Florodora: Vintage Inspired Beauty

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Filed under Style and Beauty

florodora

Located in the historic Monadnock Building in Chicago’s Loop, Florodora features vintage-inspired contemporary fashions for women as well as pretty gifts, unique accessories and home accents.

Florodora features designers Lara Miller, Twinkle, Nougat, Feral Childe, Lia Molly, Chan Luu, Yoana Baraschi, and more.

The name, Florodora, is a nod to one of the 20th century’s first Broadway musicals–more specifically the Florodora girls, whom owner Michael Blossom explained to me were famous for being “beautiful and stylish” as well as getting into their share of trouble.  The overall impression one gets from this girl-shop is a nod to the era’s lady-like silhouettes and glamour. This love of all things retro-pretty is evident in the chic selection of dresses, accessories and ready to wear pants, skirts, and tops. (I highly favor the dresses.) Think frilly, flowers and fun. There is also everything from candles to magnets to stationary–and Spanx!

This thoughtfully assembled shop is priced a little steep– but keep your eyes open for trunk shows, themed sales (the “scandal” sale), private sales and coupons for email list customers and make this a place you can treat yourself too.  A fun plus– wine on Friday afternoons.

It would be nice to see some mid-range priced clothing as well as a larger range is sizes; but the overall feel is that of fantasy (I need to weigh 20 lbs less fantasty). You can almost imagine yourself in the dressing room or personal closet of a yesteryear star of the stage.  It’s worth a peruse and a lovely place to purchase or receive a gift from.

Florodora, 330 S Dearborn St.

Twin Anchors: All Aboard

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Filed under Drink and Eat, Featured

Twin Anchors Ribs Chicago

That is a super cheese title, sorry. It’s hard not to get a little mushy about this place. Twin Anchors has been serving up fine food and booze since 1932 in Lincoln Park, Old Town to be exact. Located on the corner of Sedgwick and Eugenie, this neighborhood spot has all the charm of a yesteryear supper club. The layout, complete with booths in the bar and a small dining room, is cozy and intimate. There is nothing chic and modern about the decor–it actually reminds me of my grandparents supper club opened in the 1960’s. Memorabilia covers the wood paneled walls, and there seems to be a story in every photo.

It was pretty busy on a Thursday night with a 5 minute wait for a 9:00 dinner time. We sat in the bar booths and had a great view of Blackhawks game on 3 big HD TVs. It wasn’t distracting, it was great. The bar was also full with people drinking happily. Twin Anchors seems like a nice place to get full and get drunk.

The menu was pretty small, but that’s fine–who needs a bunch of filler when you have a rock-solid foundation? THE RIBS. The ribs are what makes this place famous. (Fun fact: Twin Anchors was Frank Sinatra’s favorite rib joint and he frequented dozens of times.) Ribs, chicken, a couple steaks, some no-frill salads (I did also spot a veggie burger or something to the effect), and some seriously awesome sides. Hint: get the pepperjack creamed spinach. Sooo good. The “1960’s Style Fried Fish” also got my piqued my interest. A classic fish fry is fitting for the establishment.

There was also a nice beer and wine list as well as some tasty cheesecake for dessert. However, the only thing you really need to know here are the ribs. Two kinds of sauce complete the delight, I preferred the “zesty.”

Places like Twin Anchors are a joy to have in Chicago. Well-worn, tried and true.

Visit www.twinanchorsribs.com for more.

Spa Week: April 12-18

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Filed under Style and Beauty

In my perfect world, I would get spa treatments daily. For problems I don’t even have. Being pampered, for me, is the ultimate stress reliever and instant mood lifter–I feel like a better version of myself…but a broker (more broke?) version. Well, you get the picture.  A day at the spa can set a girl or guy back some serious change.  But Spa Week in Chicago is the perfect time to try out those fabulously luxurious remedies at a seriously discounted rate.

Participating spas, like Chocolate For Your Body in Pilsen, offer ultra-sweet deals, such as a 60 Minute Stress Relief Swedish Massage using real chocolate. Yum. Normally a $70 treat, it is now only $50. If you crave something a little more intense, Thrive Medical Spa in the Gold Coast can set you up with a Partial Face IPL Skin Rejuvenation for Acne, Freckles and/or Enlarged Pores for only $50, which is regularly $150.

And who doesn’t love free goodies? At www.spaweek.com you can also enter to win hundreds of dollars in products from Korres, TIGI and lots more.

Spa Week is a Bi-Annual Event that allows you to enjoy luxurious full-service spa treatments at the finest spas all across North America for just $50 each.

Another great site to check out if you are in the market for pampering is www.prettycity.com. They also offer great reviews on services from salons and spas as well as special discounts on treats for someone I love–myself.

Dead-right: Jack White’s Dead Weather

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Filed under Featured, Music

dead-weather

Tuesday and Wednesday at the Vic will bring the debut of Jack White’s third active band, the Dead Weather, to Chicago. Jack White, superhuman, also currently plays in the Raconteurs and the White Stripes.

