WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: CORK

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By now you know my brain wanders all over the place…take cork for an example, today’s subject!  I was at one of my new most favorite restaurants, MARISOL www.marisolhicago.com at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.  The Museum is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary, more on that in a future post.  Back to Marisol….I have been waiting for it to open for months and anticipated a new neighborhood place to hang out and I have definitely found it!  Love the atmosphere, the staff, headed by General Manager, Sarah Martins, is amazing, they are courteous, remember your name after one visit (what??????) and smile, what a concept, and the food, yes. the food is beyond yummy.  More on this new place in yet another post, fingers crossed that Chef Jason Hammel will share a recipe or two with us.  Wait, isn’t this post about cork, you ask, yes it is!  Here is why.

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My wine buddies joined me one evening and we were having our wine when Jason, our server extraordinaire, asked if we didn’t want a bottle with our dinner, we, of course, agreed, why not…it was a lovely Gamay.  Jason opened the bottle, presented me with the cork and the first sip to taste.  Looking at the cork, I decided that I needed to do a post on cork…of course, I did.  I explained to Jason and my dinner friends that is how my crazy mind works.  It brought to my mind the reason you are handed the cork, most certainly not to sniff it unless you want to have the smell of “cork”!  It is to let you know that the cork has the name of the winemaker/vineyard on it ad that it matches what you have ordered.  In years long gone, labels became illegible but the cork with its brand endured.   There is a great article on the website VinePair in their Wine Geekly posts on “What To Do With The Cork When Your Server Presents It!” Go to their site if you want to learn more, www.vinepair.com

I then, of course, started researching cork and where it comes from, actually from the cork oak from Southwest Europe and Northwest Africa, the bark is harvested, the trees are not cut down.  Cork is used in approximately 60% of all wine corks, you now can find synthetic corks and screw tops.  It is also used in musical instruments, flooring, wall covering, the interior cores of baseballs (who knew!!!) etc. etc. etc. In my life, my Father’s drawing board was topped with cork as was his inspiration wall (great for tacking bits and pieces) in his at-home studio.

imageAs the bark looks before it is harvested.

imageThe look of the pressed cork that would have been on my Father’s drawing board and wall.

Let’s look at a few decorative ways to use corks, I love to collect them on trips (use to do match boxes but who has those anymore!!!!) here are some ways you can use them in your home.

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imageimageChampagne corks for this chandelier.

imageOf course a book on the subject, you know me and books, To Cork or Not to Cork by George M. Faber.

A couple of games…

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And in fashion…

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The Nike LeBron 12 EXT “King’s Cork” shoe from the Nike website.

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The iconic Salvatore Ferragamo cork and suede wedge made for Judy Garland in 1938.  It is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collections.

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Dutch designer, Jan Taminian cork platform boots worn by Lady Gaga

imageTwo exquisite headpieces by Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen worn by Isabella Blow.

imageThis movie has very little to do with cork but it is one of my favorites and I adored Alan Rickman in anything and he is superb in this film, I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it or see it again!

I could easily go on for pages, which I usually do, there are so many images on Pinterest and online that it is hard to stop but stop I shall.  Look for yourselves who knows you might get inspired to do a cork craft after you have opened your own bottle of wine, looked at the brand on the cork and enjoyed a glass or two!

All photos, unless otherwise noted, from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

 

 

 

PROFILE: LIZ KLAFETA ENTREPRENEUR EXTRAORDINAIRE

imageLiz Klafeta

In all the Profiles I have done this past year I have either featured my former models, other friends, business associates and new acquaintances all of whom have had fascinating stories to tell.  Today I am featuring a wonderful success story of one of my former Columbia College Chicago students, Liz Klafeta.  I was invited to attend an event at a new West Town apartment building that was a Networking reception and panel discussion about how to use technology to your advantage in advancing your career path, it was fascinating.  Samantha Saifer Berngard, (last week’s Profile!) our hostess, pulled together a perfect mix of speakers and, in turn, has given me the opportunity to feature four of them, including herself in my Monday posts.  I was thrilled to reconnect with Liz, I haven’t seen her since she graduated.  She has an extraordinary story to share…..let’s see what she has been up to (it’s a lot!)

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

Hmm….I definitely obsessed and spent a lot of time contemplating and thinking about things whenever I was or am designing a project.  When other people see what I completed and their mouths would drop open, I thought I might be onto something.  Continual praise from multiple people helped as well. That’s actually when I knew the other person was not just being nice and maybe I was doing something well because everyone just isn’t THAT nice!

