A Squared: The Tastemaker Top 10 with Amanda of The Ghost Guest

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Tastemaker Top 10 with Amanda of The Ghost Guest

The Tastemaker Top 10 is a collection of 10 questions asked by me and answered by some of my favorite bloggers. Here they will tell you a little bit about themselves, their blogs, and of course, their favorite foods and restaurants. Today we're talking to Amanda from over at The Ghost Guest. Her blog is one of my favorite Chicago food blogs because she posts great reviews from restaurants all over the city and always gets the inside scoop on the newest and buzziest ones. Here's what Amanda had to say...

Name: Amanda Topper

Blog: The Ghost Guest

Location: Chicago, IL

In a few sentences, tell us a little bit about your blog. 
The Ghost Guest started in May 2010 as a way for me to chronicle my eating adventures around the city. Nearly four years later, it has become a blog mostly focused on unbiased reviews of restaurant mostly in Chicago, but also those visited while traveling. I usually visit restaurants undercover, not disclosing myself as The Ghost Guest, to give a reliable, honest and accurate review. I also frequently attend culinary festivals, openings and other events, which I also cover on The Ghost Guest.

Now, tell us about your...

1. Favorite meal, food, or cuisine: 
 I love comfort foods and there's nothing like a hearty bowl of pasta or a crispy wood-fired oven pizza. In the harsh winter months, it's warm and cozy Italian food that fills me up and (temporarily) keeps me warm.

2. Least favorite meal, food, or cuisine:
 None! You know, probably the number one question I get asked (other than being asked for restaurant recommendations) is what kind of food won't you try? The true answer is I will try anything, and there is not much I don't like! I'm probably one of the least picky eaters so I make a great dining companion! :)

3. Favorite restaurant in your city: 
For a casual meal, I love 90 Miles Cuban Cafe in Logan Square. They have one of the best patios in the city, their staff is super laid back and friendly, and they have an unreal roasted pork dish that is a must try. It also doesn't hurt that they're BYOB.

4. Favorite restaurant outside of your city:
 Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Florida. My mom is from Florida so growing up we made quite a few family trips down there. One tradition was to stop at Bern's for a truly special steak house experience. Bern's has an unbelievable ambiance, fantastic steaks, and, wait for it...a separate dessert restaurant. After stuffing your face with steak and Caesar salad, you are led into the Harry Waugh Dessert Room which has individual rooms with TVs, a radio, and a phone for making music requests of the live pianist. You really can't beat the experience!
5. Favorite food memory: Every year around the holidays, my family and I always go to L. Woods in Lincolnwood. They have the most amazing baby back ribs I have ever had and this is the one time of year I eat them. We always order the same thing, a chopped salad, ribs, and their decadent gooey chocolate cake. After every meal, we tour the holiday lights around Lincolnwood where my Dad grew up. The area is famous for one house in particular that always has a split-level tree that looks like it's growing through the roof of the house.

6. Favorite guilty pleasure food: CAKE. I love sweets and I'm a runner so I always say I run for dessert. Put a slice of Sweet Mandy B's cake at the finish line of any race and I'd surely win.

7. Favorite ingredient (something you love to cook with, or something you see on a menu and know you have to order): Basil! I love adding color to practically any dish with basil. It's an instant recipe booster and I love the intense scent and flavor. I just wish I had the means to grow some out of my tiny Chicago apartment!

8. Favorite kitchen tool, utensil, product, etc.: Even though I do go out to eat quite often, I also love to cook. It's always more fun cooking while enjoying a nice glass of wine, so I have to say one of my favorite kitchen tools is actually my wine foil cutter. It's a simple tool but makes it just a bit easier to open a special bottle or just some two buck Chuck.

9. Favorite recipe: Pretty much anything combining peanut butter and chocolate ends up being a favorite recipe of mine. A few months ago I made Peanutty Buckeye Bars which I declared as the best thing I've ever baked...probably. It was a recipe I adapted from Better Homes and Gardens and features fudgy brownie and rich peanut butter. They are quite decadent!

10. Favorite thing about blogging: The best part about blogging is the opportunity to attend events and openings with other bloggers. Not only do I love growing my network and learning from others who share a passion for food blogging, I enjoy getting a sneak peek into the Chicago dining scene and being able to pass that along to my followers. Nothing makes me happier than offering up restaurant recommendations to friends and colleagues, especially when they end up loving the suggested restaurant.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Amanda!

Do you have a blogger that you'd recommend to be featured on the Tastemaker Top 10? Or are you a blogger that would like to participate? Email me at aasquaredblog@gmail.com and let me know!

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  1. ooo i love 90 miles too! they have really great cuban food :) xo jillian - cornflake dreams

    1. I guess I need to add that restaurant to my "to try" list!


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