Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chicago - The Purple Pig Experience

Purple Pig

(Michigan and Grand)

So everyone who's everyone eats here (Purple Pig) cause it's that's good but it's only an experience and only an experience with Colin Jones, a server in particular, no not the manager, the server, who's got quite a tongue for good food not just at Purple Pig but the whereabouts in Chicago. He's one of the few with very seasoned culinary experiences.... 

Say Hello

So be nice and be interesting or just be human towards Colin, because that is the real start of the dining relationship.

Say I'm Thirsty

Have him pick the wine for you... No need for $50-100 bottles, just tell him you want the reasonable priced ones that are outstanding to taste (it's possible!)...

Say I'm Hungry

Have him pick what HE wants for you to try WITHOUT telling you what he picks till it actually comes to the table. Tell him to keep the dishes coming but him let him know two dishes prior to getting full.. Tell him about any food allergies and restrictions so you don't end up at Northwestern Hospital.

Say You're Done

Tell him to pick your dessert... And Don't miss the Affogato and the Sicilian Iris

Tweet Colin at @cojones320

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cleveland OH - Must Do

Driving back from NYC to Chicago is long and boring if you don't check off the following: Comedy Central on your Spotify, Audible for more logical stuff, and dinner at Happy Dog in Cleveland Ohio So,

Happy Dog

5801 Detroit Ave, Cleveland OH 

Open 4PM - 2:30AM

Beer: Fat Head Bumble-berry

Food: Tater Tots

Safe; Choose a ready hotdog recipe from the menu... You'll have to shade/check each topping off the menu according tothe  guide.

Adventurous; Choose one of each topping from each category... Still checking and shading toppings but now according to you spontaneous craving.

Server; Have Wes serve you. He is on top of his game. Asked for a plastic fork to finish my left overs on the drive back. They didn't have any plastic ones so He have me a real one all wrapped and clean. Now that's world class customer service! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cebu, Philippines - Eat Snake

When In Manila, one could go “cray-cray” (crazy) with the enormous selection of Chinese Restaurants in their Chinatown district. Some people go everyday and yet the Fried rice and Noodles never get old. But When In Cebu, minus the hustle and bustle, there are only a handful of really good restaurants spread out over the city which make choosing a little less overwhelming for the newbie. So say one had an appetite for something beyond the “day to day” China buffet or Dimsum, that’s when he or she would go to this blog site and look up the title above.


Mark Co, a co-owner of Choi City Seafood Restaurant in Cebu meets me after this great TripAdvisor review I write about his restaurant and we get to know each other over dinner. He tells me as I notice the spark of an adventurer in this businessman’s eyes that he is probably the only one he knows who knows exotic food the way one should and was wondering if the self-proclaimed explorer, me, would like to try some one day. Here I am thinking "Okay I can handle frog legs and escargot" but then what he offered was something a little more, well… not frog legs, not escargot… rather Braised Lizard, Pigeon Brain and their specialty Python, instead.


Fast forward to much awaited tasting night, we first get served with what was earlier a 5-Kilo live Snake, now reduced to one deep fried dish in Salt and Pepper, garnished with stem onions and green chilies. It was, delicious. No, it did not taste like chicken, nor frog, heck we could not even tell it was the evil Jungle book character itself. As the first snake dish served that night, it was pretty reassuring that we would live through the night without letting our imagination eat us alive. This dish on the contrary, had it’s own special protein filled flavor. We were strictly instructed not to eat any of the dishes served that night with rice as rice or any other carbohydrate condiment would have washed out the taste of the exotic meal and one would be deprived of experiencing the distinct flavors.

Next up came Adobong Snake Skin. Now this, this was what we had earlier imagined we would be eating. Snake skin in all it’s glory. For the faint at heart, you just had to close your eyes and imagine you were eating something else with a similar gelatinous consistency. My remedy was to chant “eggplant eggplant eggplant” in my head. Surprisingly this striking dish, ended up becoming the group favorite. It was the juiciest, tastiest, and most entertaining dish served that night.

