On the Road: Chicago

               Lobby_renaissancechicago

No not another tribute to the "man", Jack Kerouac whose 50th anniversary of On the Road has been sufficiently covered elsewhere.  I’m in the middle of a two week run of business travel, Seattle, Chicago and Greensboro, North Carolina. (Fret not there’s BBQ to be had!). I also have a bit of down time planned with the Carters in Denver at the end of all of this shuttling around; we’ll be dining well, that’s a guarantee–even if it is the Denver/Boulder area.

As many of you know by day I am a marketing professional.  I’ve worked in many industries.  For the past couple of years my time has been spent within the travel industry.  Believe me when I say that this line of work is not one big consideration of which vacation to take next.  However the product is a lot more interesting than semi-conductor chips or anti-virus software where I’ve previously put my attentions. The business of travel is a curiosity for me: big ships, big tours, and big  or small wanderings. 

This is all a way of saying that I just returned from Chicago.  The city was the location for our annual national marketing conference.  This is the time when we sit with many of our partners and talk marketing and sales.  After numbers and plans we also talked about the next travel destinations that we’ll be held sway over: Italy and Spain (even if you’ve been there many times!). We also talk about trends such as volunteering vacations or staying on a working farm.  And we also consider the new edge of travel, Dubai and the fascination many, including myself, are having with South America.

So before you think ‘gee whiz doesn’t sound too bad’, understand that this business is as competitive as the next.  Isn’t it all, eh? The longest day began with a 7am breakfast meeting in the Renaissance Hotel’s Great Street restaurant and ended over stone crab at 10pm.  The night before was a long one with the time zone shift and well, the effects of more than a few glasses of wine at a reception and dinner were very present. So it felt right to indulge with a proper breakfast for the long day ahead.  The pancakes offered were from the hotel’s sister, The San Francisco Renaissance Stanford Court.  I’ve re-created my interpretation of the breakfast as it would make a great brunch menu item.

And if your curious about who the breakfast was with and what the banter was and you are a Harry Potter fan mark your calendars to be in Florida in late 2009!  This opening promises to be full of all kinds of wizardry.

Lemon Souffle Pancakes with Raspberry Syrup

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons lemon zest (or more for those "tart" lovers)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup milk

3 egg whites

Raspberry Sauce (recipe below)

Pine Nuts (optional)

Butter (optional)

Fresh raspberries (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg yolk slightly. Stir in melted butter and milk. Add egg yolk mixture to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). In another medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer at medium speed until stiff peaks form (peaks stand straight). Gently fold egg whites into flour mixture, leaving a few fluffs of egg white. Do not over mix.

For pancakes, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes per side or until pancakes are golden brown. Turn to second side when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and edges are slightly dry. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with raspberry syrup, pine nuts, butter, and fresh raspberries, if desired.

Raspberry syrup:

2 cups frozen or fresh red raspberries

1 cup maple syrup

If using frozen berries, thaw but do not drain. Place the berries in a blender container or food processor bowl. Cover and blend or process until berries are smooth. Press berries through a fine mesh sieve into a small saucepan. Discard seeds in sieve. Cook and stir juice over medium heat until just heated through. Stir in maple syrup; set aside.