Welcome2Chicago and The Best Burger in America

Burgers. Everyone has that favorite spot. There are no shortages of Burgers in North America.

Recently while I was in Chicago to watch Prince rock out the town with three shows, found what in my opinion is one of the best burger joints in North America.

Can’t a burger just be a burger? Yes, and I found one in the perfect griddle burger at Chicago’s Au Cheval. The first thing you’ll notice is the soft, lightly toasted bun from Chicago’s Z Baking. And the all-important bun-to-burger ratio is spot on–none of that brioche bun nonsense.

Your single burger is actually packing two patties. If you’re brave enough to order a double, you’ll have to fight your way through three patties.

Au Cheval’s burger is comprised of four ounce, pre-formed (gasp, gasp!) prime beef patties. Nope–no chuck/shortrib/bone marrow custom patty blend happening here, yes folks watch out for those blended patties.

From $9.99 to the double at $11.95 one more thing that Chicago has going on for itself.

My Kinda town.

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The Link Between Jimmy’s Coffee Shop, Danny Boyle, and Olympics 2012

You all know this. There is a sign on the street pointing you to a location, you are curious but don’t have time, the inclination, nor the hunger desire to check it out. This you have done several times such as in the German film Run Lola Run, where the same occurrence is repeated till the outcome changes.

Then came a day, when I made a conscious decision to simply go to Jimmy’s Coffee only because now I had heard about the great coffee they make from someone I know. My curiosity is aroused, Hollywood will be coming to town and I need to know every little spot that has charm, personality and in this case coffee.

So I finally arrive to Jimmy’s Coffee at the right day, the right time and here is where everything got very interesting.

Ordering my coffee from Ash, I let her know it had been my mission to come try the coffee, my very first time to Jimmy’s. Ash wasting no time as time is not to be wasted at Jimmy’s due to the line-up of regulars, Ash produced for me what looked like a magical cappuccino and informed me it’s on the house, ( yes, folks in a city where no one give you anything for nothing ) at Jimmy’s it’s sort of a trend, that caught me off guard.

I took a seat out side on the patio on Portland Street, and sitting across from me where a few guys three of whom had crashed over to visit a friend. The man they had dropped in to visit told me how he was bouncing back from divorce, loss of job, a move to Toronto and how now everything was coming back to what some would say normal (in my world I have no idea what “Normal” is)

Ash had decided to take a break and she was recovering from late night of being in-love with tequila. I told her “hey it’s summer and a roof party would not be a party without tequila”.

It was as this time I discovered that the dude in the orange cap in the photograph below, was from Amsterdam, and we started talking about me making films, and how much I loved Amsterdam my nights with Rolling Stones at Yab Yum was one of the best-known and most exclusive brothels in Amsterdam till it was closed due to it’s owner’s link to Hell’s Angels, a surprise came my way.

Jimmy’s Coffee shop has a lot of cool pictures of Jimmy Hendricks and Bob Marley, and the conversation went to A.R. Rahman recording with Mick Jagger and Damien Marley and we started talking about the Oscar winner film directed by Danny Boyle Slumdog Millionaire. The Dude from Amsterdam looked at me and told me his best friends dad is diplomat Vikas Swarup who wrote the novel Q & A (2005), the underlying work which was adapted for the screen by Simon Beaufoy.

As I sipped what was an excellent cappuccino, my mind raced in wonderment at the collage Jimmy’s Coffee.

London and United Kingdom was still buzzing from the Olympic Opening Ceremonies created by Danny Boyle, and here I was few day’s later sitting with a dude who’s best friends dad, had written the novel.  The link to Danny Boyle, Olympic’s, London weaved it’s way into the patio of Jimmy’s Coffee.

Should you have coffee at Jimmy’s Coffee? Hell yes, if nothing else what you came for coffee is excellent.

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Magic At The Ritz Montreal – Canadian Grand Prix

My Weekend with McLaren, continued with the hospitality of the luxurious and friendly Ritz Carlton Montreal.

The Ritz Carlton has always been my favorite hotel in Montreal ever since I was growing up. It recently opened a week prior to the Canadian Grand Prix and this is perhaps the best time to see the hotel at work. The pressure is on.

Jetting in early I was given a warm welcome from the hotel team and in desperate need for a coffee I was escorted into what I call the magical kingdom managed by the renowned Executive Chef Daniel Boulud and his restaurant Maison Boulud and introduced to Rachid Mallis. Rachid greeted me with a big smile and assured me he will make for me a coffee “strong” personally.

It was quite when I arrived the coffee was yes, strong, and every detail was looked after by Rachid, the basket of breads, to the amazingly light and so good french toast. Cafe after cafe, slowly the beat picks the chefs arrive, the Executive Chef himself in arrives, and the pace starts to pick up. The team in the kitchen starts to move as if in a ballet. The very petite sommelier, she now busy carrying cases of wine and checking her inventory.