Following the Snake Skin, came, Snake in Abalone Sauce. If you have ever tried “Pata-Tim” or any heavy meat cooked in Abalone sauce, this would be a Snake Dish you could relate to. This dish was filling. Snake meat contrary to Pork and Beef is a lighter meat but is probably a weight class above Chicken and Fish.

After the Snake dishes, came the Braised Lizard. This was a sautéed dish with ginger and peppers and had a similar consistency to that of pressure cooked Ox tail. This tasted more familiar to the palate. I could not tell you why. This was my personal favorite. A bit slimy and the sauce was scrumptious.

Mark then treated us to Roasted Pigeon, which is a regular item on their menu. If you think Chicken or Duck is tasty, Pigeon ups the ante. It is much tinier than either and packed with taste. What does make the experience exotic is when you are done chewing through the bird, you crack open the skull, pick on the brain and stick it in your mouth. That is what Mark will dare you to do.


If you’ve never eaten reptiles before, the exotic tasting at Choi City will be a strange introduction to your stomach. However, it isn’t harder on it than if you were to go have local street food. Also unlike other exotic food found in the Philippines, you know what you are eating at Choi, is prepared clean and safe. This is thanks to Chef He from Hong Kong, one of the few if not the only legit exotic food chef in the region. When you are done with your tasting, make sure to walk up to him and commend him for the meal. Have Mark translate your thanks into Mandarin as Chef He does not speak Filipino or English.

To reserve an exotic tasting, call Choi City at least three days prior to your preferred date, and be prepared for a daring, delicious, and downright fun culinary highlight, When In Manila, when in Cebu.

Choi City Seafood Restaurant, at G/F South Arcade, Banilad Town Centre Gov. M. Cuenco Avenue, Banilad, Cebu City 6000, Philippines, 63-32 239 0999, Open Daily from 11:00AM -2:30PM and 5:30-9:30PM

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chicago - Coffee Shops


This article contains:
Pro's and Others of top listed coffee shops in Chicago according to Yelp, Foursquare, and coffee connoisseurs... So they are all exceptional coffee place listed here..

This article does NOT contain:
My favorite coffee spot ... yet

In an attempt to find THE ONE PERFECT COFFEE SHOP, or the two or three perfect coffee shops, I am visiting a coffee shop a day, getting to know the people behind the coffee, the process behind the flavor and space, and the reasons why I think you should go.

So Flashing back,

La Colombe Workshop
955 W Randolph 

Best Seller

Todd Carmichael they say is a "mad scientist genius" how often do you get that!!? He goes around risky parts of the world sleeps in rents with riffles in the adventurous spirit for quality coffee
They have a TV show Dangerous Grounds inspired by them and vice versa
Alicia, the bartender has this crazy sweet smile, guys watch out
Brad, made my coffee even after he realized I did not have my wallet... No "attitude" among the bartenders here at all
Their teacups and saucers are soooo pretty

Maybe more outlets

Overflow Coffee Bar
1550 S State

The Speziato
(means spicy in Italiano)
Nutella Mocha

High Quality Coffee 
Gives the Southloop a Coffee Culture
(no need to travel to the Northside if you're in the area, Educates the south part of downtown and Chicago what coffee should   taste like)
"Coffee so good dare you to try it without cream and sugar" - Brandon
Outlets well situated
Film Screenings, Live Jazz and others
New outdoor seating
Couches comfy and promoted posture
(you'll see what I mean if you visit and bring your laptop here)
Brandon and Amanda Neely
(You can't help but love them. They give off that genuine, good people vibe, very positive aura)
State Bus #29 #62 Stops right in front
I bumped into Tim from Ipsento, he was dropping off coffee 
(Ipsento coffee all the way in this part of town)
They serve food, ahh I spent 8 hours straight here
They promote volunteerism
Cute coffee mugs for sale
Local Artists can promote their art

