Did you know that I was chosen to be a Verizon Wireless Savvy Gourmet Blogger? I am so extremely honored and excited to be chosen as one of the top Midwest Food Bloggers! What do I get as part of the program? I get a XYBOARD to keep and another mystery item to try out over the course of six months with unlimited data coverage so that I can tell you how it helps me to create recipes and find fun things to share with you. It also included an awesome trip downtown Chicago. I got to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel for the night. The hotel was very fancy and comfortable. I wish I would have remembered to close my shades that night, because I woke up entirely too early! There is no reason to wake up at 5:45 am when you have no kids with you! Let’s start back at the beginning, though.
I took the train downtown so that I wouldn’t have to worry about traffic or parking. I walked 1.5 miles to the hotel and checked in. I had about 15 minutes to cool off before meeting all my new friends downstairs. I was totally shy and nervous because I didn’t know any of the bloggers going into this event. (Normally I at least know one.) We took a short walk over to the Prudential Building where we went up to a conference room with a view of Lake Michigan. The view didn’t stay around long, though, because a storm rolled in and soon couldn’t see anything outside the window. I became too focused on what was going around anyway. First we were told about our program and Verizon Wireless’s new share everything data plan. We broke for a yummy lunch of sandwiches and salad and mingling. Once we started up again, we got the awesome privilege of listening to Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen talk. Jaden was so inspiring to me. When I woke up the next morning I couldn’t shut my brain off and I couldn’t wait to get home to work on my blogging full steam ahead! After Jaden talked, we were finally surprised with our mystery device. We were presented with our XYBoard, a cover and Verizon backpack. We were then trained on how to use it.
After our training we were set lose on the city of Chicago for about an hour and a half until it was time to go to our mystery dinner. Verizon is all about the mystery! My brother and his new wife were in from China so I got to meet up with them for a little while. It was the first time I’d met her. We didn’t do anything but talk, but it was great to see him for about an hour. We then boarded a shuttle bus and were taken to an undisclosed location. We stopped in the middle of a neighborhood and started getting off the bus. I was thinking “what the heck is around here?” We walked through wooden double doors with ivy growing over them to a beautiful courtyard and an old convent that had a long table set for us to sit at for dinner. It was beautiful. My description is not doing it justice! It turns out we were being treated to a Clandestino Dinner. It is an underground dinner where the people that are attending it don’t know the location until the evening before and they’re in obscure places such as this old convent. The food and atmosphere were just amazing! We were served a five course meal, which I couldn’t get any good pictures of because I didn’t bring a good camera and my phone doesn’t like the dark. (The photo of the table and food are courtesy of What’s for Dinner.)
I LOVED dinner and I totally want to bring my husband to a Clandestino Dinner sometime soon. I had grilled shrimp and beets that were just awesome! I even had grilled asparagus for my first time and fell in love. Our food was paired with 3 different beers instead of wines like you would normally get at dinners. I really enjoyed the experience. After dinner I went up to Jaden’s room for drinks with a couple other girls. It was so cool to get one on one advice with her. I walked away from this weekend totally inspired for my blogging career and in love with my XYBoard tablet.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Gourmets program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.