hey folks. haven't updated in an eternity. inexcusable, i know. but i've got a very quick and very important restaurant i must share with you.
if you're in chicago, either visiting or or full-time, and you're up for a fabulous feast of a meal, you must must MUST go to Le Colonial. i've been twice now and can't believe how delicious the food is. during my first visit the waiter was by far and away the most knowledgeable person about a gluten allergy that i have ever ever ordered from. i trusted him completely... he had the entire menu and each of its ingredients 1,000% memorized (is that even possible??). i ate and enjoyed and never felt a single pang of gluten-pain.
some time had passed before i returned to this place of delectable eats, and i found that they have a printed gluten-free menu. it's not really for the guests' use, but it makes for a rather handy go-to for the wait staff. this time around, we didn't wind up with a GF genius like we had the first, but this guy pulled out the menu and all went smoothly. and it was SO GOOD.
i have to admit that there is a very definite downside, and it's that the GF list is extremely short. REALLY short. like 5 main course items short. and they didn't even have the tofu dish available anymore despite it being on the list. (time to UPDATE guys!!) but the remainder of the items were so ridiculously delish that i didn't even care. the only thing that bothered me was that there were no leftovers.
if you're looking to treat yourself at a place with fab food, great ambiance and great waitstaff/chefs, this is hands-down the place to do it. it is officially my fav local in all of chicago.
go for it. seriously. do it.
937 N. Rush Street (cute part of town!)
Chicago IL 60611
hey folks. haven't updated in an eternity. inexcusable, i know. but i've got a very quick and very important restaurant i must share with you.
Posted by madeline at 5:44 PM
okay. so this post is going to be distinctively not gluten-related at all. in fact, it has a lot to do with feeding dogs wheat pasta off a fork. sound interesting? oh you have no idea.
i call one of my dogs my "special" son. the other is my gifted boy. Mr. Smarty FurPants knows about 150 commands and nothing makes him happier than training, working, earning and learning. since i find myself now too strapped for funds to dole out the mad cash necessary to continue his agility training, i have searched for a new activity for us to focus on.
i think i've got myself a swell little therapy dog over here.
sure, there's lots of training to be done and a very difficult obedience test to pass (no, not for me, for the DOG!). but we'll do it. you can bet your buttons we'll do it. and after my experience this past weekend i couldn't fathom NOT doing it. oh my dear readers you have no idea until you see it and feel it and know it in person. you just have no idea.
on saturday i attended my first "without dog" observation, which is one of the human requirements that must be met before i am able to work as a therapy dog handler. i woke early on that day and was gone until afternoon. when i returned on the sunny Saturday, the first thing i did was snap on my dog's leash and take him for a walk. i guess it was part determination to help him ace that exam, and part of me needed that sunshine and air. we had to be out and moving and seeing and breathing and why? because we could.
i met two ladies, each with 100 lbs of dog at their side at the entrance to the hospital. we made our introductions and together we swooshed through the hospital lobby into a hallway lit yellow and bright. we peered into doorways and offered a visit from the patient pups. some said Yes and others No, and together as a group we weaved and bobbed between the rooms.
a woman, sitting upright in a metal chair next to her bed said Yes to the dogs and in we went. in a shaky, weakened hand the woman balanced a bowl full of feastables and bit-by-bit she fed the dogs from a fork, like one would a child. the woman concentrated hard to coordinate the tasting, and she never dropped a single niblet. never even came close. she did it for the dog and she was talking and happy all the while. a few more days and she'd be home.
in another room, a man laid in his bed with a nurse at his side. on his face was an expression of shock and amazement. dogs in the hospital? big dogs? he was in his 50s and never in his life had he touched a canine. and now he was feeding one neatly with a utensil as it perched its massive hindquarters on his bed. i never thought a smile could get so big or eyes so wide. when snack time was through the man clasped his hands together and declared this to the highlight of his stay. he was counting the seconds until he could tell his wife all about this. i am certain that once he finds his health we'll see him proudly walking his first dog around town.
