ZAP Bites: The Best of Italy
My husband and I recently took a trip to Italy for our anniversary. We’ve both been numerous times before so this time our goal was solely to relax, eat, drink and eat some more. Our first stop was Rome, the historic and mind-blowing city filled with ruins, piazzas and art. We spent days walking around exploring neighborhoods, drinking aperol spritzers at cafes and visiting some of our favorite spots like the Colosseum, Roman Ruins, Pantheon, Vatican and the beautiful Piazza del Popolo. We also walked through Villa Borghese, the perfect garden where you can rent bikes, have picnics and take naps in the shade. It has a gorgeous view of the city and is a definite must see if you’re visiting.
Our second stop was Bologna, about two hours north of Rome and 30 minutes from Florence. It’s a great town that features Italy’s largest university, many historical sites and is one of the culinary capitals of the country. Bolognese sauce, tagliatelle, tortellini and beautiful pastries are among the local specialties. It’s also smack dab in the middle of an amazing food region that produces products like balsamic vinegar, prosciutti di parma and parmesan cheese. We had a private tour of one of the oldest producers of authentic balsamic vinegar and visited the beautiful towns of Modena and Parma.
A major reason we went to Italy was to eat, and boy did we eat! Rome and Bologna did not disappoint. If you’re planning a trip to Italy, here are a few of my dining recommendations:
Enoteca Ferrara – Hidden among the streets and crowds of Trastevere, this hidden gem is part wine bar and part restaurant. The space is decorated in all whites and warm neutrals and every room is more charming then the next. The menu changes weekly and focuses on traditional Italian cuisine with an incredibly expansive wine list. In fact, wines bottles are all around you and the wine cellar is visible from the restaurant through an ancient forged grating.
Taverna Trillusa – Hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I would fly there just to eat here again. Try the Ravioli Mimosa, a house specialty, Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, and if you’re there during white truffle season (as we were), then you have to order the tenderloin with fresh shaved white truffle. I have literally been dreaming about that dish since we got home.
All’Osteria Bottega – A true local spot, this tiny osteria is delicious and perfect for a cozy lunch or dinner spot. Get the Tortillini en brodo (in broth) and the classic Bolognese lasagna.
Trattoria Baraldi – This unassuming spot had some of the best pizza we tasted in Italy. Located on the same street as our apartment rental in Bologna, we stumbled upon this gem one night looking for a late dinner….and then went back the next night to try more. Get any of the pizzas and don’t skip the tortellini in a creamy tomato sauce.
– Annie Block, Vice President
ZAP Bites: What’s Your Favorite Dish?
Of all of the delicious recipes and dishes served on Thanksgiving, people tend to be fairly loyal to their favorites. I’m no different, and as a carb-loving vegetarian, Thanksgiving dinner has my name written all over it. Sure, the turkey may be the Pièce de résistance, but I’m all about the side dishes, from homemade mashed potatoes to my grandma’s Italian stuffing to green bean casserole and my all-time favorite, cheesy broccoli rice casserole. I’m not talking gourmet, farm-to-table here. I’m talking minute rice and Cheese Whiz, and I don’t even feel bad about it. So without further ado, check out the recipe for one of my many Thanksgiving guilty pleasures below.
Broccoli Cheese Casserole
- 1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped broccoli or 1 head fresh broccoli
- 1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)
- 1 cup diced onion (optional)
- 1 (8 ounce) jar Cheese Whiz or 1 cup shredded colby cheese
- 1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup or 1 (10 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup or 1 (10 ounce) can cream of celery soup
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 cup instant rice, uncooked or 2 cups cooked rice
- salt and pepper
- If using fresh broccoli cook broccoli to desired tenderness. Sauté celery and onion in a bit of butter if desired. If using cooked rice, prepare rice. This can all be done ahead of time.
- Mix all ingredients and pour into a greased 2 quart casserole with a lid (or cover with foil).
