Friday, June 3, 2011

we win!

after weeks of trying- along with tens of thousands of others - we scored same night tickets to NEXT Paris 1906 the first menu of the Grant Achatz ticketed food theater event of the year....

so here is the report-

  • service is beyond outstanding- perfect in every way including the casual ease and friendliness of the staff.
  • food was also perfect but be warned - this is no show stopper menu like you get at Alinea- there are a number of amazing dishes (more on that in a bit) but nothing that is jaw dropping like some of the courses we have had at Alinea
  • the atmosphere is serene- calm colors and the semblance of the iron work of Eiffel's Tower over head make for a lovely dining experience. 
so the food and drink: first the menu

then the photos:

this platter of starters was served with Champagne which was not set upon the table for a photo 
all were wonderful but the foie gras in the brioche was exceptional!

from here the wine came before each of the menu items
so the photos follow along with our experience

  the turtle soup was correct but was my least favorite course

our favorite dish of the night- the sauce was "to die for" the essence of crayfish and butter and cream
(even if that wasn't exactly what was in it...)

the diamond shaped chicken breast was the most flavorful chicken I have ever eaten
and the cucumbers were stuffed with a chicken mousse

the duck was perfectly executed and the sauce again amazing- this was my second favorite-
maybe we could even call it a tie it was so good!

the potato dish was served along the duck and did not disappoint - flavorful with a great crunchy topping 

the salad was a perfect intermezzo and palate refresher

I am a sucker for ice cream dishes and this one was good enough to eat two!
the rum soaked cherries were fabulous but the best part was the cookie bottom.

so at the end of the meal we of course got a keep sake copy of the menu (saves surreptitious writing at the table - LOL) and they also included a short write up of the concept of the menu -

I felt like Charlie in Willie Wonka when I got the email that they had a table for us and it was especially nice since we are heading to our tenth anniversary so it was a perfect way to start off the anniversary season!!!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

my mom

went to Africa in 1988.  she was following in her father's footsteps literally and figuratively.  my grandfather went in 1964 and somewhere in my family photos I have a photo of his car with a sign saying Africa or Bust attached to the bumper.  but back to 1988- my grandfather loved Africa so much he wanted to return and go with his two daughters both of whom were happy to oblige.

so off they went just weeks after my mother became a grandmother for the first time when my nephew Nick was born.  and they had an amazing trip. it was always one of my mom's favorites.  we are headed into new territory as she went to Kenya and Tanzania and we are going to southern Africa to Botswana and Zambia and Zimbabwe along with South Africa.  so as is now the custom - she will go with me to "see" new countries and her ashes will be scattered at various places along the way. 

my mother was a notoriously bad photographer (she once took a photo of me in Florence with the Duomo sticking out of my head and it wasn't a joke!) so her photos of Africa which I will post here are somewhat edited after scanning.  but as you can see these were once in a lifetime moments even with mediocre photos.

getting more and more excited - can't wait!!!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

next up- AFRICA!

in the photo journalism/travel thing is our long planned trip to Africa to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  who knew ten years could go by so quickly?  probably anyone our ages and older- LOL

anyway- I of course jumped into action last year when Phil mentioned that it might be time to do the safari thing because I knew it was pretty pricey and that it would be better to try to pay for something like that kind of trip when I was employed rather than fully retired.  so we talked about it and decided that it was REALLY far away so we would likely only make this trip once-

we started to plan our own trip front end and back and then decided that for the safari trip we would join a group thing to make it easier on ourselves.  so last week we got the list of the dozen folks we will be with for fourteen days (3 nights at four locations in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and 2 nights at Vic Falls)

I was surfing to find photos of the lodges where we will be staying (lodges may be over estimating the level of luxury) and came across some photos posted by a guy who had taken the trip in 2007 to the very same camps-

so here is a little taste of the Botswana part of our upcoming (OMG the nightmare of packing- LOL) trip

this was a "cabin" in the camp in 2007 probably looks pretty much the same now-

some elephants along the way

kitty food - big kitty food!

I see zebras- will definitely pack binocs for both of us and a telephoto is clearly indispensible-

and finally - this came from some other website but I post this photo here becasue this is the prize everyone seeks- cheetah (they have the tears) who are the world's fastest animal and among the least sighted on these trips- so this might be the only photo we get -hope not- everyone keep your fingers crossed.

Helene our friend and house/cat sitter arrives on the 9th- time to start making lists! soon we will be off-

I plan on using video as well so maybe you will get a few clips along the way or when we return.

more about the prep before we leave- oh did I say we are doing Cape Town, wine country and the Garden route on our own?  lots to see and do- could easily spend six weeks or more there....

time marches

my friend Brad died the night of May 13th.  his memorial service was full of love and extremely touching.  several friends gave eulogies and his father read a poem.  a woman sang a beautiful rendition of Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World in medley.  he was one very special man and the hundreds and hundreds of people who came to the service were only a small portion of the number of people whose lives he touched. 

today I made a CD of a hundred and fifty photos I have of Brad- I made it for his dad who requested it when we went to the shiva.  posted just above is one that was our favorite photo of our years of friendship.  it was taken in 1984 so Brad would have been turning 23 I think- it was his birthday party - given at his parents house - it was the first time I had skirt steak (a Chicago favorite) and we always called this our "lea & perrins and pineapple" campaign photo-

since the week I returned from Phoenix I have been super busy and it started with the memorial service.

one of the things this loss and the loss of my sister and my mom all in less than a year has really brought home to me is how precious time is- so while I did several days of  board meetings we still managed to find time to see our friend Neil twice for diner and to have out of town company from Atlanta for a weekend, along with having our friend Tom visit from Denver. then catching up with Sheila and Mary while watching the Bulls disappoint their fans in the playoffs against the Heat. 

we also packed in a play - fabulous work called the OUTGOING TIDE- also about time and end of life choices.  oh and had a party for fourteen at our house yesterday.  so while I am a bit behind on the blogging I have been working very diligently to keep up with my two jobs and my third temp job as my mom's executor (paperwork anyone?)

also putting the finishing touches on the Africa trip- reworking a part of our itinerary when we are on our own. anyway get ready for posts from the road and fun new pictures....

meanwhile I am going to add a few more of my buddy Brad because I had such a nice afternoon remembering all our good times...

with Mary Ellen Giffels and me at Jennifer Cayer's wedding.

with Randy Freeman and Jill Stone at Lincoln Park Zoo

With Sam Krangle at a party at my house on Bellevue

with John Bjornton  and me at the Sound Board in an Insight Seminar

with Leslie Sann at a Halloween party

good times - great memories...for the last decade or more I have been very clear that I don't need anything more by way of physical stuff- what I have been focusing on has been experience. creating memories by being with people and doing new things.  when I was doing my Masters we had an exercise in creating a mission statement for ourselves.  my mission is to be a teacher and a student of the wonder of life.  some days I hold that focus quite nicely - other days it is more of a challenge - but oddly enough (not) Brad and I fit that mission perfectly - we were both each others students and each others teachers.  what a gift he was to me.

love always TOR

Brad and me and Jennifer Cayer at my MA graduation