Who doesn’t love a good taco?? And tacobout a good wine pairing with a yummy chilled Grüner Veltliner. Corny I know.
…ok I’ll stop. BUT if you want a crowd pleasing, easy for parties set up, do a taco bar and grab a few bottles of GV. Corn is in season at the farmers market and cheap AF. Plus if you find the right ears, you won’t have to deal with adding those corn on the cob thingy’s–you know what I’m talking about right? That you stick on either end?? Corn skewers? Cob holders? Those things you forget are in your drawer until after you’ve eaten your cob? You get the point.
So it’s a date: chicken tacos, tomatillo salsa, guac, street corn and GV.
IT’S ABOUT THE SLOW BURN: think about the corn like you’re trying to perfectly toast your marshmallow. You want to be turning the corn often, and if there’s a top rack, keep the corn up there once it’s about 80% done.
SIMPLE SEASONING: Chef just used salt, pepper and dried oregano on the chicken breast. Add some chili powder if you want additional spice.
HOMEMADE SALSA: it’s easier than you think! Char some tomatillos up, and combine with chopped white onions, jalapeños, heirloom tomatoes, salt and pepper.
SAME GOES FOR GUAC: add chopped onions, lime, cilantro and toms and s&p to season.
SIMPLIFY STREET CORN: just head up butter and chili powder. Coat the corn with spicy butter and toss with grated parmesan cheese.
BRING FLOSS: or toothpicks. Because no one likes stringy corn in their teeth.
LET’S A TACOABOUT WINE PAIRING
Grüner was an obvious choice for me because it’s usually a zesty, crisp glass of vino. Usually it has notes of lime, but goes down differently than a marg. And when choosing a Grüner aim to find an Austrian one. They’ll be nice and dry and less filling than a beer–perfect for a hot ass day. Oh, and don’t be scared of twist tops. Hello one less thing to worry about. And some of them might have a little bit of bubbly, who doesn’t like that?
There are many reasons why I love Chicago, not only is it my hometown, but while walking around the city I feel an overwhelming sense of pride. Maybe it’s because the Cubs just won the World Series, probably helped there were loads of holiday decorations–but what I really think it is– is the people. They’re a kinder, hardworking breed who I observed walk with their heads up, equally observing what the city has to offer.
J-walking-can’t do this in LA and forgot how much I LOVE it
Seasons-ok so the lack of sun isn’t ideal, but hello sweaters/scarves/coats/fireplaces
Architecture– I could aimlessly walk around the city for hours and stumble upon new buildings and history
The L– visibly connects the city together, granted waiting outside can get chilly, but it makes Chicago, Chicago
I mentioned here some Chicago food favorites, but here’s an update to the list! So whether you’re visiting Chicago or hosting guests, here are a few things not to miss:
After being open for six years, I finally made it to one of Chicago’s most highly acclaimed restaurants. And HOLY SHIT did it live up to the hype. I went with my family and we finished every small plate dropped at the table, could have licked a few…plus a few cocktails and bottles of wine. No pictures were taken because I wanted to enjoy family time, but highlights were: green beans, broccoli, wood-fired shrimp, bucatini, goat loin and goat belly! The flavors were outstanding!
tip: go with a friend/ your cool aunt/uncle/cousin and sit at the bar, no reservation needed! aim to get there before 7 so you don’t have to wait for a seat.
If I lived in Chicago, this River North spot would be in heavy weekly rotation. It’s part coffee shop, part food market, part work space. I mean can we get one of these in LA? It’s the perfect spot to pop in for a quick lunch and impress out-of-towners–not only can you get Small Cheval burgers, but there’s a healthy salad bar, and hot food bar. Plus drinks to warm the soul, or take the edge off of holiday bustle.
tip: there’s free wifi and ample outlets, so if you need a place to recharge with or without family this place will take care of you.
Open daily in the Daley Plaza, this outdoor Christmas Market is such a fun excursion. I even went while it was pouring down rain with my brother and we had a great time. The hot spiced wine helped I’m sure. There are plenty of food vendors, hello German specialties like brats, pretzels, cheese, strudel. And you’re allowed to walk around with alcohol while in the market. My kind of shopping. The other booths are various holiday craftsmen and decorations offering precious ornaments and nutcrackers. Open 11-8/9PM.
tip: aim to go during the week when it’s a lot less crowded. and as far as parking goes, use the app SPOT HERO to secure parking beforehand. click the link for $5 off your first time!
