Category Archives: Food

Waffles (Chicago South Loop)

So, I’m finally in the South Loop about to check out Waffles, one of Chicago’s newer brunch spot!

The menu looks amazing and I had to post a pic of the waffle selection… They also offer a hot chocolate flight as part of the Groupon deal I snatched up weeks ago. Hmmmm… Decisions, decisions!!!

*edited* I ordered the Hot Chocolate flight with the Cheddar and Short Rib Waffle… SOOOOO GOOOD!

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All in the Details

Working on a Saturday afternoon (BOOOOO) and figured a Red Bull might help. After reading an awesome article earlier this week on Harvard Business Review about the attention to detail given by companies such as Disney and Apple, I’m so much more aware of the “little things” that companies do to make us enjoy their products that much more.
As I opened my Red Bull, the tab caught my eye. Most soft drink tabs are those plain ones with the middle opening… But this Red Bull tab opening is shaped like the bull in their logo. How cool is that???

TheRealCherish is One Year Older…

I had an amazing birthday week!!! Its so great to hear from old friends, share cake with coworkers and even a semi-surprise visit from the family. Between Smith & Wollensky, Salud Tequila Lounge, Papa's Cache Sabroso, Crumbs cupcakes and all of the restaurants that send me free dining vouchers that I have yet to use… This week has been great for eating!!!!!! I got some awesome gifts too 🙂

Headed to brunch now and then a day of relaxing… Topped off by a great Sunday night of commercials… I mean football. LOL!

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes and helped make this birthday as amazing as it is!!

New Chicago Fav… Pierrot Gourmet

I know I owe a summer compilation blog of my food fun in Chicago, but this spot deserved its own recognition. Pierrot Gourmet, in The Peninsula Hotel on the corner of Superior and Rush, was such an amazing experience. The ambiance felt like a small European bistro, and the service was great! When we couldn't decide what to order, our waitress recommended sharing two items, and they even split the plates up for us… skimping on nothing (see photo)! The cheese platter was a great touch and while I skipped dessert, the selection was very tempting.

Two thumbs up for one of my new fav spots!

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Sorting through my Mobile Uploads–2011 Random

Every once in a while I gather all of the photos I meant to post into a single blog… here is your entertainment for the week with a summary of some of the year’s events so far…

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Valentine’s Day/February Birthday celebrations with the girls at Benihana – the chef left me a message *smile*.

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Took this pic of a page in the Macy’s ad and went to find it… In the end didn’t buy it. The model must be way taller than me.

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My dad was in Chicago the weekend I took my license and took me on a father daughter movie date that night.

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A manager posting this after repeatedly telling me to stop walking/running so fast in the office.

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I made it to the United Center taping of the Oprah show. It was the BEST concert ever!!!! I had a blast!!

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Spent the holidays with my favorite little cousins at Navy Pier.

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Took a trip to Detroit and got to see my Papa’s growing urban garden, including the cantaloupe along the fence (its hanging in the bag in the 3rd pic above).

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Oh, and I grew my hair out!!! This pic is from June/July when I first straightened it after a few months of wearing it curly.

When I get a chance, I’ll post the food pics… there were too many to include on this post!!

Summer is here!!!

Chicago is finally getting the summer we’ve all been waiting for! 90 degree days with heat indexes near 100 degrees and humidity levels that would make almost any black girl go hat shopping immediately! This weekend I had the opportunity to check out the Forest Park Summer Fest on Madison Ave. It was a nice, FREE, community-type of festival. Lots of families, groups of friends and fun for all ages. The music was good and the food choices were decent. I didn’t realize that the event started Friday at 5, so when I walked up at 3PM, the tents were just going up. So I took the opportunity to see the neighborhood…

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One of the more memorable stops was the Paciugo gelato shop (for the readers over 21, check out the drink recipes on their website). After sampling enough to make the bored sales girl a little testy, I settled on a small cup which, for just under $5, allows you to pick up to 3 flavors. I chose the 3 pictures below: Amarena Black Cherry Swirl (my favorite), Mediterranean Sea Salt Caramel (an unbelievably salty-sweet combination) and Banana Crème Pie (much better than I was initially expecting, I selected it off a recommendation).

