Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sweet Baby Fiesta

Whether you speak Spanish or not, everyone knows that "Cinco de Mayo" translates to May 5. Right, so what does that even mean? Cinco de Mayo honors the victory of Mexican forces over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. (Not Mexican Independence Day like most of us might think). But, I was never exactly too fond of my history fact, my knowledge of Cinco de Mayo usually translates to, "let's party."

So where do we celebrate? Most of us might jump to the obvious, and select a Mexican restaurant. But how about something different? Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Restaurant (yes, like the sauce!) in Elk Grove Village, Ill. is celebrating Cinco de Mayo all weekend long: May 2 - May 5.

Chef Jose Alvizos is sharing his family recipes for the occasion. He's chosen appetizers like Cocktail de Cameron, wild caught shrimp tossed with fresh avocado, freshly squeezed lime juice, cilantro and tomato, served in a salted margarita glass ($8.95), and a Chopped Brisket Tostada, crispy corn tortilla topped with refried beans, chopped smoked brisket, tomatillo sals, creme frache, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and Chihuahua cheese ($6.95).

Chef Jose is also offering a Carne Asada Trujillo, grilled marinated skirt steak (yum!) topped with a charred tomato salsa, grilled cebollitas, fire roatsed jalapenos and warm tortillas ($17.95), Smoked Chicken Enchiladas, house smoked chicken wrapped in flour tortillas, topped with rich mole poblano sauce and melted Chihuahua cheese ($12.95) and Pulled Pork Tamales, tender smoked pork mixed with roasted New Mexico green chiles wrapped in fresh masa and steamed in cornhusk, served with a roasted poblano sauce ($12.95). Each of these tasty entrees is served with steamed rice and refried beans.

All this spicy food making you thirsty? Sweet Baby Ray's is also featuring $5 Jose Cuervo Gold Margaritas and Sarah's Prickly Pear Margarita, Cuervo tequila, Triple Sec, prickly pear puree, fresh squeezed lime juice and lemon juice ($7.50). An assortment of Mexican beers, including Dos Equis, Negro Modelo, Modelo Especial and Corona will also be featured.

If that's not enough fiesta time for you, stop by Sweet Baby Ray's on Saturday, May 3 for FREE Latin dance lessons in the bar area from popular dance coach, Paul Mallin. He'll be around from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. showing everyone how to shake it. Ole!
Sweet Baby Ray's is located at 800 E. Higgins Rd. in Elk Grove Village, Ill. For more information about Cinco de Mayo specials or regular menus, call (847) 437-9555 or visit

(Photo Sources:,

Friday, April 25, 2008

Give Mom the Gift of Life for Mother's Day

Don’t know what to get Mom for Mother’s Day? Not even sure when Mother’s Day is? First of all, Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 11 (mark it in your calendar.) Second, if you’re stumped on what to buy the woman who gave you the gift of life, maybe you could give her the same gift. Confused?

A Silver Lining Foundation, which provides uninsured people with information on cancer resources, treatment options and support services, uses its Buy A Mom A Mammogram™ program to fund no cost screening mammograms to qualifying women in a timely and respectful fashion. To purchase a mammogram for your mother (or anyone’s mother, or sister, or daughter, or aunt… etc.), visit A Silver Lining Foundation’s Web site at, or call them at (312) 345-1322, or visit these three area Jewel-Osco locations throughout the month of May:

May 3, 2008; 7530 South Stony Island, Chicago; 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
May 9, 2008; 440 East Rand Road, Arlington Heights; 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
May 10, 2008; 1220 South Ashland, Chicago; 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Representatives from A Silver Lining Foundation, including founder and breast cancer survivor Dr. Sandy Goldberg (also NBC-5’s nutrition expert), will be at each location to pre-qualify women for these no-cost screening mammograms.

If visiting Jewel-Osco isn’t your style (where do you buy your groceries?), stop by Flirty Girl Fitness™, a women’s lifestyle facility located in Chicago’s West Loop. For every new member that signs up before May 31, Flirty Girl Fitness™ will buy a mom a mammogram through A Silver Lining Foundation.

