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Juwan Howard’s condo up for grabs, a can’t-miss holiday event, and more.

December 07, 2012

The CTA's holiday train stops at various stations this season. 

NBA player Juwan Howard’s Trump Tower condo is a slice of South Beach in Chicago—and now, it’s up for grabs. [Huffington Post]

Even car commuters can’t resist climbing the platform to catch a glimpse of the CTA’s holiday train when it rolls through the station. We’re scouring Santa’s train-stop schedule so we don’t miss it. [Transit Chicago]

Chicagoan Josh Downey aims to put his delicious home-canned giardiniera—dubbed Chicago Johnny’s—on the shelves. [DNA Info]

Local newshounds Joyce Rice and Erin Polgreen just released the first-ever issue of their virtual magazine, Symbolia, a comic-book-style take on investigative journalism. [Huffington Post]

The web is teeming with gift guides galore! Aside from our own luxe gift suggestions broken out by person, check out our other favorite lists for types of giftees… 

…the technology guru, Refinery29
…the true Chicagoan, UrbanDaddy
…your favorite foodie, Food 52
…every member of the family, Refinery29

—Elle Eichinger

 

Brunch Plans: GT Fish & Oyster

The beloved seafood spot introduces AM dishes.

December 07, 2012

Last month, downtown resto GT Fish & Oyster jumped on the brunch wagon, opening earlier on Saturdays and Sundays to serve its take on the morning meal (10 AM-2:30 PM). Chef Giuseppe Tentori has compiled a brunch menu worth its weight in market-fresh seafood, and pastry chef Sarah Jordan supplements the offerings with a selection of sweets.

Seafood dishes are standouts, of course, ranging from house-cured lox (served on a bagel with capers, pickled onion, and herb crème fraiche) to shrimp and grits. Our must-try, though, is the biscuits and lobster gravy, a twist on the home-style favorite with lobster and potato hash and a poached egg. Similarly, the crab benedict is prepared with a Swiss chard and hollandaise and served on an English muffin. For the weekender with a sweet tooth, Sarah’s French toast (created by Sarah Jordan) is a feast of key lime, grapefruit, and mascarpone. No matter if you go savory or sweet—or fall somewhere in between, as with the fried chicken and waffles—we recommend starting your meal with an order of monkey bread.

As for cocktails, skip the regular vodka Bloody Mary and opt for the Bourbon version, which features Bloody Mary mix, Weller Bourbon, bacon, and a pickled quail egg, served with a High Life pony. Stick to the sweet-meets-savory theme with the Peppered Peach cocktail, which combines white peach, lemon, basil, and black pepper with Old Forester Bourbon. GT also offers delicious La Colombe coffee and espresso brews. 531 N. Wells St., 312-929-3501

—Elle Eichinger
Photography by Eric Kleinberg

 

Weekend Recommender: December 6-9

Make your own tempura, do some holiday shopping, and skate around the Wrigley rink.

December 06, 2012

Toki's unique jewelry pieces (PICTURED) make a great holiday present. 

Art of Tempura Cooking Demo
Thursday, December 6, 6-8 PM
Master the art of tempura frying seafood and vegetables with a demonstration from chef Johnny Foster at ItaliAsia. Learn to blend the batter, discover the technique of dipping, and taste the restaurant’s delicious soba noodles with tempura shrimp and asparagus to finish the evening. Email italiasia@martplaza.com to reserve a spot. 350 W. Mart Center Dr., 312-529-1157

Trunk Club Holiday Event
Thursday, December 6, 6-9 PM; Saturday, December 8, 10 AM-3 PM
Forget hopping from store to store and shop Trunk Club’s holiday event, where vendors like Dana Rebecca Designs, Perchance Boutique, and Vosges Haut-Chocolat set up shop inside the Trunk Club headquarters. Guests will enjoy food from 25 Degrees, and the first 400 attendees receive goodie bags. 325 W. Ohio St., 312-266-8700

Curfew Dance Production
Thursday, December 6 and Friday, December 7, 7:30 PM
Karim Tonsy brings his Egyptian-inspired dance work to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts at Columbia for two days of performances this weekend. The Chicago-based company explores the forms of freedom in the personal, contemplative performance, dubbed Curfew. $25 on brownpapertickets.com. 1016 N. Dearborn St., 312-337-6543

Toki Jewelry Holiday Sample Sale
Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9, 11 AM-4 PM
Jewelry designer Tonia Kim makes room in her Toki studio space for new collections with a holiday sample sale each year. Shop the gorgeous, handmade pieces, or opt for a mystery “grab bag” of baubles. A portion of the sale’s proceeds benefit Young at Heart Pet Rescue. 1422 W. Willow St., 773-531-8787

The Rink at Wrigley
Through March 3, 2013; hours vary
Get into the seasonal spirit with a whirl around the Rink at Wrigley, the ice-skating rink located right outside the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. The Rink is sponsored by the Ricketts family and the Chicago Cubs Charities. $10 adults/$6 kids (weekend prices). Corner of Clark St. and Waveland

—Elle Eichinger

 

Mindy Segal’s Hot Chocolate Mixes Espresso Cocktails

The dessert bar’s barista and bartender team up for a trio of beverages.

