Chicago Culinary Fight Club

On Monday, October 17th, I had the pleasure of attending this month’s Culinary Fight Club, hosted by the amazing non-profit organization, Fight2Feed.
I have to admit that before discovering this event, I had not heard of F2F. So I had to do some research. I’m one of those people who is weary of who I donate to because I know sometimes my contributions don’t go to the hands that truly deserve it (CEOs & advertising vs actual needy people). So when I found out that F2F actually delivers food
DIRECTLY to the homeless bystanders of Chicago, I was more than eager to give my share of a donation! When I have time to give, I’m definitely going to be volunteering with them as well.

So the event at hand is one of the most fun events I’ve ever attended. Chefs, both by profession or by passion, compete in a monthly contest similar to timed ones seen on TV. They are given 60 minutes on the clock, secret ingredients, a limited pantry, and a theme. I consider myself, as a guest, EXTREMELY lucky in that the theme for this month was none other than Chicago Street Food. While many indulge in the high end, fine dining opportunities around the city & suburbs (and there are definitely plenty to chose from), my biggest pleasures are found in local hole-in-the-wall, mom & pop shops. So this seemed like something I would love from the very beginning.

There were 3 judges, plus a “Chef-eree”, who would choose the top 3 winners. Guests would then be asked to taste and nominate the “People’s Choice Award”. Now on TV, the most I’ve seen is 3 contestants. This showdown had twice as many! With 6 dishes to try, the judges, the audience and myself all had a difficult competition to assess!

When I watch Chopped or similar shows, I have always argued that an hour was such a long time for one dish. Then I went to CFC. OMG that time flew soo fast! And the chefs all did so well with time management that I seriously doubted any and all confidence of the notion that “PSSHH… I could so do that!”

Again, the theme of the month was Chicago Street Food.  Most of them had used plantains, and all but 1 chef used tortillas or pita bread as a “carrier” carb. The one unique chef (fireman James Bernstein & his ‘sous chef’ daughter) put together one of my all time favorite “street foods” – jibaritos!

My other favorite was Chef Nicholas Saponaro.

Let’s pretend I look absolutely adorable in this picture, instead of hair ruined by the wind and face melted by the hot spotlights inside.  His dish was out of this world to me – Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich with jicama slaw and crisp plantains, served on a pita – and clearly others thought so as well.


He ended up winning not just 3rd place by the judges, but Tasters Choice as well!

The top two actually ended up tying for first, but after using the Chef-eree as a tie-breaker, Chef Millie Ayala ultimately won with her rendition of a Chicago Hot Dog, beating out Devon Seafood Grill’s Chef David Rolon and his vegetarian spring rolls.

I can’t wait until the next event. And to be able to volunteer with Fight2Feed. For more information on their organization, visit their website here.  And make sure to visit Culinary Fight Club to keep tabs on future events! 

Special Feature: CreamBar (Schaumburg IL)

We’ve been pretty busy the past week.  We’ve visited some amazing places around California and eaten at so many different restaurants in the Chicagoland area!  In case you missed them, make sure to stop by our IG page @eatplaychicagola

This week we thought to try something special though. Amongst the roundup, we’ll talk about one specific stop along the way that stood out the most.  So today, I want to focus on a new kid in town (Chicago):

Cream Bar

The Streets of Woodfield – 601 N. Martingale Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173

CreamBar officially opened on Thursday, September 15.  I have to admit, as soon as a co-worker told me about it, I knew I wanted to be one of the first customers.  And, so I was!  I even beat my coworker to it – he went 3 hours later.  Now, because I pretty much just wanted to get a decent sample of what they had to offer, Maeven and I ordered 3 sandwiches amongst ourselves.  Don’t judge – we don’t regret a thing.

L-R:Chocolate Chip cookies w/ cookies and cream & sprinkles, Brownie w/ mint chip, Snickerdoodle w/ blueberry muffin & fruity pebbles

 

Let’s focus on my personal favorite first: that blueberry muffin ice cream.  According to Brett, the owner, the ice cream they serve is actually made with blueberry muffin TOPS – the BEST part of the muffin (or at least, in my world it has always been).  No wonder it tasted exactly like a blueberry muffin!  I decided on using a snickerdoodle because I went with a breakfast “theme” – the snickerdoodle cookie became a makeshift pancake for me, and the fruity pebbles are obviously the cereal portion of the morning routine. 

