Category Archives: Very Interesting Food Stuff

Fogo 32 Ounce Aged Tomahawk Ribeye

Our favorite Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chão, enhances the guest experience by unveiling new ways to indulge just in time for the holidays.

For a limited time, guests have the option to add a decadent, shareable Dry Aged Tomahawk Ribeye to any dinner experience or they can indulge in premium seafood appetizers including lobster & shrimp or a chilled seafood tower. A recent partnership between Fogo and Coravin will also allow guests to regularly taste and select high-end wines from the new Reserve Wine List without the need to commit to the whole bottle.

“Since Fogo was founded about 40 years ago, we have been leaders in offering premium aged meats to ensure guests have access to the best Brazil has to offer as part of our authentic Churrasco experience,” said Larry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Fogo de Chão. “Each guest experience is uniquely tailored to individual preferences. Now guests can celebrate the season with a premium Dry Aged Tomahawk Ribeye, perfect for groups, family holidays, or parties that are prime sharing occasions.”

Our 32oz. Tomahawk Ribeye is dry aged for a minimum of 42 days for an even richer flavor to enhance any Fogo dining experience. The cut is available a la carte and is now offered at all Fogo de Chão locations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico for a limited time only.

“Menu innovation is at the core of what we do and who we are at Fogo. We’re always looking to add new, seasonal ingredients to the authentic Brazilian staples on our Market Table,” said Larry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Fogo de Chão. “Just like gauchos on the family farms in Southern Brazil, we harvest and source seasonal ingredients for the Market Table to complement our fire-roasted meats. Fall brings an abundance of flavors for guests to indulge as they celebrate the season.”

The fall menu features are available at all locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico for a limited time and include:

  • Butternut Kale Salad: Roasted butternut squash, fresh kale, chickpeas and feta are mixed with protein-rich pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, then tossed in a honey- citrus vinaigrette.
  • Gigante Bean Salad: Marinated gigante beans are combined with bell pepper, onion and fresh herbs before being mixed with a vinaigrette dressing.
  • Autumn Lentil Soup: French green lentils, carrots, onions and celery are simmered with tomatoes, garlic and spinach in this savory, gluten-free and vegetarian soup.
  • Apple Fig Crostada: Spiced apples are baked with butter and brown sugar inside a flaky puff pastry that is topped with homemade fig compote, balsamic glaze and fresh whipped cream.
  • Find  a Fogo de Chao  Near You!


    • For an inside look into the history and heritage of the gaucho culture, watch the NBC Olympic Games vignette “The Gaucho Way” or visit Fogo.comFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Fogo de Chao and VIK Wines

There is nothing better than a fantastic glass of wine with dinner!

We recently visited the Fogo de Chao (pronounced fogo-dee-shown) in River North for their announcement of a new partnership with award-winning Chilean VIK Winery. These VIK wines are only available at Fogo!

The VIK vineyard is affectionately called the “Place of Gold”, offering a variety of unequaled terroir, small microclimates, coastal breezes; giving their wines the complexity sought after to create the best wine in South America.

If you get to Chile, they have an unbelievable hotel and grounds! You can visit the vineyards, the wine spa, hotel and spectacular grounds. (photo to left).

Fogo has partnered with VIK, which is a holistic Chilean vineyard creating world class wines, to offer its award-winning and best in category wines at Fogo de Chão locations nationwide.


These 3 wines join the Wine List:

La Piu Belle, Red Blend, Cachapoal, Chile, 2011
Intense and well-balanced with notes of berries, wildflowers, spices and a touch of oak. Flavor of cranberries, the palate is incredibly fresh, silky smooth, with body and structure.

Milla Cala, Red Blend, Cachapoal, Chile, 2013
Incredibly vibrant red fruit aromas, elegant tannins and incredibly smooth mouth feel. Fresh spices, perfume and berry aromas accented with hints of toast and maple. In the mouth, black cherry and plum are underscored by a hint of black licorice.

VIK, Red Blend, Cachapoal, Chile, 2012
Elegant and balanced wine, dynamic with high precision of tannins and great structure that deliver an exquisite mouth feel. A mixture of aromas, including strawberry, raspberry and vanilla. Spicy and savory dark berry fruit on the tongue, tempered by an elegant structure.


The founders of Fogo de Chão grew up on a traditional Southern Brazilian farm in the Serra Gaucha. It is here that they learned to cook in the churrasco grilling tradition that would become the backbone of their story.