December 06, 2012

The coffee-infused cocktails at Mindy's Hot Chocolate are the perfect winter treat. 

Mindy Segal’s Hot Chocolate is a year-round go-to, but there’s no better time than the holidays to enjoy a toasty cocktail. Luckily, the dessert bar’s head barista Alex McDaniel and head bartender Alex Gara combined their talents—and a few of James Beard Award-winner Segal’s signature ingredients—into a trio of coffee-inspired cocktails, available this season.

The Seraph comprises Benedictine, cognac, Mindy’s hot chocolate pumpkin spice blend, and nutmeg, with the usual latte combination of espresso and steamed milk. A slightly thicker concoction due to the substitution of half and half for milk, The Siren features Rittenhouse Rye 100, North Shore Silver Lining, mole bitter, Segal’s dark hot chocolate blend, espresso, and Cayenne Rum, with a pinch of paprika for garnish. Finally, the Hot Buttered Rum is a heart- and head-warming mix of Zapaca 23 Rum, butterscotch hot chocolate, and Frangelico-infused whipped cream, topped with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Each new coffee cocktail is a dessert in and of itself, so offset the sweet treat with one of Segal’s savory dishes. We love the warm cheddar biscuits served with whipped honey butter, and the macaroni and cheese. 1747 N. Damen Ave., 773-489-1747

—Elle Eichinger

 

2013 Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster

Geometric lines and a removable top define the new model.

December 06, 2012

Lamborghini adds another roadster to its stellar line-up, dropping just in time for summer 2013 sunshine. The new Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster will very likely become the most sought-after production vehicle from the Raging Bull, while simultaneously raising the bar for the world standard of luxury, open-air supercars. The Italian exotic, which is not a limited-production model, is currently available for ordering.

Molded from Lamborghini’s successful coupe, which was presented during the summer of 2011 and has enjoyed a sales run of 1,300 units, the Aventador convertible emblematically commingles sophistication and motoring technology with pure driving gratification. New geometric lines and a removable top will distinguish the two body types.

—KIMANTI D. RAWLINS, automotiverhythms.com

 

Rent the Runway Comes to Chicago

Fashion director Lucy Sykes Rellie came to town last week for a holiday styling event.

December 05, 2012

Last week, Rent the Runway fashion director Lucy Sykes Rellie came to town to introduce Chicago women to the innovative brand, which offers high-end, designer-label gowns, dresses, accessories, and more for rent. Held at the W Chicago - City Center, the event featured cocktails, light bites, music, and styling by Sykes Rellie and her team.

The great room was divided into five sections, each representing a neighborhood in Chicago and housing a handful of looks that fit the feel of each part of town. We caught up with Sykes Rellie and her RTR colleague, Ashley Savage, prior to the event.

Why did you want to come to Chicago?
ASHLEY SAVAGE: We feel like the women of Chicago have such a need for Rent the Runway: they have their charity galas, they have work parties, New Year’s Eve balls. During the holidays, women just have this huge event calendar. We aren’t saying to the women of Chicago, ‘Don’t buy dresses.’ We’re saying, ‘Buy the little black dress; rent the sparkly, sequined, one-shoulder gown.
LUCY SYKES RELLIE: It’s the ‘wow’ moment, that’s what we’re here for.

What kind of style are you seeing in Chicago?
LSR: The women here are sophisticated, chic. They are busy, and would like an option that goes from day to evening. [And] it’s cold! I love long-sleeve dresses, I love how they balance out.
AS: In Chicago—brrr!—you need to cover your arms.

Who are some of your own favorite designers, and some popular ones on RTR?
LSR: Calvin Klein is one of my favorite labels, especially the heavy jersey dresses that we chose from him [for RTR]. They’re absolutely stunning for fall. I love Badgley Mischka for all the sparkles and sequins. [On the site] Kate Spade is doing really well, and Nicole Miller.
AS: There are always household names that are going to do really well, but it changes for different events. For New Year’s Eve, everyone is looking for sparkle, so Badgley Mischka is off the shelves. Herve Leger is still one of the ones that we rent a lot of, because it's such an iconic bandage look.

Since launching, RTR has added accessories, beauty, and most recently, the Our Runway image-sharing feature [beauty for sale; accessories for sale or rent]. How do you decide what areas to expand into?
AS: We’re bursting at the seams. A lot of the evolution of the site came from the customer insights team, the stylists. When we first launched they would be on the phone with a customer who would say ‘I want to know what earrings to wear with this’ or ‘I want to have the lip that the model has on.’ Now we do beauty, accessories. We also sell Spanx, undergarments, fashion fixers. [Editor’s note: undergarments are for sale; not for rent].
LSR: It’s a one-stop shop. Ultimately, it’s not about the dress; it’s about the woman inside the dress, and what the power of a dress can do to [her]. That is the message that we’ve learned from our customers and everyone sending in their own pictures—how powerful these dresses have made them feel.

—Elle Eichinger

 

Million Dollar Quartet Celebrates an Anniversary

The meeting that inspired the musical happened 56 years ago this week.