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The final product:

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On a hot summer day, this was a perfect treat to enjoy while I sat on the bench outside and enjoyed the view.

On Saturday I enjoyed a nearly 3 hour bike ride through Oak Park with Bobby. We stopped for lunch at the Prairie Bread Kitchen and then spent the rest of the afternoon watching a hilarious Parking Wars marathon on A&E. That evening I went to the Division Street Fest and decided to start the evening with a celebratory margarita! The only problem – the house special for the festival only came in one size – 32 oz!!!

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Needless to say, it was hard waking up this morning, but I made it. We also went over to Moonshine to hang out for a while before heading home. I had a wonderful time at the festival and can’t wait to check out more of the Chicago area festivals this summer! I’ll leave you with one last thought… this Journey song has been stuck in my head since last night, hopefully it sticks in yours. Reminds me of the Detroit Tigers baseball games back home…

Biting into my first apple

Believe it or not – prior to 2011 I refused to eat an apple that wasn’t covered in some form of sugary bliss (with the preference going to caramel and peanuts). I never picked up and apple and bit into it. At least not at any point I could remember in my life. I HATED “naked” apples. Hated them with a passion. That includes apple juice too.

So imagine my negative surprise when I was told that apples were good for reducing the effects of acid reflux – something I’ve unfortunately dealt with for years. I decided 2011 would be the year. I would eat an apple. Every day.
The hard part was finding WHICH apples to eat. Since the peanut apples I love from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are made with Granny Smith apples, I decided that was a good place to start…. here are my overall ratings:
Granny Smith (B-) LOVE LOVE LOVE the tart flavor, but I hated the “thicker” skin. I ended up slicing it most of the time, but when I tried to bite into it I just ended up scraping the skin with my teeth and spitting it out.
Honeycrisp (B+) Tasty and crisp, the skin is a little weird but not too bad. But the PRICE – OMG. $3.49/lb – which is easily running around $2/apple.
Braeburn (C+) Flavor is “ok” but the texture is not great. Too soft. A friend mentioned “grainy” apples and I’d guess this is what she meant.
Gala (C) texture is good, crisp is perfect. But the flavor… *turning nose up*
Pink Lady/Crips Pink (A) the CREAM of the CROP! I have been eating these non stop for 2 weeks straight. A coworker’s wife told me about them but he said he had never tried one. So I brought an extra to work and gave it to him. He loved it! And so did I! The price is ok, While Foods has organic Pink Lady apples on sale for $1.79/lb this week – time to stock up!
I found some GREAT information on the various types of apples from http://www.orangepippin.com/… check it out!
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Healthy Eating–Chicago’s Raw Food Network

I love McDonald’s – and I’m not just saying that because they pay my salary. The filet-o-fish, with a small fry and water is my usual choice, but sometimes I branch out and get a cheeseburger (no pickles, no onions) or Chicken Selects or the Crispy Chicken Club sandwich… or (gasp) a McRib when they are available. I have always been a fast food junkie (see pics below for evidence of my early love affair with Ronald McDonald) and realistically, deep down inside, I believe I always will be.

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That being said… my love for eating out and my distaste for working out, means I have to focus on one very important word – BALANCE. That’s right. I am one of those “eat what I want” people. But now that I’m 30 and my metabolism is about 75, when I eat out, I aim for smaller portions of fried (yummy), creamy (heavenly) and high fat foods (more fat usually tastes better)… and then I balance them with larger portions  and more frequent “meal swaps” with entrees and snacks that are of fruits and vegetables.

