Have Plate Will Travel : 2017


Friday, August 11, 2017

Animal encounters: is it about the adrenaline rush

If given the chance, would you feed a lion, swim with a shark or hold an alligator? Are deadly animal encounters about overcoming fears or just an adrenaline rush?

Many people have phobias, fears and just dislikes. Conquering those fears can be difficult. At the same time, some people live for the adrenaline rush. Dangerous activities can appease that thirst for peril. Some zoos, entertainment park and private establishments are adding deadly animal encounters to their activities. But, why are these activities becoming popular?

Recently, SeaWorld announced a new swim with the shark opportunity for guests. Many people were surprised that this activity would be available. Aren’t sharks dangerous? Couldn’t someone get bit by these animals? Let’s be honest. If this activity was extremely, insanely dangerous, SeaWorld wouldn’t offer the activity.

Still, many people were instantly drawn to the activity. Putting aside people who are fans of sharks, this opportunity intrigues most people for two reasons, the adrenaline rush or overcoming their fears. The adrenaline rush is easy to understand. Doing something potentially dangerous can cause a surge in endorphins. That hormonal high can be quite a rush.

Others could be drawn to these animal encounters to overcome their fears. While I’m not a medical expert, I have been told that one of the best ways to overcome fear is to face the fear directly. In this SeaWorld example, swimming in a shark tank could be their way of facing galeophobia, the fear of sharks.

The SeaWorld swimming with the sharks encounter isn’t the only theme park with this type of activity. A quick drive around Orlando shows several places where you can encounter dangerous snakes, gators and other scary animals. Gatorland offers a trainer for the day option, where you take care of the gators, or Gator Night Shine. Gator Night Shine as guests walk above the breading marsh at night, hot dogs included for feeding.

For people who fear cats, big cats rather than the domestic ones, several zoos and rescues offer animal encounters. Dade City’s Wild Things offers big cat feedings. The Tiger Safari in Oklahoma has several exotic animal encounters including lion cubs, tiger cubs and a variety of snakes. Many zoos throughout the U.S. offer animal encounters and these encounters are becoming more popular.

Regardless of the reason why people choose to participate in these experiences, the animal encounters are increasing. These experiences are often met with disdain. The zoo, or other park, has to balance the educational factor with the entertaining experience factor.

As stated before, if the activity was extremely dangerous, the park wouldn’t allow it. No insurance carrier would cover the establishment. The “fear” comes from the perception of danger. Just like the fastest roller coasters, the activity looks scary, but it is predominately safe.

Also, the parks should not harm the animals. Zoos, and some parks, are intended to be educational. Causing harm to the animals they care for isn’t smart. While all the danger can’t ever be removed, people are interacting with wild animals, the experience is controlled.

Based on the people’s reactions, animal encounters, especially deadly animal encounters, will continue to be offered. No matter the reasoning for participating in these activities, either facing fears or the adrenaline rush, people are lining up to participate. But, would you?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Don't forget your donut today - #NationalDonutDay

The first Friday in June is a food holiday no one forgets, National Donut Day. From classic glazed to crazy concoctions, grab a donut June 2.

Enjoyed with morning coffee or as an afternoon snack, donuts are a popular treat. National donut day is celebrated the first Friday in June. Both national chains and local shops offers great reasons to enjoy a donut.

According to TheThings.com, a 2015 survey determined the 15 most popular donut flavors. The most popular flavor was glazed followed closely by chocolate cake.  Based on these findings, the majority of people enjoy the classics.

For those who enjoy the classic donuts, Krispy Kreme is a must stop on Donut Day. The company offer guests a free classic glaze donut this Friday. But, enjoying just one is difficult. The Krispy Kreme red light is a signal it is time to enjoy a warm, classic glaze donut.

But, Krispy Kreme isn't the only donut shop celebrating this Friday. Many local shops will be joining the donut extravaganza. From special flavors to discounts, there are even more reasons to enjoy a donut.

Over the years, donut shops have expanded donut flavors. From bacon to cereal, and even popcorn, creative flavors draw crowds. Glazed and Infused offers a myriad of flavors. From Matcha Yogurt to Banananuetella Bismarck, their flavors mimic popular food trends.

If a donut shop isn't close, making donuts at home isn't too difficult. Instead of frying, baked donuts are relativity simple. Many pans or even the Holstein donut maker easily bring donuts to the table. Use a mix or find a recipe and everyone can get into the donut day fun.