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT” EXPLAIN

“Made it” well that is a pretty secure statement and I don’t think anyone should ever get super secure! I still don’t think that I have “made it”, but I do know that I make spaces that people really enjoy staying in.  The letters and notes from countless guests have reassured me of this and having my home featured on HGTV helped solidify this feeling.

We grew 100% the first year, 100% the next year, and now BANGTEL consists of 6 full-time employees and many independent contractors in each city of our locations. Last year, 3 people tried to buy into us.  It was like an episode of Shark Tank.  That’s also when I realized we had something special. BANGTEL is still 100% owned by myself, currently.

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HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

I love transforming things into something completely different.  I was constantly remodeling my mom’s home when I was little to the point where it annoyed her.  I got into Fashion Styling and Prop Styling was less to things to schlep around believe it or not.  You could not bring 5 credenzas to set, but you could bring 5,000 turtlenecks to set.  As I continued to do more Prop Styling, I was also simultaneously rehabbing my townhouse that I purchased when I was 23 years old.  When this was completed and I had officially gotten burned out on the advertising world, I started hitting up landlords to see if I could rehab their homes on my dime.  So silly, but that’s how bad I wanted to design.  Let me pay for your rehab as a bargaining tactic for the landlord to let me Airbnb. I love designing and I love taking care of people so here I am, perfectly content!

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WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

Singer, but I can’t sing so that was never REALLY an option.  This current career choice was a complete accident, but a happy one!

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER

Favorite Book is probably “Many Minds, Many Masters” because it put my mind at ease early on about what is life all about and why are we here.  I still buy copies and hand it out to my friends.  I think every single one of my friends has gotten a copy from me.

Favorite dish is the greek salad with smoked salmon from 12 Chairs in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  I don’t eat or smoke crack, but I think there must be crack in it because it’s an addiction.  Please, everyone, go there so it never ever goes out of business!  It also doubles as my office when I am in New York working.

HOBBIES….

Laughing, dancing, coffee, catching up with friends and family, having amazing meals, dancing, reading interior magazines, designing, and, did I say dancing?

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

Well, people live in my real home full time, but it is pretty modern and eclectic.  My future home when I am happy with where BANGTEL is, (not sure if that will happen because I honestly want to be everywhere and pretty much live in the spaces as I design them), will be a lot of glass, tile, and burnt charcoal wood. Cement integrated sinks and countertops, amazing art, and oddball sculptures that make people say, “What the hell?”  That’s what I love to do.  Inspire people to say, “what the hell?!”

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WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

OMG, this is a fun one!  David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, John F Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Twiggy, Cher, Bob Marley, Dahli Lama, Anne Frank, Barbie, Mickey Mouse, Banksy, and Princess Diana.  EEK.  That’s 13 (Nena’s note I added Liz so it is 14…never mind!), but I think that is a great mix.  Kind of sounds like a BANGTEL party where you could find the Dominatrix talking to the Trademark  Lawyer about her favorite vacation spot.  I, of course, would serve Champagne from the South of France and an unlimited Seafood Tower. Dessert would be truffles and my sister’s, Gina Klafeta, vegan ice cream sandwiches, called Nana Creme www.nanacreme.com go buy them!

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FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST

Capetown probably because I said I wanted to buy a place there in a year. I have not made it back yet because there are so many places I want to make it to at least once.

I am a sucker for amazing beach vacations, though, so Phuket, Thailand, or Maui have been my favorites.

ON this list this year is Iceland and New Zealand.

FAVORITE NEW CHICAGO RESTAURANT

Beatnix, which is owned by my favorite place to dance, Disco at Celeste. Get the Tomahawk Steak and the oysters.

FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART

What comes to mind right away is because when I am here I drive down Grand and Damen a lot.  It is the teddy bear mural by JC Rivera www.jcrivera.com  I always smile at Giant teddy bears on a random building. Cool. Haha.

imageimagePhotos from Pinterest credit unknown.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

Kind and fucking hilarious!

imageAll photos of Liz and her BANGTEL properties are courtesy of Liz Klafeta.

LIZ’S FAVORITE RECIPE: THE BEST GUACAMOLE OF YOUR LIFE!

4 avocados

1 tomato

1/2 red onion

2 jalapeño peppers

Cilantro

2 limes

Sea salt

SWEET STUFF

Raw Samoas

The good tortilla chips from the Mexican Grocery Store!

