Monday, July 7, 2008

Cocktails & Conversation with Salman Rushdie

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What a shock for me to find a random email about controversial author Salman Rushdie making a rare appearance at Vermilion this week.

But what's even more random is that "Top Chef" co-host and model Padma Lakshmi—who just happens to be Rushdie's ex-wife—told me that Vermilion was her favorite Indian restaurant in the country.

Anyway, Rushdie's only going to be there 8:30-9:30pm Thursday for an event they're calling Cocktails & Conversation. No tickets, cash bar. Get there early and check out the food that Lakshmi lusted after.

Two chefs, one question, two answers . . .

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Michael Tsonton, executive chef/owner of Copperblue.


Chefs are used to answering questions about all things food, but what happens when they're asked to give their favorite drink recipe?!

Michael Tsonton (Copperblue): "Buy a case of bottled Miller High Life, 'The Champagne of Bottled Beers.' Get a tub large enough to hold all 24 bottles and place them in the tub. Recycle the box. Cover the beer in ice and cold water and place in the walk-in. After getting your ass kicked on Saturday night where 2/3 of the dining room ordered d├ęgustation menus, and two tables forget to tell you they had theater tickets, twist the top from an icy bottle and enjoy. Repeat until the tub is empty. Move to vodka."

Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno): "Blood orange juice, vodka and a splash of Campari with a blood orange twist."

After Taste

Thank God food writers finally have stuff on their minds other than the Taste of Chicago:

The Stew gets scoop on Rick Bayless' next project that's right next to his legendary Frontera Grill/Topolobampo.

Gapers Block rocked out at Freshii.

And Zagat gives props to 312 Chicago's "Locavore" night.

A foreign affair . . .

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. . . is something you've always wanted, so why not go for it?! It's prime time tourism season in the city, so whether an Aussie accent makes you weak in the knees or a curvy Caribbean turns your head, you don't have to travel far to meet someone:

Andy's Jazz Club is famous for its lunchtime music fare, but most folks don't know about its appeal to outsiders. A strong Euro fan base usually can be found here on the weekends.

At Cafe Iberico, recent foreign transplants, especially from Latin America, come for authentic tapas and pitchers of strong sangria. The front room bar is like the United Nations, with guests communicating gleefully in their native languages, including Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French.

While Cubs fans and frat boys frequent The Wild Hare, you'll find a room full of Islanders across the street at Exedus II. The live-music venue specializes in Caribbean music, and they get down 'n' dirty on the dance floor.

Girls interested in finding eligible Englishmen (or Aussies, Scots and Irishmen!) should have luck at Globe Pub, a Northwest Side spot where they go to watch soccer and rugby matches. The neighborhood-friendly bar offers a traditional English breakfast as well.

From Afro-Cuban to Latin jazz, HotHouse continues to wow music lovers from all backgrounds. Once a month, ethnically diverse bands perform during events that turn into all-out dance parties. Events rotate to various venues on the North Side.

Upscale Euro types head to Le Bar at Sofitel for cocktails and a light bite before they hit the town. Even though most hotel lounges get their share of foreign travelers, this one is especially popular for its sleek, tech-y vibe that probably reminds them of home.

More tapas are on tap at People Lounge in Wicker Park, where an international crowd congregates. In addition to nightly live music and occasional deejays, they're coming for the budget-friendly food and drink specials.

Folks of all ethnicities come to Sonotheque for its eclectic beats and dynamite peeps. But for a real feel of exotica, go once a month for Braziliance, when co-owner Joe Bryl pays tribute to Latin American culture. The next one is actually going down July 10 (it's usually the first Thursday of the month), featuring cutting-edge Brazilian beats, hand-crafted mojitos and Caipirinhas, and a beautiful Latin crowd coming to dance all night. 9pm-2am. No cover before 10pm; $5 after.