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“A Night at the Nutcracker” at the JW Marriott Chicago

Female ballet dancer

 

For the third year in a row the  JW Marriott Chicago (151 W. Adams St.) joins official partner, the acclaimed Joffrey Ballet, to ring in the magic of the holidays with “A Night at the Nutcracker” package available Friday, December 5 through Saturday, December 28.

Throughout the month of December the world-class dance company will be performing the enchanting holiday classic Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.  Guests of the JW Marriott who book the “A Night at the Nutcracker” package will receive two VIP tickets to the performance as well as many extras.

On December 6, guests were treated to a one time only special ballerina meet-and-greet after the matinee show.  Also through the 28th of December the Lobby Lounge is mixing their signature drink The Dancer’s Delight, (vanilla vodka, simple syrup, soy milk, chai tea, and amaretto)

If you have a little ballerina in the family, this could be a start of a wonderful family holiday tradition (along with the lighting of the tree at Daley Plaza and lunch at the Walnut Room)  Of course if you love the splendor of classical dance, that’s fine too.

 

Photo Courtesy of The Joffrey Ballet

Photo Courtesy of The Joffrey Ballet

The “Night at The Nutcracker Ballet” package includes:

  • Overnight stay in deluxe guest room
  • Hot chocolate nightcap in-room (spiked hot chocolate for adults also available)
  • Ballerina welcome cookies
  • Breakfast for two in-room the next day
  • Two VIP tickets to The Nutcracker (additional tickets available for purchase upon request, an over $15 savings)
  • Nutcracker “swag bag” that includes a signed pointe shoe, Nutcracker commemorative program and poster, as well as a signed photo of a dancer
  • Package rates start at $429.00 with rate code ‘ZJL’ (an over $100 savings); availability December 5-28 here
  • Reservations can be made by calling 312 660 8200 or online; 72-hour cancellation is required
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Amarula – The Spirit of Africa

Amarula

Debuting in South Africa back in 1983 it is currently available in over 100 countries, second only to Baileys in global cream liqueurs sales.  Wildly popular throughout the rest of the world and yet many here in the United States are only beginning to hear about it.  So what is Amarula? Read more…

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Chicago, This weekend let’s talk Turkey

By now the post-thanksgiving tryptophan induced coma has worn off …hopefully.  Before we close the chapter on turkey there are a couple places worth checking out this weekend which take our holiday bird to a whole new level.

If you want to keep it traditional-ish we highly recommend

DMK Burger Bar

DMK Burger Bar opened in 2009 and since then has garnered praise and accolades from both local and national media outlets for their food.  DMK goes beyond just using 100% grass-fed beef, they also have Bison, Lamb, and Veggie (if that’s your thing)  Since we’re talking about turkey, the guys as DMK have you covered with The Gobbler Burger … this is not your traditional leftover turkey sandwich.

It starts with a turkey patty topped with gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, topped with celery and cranberry relish.  A Thanksgiving feast on their fresh baked artisan buns.

 

DMK Gobbler Burger

DMK Gobbler Burger

The Gobbler Burger is only available until the end of the month.  With locations at Lakeview, Lomard, and Soldiers Field, chances are you don’t have to go too far to find one.  For more information go to DMK Burger Bar

If you want take a more global approach you should definitely try…

Tanta – Cocina Peruana

This restaurant on 118 W. Grand Avenue is all about sharing the culture and traditions of Peru through thoughtfully prepared dishes.  The key here is diversity … The flavors of Peru are influenced both by its geography (Peru having the Andes Mountains, Amazon Rainforest, and Pacific Ocean),and its people.  Over the last several centuries Peru has been inhabited by immigrants from England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, and African nations.  These people along with the indigenous population helped shape the culture and cuisine of Peru.

In that spirit of diversity, Chef Jesus delights us with a Peruvian interpretation on the American tradition of Thanksgiving.  Tanta’s Turkey Breast is stuffed with mushrooms, bacon and prunes, glazed cranberry aji panca sauce, and grilled seasonal vegetables.

Turkey Breast with a Peruvian twist

Turkey Breast with a Peruvian twist

This special is only offered through the weekend so if you’re in the area and want to expand your horizons, it is really worth checking out. For more information check out Tanta Chicago

 

 

 

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Any Given Sundae

sundae

By now you probably have heard of the $1000 Victoria Ice Cream Sundae at Chicago’s Langham Hotel, but did you know that the Victoria is only one of many ice cream creations on the menu?  All of them just as amazing but do not require deep pockets to enjoy. Read more…

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The Aviary Chicago – Designer Drinks Not for the Birds

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

If you’re looking for birds, you might want to redirect your evening plans to Lincoln Park Zoo unless your version of bird watching is designer drinks. The Aviary—located on West Fulton Market near Randolph Street’s restaurant row—is a bar that prides itself on highbrow drinks, attention to detail, and presentation. According to The Aviary’s website, bartenders are trained as chefs by famed owners Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, the focus of each drink is on the flavor of the spirit and not the name or branding.

