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Wine Tue May 28 2013

A Dinner with Chicago Cooks & Michigan Pours

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For most meals, the booze has always been secondary to the entrée, but not for attendees who attend Chicago Cooks Michigan Pours dinners. Founded by three local food & wine enthusiasts, Chicago Cooks Michigan Pours is currently offering a series of Michigan wine-focused dinners, where the food menu is specifically designed to complement the alcohol, not the other way around. With nearly 103 wineries in the Michigan area (such as Leelanau, Old Mission and Lake Michigan Shore) and the fabulous foodie scene in Chicago, the founders of Chicago Cooks Michigan Pours decided to combine the best of both worlds by hosting a sequence of unique dinners highlighting award-winning wines.

DSC_1754.JPGI was fortunately enough to be invited to their very first dinner at Uncommon Ground, where we began the evening sipping on Chantal Tonight sparkling wine accompanied by seasonal appetizers, including minted pea soup and tempura asparagus. Guests mingled with one another and the featured winemakers on the Rooftop Farm (where little plots of radishes and lettuces were just sprouting) before heading downstairs to begin the feast. The first entrée of our three course dinner was a delectable roasted beet salad paired with Lake Michigan Shore Semi-dry Riesling from Fenn Valley Vineyards. The salad course was followed by a Mint Creek Lamb Tagine, served with a 2011 Black Star Farms Arcturos Pinot Noir. The final dessert trio ("Chocolate Spoon," Michigan cherries, and spiced truffles) was complemented by an old fashioned cocktail made with Chateau Chantal Cinq a Sept Grape Brandy.

DSC_1808.JPGNow I'm not a wine connoisseur, but the wines were purposely and carefully chosen to highlight the fresh flavors of each course. And if you couldn't taste the difference, at least you got cheat sheets of what you were supposed to taste. Guests were provided with lengthy descriptions of each of the featured wines, including the harvest date, aging potential, and potential pairings with food. After discovering that my pinot noir boasted "aromas of violets and plums followed by fruit forward flavors of dark cherries, currants, and complementary oak," I took another sip of my drink to test my taste buds. Alas, I couldn't distinguish each flavor component, but the overall taste seemed worthy of their accolades.

Ultimately, the wine and food wouldn't have tasted as spectacular without the company. The community-style arrangement of our meal created a comforting sense of camaraderie and as the wine poured, the conversations only got louder. With the rising interest in craft beer, DIY brews, and wine fanatics, I anticipate that wine-focused dinners will quickly gain in popularity.

 
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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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