• Taco Omakase: Where Street Food Meets Chef’s Table

    Taco de Suadero at Cariño Chicago. Photo: Brenda Storch

    Omakase, that Japanese tradition which essentially means ‘I’m in your hands,’ feels like getting the VIP nod in a place where everybody knows your name—but here, it’s the chef who locks eyes with you and without a word, promises, ‘I’ve got this.’

    Your job? Simply sit back, relax, and let the chef’s choice sweep you off your feet. Now, picture the omakase approach with a twist: taco omakase is a brilliant mash-up where the chef’s table meets the street food scene, each taco a surprise waiting to unravel.

    I recently had the chance to dive into this at Cariño in Chicago (check out my article on Eater Chicago), where you can snag one of just seven coveted spots at the counter. Suddenly, you’re in the front row for Chef Norman Fenton’s culinary concert. The setlist? A lineup that swings between 8 and 12 courses, each act more thrilling than the last, all set to the rhythm of Mexico’s underground beats.

    Masa shines as the headliner, transforming into an array of show-stopping numbers that each carry a whisper of tradition with a dash of bold. From a Wagyu beef taco with a salsa that will leave you downright speechless to a menu as unpredictable as it is thrilling, the whole experience is a roller coaster ride of comfort, excitement, and outright joy. Chef Fenton’s love affair with Mexican cuisine and overall culture is palpable, making every visit to Cariño (a term for affection in Spanish) not just a meal but an unforgettable journey of discovery and a celebration of cariño at every turn.

    The offering is a great deal at $125 per person, which includes 2 cocktails and tip.



  • Taste the Magic: A Whimsical Afternoon at the Willy Wonka-Inspired Chocolate Factory Tea

    You’ve just double-dipped into the Wonka universe, first with Gene Wilder’s timeless charm, then with Timothée Chalamet’s fresh take. Now, you’re primed and ready because what’s next is an homage to these cinematic delights. A trip into a world where the magic of Willy Wonka comes alive on your plate.
    In their rendition of the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea, Executive Chef Damion Henry and Executive Pastry Chef Walleska Cianfanelli crank the afternoon tea dial to an enchantment level. And the teas—well, walking into the Pavilion and not indulging in the Mad Hatter’s tea party blend or the chocolate peppermint truffle would be a miss. Sure, the classics hold their ground, but they will be there, and the unique concoctions will disappear like magic, and they are certainly worth a try.
    We opted for the champagne experience, one of our favorite parts, as it was surprisingly fun and thoughtful. There we were, pairing and playing with tiny, flavorful pearls that echoed caviar yet burst with sweetness. Each unique flavor teased out a new note from the champagne.
    Then come the bites. The desserts leaped out with unexpected names that reminded us of some of the movies’ scenes and characters: “Spotted Giraffe” with its rich layers of caramel ganache and exotic Tonka vanilla bean, the “Silver Cloud” that whisks you away on a cloud of coconut mousse and zesty yuzu cream.
    Amidst these sweet inventions, the traditional touch of scones remains, bringing a comforting familiarity. And, of course, these treats, along with the scones, are presented creatively and delivered in a tower, layering the experience with an elegant touch.
    Then there’s the clever reference to that three-course meal gum—except here, there’s no fantastical risk, just delicious tomato soup, roast beef carpaccio, and blueberry pie, followed by an invitation to visit the chocolate fountain, complete with marshmallows, strawberries, and pound cake.
    Whether you’re a lifelong fan of the films, a lover of afternoon teas, or someone searching for a unique dining

    experience, this is your call to action. The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea will be available through May 26.

    The option with sparkling wine is $130, and the one with champagne is $150. Children pay $60. Reservations are available on Tock.
  • Shared Plates, Shared Stories: A Night at Compartir – Barcelona

    Landing at Compartir, straight from the surreal playground of Parc Güell, felt like jumping from one Barcelona dream scene to another. There we were, hearts still thumping to Gaudí’s whimsical beats, when I realized I’d mixed up our reservation dates. Fate, it seemed, had our backs.

    I wish I could claim this was my idea. The truth is, we landed at Compartir while chasing a table at Disfrutar, the culinary heavyweight that clinched the second spot on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2023. Compartir is Disfrutar’s sister and the third restaurant of chefs Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro, and Eduard Xatruch.  The group spent two decades in the trenches of El Bulli, Ferran Adrià’s legendary lab of gastronomy, where the impossible was made possible on a plate. Given the team’s credentials, we knew we were in for a treat, and the meal did not disappoint.

    The service is warm and attentive, and the menu shows its traditional soul, ingeniously intertwined with the avant-garde techniques the trio is famed for. Cocktails are fantastic!