- Sprinkle additional cheese on top.
- Bake covered at 350ºF for 45 minutes if using uncooked minute rice, if using cooked rice bake until warm through and cheese is bubbly.
And if by chance you’re on the fancier side, some of our favorite Chicago restaurants are not only open Thanksgiving Day, but offer dine in, carry out and delivery options!
– Mary Doyle, Account Supervisor
ZAP Style Notes: Milk Handmade Opens at Block 37
You may remember me writing about Block 37‘s “Search for the Next Great Pop-Up” earlier this fall. After two months of reviewing applications, in-person interviews, considering social vote and getting insights from a team of trusted advisers, Block 37 selected Milk Handmade as the first-ever winner of the contest. A boutique that primarily works with local companies and artisans, Milk Handmade is now open at Block 37 on the second floor for the holiday season (November and December).
The space is gorgeous. Basically if you have a love for hand-crafted items of all varieties — scarves, rings, t-shirts, candles, bags and more — you’ll love this shop. Milk Handmade’s owner, Hallie Borden, currently has a shop in Andersonville, but this shop really reflects the downtown shopper while staying true to Hallie’s overall aesthetic and mission. It’s also a great chance for those who live or work closer to the loop to shop the boutique, considering the Andersonville location might not be as easy to get to.
On Tuesday, November 18, you can join us for the official launch party from 6 to 8 p.m., with cupcakes and cocktails generously provided by Magnolia Bakery and Crafthouse cocktails. One lucky guest will win a $50 gift card (wish it could be me!).
But really, this place is great for holiday shopping, with clothing and accessories to shop from that will suit a variety of fashion styles. To help you spark some holiday ideas, I’m sharing five of my favorite items:
1. Equator Necklace ($80). I’m all about statement necklaces, usually in silver palettes, but there’s something about raw materials that can edge up a simple outfit. This amethyst on sterling silver chain, handmade by Ali’s Collection, can definitely help you make a statement.
2. Duffy Florals Sweatshirt ($48). I’m obsessed with this sweatshirt. Throw on a pair of converse and some black skinny jeans for an afternoon of shopping or weekend of errands, and you have an effortless Chicago look. To give you some background, the Duffy Florals were a Southside basketball team from 1935 to 1937, headed up by a local flower shop owner. This sweatshirt is screen-printed in Chicago by People’s Garment Co. Someone get me this, please!
3. Chain-Link Infinity Scarf ($48). Winter isn’t coming, it’s here, and I say, the bigger the scarf the better. Pile this scarf high with any winter coat, as it comes in a variety of colors. So much cuteness; so much warmth. Hand-crocheted in Chicago by KraeO.
4. Brass Crystal + Druzy Ring ($60). On any given day, I’m usually wearing at least three or four rings, so I wouldn’t mind adding this one to my rotating collection. These are handmade in Chicago by Therese Kuempel; broze crystals are hand cast, and each ring is one-of-a-kind increasing its unique effect.
5. Sweatshirt Dress ($99). Made in Chicago by Anna Hovet, this dress is stylish and warm – essential for Chicago winters. I’d pair it with moto boots to give it a little edge.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars to visit the shop before the end of December, or join us tomorrow from 6 to 8 p.m. for the launch event! Happy shopping!
– Stephanie Poquette, Senior Publicist
PR Buzz: The PRism Awards
Just a few months ago, we announced that Zapwater had opened its second office in Los Angeles. What an exciting few months it’s been! I’m happy to report that our agency and approach have been warmly received out west. In addition to on-boarding several exciting new clients and the continued expansion of our team, our colleagues in the public relations industry have recognized our work with one of the LA PR industry’s top accolades.
I’m excited to announce that Zapwater has been named a finalist for two Public Relations Society of America – Los Angeles Chapter PRism Awards. These annual awards recognize outstanding programs and materials created by public relations professionals who work in the Greater Los Angeles area or have completed assignments for LA-based clients.
