Showing posts from July, 2012

From 2 Sparrows to the Trump

I checked out of The James in Chicago, but there was still more to taste in the city. Breakfast with my Cocktails and Joints Publisher Dale Winespeare was scheduled at 2 Sparrows and I couldn’t wait to check out this unusual spot. This is a breakfast and lunch only restaurant with the food driven by what’s local, fresh and in season. The owners, Gregory Ellis and Steven Fladung, grew up in Chicago and both bring in a host of restaurant experience that was mostly earned at the famed Charlie Trotters. In addition to the locally-driven food, 2 Sparrows has a great menu of cocktails, wine, beer and spirits – many of which are from small, regional developers, such as North Shore Distillery and Metropolitan Brewing. While the food and drink menu does change often, I can tell you we loved what we had. That included Buttermilk Pancakes with honey mascarpone, blueberry and fresh maple syrup; Maple & Bacon Doughnuts; and “Pop Tarts” filled with Nutella and topped with ra

New Finds and Old Favorites in Chicago

I try to make it in to Chicago as often as possible, but no matter how often I do go there I always seem to find new things. In this case, it wasn’t only the restaurants that were new to me. I was meeting with my publisher, Dale Winespeare, at Cocktails and Joints for the first time. We checked into our rooms at The James Chicago , a hotel I always loved for its modern comfort. This time they gave me a two bedroom suite, which I settled quickly in before meeting Dale to go to Tavernita , a new restaurant with an exciting new cocktail program. Tavernita doesn’t just make unusual cocktails for individual customers, they make cocktails for kegs. They also make their own sangrias and sodas, and serve wine on tap. We were lucky enough to get to try a little bit of everything and I was quite impressed. I liked the Booty Collins, consisting of green tea-infused Absolut Vodka, passion fruit, lemon and cayenne. I also loved the nutty flavor of the Comandante Big Nose with hi

Leaving Montauk for Left Coast Kitchen

My daughter Sam spent the night with me in my beachfront condo at the Surf Club in Montauk. In the morning we headed downtown to Mr. John’s Pancake House. It had quite the unusual menu and after some time we decided on an order of ET Pancakes and Stuffed French Toast. I’ve always been much more of a sweet breakfast eater than a meat one, and this one more than satisfied my sweet tooth. The pancakes were covered in semi-sweet and peanut butter chips and the French Toast was stuffed with cream cheese and covered in apples (a bit rich, but yummy). I knew I would have to add in another workout to make up for this. Sam had to get to work, but I took my time enjoying the scenery in Montauk and the Hamptons as I headed west to meet up with my friend Melanie. I knew I had another big meal ahead of me so I kept lunch down to a fat free yogurt. Dinner was at a place I had never been to, but had heard lots of good things about. Left Coast Kitchen in Merrick is as known for th

Sip and Taste From Montauk to the Hamptons Wine Trail

It was a cloudy and cool morning, but it was nice to wake up to the sounds of the ocean from my condo at the Surf Club in Montauk. I threw some sweats on and took a walk to town, stopping at the Continental Deli for a fresh piece of guavaberry bread and some coffee. After getting a bit of work done, I drove to Wolffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack. I wanted to see the place and taste their wines, but I also wanted to hear about the newly formed Hamptons Wine Trail. My daughter Sam met me for a day and we sat down with Winemaker Roman Roth to talk about the nearly five years it took for him – along with the Long Island Wine Council – to have this declared a wine region. He explained how the richer soil than the North Folk holds the water better, making for more elegant wines here. Wolffer grows 50 acres of grapes on the 170 acre Hampton estate. Roth grows a selection of varietals by being honest about what works in this region. I was impressed with the just bottled

Back East for More Hamptons and Montauk

The best thing about my gig writing twice weekly for Hamptons Magazine is the opportunity to go explore this area I spent a good part of my teenage years in. Of course, many things have changed since that time, but some things will forever remain the same. I was on my own for day one so I decided to take a ride all the way to “The End.” Montauk is the end of Long Island, the approx. 100 mile piece of land where the sound is to the north and the ocean is to the south. At the Montauk Light House the island comes to a peak and it’s quite the sight. Unfortunately, the day was a bit gloomy, but I decided to venture out to the lighthouse and walk on the beach anyway. It had been too many years since I’d been at this spot. I walked the rocky path down to the beach and watched the waves for a while. I have to say that’s one of the things I have missed in the Midwest, not being able to stroll on the beach. My one bedroom duplex at the Surf Club was just perfect for me. It

From Plymouth to London for a Final Day

When it comes to making the most of the last day of a trip, I’ve never had such a nice balance as the Pernod Ricard team (and Meghan Kelleher from Access PR) put into our “Tale of Two Cities” itinerary. They gave us the best of two worlds – and the best of English gin. It was nice to be able to sleep in a bit until 8:00, but it was then time to rise for a light breakfast at St. Elizabeth's House and our last tour of Plymouth. We went to Burrator Reservoir, a beautiful location with waterfalls over the dam. We then traveled down to the river, where the Plymouth Gin team had some surprises for us. We first sampled Classic Pink Gin, which is a combination of Angostino bitters, Plymouth Gin and water. It was very good, though I’m not sure I’d make it my standard morning drink. We did have food, though, to share it with – deliciously fresh English scones with cream and black current jam. we finished eating we had duck races in the river. I’m proud to say my purple