Hutch Brunch in River North

Upon graduating from college I found the existence of a magical new meal called “brunch.” Growing up our family was always up by 9:00 a.m. on weekends thus necessitating “breakfast” and in college I slept well past noon. But the combination of post college partying on Lincoln Avenue with the internal clock of a 7:00 a.m. weekday wakeup soon found me in the 10:00-11:30 a.m. weekend brunch zone and it was glorious! Seven years later I am still a big brunch fan and there are more and more fantastic options than ever before.

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The Tenth Annual LuxeHome CHILL

There is only one event each year that combines three of my favorite things: wine, food, and home furnishings I can dream about having for my future home someday! LuxeHome®, in partnership with Wine Spectator Magazine is hosting its tenth annual CHILL, an international wine and culinary event featuring some of the best wines from vineyards worldwide, being paired with small bites from some of Chicago’s most distinguished chefs. The best part is that you get to wine and dine your way around the Merchandise Mart’s collection of premier boutiques for home building and renovation all in the name of charity.

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Sip, Simmer and Savor: Jack Daniels and Boka

A few weeks ago I received an email from friend and fellow food blogger, Amanda Topper of The Ghost Guest inviting me to Sip, Simmer and Savor, a Culinary Event Series by the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Collection. The event was being hosted by Boka and featuring chefs Paul Liebrandt and Lee Wolen for a special five-course paired dinner with cocktails made from Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Collection. Boka has been one of those restaurants on my “Must Try List” for years so I immediately jumped at the opportunity to attend and finally be able to recommend the Boka experience.

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Maker’s Mark and Longman & Eagle

Post written by Sarah Callahan, Stephanie’s sister and the current Chicago food correspondent!

This March, I was thrilled to attend an event that brought together two of my favorite things, delicious bourbon and the exceptional Chicago dining scene. Maker’s Mark collaborated with Longman & Eagle bar and restaurant to host an intimate dinner that I was lucky enough to be included in. In addition to this stop in Chicago, Maker’s Mark traveled to three other cities across the United States, selecting individual, unique restaurants that complement the flavors of Maker’s Mark, to host these thoughtful drinking and dining experiences.

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New Menu Alert! Derby Chicago

Post written by Stephanie’s sister, Sarah Callahan, the current Chicago food correspondent!

Over the past several years since graduating college, my sister and I have been frequent visitors to Derby in Lincoln Park. It is our go-to spot to band together with fellow Mizzou alumni and cheer on the University of Missouri Tigers to victory. Therefore, when Derby reached out and asked me to try some of their new Southern inspired menu items, I was more than happy to pop by for a visit.

Derby, a bar under the Big Onion Tavern Group umbrella, sets itself apart from typical bar food by offering approachable Southern inspired food items with a modern twist. You may initially notice that several of Derby’s menu items are staples at all of the Big Onion restaurants and bars, like their mouthwatering skillet cookie, loaded nachos (so much excellent cheesy goodness!!) and their freshly baked Bavarian pretzel.

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Chicago Chefs Get Grilling

While Chicago has great food events, fundraisers and showcases year round, my favorites are in summer, where I can be outside and the chefs are often making food that involves a hot grill! Recently, I attended two different outdoor food events, the 8th Annual Chefs on the Grill competition and the Green City Market BBQ. And although it rained at both BBQ-themed events (actually, a downright monsoon at Green City Market) I still managed to eat my way through some great grilled cuisine.

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5 Things You Shouldn’t Miss at JuiceRX

There’s a new “juicery” in town and they have some of the most unique juices and healthy food items I’ve ever tasted! I’m pretty notorious for choosing meat and cheeses over fruits and veggies, but JuiceRX on Wells St in Old Town is working on changing my tune. Besides having fresh-pressed juices, elixir shots, and cleanses they also have the best damn kale chips I’ve ever tasted.

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Miku Sushi

I wish I lived in a country where it was perfectly acceptable (and affordable) to eat sushi in some shape or form for every meal! That way I might be able to get through trying the whole menu at Miku Sushi, Lincoln Square’s newest sushi joint. The other week Taste Tester #1 and took a stab at ordering as many maki rolls, nigari, and sashimi as our bellies could hold in order to give you a good idea of what Miku is all about.

On the Friday we visited, the restaurant was loud and bustling, filled with a variety of people from a group of bro’s after the Cubs game, to couples out on date night celebrating the end of the week. While Miku isn’t BYOB like a lot of sushi spots around the city, they have a great list of cocktails, beers, and sake. I made the smart decision of stalking the menu ahead of time as it has a wide variety split among 12 different sections: soup and salad, small plates (from the Sushi bar), hot small plates, ramen, skewers, chef’s nigiri, nigiri and sashimi, sushi and sashimi plates, signature maki, Lincoln Square classic maki, traditional maki, and big plates.

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Beyond ExpecTASTEtions Wedding Series

This past April 3rd, after many meals together Taste Tester #1 asked me to be his dining partner for the rest of our lives…and of course I said yes! Since we have been engaged, I’ve been posting a little less often due to all the exiting (and stressful) wedding planning that’s been happening. After discussing many wedding scenarios, we decided to keep our engagement short and sweet and will be getting married on Halloween this year! So that means the dressing up is already set, I’ve never been happier for my “costume” decision already to be made, Bride and Groom is way better than any couple costume I could’ve dreamed up at the last minute prior to Halloween.

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Rioja Wine Festival

As many of you know the James Beard Awards were held in Chicago this year and along with the ceremony there were dozens of food-related events leading up to the big event. On May 2, I attended the Rioja Wine and Tapas Festival at the Great Hall in Union Station.

Over 40 Wineries attended the first Rioja Wine and Tapas Festival in Chicago. Joining them were more than 30 chefs from around the country showcasing Spanish culture, wine and food. I was lucky enough to have the chance to meet with some of the best winemakers and importers representing Spain’s most prominent wine region.

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