LIZ’S FAVORITE LINKS

BANGTEL.com!   Follow us on social and stay with us in Chicago, MIAMI, New York, Cabo, Michigan and soon to be Palm Springs.

My amazingly talented friends:

http://colleendurkin.com/

https://www.jasonrobinette.com/

http://aleksevaphoto.com/

https://www.natashagornik.com/

http://briansorg.com/

LIZ, A MILLION THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON MY NENASNOTES JOURNEY AND SHARING YOUR EXTRAORDINARY CAREER PATH…CAN’T WAIT TO DO A “STAYCATION” AT ONE OF YOUR PROPERTIES…I WOULD SAY NEXT STEPS A HGTV SHOW AND BOOK!  I’LL LOOK FORWARD TO POSTING CHAPTER 2 ON MY BLOG!!!

PROFILE: SAMANTHA SAIFER BERNGARD

imageSamantha Saifer Berngard, Partner, Boldface Co.  Photo by Monia Ponce.

I am excited to start my Monday Profiles again…..and wanted to share a special lady’s story with you.  I met Sam several years ago….when she was at CS and I was still at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago.  We worked on a couple of events together and then re-engaged when she was at SPLASH.  We have kept in touch over the years and she was kind to invite me to a recent panel discussion with female entrepreneurs which I thoroughly enjoyed.  A fascinating presentation, lively Q and A.

Sam is definitely the face of the young modern woman, a wife, mother of two precious children and a true professional with her own business.  Let’s learn about her journey.

WHEN WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOUR TALENT

I went to school for journalism. I always had a passion for magazines, and I was always told that I was a good writer. Ever since I was little, I was infatuated with magazines and wanted to write for them! I interned at the best New York magazines – People . . . Conde Nast, etc. all through college. I graduated college and the only job I could get was assistant to the publisher at CS magazine. I thought it would be the perfect foot in the door to eventually transition into an editor position. Little did I know, the publisher felt I had a better talent for throwing parties / events / creating marketing programs, etc. I had never done anything like it but it all came so natural. I realized that maybe I never really enjoyed writing at all (I think the deadlines made me anxious!) and that throwing events was what I really enjoyed. It came easily, and I didn’t just like it – I LOVED it! From then on, I knew I was not meant to sit behind a keyboard.  Networking, meeting new people, organizing groups of people and curating awesome experiences – those are my talents!

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD “MADE IT”

I’m still not sure I have – ha! When I decided to go off on my own and join my business partner at Boldface Co., I was super nervous that it would be challenging to keep a steady list of clients and make a living vs. working for a company full time. The fact that we have never had to go after clients and have maintained a full book of business at all times . . .  that makes me feel truly successful! Also, being happy with my life and loving it – that is true success.

HOW DID YOUR ORIGINAL PASSION BRING YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW

As I mentioned above, I always thought of my future self as a big time writer / journalist .  .  . my background in journalism led me to go to school in DC at George Washington University. It gave me many opportunities that I would not have originally had AND introduced me to all the right people. Once I decided to shift gears into marketing, event planning and now PR – I still utilize a lot of the skills I learned in school.  I truly believe in the importance of every single rung when you are climbing your career ladder. Keep in touch with everyone. Don’t burn bridges with anyone and pay attention to everything!

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ALTERNATE CHOICE AS A CAREER….WAS THERE ONE

Now I look back in my training in journalism and wish I would have pursued broadcast journalism. I could have been the next Savannah Guthrie – ha! I am definitely a morning person, and I love to talk! I could have killed it!

YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, MOVIE, THEATER (BALLET, OPERA, SYMPHONY, TYPE OF MUSIC) LOCAL RESTAURANT

Favorite Book: The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss. I read it to my kids and it reminds me of the infinite possibilities that life offers and how much they have to look forward to!

Theater: I am a SUCKER for Bye Bye Birdie – favorite musical of all time! I go to my friend Graham’s house and sing showtunes on the piano regularly. His husband had to learn Bye Bye Birdie for me!

Local Restaurant:  Le Colonial http://www.lecolonialchicago.com it’s been around 20 years and they have never changed their menu. It’s always the best experience!

HOBBIES….

