Chicago Gourmet in Millenium Park
Not a shabby backdrop for a day of eating and drinking, is it?
Starting the Day off Right
Nothing says Chicago Gourmet like two glasses of champagne before noon.
Sara Moulton and Graham Elliot
Chef Sara Moulton and her beaming smile came to join the festivities, too. She hung out with chef Graham Elliot before the show began.
Chef Hugh Acheson (most of you might know him from his job as a Top Chef judge) came out for a cooking demo.
Sushi by Jellyfish
Fresh sushi from Jellyfish (the restaurant, not the sea creature).
Labriola Bakery brought meatballs and a caprese salad—they do more than just bread, folks.
In case you got thirsty and lost—as I did often—don't worry, there were street signs to point you straight towards whiskey. Nothing solves problems better than alcohol. At least...for some people.
Allium served up a housemade boudin blanc, made from lobster.
Allium's Open Faced Lobster Sandwich
Little Market Brasserie
A fresh shrimp ceviche from Little Market Brasserie was good for a sunny warm day.
Tavern on Rush
Tavern on Rush served up a smooth velvety mouthful of salmon tartare.
Trenchermen didn't pull any punches with this smoked catfish topped with a fresh, bright, crunchy green papaya salad.
E + O
Porkie's Whole Pig
There's just something amazing about eating a whole roast pig, even if it is sort of staring at you.
Porkies' Pulled Pork Sandwich
There really aren't that many things better than pork from a whole roast pig. This sandwich looks small, but it was so succulent and tender I could eat it by the bowlful. But don't tell anyone that, because that's kind of sad.
I grew up north in Lake Forest, IL, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a local grocery store chain putting out a classic cold lobster roll, split-top bun and all.
I couldn't find the roll several seconds later, when I realized it was already inside me.
Black Dog Gelato
Who said that dessert has to come last? At a food festival, you can eat dessert whenever you want! Black Dog Gelato's dessert was a cute roasted red pepper tart with espresso whipped cream and toasted pecans. Yes, I just called a food cute. Don't judge me.
Scotch, anyone? Followed by more scotch? That's the Ron Burgundy diet.
If you're from Chicago, chances are you've eaten a lot of Turano Italian rolls. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a hint: Lots of places serve Italian beef in them.
This impossibly silky pumpkin soup from Piccolo Sogno was so rich and delicious, I'd sleep in it. Sleeping in a soup is not a recommended action, but I'd do it anyway.
Yes, the restaurant is named Untitled, and no, I'm not fooling around. This is their spin on meatloaf.
Meat and Cheese Plate
Everywhere you looked there were plates upon plates of meat and cheese, usually tailored to pair with the wines on hand.
Rickshaw Republic does Indonesian street food, and they do it well. You're witnessing a handoff of spicy potatoes.
Chefs Ryan Poli and Rodelio Aglibot
Even the chefs like to celebrate in style at Chicago Gourmet.
This is a picture of heaven. Just kidding. It's a bunch of cured and thinly shaved pig leg. Oh wait, no, I was wrong. That is heaven.
Cured Pig Leg
This was some of the most elegant ham I've ever had; it melted as soon as it hit my tongue. If I had a ring in my pocket, I would probably have proposed to it right there. Proposing to a piece of food may not be a socially acceptable thing to do, but I like to think I'm progressive.
Chef Elliot with his signature glasses, hard at work. He made a little foie gras Fig Newton-style sandwich.
Foie Gras Fig Newton
This little tiny little thing might look like a baby ice cream sandwich, but it's actually foie gras and shortbread with fig. It was a showstopper from Graham Elliot.
Carlos Gaytan was repping his style. In front of a picture of him repping his style.
Carlos Gaytan puts out a mean pork belly. Seriously.
Armand de Brignac represented their brand of fine champagnes at the Grand Cru tasting tent (which was a side event at Chicago Gourmet). I loudly called it neapolitan champagne because of the three colors (you know, like the ice cream), but nobody found that funny except for me. My life is a lonely existence sometimes.
Grand Cru Crowd
This was a happy crowd on Saturday—all enjoying wine, spirits, beer, and food.
Grand Cru Sampler
One of the busy patrons at Chicago Gourmet racked himself up with quite a spread. There's two types of caviar on his plate, along with foie gras, and a luxurious meatball in back.
Café Des Architectes
No better way to end the day than face-down in a bed of tiny pink macarons, while lamenting about all the food I couldn't try. It was a marvelous day.
Is this an M.C. Escher art installation? Nope, these are Firecakes doughnuts. Lots and lots of Firecakes doughnuts.
Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia and Bar Toma looks happily over the crowd.
I've never seen cured salmon and handmade tofu with okra before, but I wouldn't mind seeing it again, in my mouth.