Now you have a gift for Mother’s Day and you know when Mother’s Day is. Don’t forget to buy her a card.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Powerhouse on ABC 7 News

John Peters, executive chef of Powerhouse Restaurant and Bar (215 N. Clinton St., 312-928-0800), made his live TV debut Monday at the ABC 7 studios.

During his 11 a.m. news segment, Peters demonstrated Powerhouse's signature Slow-Roasted Chicken Thigh with barley, braised artichokes, swiss chard and sorrel sauce. Peters also shared recipes for the Walleye Pike with roasted red pepper falafel, English peas, spring onion and serrano ham, and the Crisp Kurobuta Pork Belly with grilled tart apple, barley, bay leaf and curry.

Yu and her co-anchor Sylvia Perez both expressed their praise for Powerhouse. Sylvia commented on the restaurant being "beautiful" and admitted she was "pleasantly surprised" from her dining experience. Yu also confessed that Powerhouse "is one of my favorite restaurants."

In case you missed the segment, you can watch it for yourself here.

(Pictured: Owner Jimmy Alexander, Linda Yu and John Peters)
Photo Credit: Cindy Kurman

Curious about Powerhouse yourself? The Fulton River District restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. It even has a separate bar area with a slightly different menu, perfect for an after-work cocktail or dinner. To make a reservation, call Powerhouse at (312) 928-0800 or visit online at

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Woo-hoo! A Sneak Peek at Shochu

Stephanie, my Kurman Communications, Inc. partner in crime, and I got a sneak peek of Shochu (3313 N. Clark Street; 773-348-3313) yesterday. Shochu will be a unique, first of its kind small plate restaurant and lounge, named for shochu, the #1 Japanese distilled spirit typically made from rice, barley, sweet potatoes or black sugar. Shochu has taken Japan by storm! It has surpassed sake in sales, and has become the “in vogue” alcoholic beverage in New York and Los Angeles.

Yesterday, Chef Josh Hansen was nice enough to let us lucky girls in to take a look around. For months, I have been excited about this opening. This visit made me even more ecstatic. Josh and Owner Lynne Wallack have really done a fantastic job of designing the interior. Green banquets line the exposed brick walls. Lynne is a big fan of photography, and she plans on filling the walls with Japanese-themed photos.

Josh also led us to the back of Shochu so we could see the patio. It’s huge, yet intimate. It won’t open until mid-May, but when it does, I can envision myself spending quite a few summer nights there, nibbling on maki rolls and sipping one of Lynne’s fabulously named (after Japanese royalty) shochu cocktails. Not to mention the fact that Shochu is about a ten minute walk from my apartment… Yeah, this is going to be a great summer for Shochu. And for me.

P.S. I know I’m not the only one excited about Shochu. Media: If you want a sneak peek as well, give us at Kurman a call.

Congratulations to Kurman's "Best New Restaurants"

We at Kurman Communications, Inc. are proud to announce the May issue of Chicago Magazine has named several of our clients as the city's "2008 Best New Restaurants." In case you haven't snagged a copy yet, the magazine named 21 of their favorite new spots in the city:

Congratulations to Powerhouse Restaurant and Bar (215 N. Clinton St., Chicago; 312-928-0800), named by the mag as Best New American Restaurant, "Powerhouse is located in an imposing restored 1909 building that once housed railroad generators but now harnesses a different kind of power. Chef John Peters--an alumnus of Trio, Alinea and Naha--serves up surprisingly sophisticated seasonal fare emphasizing artisinal producers in a retro supper-club atmosphere." -Dennis Ray Wheaton

Kudos are also in order for Maijean (30 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills; 630-794-8900), who earned the title Best New French Restaurant. "Chef/owner Nadia Tilkian's comfortable art nouveau bistro is named after her grandmother, and it's obvious the lady would have approved. Maijean brings traditional French and slightly eclectic cooking to a lovely suburb, and locals have welcomed it with open arms and eager bellies." -D.R.W.

Kurman was also happy to see the new Uncommon Ground location earn props as Best New Contemporary Restaurant. The Edgewater restaurant opened last winter and boasts a commitment to sustainable and local ingredients.