into another hospital room... it was quiet. a woman lay low in her bed, thin and weak with dark eyes. unmoving. tubes of all sorts were attached to liquids held high and they darted into the sheets and disappeared. the room was warm and sweets sat on a table uneaten. and then there were the dogs. and with their entry came life to a frail body and light behind her face. she struggled to speak and begged the dogs be brought closer and closer. a chair was set next to the bed and the massive canines took turns sitting nicely and accepting treats and pets. it was happy.
until the woman began to cry.
they were sobs from a body unable to find the energy for tears. there was a sadness so deep from a young person facing something she didn't seem quite ready for. paper-thin hands were held tight and tears gently pat away. soft words were whispered but how can a human really understand? one that is well and walking... how do they find the words to comfort another? it was then that the rottweiler hoisted his triple-digit body onto the bed. he was careful with his feet, balancing gingerly on the bed's edge and resting his mammoth head so gently on her fragile chest. tears melted into kisses and arms wrapped snugly around the dog's neck. they laid like that for some time - the dog still and comforting.
the big pup had patience for days. he would lie there with her and melt into her embrace. food was no longer interesting. life was on pause. this was his place and he was her medicine. the woman's body relaxed and she drifted lightly to sleep.
in time the dog dismounted and parting words were said, along with promises that next week they'll be back and next week she will have a furry neck to hold and a fuzzy forehead to kiss. and next week she can drift to dream feeling life and warmth lying next to her, unafraid of her, giving her more than words ever could. and we all hoped and prayed for next week.
an hour visit to a hospital may not be much out of a schedule. an hour visit from a week's-worth of hours may not be a whole lot to ask. but somewhere in that hour humans are changed deeply. i was changed deeply. and suddenly an hour just doesn't seem like enough when it means a lifetime to someone bound to their bed. one hour and suddenly the world looks different and it wouldn't be possible without the therapy dog.
so take 60 minutes and spend it with your dog today. walk, talk, play and pet. take it all in, every last little bit of it. there will be a day when you can no longer do this.
today is not the day
Posted by madeline at 10:23 AM
to say that i have been delinquent with this blog is an understatement. sorry folks. will a great big OOOPS! suffice? no? okay, then. i understand.
so i left my last post only 9 days before the big 10 mile race that the boy and i had been working our bums off for. we ran it. we survived. i had my rear kicked by my fiance who completed his race in 1:31 - a 9:07 race time. i carried said bruised rear over the finish line at 1:37 - a 9:45 pace. ack! we are very competitive with each other, but how am i supposed to keep up and PASS a 6-foot tall leg monster running a cool 40 seconds faster than me? life is so not fair!
after that race we continued training for The Chicago Distance Classic half marathon. being the total dorkus that i am i wound up getting tendinitis in my left knee, which pretty much dragged my training to a dreadful stand-still 8 weeks before this bad boy was set to take place. Captain LongLegs over here actually made it to the big day, and busted out the 13+ miles in an hour and 56 minutes. Not too shabby, huh? I took his psycho puppy down to the finish line with me that afternoon, and while that critter tried to consume every half-chewed bagel that had been tossed to the ground I completely missed the runner as he took his valiant strides across the finish line. After wandering with the gluten-hyped dog for an hour until I finally found him at home in the shower.
so that's it in racing news for now. some day i'll plan for another but for now i find myself just planning for another 7 months of winter here in chi-town. eep! not fair! do morning runs on ice and now count as an extreme sport?
in other probably non-interesting news, the job hunt is still a job hunt and i remain a contract worker (work i am eternally grateful for) and i am waiting out this economy. ha! at this rate i'll be here forever! little by little i am joined by my undergraduate classmates who are emerging from their graduate school cocoons to find that there are no jobs to be had for them either. i mean, c'mon Workplace. we're a hard-working, smart bunch! what gives? well, they're all welcome into my contract worker life raft in an attempt to stay afloat in the mean time.
i hope they like gluten free food!
Posted by madeline at 9:58 AM
last night schedules changed, the stars aligned, the moon was full (was it?) and i was able to attend the allergy-friendly dinner series at bistro 110. the fare was a gluterini's delight, and my fiance (who has learned to enjoy the occasional GF meal) actually made his way home from work early just so he could tag along.
