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Boy, you readers, sure like to eat dinner out
By Deb Pankey | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 3/5/2008 12:17 AM

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I've finally resurfaced after nearly drowning in e-mail. Over the last two weeks we asked readers to join us for a dinner for a new feature in Time out! called Table for Three.

If you responded, thank you. If you missed it, you'll have to wait until the next time we solicit dining volunteers.

The Table for Three feature will run twice a month in Time out! and our sister publication, Beep, and allow everyday diners to critique suburban restaurants. I'm not a mathematician, but the way I figure it, since we received more than 300 responses from adventurous diners willing to let the Daily Herald pick up the tab, we have enough names on file to get us through four years of features.

Even though we didn't ask, some of you sent in dining credentials, and I thought I'd share a few of the things I gleaned from paging through the reams of paper now sitting on my desk.

Our youngest critic wanna-be is 16; the oldest 83 (and agile, he adds). You've visited many of the area's top restaurants (a handful mentioned visits to Tru and Moto in Chicago), dined at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris and eaten insects in Asia.

I hope we can share a meal (hold the crickets) before the decade ends, but don't call us, we'll call you.

What's up, doc? ABC's Steve Dolinsky took a bite in the Big Apple, appearing as a judge in Battle Rabbit for the Food Network's "Iron Chef America."

Dolinsky, who explores the local food scene for his Hungry Hound segment, sat down with Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin and Alex Guarnaschelli, chef/owner of Butter in New York, to sample dishes prepared by chef Guy Rubino, host of Fine Living's "Made to Order" and the newest Iron Chef, Michael Symon.

The episode premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday and repeats at midnight and again at other times throughout the month. Check the schedule at

Garden-fresh cuisine: It might not have quite the prestige as Kitchen Stadium Garden, but the Garden Gourmet Stage will host a number of local and nationally known chefs during the Chicagoland Flower and Garden Show March 8 to 16 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont.

Cooking demonstrations start daily at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Look for Carlyn Berghoff, author of "The Berghoff Family Cookbook," at 1 p.m. Sunday, Susan Maddox from Le Titi de Paris at 1 p.m. Monday, cookbook author Nathalie Dupree at 1 p.m. March 13 and Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith, aka The Hearty Boys, at 1 p.m. March 15.

For a full schedule as well as show hours and admission, head to

Fungus amongus: Truffles certainly fall in the category of fungus you want to be around, and you can revel in all things truffle Friday at the Olive Tap in Long Grove.

The shop, 308 Old McHenry Road, welcomes chef Guiseppi De Luca of De Luca's Truffles and Fine Italian Foods for Festa Tartuffi -- or Truffle Fest for the non-Italians readers.

During Festa Tartuffi, from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, De Luca will showcase several truffle products, including infused oils, salsa and truffle cream. Shop owner Rick Petrocelly might even have fresh black truffles available for sale. To place a truffle order, call him at (847) 478-8741.

-- Deborah Pankey