So maybe you need a little pick-me-up post Christkindlmarket or maybe you just want a quick cuppa to take into the park. Either way, stop into this cute and somewhat hidden alley way coffee house. If you’re not smiling afterwards I’d say you’re a Scrooge.
tip: grab a cup to keep you warm as you walk around the loop!
I can’t bring myself to call the Sears Tower its’ new name, The Willis Tower. How can you change the name of such an iconic building?!?!? Names aside, going up some 1,300ft and seeing Chicago is breathtaking. I happened to have a free afternoon and took the trip up 103 stories solo. I happily played tourist and gawked at Chicago from the tallest point.
tip: make sure you go on a clear day AND for the best view, aim to head up 30 minutes before sunset. seeing the city go from day to night is damn magical. also, lines are shorter for the “ledge” where they have a professional camera set up, but they will happily take a pic or 2 or 5 on your phone/camera as well.
I know I’ve written about this restaurant before, but it will always be a stop when I’m home. The atmosphere is cozy without feeling cramped, and the food. Don’t even get me started. I am never ever disappointed. Their mac and cheese is last meal status along with all of sweet confections.
tip: if you want to work off the mac and cheese//your brunch, grab your hot chocolate to go and take a walk on the 606 trail which is just steps away.
What are your favorite spots in Chicago?? Always wanting to try new places!
August was nothing short of incredible, between being in Scotland for nearly two weeks and coming back to gigs in LA, it was the best mix of “work hard//play hard”. And while I’m already wanting to head back to Scotland, I’ve just hit the 3 year mark with LA- safe to say I love it here too! Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend all!!
SWEET: janetta’s gelateria, st. andrews
If you are ever in St. Andrews, do yourself a favor- even if it’s cold and the line is long- and get yourself a double scoop of Janetta’s gelato. Normally I’m not a vanilla person, but it had been made 30 minutes earlier, so I couldn’t resist the combination with nutella and a flake bar. Napkins necessary.
savory: the oyster shed, isle of skye
Tucked away above the Talisker Distillery (prime real-estate, am I right?) lives the holy grail of oysters. Only open from 12-5 Monday through Friday, we were able to stop in to the “shed” for a couple of oysters. They were some of the freshest and clean babies I’d ever tasted. Better yet, Paul, the oyster farmer, shucks them fresh.
drink: *TIE* Dalwhinnie whisky tasting and the jigger inn ale
Driving from St. Andrews to the Inverness area, we stopped at the Dalwhinnie Distillery, where they are known for their whisky and chocolate tastings. My favorite was the 25 year, and snagged a bottle to bring back stateside. Also, The Jigger Inn Ale (the pub located across from the famed St. Andrews golf course) was a necessary order. Definitely try it if you find yourself there- it has a lot of flavor despite being a lighter beer!
Restaurant: kettle black, silver lake
Before heading off to Scotland, I stopped by the newly opened Silver Lake spot. It was popping! And pretty-“hello interior goals”. Pizza was on point, same with the pasta and cocktails. Happy hour (5-7) is daily too …always a huge plus!
entertainment: clay pigeon shooting, loch lomond
Move over Annie Oakley, you’ve got yourself a new sharp shooter in town! I loved riflery at camp, so when clay pigeon shooting was on the docket I was thrilled. It was a rainy day, hence the yellow jackets, and it was all too fitting with the woodsy range. *No actual birds were harmed* just little hard clay disks. Looking for a similar range in the LA area…if anyone knows of one, let me know in the comments!
Well August 1st crept up real fast…where has summer gone?! I’ve been fortunate to travel a few times, see friends and family, and have plenty of pool days. Below is a mini recap of my favorite bites from July! Enjoy.
sweet: Magpies Soft Serve
Literally juuust made the cut-I went yesterday on July 31st-but this new soft-serve shop in Silverlake (say that 3x fast) is serving up some serious swirls. No shame that I tried nearly all the flavors, but settled on almond corn (made with almond milk) and sweet cream with sprinkles and butterscotch rice-krispies. Safe to say I will be a regular. Plus, waffle cones are freeeee!