 

There is actually a decent variety of “buns” that are available – and you could even get them on their own instead of making a sandwich (they make some pretty awesome brownies if you ask me. Which, you kind of are asking me since you’re checking out my review of the place).  They even have an option for those that are gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant!  The fruity pebbles used to garnish my sweet-not-savory breakfast sandwich are also used along with some marshmallows to make a colorful version of a rice crispy treat!  I considered using their Superman ice cream for a color explosion, but the salted caramel was just calling my name:

I have kids, but I’m also a kid at heart.  Trust me, I can probably pass (not ACE, but pass) any Disney quiz you throw at me, and I can probably play make believe with just about any toddler that begs me to have a tea party.  Stopping in at Cream Bar makes me feel like a kid.  I can use my imagination and be as creative as I want to be with the cookie, ice cream, and topping combinations.

I have always said, that no matter what diet I am on, no matter how much I’ve actually EATEN for lunch/dinner, no matter how cold it is outside – there is always room and a time for dessert. And my favorite dessert is, HANDS DOWN, ice cream.  And this place has been a blessing and a curse for me because it is so close to home & work.  I’m definitely going to be a regular so if you ever find yourself walking in, I MIGHT just be there.  Feel free to judge me and ask me how many times I’ve gone in at that point 😆

❤ Justine

*Disclaimer: Eat Play Chicago LA did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions are solely ours (well, mine anyway) and is not in any form biased.

​Supper Club Saturday:  90 Miles Cuban Café (Lincolnwood)

Local restaurant instantly transports you to the island of Cuba through food, drink and sound.

This week I had some drama with my phone where the only solution I had to fix it was to do a factory reset.  I thought that if I had to do that, I might as well get a new phone.  Well, across the way from the store where I was at, there was 90 Miles Cuban Café.  They have Flamenco and Paella night every Thursday night there.  I had gotten there in the late afternoon, and by the time I was done, it was dinner time (since when did it take SO long to switch phones?) Needless to say, I followed the sounds of the music, and my nose to the wonderful smell coming from 90 Miles Cuban Café. 

Let me just say that a bar that includes cats (well, pictures anyway) is a bar that I am an instant fan of.

Usually I get a mojito, but since it was a work night, I opted for a glass of red sangria.  Besides, didn’t someone say that a glass of red wine with dinner was good for your health?  

Sure, Flamenco and Paella are more Spanish in origin, and this is a Cuban Café, but it doesn’t mean we have to be exclusive.  One of the styles of music that I love to listen to is Flamenco, and I was very excited to see the dancers too.  There were some children in the audience, and the dancers invited them up for a lesson in Flamenco as well.  

I had ordered the Tuna Ceviche and Masas de Puerco appetizers, followed by the Churrasco.

For appetizers, the ceviche and pork medallions were of pretty good size.  

I barely had room for the Churrasco!

Needless to say I had taken home leftovers (or as I like to call it, my lunch for tomorrow!)

If you are ever curious about their desserts, one of their items, the Trés Leches Cake is enough to share with two to three people. However, it is so devine that you may want to keep it for yourself!

Overall, I did like the interior and the layout.  The food was fresh and pretty tasty.  I would definitely recommend this place.

-Maeven 

Web: http://www.90milescubancafe.com/

Facebook: 90MilesCubanCafe

Twitter: @90MilesChicago

Instagram: official90milescubancafe

Dupage Children’s Museum

Every Friday we’ll be posting family fun days. This could go from assorted adventures with little kids in tow to a day of bonding with siblings and parents of all ages.

Located on the outskirts of the lovely Downtown Naperville grounds is a very, very fuchsia wall.

And on the other side of that wall are very, very colorful letters spelling out the name of a very, very enthusiastic domain. DCM is jam packed with things to do.

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