The Violet Hour

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The Violet Hour

After 6 years of living in Chicago, we finally made it to The Violet Hour. Curtained salons, complete darkness except candlelight, gorgeous cocktails, no cell phones allowed so complete attention on each other…a violet hour (or two) was exactly what last night called for and I am still practically swooning over the non-contrived romance of it all today.

Bribing and Butter Cake

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Mastro's Butter Cake

2 of our best friends were in Chicago this weekend. They are the kind of friends where time spent together just begs for more time together; like I told them when we were saying goodbye, the worst thing about hanging out with them is that it doesn’t happen every day. Friends that are family are so special and we don’t take it for granted.

As with everyone we are wild about, any visit to Chicago turns into a campaign to get aforementioned awesome person to move here. For these two, that meant a great lunch while watching the NCAA tournament, a few afternoon craft brews and arcade games, eating off of each other’s plates of pasta for dinner and, to really pull at my friend’s dessert loving heart-strings, the butter cake at Mastro’s. Because if you are going to pack up your two babies and move across the country for anything, it would absolutely be for butter cake and fresh whipped cream, right?

While I do wish everyone we love would move to Chicago, it is kind of cool…we get to watch our favorite people live their lives in places they love and between Boston, DC, LA, Nashville, etc., we don’t have a shortage of cool places to visit and other desserts to dig in to.

But really…I did my best with that butter cake.

St. Patrick’s Day Weekend 2015

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3 years ago, it was 75 degrees on the day Chicago celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. In between then, I remember a year where we refused to go outside when freezing rain was slamming against our windows and last year, sprinting into Pequod’s in a little snow storm.

This year’s forecast of 50 degrees and sunny means being out and about will be pleasant. Here’s a list of happenings around town if you haven’t locked down your plans yet.

 If you want to keep it healthy or just stretch your legs before a few green-themed cocktails, the St. Paddy’s Day 5k & 8k kicks off at 9:30am in Lincoln Park.

Travelle at The Langham is offering up prime viewing for the dye-ing of the river for $30 and Chef Tim Graham is whipping up Eggs Benedict with Guiness.

Also on the river, Bridge Water Tavern has a $10 buffet brunch to enjoy alongside the great view.

Howell’s and Hood is steps away from the river and in addition to having Irish beer on tap and authentic Irish food on deck (what is colcannon?!), I would imagine that if the weather is decent that the party will spill out onto their awesome patio on Pioneer Court.

The new Virgin Hotel in the Loop is turning their street front cafe into a beer garden. Along with Chicago brews, homemade pastries and Bowtruss coffee (my favorite), St. Patrick’s Day revelry as the El rushes by feels very Chicago to me.

Smoke Daddy in Wicker Park has unreal bbq…and this is the only week during the year that they serve their Reuben. Not to be missed.

And no St. Patrick’s Day would be complete without the Shannon Rovers. This Irish pipe band will be all over the city, with stops at Quartino and Gibson’s, along with many others. Check out their full schedule here.

Are you a holiday purist and would never celebrate on a day that isn’t the actual day? Little Goat is having a Beer Dinner on March 17th, the real St. Patrick’s Day.

Alliance Patisserie: A Public Dessert Announcement

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One of the best birthday cakes I have ever tasted was from Alliance Bakery in Wicker Park. So much better than a cake should even be, this thing had to be made out of unicorn tears and sunbeams…it was that good.

Fast forward to everyone on the corner of State Street and Ontario looking at me as I shrieked “ohmigod!” a few weeks ago upon seeing an Alliance Patisserie in the old Grahamwich spot. I sprinted across the street and threw open the door to find rows and rows of gorgeous, brightly colored macarons. I was so excited to fill up a box with my selections that I completely missed that they, apparently, have cronuts. And Bowtruss coffee. Yes!

If I hadn’t been heading to Michigan that very moment, I would have ordered a cappuccino to dip my cronut in and sat down in the delightful patisserie for the rest of the morning. Instead, I took my macarons on the road and I am happy to report a few of them made it to my mom.

{I highly recommend the balsamic fig and pistachio}

This has been a public dessert announcement.

Blizzard Essentials

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Where did this snow storm come from?! I swear, it wasn’t on the forecast until Friday! I was at Eataly on Saturday evening when the first flakes began to fall so I stocked up on the essentials.

Wine. Stuffed pasta. More wine.

19 inches of snow and a cozy, stay at home Super Bowl Sunday later, we arrive at Monday. I hope all of your cars were easy to un-shovel (ha) and this is the only visit from a blizzard that we see this year!

In Review: Cocello

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The Negroni became our cocktail of choice on our honeymoon. One part gin, one part sweet vermouth, one part Campari and garnished with an orange, this bitter cocktail has been a favorite of mine since I studied abroad in college. After having one for the first time in Rome, my husband declared that he would try one every night until he determined the best Negroni in Italy (verdict: a tie between The St Regis Rome & La Sireneuse in Positano).

Upon our return to home sweet home Chicago, the quest for the best Negroni continued. When our buddy JD told us that Cocello in River North had FOUR different kinds of Negroni, well, it’s all Ryan has been able to talk about when discussing restaurant resos. And since it’s owned by the group who also does Bavette’s, one of our absolute favorites, he didn’t have to twist my arm so on Saturday, we made it to Cocello.

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The cocktails were fantastic and with every dish we ordered was just better than it should have been. This regular ol’ meatball? Exploding with flavor! The marinara sauce? Perfection. The cacio e pepe and orecchiette with sausage were perfectly prepared with the pasta being perfectly al dente and, again…exceeded our expectations. Everything was just so, so good.

The restaurant itself was beautiful, cozy and classic with a relaxed, comfortable vibe. We tucked in to our table by the fireplace and had the loveliest little date. We were too stuffed to dig into dessert or their list of delicious looking after-dinner drinks but there’s always next time. And we had such a lovely meal and evening that there will definitely be a next time.

Verdict: high fives and clinking glasses all around!


White Christmas at The Music Box Theater

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You guys.

I included it in my Chicago Christmas guide but nothing could have prepared me for the spectacle that was actually attending a showing of White Christmas at The Music Box Theater.

You have to go. Seriously. A Christmas 2015 PRIORITY.

We went at noon on Christmas Eve with my mother, excited to see a favorite movie on a special day and there were carolers as we stepped inside the door. Totally unexpected. As was the enthusiasm of everyone working there. Same with the quotes from other Christmas movies on the bar menu wall. The man taking our tickets proclaimed we were in a great section (okay?) and said he believed in me. My husband said it meant he believed in me to find our seats but I will take it as he believes in me in general.

The carolers were actually part of the Chicago Chamber Choir and took to the stage for a full performance. At the end of a rousing rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (you guessed it), SANTA CLAUS CAME TO TOWN.


Santa then led a singalong of every Christmas carol you have ever heard of.

All of this with an audience that was either wearing matching shirts, antlers, velvet capes (seriously) and carrying jingle bells. Which they rang every time someone in the movie said the word “Christmas”.  I look over and Ryan is engaged in a conversation with the lady wearing a light up necklace sitting next to him and it was her family’s 13th year doing this and her sister just showed up married on Thursday and couldn’t believe we didn’t bring our own bells (note to self: BYOBells next year).


It was such an ordeal, Christmas spirit on steroids. (Not) surprisingly, I cried so hard at the end of the movie. I have seen White Christmas a thousand times but it was to the point where we had to sit a few minutes for me to compose myself after the curtain had closed. I was just so happy. And it finally snowed in Pine Tree, Vermont.

In conclusion: when these tickets go on sale next year, buy them and go. Bring your own bells. And maybe decide on a matching group outfit.

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