    With its soulful decor and mind-bending menu, Compartir captures the very spirit of Barcelona—a city that’s all about art, warmth, and, with its food, above all, sharing.




    Lamb shoulder in confit
    Mushroom, sausage and ham paella






  • Find Culinary Gold at Barcelona’s Maleducat


    We waltzed into Maleducat in #Barcelona without a reservation – talk about rolling the dice. Fortunately, luck was on our side, and we scored one of the few tables at this local favorite. The service? Spot-on. It’s like they’ve mastered the art of making you feel right at home, even when you’re miles away from it.

    @maleducat is a champion of culinary insurrection, blending and bending grandma’s recipe with a menu that’s a wild ride of tapas and heartier plates meant to be shared. While we tried dishes made with ingredients that we never imagined seeing together on a plate, like their beef tendon and fish, we mostly stuck to a few of the staples (croquetas de jamón, paletilla ibérica, to name a few) in the spirit of continuing to calibrate our baseline. This place stuck in my memory as the best jamón de bellota we had during our trip. Hailing from the Rolls-Royce of pork—the Pata Negra breed— these pigs are fed a diet of acorns, endowing the meat with a mind-blowing texture and flavor.

    Maleducat is more than just a name; it’s an entire experience that invites you to indulge in the joy of breaking bread with a merry band of locals and international gourmands alike. Because, well, this is Barcelona, where every meal is a chance to make new friends and taste the world.

    If you’re in town, take a chance like we did – it might just be your best bet of the night.

    Maleducat – San Antoni
    Carrer de Manso, 54, Barcelona, 08015



  • From Ocean to Table: #PescaConFuturo ‘s Mission for Sustainable Seafood in Mexico

    #Pesca con Futuro” is making waves in Mexico by promoting the sustainable use of local fish and seafood. This initiative has been recognized with a nomination for the “Best Producer or Promoter of Sustainable Products” at the Food and Travel Reader Awards 2023.

    Led by Citlalli Gómez Lepe, #PescaConFuturo focuses on three main objectives: educating fishermen about sustainable practices, connecting producers with businesses to advocate for sustainability, and informing consumers about eco-friendly seafood options. The movement has united over 130 chefs, academics, and researchers, all dedicated to demonstrating how consuming he right seafood can positively impact our oceans.

    #PescaConFuturo also provides resources, including a map and a guide to sustainable seafood in Mexico, along with a list of producers, distributors, and restaurateurs available at www.pescaconfuturo.com.

    The “Best Producer or Promoter of Sustainable Products” category aims to recognize those in the industry committed to environmental stewardship while producing, distributing, or serving high-quality products.

    Voting for the Food and Travel Reader Awards 2023 is open at https://foodandtravel.mx/reader-awards/ and concludes tomorrow, Friday, February 9. Participants simply need to complete a form to vote for their favorites across 28 categories. The winners will be announced on February 22 after a thorough tally.

    Follow Pesca con Futuro on Instagram at @PescaConFuturo.

  • From Rosca to Tamales: Mexico’s Candlemas Feast


    In Mexico, the air is thick with the steam and aroma of tamales on the eve of February 2nd. But the story begins a few weeks earlier around the table with rosca de reyes, a sweet, circular, firm bread with sugar and dried fruits, representing the crown of the Magi who traveled to meet baby Jesus. The bread with a hidden plastic or porcelain figurine is a nod to the Biblical story of Mary and Joseph’s efforts to go into hiding to shield their newborn from Herod’s wrath.

    The lucky finder of the figurine in their rosca de reyes slice, which everyone cuts for themselves, will be the padrino or host of the upcoming feast, which entails tamales for everyone present. Rosca de reyes sets the stage for a tradition that’s as much about a tool to teach a religious story as it is about community and pastry.

    Tamales, the headliners of the Día de la Candelaria feast, or Candlemas, are a culinary odyssey in themselves. Crafted from corn masa that’s been through the transformative nixtamalization process, these bundles of joy are a testament to the depth and breadth of traditional Mexican cuisine. Usually wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves, depending on the region, and steamed to perfection, each tamal is a revelation, embodying the collision of indigenous techniques, Spanish influence, and local ingredients. But to merely describe their physical preparation is to ignore the mysticism that runs through the kitchen; it’s believed that the energy you bring to the tamal-making process, whether it be through dance, prayer, or even the rhythm of music, influences the outcome, turning a simple meal into a communal rite.

    Día de la Candelaria aligns with the day Jesus was presented at the temple and coincides with the first day of the Aztec calendar. Tamales were the food of choice for the feast as many pre-Hispanic gods received corn offerings, as it was believed that men were made out of corn.

