Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gourmet market comes to O'Hare

For those frequent fliers tired of the usual fast-food chains and such at O'Hare Airport, you'll be happy to learn that CIBO Gourmet Market will be opening soon.

The airport's first-ever grocery store will offer more than 550 different food items, including gourmet sandwiches, organic foods, vegan dishes, sushi, caviar, fresh and dried fruit, chocolates from around the world and more. Look for two locations in Terminals 2 and 3.

Some happy holiday news from Grant Achatz

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An email just dropped in my inbox from award-winning Alinea Executive Chef/Managing Partner Grant Achatz on his health:

"It is with a tremendous sense of gratitude and relief that I have successfully completed my course of therapy at the University of Chicago. It was incredibly important to me to remain as engaged as possible at Alinea while receiving treatment, and during that time I only missed 14 services. I continue to stand committed to innovating fine dining long into the future.

At this time I want to thank everyone at Alinea -- the staff, investors, and patrons of the restaurant have offered their unwavering commitment and support in ways large and small. The community of restaurants, chefs, and industry professionals who reached out to us was exceptionally gratifying.

Most of all, I must make special mention of doctors Vokes, Blair, and Haraf at the University of Chicago Medical Center, as well as the countless number of medical professionals and support staff there who cared for me. Where other doctors at prominent institutions saw little hope of a normal life, let alone a cure, these doctors saw an opportunity to think differently, preserve my tongue and taste, and maintain a long term high quality of life. Through the use of a new and rigorous Chemotherapy and Radiation protocol, they were able achieve a full remission while ensuring that the use of invasive surgery on my tongue was not needed.


Farewell to Green City Market

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Vie's Paul Virant—who received the honor of Best New Chef 2007 from Food & Wine Magazine—closes out the weekly chef demonstrations at the Green City Market on Dec. 19 at 10:30am.

At Vie (4471 Lawn Ave., Western Springs, 708-246-2082), Virant is cooking up seasonal American cuisine that's strongly influenced by Western European cultures and rustic fare. He'll show off his skills with this one-hour show.

Also, this is the last week for the winter market, the only farmers' market in Chicago in November and December for you to shop for locally grown, sustainable foods, fresh from the farm. Saturday, Dec. 22 is the final day until May 2008.

Green City Market takes place at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum's North Gallery at 2430 N. Cannon Dr. Wednesday and Saturday 7am-noon. Free.

Smoke Shack opens in Lincoln Park

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Julio Nepomiachi, an Argentinean native who also owns Tonic Room (2447 N. Halsted St., 773-248-8400), is going back to his roots with his latest project.

Just last Friday he opened Smoke Shack (800 W. Altgeld St., 773-248-8886), whose specialty is, of course, smoked meats. They've got a 1,600 pound smoker where they're cranking out Argentinean chorizo sandwiches, churrasco, St. Louis-style barbecue, Baby Back ribs, brisket, burgers and whatever kind of meat they can get their hands on. All sides are made fresh, and what's really going to make this place popular with the late-night revelers frequenting the area are the hours: Open Monday-Thursday until 3am; Friday-Saturday until 5am; and until 11pm on Sunday. BYOB.

Official Lupe Fiasco CD release party tonight

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Common. Kanye. And now another Chicago native hip-hop star is throwing his official CD release party in his hometown.

Tonight, Rockstar Tuesdays—hosted by ClubNet360—treats Lupe Fiasco fans to a listening party for The Cool album that's soon to be released. The event also includes drink specials. Rednofive, 440 N. Halsted St., 312-421-1239. 10pm-4am. Ladies free until midnight; $20 after.

UPDATE: Lupe Fiasco will be in the house (!!!!!), escorted by his record label, Atlantic.

BYOB, baby!

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The chicken and waffles entree at CJ's Eatery in Humboldt Park is not to be missed. (Photo: Mike G.)

For those of you waiting with baited breath for that Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles (3949 S. King Dr.) to open in Bronzeville, I've got some bad news and some good news. The bad news—according to a manager at the flagship Hollywood-based, soul-food favorite—is that it probably won't open in a few years. Why? He didn't want to say, but he assured me that it wasn't coming any time soon.

What's the good news, you ask?

In the meantime, you can check out CJ's Eatery (3839 W. Grand Ave., 773-292-0990) in Humboldt Park, where they're making a name for themselves with their own version of the addictive chicken and waffles dish. Crispy, well-seasoned fried chicken wings are accompanied by an oversize round waffle and homestyle pecan syrup.

And because CJ's Eatery is BYOB, you'll be able to drink like a king or queen and still get out of there for less than $15 a person.

NYE countdown: Eve of the Eve events

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For those of you who'd rather skip New Year's Eve, 312 Dining Diva has come up with a few alternatives.

Here are a few great parties going on the night before NYE:

Eve of the Eve. Highsight's annual black-tie benefit is actually two parties in one: Classic takes place at the Santa Fe Building (224 S. Michigan Ave.) and is more of an intimate, sit-down dinner; while the Union Station (210 S. Canal St.) set attracts more than 2,000 revelers. It's one of the biggest benefits for Chicago's young professionals and tickets range $125-$140. Open bar, light appetizers, live music. Call 312-787-9824 for more information.

Industry Night at Krem. It may not be a dress-up affair at this Lincoln Park lounge, but hosts Ryan Brooks, Carlos R, and the Krem Sundays staff will certainly put you in a festive mood. Party includes deejays spinning, a hosted premium bar and delicious passed hors d’oeuvres provided by the club. 9pm-2am. $75. 1750 N. Clark St., 773-932-1750.

Sippin on Sunday. It's been going strong for more than 15 years, and this party just continues to get better. DJ World spins house, hip-hop and club beats for this upscale, urban professional crowd. Get there between 9-10pm and your admission is free. Green Dolphin Street (2200 N. Ashland Ave., 312-431-8801). $20 at door.

Deal of the day . . .

It's countdown to Christmas, and if you need a mid-week chillout before you hit the shops one more time, head out to Tsuki (1441 W. Fullerton Ave., 773-883-8722) tonight for complimentary massages and manicures.

It's their ladies' night event, where there will also be $5 martini specials, complimentary Sky 90 gift bags, and a raffle for an MP3 player, gift certificates to Tsuki and Ai (358 W. Ontario St., 312-335-9888), as well as other prizes. RSVP required at info@tsuki.us. 6-10pm tonight.

Or, if you're hangin' with the girls and boys, make your way to Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba (2024 N. Halsted St., 773-935-5000) for the $3 tapas special at the bar every Monday-Sunday 4-6pm.

Go for favorites like the aceitunas aliñadas (house marinated olives), ensalada de mariscos (seafood salad, shrimp, scallops and squid), calamares a la plancha (grilled squid in olive oil and garlic), dátiles con tocino (roast dates with bacon and apple vinaigrette), empanada de pollo (chicken empanada), albondigas al jerez (meatballs with sherry tomato sauce) and patatas bravas (spicy potatoes with tomato aioli).

And you cannot go to Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba without ordering the sangria. Pitchers of red, white, black raspberry, passion fruit, peach and cava sangria are not to be missed. ($17.95-$19.95 a pitcher).