Our friends who frequent Chicago said their favorite local restaurant is Avec, a restaurant serving shared plates I’d describe as a conflation of Basque, Mediterranean, and Arabic. Their wine and beverage program is extensive and fantastic—we were recommended some phenomenal beers and port (in fact, it was the first place I’d ever enjoyed port). Avec doesn’t take reservations, so my advice is to go early (we went at 3:30 PM). Since we’d planned on having a second dinner right after Avec, we decided to keep it light. Among some of

I say “happier marriage” because I won’t pretend that I hold the keys to a happy marriage. I say “happier” because it’s relative. Every person is unique, and every relationship possesses different dynamics. What works in my marriage may not work in yours. But after seven years of marriage, I’m happy to say I’m still happy. And so today, as a tribute to our 7th anniversary, I offer you my 7 bits of advice that has made our marriage work so far. Following these tips may not solve all of

My pops loves deep dish pizza. When I was seven or eight, he drove my mama and me for what seemed like a very long car ride to eat at Uno’s Pizzeria. My parents lived in Chicago before I was born. There are pictures in old family albums of my mama standing knee-deep in snow, wrapped in a pink scarf and moss green coat, a small smile etched painfully on her half frozen face. I wonder if it was from their time in Chicago when my pops’s affinity for the

The last time I was in Chicago was for AWP, the large national writer’s conference. The time before that was when I was in seventh grade, and our middle school orchestra was invited for an international clinic taking place in the Windy City. Needless to say, I’d never been to Chicago for pure leisure, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally visit Chi-Town for real for the first time in my 30s! Day 1 in Chicago Lou Malnati’s Avec Blackbird Aviary Tickets from Houston to Chicago are

You just celebrated Easter, and that could very well mean you have a dozen-plus leftover eggs on your hands. Here’s a delicious yet simple recipe for onsen tamago, which translates from Japanese as “hot springs egg.” When I first visited Japan, a group of us went to Hakone and stayed in a hot springs inn near Mount Fuji. After taking the cable car to the top of a nearby mountain, we sat down in a cafe and ordered Fuji apples and onsen tamago. (Yeah, super creative, right?) The egg came

I had fun doing this YouTube collaboration with Tommy Edison of The Tommy Edison Experience, also known as the Blind Film Critic. Little did I know I’d actually spoken with Tommy years ago when I was on a press whirlwind during the airing of my season of MasterChef. At the time, Tommy was still a traffic reporter at a radio station back east (he followed traffic by listening to police radar—isn’t that something?). And now we meet again for these collars. I think Tommy is a great co-host, don’t you?

Some of my most memorable cocktail experiences have been in New York. From Apotheke to Please Don’t Tell to Angel’s Share, NYC undoubtedly has a deserving reputation of being home to some of the best cocktail bars in the world. So as a tribute, I’ll close out my New York series with none else than a recipe for the Old Fashioned cocktail. A little history lesson: the “cocktail” was first defined in the early 19th century as a beverage consisting of spirits, water, bitters, and sugar. The basic formula came

I first heard of this famous food stand 15 years ago when a friend told me her sister brought a halal plate aboard a plane and stunk up the whole cabin. “Why would she choose that?” I said. “Because it’s worth it,” my friend said. I finally tasted The Halal Guys in 2006 when the then-boyfriend-now-hubs and I took a trip to New York. It was after midnight, and we stood in a line about 20 people deep, about half of whom were intoxicated. But whether sober or drunk, I

Good Japanese food is lacking in Midtown Manhattan, so what to do if you’re hit with a sudden craving for ramen or yakitori whilst trekking around the business center of New York City? There are two viable options, and if you’re lucky (or show up right as they open), your wait will be bearable. The first time my cousin took me to Totto Ramen was five years ago. We waited nearly 90 minutes for Saturday lunch, and it was a painful wait because there was really no place nearby to

Every year when the annual NMO Patient Day sponsored by the Guthy Jackson Foundation rolls around, I get nostalgic since that’s where NMO Diaries was born. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to attend for quite a few years since I’m always tied up with other events during the Patient Days. I know there are many patients and caregivers who are also unable to attend, and the nice thing is the GJCF will often stream or upload key videos from the day’s events online for worldwide viewing. You can check out

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