France and the U.S. face off yet again at a French vs. American wine dinner (PDF) at Kiki’s Bistro today at 6:30 PM to benefit The Chicago Lighthouse. One wine from each country will be paired with each of the four courses, with wine critic Craig Goldwyn discussing them. $75.
Mag Mile businesses want people to spend the extra day this year shopping; to this end they’re offering champagne-themed Leap Day specials and samples including champagne kisses at the Hershey’s Store and a free glass of champagne for shoppers at Marlowe on Friday. The Swissotel Chicago is pairing champagne with items on an a la carte menu such as beef tenderloin with vanilla cream sauce, lobster canapes, and chocolate-dipped strawberries; Angela Roman of the John Hancock Center’s Signature Room at the 95th will give a lecture on champagne at 5 PM. For a complete list of special offers, click here.
Saturday at 10 AM, Alliance Francaise hosts a class on how to make pain perdu (aka French toast) in some inventive variations. In addition to flamed caramel-banana pain perdu, there’ll be some with scallops and cilantro. $85. Also at 10 AM, local chef and food writer Louisa Chu, a producer of the PBS show Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, gives a talk at Kendall College titled Behind the Scenes of Food Television. Among her topics: what it was like to lead Anthony Bourdain on a tour of wholesale meat markets in Paris, where she drank absinthe before the ban was lifted, and what the food tastes like on Iron Chef America, where she judged an episode that hasn’t aired yet. $3.
Bill Kurtis of Tallgrass Beef signs The Prairie Table Cookbook Saturday at 1 at Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook; there’ll also be a lunch buffet featuring Tallgrass Beef dishes created by chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris. $35.
Sunday at 1 PM, the Highland Park Historical Society hosts high tea with actress Leslie Goddard, in character as Titanic survivor Violet Constance Jessop, who died in 1971. Over raisin scones with jam and clotted cream, sandwiches, apple-rhubarb pie, petits fours, and tea, Goddard will recount how Jessop survived the sinking of not only the Titanic but also its sister ship, the Britannic, and her experiences as a stewardess and nurse on the two ships. $45.
Chef Melina Kelson Podolsky, an instructor at Kendall College, discusses sustainable agriculture and cooking at the Evanston Public Library Monday at 7 PM.