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Travel & Escape

Chicago restaurant brings fresh California cuisine to the Midwest





For chef Erling Wu-Bower, few things are better than breaking bread with friends and family and settling into a lively conversation with good food and drink. And that is the premise behind Pacific Standard Time, a California-inspired restaurant Wu-Bower opened in April in Chicago’s bustling River North neighbourhood with his partner, Joshua Tilden. Their company, Underscore Hospitality, in turn, teamed up with the three owners — Donnie Madia, Paul Kahan and Terry Alexander — of One Off Hospitality, the crew behind the popular Chicago restaurants Blackbird and Avec.

The light-filled PST has midcentury modern touches like sleek brass fixtures, earth tones, light wood flooring and white tiles, evoking a homey feel. But it’s a pair of wood-burning ovens that form the centrepiece of the restaurant.

Open to the dining room, one oven is dedicated to fluffy pitas and rustic pizzas, the other for roasting everything from fresh fish and produce imported from California, to hearty local meats, which will become more plentiful on the menu as the weather gets colder. Nearly everything coming out of the kitchen has some sort of wood-roasted component, and that’s intentional.

“I love eating things cooked in a wood-fired oven, things with burned edges,” Wu-Bower said. “Sometimes a piece of cod may break in the oven and we’ll still put it on the plate.”

Start your meal with one of the fluffy-yet-crisp pita dishes, served alongside abundant ahi over green chickpea hummus, or a wood-fired eggplant with creamy whipped ribolina. Follow that with another star on the menu: Harry’s Berries Strawberries. Wu-Bower found the strawberries at the Santa Monica Farmers Market — people were lining up to get them — and, after tasting one, knew he had to import them to Chicago. Served with soft stracciatella, seasonal snap peas and hazelnuts, the dish is accompanied by seeded 1979 bread, courtesy of the head baker at Publican Quality Bread, Greg Wade.

It’s somewhat unusual that a California-inspired restaurant would have not one, but two sections on its menu dedicated to carbs, but Wu-Bower said that diners can’t get enough of the pastas and rustic wood-fired pizzas. PST also serves dishes that are intended for two or more: whole roasted duck, roasted Slagel Farm rib-eye or the Mount Lassen trout served with a zesty, clean zhoug and, of course, pitas for sopping up the sauce or eating the fish like tacos.

The pastry chef at PST, Natalie Saben, worked at the now-closed restaurant Grace, which had three Michelin stars. Her desserts are an elegant counterpoint to a casual dinner. A chocolate tart is paired with peanut dukkah, the Egyptian spice mix, and peanut ice cream, and a slightly savory buttermilk cake is served with huckleberry sorbet, spice meringue, basil and honey ice cream.

PST follows a trend set in Chicago in the past couple of years at restaurants like Summer House Santa Monica, Bad Hunter and Ema, where the focus is on fresh produce and leaner meats, and brightly lighted rooms that bring people together.

“I love eating with family, both blood and not,” Wu-Bower said. “It’s my favourite thing to do. When you break bread at the start of a meal, it just feels right. You tear hot bread, run it through the sauce — life and conversation is a little better. For me, that’s the heart and soul of what we do.”

Pacific Standard Time, 141 W Erie St., Chicago;

An average meal for two without drinks or tip is $80.


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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)





(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel





(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!





Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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