And let's not forget Chicago Magazine's shoutout to Shochu (3313 N. Clark St., Chicago; 773-348-3313). Shochu's opening (in late April) has been highly anticipated. I know I'm me the shochu.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar offers seasonal specials

Now through April 20, Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar (3358 N. Paulina St., Chicago) is offering a unique artichoke themed special in honor of Italy's annual April artichoke festival. The menu includes:

Trio of Bruscette ($5):
-Artichoke and Ricotta
-Artichoke, Roasted Red Peppers, Pancetta and Goat Cheese
-Artichokes with White Beans, Oven Dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Insalata alla Carciofi e Crescione ($6):
-Artichoke salad with Watercress, Oranges and Shaved Onion

Risotto con Carciofi e Gamberi ($13):
-Creamy Italian Rice with Roasted Artichokes and Shrimp

Rigatoni con Salsa di Carciofi ($12):
-Rigatoni pasta with Roasted Vegetables, and a Light Artichoke Sauce


Monday, April 21 marks the birthday of Rome (753 BC). Lakeview's own Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar will feature a special Roman-inspired menu in honor of this holiday:

Fritto Misto di Mare ($7):
-Fried Calamari, Shrimp and Mahi Mahi with Lemon and Caper Dipping Sauce

Gnocchi alla Romana ($10):
-Classic Roman Semolina Gnocchi baked in the oven with Parmigiano-Regiano Cheese

Pollo Saltimbocca Alla Romana ($13):
-Chicken Breast with Sage and Proscuitto, Wilted Spinach and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Pesce alla Romana ($18):
-Skatewing with Fresh Scallions, Peas and Mint on a bed of Escarole and Artichokes


Originating from the Friuli region of Italy, a frasca (wreath of tree branches) hanging over a farmhouse door signifies the sale of food and wine within. As a result, a frasca has come to symbolize a pleasant gathering place for family and friends. Chicago’s own Frasca Pizzeria and Wine Bar has embraced this tradition inside its contemporary, Italian influenced restaurant and wine bar. Frasca offers a vast array of traditional and contemporary Italian dishes, artisan pizza and an extensive wine list from Italy, France and North America.

Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar is located in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood at 3358 N. Paulina St. at Roscoe, Paulina and Lincoln. For more information about Frasca, please call (773) 248-5222 or visit

Wine Events at D.O.C. Wine Bar in Lincoln Park

Each month, D.O.C. Wine Bar (2602 N. Clark St., Chicago) hosts a bi-weekly wine tasting series of 12 wines from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.:

On Monday, April 21, guests can enjoy wines from Spain and Portugal. From Albarino to Verdejo, D.O.C. has selected six whites and six reds spanning the world's oldest appellation system in the Douro Valley to the Port and Sherry houses of Spain.

On Monday, April 28, D.O.C. is offering a selection of spring wines, crisper and lighter-bodied to welcome the new warm season. Selections come from Washington, Oregon, New Zealand, France and beyond.

The cost to attend these special wine tastings is $35 per person. Seating is limited so reservations are required, and must be made with a credit card. Call D.O.C. Wine Bar at (773) 883-5101 to make a reservation.

Every Friday, D.O.C. Wine Bar offers special "Millionaire Flights" featuring wines that are normally only sold by the bottle. On Friday, April 25, patrons can select a Millionaire Flight featuring French Red wines: 2002 Domaine Clusel-Roch Cote-Rotie, 2005 Daniel Rion & Fils 'La Lavieres' Nuits-St.-Georges and 2003 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The bottles in the Millionaire Flights range from $75-$150, but the flights are sold for $25-45 each.


Established in 1963 and implemented in 1966, the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) ("Controlled Denomination of Origin") is Italy's equivalent to France's APPELLATION D'ORIGINE CONTRÔLÉE. DOC's are defined by the geographic area of production for each wine, the varieties that can be used, the minimum alcohol content, the maximum yield, and the specifications for aging.

D.O.C. Wine Bar is located at 2602 N. Clark St. in Lincoln Park at Clark and Wrightwood. For more information, call (773) 883-5101 or visit