Midwest travel: Viva la French cuisine at a la carte fest


La vie en rosé

You'll be uttering, "Oui, oui" and "Merci" after taking in some of Chicago's most popular French restaurants during a la carte Chicago - a French food festival with prix fixe menus, special offers, cooking demos and other events. The festival's first year is, in essence, the French version of Restaurant Week organized by a group of restaurants and other French concerns, including the Consulate General of France in Chicago. Participating eateries include Brindille, Bistronomic, Chez Moi, Shaw's Crab House, River Roast, Mon Ami Gabi, La Sardine, Le Bouchon, Chez Simo, Vanille Chicago, La Fournette bakery, Ristorante Angelina, Paris Club, Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, Kendall College and French pastry School. Demos include French takes on burgers, wine and cognac tastings, and even a viewing of the French film "Babette's Feast" with a cooking class. Runs Nov. 9-19 in Chicago. The prix fixe menu will cost $33 and $44.

Red and green

He's back. That would be Santa as well as Shrek. The Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center offers a "Shopping With Shrek Package" that combines an overnight stay with a visit to Oakbrook Center to engage in DreamWorks' "Adventure to Santa" holiday experience. In addition to the indoor and outdoor amenities at the resort, families will get to join Shrek and his friends on an interactive adventure to find Santa at the North Pole. After the adventure, get in some holiday shopping at Oakbrook Center. The package includes free transportation to and from the mall and breakfast for two. Nov. 7 through Dec. 24 at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center, 3500 Midwest Road, Oak Brook. Rates start at $79 per package depending on dates. Book the Shrek Package at (click on "special offers") or call (630) 850-5555. You must separately visit to confirm complimentary spot(s) to Adventure to Santa.


Spirits are calling

The popularity of craft brewing that's sweeping across the U.S. takes center stage at the annual Lake Geneva Beer & Spirits Festival held at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. Sample lagers, ales and stouts served by more than 25 Midwestern craft breweries and regional distilleries. In addition to beers, spirits, cider and malt beverages, try specialty foods that pair well with the drinks while live musical performances set the scene. 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Admission is $45 and includes a commemorative tasting glass and unlimited tastings of beer. (262) 245-1000 or

Catch the 11:15 to West Allis, Wis.

Trainfest in West Allis, Wisconsin, is the largest operating model railroad show in the country. See more than 60 detailed railroads, learn from historical societies and museums at the fest and there's a Kids' Activity Zone with Circus and racing trains. Seminars include creating trees that represent spruce, pine, aspen, birch, and blending them to represent a northern forest; using paint; types of foam board to use in your model railroad setup; and others. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 14-15, at the Wisconsin State Fair Park, 8200 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, Wisconsin. Tickets cost $10-$18 for adults and $2-$6 for kids.

Worth the Trip

SEED Food & Wine Festival, the nation's only plant-based food and wine experience, is getting ready for its second annual event. The conscious culinary festival will welcome athletes, authors, chefs, restaurateurs and even a vegan wine owner, plus many other notable names. It offers everything one would expect at an upscale food fest - chef dinners, a grand tasting, a burger battle, a culinary demo stage, a 5K run, yoga classes, meditation, kids' activities and film screenings - except all are dedicated to a message of conscious consumption as well as delicious cuisine. And who wouldn't want to visit Miami Beach in November? Nov. 18-22 in Miami Beach, Florida. Tickets for the 2015 SEED Food & Wine Festival, which vary in price per event, are on sale at

The famous green ogre helps you spend some green with the "Shopping with Shrek" package at Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center. Nov. 7-Dec. 24.
Train fans from ages 5 to 99 can run the trains at Trainfest in West Allis, Wisconsin, Nov. 14-15.
SEED Food & Wine Festival, the nation's only plant-based food and wine experience, takes over Miami Beach, Florida, on Nov. 18-22.
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