Archive for  November 2011

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Here is a list of the restaurants I visited and sampled.

Wicker Park Flight

Q & A time with Chef John Manion, formerly of Branch 27. He is opening 2 new restaurants this year.

Frontier – Chef Brian Jupiter
Raw & Char – grilled oysters
Blackberry BBQ Rabbit
Grilled Redfish (very flavorful)

The Bedford – Chef Mark Steuer
Deviled Eggs (powdered bacon a twist on an old favorite)
Smoked Trout

Prasino – Chef Scott Halverson
Ahi Tuna Tartar with wasabi caviar (wasabi caviar was an unexpected surprise)
Beet Salad
Grilled Thai Curry Pork Loin

I can’t say one was better than the other, because they were all different. That is the great thing about Flight Chicago; it’s like hitting the mix button on your IPOD. You can choose from different Flights in various neighborhoods. For more details click http://flightdeckchicago.comI am happy to announce the creators of Flight Chicago will be blogging for us on various eateries around Illinois. Please check in with us to read about Monika & Amber’s eating experience around Illinois.

Meet our new authors:

Amber Tillett & Monika Lotter – Chicago

When we decided to launch Flight Chicago, a backstage-pass tour of Chicago’s hottest restaurants, we went from casual food lovers to professionals.  With yin and yang backgrounds and viewpoints, we like to think of ourselves as one whole enchilada.  Monika was born and raised in Chicago, Amber came here from North Carolina.  Together, we’re able to look at the Illinois food culture as both a native and a visitor.  We love dressing up to hit the glittery new downtown spots, but also get a thrill biking to remote mofongo stands in way-west Humboldt Park.  We’re all over the place, and we can’t wait to take you with us.

Ciao –

7 starved rock celebrating

View from Lovers Leap

I hope you’re enjoying the great fall weather we are having in northern Illinois.  If you’re like me, you’re trying to spend as much time outdoors before the winter.  As a true Illinoisan we grab onto the beautiful sunshiny days like it was our last.  May I suggest taking a scenic drive and check out Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL.

Take a moment to explore the splendor of nature, and unplug. I remember going there has a child and biking while my Dad fished.  There was a mini hill near the dam, my brother and I used to race down on our bikes.  Recently I visited the hill and laughed how small it is from what I remembered.  I enjoy

LaSalle Canyon

watching my kids riding down the same hill on their bikes now.   So don’t forget your bikes!

I have always wondered how the Park got its name.  So with a little research here is a brief description.  French explorers built Fort St. Louis at Starved Rock in the winter of 1682-83 to take advantage of rock formations strategic position.  According to legend, in the 1760s a group of Illiniwek warriors were trapped on top of the 125-foot sandstone bluff by opposing Potawatomi and Ottawa fighters. Surrounded and unable to flee, the Illiniwek starved to death, giving rise to the park’s name. The bluff was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1960. Governor Quinn recently celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL. It’s one of the most visited state parks in Illinois. It is home to 18 canons formed by glacial melt water and stream erosion with over 2,800 acres to explore along the Illinois River.

Ottawa Canyon

I encourage everyone to see these spectacular rock formations in person. I hope you can take drive in the next few weeks although winter is ideal time too for bald eagle watching.  The adjacent Plum Island Eagle Sanctuary provides an ideal roosting habitat for bald eagles, I digress (I will save that for another post).

Ciao –


8 shemwells bbq

Hey BBQ enthusiasts, I just enjoyed a great lunch at Shemwell’s BBQ in Cairo, IL. This is a family run, old fashioned diner, with interesting people and a very good BBQ. It’s worth coming to Cairo for, and stopping down at the confluence, where America’s two greatest rivers come together and the ghost of Ulysss S. Grant still walks along Fort Defiance Park!

Throw out any preconceived notions of “barbeque” as beef brisket slathered with thick tomato-based sauce before walking in the door of this place….we’re talking authentic southern-style smoked pork shoulder, or “pulled pork” as it’s known out west. Shemwell’s specializes in slow roasting pork shoulders and serving them with the hottest bbq sauce in the south. Thick slices of perfectly smoked shoulder are served on white bread after they are squashed flat on a sandwich grill. One sandwich is never enough so plan on ordering two or more. You’ll want to take along a lb or more for sandwiches later…just don’t forget to get the bbq sauce. And for real authenticity squash your sandwich in a sandwich grill to drive all those delicious juices into the bread. Shemwells is on the main drag in Cairo, and open 7 days a week.

Tell us about your favorite BBQ!

Enjoy eating in Southern Illinois!