Take mom to France, no airfare required
BY WENDY ALTSCHULER For Sun-Times Media
Your mom deserves a gift as unique as she is; treat her to a day out with you, celebrating all things French. She’ll love: strolling the streets to sample delectable treats, learning how to cook with a French flair, dining in a lovely European restaurant, indulging in French spa services and soaking in some French culture.
French cooking classes
La France Café and Crepes in Lombard not only dishes up some of the most delicious frothy espresso and savory or sweet authentic crepes, but also they host French cooking classes under the tutelage of chef Ben Mchabcheb. Trained in Morocco’s French Culinary School, chef Mchabcheb is more than qualified to lead you and your mom through a private or group class, satisfying her desire to learn about the French culinary arts.
Sur La Table, with several nearby locations, provides numerous options for French cooking classes. Your mom will have the opportunity to learn how to make macarons, croissants, traditional French desserts, classic French sauces and other French favorites.
“Cooking lessons make a great Mother’s Day gift; Sur La Table classes are fun and educational and the techniques and recipes attendees go home with last a lifetime,” said Sephi Coyle, director of culinary at Sur La Table. “Mastering French cooking techniques will set you up for success in the kitchen.”
Straight from the horse’s mouth, Retro Bistro is a small family-owned French restaurant with French owners. Lorraine Barth started out in the French restaurant business through her French parents over 22 years ago.
“I have always had French influences in my life; we speak French, eat French food and enjoy French culture,” said Barth. “Retro Bistro is the perfect venue for Mother’s Day because we make the occasion extra special with a taste of France.”
Sugar Fixe Patisserie is a top-rated epicurean pastry shop in downtown Oak Park. They make everything handmade and fresh, with only the best ingredients. Bring your mom here for café au lait and a sweet treat or for something to bring home — house-made cakes, croissants, tarts, or macarons.
“House-made croissants are very popular for Mother’s Day, especially the Ham and Gruyere,” said Cindy Summers, owner of Sugar Fixe Patisserie. “For cupcakes, we make an Italian meringue butter cream, which is lighter and less sweet than an American butter cream. It’s definitely more pleasing to mom’s palette. Finally, our renowned French macarons make a great gift for mom for a sweet afternoon treat.”
Indulge in French-inspired spa treatments with your mom at the luxurious Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa.
“The Hydra-Quench Remineralizing Body Wrap is a therapeutic wrap designed to deeply replenish and restore the body’s natural balance and vitality; each guest deeply relaxes in a warm cocoon, rich with French seawater minerals,” said Danielle Gonzales, body department lead at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. “A gentle exfoliation is then followed by a restorative body mask, featuring Phytomer pure marine actives that replenish essential trace minerals back into the skin. All Phytomer products used in this rejuvenating service include Oligomer, seawater algae and marine-based clay, which are harvested from the waters located in Saint Malo, from the south of France.”
To take mom’s interest in French culture a step further, consider Oak Park French Club — formal and informal learning activities led by two French teachers.
“Our club appeals to anyone who has a basic knowledge of conversational French and enjoys learning more in a welcoming, non-classroom environment,” said member and club organizer, Paula Fenza. “If mom likes speaking French she would definitely enjoy spending Tuesday evenings with a group of friendly enthusiasts who love to learn and socialize at the same time.”
Bring France to your mom this Mother’s Day and show her an inspired time that she won’t soon forget — she’s worth it.