My review of the US World Chocolate Masters competition: Here’s the future, written in chocolate!

It takes a lot to make one quality piece of chocolate. Somewhere far away, most likely in Ghana or the Ivory Coast, farmers labor relentlessly on the cocoa plantations, eyebrows sweating under the asphyxiating heat, machetes in hand to cut and set aside the precious cocoa harvest. Once fermented and dried, the cocoa beans are acquired by intermediaries and are bagged and shipped around the world, in a trade which is as profitable as it is marred by difficulties. What pastry chefs create and what we consume is a labor of love, the work of many hands and minds – all of it for our appreciation and guilt-free delight.

Every two years for the past 10 years, renowned French producer Cacao Barry has organized the World Chocolate Masters competition to highlight the magical world of chocolate and its burgeoning talents. The challenge involves making original chocolate creations on a given theme within a particular time frame. The reward at the end of this grueling competition, with national qualifying rounds held in 20 countries, is the chance to get a spot in the World Final and to be crowned the best chocolate chef in the world. From there, sky is the limit 🙂

The theme tackled by contestants during the 2017-2018 edition of World Chocolate Masters (WCM) is Futropolis: A Quest for Tomorrow’s Chocolate Flavors. I had the opportunity to attend the WCM USA selection, which was held in Chicago recently, and I was in awe of the innovation, attention to detail and utmost dedication to the theme displayed by the finalists.

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My review of Taco Thursday: A night out in the city, munching on tacos? Count me in!

What comes after Taco Tuesday and sounds equally tempting and delicious? Taco Thursday, of course! Since coming to Chicago I’ve had my fair share of tacos, and working my way diligently through taquerias (time permitting) has been one of my most enjoyable missions. Every time I think I’ve seen enough in terms of ingredients and flavor combinations, I come across a new interpretation of this age-old dish that leaves me speechless. Yay for creativity in the kitchen! 🙂

As a fiercely proud Chicagoan, I think it is my duty to gain more knowledge and experience of the tacos that make our city so great. This is why I was very excited to attend the first Time Out Chicago (TOC) Taco Thursday event, which took place at Joe’s on Weed St last week. A night out in the city, munching on tacos? Count me in!

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Mother’s Day mango crêpes: a decadent sweet for the sweetest mom!

I ate these crêpes with mom in the park yesterday, as the warm sunlight was about to wave us goodbye for the day. A decadent sweet was just what my mom needed after the long day she had spent taking care of the little one. It was not Mother’s Day, yet I knew she would love getting out of the house and the daily routine, and celebrating motherhood one day in advance. The park was peaceful and quiet and the crêpes were delicious – so mom simply couldn’t say no 🙂

The idea for this dessert came to me by accident a few months ago, while I was looking for ways to use up a bunch of ataulfo mangoes I had got at a deeply discounted price from the local grocery store. I found several authors who advocated using these mangoes along with sweetened condensed milk, which is a rather popular dessert combination in Mexican and Filipino cuisines. Keep Reading

Our Cinco de Mayo weekend: It’s time for a double-stacked corn tortilla sandwich – or two, or three!

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! How many tacos do you usually eat in one sitting: two, three, more? I can only eat two, which is a shame because I just love corn tortillas. 🙂 The rustic flavor and unadulterated simplicity of corn tortillas reminds me of the polenta I used to eat in my home country in industrial quantities. Both corn tortillas and polenta have recently become very fashionable, yet to me it is their purity of flavor that makes them the most appealing. Unencumbered by non-essential additions, corn tortillas exude honesty, an appreciation of the simple things in life, and a vast journey through history – and for these reasons I come back to them again, and again, and again.

I often use corn tortillas to make double-stacked sandwiches, which my husband loves to eat at the end of a long work day. The heat of the chorizo cuts through the layers of creamy chihuahua cheese to bring fire to the dish, while the tomatoes, sweet pepper and chopped cilantro add freshness and crispiness. Finger-licking at its finest, this sandwich is messy to eat, succulent and oh-so satisfying 🙂 Keep Reading

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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