The Good Old Days: Grandparents and Thanksgiving

Kempton was always known as the small town with the big heart; the town of my mother’s family beginnings; her grandparents, my grandmother who had passed away in 1958, aunts, uncles and my great aunt, Lulu Pearl. My earliest memories of Kempton were on Thanksgiving Day at Aunt Lu’s two bedroom corner, blue cottage neatly painted in white trim. A vegetable garden was meticulously maintained in the back with her specialties of beets and tomatoes while well-trimmed shrubs surrounded the foundation of the home.

Coming from the city, my immediate family was always the first to arrive while Aunt Lu called the others to join us on her believe it or not box phone with crank and real receptionist named Jenny. That gave me plenty of time to cut out the latest Betsy McCall and her clothes. After the rest of the family arrived, we took our places behind the long table in the dining room eating from her blue willow dishes. Pumpkin pie was always her winning recipe.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving break is Grandparents Day at school; a wonderful time for those traveling to see their grandchildren. For our district, Grandparents Day is usually one of the biggest attended events with just grandparents…not sons or daughters who have kindergarten or early elementary children. Just for Grandma,  Grandpa and Grand friends…sometimes Aunts or Uncles if Grandma can’t attend. Over 300 attended today. Many become new Grandparents on that day for children who do not have a guest. A study out of the University of Oxford found children who are close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems, and are better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school.

Though she never learned to drive, Aunt Lu would find her way to our house in the city by my cousin every summer. I could always count on a game of Yahtzee every time I offered and she always made the best fried potatoes in town. Because of unpredictable weather, the winter months were generally confined to her little town in Kempton but one year she came to stay and had arrived two days after Christmas. It was unusual for her to venture out in the cold months but my father was in the hospital. Children were not allowed to visit during the 1960’s and Aunt Lu felt she could help.

During her first night’s visit, the phone had disturbed our usual game of Yahtzee and after that I found that Aunt Lu could offer so much more than games. It was a nurse from the hospital; my father had passed away. Though I was 12 and tried to be adult, Aunt Lu let me cry as long as it took, keeping her arms around me, never tiring or disturbing me from my tears. What incredible timing for Aunt Lu’s calming patience in such a terrible storm. Ten years later, Aunt Lu passed away after passionately celebrating her 90th birthday with her family.

Today, I appreciate the towering strength she provided that day and the strenuous days that followed; never perceiving the no pomp and circumstance woman as one of the most salient women I was blessed to know. And I try to follow her loving example everyday reminding myself that every tragedy as has a reason.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Spike Mendelsohn introduces the Flipp app and a new recipe

I walked into the Good Stuff Eatery at 22 South Wabash Ave just a few blocks from Millennium Park. I was extremely interested in visiting since the thought of delicious burgers and hand-spun shakes was my chosen favorite food since childhood. The Chicago location of the Good Stuff Eatery opened in 2015 after winning the Chicago Gourmet’s 2014 Hamburger Hop. The Prez burger (President Obama) won the Judge’s Choice Award. The pilot store of Good Stuff Eatery opened on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in July 2008. This was a family operation owned by the Mendelsohn family with the son, Spike Mendelsohn, at the helm.

Spike is better known, to many, as a celebrity chef. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Spike worked with some of the world’s most renowned chefs and eventually made his television debut on Bravo TV’s Top Chef. Spike went on to appear on several other cooking-related shows, including Life After Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Late Night Chef Fight and Beat Bobby Flay. He also hosted Midnight Feastand Food Network’s Kitchen Sink.

The Good Stuff in Washington became a favorite of President Barack Obama’s which inspired Spike to write a cookbook called The Good Stuff cookbook. Following the opening of the Good Stuff Eatery, Spike opened up We, The Pizza, Béarnaise and Santa Rosa Taqueria.