    The feast is more than a religious observance—it’s a collective activity taking place in kitchens and dining rooms across Mexico and beyond. Sharing tamales during Día de La Candelaria speaks to the enduring power of shared meals to bring people together across time and space. The tradition continues to weave the past into the present, inviting many generations to the table to partake in a rich, unfolding story that continues to be written.

  • Unforgettable Dining at Celler de Can Roca

    I’m excited to share with you in a little more detail our recent visit to the legendary Three-Michelin Star Celler de Can Roca in Girona, which is, without a doubt, a bucket-list-worthy experience and my favorite destination of 2023

    The restaurant is a testament to the talent, passion, and know-how of the Roca brothers- head chef Joan Roca, sommelier Josep Roca, and pastry chef Jordi Roca. Embodying the values passed down from their parents– authenticity, hospitality, and generosity, this family team offers a journey through Catalan flavors with an innovative twist in an atmosphere that is sophisticated but warm and unpretentious.

    The restaurant’s décor is organic, with plenty of natural lighting and a beautiful courtyard that welcomes guests as they arrive. We were greeted by a hostess and immediately seated at a table by a floor-to-ceiling window. Our area was divided by a console, making the space feel more like we were in our dining room. The service was nothing short of outstanding, with a dedicated team of savvy 2-3 team members ensuring a delightful and seamless experience throughout our visit.

    From its creative cuisine to its exceptional wine list and pairings, it is no wonder why Celler de Can Roca has received national and international acclaim for decades. The dining experience is a spectacular balancing act between innovation and tradition. The ever-changing menu features locally sourced ingredients that speak of the region’s cuisine with an avant-garde play on textures and temperatures. Under Jordi Roca’s expert hand, desserts are whimsical creations that amuse the palate and the imagination.

    There are two menu options, one featuring twelve dishes and three desserts and an abridged one with five dishes and two desserts. We were already there, so we went big. We also enjoyed the magnificent, thoughtful pairings.  

    Booking a table at Celler de Can Roca is no small feat, and we owe a huge THANK YOU to our friends who made this dream a reality. If you ever get the chance to dine here, plan ahead. The calendar opens 11 months in advance, and the restaurant is closed for a few weeks a year. If you are lucky to snag a spot, take it!

    And while in Girona, take the time to explore the town’s medieval charm. Stroll through the cobblestone streets that once set the scene for #GameofThrones. Girona is an impressive destination in its own right, but just keep in mind that finding transportation can be a bit tricky as this is a small city. We explored on foot and eventually connected with a local taxi company. Speaking Spanish was definitely a plus in navigating! We recommend arranging transportation ahead of time.

    Meeting the celebrated pastry chef Jordi Roca was a fantastic end to our visit. Getting to snap a few photos with him is a memory I’ll treasure forever.

    Here are some snapshots of our culinary adventure.


    Carrer de Can Sunyer, 48, 17007 Girona, Spain


  • Celebrating Día de Reyes with Mexico’s Rosca de Reyes

    Photo: Expendio Tradiciòn, Oaxaca, Mèxico via Azucena Suárez

    Much like piñatas, which symbolize victory over sin through faith, the tradition of sharing Rosca de Reyes in Mexico to celebrate Día de Reyes or Three Kings Day is, at its core, an evangelizing tool that recounts the story of the three kings arriving in Bethlehem to meet baby Jesus. There is significant religious symbolism in this bread, which is reminiscent of the French Galette des Rois. For instance, its shape represents endless divine love, and the hidden plastic babies within the bread symbolize baby Jesus hiding from Herod. Families typically share Rosca de Reyes early in January, often on the night of the 5th. The bread is usually adorned with fruit and sugar, resembling the jewels on the kings’ crowns, and it is enjoyed with coffee or hot chocolate.

    The person who finds the plastic baby in their slice of bread is traditionally responsible for providing tamales and atole to everyone in attendance at the gathering on February 2nd. This custom refers to the practice of presenting infants at the temple 40 days after birth. Tamales are a nod to pre-Hispanic offerings, and the date aligns with a pre-Hispanic holiday where corn was blessed.



  • La Rosca de Reyes: Una Tradición Que Cruza Fronteras

    Brenda Storch nos habló del simbolismo de la Rosca de Reyes, y cómo es que esta tradición ha tomando fuerza en los Estados Unidos en su programa “Sazón, Razón y Corazón” en WKRS en Chicago.


    Esta entrevista tuvo lugar el 8 de enero del 2021.


  • Unveiling My Top Eats of 2023

    2023 was incredible to us in unsuspected and meaningful ways!

    As the year draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the unforgettable culinary journey we embarked on this year that went way beyond the streets of #Chicago.

