The World of Food: Ireland

By Julia Maish |

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May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

– Traditional Irish toast

 

“Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.”

– “Colcannon” (song)

 

Anyone who lives in Chicago must surely be aware that the city takes its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations very seriously. Between the annual Loop, South Side, and Northwest Side parades, the (temporary) emerald green hue of the Chicago River, and the throngs of happy, shamrock-bedecked revelers filling the Irish pubs, restaurants, and taverns around town, there is something for everyone who claims Irish heritage (if only just for the day).

The World of Food: Coffee

By Julia Maish |

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“I love coffee…I love tea,
I love the Java Jive and it loves me.
Coffee and tea and the Java and me,
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup…boy!”

– Java Jive,” The Ink Spots, 1940

 

“Pace the floor, stop and stare,
I drink a cup of coffee and start pulling out my hair.
I’m drinking forty cups of coffee,
Forty cups of coffee,
Forty cups of coffee, waiting for you to come home…”

– “Forty Cups of Coffee,” Ella Mae Morse, 1953

 

Bloomberg study conducted in mid-2016 estimated that before the year ended, Americans would consume, on average, 6.8 pounds (yes, pounds!) of hot coffee per person. If you are one of those “java junkies” (and you know who you are) who are on a first-name basis with your local barista, you might be wondering where this popular brew came from, and how it got to be so omnipresent. While you’re standing in line waiting for that grande skim latte with extra foam, let’s take a look back…

The World of Food: Mardi Gras

By Julia Maish |

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The thousands of revelers who take part in Mardi Gras celebrations no doubt enjoy many of the traditional Creole and Cajun dishes that go with it, either as diners in some of New Orleans’s justly famous eateries, or here in Chicago. To those of us who are not native to Louisiana, Creole and Cajun foods are often lumped together as they share a number of commonalities. But how do these two cuisines differ? How and where did they originate?

Cat’s Corner: BYO Pairing Guide for Every Cuisine with Liz Mendez from Vera

By Catherine De Orio |

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Hey there! A question I get all the time is what to bring to various BYO places so I enlisted the help of my friend and award-winning sommelier Liz Mendez, co-owner of Vera (not BYO) in the West Loop which serves up sophisticated Spanish cuisine by her husband and chef/co-owner Mark Mendez complemented by her well-curated wine list with an impressive sherry selection. Liz shares pairings with everything from Japanese to pizza as well as giving a wonderfully informative, yet succinct, guide to sherry. Here’s what she had to say.

The World of Food: Poland

By Julia Maish |

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Not long ago, Chicago was home to more citizens of Polish descent than Warsaw, attracted here beginning in the mid-19th century by the city’s booming industries and opportunities for independence and growth. The Polish community is still one of Chicago’s largest and most prominent, at last count making up just over seven percent of the population. The number of Polish speakers in the area is second only to English and Spanish, and Poland’s cultural presence in the city is remarkably strong and vibrant, through its many festivals, churches, and museum.   

Season 16, Episode 12: 5 Rabanitos, Boltwood, The Elephant Thai

By David Manilow |

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Check, Please! host Catherine De Orio welcomes guest reviewers Annie Law, Claudia Perry, and Jose Macias who weigh in on Chicago area eateries 5 Rabanitos, Boltwood, and The Elephant Thai.

Cat’s Corner: Q & A with Alfonso Sotelo, Chef/Owner of 5 Rabanitos

By Catherine De Orio |

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Hi all! We’re nearing the end of the season and beginning to prepare for the next. If you’re interested in sitting at the table and sharing your favorite restaurant next season, here’s how you can apply! This week we take you to 5 Rabanitos in Pilsen; Boltwood in Evanston, and then we head to The Elephant Thai on Devon in Forest Glen. I spoke with Mexican restaurant 5 Rabanitos Chef/Owner Alfonso Sotelo with his translator Miguel Salgado about his first solo venture. Here’s what he had to say.

The World of Food: Farm to Table

By Julia Maish |

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Are you a locavore? If you know what this term means without having to look it up (and consider yourself to be one), chances are you’re a fan of the “farm to table” movement. In honor of a Check, Please! featured eatery in this category, Evanston’s Boltwood, here’s a closer look at the what, when, and why.

Season 16, Episode 11: Chicago Cut, Café Marie-Jeanne, Katy's Dumpling House

By David Manilow |

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Check, Please! host Catherine De Orio welcomes guest reviewers Terry Lavin, Angela Klipp, and Young Choi who weigh in on Chicago area eateries Chicago Cut, Café Marie-Jeanne, and Katy's Dumpling House.

Cat’s Corner: Q&A with Café Marie-Jeanne Owners, Executive Chef Mike Simmons and Wine Director Jamie McLennan

By Catherine De Orio |

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Greetings! We are nearing the end of the season, and it’s packed with some gems! This week we take you to Café Marie-Jeanne in the rapidly developing area of California and Augusta in Humboldt Park; celebrity-swamped Chicago Cut in River North; and Katy’s Dumpling House in Oak Park. Cafe Marie-Jeanne Proprietor/Chef Mike Simmons and Proprietor/Wine Director Jamie McLennan chatted with me about their new venture. Here’s what they had to say.

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