Don't let June 2 pass without enjoying a donut or two. Share a picture of your National Donut Day donut on social media, #NationalDonutDay


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Free Mini Tacos at Brando's & The Essaness Room

What can make a Cinco de Mayo celebration even better - free mini tacos!

Head over to Brando's & The Essaness Room for free mini tacos on Friday, May 5. 

Guests who visit Brando's and The Essaness Room on Cinco de Mayo will enjoy festive specials like $4 Palomas and FREE Mini Tacos. The tacos will be available on the bar and passed around tables all evening

Cantina Laredo Cinco de Mayo celebration

Are you ready for mucho margaritas?  Cantina Laredo is serving modern Mexican cuisine for the celebration.  Wash down all the delish bites with margarita madness. 

Here are a few of the special margaritas for the occasion.

Cinco de Mayo Margaritas
available for a limited time

Tajin Watermelon ‘Rita Sauza Cucumber Chili Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Monin Agave Syrup, triple sec, fresh lemon and lime, served with a Tajin-Himalayan sea salt rim and watermelon cubes $12 ($5 each on 5/5)
La Favorita Espolón Reposado Tequila, fresh orange juice and margarita mix, topped with a Grand Marnier lime boat float $12
Blood Orange ‘Rita 1800 Silver Tequila, Cointreau Orange Liqueur, Monin Blood Orange Syrup, margarita mix and cranberry juice, topped with a dehydrated blood orange slice $12

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#WordlessWednesday - see the little details


Sometimes the details are more special than the big picture.

BIG Bar celebrates Cinco de Mayo with margarita specials

Who's ready to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

With the holiday falling on a Friday, the celebrations will be bigger, bolder and more cocktails. 
BIG Bar is ready to make the celebration bigger too. Located inside Hyatt Regency Chicago the mezzanine level lounge will be offering a special five dollar menu.

From open to close, gives can enjoy $5 Corona, Corona Light, and a House Margarita. Plus, the $5  menu also includes chips and salsa and two exclusive menu items only available on Friday: BIG Bar-style chicken or steak tacos and churros.
Want a special margarita to mark Cinco de Mayo? Check out these special margarita to sip and savor.
  • Oak Street Beach ($13) – Sauza Tequila, Triple Sec, lime, and a choice of pomegranate, strawberry, raspberry, mango, or jalapeño
  •  La Villita Crush ($15) – Don Julio, St. Germain, lemon, lime, and pineapple
  • Top of The Tower ($15) – Patron Silver Tequila, Contreau, and lime topped with a choice of Grand Marnier, Midori, Disaronno, and Chambord

Monday, May 1, 2017

Drop of Doom VR debuts at Six Flags Great America

Continuing its quest to be a leader in thrills and technology, Six Flags Great America debuted the Drop of Doom VR ride this past weekend.

If the straight drop didn't originally cause you to scream, the new virtual reality aspect increased the thrill levels.  With the Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus, riders will take on giant mutant spiders.  The ride features:

·         A high speed virtual vertical ascent up 100 stories, while teetering off the edge of a helicopter;
·         A 360-degree rotating view high above massive city skyscrapers that are under siege by enormous spiders;
·         A high-intensity gun battle against a giant arachnid, spewing baby spiders that virtually crawl all over the rider’s body;
·         A thrilling 100-story fiery plunge straight down between towering skyscrapers; and
·         The final showdown with a spider the size of a van, teeth-gnashing and in full attack mode.
“Innovation is in our DNA at Six Flags and adding this type of cutting edge technology to a Drop Tower attraction is a taste of the future for thrill seekers everywhere.” said Hank Salemi, Six Flags Great America park president.

The Drop of Doom VR will run now through Memorial Day.  This ride joins other additions at Six Flags Great America.  The Joker will also be joining the list of thrill rides. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cocoa Beach Uncorked, An Astromical Food and Wine Festival June 3-4

Cocoa Beach is known for many things.  From the great surfing to the proximity to NASA, the beach side gem is popular with tourists near and far.  This June 3-4, Cocoa Beach will be a home to foodies during the first annual Cocoa Beach Uncorked.

Held on Florida’s Space Coast, the first annual Cocoa Beach Uncorked will highlight local food, delicious wines and spectacular beer. The featured local chefs, restaurants and breweries are some of the best in the area.  Held directly on the beach, guests can sip and savor the culinary delights while enjoying the ocean views.