“Leave your preconceived favorite drinks or disliked spirits that you drank too much of in college at home,” Chef Micah Melton says. “Trust us, the tequila drink won’t make you feel the same way the shots of Jose Cuervo did in college. The Aviary doesn’t have a rum and coke or vodka soda on our menu, so trust us and select a drink based on flavors that you like.”

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Owner of an America’s Top 50 Restaurant Alinea and restaurant to The Aviary and speakeasy bar The Office, Next, Achatz holds the credentials to back his restaurant’s reputation. Open only Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 6 p.m. reserve the single chef’s table located in the kitchen of The Aviary or select a table in the main dining area, which provides a lounge atmosphere with low booth seating and small tables just big enough for the selection of drinks you’re about to order. Walk-ins are also welcome.

The menu provides an array of drinks available for order or you may reserve a ticket for their “prix fixe” menu, which can include 5-10 drinks that will not disappoint in taste or awe factor.

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Zombie Panda

Served as a refreshing starter, the Zombie Panda features a blend of lemon, raspberry liquor, lychee, and pisco. Brought to your table in a small rounded 1.5 oz glass, the Zombie Panda is a watermelon color with the texture of a blended watermelon. It’s a perfect introduction to richer flavors to come throughout your menu of drinks during your stay.

Barber’s Brunch

Whether or not you love to brunch with bottomless mimosas, The Aviary’s take on the classic champagne and orange juice beverage is sure to stun. Paired with a seasoned fried pork rind, the mix of Seville orange, royal combier, and topped off with a dusting of paprika, served in a champagne flute, makes Barber’s Brunch a VODA favorite.

Infernal Imagery

A treasure chest full of treasure is nice, but at The Aviary a treasure chest full of alcohol is better. Delivered to your table in a small chest made of smoky cherry wood, your waiter will open the top to a fog of deep aromas and drinks mixed with baralo, maurin quina, and rhum.

VODA Tip: As the drinks flow throughout your night, make sure to ask for glasses of water as well as The Aviary’s egg drop soup—a traditional hangover preventative featuring egg, greens and a delicious buttery ginger broth.

The Porthole

Trust us, this drink is so much better than being stuck on a cramped cruise. Served in a porthole infuser, teas, citrus and spirits collide for a drink that continues to change flavor throughout your dining experience. Available in various combinations of herbs, fruits and spirits, whichever porthole you order make sure to try this beverage at the beginning, middle and end of your stay. Your taste buds will be glad you did.

Tea In Trinidad

Looking less like a tea and more like the beginnings of a high school chemistry project, this drink is served in a cylindrical beaker complete with a stand and straw. Let the smoky start of this warm drink settle before enjoying a sweet taste of rum, rooibos, verjus, and benedictine like never before.

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

Photo Credit: Christian Seel

In The Rocks

Old fashions are your parent’s drink, an In The Rocks is yours. The Aviary’s most popular beverage served completely enclosed in a ball of ice, the In The Rocks requires a little bit of work before enjoying your drink. Served with a slingshot, your server will instruct you to place the slingshot on the glass, pull the apparatus back and let it strike the ice open to reveal your drink. A VODA favorite for innovation.

If you’re feeling a little hungry post cocktails, the restaurants on Randolph Street are a short walk away or The Aviary will call you a cab if you are wanting a lift.

The Aviary is located at 955 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL.

VODA In the Know:

  • The Aviary has a classic cocktail-style speakeasy in the basement called “The Office.” If there’s a cocktail that is your go-to that they don’t have upstairs, ask to have it downstairs! They also have an “insane spirit” list and 14+ collaboration beers that are only available at the Aviary.
  • Achatz—owner of one of American’s Top 50 Restaurants Alinea located in Lincoln Park—and Kokonas were asked by a hotel group to open a branch of Alinea in hotel locations. Chef Micah Melton says Achatz and Kokonas proposed a bar instead, but the hotel group passed. Following the rejection came The Aviary.

 

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Luxury Hotel JW Marriott Celebrates 4 years in Chicago with a Flash Sale

 

Grand Opening of the JW Marriott Chicago

On November 10, 2010, the JW Marriott came to Chicago opening in an historic landmark building in The Loop.  Four years later they feel like celebrating.  On their four year anniversary the JW Marriott Chicago will be offering an exclusive sale for the from midnight Sunday to midnight Monday.  Normally we’d just report on the hotel but this sale is really huge and really short. If you want a really great deal, please read on.

Read more…

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The Ultimate Skincare Line – Elemis

The box arrived at the front door on a recent weekend afternoon.  I was like a child on Christmas Day ripping through the box tearing out products with the words illuminating and glow on them. I calmed down a bit and started to read through the packages and inserts as if it was a prescription medication with questionable side effects. And side effects it had! I had a facial scheduled in a month at the Spa at Fearrington Village, the only spa to carry these incredible products in the state of North Carolina. I could not wait for my facial to learn how to use them properly and in which order. I dug into those products as if  they were candy and emerged with skin as radiate as the sun!

Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Elemis  is a luxury skincare line from the Britain. The products are used in top spas throughout the US and the UK. It’s a results-driven line bringing nature and science together with a focus on anti-aging. I learned from Angela at the Spa at Fearrington how to use them properly. Her skin looked almost translucent – it was so clear and glowing.  She stressed the importance of thoroughly cleaning the skin, not scrubbing it, but cleaning it. We started with the Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm. It is oil-based and she took about a bean-sized amount and thoroughly massaged it into my dry skin. The oil from the product breaks down the oils and dirt and the massage technique strengthens the facial muscles to increase the look of smooth skin. After a thorough facial massage, she added a bit of warm water to emulsify the product and then gently washed it off with a soft cloth. At that point, I was in such a state of bliss from the massage and aroma that the order of which products came next escapes my mind.

Pro-Collagen Marine Cream Ultra-Rich

Pro-Collagen Marine Cream Ultra-Rich

My package contained Pro-Collagen Super Serum, Pro-Collagen Marine Cream Ultra-Rich, Pro-Radiance Illuminating Flash Balm (favorite!), and the Total Glow Bronzing Moisturizer for face and one for body. I purchased the Rehydrating Ginseng Toner at the spa. What resonated with me was to throughly clean and tone. Those two steps lend an extra layer of cleansing, exfoliating, and helps serums and moisturizers absorb properly. Toning also balances the skin and helps maintain moisture levels.

Rehydrating Ginseng Toner

Rehydrating Ginseng Toner

Once home, I continue my skincare regime by using the techniques and knowledge I learned from my treatment. After thoroughly massaging in the cleansing balm allowing it time to break down the dirt and oils, I rinse and apply the ginseng toner with a cotton ball and follow with the serum and marine cream. I use my own favorite eye cream which was a tip from an another esthetician, it’s the budget-friendly Olay Regenerist Lifting Eye Serum.  When I’m going out  to an event and really want to sparkle, I use the illuminating radiance balm instead. My skin has never looked better. It has a glow and clearness about it. As we progress into the fall and winter months, I continue to use the bronzing moisturizer for face and body to extend that look of summer that Elemis helps last throughout the year.

Total Glow Bronzing Moisteriser

Total Glow Bronzing Moisteriser

Full confession, there are (very occasional) evenings I skip my bedtime routine of washing and flossing, but these products make me want to, the aroma alone! A few months later my skin looks youthful and is hydrated and clean (thank you, Angela). The beautiful simple, yet elegant packages adorn my bathroom vanity. I’m a fan of Elemis, for me it’s the ultimate skincare line.

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Tequila Partida

Partida line high-res

In my recent path of discovery into the rarified world of fine tequilas I had the good fortune to come across Tequila Partida.    Tequila Partida puts to use old world traditions juxtaposed with modern distillation methods to produce an exceptional spirit that is recognized everywhere for its consistent superior quality.  I was expecting it to be good but just how good I wasn’t sure.  What I had sampled was unexpected.

Read more…

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Elle Comes In From The Cold

Baby it’s cold outside. The days are shorter, the winds off the lake are brisk and chilly. Winter is nipping on our heals. Summer is but a fond memory. One of the joys of living in Chicago is dining al fresco during the summer in one of the many restaurants across the city. One standout this summer was Elle on the River. Mediterranean-inspired tacos served on the patio of The Langham Hotel along the north shore of the Chicago River.

Mediterranean Tacos

 

Starting Sunday, in celebration of Daylight Savings Time and the longer nights to follow, Travelle Lounge  on the second floor of the Langham Hotel, will be adding some of the best of Elle on the River to their menu.

Chef Tim Graham

Chef Tim Graham

 

FOR A LIMITED TIME, every Monday through Wednesday at sundown diners at Travelle get to experience Chef Tim Graham’s “After Dark” menu featuring a rotating selection of $3 tacos from Elle on the River.

  • Piri Piri Chicken with pepper aioli, mahon cheese, pickles
  • Calabrian Mahi Mahi with lemon cream, quinoa slaw, avocado
  • Crispy Chickpeaswith hummus, herb tabouli, red cabbage
  • Chermoula Braised Pork Shoulder with radish and tzatziki

 

 

TravHiRes_MG_9861

 

Some of my favorite memories this past summer have been at Elle on the River, meeting up with friends after work, eating the Chicken and Pork Tacos, sipping on watermelon soda and arguing over whether the Chermoula Braised Pork Shoulder had a hint of cinnamon (totally does) and who ordered the best dessert (strawberry shortcake FTW).  Summer’s gone, but the flavors remain… if only for a little while longer.  The “After Dark” menu is available for a limited time only.  Second chances are so few and far between so if you missed out this summer now is your chance to give them a try.

 

For reservations or more information, please visit www.travellechicago.com or call 312-923-9988.

 

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Trick-or-Treat

halloween

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