While these award-winning campaigns slightly predated our official announcement about opening an LA office, it certainly validates our decision. The awards are also proof again that Zapwater is known for delivering creative, out-of-the box ideas AND national media results within any budget.
These accolades and our agency’s growth and expansion continue to reaffirm Zapwater’s commitment to be the best boutique agency in the country. Thank you PRSA LA for such a warm welcome!
– David Zapata, President
Client Happenings: Wallenda Weekend
He flew through the air with the greatest of ease! In case you have been living under a rock, earlier this month record-breaking daredevil, Nik Wallenda, risked his life to complete two daring tightrope walks in Chicago. The first was between the Marina City Towers and the Leo Burnett building, and the other between the two Marina Towers completely BLINDFOLDED. We were lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation for the walk and enjoy front row seats during the show.
We had the pleasure of working with his entire team on Friday, as the Discovery Channel hosted a press conference at Vertigo Sky Lounge atop the 26th floor of the dana hotel and spa. While the wind rattled the rooftop windows more than 100 media members attended that day (local, national and international), and we were on-site managing any client needs. There was also opportunity for us and the dana team to meet Wallenda himself, who was calm as a cucumber when asked about his risky plans.
Then, on Sunday, we had access to the press viewing section during the thrilling walk. More than 50 press outlets were onsite to capture the event, and we were able to watch the entire experience live, while simultaneously taking in the TV broadcast and the roar of the crowds below. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and we were so honored to have a small part in this incredible weekend!
– Michael Corrigan, Account Supervisor & Stephanie Reay, Senior Publicist
ZAP Style: Fall Fashion Staples
I find myself always intrigued by new trends, and even try out a few of them myself (Harem pants, anyone?!) However, there are key pieces I believe that every college girl should own in her closet that are timeless. I’ve tailored to pieces that work well for the autumn weather in Chicago.
- A structured bag – One that is large enough to fit your agenda, iPad, iPhone, wallet, keys, and even an extra pair of flats (you never know…). I’ve been coveting this Kate Spade bag. Clean lines, solid color, and large enough for all of my essentials. // Cedar Street Maise- $298. This one is in “Ballet Slipper,” but they offer a total of nine gorgeous hues.
- Long-Sleeved V-neck Blouses – These shirts are great for work. I prefer to wear mine buttoned all the way up to the top button, tucked into a pair of jeans, with a chunky statement necklace. They are just so versatile; I own at least eight in different colors and patterns! // These from H&M are my favorite, they are comfortable and affordable. This polka dot one is just too fun. Long-sleeved blouse – $17.95 hm.com
- Black, suede pointed-toe pumps. Because honestly, when will these ever go out of fashion? Invest in a pair that’ll last! // I like these by Topshop. Glory Pointed-Toe Suede Pumps – $95.00
- A great pair of sunglasses. Being in the city, it can get really bright and sunny, so it’s always a good idea to protect your eyes while also looking stylish! // These Oliver People’s West sunglasses are definitely on my wish-list. I am a firm believer in the cat-eye shape, and that is certainly a trend here to stay. Oliver People’s West – $265. Forever21 has a similar pair with a price tag of only $5.80!