This year I decided to kick it up a notch and learn about Raw Food diets. No, I’m not leaving the work of meat and heat… but I was interested in learning more about food options and their benefits. So I went to Chicago’s guru of raw foods – Karyn Calabrese. Karyn owns 3 restaurants in Chicago, one of which is the city’s first raw food restaurant. You heard me. A menu full of uncooked items that will trick even the smartest of foodies. Poor Bobby took me to Karyn’s Raw Café for lunch, not believing me when I said there is no cooking – as the menu sounds like any normal boutique restaurant in the city. I ordered the “Ravioli” and he ordered the “House Salad”.

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Basil Scented Ravioli

Half moon shells (turnips) filled with macadamia whipped crème dressed with an Italian olive marinara sauce $14

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Karyn’s Famous House Salad

Shredded Cabbage, Hearts of romaine, red onion, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus sunflower sprouts, candied walnuts, and teardrop tomatoes caesar dressing on the side $12

 

The flavors were interesting. In some ways its all tasted like “salad”, just varying types of salad.  Overall it was good (though quite pricey) and we could “feel the benefits” as our stomachs digested all the healthy veggies shortly after.

We went on a Saturday afternoon and the atmosphere was nice and calm and the presentation was very pretty. We stayed after our lunch for a 2.5 hour presentation by Karyn herself on her lifestyle as a Raw Foodist/Vegan/Entrepreneur. It was interesting to say the least. We were able to try a few food items, and I’d just say, I’m not converted and only liked 3 of the 6 items. While those three items were really good, when we left, I was starving and begging for a carb. Bobby wouldn’t satisfy my requests to stop and grab a Big Mac, he felt it was too soon after we had educated ourselves, so we went by his spot and made some of the healthiest tacos you’ve ever seen. I’m definitely interested in checking this place out again, but it seems like I might have to save up, cause that lifestyle is NOT CHEAP!

My item of the day, since we’re talking about food, is the Cuisinart Pressure Cooker. I can hear you know… “What the heck is that???” (Ok, if you’re not saying it I am). I have no idea what this thing does but it looks AWESOME. The geek in me wants this on my kitchen counter now. I have never cooked most of the things it claims to be perfect for (gnocchi, pot roast, short ribs) but I bet if I had one I’d be a roast queen in no time!

cuisineart pressure cooker

Catering to my inner (imaginary) Puerto Rican side

I am the product of two Black parents…. but I swear there has to be some Latin in my blood, based on the way I obsess over the food. Here in Chicago, we have a number of places that claim to have the best JIBARITOS, and after trying out a few, we’ve found our A+ spot – Papa’s Cache Sobroso in Humboldt Park (with the jibarito originator “Borinquen” pulling a close second for the sandwich, but taking #1 for mofongo in Chicago).

For a while, Bobby and I were making regular trips for their tender, tasty rotisserie chicken dishes (with Spanish rice and tostones) and the wonderful jibarito sandwiches. The prices are what we call EXCELLENT for date night (dinner for 2 can easily come in under $20 and you’ll be full when you leave). This is a pic of our standard meal – a steak jibarito with Spanish rice. The sandwich comes with cheese (“white” or “yellow”), lettuce (which I remove), tomato, and mayo. Instead of bread you get all of this smashed between two perfectly fried garlicky plantains. Here’s a pic from our last trip to Papa’s…

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After a few regular trips, it got me to thinking…. can I channel my inner imaginary Puerto Rican and make this dish myself??? Hmmm…..Why not try??? The hardest part was the research on cutting and frying the plantains… oh, and seeing the amount of oil that I had to use. LOL (don’t ask for nutritional content on this sandwich, I have convinced myself it doesn’t exist). In the end, my version came pretty close visually and the flavor was really good!!! I’ll definitely have to add this to my successful recipe list!