I can’t remember my hobbies pre kids, but I most enjoy spending time with my kids (1 & 3) in my spare time. Everything we do together is my favorite thing to do! We have a lot of fun. If I get out on my own with friends – I sure do enjoy karaoke!

imageSam and her “Crew” on a recent Windy City Live (ABC Channel 7 weekdays at 1:00) the spot was for one of her clients, Monica + Andy www.monicaandandy.com

HOME….MODERN, TRADITIONAL, ANTIQUES (WHAT ERA) ECLECTIC

Our home has a modern and very open vibe. I like to think it reminds me of a little beach shack in the middle of Bucktown. It is cozy and nothing is too expensive (everything breaks with kids!) It’s definitely a house made for entertaining. We love to have people over more than anything!

imageWith husband, Jason, Brooklyn and Baby Billie June….they look like a photo out of Central Casting….photo by Suzy Brown for Monica + Andy.

WHO WOULD YOU HAVE AT YOUR FANTASY DINNER (LIVING OR DEAD) AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE

OH WOW! That is a lot of pressure. I would probably have Michelle Obama, Olivia Wilde, Madonna, Joan Rivers, Jackie O, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton and Goldie Hawn  over for the most wild GNO / dance party of all time. I don’t know / care what we would eat – but I would have some excellent wine!

I’d also love for my mom, best friend and mother in law to join in because I think they would enjoy it!

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT VISITED AND/OR ON LIST

We took our son to  Isla De Holbox last year and had one of the best trips ever. It’s such a gorgeous untouched island, and Mexico is a very special place for our family. We met the most wonderful people who we still keep in touch with and hope to go back soon!  Italy will also have a spot in my heart because I studied there in college.

imageCamping with Billie June at one of the Berngard’s favorite summer vacation spots, Camp Wandawega (A nenasnote…I must do a post on this amazing place!!!) www.campwandawegacom

FAVORITE NEW CHICAGO RESTAURANT

Giant www.giantrestaurant.com

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FAVORITE CHICAGO STREET ART

I love Hebru Brantley http://www.hebrubrantley.com and his super hero mural on the Hollywood Cleaners in Wicker Park (image below).

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I also love the “We All Live Here” tags throughout Chicago – reminds me how powerful our Chicago community is. . .

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED

Sweet & kind + ridiculously fun!

imageWith Billie June at Stephanie Izard and Paul Kahan’s recent Harvest Fest.

A FAVORITE RECIPE

My favorite recipe of all time is my mom’s “Sus” chicken! It’s a family favorite but I can’t give away the recipe 😉

I also look forward to my mom’s vegetable stuffing –we have it every Thanksgiving and sometimes stuffed in chicken breast – it’s amazing!!!

MOM’S VEGETABLE STUFFING

(serves 9 – can be made the day before serving)

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped carrots

1 box (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

4 ozs. Sliced mushrooms

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp.pepper

½ tsp crushed rosemary

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup chicken broth

8 slices day-old white bread cut into cubes

Make the day before: cube bread and put in plastic bag

  1. Large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, celery and carrots and cook 8 minutes stirring occasionally.
  2. Add spinach and mushrooms and cook 2 min more
  3. Remove skillet from heat
  4. Stir salt, pepper, and rosemary into beaten egg
  5. Pour egg and seasonings over the vegetables and mix well
  6. Put bread cubes in a very large pan or mixing bowl and pour vegetables over the bread cubes. Mix well. Pour cup of broth over and mix well.

Put in casserole dish, 2 quart size. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min.

BLOGS YOU FOLLOW

I love The Cut https://www.thecut.com – it’s basically how I keep up with my fashion news & not sure if a blog but https://www.theskimm.com is my go to for all news

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Off for a busy day of event planning for Boldface Co. www.boldfacechicago.com, (actually getting ready for an event in NYC) which Sam does so well.  Sam, a million thanks for taking time from your hectic schedule to answer the nenasnotes questionnaire and supplying me with such delightful photos!

COLLECTIONS: VINTAGE PORTRAITS

 

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Vintage portraits a super collectible in so many ways. You can make-up your family tree if you so desire, do fabulous wall displays, research the history of itinerant painters and naive paintings….the list goes on. What is the picture that I am opening with today, it is mine, sits on my desk purchased, (if I turn my head slightly to the right it is in my view while I am at my lapto)  a zillion years ago at RSM (Randolph Street Market www.randolphstreetmarket.com is Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24 from 10 to 5….it is the last outdoor Market of the season, it is, of course, year round inside Plumbers Hall!) it is an oil on wood and I have decided it is me with my. Mother, Ruthy. The frame is in disrepair but I like it that way (Tommy this one is for you!!!)