Savory: Pie n’ Burger
I made a mini-trek to Pasadena to see if the hype was real for this joint. It is. Dare I say it’s better than Apple Pan? Well for starters you can get milkshakes and the pie selection is more expansive. But back to the burger- it’s a classic with lots of lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles in every bite, and house made thousand island. Worth the trek!
Coffee: Russ and Daughters
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a hot cuppa coffee in a classic diner mug. My favorite cup this month was also shared with my best friend, Maddie McCormick, while we were traveling in New York. Lox board is a plus too!
Purchase: *tie* Cuyana Saddle Bag and Hat Attack Hat
I’m having a major moment with blush color objects. Hence I couldn’t decide which of these two were a better purchase. Cuyana’s bag is such a great size and feels like a “grown up” bag without being a bajillion dollars. The hat was a welcome addition since I’ve been wanting to steal my friend Jess’s pink hat for a year. Happily found this guy at Club Monaco on sale (feel free to call me a hat lady, my collection is growing).
$- Cava Grill
This fast casual mediterranean spot will be my new go-to if I want a cheap healthy meal. You can make pita wraps and bowls, plus is very customizable. Like you can split your protein and get lamb meatballs AND falafel. Who doesn’t love that?
$$- Bondi Harvest
Hello Aussie dreamland. Tucked away by the Tastemade studios in West LA, Bondi Harvest is a beachy destination. The food is healthy and fresh plus they have indoor and outdoor seating. Note: it’s only open during the week!
I recently went to brunch here and was blown away by the presentation! Not only was it artistic, but the food was bomb. Get the chicken and waffles if you go at brunch and the potatoes! They had me at chive aioli.
EntertainmenT: OUTLAnder and you are a badass
Currently I have the Outlander theme song in my head. I want to be Caitriona Balfe, she’s the extremely talented actress who plays the show’s lead, Claire. In short, it’s a fantasy drama where Claire is transported from 1945 to the 1740s in Scotland. There’s adventure, an epic love story and emotions are high. Already on season two! And last but not least, You Are A Badass. I’ve never read a “self-help” book, but picked this up after hearing a friend sing its praises. It’s an empowering boost and quick read.
As some of you know, I am a Chicago native. Though LA is my current home, I will always have a strong connection to the Windy City (named for its politics not the actual wind, though it does have strong gusts from the lake)…I digress.
One reason in particular I happily praise my hometown; the food. It is hearty, full of flavor andd worth the calories. My recent trip was filled with plenty of eating, drinking and being merry with friends and family. Below is a list of some of my favorites! Whether you’re headed for Lollapalooza or just for a quick trip, bring your appetite to one of my favorite Chicago spots.
P.S. You can save the Google Map I created at the bottom the post to your “Google Maps App” for easy access 😉
1.BEST DAMN BURGER: Au/Small Cheval
Au Cheval is the original location in the West Loop. It’s small, sexy and home of Chicago’s most notable burger. Small Cheval is the NKOTB in Wicker Park. I went recently and love the abundant outdoor seating- it’s picnic tables, very communal and you order at the counter. Both are worth a visit! TIP: go during off hours, they tend to be less crowded.
chocolate shake (small only)
burger (add bacon and egg if you’re bold)
fried chicken (au only)
BONUS: shot of fernet to wash it all down
2.SWEET FIX: Sweet Mandy B’s
Sweet Mandy B’s has been a bakery staple in my life since high school. It’s located in Lincoln Park, and was dangerously close to our family friends house-so we became very familiar with all their goodies.
molasses cookie with cream cheese frosting
3.FRIED CHICKEN: Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Admittedly, I haven’t eaten here (I KNOW…A fried chicken place I haven’t tried??) I tried to go on a Monday, and they were closed. A tear was *almost* shed. Word on the street, and from my mom, this is some of the best fried chicken in the city. Plus you can order ahead and bring it home.