Today, Spike talks about shopping tips and tricks for the Fourth of July and some of the unique resources available when finding the best prices. That includes the free Flipp app for IOS and Android. You can search weekly ads, coupons and navigate through your favorite stores. The app allows you to check out specific foods or browse a variety of retailers. Once you download the app and add your location, Flipp will locate the stores in your area and you can click on your favorite store to explore its best deals. You can tap a retailer, check out the coupons and load them to your loyalty cards. There are thousands of retailers available including Kroger, Walmart, Big Lots, CVS Pharmacy, Aldi’s, Family Dollar, Home Depot, Loews and Dicks Sporting Goods to name a few.

Spike is truly passionate in giving back to the community; something he was taught at an early age. He has a genuine desire for providing food equity and help others purchase healthy food while saving time and money. Flipp offers shoppers a way to plan and budget for groceries but still choose quality instead of just running into your favorite store at the end of day and choosing items on sale. Spike commented on a Flipp feature where you type milk or peanut butter into the program and a variety of milk options will be displayed such as almond milk or organic peanut butter that demonstrates the Flipp app is focused on quality as well as excellent prices.

Spike came to Chicago because of his sister going to school here when opening the Good Stuff Eatery downtown. He loves to travel and is the first chairman of the Washington DC Food Policy Council where he continually helps to improve school lunches and speaks out in groups that encourage healthy eating.

I enjoyed the Prez burger that was made with apple-wood bacon, onion marmalade, Roquefort cheese, and horseradish mayo. The Chocoholic Shake was, by far, the best. The next time I would like to try the Compass Coffee Shake since coffee is another drink I cannot live without. For the holiday, Spike shared a special recipe below for Mahalo sliders that you can make at home. Consequently, I am planning my own July 4th menu which will include homemade Mahalo burgers with barbecue sauce and pineapple,cucumber slaw. And it has never been so easy and cost effective. My new Flipp app will even tell me when store sales will be ending so I know exactly when I should plan my shopping time.

Mahalo Sliders
– 4 pounds Ground Beef of your choice, leaner the better for sliders, less shrinking
– 1 teaspoon of cayenne
– 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
– 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
– salt/pepper to taste
– 1 tbl olive oil
– cheddar cheese slices for melting

* use a large bowl and add all of your ground meat and break it up, add all seasonings, parsley flakes, oil and mix around aggressively. Using a small scale patty up 2 oz burgers and place on a sheet tray. Season with salt and pepper.

Hawaii roles 2- 12 pcks or enough for everyone to have at least two sliders.
– using butter spray, spray your buns before grilling.

Pineapple Cucumber Slaw
– 2 cups pineapple, small dice
– 2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
– 1 medium cucumber, peeled and small diced
– 1/4 cup red onion, small diced
-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
– 2 tablespoon lime juice
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– salt and pepper to taste

*In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside

Bbq Sauce
– 2 cups bbq sauce
– 1 tbl of chipotle in can
– 2 tbl of Apple Cider Vinegar
– 1 tbl Molasses

*Add all of these ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously, season with salt and pepper…

Assembly
– Make sure to grill the burger only for a minute on each side. Melt cheddar cheese
– toast Hawaiian rolls
– add burgers
– add slaw
– add bbq sauce.

Chicago Cookies

Every time I think of the butter cookie in the blue box, I hear the Salerno Butter Cookie song in my head constantly. It was famous in the 1960’s and continued on through the years though butter cookies were not my favorite. Though I did like putting them on my fingers like a ring.I have always been a chocolate fan especially a rich, chocolate chip cookie. But Salerno has been a favorite since 1933. The original factory was located at 4500 West Division in Chicago and Alyce Salerno was the last of the original Salerno cookie owner who died in 1985. Her father originally began the company. Since, the company and recipe has been repeatedly  sold  you can still get the cookies online and in many grocery stores.

Maurice Lenell: My Mom always served the pinwheel swirl cookie and jelly star cookies with coffee and for guests. Not sure why they were the rage since, again, it was always a chocolate chip cookie…even today. Maurice Lenell grew up working at a small Swedish bakery on the northwest side of Chicago. In 1937, when he struck out on his own, Maurice used his hands-on baking knowledge and many of the family recipes to produce his own cookie jar favorites. Maurice Lenell signature cookies soon became a Chicago institution.  In 2008. Maurice Lenell cookies finally closed its doors. The Cookie Store and ore opened in 2010 to serve as the unofficial outlet for the brand but it has been closed since 2015.

