Archive for August, 2007

….there was a girl who shared her culinary and dining experiences.

Then she got a new job.

Then her husband lost his office (but not his job!)

Then she committed to buy a new house.

And THAT, dear readers, is why I have been noticeably silent for the past month.  Please know that I read everyone’s blog updates (thank you Google Reader!) and keep up with the happenings here and elsewhere.  I will sincerely attempt to develop a more regular schedule soon.  Really.  I hope.  Probably.  Maybe? 

As a glimpse into my bizarre life, I’m sitting here listening to Barbra Streisand do a duet with Judy Garland in the 60s and I wish I had seen it.  *sigh*  I was born entirely too late. 

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I recently had the opportunity to wander to the Windy City for a weekend of food education and fun.  Who wouldn’t go?  Thanks to a benefit auction for Gilda’s Club Chicago, I had two tickets in hand to the French Pastry School for a day.  WOO HOO!!!  (Another blog….hopefully soon….part two of this trip!)

I packed up my friend Brad and away we went!  First stop, our lovely hotel, the Palmer House Hilton.  Except….their power had been out and only recently partially restored.  The Grande Dame of Chicago was filled with squatters baking in the lobby sans A/C.  The staff was AMAZINGLY gracious and offered bottles of Evian and wet towels to attempt to cool the nerves of their guests.  Brad and I checked our luggage, decided that it was going to have to be our traveling clothes for dinner and we were off! 

We started by wandering the streets – State Street specifically – and shopping a bit as we wandered.  Soon it was time for our journey to dinner at The Backstage Bistro.

The Backstage Bistro is an extension of the Culinary Arts program at Illinois Institute of Art.  The restaurant is run by students and has been featured on Food Network.  You watch classes in session through the glass while your meal is prepared.  I can’t imagine what it must feel like knowing that people are watching your every move ASIDE from your instructor!


Essentially this means you should be able to get fine dining at a fraction of the price.  I wasn’t disappointed. 

Brad chose the stuffed pork chop because he wasn’t crazy about the sides for the other entree. 


Our slightly-shy server, Ramona, was VERY positive about the pork, so I hoped that he would enjoy it.  He did.

I thought the Pescado Veracruzana was more to my liking.  Red Snapper filet with tomatos and olives on a bed of pilaf with rice and corn. 


They recommended the Fife Zinfandel with this dish.  Zinfandel with fish?  Really?  Okay…..!  It was VERY tasty.  Fruity, soft and against the tomato and olive stood nicely.  Granted, at that point the fish was more texture than flavor, but that was just fine.

 We also received a dessert of chocolate “brulee” (their word – I would call it more mousse…no crispy top) and a brownie gratis.  YUM!!

I highly recommend that if you want tasty food at less than “upscale” dining prices, give these college kids a try if you find yourself wandering the Windy City with Central IL cash…..

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