont - Loire Valley

Chateau de Chaumont - Loire Valley

Summer is a time to be casual and mingle, so the event will take place on Bistro 110’s newly opened “terrasse,” the outdoor patio where guests can sip  and nosh at their leisure. Along with the French staples of bread and cheese, Executive Chef Dominique Tougne will provide a selection of bites ranging from Valencay-Style Chicken with Grapes and Muscadet Wine Sauce, to a Whole Poached Salmon “Bellevue” with Tarragon Mayonnaise.

Reservations are available, but not required. Attendance is $25 per person, including tax and gratuity (a bargain in any language.) Bistro 110 is located at 11o East Pearson. 312.266.3110.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

 

Yesterday was Father’s Day, so chances are you spent some time with good ol’ dad feasting on brunch, or firing up the grill. You may not have realized that yesterday also marked the Summer Solstice, a celestial event that prompts longer, light-filled days. NBC-panepatio

Pane Caldo is celebrating this astronomical occurrence with a special “White Nights”  lunch and dinner experience, available through June 27. Executive chef Maurice Bonhomme got creative in the kitchen and came up with special dishes featuring light and white-colored foods, such as steamed white asparagus with morel mushrooms and truffle dressing, and grilled halibut fillet with with golden beets and a grain mustard sauce. Pastry chef David Same’ didn’t forget about your sweet tooth, so save room for the ice cream bar of white chocolate, muscatel and white cherries.  Wash it all down with (what else) a crisp white wine.

If you’ve never been to Pane Caldo (or need to revisit how fabulous it is), Bonhomme only uses the freshest ingredients, seasonal herbs, organic meats and wild seafood in his preparations. Of course, as the restaurant name suggests, fresh-baked bread is an accompaniment to every table. Another way you can celebrate the warm temps is by dining alfresco on Pane Caldo’s newly expanded outdoor seating area, which has doubled in size this season. If you’re watching you wallet but still want to experience a little of  “la dolce vita,” then dine early from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. and take advantage of the 3 course prix fixe dinner menu for only $34. It’s cheaper than a trip to Italy, but tastes just as good.

For more information and reservations, diners can visit www.pane-caldo.com or call 312.649.0055.

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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team

There’s a doctor in the house – literally!  Located within a rehabbed pre-Victorian Hennesy House, Dr. Dominic Gaziano opened Salute’ Wine Bar (46 E. Superior) last week. The 130-year old building in the Gold Coast exudes both traditional and modern Italian touches. “We want people to feel like they’re being welcomed into a cozy Italian home,” says the good doctor.

The warm atmosphere pays homage to family traditions iNBC-SaluteFireplace Diningnspired by Gaziano’s upbringing. As a first generation Italian-American, Gaziano grew up learning Calabrian and Sicilian culinary traditions instilled by his mother, a gourmet cook and author. Inspired by mom and memories of preparing elaborate Sunday meals with his four brothers, Gaziano started entertaining at his Lincoln Park home in his adulthood. As an internal medicine doctor, author of “Feel Good Health,” and nationally syndicated health show, “Health and Lifestyles Weekly,” Gaziano wants to bring Chicago a genuine Italian experience combined with the health benefits of the Mediterranean culture, food and wine.

Who better to whip up such a “remedy” than an Italian native. Executive Chef James Caputo (formerly of Rosebud restaurants) grew up in a small neighborhood with family roots from the regions of Marche and Naples. The menu features items made with ingredients imported from Italy to re-create an authentic Italian Bistro. Look for a variety of small and large plates, salads, grilled and toasted sandwiches (panini and trammezzinis respectively), cheeses and of course, homemade desserts. Need more of a visual? Think the Salute Panini with proscuitto d’parma, aged gorgonzola and truffled fig butter, or a melt in your mouth Beetroot Hummus served with aged balsamic reduction and flatbread. Pair with a wine that will blow your taste buds away and not your budget. Bottles range from $30-$60 and glasses in the area of $6-$12.

You’ll love the fireplace on a crisp windy city winter and the secluded stone outdoor patio on a balmy summer evening. At Salute’, the prescription is a glass of vino and some Italian comfort fare. Isn’t it about time you got a refill?

Open Sunday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Private party packages and space available. Street parking or Valet ($9). For additional information please visit www.salutewinebars.com or call 312.664.0100.

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

The word “authentic” is often overused in restaurants when referencing cuisine.

If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, especially Italy, then you probably have a good idea of what authentic food is all about. Chefs that specialize in Italian cuisine don’t always have the luxury of having grown up in the mother country, so they have to draw on their childhood kitchen experiences for inspiration and influence.
Such is the case with 200 East Supper Club‘s executive chef Tony Navarro.