Posted by madeline at 4:46 PM
in another attempt at mixing up the recipe, i cooked some thinly sliced onion in a pan with some olive oil and garlic, until the onion slivers became clear and caramel-colored. i had to overdo them a little because my fiance will pick them out one by one if they don't blend in well enough, and since onions are healthy i want him to eat some!
i then followed the recipe as stated, removing the julienne potatoes and adding extra zucchini instead. when it came to sautéing all the ingredients together, i added the onions and cooked everything until it was hot and sizzling. two bowls were filled, topped with some crumbled goat cheese and we had a home-cooked dinner!
Posted by madeline at 11:10 AM
alright folks. race day is edging ever nearer. my new sneaks are breaking in nicely, and my knees are just short of breaking. I had to dig out my trusty ol' knee braces, and man do i look smashing in them. so far the longest run has logged in at 7 miles, with an 8-er waiting for us on saturday. i have to admit... the 7 miles felt good. i get to explore new areas of the lakefront trail that i've never had the pleasure of seeing before, and as the weather gets nicer and nicer it just feels wonderful to get outside. i'm something of an outdoor junkie, and watching seasons behind glass does not mix well with me. i'll use any excuse to get out there, even if it's a knee-aching hour-plus run. (hey, i said i ran it. i never said i was fast.)
Posted by madeline at 2:25 PM
now onto the events in my life to which i eluded in my last post. let's start with the minor and move to the major.
--reveling because they get to accompany us on our shorter runs, and being athletes themselves they live for a few miles of good hard lunging followed by an icy dip in lake michigan. they're just little guys and so we max out their jaunts about town at 4 miles, and that means they can't tag along for our longer training runs which at this point have only reached 5 miles (6 this sunday!).
--they are revolted by this turn of events because the last time their "mom and dad" crept out early in the morning for a race, it was the winter-time "rudolph ramble" and we wound up coming home with these hilarious foam deer antlers which were handed out during the event. needless to say they wound up donning donner's headgear for many-a photographs and were none too pleased with me at the end.
holy moly. i've been gone a long long time. sorry guys. but i have a good reason for this... sort of. i'm in the midst of job turmoil (thanks economy!) and wedding planning, all rolled into sunless days and tax due dates. fun fun! well, the sun has finally emerged from hibernation in chicago and thanks goodness for that.
yesterday was a day for dilemmas. we've had a span of "warm days" (er... high 40s?), and yesterday marked the first day in a few that actually dropped back into the 20s. do i walk these dogs like i promised? do they understand me when i make these long-winded promises? they were curled in tight balls on the sofa, twitching and snoring in direct aim of the apartment heater. so no. i spared them their winter jackets and left them to their dreams. after all, i did take them running to the beach the day before, when it was "warm" and they splashed in the ice water of lake michigan. a frigid breeze is enough to leave them shivering, but water that was frozen solid just 2 days before is no match for their macho 20-pound selves. they were still exhausted, so i left them to hunt squirrels in their sleep.
so now what to do? do i venture out to get coffee? nah. not when i have coffee and fresh milk at home. do i watch the st. paddy's day parade on tv? ugh. my attention span is not developed enough to watch people in green wave and "woo!" at a camera for more than 40 seconds. what to do, what to do.
make cookies. that's what to do.
i stretched my arm into the way behind of my teeny little pantry cupboard, and came out with a metalic bag of chocolate chunk cookie mix by the cravings place. this would be a first. i've never before bought anything by this company, but seeing that their mix was simple enough to transform into baked goodies... they couldn't be all bad, right?
i made the cookies quite tiny, and so in person that chip is of enormous proportions.
the mix made many more cookies than i was expecting (pamela's is my main point of comparison). the cookies were also quite a bit more fluffy and cake-like once baked, unlike the pamela's variety which tends to be much more dense, flat and buttery. i am not the biggest fan of chocolate (gasp!), and so the gigondo size of the chunks in this new mix were a little much for me, but most likely a hit with the majority.