Plantains frying in the skilletSandwich openedFinished meal - great presentation :-)

The item of the day, since I’m in a cooking mood, is something I have no room for in my kitchen but sure plan to get one day….. A couple of years ago my cousin found a great recipe a while back for potatoes au gratin that included Jarlsberg and Raclette cheeses (both of which were expensive and difficult to locate among the abundance of cheeses in Whole Foods). This was the BEST side ever. Half of the fun was in making it, and I had the job of potato slicer. In my kitchen this would be dreadful, with my somewhat dull knives and shaky hands. But in her kitchen I learned about a “mandoline” (a.k.a. “slicer”)… talk about amazing!

I don’t recall the brand she had, but it was similar to this one by Oxo, featured on the William Sonoma website:

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Based on my past experiences (and the line on my pinky from the stitches that I got after slicing an avocado the wrong way) I think this may be a good idea to go with my mandoline, whenever I get it… the cut resistant glove from Microplane. Great invention indeed:

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If I don’t see you before then…

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!

Christmas Wish List 2010

Yes people, its that time again… all the things I want but won’t get this Christmas. You know the drill and if not, you can check years 2006 and 2008. So here goes….

For this years Work Holiday Party, it would be great to show up in something as un-engineer-like as possible… you know, really cater to my inner fashionista. The Sunbird silk-gazar dress by ROKSANDA ILINCIC is something I would never get up the courage to buy, but can easily imagine myself walking into a crowded room draped in it. The fluorescent yellow is very unexpected. I love it.

ROKSANDA ILINCIC sunbird dress

For the vacationing girls’ night out, we usually tend to relive our college days through our attire, and this Jenny stretch-cotton mini dress dress by Preen Line is the perfect balance of the “young me” and the classy grown up me. My girls would love it.

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This year I because a fan of TOUS jewelry, especially the teddy bears pendants. While I like many of the options available, I definitely have to include the black diamond Bubble Bear pendant on my wish list!

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After my canopy zip-line experience in Mexico, I’m ready to take it a step further and hit the rainforest in Coast Rica. The Rincon de La Vieja Adventure  is right up my alley… of course, that includes getting to Costa Rica, which is a minor major obstacle.

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In one of the recent episodes of Giuliana and Bill (one of my fav reality couples) Bill went to Martin Katz to buy Giuliana a nice band… it was gorgeous and inspired me to check out the website. Turns out they have a huge collection of stackable diamond microbands. I’d love a few of these in various colors…. and maybe a couple in the black diamond to match my TOUS bubble bear!

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My current HP laptop is holding out very well, but like any gadget geek, I am always ready to upgrade. The new HP ENVY 15 laptop is right up my alley! The HP store only shows the 14 inch (too small) and the 17 inch (a little on the heavy side) so I’m not even sure if the 15” is still an option… but for the right features (i.e. Beats by Dr Dre limited edition 14” or the 3D enhanced 17″) I’d be willing to settle in either direction.

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For years I’ve said I would love to take cooking classes. Ideally I’d like to take a few months worth of classes in Italy, Spain and/or Mexico!!!!! But until then, the good ol Chicago Metro Area will work just fine. Rest assured, I will still keep my eye open for the specials that occasionally pop up on Jetsetter.com…. and hopefully I’ll no longer be scared of turkeys (see pic below from Thanksgiving 2008). The Chopping Block

Flav’our Cooking School

Chez Madelaine

Cooking Fools

TURKEY DAY

For about 5 years now I have been obsessed with this gold Roberto Cavalli snake watch. It has seemingly NEVER gone on sale (yes, I check a few times each year) but someday I may have to just go for it. I can already picture it on my wrist….

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…and while we’re talking watches, the new Movado Bold watches are a great fun take on the classic style! I love the black and white styles equally!

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While in Nassau recently, I caught a glimpse of the “Mad Summer” yacht, docked near the cruise ships. I don’t really need a yacht of my own, but I’d love a year, or even a week, on this one – with my family along, of course! See it in all its glory here: http://www.moranyachts.com/Article/?ID=69

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Saving the best wish for last…

…my greatest wish would be the health and safety of all of my loved ones as we go into 2011!

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