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Chicago Gourmet Fri Oct 03 2014

The Grand Cru Shines as the Real Chicago Gourmet

photo 1.JPGThis past weekend provided the perfect weather for more than 12,000 food and wine lovers to head to Millennium Park for the seventh annual Chicago Gourmet. The two day food event joins local and celebrity chefs for tasting pavilions, where you'll find the executive chefs themselves plating and handing out mini-versions of their creative interpretations on the Park's Great Lawn, live demonstrations on the main stage and endless wine samples and cocktail concoctions.

While live cooking demos and seminars account for most of what you hear about happening on the Great Lawn, the Grand Cru, located on the Harris Theater Rooftop, is where the real Chicago Gourmet exists.

As an additional cost to the entrance ticket ($199 on top of $170), Grand Cru is the step up, particularly when it comes to the wines, featuring master sommeliers, samples of higher-end vintages and carefully crafted mini-bites from top local chefs.

My Saturday visit included chefs Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat, Little Goat), Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia), Bruce Sherman (North Pond), Jimmy Bannos Jr. (The Purple Pig) and Chris Marchino (Spiaggia).

Bruce Sherman presented a smoked king salmon pave in a mutsu apple pudding with a ginger crumble. As usual, Spiaggia didn't disappoint with a roasted fig on a fennel puree, finished off with rendered andouille flecks. Bannos turned usually tough sirloin into a tender bite with a salt crust, matched with a piquillo pepper and tropea onion jam. The real winner was Zimmerman, with a perfectly al dente shaped roasted eggplant tortellini in a cashew, curry leaf and sesame broth.

photo (1).JPG Notable wines for sample included the likes of Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Opus One, Grgich Hills Estate and Trinchero. A few delightful shockers I came across were some beautiful pinot's and chardonnay's from Patz and Hall, particularly the "Chenoweth Ranch" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2012 and the "Hyde Vineyard" Chardonnay, Carneros 2012 -- both in the $60 range. Patz and Hall is a relatively young winery that relies on single vineyards and small-lot production.

The Barkan "Assemblage Series - Reichan" Upper Galilee 2010 from Barkan Wines of Israel was also an unexpected delight, combining the classic cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot blend. ($40). Israel, although no stranger to the wine business, is one of the lesser known regions to produce blended wines. This version tasted more like a classic Bordeaux and could be enjoyed with or without food. And Laurent-Perrier "Grand Siecle" Brut Champagne, NV and the "Cuvee" Brut Rose, both crossing the $100 mark, although pricey, should be in consideration the next time you have a big event or dinner.

 
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alan lake / October 4, 2014 1:19 PM

If you had to pay for it, would you pull $370 out of your pocket for it?

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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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