The founding brothers left the quaint, mountainous countryside of Rio Grande do Sul to Rio and São Paulo for formal churrasqueiro training, all while developing the Fogo concept. They had several resturants in brazil before coming to the US. premiere.

At the requests of loyal American guests, the Fogo concept was exported to the U.S. with a stateside debut in Dallas, Texas, in 1997. Between 1997 and 2013, this pioneering churrascaria continued its expansion in Brazil and the U.S. opening 29 new restaurants.

The culinary team has continued the tradition of developing new menu creations rooted in the Brazilian tradition that push forward the Brazilian churrasco experience. In 2013, new seafood dishes were introduced. Later that year, the Bar Fogo concept emerged within Fogo restaurants, introducing guests to new Brazilian-inspired small plates, award-winning wines and cocktails. The culinary team is always testing and tasting new items for possible inclusion.


With the holidays just around the corner, consider Fogo de Chao for a group dining experience!

An elegant Brazilian dining experience presented by their helpful and knowledgeable staff will make Fogo de Chão the perfect location for your group or private dining event. Holiday parties, Corporate events, Lunch and Learn, any celebration!


661 N LaSalle Dr, Chicago, IL 60654. (312) 932-9330

(see the website for suburban locations)

About Fogo de Chão

Fogo de Chão is a leading Brazilian steakhouse, or churrascaria, which has specialized for more than 37 years in fire-roasting high-quality meats utilizing the centuries-old Southern Brazilian cooking technique of churrasco. Fogo offers guests a wide variety of simply seasoned meats that are carefully fire-roasted to expose their natural flavors. The company was founded in 1979 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and expanded into the U.S. in 1997. There are currently 47 locations throughout Brazil, the United States, and Mexico, including locations in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Mexico City.


Additionally, Fogo offers a gourmet Market Table & Feijoada Bar, which includes seasonal salads, soup, fresh vegetables, feijoada (traditional black bean stew with rice, fresh orange and yuca flour), and much more. Southern Brazilian side dishes such as pão de queijo (warm cheese bread), crispy hot polenta, and caramelized bananas are served family-style. To further complement the dining experience, the restaurant offers an award-winning wine list, tempting dessert menu, and creative and classic cocktails. Guests can also choose between lighter seafood selections, or enjoy the gourmet Market Table only option. For more information, visit, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


For a visual representation of the story of Fogo de Chão, watch “The Gaucho Way,” a documentary-style video shot through the eyes of real Fogo de Chão Brazilian gauchos and explores the restaurant’s deep cultural roots in Southern Brazil.


Dining Out For Life Chicago 2015

dining out for life chicago

Local Chicago nonprofit, EdgeAlliance, has this month announced more than 70 restaurants to participate in city-wide event, Dining Out for Life, to benefit and geared towards improving the lives of homeless persons living with AIDS.

In its 22nd year, Dining Out for Life brings restaurants and diners across the city together to rally around a pressing cause for Chicago; homelessness. Be part of a movement where millions of people across 60 cities come-out to dine-out on April 30th, “Dining Out for Life”, a campaign that annually raises $4 million in support of those impacted by HIV/AIDS.

EdgeAlliance is doing their part in Chicago by connecting more than 12,000 people and 115 community partners with over 80 restaurants in support of our mission of providing quality and affordable housing to those who are most in need.

Rick Roman, co-owner of The Signature Room at the 95th, and Honorary Chair of Dining Out for Life/Chicago 2015, reaffirmed that local restaurants have always been fully supportive of HIV/AIDS research and programming in this city. “We at The Signature Room at the 95th welcome the opportunity to show support for EdgeAlliance and their Dining Out for Life campaign by being a participating restaurant. Our shared support with residents of Chicago – to uphold the traditions of good taste and community engagement – makes this venture a natural fit,” he said. Participating restaurants around Chicago will donate a portion of their proceeds to EdgeAlliance, allowing its residents to sustain healthy lives through affordable housing and programming. Chicago is one of 60 cities across the United States and Canada participating in the event, making Dining Out for Life the single largest HIV/AIDS benefit in the country!

Actress and advocate Pam Grier joined Dining Out For Life as co-spokesperson (with Food Network host Ted Allen) to help raise support. “There is a resurgence of HIV among youth, gay men, women and ethnic minorities due to lack of education and the misperception that the epidemic is over and curable. Awareness and funds are declining – but you can help. Dine out on Thursday, April 24th for the most satisfying meal you’ll have all year.”

