Want to get out of town this weekend but don't want to sacrifice Chicago's stellar dining scene for a bucolic Wisconsin getaway? Head to Lake Geneva's lovely Abbey Resort & Spa, located about 80 miles from downtown, for its "Great Chefs at the Lake" series, which presents a weekend's worth of events with a noted Chicago chef.
The getaways kick off with a Friday evening cocktail reception to get guests in the swing of things. Saturday is a flurry of culinary activity, with a morning cooking demonstration with the featured chef, an afternoon wine tasting and the grand finale -- a chef-hosted multi-course dinner on Saturday evening.
Chef Michael Shrader of N9NE Steakhouse in the West Loop will be your culinary host from Friday, April 3 through Sunday, April 5. The menu for his five-course dinner on Saturday, April 4 includes a Kumamoto oyster shooter with habanera chile and cilantro for an amuse; a hiramasa and ahi tuna crudo with picholine olive salsa verde, lemon, sea salt, smoked paprika and baby arugula for the first course; "smokey pork & beans" with cannellini beans, thyme and garlic as the second course; a choice of a filet of beef with "bernaise Jeremiahs," herb potato gratin and braised Belgian endive or roasted seabass with grilled sweet corn, charred tomato coulis, wilted greens, roasted shallots and thyme relish as the entree; and farm house cheeses with signature raisin bread with dried grapes for dessert.
From Friday, April 17 through Sunday, April 19, chef Jimmy Madla of Lakeview's Coobah will be the Abbey's star attraction. Madla's Latin fusion cooking will be showcased through his flavorful four-course menu to be served on Saturday, April 18. The meal will begin with a piquillo & crab "lumpia," featuring Filipino-style crispy egg rolls filled with piquillo peppers, jumbo lump crab, red cabbage and spring onion. The second course will offer a sugarcane Caesar salad with flash-grilled heart of romaine and radicchio served with sugarcane Caesar dressing, manchego cheese and a garlic crouton. The entree of the evening will be your choice of chicken Negra Modelo, featuring a pan-roasted chicken breast served with tortillas, smoked tomato-and-cheese chilaquiles and a dark beer-sweet mustard glaze or a "Zarzuela," a Catalonian seafood dish with shrimp, mussels and scallops cooked in a saffron, white wine and tomato broth. The sweet finish to the dinner will be a pina colada bread pudding, with baked bread custard, spiced pineapple, coconut cream and dark rum, served with toasted coconut ice cream.
The "Great Chefs at the Lake" series includes accommodations for two nights at the resort, along with all of the foodie festivities, for $199 per person.