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Out and about in Chi Town

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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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

How to keep cool in the summer: Have a shake, have a gazpacho!

Looking for ways to keep cool and refreshed in the sweltering heat? I hear you! After much hesitation, the hot weather has come to Chicago bringing with it sweat, dehydration and thirst – a lot of thirst! I am a city girl who loves hot weather and summer in general, yet even I sometimes find it hard to cool down and to keep myself hydrated in the humid Chicago weather. Thankfully, the restaurant scene in our beautiful city offers plenty of options which quench your thirst and cool your appetite – and I have recently explored a few of them. Here’s the summary of a delightful afternoon I spent exploring the culinary world downtown – complete with pics, glorious pics 🙂

I first stopped by Zoup! to check out the latest additions to their summer menu (you can read my previous review of Zoup! here). Keep Reading

My review of Chef Stuart O’Keeffe’s cooking class: I had lunch with a Food Network star!

Chef Stuart O’Keeffe at Macy’s State St

It’s hot outside and you don’t want to eat – and you also can’t for the life of you remember any notable Irish dish other than corned beef and cabbage. And yet, Chef Stuart O’Keeffe manages to pull you into his world of flavors, and you decide that eating on a sweltering hot day is not such a bad idea, after all. Chef O’Keeffe’s food pays tribute to his Irish upbringing, yet it is cosmopolitan in its scope and versatile in its approach. Just like his personality and on-stage presence, his food is vibrant and bubbly, in the best possible way 🙂

I met Chef Stuart O’Keeffe at a cooking demo at Macy’s State St in downtown Chicago one hot summer day. My previous Macy’s Culinary Council cooking class had been amazing, and I was looking forward to yet another exquisite culinary experience. Keep Reading

My recent BlueStar pizza class experience: the science of pizza, revealed in a cooking space like no other

Chefs Leo Spizzirri and Susan Swanson during the BlueStar pizza class

Chef Leo Spizzirri  is a man of a phenomenal energy and charisma, and what keeps him motivated is something most of us enjoy: pizza 🙂 He talks fast, his hand gestures are broad, and his eyes light up whenever he shares stories from his past as a pizzaiolo certified by the International School of Pizza or as a consultant for some of America’s largest pizza manufacturers. What he’s most passionate about, however, is his current job as a pizza instructor at the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy (NAPCA) in Lisle. Do you ever think about what goes on inside your pizza? About the chemical reactions among the ingredients? About the stress level applied to the dough? If you’d like to find out more about the science of pizza, meeting Chef Spizzirri is a must. Believe me: you will not be disappointed.

I met Chef/instructor Spizzirri when I attended the BlueStar pizza class held at NAPCA, which Chef Spizzirri manages along with his business partners, Chefs Anthony Iannone and Renee Gabbett. This is a full review of my experience – and what an experience that was! Keep Reading

My vegetarian lunch at Fogo de Chão: enjoying warm spring days one Watermelon Fresca at a time!

Maybe it’s just me and my preconceived ideas, but eating veggies is not something I would normally imagine myself doing at Fogo de Chão. Mention the name of this restaurant and more often than not I’ll have a vision of endless meats roasted over an open fire in a Brazilian steakhouse (aka churrascaria). There is drama and magic in the play of the fire, and the chefs look like illusionists taming a spirited force which turns rawness into deliciousness. And yet, Fogo de Chão is not exclusively about the gaucho way of preparing meat – on skewers impressively maneuvered by the chefs for hours on end – but also about veggies: wholesome, fresh, flavorful veggies meant to satisfy your appetite and to make your hot day lighter, healthier, and overall more bearable.

I visited Fogo de Chão in Rosemont IL for lunch recently following their invitation to try out the new salads featured on their summer menu. Keep Reading