- If you are like me, you love wearing a heel to give you great height, but sometimes walking throughout Chicago can get tiring in pumps. This is where Chelsea boots come in! These classic boots are definitely a staple. They go with almost everything; from jeans and a tee to a shift dress, while also giving you a teeny bit of height. // H&M does this well with this caramel-toned pair. Leather Chelsea Boots- H&M $99
- A cozy, boyfriend-style flannel – trust me on this one. You will (comfortably) live in your flannel. The super soft, baggy styles are perfect with skinny jeans and beige boots. Definitely great for weekend lounging, or going to class. // This style from Garage Clothing is perfect and priced well at only $36.90
- Black skinny jeans – When I got my first part-time job my sophomore year of high-school, I saved up a few of my paychecks and splurged on a pair of JBrand black skinny jeans. Best. Decision. Ever. These jeans are so comfortable and five years later, they still have their same shape and haven’t lost any color. Perfect. // While I’m not sure exactly the style I bought back then, these are very similar and the quality of JBrand is just amazing. $185 – Jbrandjeans.com
- A chunky statement necklace – While these were once only a trend, I believe that they are here to stay. They just pair adorably, layered over a plain t-shirt for day or a fancy dress for evening events. // Baublebar is known for their gorgeous bling, and this one is on my wish list. $44 from Bauble Bar
- Dresses: 1 Classic LBD, 1 Earthy, 1 Lace. I decided to put all of these into one category, since they are all important dresses I believe women should own. A classic LBD can be worn to anything, from events, to dinner dates, to an interview, etc. An earthy dress is perfect to dress for a weekend or a concert, and a lace dress is delicate and beautiful for a night out. // NastyGal has a large selection of LBD’s. I like the cut of this one. Free People is perfect for both Earthy and Lace Dresses.
- Finally, the last item on my list is a great leather jacket. My favorite leather jacket is a light beige one I found in the sale rack of Nordstrom’s Rack a few years ago. The sleeves are lined with soft fabric on the inside, and the body is leather. So comfy chic. // I also dig a classic, black biker jaket like this one from Zara.
– Emily Doherty, Intern
ZAP Bites: Warm Up with a White Chicken Chili Recipe
Cold nights, leaves falling, sweaters and football…all of those things equal chili Sundays at my house! Chili is most popular in its traditional red form, but this White Chicken version is rich, creamy and comforting, plus it’s one of my husband’s all-time favorites. Below is the recipe. Get cozy and enjoy!
White Chicken Chili
- 2 cups boneless skinless chicken breasts, shredded (can be prepared anyway you like or simply pull the meat off a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium yellow pepper, diced
- 1 tbsp minced fresh jalapeno
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 (7 oz) can diced green chilies
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 (15 oz) can cream-style corn
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
- 1 1/2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
- tortilla chips, for serving (optional)
Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, pepper, jalapeno and cook, stirring often until onion is softened about 3 to 4 minutes. Add cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, corn, green chilies, milk, beans and season with salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the chicken. Stir in the cheddar cheese and serve immediately.
Serve with additional cheese, chopped cilantro and tortilla chips for dipping if desired.
– Annie Block, Vice President
PR Buzz: Advice from a Zapwater Intern
When most people here the word “intern”, they think of the coffee-running, copy-making, phone-answering, college gal or guy. However, when I think of the word intern, I think of an individual who is fast-paced, responsible, organized, creative, energetic and driven.
So far, my time interning at Zapwater has not only taught me valuable skills that I can carry with me when I graduate from college and enter the workforce, but has also confirmed my passion for the Public Relations field.
My day-to-day life can seem pretty hectic to most people. I not only intern at Zapwater three days a week, but am also the Vice President of Valpo’s PRSSA chapter, the Opinions Editor at my school’s weekly newspaper, and have a full-load class schedule. (I attend Valparaiso University, in quaint Valparaiso, Ind., where I am a junior studying PR and creative writing).
While yes, I maintain my composure with a lot of coffee, (Venti Americano with soy, please) but I also have a strategic method to my madness, that keeps me organized and on top of tasks when I am at Zapwater.
For starters, I write nearly every part of my life down. (Including workouts and dinner dates.) I owe this part of my organization to my Lilly Pulitzer agenda. While any planner is key to have when you are an intern, I just love the design and the layout of the Lilly agendas. The pages in the large planner are just enough to write down assignments for class and dates/times of events I am working with the Zapwater team.