Downtown but not in actual loop
Can get a bit dark towards the interior of the shop - so just secure a spot by the window it isn't hard
Not the typical coffee shop look

Gaslight Coffee Roasters
2385 N Milwaukee

Brazil Single Origin Shot

Eclectic Interior
Corner Spot makes it cozy
Miro, guy behind the counter real sweet
Long Line often
Outlets, adequate
Breakfast with Duck Egg
Gourmet Sandwiches
All around coffee shop feel - gossip, study, brunch, or just coffee

Can get crowded
Cold certain hours of the day - if you're sensitive to it, leave or tell them right a way to crank up heat
Individualistic vibe amongst goers... hmm this is more of a personal observation

345 E Ohio

Vanilla Lavender Latte
Mexican Mocha
(Sugar and Spice combo - ask Clinton)

Sunlight - Vit D
Extension cords
Common table well designed
Something to be said about Clinton - charming, funny, good at coffee
They have food, and...
Food is Delish - good to spend all day here
Couch & armchairs for comfort
well groomed crowd
ethnically balanced environment
Background Music is futuristic lounge like

Stools not for people with big butts - so use their benches
Parking can be a challenge
Line to restroom can get busy

Bad Wolf Coffee
3422 N. Lincoln

Caneles (at 10AM - worth making trip and waiting for)

THE date place at 10AM - if you want to make a good first impression or strong second, take them here and continue reading
Stand up bar only- great for meeting new people and creating conversation
Art on walls are colorful and hip
(He will say making pastries is a piece of cake, but these are well balanced products that i have not tasted anywhere else... So yah there Jonathan, I think you are exceptional at what you do!)
(Ask for an order of each pastry and each coffee when you're with friends)

He sells out ... always
Stand up bar only - Not for studying or working

KnockBox Cafe
1001 N California


Dirty Wade
(Off Menu)

This job is getting harder and harder... I tell you!

Chai Owners, Chai Rulers, the lords of Chai
Their Backstory, hail Jonah, owner and ask him how he started
Table placement allows for personal space - Perfect for gossip and study simultaneously
Ceiling is one of a kind - architecture nugget
(the bronze, tin make cannot be found anywhere else) 
Electronic bus schedule
Alt. (non-coffee) beverage menu: Check fridge
Good color scheme
Large windows up front - sunlight
Corner spot on intersection, cozy architectonics
Positive aura
Open to hiring if you are funny and real
Up and Coming neighborhood
Parking good
Intelligent-looking and sounding Customer base
WiFi password is validation for observant people
(you only will get this one if you actually visit and use wifi)


I don't know... Oh they could benefit from outlets in middle section
45 min transit from downtown

Buzz: Killer Espresso
1644 N Damen




Ahh so many...
State of the art roasting equipment
Kurtis, brutally precise with roasting process
"Best" selected coffee; esteemed from East Africa
high quality only - they go all out for a true cup
Fosters a Coffee farming awareness (see related article)
Interior design heaven
2nd floor with skylights
Outlets galore
Drop lights are conducive to eyes
Coffee cherry trees!
Tim, a gentleman behind the counter
Stefan, owner, has an erudite taste for coffee...
(If you spot him, it is worth asking him to illustrate for you a thing or two while you wait for your coffee)
Quasar Coffee Roasters; Soon to bring their coffee to other places
Return in May, they have the Sidamo coming up
Breakdown of accents/flavors explained in Menu
(Im told with eyes wide it is the coffee to fly in for!)


