20 April 2011

Cooking at Fiorentino's

Last month I had the pleasure of attending a cooking class at Fiorentino's Cucina Italiana - and it was seriously one of the best afternoons I have had in the last few months! We arrived to open seating in their heated indoor patio which had a pleasantly outdoor feel, where we were greeted with wine and yummy Tuscan bread. Before the lesson began, we started with a meal, pictured above. And everything we ate, we learned to make through the cooking demonstration following the meal. 

  1. Arrancini, stuffed rice balls battered and fried to perfection. 
  2. Sausage soup with escarole and canellini beans, a heartwarming bowl that I gladly mopped up with my bread.
  3. A citrus salad, with fennel, pomegranate seeds, tossed in a vinaigrette made from orange and grapefruit juice.
  4. Pasta putanesca, a simple sauce made from kalamata olives, anchovies, capers, artichokes, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
  5. Chicken picatta, tenderized chicken in a thick lemon sauce with capers - (capers which I am now currently obsessed with).
  6. Risotto with pancetta and vegetables.
  7. Macerated strawberries with shaved chocolate.
  8. A neverending flow of wine, Bacchus would have been proud.

I enjoyed each and every bite of this meal. Having lived in Tuscany for four months, I grew to love Italian cuisine, but Sicilian food is something I know so little about - which is why I found this meal so special. The food had really clean simple flavors - just so that you could really taste each component in every dish. I found myself taking a bite, then writing down what I thought was in each dish, and as the cooking lesson progressed, crosschecking if my food predictions were correct! What fun! Our table had great conversation, and with every passing of the family style dishes, we grew to know one another more and more. 

By the time the demonstration began, we were stuffed, jolly, and well-acquainted with each other -  the vibe was happy, buzzing, and ready  to learn. I sincerely enjoyed the format of this lesson, having attended a variety of cooking lessons in the past. I liked that we ate everything before we learned to make it, allowing us to  be more invested in what we were learning having just enjoyed everything that was being prepared. I also find it distracting to learn anything on an empty stomach, but having just eaten a delicious and filling meal, I had a certain focus and reason to follow what I was being taught. And like any good cooking lesson, we left armed with typed copies of everything we had just eaten - so we could prepare these delicacies at home.

During the lesson, there was an open forum for people to ask questions, shout out requests, and make wonderful jokes and banter. I felt extremely comfortable amongst this group, and Frances brought such energy to the lesson that there was never a dull moment. We watched as pots were stirred, ingredients were added, and the overhead mirror fogged up with steam. Everything was extremely easy to make, and well explained by Frances. I left feeling excited and confident to enter the kitchen to test these dishes out on my own. I have since made the pasta and the soup - both of which are really easy to put to together and simple enough to improvise from on the fly. Oh, and did I mention, delicious?

If you are interested in attending an upcoming cooking class at Fiorentino's I strongly urge you to visit their website. I think my mom and I might be going to another, which will be completely different as she is working her way north up the Italian peninsula.

Buon appetito!

If you are interested in learning more, feel free to contact me or call the restaurant directly at 773.244.3026. Or you can enjoy an Italian meal yourself at Fiorentino's located at 2901 North Ashland Avenue.

16 April 2011


Though it's rainy and cold in Chicago this weekend, I plan on braving the chill to attend Modern Vintage Chicago's Spring Fashion and Jewels Explosion over at the Beauxs Arts Plumber's hall. Ranked as one of the TOP THREE Vintage fairs in the country, and nestled right in the heart of the midwest, how could I pass this opportunity up? Having read about the annual flea market on Randolph, and discovering that this event is brought to Chicagoans by the same people, I was more than curious! I like attending Vintage Heaven every month, but this once-in-a-year chance to check out the wares of way more vendors from as far as NYC, Texas, Georgia, Minnesota - and ITALY!! I'm not sure what I'm going to find there but hopefully I will run into some of you lovely local bloggers at the event this weekend. I will be armed with my camera, and the mentality that I am actually getting money back on my tax return. Dangerous, very dangerous!!

Saturday April 16: 10 AM - 5 PM
Sunday April 17: 10 AM - 5 PM

Beaux Arts Plumber's Hall: 1340 West Washington Street

PS did I forget to mention that today's groupon is discounted admission to the Randolph Street Market (including today's event)!!!?

Donna Pawlus
Kimberly Oliva
Here are a couple of tantalizing pictures from Modern Vintage in years past. All photos taken from the Modern Vintage facebook page.

13 April 2011

birthday suit

My birthday was absolute perfection. I came to work with salted caramel fudge brownies, and was delighted to discover that my coworkers had surprised me with chocolate eclairs, croissants from Floriole (that were absolutely 100% to-die-for), and salted caramels from an unnamed location (THANKS ANTHONY). I was taken out to lunch by my sister, and after work, mom took me out for a mani/pedi. After which, I enjoyed a wonderful family dinner at Custom House Tavern.  My aunt gave me an amazing selection of tights (with nail polish to match!!), my mom bought me flaming hot cheetohs (to make up for the fact that I won't get an iPhone till June), my dad hooked me up with a fancy yoga mat and yoga bag, and my sister surprised me with a revamped bicycle that she was considering getting rid of. PERFECT BIRTHDAY, YEAH?

I put together this look with the thought "I want to look 23". I decided that buttoning the top button and the shininess of the brogues brought a bit of sophistication to a look that might otherwise appear laid back, but the mini-skirt and rolled sleeves kept it young and fresh. Oh and I wore my expensive jewelry today, because hey, I'm worth it!

