29 January 2010

Brown Line Mugging

There is alarm among both police and residents following the mugging of a woman on Tuesday, 26th January, at around 7:30 P.M. She reportedly was on her way home from the Francisco stop of the CTA Brown Line when, three males began to follow her. They attacked the woman and tried to grab her purse as she was unlocking the door to her apartment building; but she managed to enter the building and lock the door before the thieves could wrestle the purse from her.


CTA Reps on WBBM Radio

At 9:30 A.M. and 9:30P.M., on Sunday, 31st January, 2010, two CTA representatives will be the guests on 780 WBBM's "At Issue" program. They will discuss the Chicago Transit Authority's upcoming system - wide service changes that are scheduled to take effect on 7th February, 2010. Several express bus routes are being eliminated and most, if not all, of other bus routes will see reductions in service, starting later and/or stopping early. Countless Chicago citizens will be impacted!

If you are a Chicagoan who relies on public transportation, or know someone who does, this will be an informative hour devoted to the CTA's service changes, and other related issues.


27 January 2010

Dominick's Haiti Relief

The next time you are shopping at your neighbourhood Dominick's supermarket, consider making a contribution for Haiti earthquake relief at the checkstand. Donations will go to the American Red Cross and UNICEF.


26 January 2010

All Things Jewish!

Rosenblum's World of Judaica

2906 W. Devon Avenue

Chicago, IL 60659

(773) 262.1700

Are you curious about Jewish traditions and history? Are you planning a trip to Israel? How about CD's of Israeli hip hop? Would gifts from the Holy Land appeal to you? Wherever your curiosity leads you, visit Rosenblum's World of Judaica on Devon Avenue. They offer a plethora of Jewish gifts, CD's, books, Hebrew learning tools, and jewelry. If you are looking for something specific, the friendly staff sales personnel will help you. I have found great music here and guidebooks to help me improve my Hebrew skills.


RTA Trave Information Center

Due to shut - down of their building's water supply, the RTA's Travel Information Center will be closed from 7:00 P.M., Friday, 29 January, 2010, and will re - open at 7:00 A.M., Saturday, 30th January, 2010. While the TIC is out of service, go to http://transitchicago.com for travel information.

23 January 2010

CTA Service Cuts and Thefts

Effective February 7th, 2010, CTA bus routes will be reduced in frequency, or eliminated altogether. Fewer buses on the street will mean longer waits and more standing passengers. Buses will begin running later or stop running earlier once the changes go into effect. Several express buses are being discontinued.

For further details, visit http://transitchicago.com

Also, there have been a rash of robberies on the CTA Red Line, especially on the North Side. In at least one incident, the crime was committed by young males from Senn High School. Many of the robberies have occurred in broad daylight. The mantra is, be on your guard!


21 January 2010

New China Buffet

Whether I am by myself or with a friend, I like to go to New China Buffet in Chicago's West Ridge neighbourhood. I guess you would consider me a regular customer because, the servers bring me my usual Diet Coke almost before I've taken off my jacket.

New China Buffet is located in a shopping center at 7566 N. Western Ave., on the Evanston border at Howard Street. I have been coming here for years and the one constant is that I always make a beeline for the egg foo young (my all - time favourite Chinese dish). But I also enjoy their Mongolian Beef, golden fried rice, sushi and seafood delight. Usually, I conclude my meal with a cup of their soft - serve ice cream that comes in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and a combination of both! Their tapioca pudding is another one of my favourite New China Buffet desserts.

After I'm done with my meal, I will often walk a few doors down to the Dollar Tree and pick up a few cheap treasures, at a dollar each!



16 January 2010

What's in a Brand Name?

What's in a name? Well, where consumer products are concerned, a great deal! For years, I was of the mindset that brand - name items were superior to private labels, or store brands. National brands carried a great deal of weight for me, as I figured the quality of the less expensive store brands was substandard.

These days, however, I am more likely to avoid national labels in favor of those bearing the name of the store I happen to be shopping at. Does it have to be Lipton Tea? Can't I settle for a private brand? I answer that question every time I reach for the store brand; and the cheaper tea tastes just fine. Actually, it tastes better because I saved money. (The only item I won't skimp on is soy sauce; I have stubbornly stuck with Kikkoman.)