Come to Randolph Street Market this weekend and find one, two or more to add to or start a collection.  I am featuring some of my favorites as well as introducing you to Melissa Parks who will be at RSM with some of her treasures. Melissa is one of my most admired and go to vendors she has amazing taste and vision with her own collections and she gathers many, many, many items to share with you when she comes to RSM, a must visit booth….and I am absolutely mad for her Instagram posts you can follow her @megillicutti, you won’t be sorry.  l’ll try to convince her to do a Monday Profile…really want to know more about her and share her story with you…fingers crossed!  I asked her to take a couple of photos of her collection of portraits that she displays with her multitude of collectibles.

imageimageimageimageEach definitely has a story to tell.  I particularly like the gentleman who is looking directly at us…what is he saying with his very blue eyes and jaunty mustache!!!! Love all of them.  Melissa, thanks so much for sharing.

Portraits have always been with us and a way not only to capture loved ones but yourself as well.  Here are a few I found on Pinterest and have added to my favorites list.  I actually don’t collect them myself, but you know I have limited space, maybe I will start with some “smalls”!!

imageIsn’t she a charmer with the pearls and magnificent hat.

imageReally, really old but I really, really like her gaze and the primitiveness of it (is that a word!!!!)

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imageI believe a Chagall…

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imageMy photo at RSM, frames all ready for your art!

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imageJust a few suggestions on how to display your collection.

Another vendor I always visit at RSM  is Kevin Gorsch, find him in the Ballroom of Plumbers Hall and follow his Instagram @redleopardcrocodilevintage.  Kevin and I have known each other for years and, in fact, spent many a Sunday getting treasures at the Sandwich Flea Market.  He has shared a couple of portraits with me to pass along to you and included his entrance hall wall where he houses his “family” portraits!!

imageA pastel done by an American in Paris at Le Montmartre.

imageA portrait of Kevin at 13 from a show in San Antonio, no art could be more than $10, it was called the Starving Artists Show, no wonder!

imageKevin done a couple of weeks ago at the Lakeview Festival of Art.

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All of Kevin’s pieces photographed by him.  Huge thanks to Kevin for sharing some of his unique treasures with us.

imageShe is my favorite find on Pinterest…I have become addicted to the site.  I have always be a “clipper” it is in my DNA both my Mother and Father were clippers and I am proud to carry on in the family tradition…I must admit I still pull things out of magazines and newspapers but with all the ways you can save on the Internet I am in pig heaven!

Unless otherwise noted all photos are from Pinterest credits unknown.

I just heard on the Channel 7 News that The Hungry Hound’s www.abc7chicago.com/hungryhound featured restaurant tomorrow night will be one of my new favs and one I reviewed several weeks ago…PROXI www.proxichicago.com.  Emmanuel Nony promised to give me a recipe so here it is….enjoy and do go to the restaurant and enjoy a fantastically creative menu.

PROXI Restauran Andrew Zimmerman, chef

Fried Fish Collars with Thai garlic-chili sauce

Serves four

8pc fish collars, about 6oz each, cleaned by your fishmonger

or 2 whole fish (red snapper for example) about 1.5-2 lbs each, cleaned by your fish monger or and fish fillets that you like (one per person about 5-6oz each)

½ cup white rice flour

2 tbsp tempura flour

1-2 tbsp salt

2 limes, cut into wedges

12-16 sprigs of cilantro

8 cups vegetable oil (or enough to fill a Dutch oven or wide pot to a depth of about 6 inches)

Sauce:

2 tsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp minced shallots

1.5 tbsp sambal oelek

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp sugar

¼ cup tamarind water (made from 4oz seedless tamarind and 3 cups water…warmed up…mashed and then strained)

Pre heat an oven to 200 F.

Pre heat the oil in a wide pot or dutch oven to 350 F.

Have a sheet pan lined with paper towels topped with a rack handy.

To make the sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a sauce pan.  Add the shallots, cilantro and garlic.  Cook for about two minutes until the shallots are softened.  Add the samabal, fish sauce, sugar and tamarind water.  Cook about three minutes more.

Remove from heat and keep warm.

For the fish collars,  lightly season the collars with salt and them combine the rice and tempura flours.  Completely coat the collars in the flour mix and add them in batches to the hot oil.  Fry about 4-5 minutes or until lightly golden brown and hot all the way through.  As the collars are finished remove them from the oil and put them on the rack over the paper towels to drain.  Keep warm in the oven as you cook the remaining collars.