White, in a rare turn on drums (he did play drums for his first mainstream band, Goober and the Peas), Alison Mosshart on vocals (of Kills fame), Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs on bass and Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age on keyboards and guitar all form this grunge-tinged blues collection–whose first album, Horehound, is available.

The band formed out of an impromptu “end-of-tour”  jam session in Nashville during the Raconteurs last tour, with the Kills opening, respectively. The band members say the birth of their new project doesn’t signify the death of the Kills, the Raconteurs or the White Stripes. Mosshart explains that the Kills are writing their fourth release.

White recently opened a Nashville music complex (Third Man Records) that recalls the setup of old-school labels like Stax: recording studio in back, record store in front, office and performance space on the premises. For the time being, White will be Third Man’s only producer, so his sensibilities will rule–lucky for us.

Horehound, is an electric experience. Mosshart sounds scary and screamy and sexy, while the blues-grunge aesthetic White is famous for, lives and breathes.

Catch the Dead Weather at the Vic, July 28 and 29.

Art Institue Partners with ArtBabble.org

art institute

The Art Institute of Chicago recently joined in an online partnership of world-class art museums, officially becoming a partner of the online art video site ArtBabble.org

The website showcases hundreds of  art-centric videos, providing high-def and personal access to works of art,  interviews with artists and curators, documentaries, poetry readings, and videos of art installations.

Founded by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the site partners currently include Art21, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Museum of Arts and Design and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“We are thrilled to be joining ArtBabble,” Sam Quigley, vice president of Collections Management, Imaging and Information Technology at the Art Institute, said in a statement. “ArtBabble is really a great leap forward both for museums and for Web users looking for information related specifically to the visual arts. It offers content of extremely high quality, technological innovation and the opportunity for us to dynamically and directly engage those who share our interests.”

ArtBabble.org describes the Art Institute as “one of the world’s leading art museums.”  Doubled with the recent opening of the Modern Wing, the Art Institute is the second largest encyclopedic art museum in the United States.

There are currently about a dozen videos from the Art Institute on the site, surely with more to come.

International Night at Map Room

maproom

Map Room really doesn’t need to do much to lure people into this beer lover’s paradise, but International Night, which takes place every Tuesday, is hard to pass up. Here’s the concept: buy two drinks, receive a stamped ticket for the meal of the night. Each Tuesday features a different cultural cuisine; this month was Israel, Soul Food, Costa Rica, Nigeria and BBQ.

Map Room boasts over 200 brands of beer, plus 30 something styles of brewing. They really mean business. If you really want to have a proper beer experience, I would probably advise coming on a less crowded night though. International night is definitely a bit of a circus. Expect to see broke hipsters along side beer nerds and suits. If you can handle the crowd and line to the food, this is a must do.

Here’s a tip: The line forms when the food attendees announce that it is feeding time. Don’t ask for anything extra, different, or modified. These guys serve up no less than 100 plates and have it down pat. It’s standard issue–everyone gets the same meal. If there are extras, the guys will alert the feeders that seconds are available. Also, try to get there before 6pm, so you can score a table. It’s no fun to stand and eat.

Inidan and Nepalese Food: Chicago Curry House

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Filed under Drink and Eat

tikka
I’m always a little anxious trying new Indian restaurants. Because when it is good, it’s heavenly. But when it’s bad it is a night in the bathroom. I was feeling up to the challenge, so I recently set out for the Chicago Curry House.

It’s a hidden little spot in sort of a cul du sac style road (899 S. Plymouth Ct.) and I though the address was wrong at first because it looked like a residential area with the occasional dry cleaners. But then the sweet scent of curry rose up through the breeze and I knew I was headed to the right spot. The place is well appointed–it sort of reminded me of a hotel lobby. Not my favorite aspect of the experience, but who cares when you are there to eat, I suppose.

I was really excited to see they have a bar and full drink menu. I like eating at places that I know I have the option of getting wasted at too, in case that’s what I would rather do than consume whole food. Not in the mood to get ripped, I ordered a glass of wine. My dining companion had an Indian Beer, a lager.

We set forth with Veg Samosa and Aloo Chat, plus those little crisps with chutney they always give you. Yummy! The samosas were huge and really fresh tasting, cooked perfectly. And thealoo chat was crispy, spicy, and healthy tasting. Very good. Chicago Curry House also states they are a Nepalese cuisine as well, so decided to venture around a little bit for the entrees. ChickenTikka Masala, Chicken MoMo, and Lamb Vindaloo were all served with Basmati rice and arrived in the cool little copper kettles. The Chicken MoMo was from the Nepalese selections and it was awesome. I don’t know what MoMo is supposed to taste like, but I liked it. The Chicken Tikka Masala was creamy and spicy, and the chicken was all white and tender. (I don’t mind dark meat, but I hate when they sneak it in there whilst claiming it’s all white meat–they didn’t do that here.) The LambVindaloo was ordered extra hot, and it delivered. I can handle some spice. The regular naan was perfectly cooked, and we even had leftovers.