Secondly, I travel three days a week from Indiana by the South Shore train, and take the CTA over to Zapwater’s office, which is located in West Loop and then do it all again after the work day. (Total commute time = 3 1/2 hours a day) I use this time on the train to research client happenings, any local or national press they received, read my favorite blog (Man Repeller has my heart) and also to catch up on community and national news. (Very important in PR!) This way, when I get into the office, I am mentally prepared for the work that is given to me. On a daily basis, I do media clippings, complete media trackers, write/send pitches, and help the rest of the team with whatever assignment they need me to do. Zapwater provides me with very hands-on experience, which I have also been able to demonstrate to my PRSSA chapter at Valpo. Every time I learn how to do something new, I make a note of it on my notepad as well as my iPhone.
Staying organized and on top of tasks at Zapwater is very important. I prefer to write everything by hand and highlight the tasks in yellow that I’ve completed. (Hint, find out exactly when a project is due; that was you can prioritize your time best) Papersource is one of my favorite places to get notebooks, notepads, and other organizers; you can even get your notepads personalized! I love this vintage, “Hello Sunshine” pattern.
As an intern, you have to be readily available to give your time to helping the company. I have loved every minute of interning at Zapwater; getting the hands-on experience I was seeking, as well as being able to work some pretty cool events (TheTieBar with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and The Gold Coast Fashion Awards Show to name a few..) Staying organized and on top of everything, even if you have a busy schedule (like mine), is easy when you are able prioritize and stay on top of tasks. PR can be a hectic field, and I feel like I am more than prepared to enter the PR workforce after graduation thanks to my time at Zapwater.
– Emily Doherty, Intern
Around Town: Welcome to the Neighborhood
It’s no secret that the West Loop neighborhood is booming. Since moving into our digs on Peoria Street in 2011, we’ve had the chance to watch countless new businesses open their doors. Soho House and the upcoming Google headquarters, Nobu and the Ace Hotel may be making headlines, but smaller, local spots have us just as excited.
Most recently, I’ve become a regular at Harvest JUICERY. Sure, my upcoming Mexican vacation has healthy eating top of mind, but who can resist a delicious juice? Located at 1012 W. Lake Street, steps from the Morgan stop on the CTA Green line, Harvest is the perfect lunch time get away. Plus, all of the fruits and vegetables that go into the juices are organic or locally sourced. There are plenty of juices to grab from the shelf or you can order one off the menu to be prepared at the counter. Not to mention, the super stylish spot is totally Instagram-worthy.
See? Our entire team is on board!
My personal favorite drink? The Nutty Oat. So good that most times, I finish drinking it before I even make it back into the office.
Next time you’re in the hood, swing by and check it out for yourself!
– Mary Doyle, Account Supervisor
Client Happenings: No Need to Feel GILT-y
The first step is admitting…and I’ll admit, I love shopping. It’s something that is impossible to hide with my ever shrinking bank account and my ever growing closet. Do I feel a rush with the swipe of my credit card as the sales associate hands over my shopping bag with the current season’s treasure? Of course. Do I feel a tinge of guilt and shame when I’m forced to look at the receipt displaying the total price? Every single time. Does that guilt stop me? Never. Which is why when the Gilt City Warehouse Sale rolls into Chicago, I can fulfill my ever present desire to shop without having to face a bank statement that makes me feel like I’m going to faint.
This season’s Warehouse Sale was one of the best yet, with a heaping handful of Isabel Marant for the ladies and an entire John Varvatos pop-up shop for the gentlemen. Chicago’s most fashionable residents enjoyed sipping cocktails with their friends during this two-day shopping party, where they were flooded with designer clothing and accessories from Gilt’s top brands for women, men and kids, plus home decor and more at up to 90 percent off retail.
Shoppers indulged in hundreds of the most coveted brands, from both up-and-coming designers and the most venerable fashion houses, including Zac Posen, Helmut Lang, Missoni, Vera Wang, Badgley Mischka, Carolina Herrera, Paul Smith and GANT, to name a few
Thankfully, the sale comes twice a year, which means double the GILT with none of the guilt.
– Brigid Parr, Senior Publicist