fried chicken sandwich
biscuit with honey butter
pimento mac n’ cheese
4.LOX ON LOX: Snaggletooth
A newcomer to the city located in Lakeview, this is an instagrammers dream bagel/lox/schmear cafe. I tried to go on a Monday, and it was closed (what’s the deal Chicago?!) but it’s gotten a LOX of good buzz. Pun intended. And now that I now like lox (taste buds DO change!) I can’t wait to eat here next time I’m back.
bagel platter with lox and the fixins
5.ROOFTOP DREAMS: Cindy’s Rooftop/Hotel Lincoln
Cindy’s lines are usually longer because, well, look at that view. Located on the top of the Chicago Athletic Hotel this is one of the hottest rooftops downtown. Beautiful views of Millenium Park and Lake Michigan plus damn good cocktails. Go here for a fun view of the Lollapalooza crowds. Hotel Lincoln’s rooftop is another great option- views of Lincoln Park instead of Millenium, and just quick hop to Second City and Old Town.
6.LONG-STANDING FAVORITE: Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
I have a long-standing tradition with two of my best friends that we will always have a meal at Hot Chocolate while we’re all in town. Mindy Segal is a James Beard award-winning pastry chef, and the rest of her menu does not disappoint. Open for brunch too! Check out the newish 606 trail (similar to New York’s Highline) to walk off this meal.
mac and cheese (all time favorite)
medium hot chocolate
dessert (order at least 2)
7. NOT TO MISS CHAINS: Potbelly’s & Dairy Queen
My life would be complete if Potbelly’s was open in LA. It’s hard to eat Subway knowing that there’s a premiere sandwich shop calling my name. All the bread is toasted in an actual toaster (not that weird machine at Subway) plus they have amazing milkshakes. Dairy Queen is a summer staple; soft-serve and blizzards are as American as a baseball game.
tky with everything no oil + a chocolate malt (my go to order at Potbellys)
oreo malt blizzard
twist dipped in chocolate
8.ROSÉ ALL DAY: The Hampton Social
My college girlfriends took me here this past trip and I loved the summery vibes. Great choice before a night out in River North. And that rosé all day sign ain’t bad either!
9.PATIO STATUS: RM Champagne
Tucked in a little alley, RM Champagne is a lovely surprise in the West Loop. It has a New York vibe and the patio is prime during the summer. I went while it was still too cold to have it set up, so inside is always fun option too. Perfect for a date-night or night out with your friends.
10.GREEEEEEK: The Athenian Room
This Lincoln Park staple has been there since my parents were youngin’s running around the city. It’s nothing fancy, but a classic cheap meal.
11. GIMME DEM OYSTAS: GT Fish and Oyster
GT Fish and Oyster is a fun River North spot for all things seafood. I always love sitting up at the bar so I can watch the chefs in action.
lobsta roll (hot with butter)
12. FAVORITE CHICAGO ‘ZA (not deep dish): Barnaby’s Pizza
I have a confession/secret/don’t kill me when I say this: Chicago style pizza isn’t my thing. Too much bread. Give me a thin crust pizza please. And Barnaby’s has THE BEST crust (it’s cornmeal). So crunchy and perfect.
sausage, fresh tomato, green olives, onions (go-to!)
13. IF YOU MUST HAVE CHICAGO STYLE: Lou Malnati’s Pizza or Pequod’s
If you haven’t had deep-dish, it’s worth a try when you visit! I am partial to Lou Malnati’s or Pequod’s. Both are true staples.
deep dish ‘za (duh)
14. INTERIOR DESIGN ‘GASM: 3 Arts Club Cafe @ Restoration Hardware
This newer destination to the Gold Coast is a stunner. What else do you expect for a restaurant located in a Restoration Hardware store? Put your name in (no resos) grab an adult beverage, walk around the many floors and try to keep your jaw up. Good spot for a ‘gram too.
burrata, tomatoes and toast
chocolate chip cookies
15. TOP THREE I NEED TO TRY: Girl and the Goat, Duck Inn, Green Street Smoked Meats, Alinea
Chicago will always have new restaurants for me to try, but those four are top of my list for my next trip-reservations required for Girl and the Goat, Duck Inn and Alinea.