Monday, November 12, 2012

FoodGirlAdventures is Moving!

Heads up everyone! I've got a fancy new website, and I'm moving the blog over there. From now on, you can read my posts at

If you read this blog via an RSS feed, the feed should update automatically. In case it doesn't, the new feed address is Simple, right?

Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lemonade for a Good Cause

I was back in LA this past weekend and attended Alex's Lemonade Stand, a wonderful charity raising money to treat and prevent childhood cancer. The event was beautifully organized, the weather was fantastic, the attendance was star-filled (Jimmy Kimmel was the Emcee for the event, Michelle Branch performed and there seemed to be an endless stream of celebrities) and the food was worth writing home about.
Of course there was lemonade with fresh strawberries
One of the highlights of the day for me was meeting Katrina Markoff - the founder of Vosges Chocolate. I have been a huge fan of the exotic truffles, hot chocolate, mixes and all things Vosges for years so it was a true honor to meet the woman behind the purple boxes.

Decadent Vosges truffles (courtesy of
I had the opportunity to enjoy food from some of my favorite celebrity chefs. I had panini with nutella and banana prepared by one of my favorite Food Network stars Giada De Laurentiis (she brought her adorable daughter Jade). Chef Jonathan Waxman made a seemingly simple salad with steak that melted in my mouth. Fellow "Top Chef Master" contestant Mary Sue Milliken prepared a chip with the most delicious bean mixture.

Mary Sue's hearty bean dish

"Top Chef" season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio was nice enough to pose for a picture with me.

I think we'd make a pretty cute couple

Chef Voltaggio's delicious oyster chicken dish served cleverly in oyster shells nestled on a bed of salt rocks
The food was all tremendous. Each chef spent their time and effort preparing dishes that were thoughtful, beautiful executed and delicious. Most stood up to the 80+ degree temperatures too which was mighty impressive.
Loved this dish - it's purple potatoes were stunning
Quirky presentation plus caviar

Treats - some filled with ice cream from Sweet Rose Creamery
The lively scene at Culver Studios
Looking forward to get more involved with a wonderful charity and attending this event again next year!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wine Tasting in Temecula

We all know that California features some of the very best wine in the country. On a recent trip to LA I discovered that southern California has some wonderful vineyards and views that could rival that of its Northern compatriots.

Temecula has a rich history in the wine industry with many successful vineyards establishing themselves in the early 19th century. The region is stunning offering a backdrop of mountains amongst the vines and green valleys.

Old Town Temecula feels like something out of a Western movie. The main street has a host of unique boutiques, specialty foodie stores (there's one for gourmet olive oil and another for root beers from all over the country) and restaurants. There is an incredible farmer's market on Saturdays with an impressive array of fresh fruits, veggie, smoothies, prepared foods and treats.

Of course you'll want to do some wine tasting on your visit to Temecula. There are a wide variety of options with some 40 wineries to visit in the region, but I loved Ponte Winery. The views here were especially stunning and you can't argue with 8 pours (your choice of wine) accompanied by addictively good pita crisps.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Diner en Blanc

Diners walking to the secret location for Diner en Blanc (

The scene was stunning. Hundreds of diners chicly clad in white feasted under twinkling lights in the iconic North garden of Chicago’s Art Institute. Everyone was smiling, laughing and overall enjoying a truly unique experience that drew curious glances from Michigan Avenue tourists. Diner en Blanc. You’ve probably seen the pictures of crowds dressed all in white cavorting the night away with sparklers, picnicking to the 9s and twirling napkins in the air like a dervish. You might have thought this was some crazy French phenomena. It was, and then it made it’s way here to Chicago on a warm August 24th.

Diner en Blanc has a strict set of guidelines that ultimately allow for a truly unique dining experience. Participants are only allowed to register for the event by invitation. The venue is a complete secret so guests only select their meeting location at the time of registration. Guests are asked to dress in white from head to toe (most are fully dressed to impress with hats, feathers and festive attire like something from a magazine photo shoot.) A limited number of tables and chairs are available for rent, but many of the attendees came toting their own (the all-white rule applies here too as well as table size and height specifications.) Guests arrived at their preassigned meeting location and were led to the clandestine and notable location at Chicago’s Art Institute.
Dinner in candlelight at the Art Insitute
Uber gourmet picnics by celebrity chef Tony Mantuano (of Spiaggia and “Top Chef Masters” fame) were available for sale. There were a variety of picnic options including some decadent dishes: roasted Amish chicken, smoked Great Lakes Whitefish spread, Red Hen Bakery baguettes, pork and duck pate, Sambuca-spiked watermelon, pistachio and vanilla financier cakes and Amaretti cookies. The options were truly mouth-watering. Guests bringing their own picnic dinners packed equally impressive fare.

