Friday, December 11, 2009

Rockin' the Indian food in La Grange

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend a fabulous dinner party at a new Indian bistro in La Grange, thanks to my membership on the website Yelp.

And I'm still thinking about the food, so I simply must spread the word about the wonderful Kama Indian Bistro, 8 W. Burlington Ave. in La Grange. It's very easily accessible by Metra line, so those in the city or along the BNSF line have no excuse.

It's a cozy space, not too small but not too big, with great purple walls and interesting artwork - no pictures of the Taj Mahal here! The walls are lined with bench seating with lots of pillows, for an intimate feel. But while it feels slightly communal, the quarters are not too close for comfort.

And the food is simply amazing. I am no expert on Indian food, being a white chick and Indiana native, but I did grow up eating it from a recent immigrant's kitchen, and it is comfort food to me. Everything I tried - even the mushroom pakoras, and I've never been a huge fan of mushroom - was full of wonderful flavors and textures. We were given loads of food and probably tried half the menu, and I thought it was all pretty fantastic.

Especially worth mentioning are the chicken lemon tadka, the chilly crispy potatoes, the chicken tikka, and the lamb biryani. But honestly, I doubt you could go wrong with any of it. The owner and his wife - and the owner's father, a classically trained chef - were delightful and inquisitive and explained their food philosophy to us: authenticity and fresh ingredients. No cans here. They even make their garam masala from scratch, which is pretty amazing.

Prices are reasonable, food is plentiful and the atmosphere is friendly and sophisticated -- great for a dinner with friends or romantic night out. And seeing as I won a gift card from the Yelp drawing to come back, we will be revisiting Kama Bistro in the near future.

I highly recommend this gem of a restaurant - and La Grange is a pretty cute little town, too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday fun at the zoo

Christmas is such a great distraction from the fact that the weather sucks, isn't it? We put up sparkly lights and Christmas trees and buy a lot to distract ourselves from the short days and gray skies.

And three area zoos do fun, festive things for the holidays -- because who would ever want to go to the zoo in December otherwise?

But if you bundle up, and bring a few extra dollars for hot chocolate, you can have a lot of fun at these holiday events.

Festival of Lights at Cosley Zoo
1356 N. Gary Ave., Wheaton
630.665.5534, Wheaton Park District
Price: Free
Time: 3 to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 30
Features: 2,200 trees for sale, plus wreaths, animal-related gifts and ornaments; decorative lights; holiday music; hot chocolate. During the weekends of Dec. 5 and 12, kids can visit with Santa and make a holiday-themed craft project from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a $2 donation.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
3300 Golf Road, Brookfield
708.688.8000, Chicago Zoological Society
Price: $12; $8 for seniors and kids ages 3 to 11
Time: 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 20 and daily Dec. 26 through 31
Features: More than 1 million lights; a light show synced with music; ice-carving demonstrations, a train ride, live music, dance performances, storytellers, magic acts, caroling and visits with Santa, and much more.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St., Chicago
312.742.2000 Lincoln Park Zoo
Price: Free
Time: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 13 and daily Dec. 18 through Jan. 3
Features: Mix of indoor and outdoor attractions; 1.5 million lights outside; hot chocolate and spiced wine; ice carvers; musical light show on the zoo's south lawn; free visits with Santa in the lion house through Dec. 23; more.