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Out and about in Chi Town

My review of Nando’s PERi-PERi restaurant in Naperville: back in the land of tender chicken, grilled to perfection

We used to love going to Nando’s when we lived in the UK 🙂 Back in those days we would get in the car and drive downtown to have lunch every weekend. There were many good restaurants in our area, and picking one was always tough. Still, every 4 weeks or so, we would choose Nando’s for one obvious reason: their PERi-PERi chicken! Marinated for 24 hours and basted to our preferred flavor and spice, Nando’s chicken was out of this world. We also enjoyed their “appeteasers,” such as the hummus with warm pitta bread (one of my husband’s favorites) and the spicy mixed olives. The casual feel of the restaurant added to the overall dining experience: The servers were “cool” and attentive to our needs, and the atmosphere was relaxed.

When I left the UK I assumed I left Nando’s behind for good. So glad I was wrong! Nando’s PERi-PERi made its US debut in 2008 and has been expanding constantly ever since. At the moment, it operates 29 restaurants in and around Chicago, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. Last weekend I was invited to the opening of the latest addition to the Nando’s US family, in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. Keep Reading

My review of this year’s International Home + Housewares Show: from spiralizers to soap nuts to coffee, oh my!

The International Home + Housewares Show? Yes, please! I always enjoy attending the Show, and this year made no exception. Held in Chicago every spring, the International Home + Housewares Show brings together thousands of exhibitors from around the world, all eager to display their latest housewares products, to secure deals and to network. This is the place to be if you want to build or to consolidate your brand, to attract potential customers or to find out all about “the latest and greatest” industry trends.

To be honest, I couldn’t wait for the Show. Getting out of my stressful routine seemed like a blessing, and I was looking forward to discovering new kitchen gadgets, sampling good food, meeting old friends – and making new ones. 🙂

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My review of the Lovely: a bake shop holiday menu: Sweetness has never tasted better!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been eating a lot of sweets lately. I don’t think it’s just my body’s response to the stress and exhaustion of these past few weeks – I also believe it’s got something to do with the season. Between my mother-in-law’s baking at home and numerous lunches and potlucks at work, the sweet tooth, pie & coffee cake aficionada in me has never felt happier!

For me, now is the perfect time to indulge and to try to put the worries and challenges of this past year behind me. Lovely: a bake shop provided the perfect opportunity for me to do just that, when they recently invited me to sample their holiday sweets menu. I happily obliged – and off I went 🙂

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My review of 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria: for the love of pizza!

UPDATE: This pizzeria has closed.

With a baby at home and demanding jobs outside the home, who has time to dine out? Not me or my husband, that’s for sure. We haven’t had the chance to go out in what seems like forever, and sometimes I do miss the free time I once used to enjoy. Thankfully, 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria has recently come to our rescue, when we were invited to the opening of its newest restaurant in Evanston, IL.

After opening its first California location in January 2012 to rave reviews, 800 Degrees has been turning out, on average, 800-1,200 pizzas per day, serving 300,000 pizzas in its first year from a single location (wow!). 800 Degrees is also credited with starting the “assembly-line” pizza phenomenon. I couldn’t wait to be a part of this phenomenon myself, so I gladly accepted the invitation to check out their new location. It was an offer I simply couldn’t refuse 🙂 Keep Reading

My review of this year’s International Home + Housewares Show: Sweet is the way to go!

Doesn’t this cake look beautiful? To me, it certainly does. It is one of the many cakes presented by Cake Boss Buddy Valastro’s team at the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show. With a newborn in the house, I haven’t baked a cake in ages – and as for “real” food, my idea of perfection is anything you can throw into the slow cooker and leave it there to cook for hours on end. Nowadays I don’t have the time to do much in the kitchen, and I feel hopeless and lack the energy to follow complicated recipes. I definitely need help, excitement, and borrowed inspiration. Going to this year’s International Home + Housewares Show was just what I needed. With so many delightful cakes to admire and so much novelty to absorb, who wouldn’t feel inspired? 🙂

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My review of Giordano’s Pizza Glenview: pizza time, again!

I wrote about this before: My pizza cravings have gone through the roof since becoming pregnant 🙂 I wouldn’t mind eating pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner – as a matter of fact, I think I’d absolutely love it! There is something very enticing in a pizza, if done well: the buttery and slightly flaky crust, the mellow melted mozzarella like a lava of joy in your mouth, the multilayered and assertive  flavor of the tomato sauce – they all come together to create pie heaven for the pizza aficionado.

I was in pizza heaven last weekend, when I went to the opening of the new Giordano’s Pizza carry-out and delivery location in Glenview. It was an event I would never forget – not just because of the delicious food I sampled, but also because of the special guest I got the chance to meet: basketball legend Scottie Pippen. Keep Reading

My review of Craft Pizza: a delicious tomato sauce and artisan pizza at its best

Since becoming pregnant I have been craving pizza all the time. I have found that there is something really magical in the flavor combinations in a pizza. The versatile taste of the tomato sauce, the meaty deliciousness of salami, the freshness of the red onions, bell peppers or basil – I am amazed at how they come together in a pizza to create a meal that is wholesome, generous and authentic in all its simplicity. I used to like pizza – now, it’s more than just liking: it’s a full-fledged love affair. Who would have thought? 🙂

Thankfully, Chicago is home to some of the best pizzas in the world, and living here has given me the chance to try out a variety of pies, coming from both new and well-established pizzerias. Such was the case recently, when myself and other Chicago Food Bloggers were invited to attend the preview party held by Craft Pizza, a new pizzeria located in the Wicker Park neighborhood.  Keep Reading