The 200 East Supper Club is located on the main level of the historic Seneca Hotel. It’s a moderately-priced, business-casual spot that features live entertainment Tuesday through Saturday. The ambiance feels somewhat old school, with a splashes of elegant touches sprinkled throughout the main dining room.

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

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Megan Bowers, NBC5 Street Team

In an effort to further my big-city experience, I decided to check out the Gold Coast neighborhood, where the nightlife is rich and the men are richer — and older. The area is jam-packed with people, fancy cars and Fendi handbags.

All of my disclosed jealousy made me hungry, so me and a couple fellow street teamers “jumped” over to Hugo’s Frog Bar. While this place is usually “hopping” (OK, I’ll stop with the frog analogies) when the sun sets on Rush Street, it is now open for lunch!

We sat at an outside table (the sea captain digs inside isn’t really my scene), and it was a prime people-watching location. Granted, one should focus on their food during mealtime, but this neighborhood has such a unique crowd that you just can’t help yourself.

Ever wonder why it’s called a “frog” bar? Apparently, “Frog” was the nickname Hugo Ralli (one of the owners) called his grandfather, General Bruce Hay of Her Majesty’s Imperial Forces, which explains the ship-like decor.

For starters, we had the crabmeat avocado. It was like a small crabmeat casserole topped with avocado slices. While I’m no professional food critic, I thought it was delicious. You can eat it alone or have it as dip with the great assortment of complimentary bread. However, I must warn you, although the serving looks small, it will certainly fill you up.

We all ordered different things, from the seared halibut to the garbage salad. There were no complaints among us and the service was magnifique! I went for the lobster roll/sandwich/huge mouthful of seafood. Even though I struggled to get a handle on it at first, it was completely worth it.

I definitely recommend this place. The lunch menu is reasonably priced, considering the good selection of seafood and the food is great. I’ll have to check this place out for dinner when night falls, but until then, you can find me people-watching from my intern desk. Until next time!

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

Almost everyone loves chocolate, or at least crave a little a bit of chocolate every now and then.  Although I’m not a huge connoisseur of chocolate, I do partake in nibbling when I get that “chocolate feeling”.  However, for some, chocolate means a little more than just a nibble here or a bite there.  In-fact, for Chicago native Valerie Beck, chocolate is her passion and Chicago Chocolate Tours is her creation.

A Harvard College and Harvard Law School grad, Valerie founded Chicago Chocolate Tours in late 2005. She lived in Europe for 5 years, sampling her way through the chocolate shops of the continent.  Back home in Chicago, she used to sneak out from her law firm for a daily chocolate fix, and one day she didn’t come back. She realized that there was an incredibly vibrant chocolate community right outside her door, and she set out to link members of that community, and members of the chocolate-loving world.

What happens on a Chicago Chocolate Tour?
You’ll be escorted by a lively and knowledgeable tour guide on a fun and fascinating walking tour to a variety of chocolate shops, where you’ll sample the specialties of the house and meet the chocolatier, owner, or manager, for a behind-the-scenes talk about what makes the chocolate unique. You’ll also learn about the history and health benefits of chocolate, and about the special role of chocolate in Chicago and on the world timeline. Test your chocolate knowledge in their “choc quizzes” along the way, and find out whether chocolate has caffeine, why 18th century doctors prescribed chocolate to women, or whether chocolate is really an aphrodisiac!

Where will you go on a Chicago Chocolate Tour?
 Choose one of four routes in different neighborhoods – the Magnificent Mile, Gold Coast, Downtown Loop, or Andersonville – and experience six wonderful chocolate shops or bakeries on each route. Depending on the route, you’ll experience chocolate shops from famous favorites to hidden treasures, and from big brands to small often women-owned chocolate boutiques.

How much chocolate is there on a Chicago Chocolate Tour?
More than you can finish! They will ply you with so many treats, from truffles to tortes to tasty cocoa beverages, that most people can’t finish it all. They will give you a goody bag to take the rest home, so that you can keep enjoying the tour the next day.
Valerie Beck - Founder of Chicago Chocolate Tours

Valerie Beck - Founder of Chicago Chocolate Tours

Help Save the World?
When you take a Chicago Chocolate Tour, you help save the world. For real! In addition to providing you with a one-of-a-kind experience involving scrumptious chocolates, education, camaraderie, and fun, Chicago Chocolate Tours donates a portion of proceeds to CARE (www.care.org), an international humanitarian organization that helps women around the world exit poverty through entrepreneurship.The cost of the tour is $40 per person.  Choose a private tour for a group of friends or clients, make a private tour part of your bachelorette party or birthday party, or take a public tour and make new chocolate friends.

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