The concept is this: eat what you’re watching. How cool is that?
The two-night event took place at the MCA Warehouse, which is where they store all the art from Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art when it’s not on display. Killer space. One open space was purely for socializing and tasting before the films started, but the coolest thing was that all the tastings were themed to the films of that evening! Hence the Harvest Moon produce station Jarlsberg cheese station, the Shaw’s Crab House oyster station, Hoosier Mama Pie station, and Dry Soda station.
At about 8 or so, everyone was herded into the next room for the films. The first film (13 minutes long) was called “Eat Your Fill,” one man’s tale of an eating trip to the Wisconsin State Fair (everything on a stick, everything fried!). During the film, servers passed trays of … fried cheese curds and deep-fried Oreos! Then during the next film, “Obsessives: Soda Pop,” trays of cucumber Dry Soda were passed, and so forth. So you were eating what we were watching – just like they said we would! It was really cool and fun. My favorite film was called “Mr. Okra,” a 12-minute documentary about a man in New Orleans who drives a produce truck ’round town, selling local produce, making friends and really impacting the soul of the community (shown at Sundance, New York’s Food Film Festival and multiple other juried festivals). Other films included “Perfect Oyster,” “Celeriac” (a horror film starring a bunch of celery and a sharp knife), “Pie as a Lifestyle,” and “Death & Life of Ice Cream.”
Overall, it was really fun, really creative and well put-together. I can’t wait for the Second Annual Chicago Food Festival next year!
But wait – the weekend was far from over! Yesterday was Day 2 of the third annual Chicago Gourmet Festival! Yes, I was one of hundreds who snagged an $89 ticket from Groupon (a considerable savings off the $169 regular price). Set in Millennium Park, the event was sponsored this year by Bon Appetit magazine.
Wow – apparently that Groupon thing tipped them over the top and the day was sold-out. So, yes, there were lines and some confusion as to what line you were in, but I didn’t care – if there was something to taste at the end of it, that was ok. Here’s a sampling of what we sampled:
There were dozens of pavilion tents of food and wine tastings and there were also food demonstrations, book signings and seminars by noted chefs and foodies including Bon Appetit magazine’s Andrew Knowlton and Barbara Fairchild, Cat Cora, Table 52’s Art Smith, Marcus Samuelsson, Tony Mantuano and many more. We attended one food demo by Sunda’s Rodelio Aglibot and Todd Stein, formerly of Cibo Matto and now of the soon-to-open The Florentine. They made spaghetti Carbonara, which we foolishly said we were totally going to make for dinner that night – hah! We hadn’t yet gone on our tasting binge, silly us – the only “dinner” I wanted last night was a glass of water and a cup of tea.
After the demo, our appetites took over, sending us on a whirlwind of tastings. I think we tasted about seven or eight different food items and approximately 500 wines – maybe more (Seriously! Everywhere you looked there was wine!) between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. My fave? This one:
It was big and buttery, awesome and oakey. Yes, many wine experts say this style of wine is passe, but I don’t care – my palette never tires of it! But this was my last sip and at 5 p.m., it was time to give it a rest. (It’s now 7 a.m. the next day and aside from a Diet Pepsi and a cup of tea last night, I’ve given my stomach a much-deserved break!).
And this photo sums up the food and wine fun and excess that was the weekend of Sept 25-26, 2010:
After sampling so many others’ food this weekend, I now look forward to getting back into my own kitchen and cooking something crazy this coming week! Hope you enjoyed the tale of the Very Foodie Fall Weekend!