December 04, 2012

Million Dollar Quartet may be in its fifth year at Lincoln Park’s Apollo Theater, but its popularity is still peaking. This week represents a particularly fitting time to see the show. It was on December 4, 1956—56 years ago on Tuesday—that the event inspiring the musical took place.

On this date in the Sun Records’ Memphis studio, legendary record producer Sam Phillips brought together four of his recent musical discoveries for a recording session. These men were Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley—who would go on to be four of the most famous musicians of all time. That was the only time the group ever collaborated musically, but it was so memorable that the musical inspired by it was an instant hit. The show comprises a collection of rock’s greatest hits, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” “Fever,” “I Walk the Line,” and more. 

The show runs performances Wednesday through Sunday each week, and tickets are on sale through April 28, 2013 on ticketmaster.com. $25-85. 2540 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-935-6100

—Elle Eichinger
Photography by Paul Natkin

 

Atwood Café Brings Back its Holiday Tea

The lunchtime high tea is the perfect break during holiday shopping.

December 04, 2012

A sampling of what's on offer at Atwood Café's holiday tea service.

During the entire month of December, downtown bistro Atwood Café offers its lunchtime Holiday Tea Service (2-3:30 PM), a seasonal tradition. Located on the retail-centric corner of State and Washington Streets, Atwood is the perfect place to pop in between gift-buying trips to historic Macy’s (111 N. State St., 312-781-1000) and the dozens of other shops in the area.

The tea service includes a selection of eight loose-leaf teas—black, white, green, and herbal varieties—and spiced toppings like cumin and chamomile-infused honey. Kids can enjoy the tea as is, while parents may opt to add a glass of La Marca Prosecco or Poema Cava bubbly. Organic English Breakfast, Organic Earl Grey, and Chamomile Citrus are some of the more common options, but we love the exotic Rose Silver Needle, a Chinese white tea scented with pink rose petals. Bombay Chai is another favorite, comprising black tea leaves, pepper, orange, cinnamon, cardamon, and clove.

The service also offers a bit of light nourishment to revive your energy before more holiday shopping. Executive chef Derek Simcik put together a menu of specialty tea sandwiches such as tomato cucumber, salmon, and curry chicken salad. Biscotti, scones, chocolate mousse, and macaroons make for delicious teatime desserts. $35 adults/$20 children 12 and under. Reservations required. 1 W. Washington St., 312-368-1900

—Elle Eichinger

 

Chicago Creation: Cast Bronze Candles

Local artisan Leah Ball immortalizes the unique shape of melted candles.

December 04, 2012

Each of Leah Ball's pillar candleholders is completely unique.

A melting pillar candle is uniquely beautiful—but sometimes the messy wax can be a bit much, especially when you’ve got other important things to worry about during holiday entertaining. Enter local artisan Leah Ball’s chic candleholders, created by casting real melted pillar candles in bronze, so you can enjoy the organic beauty of melted wax in a different way. 

The creation process behind the artful holders is anything but simple, with each taking up to two days to make. First, Ball—who also has an eponymous jewelry line—selects the most visually interesting melted candles and hollows them out. She then casts them in bronze at a local metal foundry where she was once an apprentice. The result is a completely one-of-a-kind functional artwork that weighs about four pounds. Insetting a tea light is the most obvious use, but the designer tells us that the pieces also make great plant holders.

Ball’s bronze candleholders ($280 each) adorn the bar at Au Cheval (800 W. Randolph St., 312-929-4580), and are available at Salvage One (1840 W. Hubbard St., 312-733-0098) and on her Etsy site. We think they’d make the perfect holiday gift or seasonal accoutrement for your home.

—Elle Eichinger

 

CHM Celebrates Cocktails and Capone

A pair of book signings and stories about the Chicago mob master make for a lively evening.

December 03, 2012

On Wednesday evening (December 5, 6 PM), the Chicago History Museum will celebrate the 79th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, and one of the city’s most legendary bootleggers, Al Capone. Of course, what better way to toast the event than with a cocktail: Templeton Rye Whiskey will be on hand to serve up Prohibition-era drinks and light bites. The Flapper Fizz features Templeton Rye and lemon sour, topped with sparkling water, while the aptly-named Capone mixes the Rye with Grand Marnier, bitters, and a Champagne lemon twist.

While guests sip the beverages of a bygone era, representatives of the historic whiskey brand will discuss its connections to Capone during the Roaring ‘20s. Attendees will also hear from John Russick, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs, whose book Historic Photos of Chicago Crime: The Capone Era delves into the city’s bootlegging scene. And, although, Russick has done extensive research, it’s a closer relative of Capone’s who will have the most personal tales to tell. Deirdre Capone is Capone’s great-niece; she’ll share some stories about “Uncle Al,” and sign copies of her book, affectionately dubbed Uncle Al Capone. Russick will also sign copies of his photographic tome.

More cocktails ensue following the program, and guests costumed in Prohibition-era garb will be entered for a chance to win gift baskets from Templeton Rye and the History Museum. $40. 1601 N. Clark St., 312-642-4600

—Elle Eichinger
Photography Courtesy the Chicago History Museum archives

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