To serve:  put some of the sauce down on four plates.  Top the sauce with the fish collars. And then some cilantro sprigs and the lime pieces.

Serve.

Nena’s note…I am suggesting a wonderful dry white wine or champagne.  It is a delicious dish, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY MUSINGS: FASHION IN FOOD…SOPHIE’S AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE, CHICAGO

 

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Today’s post is another of my occasional restaurant reviews. I wanted to share my impressions on one of my favorites, 3 1/2 years old, Sophie’s. This little jewel is tucked away on the Seventh Floor of Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago. The good news is that it has its own elevator that whisks you up to the Men’s Store where it is located.  But I would recommend you take the escalator so you can “browse” the floors (and think about adding to your fall wardrobe while doing so!!!) going up and down before and after your meal.

Let’s first discuss the name Sophie’s.  For those of you who have been following nenasnotes, you have seen several posts that have mentioned the restaurant and my December 2, 2016, post on its namesake, Sophie Gimbel.  Sophie Gimbel was one of the most important designers of the 1930’s through the 1950’s.  Do pull up the post I know you will enjoy it.

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imageThe two large photos are of vintage Sophie garments and are the first things you see when you enter the restaurant.  You can see in this photo, the bar where you can have a refreshing drink to enhance your shopping experience and/or a bite to eat.

I was invited by Chef Ron Aleman and Chris Dunstatter, Manager, to sample Chef Aleman’s new menu.  It changes 4 times a year and special items appear more often, well, needless to say, I didn’t hesitate to take them up on their offer!

imageThe restaurant, I was seated by the windows to the right.  It is a view like no other.  This space was formally the Beauty Salon at Saks, in my opinion, a waste…I can only dream of the events I could have done here!  Oh well, I’ll have to be content with eating delicious food instead!

IMG_0402My view…isn’t it perfection!!

Now for the food….Chef selected two starters and two entrees for me to taste and photograph as well as two desserts, one of which was a trial run.  I usually indulge in a glass or two of wine, I didn’t do that on this occasion.  I must mention, that the burger is one of the best in the City…I feel an upcoming post on my favorite burgers in Chicago!

imageMy first starter Marrakesh Watermelon Salad, red and golden watermelon, mint, crispy feta, on mixed greens with a balsamic reduction with an olive tapenade.  Truly photo op ready and more importantly totally delicious…and I am not a fan of watermelon nor feta, this dish completely changed my mind!

IMG_0408Next was Focaccia Soppresata, fresh mozzarella, green olives, roasted tomatoes and truffle oil.  Chef’s version of pizza!  Amazing presentation and was very good.

IMG_0418And now the entrees…Pan Seared Chilean Salmon, with green beans, grape tomatoes, shishito peppers and truffle corn sauce.  I am a major lover of salmon and this was one of the best preparations I have had!

IMG_0411Not your usual Avacado Toast…isn’t it incredibly beautiful and tasted just as wonderful. I posted this picture on Instagram and it has gotten the most hits by far of any of my photos. The ingredients, toasted harvest wheat, a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg (you can see it tucked into the greens at the top of the photo) mixed greens, radish, marinated tomato salad.  Extraordinary!

IMG_0423Dessert was this lucious panne cotta on a cake base surrounded by a medley of fresh berries, a berry puree with a dollap of lightly whipped cream, not only gorgeous to look at but a delight to eat.

IMG_0428Oh, my goodness, the finale and at the time wasn’t on the menu….grilled fresh peaches with candied pecans and a scoop of ice cream….unbelievably good!

I do have to admit I only ate portions of each dish (why didn’t I ask for a doggie bag, I must have had a brain lapse!) but could have devoured each.

Do stop by and have a wonderful meal at a leisurely pace and a break from your shopping you won’t be disappointed and do let me know your thoughts after you visit. By the way, there is a private space to have a lovely gathering that holds up to 15 people.

Chef Aleman will share another of his recipes in a future post.

The food photos are all mine, the interior shots are from Sophie’s and others are from Pinterest photo credits unknown.

Here are a couple of summer drink recipes (I think they can be year round) from my recipe box.  I made these while visiting last weekend on our way to the eclipse (at home not during the drive!!!)

Nena’s Red Sangria

This recipe comes from the late Larry Dobson by way of Spain so very authentic.