Lorna Doone is a golden, square-shaped shortbread cookie produced by Nabisco. It was possibly named after the main character in R. D. Blackmore’s 1869 novel, Lorna Doone. The original cookie recipe came from the Malloys. The couple came from County Cork, Ireland. Emily and John Malloy ran a bakery in Chicago. The couple came from County Cork, Ireland. Emily had created the recipe, but when they closed down the bakery, John sold the recipe to Nabisco.

Savor the flavor of salad: Some Chicago suggestions

By Caryl Clem

May is National Salad Month.  Salad today is nothing like my past memories. Dining expectations of the 1950’s and 1960’s glorified home cooking producing mouthwatering spreads.  We read Woman’s Day and Family Circle to preview the featured recipes.  I can still picture the mounds of salad vegetables and fruit surrounded by various Jell-O combinations. Nothing like sugar encased salad ingredients for health and nutrition. Cookbook salad instruction included mayonnaise and cream based dressings.  In a rush to fix a filling lunch salad, just take anything out of the refrigerator such as eggs, potatoes or leftover chicken, add mayonnaise and a few extras such as mustard or pickle relish.  Salads slid down your throat.

By the 1970’s, Food and Nutrition experts are trying to warn Americans about the dangers of poor eating habits.  The wrong foods increase heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, and obesity to name a few. Carbs that taste so good in French fries, garlic bread and pasta are to be avoided.  Sugar dulls mental activity. What is left to satisfy an appetite in the good food group? Meals with half a plate filled with most vegetables and fruits according to Harvard studies.

Chicago restaurant entrepreneurs, Rich Melman with his partner Jerry Orzoff, opened the first salad bar Lettuce Entertain You, at RJ Grunts, in 1971 in Lincoln Park. Forty years later, his successful company operates many restaurants.

Salads can be satisfying, healthy, and scrumptious. A great salad has various textures and colors. Dowse you salads oil and vinegar dressings that actually aid in releasing the nutrients. I love ranch dressing so I do a light version thinned with skim milk.  Ingredient choices to balance food groups is the key to success and flavor. Dump the myth a salad is 75% lettuce, endive, or kale.  Try different bases, string beans, or grate a carrot bed topped with healthy foods you enjoy.  Better Nutrition magazine was founded by Jack Schwartz educating readers about food choices. Several articles boost about salads as a premier experience. Spoon University offers suggestions concerning the restaurants in Chicago that offer the best salad.

Feel like biting into a meal that improves your lifestyle or maintains wellness; bring out the cutting board and salad bowl. In a study conducted in by 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, these benefits were documented:

  • Eating a salad a day is directly correlated with higher nutrient levels.
  • Adding salad dressing to a salad increases the absorption of certain nutrients being consumed.
  • The fat in salad dressing helps absorb key nutrients such as lycopene and alpha- and beta-carotene.
  • People who eat salads, salad dressing, and raw vegetables are more likely to meet recommended intakes for vitamins C, E and folic acid.
  • High fruit and vegetable consumption has also been associated with lower rates of pre-menopausal bone loss in women.
  • Consumption of as little as one serving of salad or raw vegetables per day is significantly associated with the likelihood of meeting the recommended nutrient intakes of each of vitamins A, E, B6, and folic acid.

Bon Appetite!!

Saluting lovers of peanut butter

By Caryl Clem:

Savored American foods have a special recognition day.  I felt guilty about missing one of my favorite all American foods on its special day January 24th.  After reading the holiday list for March, I discovered my chance at redemption.  March 1st is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day.  My favorite 1950’s lunch, a peanut butter and banana sandwich nestled in my brown lunch bag alongside an apple and a homemade cookie. I refused to eat pink, slippery meat or anything that came out of a can. Even when high school offered cafeteria food, I kept a jar of peanut butter in my locker as a backup against hunger. I had learned that during World War I and II, peanut butter sandwiches were a military staple. The icon, Mr. Peanut, was shown wearing a uniform during WWII ads.  Today, Care Package Instructions for our honorable soldiers still suggest a jar of peanut butter.

