Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Calling all coffee lovers to Eataly

Thanks to the folks at Eataly for passing on this information on a consumer education event hosted by Lavazza (Italy's favorite coffee!) It takes place August 16 at Eataly with food historian and author Francine Segan who will invite you to explore the many ways of enjoying coffee.

Learn about Lavazza's history and how to cook with coffee to create some decadent treats along with sampling of new specialty blends.

Event:             Spotlight on Artisanal Products: From Cup to Plate with Lavazza Coffee

When:             Saturday, August 16, 2014 | 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM (Central Time)

Where:           La Scuola at Eataly
                        43 East Ohio Street
                        Chicago, Illinois 60611

What:              Lavazza’s National Brand Ambassador and Food Historian, Francine Segan (James Beard Award Book Award finalist), will lead a unique voyage into the world of coffee at Eataly. As an expert in Italian food, Francine will guide an engaging class featuring Lavazza’s four new specialty blends. She will also discuss the rich heritage of this family owned Italian coffee brand. Together, Francine and chefs from Eataly’s La Scuola will demonstrate the recipes for a Coffee Hazelnut Tart and Coffee Cake. Following the demo, attendees will have the opportunity to taste these delicious treats made with Lavazza.

Websites:       For more information and registration visit: Spotlight on Artisanal Products: From Cup to Plate with Lavazza Coffee
For more on Lavazza visit:

From the inbox: Big Tree Farms Receives Fair Trade Certification

From the inbox this week comes this press release - big news from Big Tree Farms!

Big Tree Farms Receives Fair Trade Certification
Big Tree Farms Coconut Sugar becomes first and only certified fair trade coconut sugar.

Bali, Indonesia (July 16, 2014) Big Tree Farms announced that their unrefined, organic Coconut Sugar line has received Fair Choice certification from Control Union Certifications. The acquisition of this certification makes Big Tree Farms Coconut Sugar the first and only fair trade coconut sugar on the market. As a pioneer in the fast-growing Coconut Sugar segment, Big Tree Farms’ impressive certifications extend beyond Fair Trade, including USDA Organic, Non-GMO and Low Glycemic Certifications.  All certifications will be featured on Big Tree Farms Coconut Sugar packaging going forward, allowing shoppers to see a clear difference in coconut sugars.

Control Union Certifications are awarded on an enterprises ability to commit to stringent social, environmental, and economic development principles. Dedicated to social and environmental responsibility, safe working conditions and fair trade practices, Big Tree Farms is the only vertically integrated brand of coconut sugar on the market. Working with and supporting over 14,000 family farmers across the archipelagos of Indonesia. Every bag of Big Tree Farms Organic Coconut Sugar is harvested from partner farms and processed at their own factories in Indonesia.  

Called the “best alternative to cane sugar” by Dr. Oz, Big Tree Farms Coconut Sugar is made from pure flower blossom nectar of the coconut tree. Considered one of the most sustainable sweeteners on the planet, coconut sugar is an unrefined, high nutrient and low glycemic sweetener that can be used in place of anything that normally requires cane sugar. With a 1 to 1 replacement ratio, coconut sugar is an easier substitute compared to other popular alternatives like stevia or agave, which often have a different taste and substitute ratio. Big Tree Farms Organic Coconut Sugar is the only coconut sugar to obtain a low glycemic verification, consistently maintaining a Glycemic Index of under 40, ensuring it is not adulterated with cane sugar Rooted in Goodness™, Big Tree Farms is a sustainable supply chain of natural and organic tropical food products. Their mission is to inspire beneficial change through the creation of innovative and health-forward food products that provide sustainable health, economy and environment to our customers, farmer/suppliers and company community.

For more information visit

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Maggiano's gift card giveaway

The newest location of Maggiano's opened this week in Vernon Hills at the Westfield Hawthorne Mall. It was my first experience visiting a Maggiano's after hearing people rave about it for years. Now I see what all the fuss is about. The food was magnificent. The portions generous. The atmosphere cozy. The staff friendly.

Not only was it a celebration of the grand opening of this location, but it was an introduction of the new "Lighter Fare" menu, which is only currently available in a handful of their restaurants and it is the only one in the Chicago area to have those menu options. The new Lighter Fare options allow you to enjoy your favorite Maggiano's classics, reducing the calories and fat content, but maintaining the great tastes and big portions that the chain is known for. More on Lighter Fare in an upcoming post.

