Monday, July 27

Recent Foodie Finds + A GIVEAWAY

I hope you had an amazing weekend enjoying the beautiful weather that finally decided to show up in Chicago! I'm back with another installment of my recent foodie finds!

Click to add a blog post for Seasons 52 on Zomato 

First, is Seasons 52, a national chain restaurant focused on seasonal and fresh ingredients. While I had passed the restaurant many times (it's dangerously close to Nordstrom), I had never been in to check it out. I was curious how the chain would execute its fresh concept, so when I was invited to an exclusive blogger dinner, I accepted with an open mind. 

The blogger dinner featured Seasons 52's new summer menu and gave us all a chance to try anything off the menu. We also met Executive Chef Partner Brad Froelich, who kindly answered my numerous questions about the menu, ingredients, and food preparation. All the of the fish served is fresh, never frozen, and they use very little butter in their food preparation. Listed on the menu are calorie counts which can help guide you in your food choices. They also have separate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus, which came in handy for my +1 veggie friend, Reba. The menu changes every week when items are swapped in and out. Although it is a chain, they do their best to feature local ingredients when possible, as well as local beers.

I was pleasantly surprised with the food quality, variety and flavor. By no means are portions small, but if you're looking for Cheesecake Factory portions, go elsewhere. Yes, the food and drink is on the pricier side (my glass of wine was $19, sea bass was $32), but you are paying for more expensive ingredients, and the River North location. 

Check out some of the food we tried below! Some favorites were the lemon and herb roasted whole branzino with Meyer lemon, thyme, broccoli, and crushed roasted potatoes, summer truffle risotto with sweet corn, shaved truffles and chive oil, and of course, the signature desserts which are served in shot glasses. It was hard not to want all of them but we tried the s'mores with Belgian chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, lemon curd with blueberry, and key lime pie. The favorite? The chocolate peanut butter! A true classic. 

Seasons 52
Salumi Piccante Flatbread
Seasons 52
Summer Truffle Risotto
Seasons 52
Heirloom Tomatoes & Herb-Crusted Mozzarella
Seasons 52
Blistered Shishito Peppers
Seasons 52
Lemon & Herb Roasted Branzino
Asian-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass
Asian-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass
Seasons 52
Dessert Options

Hannah's Bretzel Emerging Chefs Competition
Click to add a blog post for Hannah's Bretzel on Zomato

This past May, local sandwich shop (with ridiculously tasty bread!), Hannah's Bretzel, hosted its first annual Emerging Chefs Competition. The contest featured local culinary students from Le Cordon Bleu and Kendall College competing to create the city's next best sandwich. The winner of the competition received a culinary scholarship and a spot on the Hannah's Bretzel menu.

Twenty five year old Le Cordon Bleu student Joyce Mac's Keen-Wow Sandwich won over judges and fan voting at the competition. I met up with Joyce over lunch to taste test the winning sandwich which is now available at all Hannah's Bretzel locations! 

Chef Joyce Mac
Chef Joyce Mac and the Winning Keen-Wow Sandwich
The winning Keen-Wow sandwich features quinoa "patties" made with organic tri-colored quinoa, kale, sundried tomatoes, manchego cheese, and house chips. The patties are topped with pickled red onions, an herb salad, organic mayo and jalapeños on Hannah's signature organic bretzel bread. I LOVED this sandwich (it gets my vote!) because it has so many layers of textures and flavors. The patties are flavorful, and the jalapenos and herb salad add a nice crunch and freshness. And we can't forget about the bread. It's strong enough to hold all of those fantastic ingredients. Be sure to check out the Keen-Wow the next time you're at Hannah's Bretzel!

Hannah's Bretzel
The Keen-Wow Sandwich

Ghirardelli in the Wrigley Building
Click to add a blog post for Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop on Zomato

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably saw the photo I posted of my massive hot fudge sundae at the new Ghirardelli store inside the Wrigley Building! The new store is the brand's largest ever, and has stunning views of the Chicago River. I had a chance to check out the two-level space last week and was impressed with the selection of products and the beautiful store. I never wanted to leave!

Ghirardelli Shop in the Wrigley Building
Ghirardelli Shop in the Wrigley Building
Ghirardelli Shop in the Wrigley Building
Ghirardelli Shop in the Wrigley Building
My friend Hannah and I were treated to sundaes from the huge ice cream shop. The menu features fountain creations including sea salt caramel sundaes, banana splits, and butterscotch hot fudge sundaes, as well as shakes, floats, hot chocolate and more! We went with a classic hot fudge sundae, and brownie sundae! They make their hot fudge in-house, everyday!

Ghirardelli Shop in the Wrigley Building
Ghirardelli Shop in the Wrigley Building
As if our decadent sundaes weren't a big enough treat (literally), we took in what they call "the million dollar view" while we ate. You could see all of the boats floating down the river, as well as the hustle and bustle of Michigan Ave. The sundaes were phenomenal and so was the view. I think this is a must-try experience for any local or tourist alike. Your day will instantly be better, guaranteed!