We peanut butter lovers can claim kinship with Elvis, The King, who would fly a private jet to a restaurant in Colorado that featured his favorite peanut butter sandwich concoction on its menu. Even though the restaurant is closed, our modern social information network offers several how to video’s on YouTube explaining how to create Elvis’s Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon sandwich. Remember the detective Colombo’s trench coat with deep pockets he would slip food into during his scenes?  His snacks included hard boiled eggs, peanut butter with raisins sandwich or chili.  If you are a devoted older fan of peanut butter, join the adult Peanut Butter Lover’s Fan Club, and read posts from celebrities written by Texas hauntings.  Current celebrities range from Tom Selleck , Barbara Walters, Billy Joel, to Madonna.

John Harvey Kellogg (founder of Kellogg cereal) patented the first process for making peanut butter in 1895 by steaming the nuts and served it to his patients at his sanitarium. By 1897, the magazine, Popular Science News did an article covering “Recent inventions” suggesting that peanut butter could be used in cooking just as a shortening replacing butter or lard.  By 1902, a Mrs. Rore in her New Cook Book, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania published a peanut butter cookie recipe.  At the 1904 World’s Fair, D.H. Sumner successfully sold a peanut butter treat at his concession stand. New methods evolve, a Californian patents churning peanut butter and using roasted nuts improves the taste.

As a source of protein that was economical and tasty, in 1927 Peter Pan Peanut Butter was noted as one of the most popular snacks for that year. Are you a crunchy or creamy fan? The West section of the U.S. and males usually favors crunchy style while the Eastern section and females favor creamy.  Peanut butter becomes the new star in a cookie recipe dessert in 1932 published The Schenectady Gazette. A section of the cooking instructions includes the distinctive fork crisscross technique used to flatten the peanut butter cookie mound, to ensure evenly distributing the heat while baking.

Proving the popularity of peanut butter cookies today is the statistic from the National Peanut Board reporting 230,000 pounds of peanut butter are used a week to bake the Girl Scouts Do-si-do’s and Tagalongs.  Pillsbury recommends the best recipes for peanut butter cookies in 1933 and 1936. The Peanut Blossom claims fame in 1999 in the Pillsbury Hall of Fame Bake-Off. This recipe was from Freda Smith of Ohio who had no chocolate chips to add to her peanut butter/chocolate chip cookie recipe so she topped the mound with a Hershey Kiss.

Saving the best for last, Peanut butter (or its taste cousin flavor blending caramel and peanuts) with chocolate lay next to each other in a candy bar. Love and marriage mates in the candy world, ingredients that stick together with ease.  According to current Google statistics, Number 1 candy bar debut in 1930 named after horse-Snickers, closely followed by Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup first invented in 1923 by a Hershey employee. To keep his invention from being stolen, Reese first appeared in vending machines. By the 1940’s Reese started commanding the store market. Butterfinger bars were dropped from planes to introduce the new candy. Babe Ruth from the same candy company as Butterfinger comes in last. In an age of changing food tastes, candy bars created nearly 100 years ago are going strong.

The standard composition for peanut butter requires 90% no matter what your brand choice.  The oldest peanut butter company, Krema Products Company, is still operating in Columbus, Ohio. No matter what you combine peanut butter with; you will never have to worry about biting off more than you can chew.  Holidays celebrating the influence of the peanut include,  National Peanut Butter Day-January 24,Peanut Butter and Jelly Day-April 2  (https://www.thedailymeal.com/eat/pinstripes-peanut-butter-jelly-menu/032718),Peanut Butter Cookie Day-June 12,Mr. Peanut Day-April 20, Peanut Butter Cookie Day-June 12 Peanut Butter Month-November

Talking turkey

By Caryl Clem:

Coastal Thanksgiving festivals

Feature local stars to dance unto tables.

Juicy duets of cranberry and apple

Bacon flavor veggies with caramelized onion.

Russian Salmon Pie and Salmon Mousse share room

Pumpkin or squash cream cheese couples.