1 bottle dry red wine

1 large orange squeezed plus 1 large orange thinly sliced

1 large lemon squeezed plus 1 large lemon thinly sliced

12 maraschino cherries with juices

4 jiggers brandy

4 jiggers Cointreau

2 Tablespoons sugar

Combine ingredients, stir cover and chill over night.  Spoon fruit into glasses pour in wine and top with a splash soda water just before serving.  Be careful this is potent!!!!

Tom’s White Sangria

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1 bottle dry white wine

1 lime sliced (additional for garnish)

1 lemon sliced (additional for garnish)

2 ripe peaches cut into wedges

3 ripe green apples seeded and cut into wedges

1 pear cut into thin slices

A hand full of seedless green grapes

3 shots of Calvados or pear brandy

3 shots of Triple Sec

Combine all ingredients and chill overnight.  Spoon fruit into glasses and pour wine over fruit, top each glass with a splash of soda water.  Enjoy, again potent stuff but really, really good,.

 

FASHION IN FOOD: PROXI

 

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Friday, as you know, is all about fashion in flashback, fashion now and future fashion and with a bit of a twist on the theme I am starting to do posts on my favorite restaurants, established, dearly loved and exciting new ventures in one of the greatest food cities anywhere, Chicago. I do not intend to be a food critic but I am, most certainly a foodie. One of the definitions of fashion is “to form something into something else: to make something from something else” isn’t that exactly what we do with food….Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony have “fashioned” an exciting new concept in food with their brand new restaurant PROXI, the new kid on the block (Randolph to be exact) which, along with Fulton one of the hottest, happening places in the City (but you will see in future posts, not the only area in this ever changing food story.)

The evolution of the Randolph Street restaurant saga began many years ago with a single pioneering restaurant, Vivo (no longer with us, and of course, the beloved Ina‘s) and look at the area now, not only restaurant heaven but total gentrification.  I remember taking cabs during the beginning of the Vivo era and the drivers thought I was mad and said: “Lady, there isn’t anything there but warehouses, I can’t leave you there!”  I would explain it was okay and they could wait for me and I would wave to them from inside.  Well, those days are long gone, now the Uber and Lyft drivers and certainly all the cabbies know exactly where to take locals and visitors for the excitement that is now “Restaurant Row”! I’ll address other restaurants throughout the City in future food posts, there are so many but, of course, I do have my favorites and I have added Proxi to that list! 

imageThis was our table and I was facing a wall of wine bottles, how appropriate!

imageThe place setting, my photo.

A few weeks ago I got a call from a long time friend, Emmanuel Nony, we go back to his Park Hyatt days, and, of course, who doesn’t love Sepia!  Always the gracious host, Emmanuel invited me and a guest to come to Proxi for dinner.  I was delighted to accept the invitation and extend my guest invitation to my cooking buddy, Tom Mantel.  Emmanuel greeted us in his usual charming manner escorted us to our table where he explained the extraordinary menu and it’s interesting concept.  I asked what he recommended for the evening and after saying he couldn’t choose proceeded to choose everything! Don’t you love it!  He turned us over to our fabulous server, Jordan, who walked us through the unique menu with suggestions along the way, he was the best.  The menu is divided into three sections (all of which will change on a regular basis), the first page was very interesting starters, which were quite substantial, the middle page was all seafood and the last page all meat.

imageI think this was the Farmer’s Market Bhel Puri my photo, absotutely delicious.

imageTempura Elotes amazing!

imageSalad of Sugar Snap Peas and Carrotss, yuzu kosho, sesame, miso brûlée my photo

The concept is to share everything and pick at least one item, each, from each page, which we did. Actually three (see above photos)from page one and the whole fish (which, by the way, was probably the best fish I have ever eaten!) the only fish we tried and two from page three.

imageOur whole grilled fish “Pescado Zarandeado”.  My photo.

imageOne of our meat courses, BBQ Lamb Ribs with mango pickle and cashews. Our other choice was Wagnyu Beef Short Ribs with Malyasian curry, sort of a medley of ribs….also my photo

We had interesting wines, I chose a Gamay which I don’t think I have seen on a menu since I was in Paris (this month the wine selections are from the Loire Valley).  Dessert was a dream.  The exciting news was that with all the food and wine I didn’t feel at all stuffed…it was superb!  We then opted to have a lovely after dinner drink in the gorgeous bar.  The place was packed, but not uncomfortably so, and it had only been open a few weeks.  It will be a HUGE success, of that I am sure.  It was fun to see and have a quick chat with my old friends Bill Zwecker, Tom Gorman and Vicki and Bill Hood.  I’m sure they enjoyed their evening as much as we did. The food was interesting, delicious, the wine extraordinary and the service perfection.  Didn’t hurt that I was with a dear friend who loved it all as much as I did.