Ghirardelli Chicago
Hot Fudge Sundaes
Ghirardelli Chicago
Hot Fudge Sundae
View from Ghirardelli Chicago
The new shop also features a station where you can fill customizable gift tins with signature Ghirardelli squares!

Ghirardelli Chicago
Create Your Own Chocolate Tin
Ghirardelli Shop in the Wrigley Building
Ghirardelli Squares
You can also stop by the pick and mix station which features 14 different premium Ghirardelli products including chocolate covered sea salt cashews (personal fave), blueberries, malt balls, and raisins!

Ghirardelli Shop in the Wrigley Building
Pick and Mix
And lastly, what may be a new life goal for my future home, Ghirardelli has a milk chocolate tap that constantly pours luscious liquid chocolate. I REALLY wanted to stick my head under there (no shame). Their in-house chocolatier uses the chocolate to make hand-crafted products including slabs, molded bars, and seasonal items.

Get yourself to Ghirardelli this summer to enjoy one of their amazing sundaes! And don't be rude, take me with you!

Ghirardelli Chicago
Milk Chocolate Tap

OneTable's Nosh:pitality Event

A couple of weeks ago my friend Lauren and I attended a hands-on pickling workshop as part of the first ever Nosh:pitality event in Chicago. These events are organized by OneTable, an online hub that engages post-college, pre-family Millennials to create custom Shabbat dinner experiences. Although the idea stems from Jewish traditions, OneTable events are open to people of all different cultures and backgrounds. One goal of the Nosh:pitality events is to help participants learn skills for hosting their own dinner party.

The event I attended was held at the West Loop's WeWork space and featured a hands-on pickling workshop with Jonathan Posner of Wandering Foods Productions, as well as a spirits tasting with Noelle DiPrizio from Chicago Distilling Company in Logan Square.

I always wanted to learn how to pickle and it was really fun to learn with Jonathan's step-by-step instruction. Ultimately, we pickled three jars of green beans, carrots, and cucumbers with different brines including ingredients like dill, mustard seed, garlic, and red pepper flakes. It was a lot of fun, but the hardest part was waiting a week until our pickles were ready to eat (the carrots and green beans were great, but we put too much salt in the cucumbers!). However, we were told you could eat these homemade pickles after about twenty minutes, making them a perfect last-minute accompaniment to a home cooked meal. Of course the pickles do get better with time though! I'm rationing these babies out!


OneTable
Ready to Pickle!
OneTable
About to Pour the Salt on the Cucumbers
Homemade Brines
Homemade Brines
OneTable
Cucumbers Ready for Brine
OneTable
Adding Brine to Cucumbers
OneTable
The Finished Product
Lauren & Me
We also sampled some of Chicago Distilling Company's spirits including their vodka, gin, and white whiskey. While I'm not sure pickling and spirits go well together, it was cool to learn more about Chicago Distilling Company.

Chicago Distilling Company
Noelle DiPrizio of Chicago Distilling Company

Check out OneTable's website to find out more about what they're doing now that they've launched in Chicago, as well as their upcoming events!


DAVIDsTEA & a GIVEAWAY!

Specialty tea retailer DAVIDsTEA recently launched its Old Timey Treats Collection, featuring five brand new, limited-edition iced teas inspired by classic malt shop treats. The new flavors include Banana Split (a rich and creamy rooibos with chocolate, banana and sweet meringue), Black Cherry (a fruity black tea inspired by a classic cherry soda), orange-cherry Shirley Temple (an homage to the mocktail), Cotton Candy (sweet and nostalgic) and Mango Fruit Punch (with pineapple, mango and tangerine).

In celebration of the refreshing new tea collection, I've teamed up with DAVIDsTEA to offer one lucky Ghost Guest fan a DAVIDsTEA gift pack including:

  • Lemonade Stand Gift Pack: includes three citrus teas, rock sugar and a leak-proof, BPA-free pitcher with a fine mesh infuser (value $40)
  • The Old Timey Treats Collection: includes each of the five new summer teas mentioned above (value: $25)


DAVIDsTEA
Lemonade Stand Gift Pack
Photo Credit: DAVIDsTEA
DAVIDsTEA
Old Timey Treats Collection
Photo Credit: DAVIDsTEA
Enter below to win!

Open to Chicago-area residents only. Must arrange for prize pick-up. Contest ends Thursday, July 29th at midnight CST. Winner will be notified via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



5 comments:

  1. I'm kinda strange because I love basically any kind of hot tea, but I'm much pickier with iced teas! I pretty much only like fruity iced teas.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the refreshing taste of passion fruit as well as the milky,chewiness of an iced bubble tea.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know if I have a favorite, that is why David's tea is perfect, endless options!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love plain iced tea! So refreshing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I must say the blog post is just useful for everyone else reading it because the information and knowledge it contains is very important. I like the post! Excellent job! Keep sharing such valuable information through your blogs.

    ReplyDelete

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