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Chicago food

How to keep cool in the summer: Have a shake, have a gazpacho!

Looking for ways to keep cool and refreshed in the sweltering heat? I hear you! After much hesitation, the hot weather has come to Chicago bringing with it sweat, dehydration and thirst – a lot of thirst! I am a city girl who loves hot weather and summer in general, yet even I sometimes find it hard to cool down and to keep myself hydrated in the humid Chicago weather. Thankfully, the restaurant scene in our beautiful city offers plenty of options which quench your thirst and cool your appetite – and I have recently explored a few of them. Here’s the summary of a delightful afternoon I spent exploring the culinary world downtown – complete with pics, glorious pics 🙂

I first stopped by Zoup! to check out the latest additions to their summer menu (you can read my previous review of Zoup! here). Keep Reading

My recent BlueStar pizza class experience: the science of pizza, revealed in a cooking space like no other

Chefs Leo Spizzirri and Susan Swanson during the BlueStar pizza class

Chef Leo Spizzirri  is a man of a phenomenal energy and charisma, and what keeps him motivated is something most of us enjoy: pizza 🙂 He talks fast, his hand gestures are broad, and his eyes light up whenever he shares stories from his past as a pizzaiolo certified by the International School of Pizza or as a consultant for some of America’s largest pizza manufacturers. What he’s most passionate about, however, is his current job as a pizza instructor at the North American Pizza and Culinary Academy (NAPCA) in Lisle. Do you ever think about what goes on inside your pizza? About the chemical reactions among the ingredients? About the stress level applied to the dough? If you’d like to find out more about the science of pizza, meeting Chef Spizzirri is a must. Believe me: you will not be disappointed.

I met Chef/instructor Spizzirri when I attended the BlueStar pizza class held at NAPCA, which Chef Spizzirri manages along with his business partners, Chefs Anthony Iannone and Renee Gabbett. This is a full review of my experience – and what an experience that was! Keep Reading

My vegetarian lunch at Fogo de Chão: enjoying warm spring days one Watermelon Fresca at a time!

Maybe it’s just me and my preconceived ideas, but eating veggies is not something I would normally imagine myself doing at Fogo de Chão. Mention the name of this restaurant and more often than not I’ll have a vision of endless meats roasted over an open fire in a Brazilian steakhouse (aka churrascaria). There is drama and magic in the play of the fire, and the chefs look like illusionists taming a spirited force which turns rawness into deliciousness. And yet, Fogo de Chão is not exclusively about the gaucho way of preparing meat – on skewers impressively maneuvered by the chefs for hours on end – but also about veggies: wholesome, fresh, flavorful veggies meant to satisfy your appetite and to make your hot day lighter, healthier, and overall more bearable.

I visited Fogo de Chão in Rosemont IL for lunch recently following their invitation to try out the new salads featured on their summer menu. Keep Reading

Winging it at WingFest 2018: so many wings, so little time!

How do you like your chicken wings: mild with dashes of parmesan, hot with ghost pepper galore, or BBQ-style, smothered in smoky bourbon sauce? Or maybe you like the exotic kind, brimming with gochujang, pineapple and mango? Whatever your preferred flavors or tolerance of spicy food, you were bound to find your favorites and to discover new ones at the 19th edition of Chicago’s Best WingFest, which was held at UIC Pavilion earlier this month.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that I’m not into spicy foods. Furthermore, being heavily pregnant has made me very cautious when it comes to trying out new dishes. What if there wouldn’t be anything mild enough for me to be able to eat at WingFest? What if my feet would get more swollen, and my ankles would hurt even more as a result of standing up for hours? All in all, was it really worth it? In the end, curiosity got the best of me: I attended WingFest, and I’m happy to report that my fears were unfounded. The mild wings were plenty and delicious, the crowds were manageable, and the experience was a lot of fun 🙂

Keep Reading

My review of Fort Willow: Big Bites, bold flavors, amazing memories

Have you ever been to a restaurant which has a tree made from wooden slats and a swing inside? I have, and I’m here to reveal some of its secrets 😉 Indeed, somewhere in this amazing city of ours there is a charming little dining spot which fits the above description – a place whose quiet ambiance and whimsical decor remind you of childhood, innocence, and endless dreaming. The name of the restaurant is Fort Willow, its location is an unassuming section on Elston Avenue, and its cosmopolitan menu makes up a sophisticated journey through flavors. Do you want to travel back in time and around the world, savoring global flavors while joyfully reminding yourself that life is precious and memories are a cherished part of it? If you do, then Fort Willow is your place to be.

I visited Fort Willow at opening time one Friday afternoon. Keep Reading

My review of Square Roots Kitchen: when food geeks meet fast casual!

Tucked away on S Halsted Street, in an area burgeoning with stores and restaurants in the heart of West Loop, lies a new dining spot that has got Chicagoans talking. The name of the place is Square Roots Kitchen, the style is fast casual, and the food is wholesome. The restaurant sells salads, wraps and bowls that can be customized to suit one’s lifestyle and dietary needs, bringing health-conscious consumers face-to-face with cutting-edge technology in an ambiance which is both comfortable and minimalist. Did the West Loop need yet another restaurant? Having visited Square Roots Kitchen (SRK), having sampled their food and understood their unique approach, my answer is a resounding “yes” 🙂

I went to SRK one cold winter evening. It was one of those evenings when I would have gladly stayed home, tucked into bed and indulging in a cup of hot cocoa – as you know, frigid weather has never been my friend. Keep Reading

My review of the new Colectivo Coffee location in Logan Square: in every coffee there’s a story!

Have you ever wondered who grows the coffee you enjoy every morning? The liquid gold that wakes us up and caresses our senses with tons of fresh aromas has a story – and oftentimes we forget all about it. Thankfully, things are about to change. A Milwaukee-based coffee company aims to stand out from the crowd by telling amazing stories about their coffee producers as well as selling their delicious coffee. The name of the company is Colectivo Coffee, and they have recently opened a café in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Does coffee need stories? Having listened to Colectivo’s reps and having tried the coffee they sell, my answer to this question is a resounding yes!

I visited the new Colectivo Coffee location (their second in Chicagoland) one late December afternoon with my friend Marina. The wind was piercingly cold, and as we parked and crossed the grainy, salt-covered street, we were both looking for a respite from the frigid weather. Once we entered the new Colectivo coffee shop, everything fell into place – for me, forever the warmth-seeker, anyway 🙂 Keep Reading