chicago

Chicago’s interactive ‘We Gotta Bingo’ dinner theater big on fun

All-in-good-fun games of bingo keep the church lights on, subsidize school field trips, buy equipment for volunteer fire departments and make countless other charitable efforts possible. Add the fact that 43 percent of people in Wisconsin say they are of German heritage, and at least 25 percent consider themselves Catholic. We know “polka” and “mass”(…)

Chicago Restaurant Week: From the Farmhouse and beyond

Downtown Chicago might seem about as far away as you can get from rural America, but think again. At Farmhouse Chicago restaurant, an antique tractor grill covers the hostess stand, steel pipes are stairway handrails and simple cotton kitchen towels are napkins. On display are collectible toy tractors, walls are whitewashed and accouterments include a(…)

Chicago’s Eataly: easy immersion into all things Italian

On the last day of our first trip to Italy, in 2008, my priority was a two-hour bus ride from Milan to Turin and the birthplace of Slow Food International, whose worldwide efforts protect food heritage. That visit was a couple of weeks before the area’s Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto – the massive,(…)

Chicago’s Field Museum opens vaults on 1893 World’s Fair

At least one-third of America – 25 million people – made their way to Chicago 120 years ago. What they found were astounding and amusing signs of progress in their young nation. Many rode the world’s first Ferris wheel (250 feet tall), heard music later known as ragtime and saw thousands of light bulbs brighten(…)

Hemingway haunts: Michigan to Florida, Cuba to Spain

Sixty years ago, “The Old Man and the Sea” was published in Life magazine, and author Ernest Hemingway won a Pulitzer Prize for the work one year later. Now is the time to get better acquainted with the brilliant, troubled and iconic writer. New on HBO is the film “Hemingway and Gellhorn,” starring Clive Owen(…)

Hot dog! Food trucks add sizzle to go-local menus

With the sunshine of spring comes a huge craving to fire up the grill and plop on the brats. Such simple, brown-and-sizzle pleasures turn extraordinary about 1,000 miles south. For breakfast: hot skewers of sausage doused with pancake/waffle batter, sprinkled with brown sugar and kissed with a syrup whose artisan flavors change with the season.(…)

New Jerry Apps book, events, trips for gardeners

One of my treats on Sundays is reading the latest blog entry by prolific Wisconsin writer Jerry Apps, whose keen observations about life always seem universal. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a farmhouse or high-rise condo. My favorite part is “The Old Timer Says,” a one-liner of homespun wisdom. Examples: “Sometimes I don’t see(…)

Chicago fans share their fave hidden gems

Spiritual sites, ethnic neighborhoods, down-home food, fine fabrics and Asian art are among your worthwhile reasons for stepping away from the Loop and Magnificent Mile. Here is what readers had to recommend about good but lesser-known reasons to visit Chicago. — “The one place I really enjoy seeing, besides the usual tourist things, is Pacific(…)

Chicago food: beyond dawgs, pizza, Bayless

Jazzed-up hot dogs, deep-dish pizza and any product with chef Rick Bayless’ thumbprint are among the foods that make Chicago famous. Add wiener schnitzel from the Berghoff, burgers from the Billy Goat Tavern, “da pork chop” from Ditka’s and pastas from Tony Mantuano’s Spiaggia. This is Chicago cuisine that – for the average tourist –(…)

Chicago travel: beyond the Magnificent Mile

For years, I’ve headed to Chicago for day trips or quick overnights – usually taking in the obvious sites and sticking to places tourists congregate. That changed in 2011, when two events (a business conference and a football game) lured me to the Windy City for seven nights, with ample time to explore what’s beyond(…)