I tend to skip desserts at Indian restaurants because I’m usually so stuffed that I can’t eat another morsel, but I decided to give theRasmali a whirl out of a love for pistachio. Good choice. refreshing and savory.

I would eat here again. They have a lunch buffet that looks pretty good too. Curry up and give this place a shot.

Chicago Curry House, 899 S. Plymouth Court.

Real Pirates at the Field Museum

pirate gold

Running now through October 25, 2009, Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship brings the age of pirates to Chicago and the Field Museum. More than 200 artifacts recovered from the wreck of the Whydah—the first fully authenticated pirate ship ever to be ascertained in U.S. waters.

The Whydah was on of the most technologically advanced vessels of the era, but was captured on her maiden voyage as a slave ship by legendary pirate Sam Bellamy and his team. A couple modifications and a quick hoist of the Jolly Roger, the Whydah became the crown jewel of Bellamy’s flotilla, spreading terror throughout the Caribbean the Atlantic coastlines.

Then on April 26, 1717, a perfect storm put an end to the Whydah’s pirating days, and the vessel sank with most of her crew aboard—as well as the bounty from more than 50 pirated ships. Almost 300 years later, underwater explorer Barry Clifford and his team managed to locate the wreck of theWhydah and carefully unearthed her riches from the bottom of the sea.

Organized by National Geographic and Arts and Exhibitions International, the exhibition details the colorful history of Caribbean trading routes during the 18th century and the link between the slave trade and piracy, as well as true stories from those on both sides of the story.

The 8,400-square-foot exhibition is fully interactive, so you can experience pirate life by hoisting the skull-and-crossbones, tying pirate knots, learning how to fire a cannon, and more. Treasure chests of gold and jewelry, as well as armories of cannons and swords, aim to show how these men lived and died in the “Golden Age of Piracy.”

New Food: Tapas Valencia

paella

Named for Valencia, Spain; this Spanish-style tapas spot is new to the South Loop/new Southside neighborhood (although a couple other restaurants have existed in the location) and is another addition to the growing dining scene in the are. The space is modern and on the edge of trendy: big, open loft-like accommodations with some industrial touches. It’s bright orange and yellow touches of color on the walls and chair and there was some cool looking Mosaic tiles on the walls, but other than that, the place is pretty minimal on decor. The converted warehouse feel is left in tact with huge cement pillars in the dining room.

The menu is a little more sparse than other tapas places in the city (Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, Emilio’s) but filled with many of the classics, such as Serrano ham and cheese (great!) and paella. I tried a rock shrimp dish that was very good, as well skirt steak with blue cheese that was only so-so. The chorizo and black bean soup needed more chorizo to complete it, but my ‘Spanish garlic potato salad’ was incredible, not shy with the garlic. My biggest disappointment came in the squid in ink sauce. Where’s the flavor!? This dish was painfully bland and tasted unfinished. However, Tapas Valencia redeemed themselves with the bacon wrapped dates. These delicious little morsels were both sweet and salty, despite initially appearing a little iffy. I had glass of sparkling rose that was very nice…not at all sweet, surprisingly and a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. I felt the prices were fair and on par with other tapas places in the city. The portions seemed a little small however.

One of the best things about Tapas Valencia was the service. We were greeted by several staff upon walking in and out server never skipped a beat. She was helpful, knowledgeable ans very sincerely asked that we fill out a comment card if we felt anything could be improved. (I chimed in my two cents on the squid.) She knew a lot about the wine list, and seemed excited to describe the food. Service can really make or break a place for me, and in this case I think it gives Tapas Valencia that extra push it needed.

Printers Row Lit Fest

prlf_logo1

The newly renamed Printers Row Book Fair is back June 6 and June 7, 10-6pm. It’s the largest literary event in the Midwest and it feels like it. A variety of books are for sale, featuring new, used, specialty, and collectible items. There are also author signings, storytelling, discussions and more. Booksellers, publishers, literacy and cultural organizations sell and promote books and book-related merchandise and distribute related information. Many of the independent booksellers participating in the Fest represent the diverse ethnic and cultural communities of the Chicagoland area and sell books of different languages and genres.

The Printers Row Lit Fest was founded in 1985 by the Near South Planning Board to draw tourists to the Printers Row neighborhood (once the city’s bookmaking hub). By 2002, it had grown to five city blocks (on Dearborn, from Congress to Polk), attracting more than 200 booksellers from across the country displaying new, used and antiquarian books, and featuring seven stages with more than 100 free literary programs.

As part of its ongoing commitment to the written word and its support of literacy and literary endeavor, the Chicago Tribune purchased the Printers Row Book Fair in 2002 from the Near South Planning Board. Recently renamed to be the Printer’s Row Lit Fest, it is considered the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest-drawing more than 125,000 book lovers to the two-day showcase.

It’s a great event to people watch and to rub elbows with literary types as well. The Chicago Public Library is also hosting events, one of which is author Neil Gaiman being presented with the Chicago Tribune Young Adult Book Prize.

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