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Out and about in Chi Town

My brunch experience at Maggiano’s: When life gives you lemons, you make lemon ricotta pancakes!

Glorious cranberry raisin focaccia, with a crunchy crust, pillowy inside and fruity goodness galore. Supple and wholesome veggie frittata, with fresh tomatoes screaming sun, summer, adventure. Decadent eggs Benedict, covered by a velvety blanket of Hollandaise sauce, light and caressing like a midsummer night’s dream. And, last but by no means least, the lemon ricotta pancakes, self-assured and deliciously addictive. I tried them all at the recent brunch event I was invited to attend at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant on Clark & Grand in downtown Chicago. What a brunch, what a Sunday! Keep Reading

The Good Food Festival and the International Home+Housewares Show recap: from blenditarians to social robots… and back!

Metropolitan Farms reps at The Good Food Festival: loud and proud about the urban agriculture movement!

It’s not often that I get the chance to attend two food-related shows in one day, but when it happens – oh, what a joy! Such was the occasion recently, when The Good Food Festival ended the same day the International Home+Housewares Show began, and attending both was an opportunity I simply couldn’t miss. What do these expos have in common? My answer: a desire for innovation complemented by an awareness of the need for sustainable growth, as well as a respect for customers and the environment. Fortunately, sustainability is here to stay 🙂

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When Graeter’s Ice Cream came to Winnetka: a world of delicious treats awaits!

The ice cream pictured above is dangerous – it really is! 🙂 I can’t remember the last time I had to work so hard to exercise restraint when eating ice cream. In the end, the delicious pint of decadence was gone within an hour – my family and I simply couldn’t resist it.

It all makes sense if I tell you this is strawberry cheesecake ice cream, the mystery flavor which was revealed to the world by Cincinnati-based ice cream maker Graeter’s only a few weeks ago. I got the chance to try this delightful frozen concoction at the newly opened Graeter’s store in Winnetka IL, the second of this kind in the Chicagoland area, and I can confidently say this ice cream was definitely worth the wait… and the hype! Keep Reading

My review of ROOF on theWit’s new menu: what a view, what a flavor journey!

This is downtown Chicago at night: a city of enticing lights, hidden treasures and sophisticated meanings. A world of secrets, which lay there to be discovered by inquisitive minds. A city like no other, that’s for sure. I experienced it all – the stunning view, exquisite food, the overall trepidation of the night – recently, when I was invited to celebrate the newly revamped menu at ROOF on theWit in downtown Chicago.

A glamorous escape set 27 stories above the vibrant city streets, ROOF on theWit has been rated one of the top 3 rooftop bars in the world by Travel+Leisure magazine, earning international praise for its stunning design, private event spaces and entertainment options. A hot nightlife destination needs a menu which keeps up with culinary trends and satisfies a demanding clientele – and the new menu at ROOF on theWit is right on point in both respects. It is a menu which provides the opportunity to escape to renowned foodie destinations and to undertake an unforgettable journey through flavors. No time to travel to Spain? Now you can bring Spain closer to you – at ROOF on theWit 🙂

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Secrets of the slurp: my ramen-making learning experience at Strings Ramen

Craving comforting soups on cold nights? I have two words for you: Strings Ramen! With spring yet to make its official entrance in Chicagoland, this is the perfect place to grab a bowl of fresh ramen and to indulge in authentic Japanese flavors while watching the world go and being warm and cosy.

Recently I got the chance to learn more about this famous dining spot located in the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown, when I was invited to celebrate String Ramen’s third anniversary. Myself and other fellow Chicagogrammers were given access behind the scenes, learned more about the ramen-making process and the history of this popular dish concept (which goes back two centuries), and sampled a variety of ramens to behold. Just the perfect thing to do when it’s cold (Chicago-style cold!) and the rain is pouring outside 🙂 Keep Reading

25 years of Maggiano’s Little Italy: I came, I ate, I had a lot of fun!

A silver anniversary is definitely a cause for celebration, especially in the culinary world. So many restaurants open today and close for good tomorrow, and even fewer manage to forge a culinary identity and to become a household name. Maggiano’s Little Italy is one of the few remarkable success stories. Since 1991, Maggiano’s restaurants have consistently delivered staple Italian dishes in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere – always reinventing, always passionate about food.

After serving millions of gnocchi and manicotti and tons of prime New York steaks and chicken marsala, it was time to take a break and to celebrate – and what better place to throw a party than the original Maggiano’s restaurant, on Clark&Grand in downtown Chicago? I answered yes to Maggiano’s invitation and brought my friend Marina along, as a guest. 🙂 Keep Reading

Morton Salt’s Next Door Chef dining experience: Cook like the pros this holiday season!

When I was a little girl, I fell in love with a magic kingdom of beauty and tranquility: a salt mine. I was in primary school and our teacher organized a visit to this salt mine, as a one-day trip. I can still remember the trepidation I felt and the myriad of questions that came into my mind as we approached the location. Were there any dangers waiting for me inside the mine? Any monsters of the underworld? Any dark corners filled with dangerous ghosts or enticing whispers? Buried deep into the mountain, the salt mine hosted nature-made shapes of various kinds, whose detached serenity, ice-cold touch and transparency made a lasting impression on me. Who knew salt could be so beautiful? 🙂

These memories came back to me recently, when I attended a holiday-inspired dining experience courtesy of Morton Salt. The Next Door Chef: Chicago event looked like a great opportunity for me to learn more about different types of salt and how they could elevate my dishes in terms of flavor, texture, but also looks. Salt can make or break any meal – yet, how often have I really thought about the versatility of salt and about using Morton Kosher or Sea Salt instead of the standard table salt when cooking? The answer is: hardly ever. Anxious to learn, I accepted Morton Salt’s invitation and brought my friend Marina along, as a guest. Keep Reading