jazspin's Profile

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Trader Joe's Wine

Is anyone else enjoying the relatively new Barrio Boca (I think that is what it is) wines - there is a Malbec, a Cabernet, and a Merlot. The Malbec is particularly decent for an everyday wine, in my opinion, and it is only $3.99.

Nov 30, 2008
jazspin in Wine

Countertop material: granite vs. solid surface (corian) vs. engineered stone (silestone)

Not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet (I tried to scan the whole thread, but I may have missed it - this is long!), but has anyone tried PaperStone countertops yet? They are made with recycled materials, which is a huge plus in my book, and said to resemble the look of soapstone - here is a link to a review:

http://3luxe.com/best_ofs/Countertops...

Opinions greatly appreciated!

Nov 30, 2008
jazspin in Cookware

Tito's Vodka

Yes, it has been a while, but if anyone in the Chicago area is looking for Tito's, it is stocked at Binny's.

Nov 30, 2008
jazspin in Spirits

Holiday Party Bar Suggestions

Thirding the punch suggestion - perhaps a white sangria?

Nov 30, 2008
jazspin in Spirits

Honeymoon help for a Boston chow!

Oooh, Andalucia is so romantic! What a great choice for a honeymoon. Anyways - http://exploreseville.com is a great resource, especially for Seville, but it covers the surrounding areas too.

In Seville - the Plaza Alfalfa area is great for a tapas crawl - all the little bars make interesting little dishes for two or three euros, so you can try lots of different things. Granada is the home of free tapas with drinks (some places you get to pick, some have a specialty), so that's a lot of fun too.

Apr 29, 2008
jazspin in Spain/Portugal

Visiting Chicago - Which Steakhouse?

I really like both Gibson's and the Chop House for a classic Chicago steak house dinner, but if pressed to pick just one I'd probably choose Gibson's, just because I like the atmosphere a little better. I've never had anything less than a stellar meal at either, though, so I don't think you can really go wrong. Like a few other Chowhounds have said, the Primehouse is also amazing - but it is not really a classic steakhouse. It's worthwhile if you have the time and inclination for more than one steak dinner though!

Apr 29, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

Dinner Plans Made - Now, please help me with how to dress

Yup, I agree with the others - jeans are perfectly okay, as long as they are nice and neat (and it sounds like they will be). Have fun, it sounds like a great trip!

Apr 29, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

Environmentally Friendly Picnic Supplies

All that equipment and no baskets? Something sturdy to carry everything in might be the most important thing of all! May I suggest one of these fantastic baskets: http://www.3luxe.com/category/Outdoor...

Seriously, though - this list is great - and a Mother's Day picnic is an excellent idea! I just hope the weather is nice enough in Chicago for me to pull it off.

Apr 29, 2008
jazspin in Features

Is Ditka's Worth It?

Ditka is a little bit cheesy, but it is kind of fun - the bloody marys are delicious too!

Apr 28, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

UK Couple need help with dinner, brunch & bars?

These recommendations are great! I live in this neighborhood and I couldn't have said it better myself.

I do prefer Gino's East to Uno for deep dish - but if you ask ten Chicagoans what their favorite pizza is, you are likely to get ten different answers - and Uno is where it all started.

I also like the Pancake house for a casual breakfast or brunch - the bacon waffle is fantastically delicious and filling (definitely a splurge food!).

Apr 28, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

good low end liquor

I agree with you about Tito's, it is a good vodka for any price, much less $30 or so for a handle.

Another gin recommendation, although I'm cutting it close price-wise - it's $30:

http://www.3luxe.com/best_ofs/Gin/Mar...

That said, if you are drinking it in martinis or other drinks where the gin is the star, it might be worth it - save the cheaper stuff for more complicated mixed drinks.

Apr 28, 2008
jazspin in Spirits

Vodka - your choice in a cosmo?

I second the Tito's recommendation, especially for a drink like a cosmo where the vodka is mixed with other things. It's great for the price!

Apr 17, 2008
jazspin in Spirits

I need help: best Mail-Order Stuffed Deep Dish?

Gino's East also has mail order, and I've had good experiences with it.

Apr 11, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

Veggie and foodie friendly, downtown?

Mercat could be a great choice! Tapas are always fun for a group. You can order a bunch of small plates so there will be a variety of things for both the vegetarians and meat eaters.

Apr 11, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

BEST CUTTING BOARDS - Bamboo vs. Others

Safety/bacteria issues aside (it seems you can find something to support your opinion whether you prefer wood or plastic anyways), I just think wood or bamboo is more attractive - a gorgeous wood cutting board is just more aesthetically pleasing than a piece of a plastic or silicone, and you can always pick up a few of those silicone mats like Alanbarnes recommended if you want to make clean-up and such simpler (and they do make it easier to transfer your chopped food to pots).

