May, It's A Wrap!

May brought its own set of fun food events.  At the start of the month, I was able to partake in a delicious beer and pizza tasting guided by Brewmaster Kevin McMahon at Gino’s Brewing Co. I think you’ll agree that not much can go wrong with the classic beer and pizza combo, although a lot can go right if done well.  And I learned that you don’t have to be a beer connoisseur to recognize that.  I brought a friend along with me to the tasting and we were seated at a table with several other fun foodies, which added even more flavor to the evening. 

The tasting comprised of a four-course meal each paired with a beer chosen by the brewmaster, who was kind enough to describe the trajectory of each course to us. 

The Bavarian Soft Pretzel with the spicy mustard was the most appropriate start for this type of tasting. The German pilsner chosen to go along with it really helped clean up the spicy kick of the horseradish in the mustard.  Most of you know by now that I am not a beer drinker.  However I do enjoy relevant food and drink pairings…even beer.  The third course fit that category for me because the Pineapple Imposter (Pale Ale), which is brewed in-house like so many other beers, they offer, was absolutely delicious with the vegetarian pizza I had filled with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and lots of garlic. You could smell the flavor of the beer as it was poured and the dry hop single handedly brought out the pineapple and stonefruit flavors in the beer.  How cool is that?! It felt like a feat for me to truly relish beer and understand what it did to the taste of my food.  The dinner ended with an amazingly ‘moussey’ chocolate cake layered with espresso and cocoa nibs that came with their Killarney Connection, a foreign export stout. Those two went so perfectly together that it made the entire experience even more satisfying. I definitely know and appreciate beer a lot more than I did the month before and I can’t wait to return here!

That same week, I went to Shaw’s Crab House for an Island Creek Book Release Party for authors Jeremy Sewall & Marion Lear Swaybill’s new book Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw.

If there’s anyone that knows how to throw a party, it’s Shaw’s Crab House. No stone left unturned at this bash; a major oyster feast with wine and cocktails flowing.  The most amazing ceviche was served along with their signature sushi and mini Maryland crab cakes that had tiny dollops of their mustard mayonnaise on them.  Those little patties kept me busy and chewing, until I couldn’t stuff myself anymore.  The space was crowded and everyone seemed to be reveling in an oyster high. The live music started a little later to add to the pulse, and made it all the more fun! Now I couldn’t leave Shaw’s without indulging in a platter of my all time favorite Chilled Blue Crab Fingers, so we got a table and ordered that and some more food.  I was one happy camper when I left. Shaw’s never disappoints!

A few days later I was invited to get a sneak peek of Beacon Tavern at their soft opening, which was simply phenomenal. A new restaurant located in the River Plaza of River North neighborhood. Another Billy Lawless offering with a team boasting talent like Bob Broskey and Kevin McCormick of the Intro fame. The space itself is marvelous, spreading over 4000 square feet and with an exquisite yet comfortable décor.  We enjoyed some featured libations which included classics such as the Old Fashioned and new creations such as the Autrostrada which was citrus vodka mixed with Amontillado sherry, salers aperitif, grapefruit, rosemary and lime.  I was pleased to see so many pescetarian relishes being passed around, such as the smoked salmon with lime whipped cream, soft shell crab sliders with pickled ramp aioli and my fun favorite from the evening; Chef’s take on the Fillet O Fish sandwich to honor the McDonald’s that existed prior. Billy personally greeted guests and everyone seemed to have a smile on their face. That’s always nice to see. I confidently predict this will become the new, breezy, hangout this summer.  And I’m definitely going back too!

The following week, I attended Arami’s D-I-Y sushi class which they host every month, and I got to roll maki alongside Chef De Cuisine Nelson Vinansaca and some other food bloggers which was a lot of fun.  A more in depth report on that is at (

Towards the end of the month, I attended a Summer Kickoff event at the iconic Intercontinental Hotel where they unveiled the new look of their I-Club. Recognized as one of the top indoor pools in the U.S., their historic pool has been through many revamps, one of which we got to preview at this event.

What a visually stunning space still preserving some of the old architectural designs.  It was an enjoyable evening of celebrating health and fitness with live workout tips from their in-house trainer, light bite cooking demos and mini massages (I definitely braved the line for one of those!). I also had lots of fun, skinny cocktails and pinned my favorite as the Peach Bellini, which seemed like the perfect refreshment to have poolside.

Chef Reed did his magic with a live demo of healthy bites such as the Hawaiian Tuna Poke with Fresh Vegetables and Spicy Sriracha, and The Quinoa Feta Summer Salad. Both were bold in flavor but still lean on calories. For those wanting to indulge a little more, Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse (also at the hotel) had their own station featuring comfort foods such as the goat cheese mash and the blue crab mash. It also happened to be my “cheat day” from a new diet I’ve been on recently, so you can imagine I was tickled to see a board that read “No Cheat Station.” Naturally I had to get a picture next to it. You know what they say,  “There Are Signs Everywhere!” The biggest one being I need to become a member of this beautiful club ASAP!