Blouse: J.Crew
Pillowcase Dress: AA
Brogues: Lenny & Me
Jewelry: Gifts

I'm on a real seafood kick these days. I ordered raw oysters, half from the West coast, half from the East, and let me say the West coasties were better! A real taste of the sea. I enjoyed these seared scallops with mussels as my entree, and though I don't have a photograph of it, I LOVED my butterscotch panna cotta. 

SERIOUSLY PERFECT BIRTHDAY. Thanks to everyone that called, texted, facebooked, tweeted, commented, gave me delicious treats, and spent the day with me. I LOVE YOU ALL!!

10 April 2011

Birthday Weekend and Getting Things Done

It's my birthday weekend, well sort of. My birthday is on Monday. But either way, I decided as a little birthday present to me that it would be in good time to finally finish paining my room - a project I began back in November. So yesterday I had my bed moved forward, cranked up the tunes, and painted my heart out. It looks so good!! Once I've finished hanging art and tidying up, I will take pictures!

After a day of house-things, I went out with some wonderful Knox ladies for sushi and thai, and a few drinks at the Blueline. I threw this look together, wanting to showcase the vintage mustard corduroy shirt I just picked up from Darling Vintage. There is something about the color mustard that just gets me. And doesn't this outfit feel like the cousin to this one from last fall?

After work on Friday, I swung by the Mag Mile to pick up some goods for my upcoming trip to Cuba. These shorts were marked down from $50 to $8. I'm not kidding. Bought them in two colors - way too good to pass up. I also grabbed a couple of gorgeous silk blouses from  J.Crew. Now all I need is a good swim suit, a pair of nice leather sandals, and a simple cotton dress. Any suggestions??

Time to go clean up the front yard with my dad, buy watercolors, bake some things, and swap clothes. HAPPY WEEKEND!

Button Up: Darling Vintage
Striped Top: Anthropologie
Shorts: Gap
Tights: Target
Shoes: Keds

08 April 2011

"You all in?"


Yesterday was the White Sox home opener where I christened the baseball season with a hotdog covered in grilled onions, nachos, and beer. The weather report predicted upper-fifties, but a thick fog rolled in overnight cooling the entire city down to a chilly wet low-fourties. I felt more like I was in San Francisco watching a Giants game than I was in Chicago!! It was pretty frosty in the upper deck, but the Sox played well, the crowd was fantastic, and the hotdog went down like an old friend. Here's to a great season and the beginning of summer for rilz.

Our section's cheerleader waving his free "All in." flag.
He really embraced the new ALL IN campaign. Way to go super fan!!
This is the first time I have worn a coat to a baseball game, I'm super happy I looked so stylish in my Free People plaid jacket. I assure you I was the only one at the game rocking this number. And my one-of-a-kind Icelandic wool sweater underneath.

06 April 2011

spring in my step

Is it just me or has this week gone by incredibly out-of-control fast? Like I honestly can't believe that tomorrow is THURSDAY, ie the White Sox home opener, which I am leaving work early to attend. I will be donning my Gordon Beckham tee-shirt as I eat hotdogs and drink Miller Lite, envy me as I know you will.

In other news, has anyone else heard the new Dodos record? What do you think? Do you think it is awesome? Because I know I think it's awesome. And they're playing at the Metro in June. Did you buy your tickets? I know I bought my tickets. And it's going to be the best.

So this is what I wore today. I'm super into this purple skirt. And purple and gold. And plaid. Also, I finally got my mullet trimmed yesterday. My mom found my stylist from high school, and he used this dust by Osis that seriously gives my hair amazing volume without weighing my hair down like waxes and gels tend to do! What do you think?

Coat: Free People; Backpack and Skirt: Thrifted; Belt: UO; Cardigan: AA;
Shoes: Cole Haan; Shirt and Scarf: Florence Italy; Socks: H&M

04 April 2011

To Smile or Not To Smile

Several people in the last week have brought up my complete lack of smiling in my fash-blog photos. My main response is something like "But it's just me and my tripod on my parent's deck, why would I smile?". I feel like the debate over smiling is something that bloggers consider when snapping their photos, but really it isn't a huge factor in how the picture turns out. I tagged on a few "smile" photos, let me know your thoughts! Anyone else have an opinion on "the smile"?

This weekend has been really busy and intense with family back in town for a surprise birthday party in honor of my grandfather's 95th! I've basically spent a majority of my time overeating and lounging around at my aunt's place. Is it crazy that I'm really looking forward to my weekly routine after several weeks of out-of-town guests visiting??

It rained last night, after hitting a high of 78! I slept with my window open, and awoke to the sound of thunder and the sprinkle of rain on my face. What a great way to start the week! Happy Monday!

Top and Shoes: Buffalo Exchange; Short: F21; Cardigan: J.Crew; Tights: Hue; Bucket Bag: Vintage Heaven

03 April 2011

NYC: February 18, 2011

In February I went to NYC on a long weekend. It was pretty great bringing my suitcase to work, riding the train in the afternoon, flying into NYC, and instantly feeling at home with Brett and Esther at their studio in Brooklyn. My first night consisted of pounding Jim Beam, making new friends, going to Damon's birthday party at the StarscreamNY practice space in Manhattan, getting into a squabble with Cadie from Skins US, and eating street tacos at four in the morning. Can you say "amazing"?

Leaving Chicago on the Orange Line to Midway
Party in the practice space!