I asked Emmanuel to send me detailed information on the restaurant.  I have culled it down a bit but wanted to share it with you.  I am hoping to have a recipe or two to share with you later.

imageAndrew Zimmeman and Emmanuel Nony

Proxi (565 W. Randolph St.), the second restaurant from the acclaimed team of Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant, Sepia, opens on Tuesday, June 13. Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony are thrilled for this project to come to fruition after years of searching for the perfect location. Housed in a former print shop right beside Sepia, the restaurant is located at the beginning on Chicago’s renowned Restaurant Row. Proxi takes guests on a ride to the world’s most culinary rich corners. Using elemental cooking techniques and pristine ingredients, the menu celebrates the bold flavors of street foods.

The menu at Proxi takes inspiration from Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s lifelong fascination with the vibrant, emphatic flavors most commonly seen in street foods. Including snacks, small plates, raw selections, entreés, and large-format dishes for the table, the restaurant’s cuisine captures the vivacity of such foods in approachable, Modern American presentations using primary cooking techniques showcased on the restaurant’s wood-fired hearth. Meat, seafood, and vegetables remain balanced throughout the menu, with dishes focusing on bold tastes, including an array of exotic ingredients, wood fire, and worldly spices.

Pastry Chef Sarah Mispagel unleashes her award-winning talent on Proxi’s dessert selection to offer a range of whimsical and nostalgic sweet dishes balancing familiarity with experimentation.

Josh Relkin leads the cocktail program at Proxi, crafting a menu with an emphasis on globally influenced libations to complement the kitchen. Relkin embraces the hearth, incorporating the live fire cooking into the cocktail list, with a goal of blending familiar ingredients in an unconventional way.  Proxi also offers a selection of beers from across the world, with hopes to bring guests unfamiliar brews that they‘ve only sipped during their travels.  

The Wine program, led by Beverage Director and acclaimed Advanced Sommelier Arthur Hon, boasts a succinct, dynamic wine list that converges on a central theme to unique wines from around the world. Hon, who travels often to taste new wines and experience unfamiliar flavors, was thrilled with the challenge of creating a wine list to stand up to the kitchen’s bold, vibrant, and global flavors. Hon’s wine list will have a rotating theme, that will be changed seasonally with the menu. To start, he’s transporting guests to the Loire Valley of France to experience the wines from that region.

imageNotice the original barrel ceiling and the custom fixtures, a great blend of old (read original) and the new, stunning.

Developed by James Beard Award Winning design firm, Meyer Davis, Proxi’s elegant, welcoming aesthetic reveals a mid-century American brasserie.  The space calls out to its worldly influences while preserving existing architectural elements from Werner Printing Company, which formerly occupied the expansive restaurant. Inset with brass-framed mirrors, lightly washed wood covers the walls and rustic wood planks form the floor, though custom designed cement tiles differentiate the bar and lounge space from the dining room. A long, central leather banquette stretches out to anchor the dining room, flanked by additional tables and more leather booths along the walls. The central bar, with its stone top, leather upholstered front, and cerused wood accents, sits opposite a chef’s table donning Noir St. Laurent marble and overlooking an exhibition kitchen. Overhead, eye-catching custom light fixtures hang from the original barrel-vaulted ceiling.

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imageTwo views of the bar, adore all of it, but especially the tile floor!

Through a fresh and innovative American lens, Proxi, a sister restaurant to Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Managing Partner Emmanuel Nony’s Sepia, scours the most culinary-rich corners of the globe to inspire a menu that celebrates the bold flavors of multicultural street foods through pristine ingredients. Located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood along Restaurant Row, Proxi unites an award-winning team to transport its guests around the world, beginning with cuisine and extending to an eclectic beverage program focused on worldly inspirations and diverse, exotic ingredients. Developed by New York City-based design firm Meyer Davis, Proxi’s elegant, welcoming aesthetic reveals a mid-century American brasserie that calls out to its global influences while preserving existing architectural elements.” www.proxichicago.com.

All photos unless otherwise noted provided by Proxi.

Do go you won’t be disappointed, it is not only fabulous food but a wonderfully glorious space! Thanks so much Emmanual and Andrew for brnging this concept to Chicago, I love it, could you tell! Cookbook please!!!!