Dixie land Spoon Bread, Johnny Cake

Competes with rich Pecan Pie to partake

Or Southern favorite Shoofly Sweet Potato Pie.

A sweet tooth finds impossible to deny.

Dressing the turkey, bread and shored oysters

Blend taste sensations of land and waters .

Texans deep fry the turkey in the finale

Served alongside steaming hot tamales.

Mid-west maple or cider  marinated turkeys glazed

Empty plates to earn words of praise.

Kicked up with Southwestern hot chili pepper

Cranberry/Orange cinnamon spice sauce flavor

No matter what your family consumes

Relax, enjoy relatives tasty customs.

Beverly Hills Chicago,then and now

Located on the southwestern edge of Chicago, my mother grew up in Beverly during the early 1920’s and 1930’s moving to Deland, Florida for her high school years in 1935. Her father worked for Illinois Bell and she would meet him at the 95th street train station Rock Island Railroad and walk home together along Longwood drive. There home was tiny compared to most. Father was in an executive position at Illinois Bell but a frugal man.

In the 1960’s, it was Beverly where my Aunt worked at Morris B Sachs on the corner of 95th and Western. It was in Beverly on 95th where my Mother bought my first French walnut bedroom set with desk and hutch that I still have.  Wilson Jump was one of the many vanished furniture stores.

My best friend and I would ride the bus down 95th west, passing Beverly, crossing Western into Evergreen Park where we exited into the shopping mall which is still there but stores have changed. I can remember visiting Mary Jane Shoes, Lyttons, Chas A Stevens and,of courses Carson which is still there but remodeled. My aunt worked there too.

Unfortunately, I also remember Beverly where my fathers funeral and wake took place in 1967 and the funeral home is now a health food store.

Today, Beverly is still a beautiful area with street lamps trimming 95th street, its major thorough fare. Beverly features prestigious, architecturally designed homes which includes the famous Frank Lloyd Wright and George Washington Maher. Many are featured on the historic Longwood Drive where your will now find the Beverly Unitarian Church which was once a resident castle built in 1886.  This house at 10200 S. Longwood Drive was built in 1890 by Horace Horton, the owner of Chicago Bridge and Iron Company.

Open since 1942, Top Notch Beefburger is another great place to stop for a burger and a shake. The burgers are ground daily and come on a toasted bun.  Oreo shakes are an excellent choice along with fresh, cut fries.

If you are just looking to have dessert, at Western and 92nd street is a place your should never miss during the spring and summer months; the Original Rainbow Cone Ice Cream that opens March 4th.  Josep Sapp worked as a Buick mechanic by day and operated a small rainbow cone ice cream shop in 1926, the same location it is today.

At the time, this area was not considered Chicago, however, there were century old cemeteries that Chicagoan’s liked to visit and guess were they would stop for a cone on their way back to the city. The original rainbow cone consists of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House, pistachio and orange sherbet.

Best of eating in Andersonville Chicago

Andersonville’s began in the 1850’s as a Swedish neighborhood and after the Chicago Fire, the entire commercial strip was dominated by Swedish businesses,  Today, Andersonville is comprised of unique, locally owned businesses of many cultures that add a strong sense of community to the neighborhood and has been known as another Mayberry, similar to the town in the Andy Griffith Show. Committed to encouraging unity in the neighborhood and hosting some of the best restaurants in the Chicago area, Andersonville prides itself in being known for its excellent service and prized cuisine.

Anteprima

On  north Clark Avenue, Anteprima offers a delectable and changing menu of wonderful Italian home style cooking.  Offering reasonable three course menus , Anteprima buys from local and organic producers whenever possible beginning every meal with rosemary salted bread sticks and ending with a dreamy chocolate hazel nut tart.  Enjoy beautifully presented pastas or break from the ordinary lunch with grilled octopus.  To compliment your dinner, high-quality Italian wines are available in carafes so you can have more than one glass.

m Henry

Looking for a great breakfast, brunch or lunch, m. henry offers an intercontinental breakfast served with a fresh baked muffin, scone or warm baguette and petite fruit salad served all day. However, known for their fried eggs sandwiches, m. Henry offers a wonderful organic coffee menu and a dandelion, shallot and leek omelet served with house potatoes. Some have also praised the quiche as being the best as well as perfect pancakes.

