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MickyN

My review of Mason: a delightful touch of retro on the Chicago dining scene

Ever so rarely there is a restaurant that steals your heart, conquers your senses, and lives in your mind forever. The dining experience might be long gone, but the flavors and the music, the sparkles and the splendor will forever be yours, like an enchanting dream from which you don’t want to wake up. There is something special that restaurant has, something that works on your emotions by awakening nostalgia and delivering warmth like nowhere before. If you’ve already visited Mason, then you know what I mean. If you have yet to dine there, take my word for it: in an age when molecular gastronomy is trendy and culinary apps are all the rave, this retro spot on the Chicago dining scene is truly refreshing!

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My review of Nic’s Organic Fast Food: a world of honest flavors in burgers, fries – and so much more!

When are sweet faces happy? Answer: Whenever fun food is involved! Here’s out daughter eating some of her favorite foods while out and about with mommy and daddy a couple of weeks ago. We’d gone out early to vote in midterm elections, and we rewarded her patience with lunch at Nic’s Organic Fast Food inside Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. I had been invited to try out Nic’s food awhile ago, but busy life had always given me something else to do. Now, it was time to finally check out America’s first certified organic drive-thru – and to see if they’d get the seal of approval from the fiercest food critic: our daughter 😉

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Nielsen-Massey end-of-summer review and giveaway: Can you smell the vanilla?

Update: This giveaway is closed.

A touch of flour, a dash of sugar, a few cracked eggs – the baking season is upon us, and I’m loving it! Now is the time to bake cakes and to make memories, a time like no other, when sweetness and storytelling capture the hearts and mind of adults and children alike.

I wish I could tell you my family did a lot of baking when I was a child, but that would not be true. My mom and aunt had plenty of ideas and recipes but limited baking supplies, and had to rely on neighbors’ generosity or a stroke of good luck to get the most basic necessities of life. As such, baking came way after vegetable stew on the list of priorities, and when we baked we used very few ingredients and hardly any spices. Thankfully, times have changed and getting baking supplies is no longer an issue, which means that nowadays I bake a lot. Simply put, we missed many opportunities to create memories when I was little, and now I’m playing catch-up 😉

As part of my baking, I have enjoyed reviewing Nielsen-Massey products and incorporating them into my family’s recipes (check out my previous reviews of Nielsen-Massey products here, here and here). Nielsen-Massey contacted me again recently and offered to send me one of their products to review. I chose their Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract – and the rest was history, as they say 🙂
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New version of my quinoa patty recipe: living life to the fullest, vegetarian-style!

Who’s here for a delicious quinoa dish? I hope some of you are 🙂 I have been dying to update a few of the recipes on my blog, but life has got in the way, as usual. My nights caring for our newborn baby have been tough, with very little sleep, and finding the time to think and to write has been a struggle. And yet, I’m back now, and happy to report I have a new version of one of our all-time-favorite foods: quinoa patties. This new recipe features grilled corn, fennel and Aloha peppers and is light, wholesome, and packed full of quinoa goodness. To make the patties I used a special organic quinoa blend made by Better Body Foods, whose reps contacted me recently and sent me some to try. Perfect timing! 😉 Keep Reading

Lark in Boystown review: Get your taste buds ready for brunch this Labor Day weekend!

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,/ What’s the prettiest place for brunch of all?” It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re expecting warm weather, good vibes, and excellent food all-around. If you’re looking for something special to do over the next couple of days, then why not do brunch? I’ve always found brunch to be a perfect occasion to reconnect with family, enjoy good food, and relax after a crazy busy week. If you’re like me and looking at brunch as a special occasion, then I encourage you to visit Lark in Boystown, and you will not be disappointed.

Tucked in a vibrant neighborhood, Lark combines artistic flair with entrepreneurial spirit. Keep Reading

Culinary Fight Club Final Plate competition: cutting-edge pork dishes, elegant desserts – and so much heart!

Apple fritter with charred blueberry compote – the dessert made for the public by Chef Ryan Rondeno at Culinary Fight Club The Final Plate

It was noisy, as usual. There were heat, sweat and smoke all over the miniature grills they were expertly maneuvering. Ever so often, one chef’s hands would shake, as if hit by a cold breeze. And yet, there was no breeze in sight, just pure human emotion and plenty of adrenaline rush. Hands and hearts were trembling because at stake was the title of 2018 Culinary Fight Club Grand Champion. Not anyone could do it, and these chefs were the best: there had been twenty at the start, and only four of them were now nearing the finish line.

I’m no stranger to Culinary Fight Club competitions (check out my reviews here, here and here), and as such I am familiar with their format and supportive of their mission to reward culinary excellence and to feed the hungry. Nothing compares to seeing culinary competitions unfold in front of you – the tension, the sweat, the drama, it’s all so intense. Pressure? Check! Surprises? Check! Delicious food? Of course! 🙂 Keep Reading