Saturday, May 15, 2010

Felt like a princess at the ball!

Sesame encrusted crab cake by the Swissôtel

Last night was the 10th Annual Spring Flours Benefit hosted by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. The event was held at the Swissôtel downtown Chicago, and wow was it do I even begin.

Unfortunately, M could not attend with me, because of is a very expensive ticket, so we decided I would go and enjoy the night of gourmet gluten-free food and he and Z would chill at the casa. There were actually several children there, and it made me miss Z. But to my great fortune, I was able to attend the event with two wonderful gluten-free friends, Gluten Free Betsy and Lisa Williams from Lisa Cooks Allergen Free who also organizes the monthly Safe & Sound Dinner. So, going with these two wonderful girls, I knew my night was off to a good start.

Once we got there, I truly felt like a princess at the ball...ok, I didn't have a big, bouffant formal dress, but it sure felt wonderful to be able to walk into a grand ballroom knowing that all the delicious looking food was safe for me! I once took for granted the ability to eat anything that was given to me, but now I realize just what a privilege it is, and it sure felt special.

Being that I am not much of a meat eater, I kind of gave myself a pass for the night. I told myself that I would not think too much, and just eat what looked good. I could not pass up this opportunity. I still stayed away from poultry, that is a tough one for me, but I sure had some nice beef dishes.

First and foremost the benefit is to raise money for the Celiac Disease Center to continue to promote awareness, educate other doctors and people affected with celiac, research and treatment. The Center operates entirely on private funding, so it makes this extremely important to a lot of us. It felt really amazing to be in such a large space where such as effort has been made, with so many lovely people all there for one cause. There were some pretty amazing silent and live auction items, and I really wanted to bring home the American Girl doll for Z, but unfortunately for me, but fortunately for the Center, the bids got too high for my poor self.

It was nice to bump into some people I knew there, I saw my doctor from the center, Dr. Kupfer and spoke to her a little bit about wheat starch; Jen Cafferty who puts together the Annual Gluten Free Cooking Expo in Lisle; and I even bumped into the owner of one of my favorite stores the Gluten Free Trading Company in Milwaukee and told her how much I loved the Cornito pasta they carry and she told me where I could find it in Atlanta.

But now, what was the best part of all....the fabulous food!! Over 30 restaurants, some of the top restaurants in Chicago all in one space with safe food! And they were not just giving out tiny samples, they were serving fancy good-portioned dishes, that easily made a 30-course plus meal. I had to be so careful not to actually finish any of my plates or I would never have been able to taste everything, and still I did not get to taste everything. Poultry and shrimp are out for me, but there was still so much available it would have been impossible to eat everything.

There were definitely a few that stick out in my mind as my favorites (get ready for some food porn):

Salmon terrine with saffron mayonnaise by the Swissôtel

Raspberry panna cotta from the Swissôtel

Fennel encrusted tuna from RL

House made sausage with braised lentils and velvety mashed potatoes

Ropa vieja with sweet plantains from Carnivale

Thai beef salad and chicken lettuce wraps from Ben Pao (I did not try the chicken)

This one was one of my absolute favs, mini barbacoa beef tacos from Foodlife

Unfortunately, I was not able to get pictures of all of my favorites which included the Vietnamese spring rolls from the Centered Chef Food Studios, the butterscotch custard creme from Mon Ami Gabi and Café Ba Ba Reeba, the smoked salmon on a pita from Rose's Wheat Free Bakery, the ahi tuna roll and pork tenderloin with tomato fennel from Roy's, the stuffed peppadew peppers from ZED 451 and of course the lemon macadamia toffee and chocolate twixie cup cakes from Swirlz. I really didn't taste anything that disappointed, but these were the ones that really stood out to me.

Overall, I had a wonderful time, met some great people, ate amazing food and really hope to be able to go again in the future.

Monday, my diet really starts!!!


  1. I'm reliving those delicious tastes through your pictures and realized that I didn't even try a few things you did! I could not believe all of the amazing food. So glad we went! :)

  2. Sounds like fun, and all for a great cause!

  3. Wow, that panna cotta looks awesome. The beef salad lettuce wraps, too. Of course, it all looks great. One day I'll make it for that special event! There's nothing like being a princess! Thanks for sharing, Anne. :-)


  4. If i could only have some of those mini tacos for dinner tonight!! Though of course, I am now trying to get serious and restrict calories....not easy to do when looking at my pics again.

  5. Had so much fun with you... ridiculous how much we ate, but it WAS for a good cause! Love your blog, can't wait to hear more of your musings!

  6. Lisa and Betsy....I realized after I dropped you guys off that we never got a photo of the 3 of us!

  7. That all looks amazing! What a fun event. Thanks for sharing photos and memories.