Pastries only - Food places next door - Coffee-centric
Parking in this neighborhood requires vigilance - so take CTA

1039 W Granville


The Justin
(off menu, and something you have to charm Justin for and maybe he'll make it for you, this is a "shoulder-to-cry-on" coffee, the "come home to grandma" coffee, or "love on a rainy Sunday" coffee it feels that good!)
Brazil 320


Top Notch Coffee!
They know how to be really good to their loyal customers
You can watch them measure everything
Justin, one of the few caffeine chemists whom I say really knows his craft
Tony, owner, nice and easy to approach guy
Easy to connect internet
Parking not bad
Two blocks from Red Line


This place is popular so it could benefit from another room added
A variety of people come (quiet lovers vs talkers,) prepare to sit next to either
Could use more outlets

Big Shoulders
1105 W Chicago


Marshmallow Latte


Sunlight - good for disposition and eyes
Background Music is like Sunday afternoon at Uncle's house in Panama
Marshamallow latte so good you could pee in your pants
Coffee has a kick in it's aftertaste, nothing older than 7 day roast
Door left open - fresh air feels good
Few feet from Blue Line with e-schedule
Medium noise = Gossip-Study Balance
Tim, owner, cultivated culinary/business background
Coffee available at most groceries


Door left open - could get nippy, and if you have seasonal allergies ask to close it, I'm sure they'll agree

Only pastries for solid food
Could use more a wee more outlets


3344 N Halsted


Regular Coffee
Dirty Chai - Add Toasted Coconut


Coffee without acidic after taste
Has interesting entrepreneurial backstory
Provides extension cords and chargers for most cell devices
Quinoa porridge with steamed milk!
Pastries moist
Surprises coming up to entire coffee house soon


Could use more tables or space as it can gets full
On quieter end - not for gossiping 
Time limit - will undergo changes soon

2035 N. Western


Signature Ipsento Latte


Top on YELP and Trip Advisor
Green Tea - very fresh aroma
No longer than 8 day roasted coffee served
Several balances of coffee flavor (Natural, Honey and Washed beans)
Farm to Cup - Fosters direct relationships with the coffee farmers
Tim, owner, meticulous about the coffee cherry picking process
They serve food
Good looking staff


Good looking staff - Distracting
On the Quieter End - Can't Gossip
Could use a few more outlets

1651 W. Chicago


Off Menu Ice Coffee with Carbonation

Roasted Orgasm!
Bathroom is conducive
USB ports on their outlets
Quiet so like you own the place
Has an electronic updated bus schedule by the entrance
Roasting parties where you see Kevin, co-owner roast the coffee
Nothing older than 10 day coffee served
Pricey coffee = Quality coffee
Trumaine, behind bar is super charming
Jeff, co-owner, is an exemplary entrepreneur


If you don't like quiet, it's on the quieter end
Not a place to have cup after cup, because Coffee is potent
Wish they served real food cause I could see myself staying here all day

The Star Lounge Cafe
2125 W Chicago


Drip Coffee


Specialty Coffees have cayenne pepper
2nd floor for quiet
1st floor for conversation
Christopher the barista is a gentleman
Outdoor seating in back for summer
Cool graphics on their coffee - inspires creativity
Parking free and easy


Coffee is so so
Downstairs crowded
Medium to hard to find outlets
Medium to hard to find personal tables downstairs

Filter Cafe
1373 N Milwaukee


Drip Coffee


Area with lots of natural sun light
Medium quiet with groovy back music
Assortment of seating preferences (couches, tables, bean bags?)
Eclectic homey interior
Outlets everywhere
Jocelyn Amber, real cool barista
Smoothies with apple juice versus dairy
Spider-Man mugs - assorted mugs
Good looking lifeforms of all genders here