Big Jones

Inspired by the American South, Big Jones is known for its famous Southern heirloom cooking with Chef and Co Owner Paul Febribach who has been featured on Chicago radio with his recipes published in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-times and the Chicago Magazine just to name a few. Most recently Fehribach has been honored as a nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Big Jones gives a taste of New Orleans by celebrating with Mardi Gras classics such as buttery king cake and more.

Vincent

Cozy bar and biestro, Vincent is another great place to dine on Balmoral Ave. Adam Grandt began his career at the award winning Carlos Restaurant hired as Executive Chef at Sage Grill in 2008. Now his dynamic style adds nothing but accolades for his innovative presentations at Vincent.  Mussels in saffron or any style is one of diners favorites including big burgers and orange creme sickle mousse for dessert.  Mixed drinks are excellent along with exceptional classic meals.

Antica Pizzeria

Charming and an inexpensive experience, Antic Pizzeria  offers delicious Neapolitan pizza and menu choices that include tender calamari and house made desserts that include tiramisu. Mario Rapisarda (Cocco Pazzo, Spiaggia) and Faris Faycurry (Dylan’s Tavern, Villa Nova) combined their 25 years of expertise and created the Andersonville neighborhood’s first ever wood burning pizza oven.  Antica delivers and helps families prepare special events or create a wine tasting.

Hopleaf Bar

Awarded Michelin’s Bib Gourdman for 2016, Hopleaf Bar can also be a haven for great food. With a Belgian-inspired kitchen, Hopleaf offers a great mussels and frites experiences as well as an extensive collection of beers.  The first Monday of every month features Belgian Fried Chicken served with a Kwak in its famous glass. The Chicago Traveler praises HopLeaf  for its grilled cheese that is filled with cashew butter, cheese and fig jam, pan-fried on sourdough bread.

Hamburger Mary’s

When visiting Andersonville, Hamburger Mary’s is a must with perfectly cooked burgers and a variety of toppings to select. The fried ice cream is a great conclusion to any meal at this bar and grille. Hamburger Mary’s received the Good Neighbor Award in 2013 for being the business that best exemplifies the spirit of community support and customer service. Hamburger Mary’s franchises began in San Francisco and their motto is you are what you eat only offering the best in healthy ingredients.

Andies

Butternut squash soup, cucumber mint salad and a gluten-free winter risotto are some of the delectable’s waiting for you at Andies Restaurant. A delicious Mediterranean dining experience, Chef Andie Tamras brings some of the most worthy recipes from Tunisia and Morocco. A favorite for over 30 years, Andies plants their own vegetable garden as well as herbs such as basil, thyme and cilantro. Andies gives back by contributing to community service organizations such as Care for Real and Sarah’s circle

Jin Ju

The heart of Andersonville cuisine also offers traditional Korean dishes in a romantic setting with dimly lit candlelight. Jin Ju offers barbeque pork spare ribs marinated in a spicy sweet red pepper sauce and a great seaweed soup with scallions in a mussel broth. Their Mandoo soup is wonderful with dumplings, scallions and egg in a clear broth . Jin Ju also offers private events and can customize the menu to suit your party’s needs.

Lady Gregory’s

Floor to ceiling windows bring a passionate beauty to Lady Gregory’s in Andersonville. Inspired by Irish Victorian author, Lady Augusta Gregory quoted as the greatest living Irishwoman, this Irish bar and restaurant  is acclaimed for its lobster mac and shepherd’s pie. Also know for a whiskey selection of 300 and 100 beer s. Lady Gregory’s also provides an entire separate gluten free menu as well as a kids menu.  You can also order online for a curbside pickup. A true Celtic experience and a distinctive place to visit on Saint Patrick’s Day.

Chicago’s Gold Coast

My early gold coast trips included the Old Water Tower built in 1869 finally transcending across the street to the new Water Tower Place built in 1975. Also, for me, days of dining took place in an elegant room for Sunday brunch and dinner at Kontiki Ports restaurant, provided by the Continental Hotel now Intercontinental.

