This weekend was the annual Chicago Gourmet. Epicureans and foodies alike converged on Millennium Park to eat and drink food from the finest chefs in town . It was a celebration of everything food and drink. Record breaking temperatures didn’t allow attendees to not enjoy themselves. Volunteers were more than happy to supply ice cold water to the masses.
With so much food and drink to enjoy, I started my journey with the friendly gals of Isabelli Media Relations. Each attendee got a keepsake glass which commemorated the tenth anniversary of Chicago Gourmet. They also received a sponsor bag from Mariannos with some of the other sponsors products that were featured at the Gourmet. So handy for grocery shopping here in Chicago.
Bon Appetit was where I began my food excursion. They usually have such a nice demo area and presentation. This year , diners could enjoy cool beverages , and fix falafels and garnish Cracker Barrel macaroni and cheese. With décor, courtesy of the Venezian of Las Vegas, diners could sit and plan their day. My particular favorite drink was here. Bark Thins had some non alcoholic drinks to serve with their chocolate treats. I fell in love with the Hibiscus Orange and Vanilla Fresca. It reminded me of something that you would get at Argo. I doctored up my macaroni and cheese with shrimp and carmelized onions. Talk about comfort food. I also got a pack of the three cheese Cracker Barrel to take home. They also loaded us up with plenty of Bark Thins as well.
With the ninety degree temperatures, patrons went in search of beverages. There was certainly enough of those around. Ice cold beer, wine, cocktails, and the people at Bai were excited to hydrate the foodies as they stood in lines for food. Grey Goose had a simple cocktail with soda, but with the ice, it cooled off for the long waits. Campari added their contribution with a fruity concoction. The most refreshing drink that I had was made with ginger beer, soda, and a Japanese whisky called Toki. Another one of the exhibitors added to the fun with a frozen rainbow pop up with jello shots in it.
There was quite a lot of to taste and they came from all over. They came from the Burbs, they came from the finest chefs , everywhere from River North to Old Town. Foreign cuisines were also represented. Japan showed off its culture with sushi from Slurping Turtle and an opportunity to win a trip to Toyko courtesy of Japan Airlines. Their fans proved to be one of the most popular gifts of the afternoon. Italy shined with their excellent wines , pastries, and awesome meatballs. It was so hard to pick just one. I did get a chance to try Hats Off, who the owner described as “the new kids in town.” American classics were represented as well. I had to try my beloved seafood and the chefs who created such masterpieces. They took such simple fare as salmon with a butternut squash couche and made it into one of the tastiest dishes I ate and it was well worth the wait.
Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ was one of the most popular tents. Patrons could swill beer or whiskey and then munch on BBQ. Heinz let people try their different sauces on pieces of pork. That wasn’t all, several restaurants brought it on with their BBQ fare. As an Ohio gal, I love my BBQ and my meat. It was no contest for I would pick for favorite. From close by Westmont, Uncle Bub’s wooed me with their Baby Back Ribs and Corn Pudding. Needless to say, I will be making the trek for more of this tasty meat and fixins. River North staple, Texas de Brazil wins second prize with me with their steak and couscous salad. Don’t forget dessert because Chicagoland favorite, Stan’s Doughnuts were represented with some of their specialties. Sponsors Loacker, Cookie Thins , and several restaurants also tempted with their treats.
You can’t talk Chicago without talking about our World Champion Cubs. The “Friendly Confines” was featured with Cubs cocktails. These are some of the cocktails that fans sip when they are rooting on “our team” .
I have to admit that one of the saving graces for the day was the Media Lounge that was sponsored by the wonderful folks at Choose Chicago. With cooling fans and charging stations, it was the perfect place for journalists and bloggers to rest and network. Press could rest , make entries on social media, and make friends and new connections. Overall, it was a day that rated four stars and I can’t wait to come back next year. In the meantime, it’s time to hit the gym.