Originally, my spending habits changed about eight years ago, due to financial hardship. I had to forgo products so prominently advertised on television, for those lesser known. But something happened: I realized that 'cheap' did not necessarily mean poor quality. Today, selecting private label items is routine whenever I shop for groceries. I save even more when I buy my groceries at independent supermarkets. I now buy store brands by choice, not necessity.

So what's in a name? The next time you're at the supermarket , answering that question can determine how much lighter your wallet will be when you leave.


15 January 2010

Aldi Product Spotlight

Grandessa Mini - Eclairs

They sit there in the freezer section seducing you. You know you want them, they practically have your name on them. They are mini - eclairs and they're at your local Aldi waiting to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee. For $3.99, you get over 40 of these little gems filled with custard and covered with chocolate. I've seen boxes of 30 of these babies for $6 and up at traditional supermarkets. Aldi not only gives you more eclairs but it does so at a lower price. Usually, I allow the eclairs to thaw in the refrigerator. On hot summer days I like to eat them while they're still semi - frozen, because the custard filling tastes like ice cream.

Note: I also recommend the Grandessa Cream Puffs, which are just as hard to pass up.


10 January 2010

New Year Off to Grinding Start


Last month, I received a coffee grinder as a Christmas gift and was eager to try it out. I recalled seeing bags of whole - bean coffee at Aldi at Broadway and Granville; so off I went, bringing home three varieties of the store's 'exotic' blends: Costa Rican, Zambian, and Guatemalan. The Costa Rican blend is on the mild side; the Zambian blend, bolder; and the Guatemalan blend, a little in between. All in all, Aldi's coffee gets a 4 - star rating from me. Either would be a perfect morning brew or a pleasant climax to a satisfying dinner.

Who needs pricey gourmet coffee shops? In this, and other edible categories, Aldi rules!


05 January 2010

Andersonville McDonald's

Well - Dressed Panhandlers

This past Sunday morning, I went inside the McDonald's located at North Clark St. and Bryn Mawr in Chicago's Andersonville neighbourhood. Before I could even get in line to place my order, a nicely - dressed woman and a young girl (between 12 and 13 years of age) approached me with a box of assorted candy bars and asked me if I would like to buy candy to help her keep her daughter in school. I shook my head, indicating that I was not interested. But the woman persisted and followed me to the register, pleading, "But it's for a good cause." By now, I was getting perturbed by what I considered panhandling, no matter how well - dressed the beggars. This time, I made no gesture and I simply ignored her.

I found it annoying that these people were not asked to leave by restaurant management. I should have known better than to go to this particular McDonald's, as it has had a serious problem with loitering beggars and street people (many of whom reek of urine and months of not bathing) inside its building, for years. After this woman finally got the message and left me alone, she sought out other victims and began her harassment of other customers as they entered the restaurant. I find it unsettling enough when a business allows this kind of activity outside its building; but I am very indignant when it occurs inside it.

Finally, a McDonald's employee approached the well - dressed panhandlers and ordered them to cease soliciting their candy to their customers. But, to my dismay, the offending duo were not escorted out the door! Via my cellphone, I called the McDonald's toll - free, customer phone number to air my complaint. Hopefully, this will curtail scenes like this. But since this particular location has allowed unsavoury characters like this to harass their customers, I am not holding my breath and will not return as a customer.


02 January 2010

Falafil Shack Update

Recently, during a recent visit to the new Edgewater/Rogers Park eatery, "Falafil Shack," I told the owner that he needs more customers, noting that I was the only soul inside the restaurant. He lamented that building a customer base takes time, and added that once a steady stream of patrons becomes a common sight at Falafil Shack, he will raise the prices, because his business won't survive if he continues to charge such cheap prices. There are some kinks at the restaurant that need to be worked out. For instance, on this occasion, I ordered the grilled chicken legs that was listed on the menu. "No! It takes too long," the owner replied. It takes too long? Rather than leave in a huff, I ordered an alternate: the combo featuring kifta (ground lamb and beef), a chicken kebab, and rice. If customers get this kind of response too often, they will stop coming. If the dish is too time - consuming, he either needs to hire someone to cook the food while he writes down the orders; or omit the item from the menu.

I go out of my way to support mom - and - pop businesses, as opposed to spending my money at an establishment run by a corporation. I hope that Falafil Shack can work out its problems, because, I really want the restaurant to succeed. It is a brave soul who starts a business while a recession is in - progress.