Monday after the Canadian Grad Prix and still on a high from the win by Lewis Hamilton and late night of parties I returned for more strong coffee, and this time Joe, and Rachid looked after me it was a day when Lewis Hamilton was pronounced King of Montreal and trust me the King will be staying at the Ritz in Montreal because I will tell him so. The Ritz delivers, for me they made the impossible happen. That alone speaks volumes for a hotel and it’s team.

King of Montreal the Ritz.

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Casa Bacardi At The Ritz Carlton – Toronto

This was a special night for me at The Ritz Carlton as it unveiled it’s Casa Bacardi.

It was at the Foundation Room of The House of Blue in Las Vegas that I sat down one evening to have dinner with Sergio Danguillecourt a member of the board of Bacardi and the great-great-grandson of the rum company’s founder Facundo Bacardi, who died with his wife in the fateful crash of December 19, 2005 of Chalk’s Ocean Airways Flight 101 which crashed off Miami Beach, Florida. There were no survivors.

Sergio was a fun guy. The dinner was fun. Sergio and all of us at dinner had lots of laughs and the stories we shared one could write a hit film script about. I did start on such a script set in Cuba, and Sicily and yes it involves rum. I never forgot Sergio. His smile. His easy manner.

When I started my own drinks company Merlins, I started to pair my non-alcoholic drink with various Bacardi brands in some markets of the United States. I will never forget the call I received from my distributor Southern Wine and Spirits of California, it went like this, “Tim, I just heard a rumor, tell me it is not so, that you are working with Bacardi?”, to which I replied “Well I would not do that to you, it would not happen in the State of California”.

When the Ritz Carlton took the wraps of Casa Bacardi, naturally I was curious. After all the drink menu that the Ritz Carlton showed me already had wet my appetite for the various mojito’s that Casa Bacardi would be serving up throughout the summer.

If you are going to have a refreshing drink of mojito then the patio deck of the Ritz Carlton in the summer is the best place to relax, and have a multitude of cocktails created by the team of Ritz Carlton in Toronto. The Bacardi Bar is also very alluring and inviting. It cast’s it’s spell on you inviting you to just come and have one drink after another under the stars, all the while towering above you is the national marvel of Canada lighting up with colorful lights the CN-Tower.

With the music, the stars, warm summer air sitting in the lap of luxury of the Ritz Carlton drinking at Casa Bacardi is just one magical moment.

For me this was a super special moment, because for me it was another evening with my friend. The man with his easy going casual manner, that Hollywood smile, Sergio Danguillecourt, who was looking down from somewhere higher then the CN-Tower.

Is Casa Bacardi fun?  Hello! check it out.

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Rhubarb Ritz Mojito – “RR” – Ritz Carlton Toronto

Mojito is the order of the day at the Ritz Carlton patio bar in Toronto.

The new Bacardi bar, or that is what I like to call it and this patio deck is a little secret place, where you can sit and chill, have a drink, snack, all the while with the CN Tower gazing down on you, but you will never think that you are in the city.

Recently Ritz Carlton, introduced the Mojito menu of various cocktails, and while I could go on and on about how delicious they are and refreshing, nothing speak’s like a video clip.

Visiting or living in the city, this is a great spot, with food that is as delicious as the amazing cocktails. The magic of the Mojito is happening at the Ritz Carlton Toronto.

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Assassination Tango? Oh No It’s Tango Tea !

One of my friends and also my trainer in Los Angeles with whom I had many adventures from the Hollywood Hills to Venice beach was Frank Cassavetes. He was to me and everyone who really knew him just Frankie.
Frankie’s brother is Nick Cassavetes who is a film director, and who’s father John was also a film director married to the actress Gena Rowlands.

The Cassavetes are old school Hollywood family. They have old school Hollywood friends such as Robert Duvall.

While Robert Duvall can never be forgotten for his role in The Godfather he is also a film-maker. Assassination Tango was a film that Robert Duvall was excited to make in Argentina, and Frankie began training Duvall at the Golds gym in Venice in preparation for the part.

In the film Assassination Tango Robert Duvall created a character with the name Frankie to pay homage to his friend and trainer who also has a club in Argentina called  ‘Frankie’s’.

El Almacen, is a great little cafe that I discovered last year and walking into it yesterday, I was told to come back if I was in the hood to watch some Tango. The owners are Argentinian and Mexican couple who are absolutely delightful.

Tango is about passion. It has nothing to do with the man. It is all about the passion to show-off the women, in dance, so other will desire her as well. The man sole role in Tango is to make the women he is dancing with look astonishingly seductive, desirable, erotic, and sexy.

This was the scene yesterday afternoon as well as the essence of Tango. I could not leave out Assassination Tango because that’s where the story of Tango began for me, at Frankie’s.

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