While this event is the first one for Cocoa Beach, the event is the sister event of Clearwater Beach Uncorked.  The success and popularity of that food and wine festival encouraged the producers to expand the event to Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

Cocoa Beach is the perfect location to launch our new taste-fest and showcase the finest food, wine, craft brews and other fabulous culinary treasures of Florida’s east coast,” said Tammy Gail, event producer. “We’re bringing together people with a shared interest for what will be an unforgettable weekend for attendees, partners and exhibitors alike. I fully expect Uncorked Cocoa Beach to be a sellout."
Tickets for Cocoa Beach Uncorked are on sale now.  Tickets are $55 for general admission or $75 for VIP.  VIP tickets include 1 hour early admission and extra seating in the VIP Chalet, where they can enjoy  Moët & Chandon. Tickets can be purchased at www.cocoabeachuncorked.com.
The Cocoa Beach Uncorked event will also include cooking demos, interactive experiences and competitions. 
It's time to sip and savor in the sand.  Get your tickets to Cocoa Beach Uncorked today.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Join Prairie Grass Cafe and #SheddTheStraw for Earth Day

Think about your last lunch or dinner at a restaurant.  Did you use a plastic straw in your cup? I would be willing to bet that the majority of us had a plastic straw in our drinks. 

SheddTheStraw lowresAccording to studies, Americans use approximately 500 million plastic straws every day.  Did you know that a single use plastic straw never disappear - that means that they don't disintegrate, degrade or go away.  Those convenient plastic straws end of harming many animals in the waters, lakes, and seas.

Prairie Grass Café has long supported environmental causes, local farmers and many important causes.  Starting on Earth Day, April 22, Prairie Grass Café is joining the #SheddTheStraw campaign.  Shedd Aquarium is encouraging everyone to pitch the plastic straws for biodegradable alterative.

Beginning on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, Prairie Grass Cafe will no longer offer straws to customers unless the customer requests a straw-straws will be paper and/or biodegradable.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Blood Orange Citrus-hattan, awaken the taste buds

A scrumptious dinner is a lovely way to spend an evening with family and friends. Before the dinner starts, the conversation can be lightened with a pre-dinner cocktail. An apperitivo that awakens the tastes buds and compliments the dinner to be served can set the mood for the whole evening. Carpano Antica Formula, a flavorful vermouth, enhances a bright blood orange citrus-hattan served as an apperitivo to a Spring barbecue. 

The Carpano Antica Formula is an Italian vermouth that is highly regarded. Made from white wine, Piedmont’s muscatel and rich wines from southern Italy, the vermouth offers herbaceous qualities with notes of spice and dried fruit. 

This apperitivo is delightful as an ingredient in a craft cocktail. Adding the Carpano Antica Formula to a Manhattan inspired cocktail awakens the palate for a delicious dinner. Served prior to our spring barbeque meal, the Blood Orange Citrus-hattan balanced the brightness of orange notes with the smokey qualities of the pork loin dinner. 

Blood Orange Citrus-hattan

·         1 ½ parts Bullet Bourbon
·         1 part Carpano Antica Formula
·         1 part blood orange freshly squeezed juice
·         1 part seltzer
·         Blood orange peel for garnish
·         Blood orange slices frozen into ice cubes (optional)

Combine bourbon, Carpano Antica Formula, and blood orange juice. Pour into a rocks glass. Add a large ice cube or a couple of ice cubes containing frozen blood orange slices. Top with a splash of seltzer water. Garnish with a blood orange peel. 

Served as a pre-dinner cocktail, the Blood Orange Citrus-hattan has bright notes to open the senses to the spring themed dinner. The main course for dinner was a smoked black pepper and garlic rubbed pork, paired with roasted carrots and a parsnip puree. Smokey under notes with the spice from the pepper are offset by the sweetness of the parsnips and carrots. The result is a lovely balanced meal. 

When serving a lovely dinner, consider a palate awakening apperitivo prior to the meal. Carpano Antica Formula can be a delightful ingredient to any cocktail. What will you mix up?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Dophin Days debuts at SeaWorld Orlando

For those of us lucky to live on the Space Coast, dolphin watching is a fun activity.  These animals are playful, curious and amazing to watch.  Now, everyone can see Dolphins at play in the new SeaWorld Orlando show Dolphin Days. 

Replacing the popular Blue Horizons show, Dolphin Days debuted on April 1.  The show features the personalities of each Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.  With tropical birds soaring above, guests will see how the dolphins interact with each other and their trainers.