For more information on Dining Out for Life, please contact Joey Wasserman, Campaign Development Manager at 202-765-7442 or Visit the official Dining Out for Life website at for full list of participating restaurants.


Chicago Super Bowl Catering


Not sure what to cook for Super Bowl Sunday? Why bother!!

Get some delicious recipes and food catered  for the big game Sunday!

Delivered to your door!

El Mariachi Catering Menu    

Revoluciuon Catering Menu



Holiday Dinners and Cooking – How fast are YOU?

holiday meals cooking tips


Illinois is ranked #13 in the U.S. for the fastest holiday meal preparation, according to the Del Monte Holiday Meal Census.

So how long do you usually take to cook a special holiday meal for your family?

Are you a Rushing Reindeer or a Sluggish Snowman?

To put this question to the test, food researchers at Del Monte — the country’s preeminent fruit and vegetable brand — asked 2,500 Americans to describe how long it takes them to get ready for the typical holiday meal.

Shown below are the Top 20 U.S. states that prepare holiday meals the fastest (with the average prep time shown in parenthesis):



#1:  Kansas (3.6 hours spent on holiday meal preparation)
#2:  Iowa (3.7 hours)
#3:  Delaware (3.8 hours)
#4:  North Dakota (3.9 hours)
#5:  New Mexico (4 hours)
#6:  Nebraska (4.1 hours)
#7:  Montana (4.2 hours)
#8:  Idaho (4.2 hours)
#9:  Utah (4.3 hours)
#10: Hawaii (4.5 hours)
#11:  Connecticut (4.5 hours)
#12:  Alaska (4.6 hours)
#13:  Illinois (4.6 hours)
#14:  Vermont (4.7 hours)
#15:  California (4.7 hours)
#16:  Washington (4.8 hours)
#17:  Massachusetts (4.8 hours)
#18:  Louisiana (4.8 hours)
#19:  Tennessee (4.9 hours)
#20:  Minnesota (4.9 hours)
So which states have the longest holiday meal prep times?  Del Monte ranked those, too:


#1:  Mississippi (7.1 hours on average for holiday meal preparation)
#2:  Kentucky (6.9 hours)
#3:  Alabama (6.7 hours)
#4:  Georgia (6.5 hours)
#5:  Texas (6.5 hours)



No matter what state you live in — and how much time you have — you can make your holiday meal prep more efficient with these three time-saving tips from recipe experts in the Del Monte holiday food kitchen:

Instead of making a holiday dish completely from scratch, buy ready-to-go foods in the store and customize them with extra ingredients and garnish to claim it as your own.

Use your slow cooker, toaster oven, and other kitchen gadgets to redistribute the number of dishes being cooked on the stove or in the main oven.  If you save prime cooking real estate for dishes that really need it, you’ll speed up the process dramatically.

Select recipes with minimal prep times and use quality convenience ingredients like already-chopped canned fruits and vegetables.

Go to for speedy and tasty side-dish recipes like the popular Cheddar Corn Casserole (only 10 minutes of prep time needed).



Limousine Services Chicago


A-List/Midwest Limousine Service.

They will find the perfect vehicle for that special occasion. A-List/Midwest Limousine Service has put together special VIP packages for you. Book your personal, premium limousine in over 500 locations worldwide, irrespective of whether you need a limousine in CHICAGO, but also New York,California, or overseas.

As well as a first-class, customized service, you and your guests will be provided with an experienced and reliable chauffeur for use around the clock. This chauffeur service is able to reliably coordinate a schedule or route change even if at the last minute, thus saving time, and bringing you, the customer, to your destination punctually.

In renting a limousine from us, you open up a world of possibilities. Our special event service will safely transport you and your business partners in luxurious mini-vans and coaches to trade shows, conventions and festivals. For special occasions like weddings or gala dinners, your luxury stretch limousine wedding car is ready for you from the same category. Of course the excellent chauffeur service is also provided to you by the A-List/Midwest Limousine Service.



Outstanding vehicles from Lincoln MKT, Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Chrysler offer the desired luxury you deserve as a business traveler or celebrity. The A-List/Midwest Limousine Service allows you to experience an uncomplicated but sophisticated way of renting a limousine across the globe – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Reservation Phone: 800-729-5110


Most Expensive Food in the World

From a guest author :  It’s just another Paris Hilton Instagram post showing the room service meal she ordered during her Shanghai sojourn last November. “I love Chinese food,” she commented. But there’s one problem, except for the fried rice, the dishes were hardly Chinese: panini, creamy soup, spaghetti, and some other general meals. I wouldn’t fault her though, and the public seems to understand her little culinary mishap. After all, the Paris Hiltons amidst us are more at home eating fancy meals than being confronted by an unassuming panini. Well then, let’s give Paris Hilton one fancy menu.

I thought to put together a set of meals for one day in this infographic, featuring the most expensive foods in the world. These foods are unabashedly opulent, but before you get upset, many of these items were created for fundraising programs (like an auction). Okay, some are truly lavish beyond reason. To put their prices in perspective, our total bill by dinner’s end easily matches the annual income of an average American household, whose weekly meal budget is estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be somewhere from $130 to $250 for a family of four.

There’s another reason why a dish can be very expensive: the chef sprinkled some diamonds, luxury pearls, or gold as a side attraction, such as the spoon, plate, goblet, or a decor. I thought it’s cheating. You can always make anything the most expensive by throwing in some diamonds, the most expensive toilet for instance.

Still, some dishes are easy to imagine why they’re expensive: the ingredients are either rare or take a lot of time and effort to source. What makes Wagyu beef literally a cut above the rest? The cow where the beef comes from is massaged and fed on beer every single day of its short bovine life. Saffron, a most prized spice, requires 75,000 filaments to make a pound!

We have more surprises in this day’s menu, from an ice cream whose price leaves you deathly cold, to a putrid cake slice that the ultra rich had craved to buy.


Bloomingdales April 19th Cooking Event with Chef Tong


Get a Taste of Spring with Chef Tong at Bloomingdale’s Home and Furniture Store

Bloomingdale’s Home & Furniture Store is celebrating the approaching warm weather.

In anticipation of Spring, Bloomingdale’s welcomes Chef Christopher Tong to demonstrate the preparation of a savory Spring menu.

A favorite with Bloomingdale’s shoppers, Chef Tong will prepare a Spring focused menu featuring:

Cold Cucumber Soup with fresh Dill
Herb-Marinated Chicken Breast, Orzo Pasta Primavera tossed with Arugula Pesto
Strawberries marinated with Balsamic Vinegar, fresh Mint and ground Pepper.

The demonstration will take place on Saturday, April 19, 2014 from 2-4 p.m. at the Bloomingdale’s Home & Furniture Store at Medinah Temple, 600 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago.

For more information about this Bloomingdale’s event, contact 312.324.7678.

My Private Chef is enjoying popularity as one of Chicago’s favorite private gourmet dining services. Trained in European-style fine cuisine,Chef Tong established his reputation at fine restaurants and hotels in Florida, California, and Chicago. Now he has adapted his impressive skills to the world of private entertaining. My Private Chef offers enticing cuisine for a wide range of events, from intimate dinners to weddings to corporate parties.

Chef Chris says: “Every event is different and I’ve met some wonderful people including many celebrities. Being part of very special occasions makes my work worthwhile. I also love conducting cooking demonstrations where I get the feeling that audience members will go home and try some new dishes!”

For more information about My Private Chef, contact Event Services at 773.370.8131 or visit our web site:


Best Food Wine is a BESTY!




We were featured today  on  THE BESTY!



Manna Organics Makes Healthy Taste Great


Manna is Home of the best vegan organic
Gluten Free breads, vegan organic yeast-free sprouted breads, raw
organic trail mixes, artisan sourdough breads, organic nut butters,
organic Kale Chips 
and organic ingredients. 

Manna Organics, LLC is a family owned and operated bakery. All  products are vegan, kosher, organic and carefully hand-made. Their signature product is the fully sprouted MANNA BREAD®,
cake-like, free of salt, no oils, no sweeteners, no leavening agents.
Manna bread is moist and delicious, high in protein and fiber. Sold in
the USA and Canada, in the Frozen Foods section.

I LOVE the organic nut butters. These unique artisan spreads are handmade in small batches and are deliciously perfect right off the spoon. Coconut Cashew is my favorite!

Everyone has heard that kale is good for you, but not everyone knows what to do with it. Fret no more! At Manna Organics, their kale chips are the most delectable solution to adding more nutrient-dense foods to your diet.

We love kale because it is high in iron, calcium, Vitamin A, K, and
C, as well as a powerful antioxidant boost and an anti-inflammatory

The highest quality organic, locally grown kale is lovingly mixed by hand with the purest ingredients.

So flavorful and satisfying, you will hardly be aware of anything but
how these kale chips nourish the body and delight the senses. Believe
us when we say these will become your new guilt-free addiction! Flavors like Mocha, Cheese, Curry and Pizza Margherita!



As of 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed national standards and started the National Organic Program for organic food production and handling.

USDA Organic labeling is broken down into 4 subcategories.

  • 100% Organic (contains 100% organic ingredients. E.g. a piece of fruit)
  • Organic (Contains 95% or more organic ingredients)
  • Made With Organic Ingredients (70% or more organic ingredients)
  • < 70% Organic Ingredients ( < 70% organic ingredients)

All Manna Organics products contain between 95% and 100% organic and are therefore certified “Organic” by Quality Assurance International (QAI), which means that an organic certification organization, accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture, has validated that products labeled as “organic” meet the defined organic standards.


Chefs in Chicago Would have a Field Day if Marijuana Becomes Legal

Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing pot for personal recreational use. In fact, more voted here in favor of pot legalization than voted for President Obama!

And the chefs in Colorado are creating dishes to make you happy and stimulate your appetite!

Longtime advocates for marijuana use, Scott and his wife and business
partner Wanda James (they run Simply Pure Products) have something to
be truly thankful for this week. 

“We have had medical marijuana in
Colorado now for almost three years,” said James. “What we have seen
from that is tremendous amounts of revenue. There has been nothing but
positive in Colorado since medical marijuana has come.

that’s why we’ve seen so many people vote to go ahead and legalize
marijuana here in Colorado, because the sky did not fall underneath
medical marijuana.”

The success of dispensaries has already spawned a whole new business: Edible marijuana.

Cannabis cuisine has come a long way from Alice B. Toklas’ 1954 “haschish fudge” recipe.

For today’s cooking aficionados, cannabis can complement pretty much everything from chilli to olive oil. (Just 2 teaspoons of marijuana-infused olive oil  is equivalent to about three and a half, four joints). 

With quality weed going for up to $450 an ounce, it is way more
expensive than truffles, caviar or foie gras, but Durrah says it’s worth
every penny.

I wonder what Grant Achatz would create……..

Read more at CBS



Tuna Scrape Slime Scare Warnings

Have you noticed how popular carry our sushi has become? It’s everywhere; Jewel Osco, Dominicks, even some Walgreens now have Sushi!

No sooner did the furor over lean, finely textured beef (a.k.a. “pink
slime”) die down than we have another one over sushi tuna. On April 13,
the Food and Drug Administration said Moon Marine USA, an importing
company based in Cupertino, was voluntarily recalling 30 tons of frozen
raw ground yellowfin tuna, packaged as Nakaochi scrape.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigations linked
consumption of Nakaochi scrape sushi to about 250 diagnosed cases and an
estimated 6,000 or so undiagnosed cases of illness caused by two rare
strains of salmonella. Among the victims who were interviewed, more than
80 percent said they ate spicy tuna sushi rolls purchased in grocery
stores or restaurants.

Scrape refers to the meat left on fish skeletons after the filets are
cut off. This is perfectly good fish, but difficult to get at. I once
visited an Alaskan salmon packing plant and asked what happened to the
delicious looking meat between the bones. The answer: pet food. (Lucky

But tuna is too valuable to leave behind, and companies in India use
special devices to scoop out the meat, combine it with scrapings from
many other fish, chop the mixture, freeze it in blocks, and ship it to
importers in the United States. Unlike “pink slime,” tuna scrape is not
treated with ammonia or anything else to kill harmful bacteria.

Nevertheless, it is supposed to be safe. The FDA requires producers
of imported foods to follow established safety plans. Although the
United States imports about 80 percent of seafood sold domestically, the
FDA only inspects 1 or 2

This means we have to rely on the diligence of international food
producers in following safe-handling procedures. But even well-intentioned
producers can make safety errors, especially when dealing with high-risk



Marshmallow and Whipped – New Flavors by Smirnoff, Just in Time for the Holidays!

Holiday entertaining. 

What to serve? 

Well don’t serve the same old spiked hot chocolate or mixed drink.  This season get a new attitude and a new holiday spirit… SMIRNOFF Vodka Whipped Cream and Fluffed Marshmallow Flavored Vodka. I tried these last night – and  YUM!  Both are awesome!
The world’s number-one selling and most awarded vodka brand created two decadent new flavors to offer adult consumers a line of premium spirits that are fun, sophisticated, and cleverly wicked.  Both SMIRNOFF Whipped Cream and SMIRNOFF Fluffed Marshmallow Flavored Vodkas are available nationwide at local retailers with a suggested retail price of $12.99 per 750mL bottle (prices may vary per market).
Epitomizing the decadent side of sweets, SMIRNOFF Whipped Cream flavored vodka possesses a seductive aroma that compliments its smooth whipped cream taste.  SMIRNOFF Fluffed Marshmallow’s refreshing and airy scent is met with the subtle sweetness of confection—qualities that exemplify the innocent side of a favorite indulgent dessert.

Add some  WHIPPED  to your coffee – with a splash of Kahlua.

Add some Marshmallow to your hot cocoa, for a smooth winter warmer.

Created from SMIRNOFF No. 21™, both SMIRNOFF Whipped Cream and SMIRNOFF Fluffed Marshmallow Flavored Vodkas deliver a smooth, creamy taste and sweet flavor that can be enjoyed as a shot or as the key ingredient in cutting-edge cocktails. 

“I can’t decide whether I am more naughty or nice, and maybe that’s why I’m partnering with SMIRNOFF. I may just be a little of both,” said Amber Rose, model, nightlife maven and judge on Season 2 of Master of the Mix. SMIRNOFF’s new Whipped and Fluffed flavors will no doubt add a little thrill to a night out.”

No matter how you choose to celebrate, SMIRNOFF reminds you to please do so responsibly.


What’s a Banh Mi? It’s a Vietnamese Baguette

The name banh mi is Vietnamese for a baguette (something they picked up during French colonial rule) made with both wheat and rice flour, but it has become the name we use for the sandwiches made with this type of bread. 

On top of this Vietnamese baguette, you put various meats (usually of the fatty, porky persuasion), pickled sliced or shredded carrot and daikon, cilantro, cucumbers, green chili peppers (jalapenos seem to be the go-to here in Philly), pate, and some sort of mayonnaise or aioli.  The array of salty, sour, sweet, spicy, meaty, and fatty flavors, combined with the light crispiness of the Vietnamese baguette (the rice flour is key, so accept no substitutions) and the crunch of the vegetables — the flavors and textures are vibrant and varied, yet come together so well.  Even the visual aesthetic of the sandwich — greens, orange, white — is fantastic. 

The Hungry Hound posted a new top 5 list to his relaunched blog and thinks that Lincoln Square’s Nhu Lan Bakery has the best followed by Lakeview newcomer Bun Mi. Before you get up in arms, he puts Uptown’s Ba Le at No. 3.


Chicago Ranks Top 5 for Trick or Treaters on Halloween

Get ready to fill those pillowcases with sweets. The data heads at Zillow have taken a break from churning out serious research briefs and Real Estate Market Reports to rank the 20 best cities to trick or treat this Halloween. Now in its third year, the Zillow Trick-or-Treat Index is designed to help kids (and parents) use data to identify cities that will boost their Halloween haul.

San Francisco was named 2011′s best city to trick or treat, followed by Boston, Honolulu, Seattle, and Chicago. In total, nine of the top 20 cites were located in the West.



Is Denmarks FAT TAX Coming to US?

Butter and other foods high in saturated fats became subject to a new “fat tax” in Denmark last week.

The country’s so-called “fat tax” went into effect on Saturday. The tax rate is 16 Danish kroner per kilogram of saturated fat in a food — in terms Americans can understand, that’s about $1.29 per pound of saturated fat – and it kicks in when the saturated fat content of a food item exceeds 2.3%.

If this seems like a radical move, consider that Denmark has already banned the use of trans fats, which many doctors say is the worst kind because it raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol at the same time. Danes also pay sin taxes on sugary items like soda and candy.

The fat tax may be a first of its kind, but it may soon be joined by similar taxes in Finland and Romania.

The fat tax isn’t aimed at curbing obesity. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the obesity rate in Denmark was 13.4% last year, below the European average of 15.5%. But Denmark lags in terms of life expectancy, and the country hopes the measure will increase the average lifespan by three years over the next decade.


Brown Rice …Why is it Good For You and How do You Make it Taste Good?

Studies have shown that consuming brown rice, which is good for you, is also good for infants that are being breastfed. The functional food has been found to play a significant role in improving digestive function and fighting such diseases as metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease and even some types of cancer.

There are multiple health benefits associated with eating brown rice offering vitamin B, calcium, iron, potassium and even protein. Additionally brown rice helps control blood sugars and cholesterol and its mineral content supplies significant nutrients for hair, teeth, nails and bones.

White Rice – is a processed grain that is converted into sugar as soon as you eat it.

But everyone says eating brown rice tastes AWFUL!  Not true!  We have found a way to make brown taste delicious!

  I take 1C of brown rice and soak it in 1- 14oz can Chicken Broth and I package of dry onion soup mix.   Add some dry herbs and spices like oregano, garlic, pepper…whatever you want. Feel free to jazz it up!  Sometimes I add a whole package of Knorr dry vegatable dip to it –

I mix it all together, microwave it for 10-15 minutes, and just let it set all day, for a good 24 hours. Just cover it and leave it on the counter.
It can not soak too long!  Once I let it soak for 3 days, and it was fine. The absolute key with cooking brown rice is pre soaking, to soften the grain and give it more of a white rice texture. This will also make the rice more easily digested, as well as shorten the cooking time.

The next day it is ready to cook –  I microwave mine. I start out by cooking it about 15 minutes and check the taste and liquid level. It usually needs 2C of water added – or another can of broth.  Sometimes I add chopped garlic –  maybe some mushrooms -a tiny bit of butter – get creative!

It usually needs  another full 30 minutes to cook –  just keep an eye on the liquid level, as you don’t want it to dry out. And you want it fully softened.  Cooking times will vary depending on the actual type of brown rice and the soaking time.

But the key is SOAKING!  and  SEASONINGS!  
And you will LOVE IT!

Michael  Snell


Just A Dash of Salt

One of the easiest ways to elevate your cooking to another level is to use flavored salts, or finishing salts. No recipe needed, really.

Flavor + Salt = Flavored Salt.

Salt, also known as table salt, or rock salt, is a mineral that is composed primarily of sodium chloride. It is essential for animal life in small quantities, but is harmful to animals and plants in excess. Salt is one of the oldest, most ubiquitous food seasonings and salting is an important method of food preservation.
Most recipes that call for salt are referring to table salt,  which has additives like iodine (to prevent a thyroid disease), and an anti-caking agent so the salt won’t get lumpy in humid weather.  Salt connoisseurs, though, often prefer to use Kosher salt for cooking, and sea salt for table use.  They claim that both have a softer flavor than table salt.   Exotic salts include the expensive French and Hawaiian sea salts, the smoky, sulfuric Indian black salt, and the intensely salty Korean bamboo salt.

Most Americans consume much more than necessary.  Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure. But  Salt is a terrific flavor enhancer, helping to reduce bitterness and acidity, and bringing out other flavors in the food. Just use a DASH!

  • Try sprinkling salt on citrus fruit, melons, tomatoes, and even wine to enhance flavor.


    Restaurants, Food Wine and Dining in Chicago


    Hungarian Paprika and Cooking and Recipes

    A lot of people think paprika is sprinkled on top of food, for looks, and really doesn’t have much taste. Well, the dried up stuff you buy in the grocery store is good for that! Actually, the store bought stuff is not that bad. But Real Hungarian Paprika has a LOT of robust  flavors! 

    In fact, you may not know that paprika can be hot or sweet.  Paprika, Capsicum annuum, is a sweet-to-mildly hot cultivar of the chile pepper of the family Solanaceae. C.annuum is a native of South America; however it is cultivated most extensively in Hungary.

    Hungarian paprika is known as stronger and richer than Spanish paprika, which is quite mild, though through controlled breeding they are becoming more alike. To maintain the stronger taste that consumers expect, some spice companies add cayenne to heat up Hungarian paprika.

    Paprika deteriorates quickly, so it should be purchased in small quantities and kept in airtight containers away from sunlight.

    Paprika is intimately associated with Hungarian cuisine especially paprikash and goulash. Many spiced sausages incorporate it, including the Spanish chorizos. Paprika is often used as a garnish, spinkled on eggs, hors d’ouvres and salads for colour. It spices and colours cheeses and cheese spreads, and is used in marinades and smoked foods. It can be incorporated in the flour dusting for chicken and other meats. Many Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish recipes use paprika for soups, stews, casseroles and vegetables. In India paprika is sometimes used in tandoori chicken, to give the characteristic red colour. Paprika is an emulsifier, temporarily bonding with oil and vinegar to make a smooth mixture for a salad dressing.

    There are some really good quality Paprikas  on Amazon


    QDOBA – Fresh and Tasty Mexican Grill -Now with Street Tacos

    In 1995, Anthony Miller and partner Robert Hauser imported San Francisco’s Mission-style burrito to Colorado, opening the first Qdoba Mexican Grill in Denver. Qdoba immediately won over customers and critics with the restaurant’s Mexican flavors and fresh ingredients.

    Obviously, it was an idea whose time had come. Since Qdoba’s auspicious beginnings, we’ve grown to include over 500 Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurants from coast to coast. And plenty more are on the way.


    I HATE IT when I go out to eat and have no idea what I am eating, the fat content, the caloric count, etc.

    Qdoba uses only the freshest ingredients and takes the time to prepare them beautifully. They care about what you’re eating just as much as you do. That’s why they have  created  an easy-to-use Nutritional Calculator. First, just select your meal from the top menu. Then mark each of your ingredients from the lists. It’s EASY!  You can pick low fat, no fat, even vegetarian choices here. HEALTHY and FRESH. Need I say more?

     Recently some team members from Denver were in Chicago to TEST LAUNCH  their new Street Tacos.   Qdoba’s street tacos come on a double wrap of small corn tortillas, with shredded beef or pulled pork, cilantro, and red onion. The combo comes with a side of barbecue baked beans for $4.99. (To give a basis for comparison, the regular tacos cost $6.49 for three, and no beans.)  The pork was very  juicy, and just the right amounts of onion and cilantro.  THESE ARE AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME DURING MAY!


    Gourmet street fare – or food prepared and served from carts or trucks on the sides of popular streets – was named one of the hottest restaurant concepts at last year’s National Restaurant Association show in Chicago and was recently served at the White House by renowned chef Rick Bayless. Street fare has its origins in several countries, including Mexico, where there is a great variety of “antojitos mexicanos” that are found at street food vendors who prepare some of the freshest, most delicious and innovative dishes in Mexico.

     An order of Qdoba’s Mini Street Tacos (three tacos) with slow-roasted pork contains only 330 calories and offers 21 grams of protein. Qdoba’s extra lean pork is slow simmered in-house for six hours in a signature blend of spices, including green chilis, jalapenos, bell peppers, garlic and onions.



    We got to have a little hands on cooking class with Qdoba while the Denver folks were in town!  Head chef Ted Stoner showed us things like Mango Salsa, different types of hot Salsa, making Fresh Guacamole and how the Pulled Pork is made for the new Street Tacos!

    Many recipes and videos are on their site

    The ingredients and the flavors are so important. Jalapenos have a reputation for being very hot but actually only rank in the medium to hot range among peppers.

    And I discovered how wonderful Tomatillas are!  Known in Mexico as the green tomato, the tomatillo fruit was cultivated by the Aztecs long before the tomato arrived, and it remains a favorite in Mexican foods ranging from stews to salads. This tart, yellow-green nightshade has flavors of lemon, apple and herbs and contains a great deal of vitamins A and C, calcium and folic acid. Tomatillos are the heart of  Salsa Verde.

    I don’t want to name any names….but, there are Burritos…..and then there are the Qdoba Burritos!  There is a lot involved in making PERFECT BURRITOS.  Quality meats, artfully made and constructed and just the right amount of everything.

    No matter how many burritos you order from a good burrito place, they should all be the same high quality with little variation.

    When you recommend a burrito
    place to someone, you shouldn’t’t have to worry that their burrito will be radically different than yours had been.

    About a year or so back Qdoba had a really fun Fighing Burrito Boredom campaign. You can still watch the videos online.

    We got to take a peak in the kitchen –  and you know what we saw? People chopping!  Everything is made fresh and NOT shipped in. fresh Salsa’s, fresh Guacamole, freshly cooked meats.  What a concept!  FRESH! 

    You see,  fresh, good quality food , can come in all price points.  The  $150  5 course meal in the Loop!   Or a $5 meal at Qdoba.

    If you have never been to Qdoba or thought it was just another fast food joint – check it out. You will be  WOWed.

    Dozens of locations in Chicagoland.

    And check out the recipes online!

    Derrick Sorles

    Best of the Best Dining Restaurants Food Wine Chicago