Previous month:
October 2007
Next month:
December 2007

November 2007

The Virgin Islands in a Nutshell


This photo pretty much describes my whirlwind trip this week to St. John and Tortola in the Virgin Islands to check out sailboats.  It was a non-stop frenzy of scoping boats (ah, the beauty in a 36' Cabo Rico), meeting expats and yacht brokers (what a motley crew), braving hairpin switchbacks and crazy drivers (heart attack x 8 gazillion), tossing down rum concoctions (never agin will I drink something dubbed a "painkiller"), stunning snorkeling (hi, fire coral that stung the whole left side of my body as a wave slammed me into a cave wall), shoving french fries (food--not so great), ogling the scenery (in a word: unbelievable), and basically attempting to figure out if I could live that wild-n-free boating life right now (big hmmmm...).  I've decided I can make no decisions on a thing (at all/in life/period) until I return from Indonesia in December.  It's a little hectic because I just got back early this AM and I leave for Indo tomorrow night.  Yikes...More to come from the road...

Time Out Chicago Pizza Issue

Img_2774This weeks Time Out Chicago is all about PIZZA!  And, on their website, you'll find some good clips about what it takes to make a perfect margherita pizza.  My cameraman and I spent a day scooting around to four of the best pizza makers in the city, just chatting them up about all the best ingredients, and I'm here to tell you, crust is the killer.  I came home afterward and tried to toss one simple pie together and after a full day of blood, sweat, and tears, I'd say mine was a 7 out of 10 (nothing a few drinks wouldn't make a 10, though).  Watch the video yourself and see if you think you can do better!  Enjoy~
*********Here's the TOC intro**********
Easy as pie
How do you make the perfect Margherita pizza at home? Four local chefs share their secrets.

Reporting by Misty Tosh and camerawork by Kuba Zelazek
Editing by Scott Smith

In our cover story, “Best of ‘za bunch,” we picked our five favorite spots for Margherita pizza. But you don’t need to leave the house to enjoy the taste of plum tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil on a crispy crust.

In these videos, Jonathan Goldsmith at Spacca Napoli, Phaedre Divres at Gruppo di Amici, Chris Karl at Crust and J. Spillane at Coal Fire take us inside their kitchens and school us on how to make a Margherita pizza at home.

Kiko's Market and Restaurant Does a Body Right~

Img_2607Here's another review I did for Time Out...and I'm not kidding when I say that Kiko's is amazing.  The bean soup knocked my socks off and all of the meat dishes were top notch.  Ahhh, but what do you expect from a restaurant attached to a butcher shop?  The bread is killer as well, so if you find yourself up toward North Lincoln, make sure to stop in even if just for some fresh baked loaves.  Just don't be a dummy like me and abandon your bread at the bar down the road after getting all jazzed up on too many espressos!

Kiko's Market and Restaurant

Address: 5077 N Lincoln Ave Lincoln Square/Ravenswood, Chicago
Hours: Lunch, dinner
Phone: 773-271-7006
Travel: El: Brown to Western. Bus: 11, 49 (24 hrs), X49, 81 (24 hrs)
Prices:Average main course: $9

Don't be alarmed by the sounds and flurry of activity at this quaint butcher shop cum restaurant; it's just the Bosnian butchers in back of the attached market hacking up the day's meat. Better to focus on the divine sausages tucked into homemade bread, the chubby ground beef patties oozing with fresh, mild cheese and the hearty bowls of bean soup. If you opt to eat in but still don't want to leave empty handed, wander through the open doorway to the adjoining shop to pick up a variety of meats, Bosnian specialty foods and crusty breads on the cheap.

Tabasco, Mexico is in FULL DISASTER MODE!


Tabasco, Mexico:
800,000 Have Been Left Homeless in Just a Few Days Time.

Holy moly, man this picture from a city in Tabasco is totally devastating....very reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina photos that still shock me every time I see them.  The state has lost 100% of their crops and 80% is underwater.  Could you imagine?? My upcoming C. America travels in January are going to take me very close to this region, so my mom and I are working together to bundle up loads and loads of clothes, shoes, belts, etc...for me to haul down there on my journey.  Hopefully, things have settled by then and restoring order is at the forefront. If you have extra goods and want to donate, shoot me an email and we can chat and/or arrange something.  Even a tiny bag of your old stuff will be a massive gift to someone who has lost everything in a flood.  Mother Nature sure works in funny ways...This video says it all...

Hyderabad House on Devon

Img_2686Not sure if you guys know this, but I write loads of restaurant reviews for local mags and online guides.  Word count is hell--you try summing up a place in under 100 words--and I really only cover low-key joints, mostly ethnic in nature.  Here is one that I want to share from last weeks Time Out Chicago.  It was on Hyderabad House, seriously one of the best little Indian dives on Devon.  They just opened up a restaurant across the street that is more family dining style, not cabbie haunt and it is just as good, if not better.  The original is cheaper, though and the pic to the left is of one of the more intriguing dishes I tried--mutton!  I almost didn't try it, but man, it was straight delish~

Hyderabad House
Address: 2225 W Devon Ave Far North Side, Chicago
Hours: Lunch, dinner; Phone: 773-381-1230
Travel: Bus: 49B, 93, 155
Prices:Average main course: $7

This tucked-away Southern Indian nugget is a dream for strapped diners, especially if they're meat lovers. With no veggie options on the dry-erase-board menu, the cabbies, locals and neighboring auto-shop clientele have no choice but to load up on piquant bowls of soft mutton in silky gravy and heaping plates of steaming lamb biryani. Be prepared to make multiple lightning-quick beelines for the water cooler if you choose the chicken paratha—its tasty but potent fire level can be a bit much for beginners. Cool off with a tasty bowl of homemade kheer (rice pudding).

Manitou Springs, Colorado: Historic Hippie Town USA

Img_2992Yet another perfect place to live was discovered this past week.  While driving from Chicago to Colorado to pick up Yatz, I stayed the night at a motel in this little mountain town called Manitou Springs, just outside of Colorado Springs, CO.  Talk about adorable. It's really tiny and super hilly and perfectly situated at the very base of Pikes Peak.  The folks were definitely friendly (seems I got into very heated debates in the local watering holes regarding global warming, third world travel, eco-minded retreats, etc...) and they all seemed to step outside the bar every few minutes for a bit of doobage which lent to the hippie feel of the town all night long.  At one point, I was sitting at the bar enjoying a convo with a wild-eyed war vet named "Black" when I glanced out the window and saw a few of the locals pushing a coffin up the street.  Turns out they were practicing for the big coffin race coming up that weekend.  Interesting stuff all the way around.  It'd definitely make a good basecamp for an outdoorsy type--hell, when the rugged sporting goods store has a liquor license and does open mic nights, you know somethings gotta be right in the world!