Another year, another stellar Chicago Gourmet food fest: rocking the fork Chicago-style!

How is it possible for 2018 to have flown by so fast? For starters, the past 12 months have been very busy for our family. Interviewing Chef Rick Bayless has been one of this year’s highlights. Of course, welcoming baby Alex has been the best highlight of all πŸ™‚ Here’s hoping for a fab new year, filled with good health and plenty of great food! Before 2018 departs, however, it’s time to review one of the biggest food fests of the year: Bon AppΓ©tit presents Chicago Gourmet. This review is long overdue, but then again, so are all of my blog posts as of late. Blame it on baby Alex, I say 😉

In 2018, Chicago Gourmet organizers came up with the special theme Rock the Fork to highlight the organic connection between the Windy City and food and music, respectively. Nearly 250 restaurants and chefs served their dishes at various pavilions spread across Millennium Park, and members of the public experienced the sounds of various musical genres (ranging from blues and classical to international, pop, rock and more) while tasting their way through Chicago Gourmet’s myriad of flavors and cuisines.

This was the second time I attended Chicago Gourmet (you can read my review of the 2017 edition here), and my experience was very different from last year’s. Keep Reading

Nielsen-Massey Holiday Flavors Bundle review and giveaway: blueberry cake for Christmas? Yes, please!

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, then you know I love to bake. I might be all about panini and quick lunches, but when it comes to baking, I commit to the process wholeheartedly – and for good reason. Whenever I bake my mind goes back in time, all the way to my childhood. Growing up, I would watch my mom and aunt scramble to find baking basics such as flour and sugar, improvise with the limited supplies they had, and finally work hard day and night to make baked good for their loved ones. With almost no baking ingredients on hand, these women somehow always managed to make cookies and cakes that had outstanding flavors. They were amazing! πŸ™‚

Those days are long gone, and now I am lucky enough to have plenty of baking supplies to recreate my mom and my aunt’s recipes. The cake in the pic above comes straight from my mom’s recipe book. We usually make it with pitted sour cherries, but you can use other fruits when sour cherries are hard to find or not in season. For this post I decided to use blueberries – their fresh fruit flavor and natural color are simply unbeatable, in my opinion. Moist, buttery and delightfully light, this blueberry cake benefits from the addition of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. Keep Reading

My review of Mason: a delightful touch of retro on the Chicago dining scene

Ever so rarely there is a restaurant that steals your heart, conquers your senses, and lives in your mind forever. The dining experience might be long gone, but the flavors and the music, the sparkles and the splendor will forever be yours, like an enchanting dream from which you don’t want to wake up. There is something special that restaurant has, something that works on your emotions by awakening nostalgia and delivering warmth like nowhere before. If you’ve already visited Mason, then you know what I mean. If you have yet to dine there, take my word for it: in an age when molecular gastronomy is trendy and culinary apps are all the rave, this retro spot on the Chicago dining scene is truly refreshing!

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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 daughterΒ 😉

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Nielsen-Massey end-of-summer review and giveaway: Can you smell the vanilla?

Update: This giveaway is closed.

A touch of flour, a dash of sugar, a few cracked eggs – the baking season is upon us, and I’m loving it! Now is the time to bake cakes and to make memories, a time like no other, when sweetness and storytelling capture the hearts and mind of adults and children alike.

I wish I could tell you my family did a lot of baking when I was a child, but that would not be true. My mom and aunt had plenty of ideas and recipes but limited baking supplies, and had to rely on neighbors’ generosity or a stroke of good luck to get the most basic necessities of life. As such, baking came way after vegetable stew on the list of priorities, and when we baked we used very few ingredients and hardly any spices. Thankfully, times have changed and getting baking supplies is no longer an issue, which means that nowadays I bake a lot. Simply put, we missed many opportunities to create memories when I was little, and now I’m playing catch-upΒ 😉

As part of my baking, I have enjoyed reviewing Nielsen-Massey products and incorporating them into my family’s recipes (check out my previous reviews of Nielsen-Massey products here, here and here). Nielsen-Massey contacted me again recently and offered to send me one of their products to review. I chose their Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract – and the rest was history, as they say πŸ™‚
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