Hi Everyone! Today I went to Chicago Gourmet to sample the sips, savories and sweets of more than 100 chefs and countless wineries. It would be an understatement to say I am full! But a stomach ache (and maybe a little hangover!) is the price I happily pay for being an obsessive foodie in one of the greatest food cities on the planet! The event is a two-day affair, running from noon to 5 p.m., and if you didn’t get to go this year, put it on your radar for next September. It’s a festival of food, wine and spirits in the shadow of the gorgeous Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. A ticket (this year is was $150), gets you a tasting plate with a handy notch for your wine glass (brilliant addition this year!) and access to food and wine tastings, cooking demos and chef book signings. Look at me with Chef Jonathon Waxman of New York City’s Barbuto and a “Top Chef Masters” star after his gnocchi demo on the Pritzker Pavilion stage!
As for the food. I was out to find one savory and one sweet that absolutely blew me away and I found them both at Tasting Pavilion #4.
This would be chef Thomas Heinrich’s work, from Stetson’s Chop House & Bar at the Chicago Hyatt Regency. Yep, a hotel restaurant! It was DIVINE! Foie gras mousse (he had me at “foie gras”) on the bottom, a layer of port wine jelly, and then spicy Marcona almonds, dried strawberries and microgreens on top. Silky, rich, salty, creamy, sweet, tangy, crunchy, crisp. OMG. I ate the entire thing and savored it with a glass of Zinfandel, but you’ll have to forgive me, as a I tried, um, maybe 32 wines? (Shut up, no judging!) So I cannot remember which one I tasted with this dish!
And my favorite sweet? This little beauty from Bittersweet Bakery – which is right at the end of my street (dangerous)!
Oh, yes. A gorgeous cream puff filled with salted caramel cream/mousse and then the whole thing covered in chocolate and sporting some glistening sparkles of tangy sea salt. Phenomenal!
So, want to see what else I ate and drank?
Yes, I at 20 things today (making dinner completely unnecessary). From green leaf shrimp dumplings at the Peninsula Hotel to coconut curry truffles at Vosges Haut Chocolate to a divine crab and truffle canape from Prosecco to John DeRosier’s cold spiced heirloom tomato soup with goat cheese ice cream, everything was really, really delicious!
And then there were the wines! It was cool, cloudy (and rainy at times), so reds ruled my day. I took a photo of every single bottle that I tasted. (Again – no judging!)
And two beers (the Stella Artois / Leffe Blonde booth is always popular because they serve their beers in their special glasses and you get to take them home – fun!) My favorite wine? The Armand de Brignac Champagne. They’ve been making Champagne (in France, of course) since 1763, but these new wines came onto the market in 2007 and they are all hand-made in very small quantities (so very expensive: like $299 for the Brut I tasted, and $499 for the Blanc de Blanc and the Rose). What a treat. Absolutely delightful.
And that is the story about my eating day at Chicago Gourmet. Thank you, Bon Appetit magazine and other sponsors and organizers! It was a delicious day. Oh, I’m so full….. 🙂