My review of NRA Show’s centennial edition: when mindful eating takes center stage

Every year in May I get incredibly excited for what’s about to come. Not only am I eager to finish the school semester and enjoy a long-awaited summer break, but I also fidget at the thought of the upcoming National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show.Β In my opinion, this is one of the year’s best food-related events which take place in Chicago, unrivaled in scope, in number of attendees, in showcase of inspiration.

This year’s edition was bigger and better than ever before, for a good reason: restaurateurs and industry experts from all across America came together to celebrate 100 years of existence for both the National Restaurant Association and for the Show. What’s the connection between the NRA Show and my sandwich, pictured above? Read on for the answer 😉 Keep Reading

Five things I learned from Chef Fabio Viviani at Macy’s latest cooking demo

Chef Fabio Viviani’s fresh bean salad with roasted chickpeas and crispy mortadella bites

Is there anything better than a walk in downtown Chicago when the flowers are in bloom and the weather is crystal clear? Yes, there is πŸ™‚ To make your day even better, I encourage you check out the cooking demo schedule on Macy’s Culinary Council websiteΒ before leaving home. If you’re in luck, you’ll catch a demo at Macy’s on State Street – the perfect destination for foodies and fashionistas alike.

Go downtown, eat fresh food made on the spot, and build memories to last a lifetime: That’s exactly what I did recently, when I visited Macy’s State Street to attend a cooking demonstration given by Chef Fabio Viviani 😉 Keep Reading

Chef Battle Midwest Regionals: I ate, I judged, I had a fabulous time!

I don’t know about you, but I love cooking competitions! There is something truly addictive in watching the adrenaline, the sweat, the trembling – and sometimes the desperation – of talented chefs working under pressure. Be it the ingredients that are hard to work with, be it the technology that fails, be it last-second misfortunes which render the final dish inedible – it’s all that drama that keeps me glued to the TV screen, waiting for the chefs’ next move. As a Chicago-based foodie, I’ve also had my fair share of live cooking competitions, which I attended and then described in detail on this blog.

The most recent competition I was invited to was Chef Battle Midwest Regionals. I also agreed to be a judge for the preliminary stage of this event. Spending Sunday downtown eating food made by talented local chefs and grading them for their efforts? Yes, please πŸ™‚

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Good bread is king! A few words on my favorite Chicagoland bakeries

Now that spring is finally here (or so I hope!), I can scale down on typical comfort foods and go back to the dishes I crave the most: panini, sandwiches, light soups and salads. So easy to make, so flavorful, so nutritious and satisfying! We’re talking sandwiches, which means now’s also the perfect time to answer some readers’ questions regarding the bread I usually eat and use in my recipes. What is my go-to bread, and why? Do I have any favorite bakeries?

As someone who has lived in Chicago for close to 8 years now, I’ve had my fair share of good and bad bread-related experiences. Keep Reading

Celebrating 20 years of Chicago’s Best Wingfest: Give me wings, glorious wings!

Tamarindo chicken wings served by Estrella Negra at 2019 Chicago’s Best Wingfest

What’s the magic formula for perfect chicken wings? I don’t know about you, but the first thing I notice when eating one is the texture. As I bite into it, I expect it to be moist and delicate, with an almost melt-in-your mouth quality. Once that’s done, the flavor kicks in: I expect it to be a little bit on the spicy side, and fully developed, encompassing several layers of surprising elements. What’s my absolute no-no? The freezer burn taste. I’ve tasted it before – never again, tyvm!

If you’re still unsure what kind of chicken wings you like, how about you try a lot? I reckon the best way to do it is to check out Chicago’s Best Wingfest next year. With so many wings to discover, you’re bound to find a favorite, have a fab time with your loved ones – and maybe even win some prizes in their famous wing eating competition 😉 Keep Reading

Hope & Sesame review and giveaway: Happy Mother’s Day!

I don’t know about you, but I always start the day with oatmeal and coffee – and when I say coffee I mean 4.5oz coffee and lots and lots of milk to top it off. We drink plenty of cow’s milk in this house, and we are fortunate that none of us is lactose intolerant. Drinking cow’s milk is something I truly enjoy – which should not come as a surprise if you consider my life’s story. Milk was always in short supply when I was a kid. My dad would queue for hours to get a couple of bottles of curdled liquid that barely qualified as milk. I still remember the long lines of bottles left on the pavement on purpose, to hold someone’s place in line. Sometimes, we would get lucky and my aunt would bring us some milk from the countryside. That really was a reason for celebration. As we poured the thick, yellow liquid into glasses, my family’s faces would light up, as if witnessing a miracle. Drinking milk and eating bread was so good!

Gone are the days when barely drinkable milk was the only option for me and my family. Thankfully, nowadays not only is cow’s milk pretty much everywhere you look, but you can also find plenty of non-dairy alternatives to milk if you’re lactose intolerant or you just simply want to enjoy a plant-based diet, for a variety of reasons. There’s soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, oat milk and rice milk, to name a few. This is the beginning of an interesting food trend, whose dynamic growth has been reported by the media. The possibilities are truly endless. Enter Hope & Sesame, the world’s first line of organic sesamemilk πŸ™‚

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My review of Mezcalito: Are you #DownToFiesta? I’d say we are :-)

Chef Marissa TuΓ±on’s molletes, featuring refried beans, cheese and pico de gallo

Somewhere in hip River North, tucked in the basement of the famous Mercadito, lies a cocktail lounge that offers inventive food and drinks in an immersive atmosphere. The name of Mercadito’s younger sibling is Mezcalito, and its goal is to capture the hearts and minds of customers who want a quality bar experience, which blends authentic Mexican food with upscale tequila-based cocktails. Ever wondered how to make your night downtown memorable? Whatever you do, I strongly encourage you to check out Mezcalito at some point. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and I’m here to spill the beans – or the mezcal, more likely 😉 Keep Reading