But the Gold Coast is truly known for prominent luxury that began on the near north side of Chicago. Millionaire Potter Palmer built his mansion in 1882 while other wealthy residents followed to the Gold coast of Chicago situated along the shores of Lake Michigan.

The Gold Coast still offers an affluent haven for rare designer stores on the Magnificent Mile and the most popular restaurants in the country located on historic Rush street.  After shopping and eating,  the district highlights some of the most prestigious hotels that include the legendary Drake .

Old Water Tower

Located in the heart of the Gold Coast along the Magnificent Mile known for its shopping, the Chicago Water Tower is the second oldest in the United States built in 1869 and is worth a visit.  Skyscrapers,  such as the Hancock Building, dwarf the building that is just little over 150 Feet. It now holds a city gallery that present the resplendent work of artists and local photographers. An ensemble based theatre in Chicago that has won 42 Joseph Jefferson  is LookingGlass theatre whose home is this historic water pumping station  and offers internships to graduated college students in professional theatre.

Water Tower Place

Across the street from the Chicago Water Tower, is 758,000 square feet of shopping with 74 floors  at Water Tower Place, one of Chicago’s largest shopping malls with over 100 stores. All business are indoors at 825 North Michigan Avenue.  Water Tower features stores such as America Girl Place where you can shop for your favorite doll and treat you and your children to a special dining experience.  Other stores include Macy’s, Abercrombie and Fitch and full service restaurants like Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch; a great sports bar on the top floor of the plaza.

Broadway Play House

After spending a day of shopping and dining, on the North side of Water Tower Place is the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower, originally a Drury Lane Theater in the 1970’s. After a makeover in 2010, Broadway has hosted Love, Loss and What I wore as well as highly acclaimed Broadway hit Colin Quinn: Long Story Shorty.

Newberry Library

Situated in the vibrant Gold Coast neighborhood but off the beaten path of Michigan Ave and its restaurants and shops, Newberry library is free and open to the public. Researchers and scholars all over the world have visited the collections that include the brilliance of literature , rare books, maps, music and manuscripts that will detail six centuries of material. The Newberry was established in 1887 and also provides programs for teachers, adult education seminars and a variety of events on  the humanities.

Washington Square Park

Across the street from the Newberry, is the serenity of  Washington Square Park  founded in 1842. During the summer months the park is celebrated with a combination of trees, picket fencing, a Victorian fountain that was added in the 1890’s and a beautiful array of floral design; a great place to take a breath and relax during your busy trip to Gold Coast.  The park is heralded as an historic district in Chicago.

900 North Michigan Shops

For high end, luxury shopping featuring Gucci, Max Mara, J.Crew and a host of others, visit the 8th tallest skyscraper in the city on Gold Coast’s Magnificent Mile.  Exquisite boutiques include designers such as Kate Spade and Karen Millen. Celebrate happy hour at Frankie’s pizza.

Rush Street

Just a one way street traveling North, Rush is acclaimed for its wealth, nightlife, five star hotels and elite restaurants that include Tavern on Rush,  Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House, and Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse where you will find autographed photographs  of the rich and famous. If in the mood for Asian, Jellyfish restaurant has been voted as one of the 17 hottest Sushi Restaurants in the United States.  There is no telling what to expect on Rush street.

Driehaus Museum

Known as the Gilded Age, Driehaus offers collections of awe inspiring examples of furnishing and interiors the wealthy in America crafted during that era. Beautifully preserved architecture and design grace the museum from such acclaimed designers as Louis Comfort Tiffany.  You will be able to visit rooms in the Gallery that present the elegance of the front parlor, dining room and even the smoking room of the early 19th century.

Signature Lounge at the 96th and Signature Room at the 95th

Not only does the 96th floor of the John Hancock offer wonderful views of the city, but the  Signature Lounge offers a choice of over 700 wines and specialty cocktails along with appetizers that include caprese bruschetta and great chicken wings.  If in the mood for dinner, The Signature Room at the 95th floor has been named the most romantic and has been voted one of America’s Top Table by Gourmet Magazine. Fresh entrees include Australian rack of lamb and vegetable lasagna.