The night was truly a unique experience for those attending, and anyone watching the evening unfold.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An Ode to Sprinkles

Don't you just want to take a nibble from this big sugar cookie?
No, not that Sprinkles (btw though their cupcakes are tasty there are others I prefer.) I'm taking about sprinkles. Chocolate. Rainbow. Funfetti. The bursts of sugar always add a little fun to a sugary treat.

Sprinkles are French in origin and date back to the late 18th century when they were called pieces montees (please excuse the lack of accents) translating to "assembled pieces". Nonpareils ("without equal") are circular balls of sugar. Nonpareils (synonymous with the round chocolate candy in light pastel colors) are also a favorite of mine because their little white bubbles on chocolate make my heart sing on Snow-Caps at the movies.

The mouthwatering showcase of sprinkled treats at Sweet Mandy B's
Sprinkles instantly solicit fun and childlike pleasures. My fiance is obsessed with rainbow sprinkles in particular; he never met one he didn't like. I celebrate his enthusiasm and continue to look for new baked goodies with the sugary confection to tantalize his (and of course my) taste buds.

Rainbow sprinkle cupcakes I baked for Jonno (recipe courtesy of M. Stewart)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Day Trip to Madison

Sitting at the Terrace with Annie & Jackie
Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending the day in Madison, Wisconsin. Just a few years ago (ahem, OK over a decade ago) I graduated from the University of Wisconsin, and it's always fun to go back for a visit with my girlfriends, especially during the summer.

Dane County Farmers' Market - Madison, WI
The Dane County Farmers' Market bills itself as the largest producer-only farmers market in the US, and it truly is an event. Every Saturday farmers, cheesemongers, bakers and the likes setup shop around the beautiful state capital. There's live music galore and the scene (especially on a beautiful summer's day) is a spectacle.

Look at those curds! (courtesy of
Babcock Hall Dairy - ice cream made at UW!
After perusing the market and making a few purchases (carrots, baby zucchini, green onions and some delightful tea breads) we took a break for lunch. Lucky for us Annie had done her research and steered us towards a wonderful restaurant on the square called The Old Fashioned. The food had a distinctively fresh Wisconsin focus to its menu. I left a happy diner after eating a walleye sandwich, and the ladies had some of the best cheese curds I can remember eating too!

Yes, UW makes it's own ice cream!

After some shopping along State Street, it was time for the Memorial Union Terrace. Situated on Lake Mendota, our student union is stunning. There are few other campus who could boast the views, the beer selection, or the ice cream that UW can proudly claim. We each enjoyed ice cream (I had banana peanut butter) as we sat outside and reflected on the day and our next adventure together.

View of Madison looking at the Capital from State Street

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Horrifically Unhealthy Chicago Food Faves

When you're visiting Chicago you must have a piece of deep dish pizza. It's almost a crime not too because this is the food (along with Chicago style hot dogs) that is so often identified with the city.

Wiener Circle. My favorite hot dog in the city is probably calorie laden but it's a treat.
Imagine my surprise as I'm eating my breakfast yesterday and the local NBC news cast starts listing off the horrific nutritional details of this treat. 800 + calories in one slice?! 48 grams of fat?! I almost fell off my chair remembering maybe not so fondly, the times I've enjoyed not one or two slices, but sometimes THREE slices. It's just that good that it's hard to resist.

How can you resist this popcorn goodness? (courtesy of the Chicago Reader)
Who doesn't love Garretts Chicago Popcorn Mix? There is something so sinfully delicious in the mix of caramel sweetness and day-glow orange cheddar. One cup packs 400 calories and 36 grams of fat! Yikes.

I don't know about you, but I'm going for a run.