i usually leave room for hyperbole when it comes to product names and descriptions, and this was the first time i have encountered packaging that did not do the product justice. i could have waxed one of these chocolate "chunks" and gone surfing. they were so big that a few cookies wound up with none just because the chips would become loose from the pre-cookie tablespoon of dough and find their way into the occasional chip-laden cookie -- resulting in a mass of oozing chocolate held together with the absolute minimum of cookie material as determined by baking physics.
they were good. (it's got to be pretty tough to make a bad chocolate chip cookie, no?) i have to admit that my personal scale is tipped just a touch more in pamela's favor, but these are pretty dang tasty if you're looking for a cakier, crazy-chocolaty cookie. plus, they're egg, dairy, nut, and bean free as well, so if you're baking for the allergy club they're a pretty safe bet.
thanks to the wonderful searchability of our dear internet, a representative of bistro 110 found this blog and sent me an email about updates made to the allergen-free dinner series. get your calendars ready... because you don't have to wait until the 9th month to fork up some fabulous gluterini deliciousness. the restaurant has pushed the GF series up to may, so prepare to dine with the sunshine in the wonderful summer month. (i am personally counting down the days -seconds- until this dang cold front breaks and we can escape it for an entire season!! perhaps a seasonal celebration is due at the bistro?) well, here's the new plan with meal highlights:
nut-free: march 24
-sole fillet "almandine," faux peanut butter mousse parfait
gluten-free: may 12
-doughless quiche lorraine, tagliatelle with ragout of mussel, clam, shrimp and tarragon
dairy-free: september 29
-cream-free "cream of lentil" soup, roasted chicken breast with corn flan
shellfish-free: november 17
-shellfish-free seafood soup, "uncannily lobster-esque" monkfish ragout
here are some new bistro 110 links and some redos:
info on chef dominique tougne
recipe for brie-stuffed artichoke (this one just sounded so good, i couldn't resist)
a post by monica eng from the chicago tribune's the stew dining blog was all about food allergies on february 13th, when she wrote about bistro 110. the little french location right near michigan avenue is hosting a series of 4 dinners, each planned to address a different food allergy.
chef tougne is the father of 2 kids with food allergies, and i'm certain they eat some delicious allergen-free french dishes on a regular basis! i'm always so amazed and so grateful when a talented chef is willing to take the time to learn all about food allergies and intolerances, and develop recipes that meet the needs of others... despite the fact that it may not immediately appeal to the general public. it's nice to feel like someone's looking out for you sometimes!
so thanks, chef tougne. a big THANKS. september can't come quickly enough!
110 e pearson st.
mon-thurs: 11:30am - 10pm
fri-sat: 11:30am - 11pm
sun: 10:30am - 4pm (new orleans jazz brunch) 4-10pm dinner
nut-free -- march 24 (menu: nut-free sole fillet almandine followed by a faux peanut butter mousse parfait)
gluten-free -- september 29
dairy-free -- june 16
shellfish-free -- november 17
...it's been so long. my magical wireless internet connection decided to take a brief trip to hawaii or someone else's apartment and gave up on attending to my computer. luckily, my trusty ol' mac and the invisible cable have once again commenced holding hands and telling stories.
alvine pharmaceuticals, a company that has made the move to treat celiac with a pill (ah, how 21st century), has just received 2 patents for a new drug therapy for the disease. from what i can gather from the press release, the drug that's currently in testing is composed of a protease and endopeptidase, whose jobs it is to break down gluten and render it powerless. in other words, it digests the protein and makes it into something that your immune system isn't going to react to. in my mind, this is similar to a lactaid pill, which provides your body with digestive enzymes which break down those irritating milk sugars that can bother individuals that don't produce sufficient amounts of the enzyme on their own. while a lactose intolerance isn't an immune intolerance or allergy issue outright (it can be caused by such a problem at its root, but it is not --in and of itself-- an immune-related response), this concept of supplementing enzymes to break down an offending substance is similar to what i believe is the function of the gluten-digesting pill.