Sweet Home Chicago!
At the end of August Haute Momma (mom) and I headed west to Chicago. We were embarking on a weekend adventure that was sure to be filled with food, beverage, memories and laughs. I haven’t been back to Chicago since our wedding, that is almost 4 years now. Sometimes I find myself longing for Chicago. I get sad when I go so long between visits. You already know that I love the Chicago food scene because of these delicious hot dogs and these copy cat burgers. When we hopped in the car to head to the 1st ever Food + Wine Festival held in Chicago we didn’t know what kind of amazing food awaited us.
Because Chicago was home for us and because there are just things you must do the minute you get there, the first thing we did after dropping our bags off in the room was hike it down Michigan Ave. towards the lake. I love the sight and sounds of Lake Michigan. I especially love the fact that you run your toes through the sand with your back to the John Hancock building. There isn’t anything quite like it.
We arrived at the festival right when the gates opened. We only bought tickets for Saturday so we wanted to make sure that we got the most out of that day as we could. It was hard to decide between grabbing food or drinks the minute we walked through the gates or heading off to hear a famous chef talk to us about Pulpo (Octopus). We chose the latter…
It’s Iron Chef Jose Garces!! Did you know Jose Garces is from Chicago? I gotta say, awesome people tend to come from Chicago (hehe). When the hubby and I lived in Philly we had the chance to eat at several of his restaurants. In fact, we lived a block away from Garces Trading Company and frequented Village Whiskey often. We never met a Garces restaurant we didn’t like! Mom and I were pretty excited to watch Chef Garces create several dishes using octopus. He even made cooking an octopus look easy.
The octopus was scrumptious! When we finished enjoying our pulpo we immediately went out to see what else the festival had to offer. Oh, did I tell you it was a rainy overcast day? This literally had no bearing on the awesome food and drink that we had and I would say that the crowd was pretty content with dodging between rain drops in an attempt to get to the next table of amazing food.
We grabbed a bunch of amazing little bits; prepare yourself for the food montage…
I ate a lot of things before I remembered to take a picture…that happens a lot when I take my camera to food events. I really needed an extra hand that day. If you follow me on twitter then you might have seen my tweet about hopefully getting the chance to meet Stephanie Izard (First female Top Chef winner) and Rick Bayless (the most awesome person ever). I watched both of them demo delicious dishes.
Stephanie was hilarious! She started her demo by chugging a beer; Stella Artois no less. She’s the kind of chef that I would want to spend every day with. I would just sit in her kitchen and eat my face off while discussing any sort of randomness that comes to our minds. She’s my kind of people. She showed us how to slap some noodles and make magical spring roll wrappers in a skillet. I seriously sat there the entire time wishing I was standing on the stage next to her. I just wanted to be her best friend that day. And then…
OMG it’s Rick Bayless!!! Ever since I saw him on Top Chef Masters I was like “can we eat Mexican food together?” I constantly promote all things Rick Bayless, if he comes out with a new product I just assume it’s awesome so I recommend it to everyone. We use all of his sauces to create amazing tacos and enchiladas. I actually refuse to use any other enchilada sauce. One time I bought a canned enchilada sauce and it is was disgusting that I threw out the entire dish (no I didn’t cause that is super wasteful, but it wasn’t my favorite). I just couldn’t let my enchiladas exist in the same universe as that canned nonsense. Chef Bayless knows how to make rich mexican sauces that are deep in flavor and spices AND come in a bag. He’s just the best.
Chef Crush! I even had him make it out to Haute Pepper…I think he might have laughed. I haven’t dug in to the cookbook yet because, life. I am going to get on that right away because I love Mexican food and maybe if I cook some of his amazing food everyone will be in awe.
Before the closing of the festival we made sure to get in some final bites and snap some parting pictures. I might have gone to the Chobani tent like 3 times…
Before the weekend ended we made sure to make some mandatory stops (yes, this included Garretts Popcorn and Giordano’s pizza). And one place that holds special significance is the Billy Goat’s Tavern.
Are you familiar with the curse of the Billy Goat? Are you familiar with the SNL skit about the Billy Goat Tavern? If you said no to both of those questions then I request you go here and here. My Great Grandfather was a famous (yeah, I am gonna go with famous) sports writer for the Chicago Sun Times. He covered stories of many great athletes and most notably wrote a great deal about Joe Louis the boxer. Go ahead and look him up! Anyhow, when Grandpa Gene retired from sportswriting he got the esteemed honor of hanging his byline on the wall of the Billy Goat…
There he is, Gene Kessler! We didn’t actually stay for the cheezborger’s since we had other food awaiting us but stopping by and taking the picture was a must! You should go there and eat a burger or two. You will also read a lot about Chicago sports history and probably interact with some very interesting folks!
I don’t think I could ever truly summarize a trip to Chicago in one post (or several). I know that this trip was wonderful. Great food, great company, and a great city. I miss you already Chi-Town.
We’ll see you next year!!!
P.S. Food + Wine has a great recap of the festival on their site. Check out all the things I was too busy stuffing my face with and not taking any pictures of. Chicago Food + Wine Fest Recap.