Since children learn well through personal interaction, one lucky volunteer will be able to join in with the experience.  Selected from the audience, one young volunteer will learn from "training team in an up-close encounter with one of the dolphins and a green-winged macaw."  This personal experience exemplifies SeaWorld's commitment to creating experiences that matter.

 Additionally, SeaWorld Orlando will open a Dolphin Nursery.  Opening this summer, the area will offer an  "interactive educational experience for guests to see dolphins up close.

SeaWorld also offers world class thrill rides.  From Orlando's tallest roller coaster, Mako, to a new virtual reality experience on Kraken, guests will get the adrenaline rush that they crave.

Florida residents can get a special on annual passes.  Through May 14, Florida residents will get free Aquatic admission with purchase of an annual pass.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Good Food Festival, Good Food On Every Table


The annual Good Food Festival returns to UIC Forum this weekend,  This food festival is both for food lovers and industry,  The Saturday event is perfect for families who want to learn more about the food they consume and to understand better food choices.

According to the presenter, ! “Our goal always is to make each year’s Good Food Festival & Conference better than the last,” says Jim Slama, FamilyFarmed’s founder and president. “That’s a high bar. Last year, we had nearly 5,000 attendees, including numerous leading national, state and local policy makers. The 2017 event again will be a must-see for anyone with an interest in a healthier, more sustainable and economically vibrant food system.”  

Held from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m., the Good Food Festival, a family-friendly day of inspiring speakers, tastings from local food artisans, DIY workshops on the Organic Valley Good Food Commons, chef demos and sampling, an interactive Purple Asparagus Kids’ Corner, and the Good Food Marketplace, a show and sales floor featuring more than 150 farmers, artisanal food producers, retailers, other vendors, and nonprofit organizations. 

The event is designed to get families talking about food. From smart choices to better understanding, the event is great for all cooking levels.  Hopefully families will leave with a determination to put Good Food on a family's table.

Tickets for this event are free with registration.  For more information, visit the festival's website at http://www.goodfoodfestivals.com/program/saturday.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Be Our Guest, Win $100 Travel Cash

What can make any guest feel more welcome than a welcoming gift?  Be our guest and enter to win $100 travel cash.

Whether you want to splurge on a decadent dinner or prefer a day at your favorite theme park, the money can help you feel welcome.

What would you do with a $100 travel cash?

 How to enter: There are 20 Twitter accounts to follow and each is worth one entry into the giveaway. Follow all 20 for 20 entries into this giveaway! If you’re already a follower of an account, claim that entry! This giveaway starts March 17 at midnight EST and ends March 31 at 11:59 PM EST. Entrants must be USA residents and at least 18 years old. One winner will be randomly selected from all qualifying entries and contacted via the email they provide. The email will come from joannegreco at gmail. The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The prize is $100 in Paypal or Amazon online gift card, winner’s choice.

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St. Patrick's Day in Chicago - Irish inspired food & cocktails

The Chicago River has been dyed green and now it's time to eat, drink and be Irish on St. Patrick's Day in Chicago. 

Check out these St. Patrick's Day specials at your favorite restaurants and watering holes.

Head to the Lobby Lounge and indulge with a My Goodness, My Guinness menu.  All items are prepared with Guinness beer.  Executive Chef Michael Reich utilizes the burnt flavor from the Irish dry stout and blends it into one-of-a-kind menu items. The menu includes Crispy Brussels Sprouts with a Guinness reduction, a BBQ Corned Beef Sandwich with braised cabbage slaw and spiced Irish mustard on marble rye, Guinness Mini Beef Burgers with whiskey caramelized onions horseradish pickles, Dubliner cheddar and beer mustard on a potato roll, and to top it off, Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey’s mousse and salted caramel sauce.
The Guinness menu is available in the Lobby Lounge on March 17 and 18 only. Walk ins are welcome.
Henry's (18 W. Hubbard St.)
Are you feeling the lucky of the Irish? Henry's offers many food and drink specials for St. Patrick's Day.Bar-goers can choose from Miller Lite drafts, Green Jell-O Shots, and Corned Beef Sliders all for just $5 dollars.
These specials are available on Friday, March 17, and reservations are not necessary. 
Circa Restaurant and Lounge (521 N. Rush St.)
Celebrate the Irish in all of use with a St. Patrick's Day cocktail at .Circa Restaurant and Lounge. These luxury cocktails are the perfect Irish celebration. The cocktail offerings include: The Dubliner - made with Guinness Stout, Heering Cherry Liqueur, and amaretto; Irish Lad - features Jameson, lime, Branca Menta, simple syrup, and fresh mint; Shamrock Shake - combines Crème de Menthe, Absolut Vanilia Cream, Luxardo Maraschino Cherries, and gold flakes for a touch of luck; Chirish Coffee - provides the ultimate espresso boost with Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Tuaca Liqueur, and finished off with a golden spiced citrus wheel.
The cocktails are available through March 19 at the restaurant and lounge located inside The Gwen, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Chicago.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spring Forward for $100 cash for Spring Break