    Here is a quick recap and a list of my top three favorites:

    1. Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain 

    2. Apron in Vienna, Austria

    3. Gaudir in Mexico City, Mexico. 

    A Delicious Melange

    Our year started with bubbles and a waltz in Vienna, where I fell hard for melange- a very light cappuccino-like drink. Coffee always seems to be consistently mind-blowing here, and I have not found anything quite like it outside of Vienna. Beyond the beans, I believe the secret might be in the quality of the city’s water. Food in Vienna surprised us by being equally fantastic, affordable, AND ubiquitous. I developed a taste for street-side Wiener schnitzels and sampled the array of sausages available. There is definitely pastry prowess in the city, and I visited Gerstner for cake and spiked coffee many, many times during our stay. Many of the most popular places in Vienna have long waiting lines. Consider this as you plan your visit. We discovered that Gerstner has an impeccable operation and is conveniently located right across from the Opera House. 

    We celebrated my birthday at Apron, which was a revelation. Set against the backdrop of the city’s historic charm, this restaurant offers a modern interpretation of Austrian cuisine. The elegance of its décor matches the sophistication of its dishes. I am partial to unpretentious excellence, and Apron excels at this. Each course was a masterpiece, meticulously prepared and exquisitely presented, showcasing the best of Austrian flavors and seasonal ingredients with a contemporary twist. Service is absolutely world-class, and there’s an open kitchen, so you can feel like you are part of the action. Don’t miss it if you ever visit! It won’t disappoint. 

    Apron is exciting, fun,  and approachable.

    Some Stops in the U.S.

    In the U.S., we got to visit Atlanta, where we remember a fascinating Persian meal at Rumi’s Kitchen with friends. Later, we returned to my old stomping grounds in Memphis, where I missed the barbecue this time but went for the legendary popovers at Paulette’s. We made a stop in Nashville, where we waited for hours for the Maíz de la Vida taco truck to start serving their delicious birria consommé and tacos. 

    We also traveled to Santa Barbara, where we most memorably had a bespoke picnic by the ocean at the Rosewood and enjoyed asada tacos at famous (and on Julia Child’s favorite list) La Super Rica. 

    Later, our travels would take us to the incredible Barcelona. I had no bad meals in this beautiful city and fell hard for Vermouth to the point I had to import a few bottles from Celler del Remei. I discovered Suizos, thick chocolate with clotted cream, at historic La Pallaresa; we enjoyed delicious fried boquerones and wine from barrels at La Plata and sampled award-winning establishments like Paradiso and Maleducat, which I still have to write about. All FANTASTIC! Barcelona, by the way, has a legit #taco game!

    The Unforgettable El Celler de Can Roca

    BUT, the #1 highlight of 2023 was the unforgettable we made to one of the best restaurants in the world, three-Michelin star Celler de Can Roca in Girona. Renowned for its creative approach to Catalan cuisine, the Roca brothers’ knowledge and passion for gastronomy is evident in every dish, which was, at the same time, a feast for the taste buds and visual art. At the end of the meal, we met celebrated pastry chef Jordi Roca, who generously let us take a few pictures with him. I will hold this experience dear to my heart forever. The place is impossible to book, and rightfully so. We were lucky to have a little help from some friends. THANK YOU! If you visit, set some time aside to explore the medieval city of Girona, which serves as a backdrop to some scenes in #GameofThrones. Girona is a tiny city, and finding transportation is not that easy, so it is best to plan ahead. We had to walk quite a bit and eventually found a local taxi company. Luckily, Spanish is my mother tongue, but it took some effort. 

    Bucket-list worthy, El Celler de Can Roca is worth a visit.

    A Taste of Catalunya in México City

    The holidays took me home to Mexico City, where I visited a mix of all-time favorites, new restaurants, and taco stands like El Vilsito in Colonia Narvarte; we particularly loved Raíz and the famous Cantina Limantour. I will write about these later! The culinary highlight of our trip to México City was Gaudir in Colonia Anzúres. The tiny little restaurant stood out with its traditional recipes (yes, I was looking for a Catalunya fix). Mexico is such a rich culinary destination, and I always go for Mexican cuisine when I am there, but I am so glad I strayed this time! Our Catalán friends recommended this destination and helped us arrange a party for Enrico with a special menu featuring oxtail cannelloni and a foie gras bite so delicate and delicious that we have been remembering for days. This place is newer, and it is not located in any of the leading food corridors, so go before it is discovered if you are in #CDMX 

    Gaudir surprised us with their refined execution of traditional Catalonian recipes.

    A big shout out to all of our friends, old and new, and to our families for making this year an unforgettable one, and while we are looking back with profound gratitude for all the gifts we received this year, we do not forget for a second that people around the world are suffering. 

    What are your favorite culinary experiences of 2023?  

    May 2024 bring you and yours much peace, wisdom, health, and abundance.