The Drake  Hotel

One of more than 250 hotels in America, the Drake Hotel is recognized by Historic Hotels of America. The Hotel opened on New Year’s Eve with a massive gala of over 2,000 Chicago Citizens in 1919.  The Drake provides the grandeur of the early 19th century  with over 500 luxury guest rooms and 74 magnificent suites . Enjoy afternoon tea in the elaborate Palm Court and choose from 17 different tea suggestions.

Fond memories of fine dining: Restaurants now extinct

Fine dining was a special favorite for my Dad and we went to a new place frequently. He was a business owner and that was the way he felt he could thank those that purchased his product. That was the way he thought he could teach his only child manners and grace. Though, I loved to explore new places , it was always the same as far as my food choice, a kiddie cocktail and a steak sandwich/medium rare without the bread. After he passed away, my Mother continued the tradition with me through the decades. Though long gone and my list could go on and on, I just included places that I had visited in the outlining suburbs/towns of Chicago back in the day.

Green Shingle in Harvey had exemplified true love from the early 60’s. It with my first date with my Dad in my best dress, shoes and gloves. It was my first steak sandwich medium rare but would not be last.After my Dad passed away, it was my second date with my college professor who helped to celebrate my birthday with fellow students;  that same college professor who passed away from cancer a few years ago. And finally, a date with my first boyfriend as we first held hands at the candlelit tabkle; killed in a car accident shortly after.

Dunlaps started as a concession but moved in 1937 to its Palos Heights location on 123rd lasting for 60 years. My father owned a business in decorative and auto glass. One of his clients was Dunlaps in which he created the smoked glass that enhanced visitors behind the long, bar still in exquisite condition when the restaurant closed. Even as a child and adult, I remember staring at my self, proud of my family contributing some part to an institution for great food including real relish trays with pickled beets.

Yesteryear in Kankakee,IL was a restaurant situated in the Frank Lloyd Wright home the B. Harley Bradley House located on Harrison Avenue. In the early 1940’s, my Mother lived in Kempton, IL and wanted to go to college. She rented a room from the Gates family who lived in the 400 block of Harrison Avenue  and attended Kankakee’s Business College.  The Gates, George, Ruth  and son Les became her adopted  family until they passed away in the late 1970’s. Les, who is 94, is still alive today. As a very young child, we would walk to Yesteryear which had opened in 1953. As a young adult, I attended a 50th anniversary of a family member from Cullom, IL.

Phil Schmidts, on the border of Illinois in Indiana, had been opened for 97 years . It was a place of many memories that included the celebration of events such as graduation parties. Known for their seafood, their most popular was frog legs and perch. Beginning in 1910 and closing in 2007, also made their own amazing tartar sauce.

The Tivoli on Glenwood Rd in Chicago Heights was also a favorite establishment especially for weddings or other family events. Though older when I visited the Tivoli, I had graduated from a steak sandwich to a wonderful porterhouse they served there and a broiled filet mignon topped with blue cheese.

The Old Barn in Burbank was a beautiful, elegant adventure for me as a child and adult dating back to the 1920’s when it originally was a speakeasy during Prohibition. Another great choice for wedding receptions and family dinners which had closed in 2008 and was 87 years. The Old Barn was especially beautiful during the holidays with leather chairs in the dining area and beautiful sofas and fireplace in the lounge.

Country Squire in Grayslake, IL was originally built in 1938 as the residence of a Sears family member and it was a mansion that became the Country Squire Restaurant in 1954. A breathtaking estate that I enjoyed often as an adult, experiencing on a date and also enjoying a wonderful wedding of a dear friend. I remember celebrating Mother’s Day with my own Mom  as she cried for its beauty and wonderful food.

The Flame, finally, in Countryside became another family favorite celebrating the same Mom’s  65th birthday there with her grandchildren. The restaurant was a classic with another dress me up atmosphere and the best in seafood and steak.  My love still was always steak or a Chateaubriand for two and for Mom, the best orange roughy she had ever tasted!