Are you ready to Spring Forward?  It's that time of year.  Spring Break vacations, beach getaways, and skiing the slopes are all here. 

Do you have up coming vacation plans? Or maybe a big vacation dream? What about a day at the theme park?  My family loved our visits to Universal Studios Resorts in Florida.  From Harry Potter to Kong Skull Island, the visit was filled with memories. 

Want to make some vacation memories of your own?  Here's your chance to win $100 cash to make those dreams a reality.

How to enter: There are 20 ways to enter, each worth one entry into the giveaway. Do all 20 for 20 entries into this giveaway! If you’re already a follower of an account, claim that entry! This giveaway starts March 10 at midnight EST and ends March 23 at 11:59 PM EST. Entrants must be USA residents and at least 18 years old. One winner will be randomly selected from all qualifying entries and contacted via the email they provide. The email will come from joannegreco at gmail. The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The prize is $100 in Paypal or Amazon online gift card, winner’s choice.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Chowderfest to crown the best chowder in Chicago

Do you love chowder?  Put your tasting skills to the test at the 7th annual Chowderfest.

On Monday, March 6, guests can taste some of the best chowders in the Windy City. Tickets are $50 in advance or $55 at the door. Tickets are available at www.chowderfest.com.  The event will be held at Columbia Yacht Club. 

The event features as much chowder samples as they want.  Also, guests will enjoy complimentary beer, wine and cocktails provided by Baderbräu Brewing Company and Compass Wines& Spirits as well as desserts supplied by Eli's Cheesecake, including Nonna Santi's Biscotti.

Participating chefs include: Cory Morris (Ronero), Carlos Gaytan (Mexique), CJ Callahan (Hopleaf), Johnny Anderes (The Kitchen Bistro Chicago), Dirk & Terry Fucik (Dirk's Fish & Gourmet), Lamar Moore (The Smoke Daddy), John Scholl and Jesse Valenciana (ManBQue), Rob & Jeffrey Mazza (New England Seafood Co.), J Hart Wolf (da Lobsta), Donna Lee (Brown Bag Seafood Co.), returning 1st-Year champ! Guy Meikle (Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations), Rocky Gupta (Baderbräu Brewing Co.), and Michael Garbin (The Union League Club of Chicago).

This year's five tasting judges are photographer Huge Galdones; Chicagoist food & drink editor Anthony Todd, author James Finn Garner, food-writer David M. Lissner, and Erin Evans Meyer of the Spence Farm Foundation. There's also an award given to "fan favorite."

Chowderfest benefits The Sea Scouts Youth Sailing Program at Columbia Yacht Club.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Experience La La Land at Warner Bros Studio Tour

The visually and lyrically stunning La La Land is a Hollywood dream. What if you could step into the film? Warner Bros Studio Tour is offering that specific experience.

Now through March 6, guests can step into a scene from La La Land. A portion of the movie, the Café Sur Le Lot, coffee shop set, has been reconstructed for the Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood. While Ryan Gosling may not be waiting for you, guests can sing and dance their way to a Hollywood inspired memory.

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood offers 110-acres of movie inspired experiences. From interactive soundstages to exhibits, guests will get a special view into the world of stage and screen. This tour has been a recipient of Trip Advisor's Travelers Choice Awards and has been named one of the Top 25 Attractions in the US.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood is open Monday through Sunday, 9:00AM to 3:00PM, with studio tours departing every 30 minutes and extended hours offered during the summer, spring-break and winter holiday seasons. Reservations are recommended and all children eight years or older are welcomed. Regular tickets are $62 per person and can be purchased online at www.wbstudiotour.com or by calling 818-977-TOUR (8687).

Fulfill your La La Land fantasy during a stop at Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood.