12.31.2015

Monthly Brunchgasm: Pork Shoppe



Welcome to the latest edition of the Monthly Brunchgasm (and the final post of the year!). Obviously, I've mostly sucked at keeping up with this series, as I haven't published a Brunchgasm review since March. In my defense, we did take a few months off when Diana was in the midst of her moving process; also, we have been to a few places that I never got around to writing about (see also: the massive grading pile and/or a general case of laziness). Regardless, I only ended up with four posts... maybe next year we'll work on hitting bimonthly Brunchgasm status rather than quarterly status. ;-)

For our final Brunchgasm visit of the year, Diana and I decided to pay a visit to one of the newest restaurants in my 'hood: Pork Shoppe. After establishing itself as a must-visit BBQ joint in Avondale, Pork Shoppe finally opened their second shop in a space on the northern end of Andersonville that once housed the short-lived Kingfisher. Not only is it exciting to finally have a new restaurant in that space (as it's been empty for several years), but also, until Pork Shoppe, there was a sad lack of BBQ offerings in the immediate area.


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12.23.2015

Seasons 52 Winter Menu

Shortly after Seasons 52 opened in Schaumburg back in 2010, Diana and I just happened to stumble upon the grill and wine bar after an epic day of shoe shopping (I'm pretty sure we were five shoe stores in by the time we both cried for sustenance). Desperate for a place to rest our weary feet, fill our empty stomachs, and knock back a cocktail (or four) while admiring our fab new shoe finds, we drove past the sprawling mall complex and found ourselves at the entrance of the brand spanking new Seasons 52. From our very first round of appetizers (one of their delicious flatbreads paired with an order of green tea edamame), we were hooked. The restaurant quickly became our suburban go-to and as soon as other locations began to pop up in the Chicago-area, we made it our business to wine and dine our way through them all.

While the restaurant chain has transitioned away from part of their original concept (all menu items had a strict 475 calorie limit), the chefs at Seasons maintain their focus on offering healthy, seasonal dishes using rustic cooking techniques such as brick-oven roasting and open-fire grilling over oak and mesquite. Although there are new menu items that are definitely on the more indulgent end of the spectrum (e.g. the oh-so-delicious lobster pappardelle), the bulk of the offerings are still on the lighter side.

Being Seasons 52 superfans, Diana and I were recently invited to stop by the downtown Chicago location to sample some of the new items gracing their winter menu. We kicked off our lunch with a round of cocktails; Diana chose the perfectly balanced Bourbon Berry Bramble, made with Maker's Mark Bourbon, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh raspberries, blackberries & lime...

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12.21.2015

Recent Foodie Finds

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! I've officially been on winter break for just over a week now and needless to say, I've enjoyed every moment of it. I've spent the last few days cramming in all sorts of winter/Christmas-y fun, including a wonderful performance of The Nutcracker by the Joffrey Ballet with Mario & friends, as well as an all-day foodie extravaganza with Diana that started out with a visit to Christkindlmarket and ended with a tour through some of the stalls at Latinicity (so much awesomeness!). Mario and I are also headed to Star Wars: The Force Awakens later today; we're both crazy excited to finally see the next chapter (especially Mario, who's had an almost lifelong love affair with SW).

Along with having all sorts of fun, consuming obscene amounts of cookies, and generally pretending that I don't have to plan for the next semester (that part needs to come to an end very soon - boo!), I've also been slowly making some changes to the blog in preparation for a upcoming major overhaul. While I'm going to leave the big design elements to a professional (as what I want far exceeds my design skills/knowledge), there are a few small adjustments I'm working on, including the roll out of some new categories. Longtime readers may remember my regular Monday Foodie Porn series - that has now morphed into Recent Foodie Finds, which will incorporate not only restaurant finds, but also foodie-related products. Yay! My blog is definitely overdue for an overhaul and I'm excited to finally get the process started.

Here are a few of my recent foodie finds (follow me on Instagram for even more!)...

Fannie May Holiday Collection Keepsake Box: Mario grew up in Chicago and has been obsessed with Fannie May chocolates (especially Pixies!) for as long as he can remember. So of course, he was so excited to dive into our special holiday collection delivery featuring the best of Fannie May chocolates. We both agreed that while chocolates are fab any time of the year, there's definitely something special about breaking into a box of Chicago-themed favorites during the holidays.

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12.16.2015

Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

Happy December! I hope everyone is having a fab month... obviously, I'm a bit behind the times, as we're already halfway through the month and this is my first appearance. As always, the first two weeks of December flew by in a blur of portfolios, conferences, and grading; the moment I submitted final grades, I immediately switched into shopping and baking mode. Woo-hoo! I've already been to two foodie-centric holiday parties (including a nontraditional and totally fantastic blogger party at the Chinatown food court) and later this week I'm looking forward to a day exploring the Christkindlmarket with Diana, as well as a performance of The Nutcracker with Mario. While we're currently snow-less and enjoying an unseasonably warm month (which I refuse to complain about), it's definitely starting to feel like Christmas!

As I mentioned, I've been in serious baking mode over the last week or so... okay, let's be honest; I've also been in serious cookie eating mode (it is the Eating Season after all - my friend swears it should should have some sort of national holiday designation!). My first order of business during the Eating Season? One of my favorite annual traditions: The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! TGFBCS is the brain child of two lovely bloggers. The concept is simple: they match you up with three other food bloggers, you bake and send a dozen cookies to each of your matches, and your matches do the same for you. Not only is there all sorts of cookie awesomeness, but also, the event supports a great cause (read more about it here). Check out the awesome cookies I got from my matches (hence, the eating part of the Eating Season):

Dark & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies topped with pistachios, cranberries & sugar crystals from Michele @ Bacon Fatte

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