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Toast Charlie Trotter at Pebble Beach Food & Wine

Also this week: Mixology at the Langham, more West Loop boutique hotels, and a very cool new ride comes to Six Flags Great America.

Charlie Trotter   Photo: Courtesy of Pebble Beach Food & Wine

From April 10 through 13, Pebble Beach Food & Wine will descend on the Monterey Peninsula and its most iconic corner for a four-day celebration of serious eating and drinking. It’s known for being the more elegant and intimate of the food and wine fests, for stunning Pacific Coast scenery, and for drawing industry leaders—some 100 chefs and 250 winemakers. But the big reason to come this year is a beautiful tribute meal honoring the late Charlie Trotter.

“Tribute to a Legend—Charlie Trotter” happens on Friday, April 11, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.. The event will be hosted by a handful of award-winning chefs, each with a special connection to Trotter and Chicago. There’s David Lefelve of Fishing With Dynamite in Manhattan Beach, Michelle Gayer of Minneapolis’ Salty Tart Bakery, and Michael Rotondo of San Fran’s Parallel 37, all of whom got their start at Trotter’s eponymous Chicago restaurant. There’s also chef Paul Bartolotta of Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas, a long-time colleague of Trotter’s who brought much acclaim to Spiaggia (980 N. Michigan Ave., Gold Coast, 312-280-2750) during his time there from 1991 to 2000.

“More than any other major chef, I really think it was Charlie that put Chicago on the international culinary map,” says Bartolotta, who recalls the many chefs and winemakers Trotter used to bring into his kitchen from all across the globe, and the attention it brought to Chicago. “The culinary environment we have today was, to a certain extent, pioneered by Charlie.”

When Bartolotta starting conceiving of dishes for the tribute, he asked himself, “If Charlie was sitting there at a formal sit down dinner, what would I put in front of him?” Inspired by the fancier Italian plates he created while at Spiaggia, when the restaurant received its first four-star review—and Bartolotta instantly got a congratulatory call from Trotter—Bartolotta’s contributions to the menu include a crostini with red mullet and artichoke and an Adriatic turbot in a broth of clams and leeks. Other items on the menu include a lobster and crème fraiche beggars purse, from LeFevre, a terrine of Guinea hen from Rotundo, and an inverted pavlova with Meyer lemon and olive oil from Gayer.

Trotter’s wife, Rochelle, members of the Charlie Trotter Foundation, and possibly sommelier and former business partner, Larry Stone (who will be at the fest) will be present at the tribute meal, which will run a cool $1,250 a pop. But for that price, Trotter diehards can experience a moving culinary retrospect on a true legend as shared by those who knew him best.

Stay: Rooms across the peninsula are nearly sold out for the weekend, but you can still find space at a few gems, including the cozy 24-room Cobblestone Inn (Junipero between 7th and 8th Carmel, 800-833-8836; from $252) in Carmel-By-The-Sea. Less than 15 minutes from the Pebble Beach resorts hosting the fest—The Inn at Spanish Bay and The Lodge at Pebble Beach—Cobblestone sits at the top of Ocean Boulevard, the main drag that drops down into beautiful Carmel Beach.

Travel News


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Though it won’t be opening until early 2016 (Soho house opens this August), Nobu Hotels announced last week that it will, indeed, be opening a new 155-room hotel at Randolph and Peoria Streets that will include its signature Nobu Restaurant, an indoor and outdoor bar, and a rooftop lounge. The brand created by Robert De Niro and Hollywood producer Meir Teper made its debut in Las Vegas last April. Chicago Eater has more.

One of the World’s “Coolest New Tourist Attractions” Is in Illinois

Six Flags Great America’s new behemoth roller coaster, Goliath, will debut this spring with a “an insanely sheer 85-degree drop from 180 feet, top speeds of 72 miles per hour, and a few inversions.” Read more at Travel + Leisure, which warns: “It’s going to be one hell of a scary, record-breaking ride.”

Take a Mixology Class from a London Pro at Langham Chicago

On Thursday, March 27 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Alex Kratena of the London’s Artesian Bar [http://www.artesian-bar.co.uk/ ] will be hosting a mixology course at The Langham Chicago ($50 a person; call 312-923-7632). The course, titled “Anything and Everything,” will take place behind the bar and touch on the many influences that drive Kratena’s drink creations. The class also marks the start of a two-day bartender-in-residence program at Langham’s Travelle, during which Kratena will introduce a new menu of craft cocktails, including the “Social Club—Pasadena” (vodka, Lillet, vetiver and rose water) and “Back To the Future—Chicago” (Talisker scotch, port, sherry, citrus, cacao, and raspberry).

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