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April 30, 2004

Get a Life with Erica Cerulo

Last night I really wanted to plan a romantic night in for my boyfriend and me. We really haven't gotten to spend much quality time together in a long time, and I figured we could cozy up together on the couch with some carry out. What to get, though? Pad thai from Noodles? Jerk wings from Calypso? Wraps from Florian? This occasion called for something a little different. Hugh deserved something extraordinary.

Oh, did I not mention that my boyfriend is in fact Hugh Grant? Yes, that's right. And by "not seeing him in a while" I mean that I haven't seen Love Actually since Valentine's Day when it left movie theaters in Spain. "Grant"-ed, I have seen this cinematic masterpiece six times in theaters. I know—who admits to that? Pathetic. I am not ashamed, though. Hugh and I are madly and deeply in love, despite the Divine Brown business and the fact that he is the same character in, like, every movie. I find it all very endearing—even his British teeth.

On April 27, 2004, Love Actually was released on DVD. I had been holding myself over with Notting Hill, which—like greasy delivery pizza or cheap Chinese—is fulfilling in a sense but never really just what you want. This occasion called for the good stuff: Love Actually demands Fox & Obel.

Fox & Obel is an amazing place; if you are familiar with Dean & Deluca in New York, you can comprehend. It is a gourmet food market stocked with everything from an olive oil-tasting bar to a wonderful cured-meat counter. It has everything from a wide variety of imported goods to a first-class bakery. My friend and I drooled over the dessert counter for so long that we were given samples of the delectable apple tart (which only made our final decision harder to make).

I was set on having an English-themed dinner to complement my movie, but then I realized I really don't like English food. Blood pudding? Gimme a break. I grabbed a container of Marmite (to represent) and picked up some sushi and a key lime tart topped with vanilla meringue instead. My friend selected a fruit tart to die for, and the man behind the counter gave her just the one she was eyeing—talk about good.

Get your fix at Fox & Obel when the push and shove at the Co-Op gets to be too much. You can grab your basic blue box of mac 'n' cheese there too. Better yet, if you don't have a gorgeous celebrity boyfriend or girlfriend to go home to like I do, hang out in the delightful café. Enjoy a glass of vino for $4 and ogle the delicious entrees. After all, honey, you are never going to find your movie-star soul mate hanging around in the HP.

Address:  401 East Illinois Street Phone:  (312) 410-7301

Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday

Directions:

Via CTA: 55 bus to Red Line. Red line (towards Howard) to Grand. Transfer to CTA bus #65 Grand Eastbound/#66 Illinois Eastbound to Illinois & McClurg.

Via Car: LSD north. Exit at Grand Avenue. Turn left from Grand to McClurg. Make next left onto Illinois Street and then into paid parking lot across the street from the store. Parking is free with validation for up to 90 minutes.

For maps and culinary class info, check out www.fox-obel.com.