On our visit, we sat at the media table where a variety of different dishes were brought out for us to view and photograph and then taste. Some were their most popular menu items. Some were Lighter Fare menu items. Some were appetizers. Some were desserts. It gave me a great sense of the overall offerings there and a point of reference when comparing the Lighter Fare to the typical dishes on their menu.

The first two items we started out with were the Stuffed Mushrooms and Crispy Zucchini Fritte and both were purely delightful. The mushrooms are stuffed with spinach, capped with seasoned breadcrumbs and served in a garlic white wine sauce. I'm a huge zucchini lover and this fried zucchini is the best I have ever had. It was lightly breaded in Japanese crumbs and served with lemon aioli so good you totally want to lick the dish. :) I would recommend both as musts for starters on a visit to one of their restaurants. And today, I'm giving away a $25 gift card to Maggiano's so that a winner can try out these appetizers or some of their other delicious menu items. Many thanks to our friends at Maggiano's for providing the gift cards to give to our blog readers!

Giveaway will be done on rafflecopter to select a random winner. Please leave an e-mail address so we can contact you if you win! Good luck! And be sure to subscribe to the blog to get our posts delivered to your inbox. We'll have a couple more posts coming up about the new Lighter Fare menu and other items on the Maggiano's menu and more giveaways!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Disclosure: I received complimentary menu items for the purpose of a review. Maggiano's provided gift card prizes. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Chill Bubble Tea

I recently had my first experience of trying bubble tea. I'm not a coffee drinker, but I love tea, so when I spotted Chill Bubble Tea while walking around Westfield Hawthorne Mall in Vernon Hills, I figured I'd go get some chilled fruit-enhanced black tea. But much to my surprise, this wasn't traditional tea. It was more along the lines of a smoothie, so I went for my favorite flavor of smoothie - cantaloupe. Mmmm. :)

Have you tried bubble tea? What's your favorite flavor?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Famous Dave's Bolingbrook location celebrates grand re-opening

Famous Dave's invited Chicago Foodie Sisters out to the grand re-opening of their newly-remodeled Bolingbrook location last week where we sampled their new small plates bar menu that's available each day after 4 p.m. You'll also find some special $6 craft beer flights on Fridays, too.

So, hubby started out with a draft craft beer flight. They've got a new menu of craft beers with some great varieties like Dogfish, 2 Brothers and Revolution.

 I tried out a Boulevard 80-Acre wheat beer. It was perfect with the bites we tried.

Along with that craft beer flight, we started out with four of the new small bites items to try out: the Hawwiaan Flatbread, the Brisket Taco, the Buffalo'd Bones and the Southwest Chicken Salad.

First was the flatbread, which included shredded pork, a zesty bbq sauce, green onions and pineapple. I LOVE pineapple on pizza and with the sauce and pork, it was a refreshing touch of sweetness that perfected it. They also offer a smoky bacon bleu variety of flatbread.

The brisket tacos were fabulous. I had to remove the hot peppers since I'm not the most tolerant of major heat, but once those were gone, so was the heat and I loved the remaining ingredients. The were served on a soft shell with some fresh pico de gallo and cilantro. Muy bueno!

Now, although I'm not big on major heat, I do like a little. These slow smoked center-cut St. Louis-style ribs had such awesome flavor that I ignored the heat. It caught up to me on the second one, but I couldn't stop. Served with celery and some house-smoked bleu cheese, they'll make you ditch the buffalo chicken wings for good.

Our final pick for our first round was the Southwest Chicken Salad. As I read the description, they had me at avocado. Seriously, I'd eat just about anything if you threw some avocado on top. Our very sweet and attentive server, Jillian, suggested this as one of her favorites on the menu, too, so I was anxious to give it a try. It was served in lettuce cups with some shredded chicken and tortilla strips on top. Totally loved this - again very refreshing with the avocado and just enough of a kick.

By the time we were done that evening, we had tried nine of the fifteen items on the FD's Modern Barbecue Bar Menu, so way too much to share in one post. Watch the blog for more on our visit and the new menu items.

Right now the Bolingbrook location is the only one where you'll find this new menu, so head over to be one of the first to check it out! There's a great variety of items, so you'll find something for everyone and items on this menu start at just $2.99!

 Famous Dave's 
704 Janes Avenue
Bolingbrook, Illinois 
(630) 783-1502