My friend Morgan and I bought tickets weeks ago for the Eataly September Fest which was held on Friday night.  For $70 it was an you could eat and drink – swoon!  It was my FOURTH night out in a row, but I had 28 points going into Friday night.  My strategy was two things: take a picture of everything I ate and track later, and also eat and drink a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything.   I got that strategy from Giada De Laurentis – she gets asked that question all the time of how she can stay so slender being surrounded by food all the time.

If you’ve not been to Eataly, it’s a foodies dream.  The restaurant/shopping/wine store is located on on Ohio just north of the loop.  You could literally spend hours in there.  Here is my tip though – especially if you happen to go on a weekend.  Find a restaurant you want to go to first – sometimes there is an hour wait for a table – you’ll get a buzzer to buzz you when your table is ready and can walk around and shop while you wait.

The first time I went, I walked around for an hour, then decided to sit down to eat, only to be told it would be a 90 minute wait – doh!  I borrowed the photo below from Galdones Photography – Hugh Galdones is an amazing Chicago food photographer.

© 2013 Galdones Photography/Eataly

Even though there were limited tickets and staggered ticket times, it was still a sea of humanity.  We got there at 7:30 and stayed until 10:30 – I think we pretty much ate a bit of everything that was offered – except sushi – I don’t do raw seafood.  The lines for wine were long too, so we may have had three drinks the whole night?

First up was fried calamari, a fried arancini with a classic Caesar salad.

Next we had these delicious chicken nuggets with homemade buffalo and ranch sauce – so good!

We ran into some friends that Morgan used to work with.  She went to culinary school and worked at Eataly in New York, and Spiaggia in Chicago before working for a large catering company in Chicago.  Her friend Sam made these amazing ravioli.

And how could I not get a slice of pizza?!  This was a four cheese pizza that was made in their wood burning pizza ovens.  That crust was amazing.

We had this amazing farro salad that I can’t wait to recreate – it had farro, green beans, ricotta salata in a red wine vinegar sauce and it was paired with this roasted pork shoulder.

The farro salad also had pepperonchini.

I also had this amazing short rib taco – so delicious and I even ate some of the crispy onion straws.

Stan’s Donuts are amazing – they also had donut shaped chocolate chip cookies too.

We left the event full, but not stuffed!  On the train ride home I tallied everything up, and I had 44 points for dinner, which left me -16 for the week – which is amazing considering how much I ate out last week.

So fun hanging out with you Morgan and letting me sleep over too – next time we will cook in your amazing kitchen!

If you do get a change to go to Eataly – I’d suggest going on a week day so it’s less crowded.  Such a fun night!