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Chicago Gourmet Mon Oct 01 2012

Review: Chicago Gourmet

3960645725_44dccb3f7b_m.jpgOnce I was ensconced at our beautiful Millennium Park, it was apparent that the lines in front of each "tasting pavilion" at Chicago Gourmet were going to be arduous in the hot sun of a warm fall day. Off goes the sport coat and "where's some water?" comes to my mind. Lines the length of 200 people inch their way towards a limited selection of 3-4 items per station only to grab said bites and start over again at another of the 20 or so tasting stations. The lines for the drinking stations weren't quite as chaotic, but there has to be a better way.

I felt bad exercising my media all-access pass and in solidarity with my peeps, no lines were jumped. That decision would haunt me but I wanted to glean the full on experience of the 99% of the ticket holders who shelled out $173 for a day pass (or $288 for the weekend). An additional $200 bought you a two hour Grand Cru wine tasting sponsored by Southern Wines and Spirits. Bring a date and you're in for nearly $800 -- pretty rich for most blood. For the money there were demos, tastings, seminars and exhibitors but even with a freebie press pass dangling from my neck, thoughts of value in regards to expense colored my experience.

Interesting bites included a mushroom bullion w/shaved Iberico jamon by Park Hyatt's NoMI, an ahi tartare on papadum by N9NE Steakhouse and Ryan Pitts' lobster roll from RL. Most underwhelming of the day surely went to iNG for their pico de gallo on a tortilla chip with edible logo. Pico de gallo on a tortilla chip? I don't care how edible the logo is, it was not très gourmet or in character with the theme of the day, aka "Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet." Now, the macaron with foie gras and pineapple was another story...

Best sips included a well balanced apéritif of London dry gin, Thatcher's blueberry liqueur, Peychaud's bitters, and cava by Scofflaw's Danny Shapiro. At the Grand Cru event, Equifera's "Vidal" Ice Wine from Canada's Niagara Peninsula featured distinct notes of lychee, mango, pineapple and apricot. Rich and viscous in a Sauternes kinda way, I very much enjoyed it but then I have a predilection for sweet wines, most likely from stealing Mogen David out of my parents rarely used bar as a child. Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose made entirely of Pinot Noir grapes was my favorite bubbly, over powerhouses like Dom Perignon and Pol Roger.

From my days working in Portland, Oregon there was Spring Valley Vineyards Uriah, a 100% estate grown and bottled red wine meritage from Walla Walla, Washington that was like visiting with and old friend albeit one with smooth jammy, pepper and clove overtones. The left bank Bordeaux style Justin 2009 Isosceles from Paso Robles California was simply wonderful juice with hints of vanilla, raspberry, coffee and currants. Exquisite.

The surprise of the day came in the form of a Wheat Beer/Sauvignon Blanc hybrid from Blue Moon Brewery called Proximity. Not on the market until later this month, the grapes come shining through kissed with effervescence of lightly hopped, subtle citrus fruit in the Belgian style, where Keith Villa, founder and brewmaster of the company obtained his Doctorate in Brewing Science. Surprising because of how much I enjoyed it considering how little I care for most beers.

There was good food and drink, hot sun and ever-present lines. A chance to visit with old friends and to make new ones. All and all a glorious day of excess and glad for the opportunity. But the question remains, with the Green City Market BBQ -- one of Chicago's premier eating extravaganzas -- coming in and under half the price (and still expensive at that) do I feel it's worth the $400 price tag? Would I part with that type of money to do what I did today and be good with my decision? And the answer to that would be no.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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