Time of my life, those four words just kept running in my head.  Now many fans of 1980’s movies are thinking “Did Barb go dirty dancing again?”  Nope, but I think this foodie fun day felt almost as good.  (Why do food events always make me want to start singing and dancing?)

On Monday, November 14, I had the luxury of going to the Food & Wine Entertaining Showcase at the Museum of Contemporary Art.   With 22 of Chicago leading chefs and an amazing array of wine and spirits, it is an event to mark on your calendar next year.  (I’ll give you a heads up as soon as I get notice.)

Top Chef Texas
Me and Chef Sarah Grueneberg

I think the first tasting table, Spiaggia, set up the magic of the night for me.  I was literally star struck when I saw Sarah Grueneberg (current Top Chef contestant) standing there.  I couldn’t keep my cool and I just kept stammering, “It’s you.”   (She was so nice even when my camera acted up.)

The cool thing I’ve learned about Sarah watching her on Top Chef (Click here to vote for Sarah to be fan favorite) is that she makes her food simple but delicious.  I had never had freshly “carved” prosciutto before but it was absolutely exquisite.

As I rounded the corner, I had the pleasure of eating food from Boka, GT Fish & Oyster, Sepia, Grahamwich, Province and Slurping Turtle.

Sepia Duck Food & Wine Magazine
Duck Pho Wontons from Sepia

My mouth still waters when I think about the duck wonton that Sepia served.  I don’t know if it was the warm consommé that really brought out all of the wonderful lemongrass, cilantro and Thai basil components but I do know that is the one restaurant I went back for seconds (Okay, thirds).

I also have to give a shout out to Chef Tentori at GT Fish & Oyster and Boka.  His potato bisque with lobster and freshly shaved truffle was a rich but not over powerful mouthful.

Actually this may be a good time to say thanks to all of the chefs at this event. All of the chefs were so gracious explaining their dishes especially if it was something I had never eaten before.  (I had never had crosones so I did double check with one of the chefs at Boka that I wasn’t about to eat a bug.)

Next Restaurant Chicago
Truffle Custard from Next

As I kept walking around the different tables, I was in awe at the restaurants I was running across:  Hot Chocolate, Vie, Perennial Virant (Thanks for your good sense of humor, Chef Virant), Avec, Blackbird, Table Fifty-TwoNorth Pond, The Peninsula, The Bristol, Belly Shack, Longman & Eagle, Girl & The Goat and Next.

Dish after dish they were delectable to both the eye and palate.  The truffle custard served in the eggshell by Next made me literally giggle with excitement.  (I think I scared a few people.)  I also loved the darling little beet ravioli’s from The Peninsula.

Girl and a Blogger

Finally, another part of the fun was a few of the chefs were selling their cookbooks at the event.  Chef Takashi Yagihashi’s book “Takashi’s Noodles” was available as was the wonderfully, fun Stephanie Izard’s book “The Girl in the Kitchen.”  I’ve read Chef Izard’s book from cover to cover and would highly recommend it to anyone.  (I will be buying “Takashi’s Noodles” and hope to get it signed by the chef if I get a chance to go to Slurping Turtle or Takashi’s in 2012.

When I had made all of the rounds and walked past the beautiful Food & Wine poster, I started down the stairs of the Museum.  I couldn’t help but sing to myself (another moment when I scared people) the first two lines from the song Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing.  I truly had the time of my life and I had never felt this way before.  It was sort of that fat happy feeling you get after eating way too much good food.  (I also was doing this really weird cha-cha thing down the stairs but I am hoping people thought I had too much to drink.)

I have really enjoyed my Foodie Fun Days this year.  One of my 2012 goals will to go to some more tastings so that I can talk about some of these restaurants in a less condensed fashion.  (This was my not so subtle hint for an invitation.)

A final thank you to Food & Wine magazine for allowing me to join this fabulous event.  It was a truly spectacular evening and I hope to go again next year.  (Once again, not so subtle hint.)

Happy New Year, my dear Readers!  I hope to spend more time with you all in 2012!