Coffee so so
Cash only
Some areas dark
Parking whimsical


Black Coffee: Asado
Drip: Ipsento
Latte: Ipsento & Big Shoulders
Cappuccino: Metropolis
Coffee: Saugatuck
Chemex: Metropolis
Espresso: Buzz Killer Espresso
High End Coffee: Buzz Killer Espresso
Ice Coffee: Asado
Spicy Coffee: Star Lounge
Hidden Menu: Metropolis & Knockbox
Chai: Knockbox
Tea: Ipsento
Food: Ipsento, Knockbox, Filter
Smoothies: Filter
Plosh Atmosphere: Buzz Killer Espresso
Sexy Servers: Ipsento
Sexy Customers: Filter
Spacious: Filter
For Gossip: Filter, Star Lounge 1st flr
For Quiet: Asado, Saugatuck, Star Lounge 2nd flr, Buzz Killer Espresso
For Both: Knockbox
For Personal Space: Buzz Killer Espresso
Bathroom: Asado
Backstory: Knockbox
Business Concept: Buzz Killer Espresso
Recipe Presentation: Metropolis
Consistency: Ipsento



Bridgeport *

Wormhole (cereal inspired drinks) *

Dollop (Evanston) 


Caffe Streets


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cebu, Philippines - Mouthwatering Indian Food

The Famous Indian Curry House @ APM Mall

The Backstory

Four years ago my best friend Joy and I stumbled upon this hole in the wall, middle of no where, authentic, home cooked, taxi cab joint type Indian restaurant with amazing mutton curry, roti and gee, and chicken biryani that just melted in your mouth like the goodness of warm butter! It was the best Indian restaurant We ever tried outside India - it closed down - so I spent the next four years agonizing over the craving I wouldn't ever satisfy unless I hunted down the chef and offered him a reasonable bribe.

The Frontstory

Four years later, An Indian pilot I meet back in Cebu who is a sucker for home cooked dosa, idli, sambar and all things South Indian tells me about an Indian restaurant saying "Shana, this place is such a find in the Philippines they make the dosas like the real thing... 80% as close to as if you were eating it in India" I swore to him saying "captain! it won't ever come close to the one four years ago and then he tells me Before I break into tears over reminiscing the loss, "Oh it's the same restaurant they just moved!" Oh well moving on...

What To Order

Dosa! Dosa! Dosa!
Idli Sambar - use your hands
Biryani - Chicken biryani can't go wrong
Mutton Curry - with sweetness of roti and gee
Everything else on the menu is really good


People often miss the Indian street food they also serve at this joint. So make sure you grab at least, Pani Puri, Sev Puri, Dhahi Puri, Aloo Wada, Pau Bhaji


The Famous Indian Curry House
APM Mall
10a - 10p
Call Anjali @

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cebu, Philippines - Cheap Good Wines

JP Chenet....

JP Chenet!

JP Chenet!!!!

Did I hear you say JP Chenet???

Where to Get Cheap Wine?

@ Michel's Deli + Cafe, Banilad

Look for Ann. If you want good service with a smile look for the baker behind the counter. I know breads, wine, different department... Still, she is super sweet and there is something about her personality that is a-stop, get her name a-head turner. Ask her for JP Chenet wine, there are two kinds, so pick one.

What to Pair With?

Michaelangelo's Pizzeria

Right next door, there is a pizza place owned by the same people essentially... (Originally the name of this article was suppose to be ... Ehem ... "Three Tolerable Pizza Places in Cebu" but I thought it sounded rather negative if I called it that so I didn't. In any case Michaelangelo's made the list. 

But if you are curious, tolerable means "Oh Thank Heavens this food does not make me wanna pop a happy pill cause it's trying to be something it clearly is not and falls short of making me laugh at how annoying it is"  Michaelangelo's is actually decent pizza and not some Mediocre Filipino/Mediocre Italian ketchup tasting Kraft Cheese shit! Too much? Some people love the other stuff, that's cool, I just don't, (unless it's Mom's pizza.. that stuff is drugs! I should order some right now)

Anyway, when you're at this restaurant, order from Andrew... The charming server who made everything heartwarming and easy. Don't go wrong people do grab your order from him.

What To Do As A Post Dinner Activity?

After your done with dinner. Make sure you're just tipsy enough to stumble back to Ann. Shop and giggle around Michel's Deli for Cookies Butter, Chocolate, Spreads and take your wine filled date home with the promise of good breakfast in the morning. He/she will love you forever.