As far as brands go, here's a link to some excellent choices, including the John Boos: http://www.3luxe.com/category/Cutlery... .

Be sure to post about your experience with whatever board(s) you end up getting!

Apr 11, 2008
jazspin in Cookware

Best Brunch/Lunch on Southport

It can get pretty busy, more so at lunch time though. I think you can also get take-out if you don't want to wait for a table (it's a pretty small spot).

Apr 08, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

Is there a GREAT Bloody Mary Mix ???

This is my secret ingredient too! Or the brine from a jar of jalapeno peppers if I don't have any pickles on hand (or both!).

Apr 08, 2008
jazspin in Spirits

Best Brunch/Lunch on Southport

I third the Southport Grocery suggestions - it is a little on the casual side but everything I've had there has been delicious, especially the "grown-up Pop Tart".

Mar 18, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

Dinner for 6 around W Hotel Lakeshore Drive

I second the De la Costa rec, good food and it is definitely fun.

Mar 17, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

Toaster oven recs

I don't have personal experience with either of those, but here is a link to the top three toaster ovens on 3Luxe: http://www.3luxe.com/category/Small_A... - it's a start at least, and all of the options are definitely large. What do you want to do with it? Reheat things, bake, etc.?

Also, like the other posters here, I tend to find that toaster ovens are awesome for any number of things, but making actual toast is not one of them.

Mar 17, 2008
jazspin in Cookware

Trader Joe's Wine

I like the Vinho Verde a lot too - and it does seem like the Chicago TJs run out of it all the time!

Mar 12, 2008
jazspin in Wine

Barcelona Summary: many restaurants

Thanks for posting this! I'll be in Barcelona in two weeks and this list will be very useful.

Mar 10, 2008
jazspin in Spain/Portugal

Late night places to grab a bite?

Wiener Circle is definitely...interesting, but it can be a fun experience.

Bijans is kind of nice if you want somewhere that is more of a sit-down restaurant.

Feb 24, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

in search of the perfect blender

That's true - but there is a difference between kind of noisy but not offensive, and a blender that "screams" (that is the perfect word choice - I've heard blenders that made really piercing noises!).

Feb 19, 2008
jazspin in Cookware

Favorite Beer Bar Ever?

I third the Map Room in Chicago, as well as the Hop Leaf (which has excellent food as well as great beer). Also, t' Brugs Beertje in Brugge, Belgium is pretty spectacular too - although you can't really go bad when it comes to drinking beer in Belgium!

Feb 18, 2008
jazspin in Beer

What to do & what to eat?

The El should get you to everything - the red line stop at Grand is perfect for Gino's East and Pizzeria Uno (and a ton of other restaurants).

Feb 18, 2008
jazspin in Chicago Area

in search of the perfect blender

Interestingly enough, 3Luxe's top three list has two of the same blenders as Consumer Reports - the Vita Mix and the L'Equip 228 (the other is the KitchenAid Pro Line Series Chef's Blender) - http://www.3luxe.com/category/Small_A...

In regard to the noise, it seems that it is tough to get a good blender that isn't noisy - has anyone found a blender that can deal with ice cubes and still be fairly quiet?

Feb 18, 2008
jazspin in Cookware

Around the World Martini Bar

Oooh, I really like this party idea, especially the martini/cocktail bar.

Let's see:

Arabian Nights - something with mint (for the mint tea that is popular in North African/Middle Eastern region) or coffee flavors? Or there are always olives or oranges - both are grown in those regions and play huge parts in the cuisine.

A La Provence - The first thing I think of is lavender, which may be difficult to incorporate.

Antipasti Dell'Italia - I second the Campari, or maybe Limoncello.

Asian Influence - Something with lots of tropical fruits for southeast Asia? I've also had cocktails that used lemon grass that were pretty good.

Nuevo Latino - My first thought is margaritas or mojitos, or maybe pisco sours.

America The Beautiful - Perhaps something classic and created in the U.S.? Manhattans?

Bombay Palace - Mango flavors would be good, or perhaps something incorporating cardamon?

Be sure to come back and let us know what you end up making!

Feb 06, 2008
jazspin in Spirits

Le Cinq ??

I've had lunch at Le Cinq - the food is excellent but the atmosphere is what puts it over the top. It's so stunningly luxurious you almost feel like you are on a movie set. The Hotel Meurice is another place with amazing atmosphere that is romantic in that classic Parisan way - here's the website: http://www.lemeurice.com/index.html

Have an incredible time!

Feb 04, 2008
jazspin in France

Tito's Vodka

I've been meaning to try this after I saw it on 3Luxe's top three -http://www.3luxe.com/best_ofs/Vodka/T... - so I'm glad to see that other people like it. Now I just need to source it in Chicago, because our Trader Joe's don't carry spirits.

Feb 04, 2008
jazspin in Spirits