I absolutely loved Chicago Food + Wine. The festival made it’s debut this year, and even though the weather refused to cooperate, I had an incredible time. The festival was an easy to manage size, and filled with incredible food and wine tastings, cookbook signings, and chef demonstrations. If you missed the fest yesterday, tickets for today are still available, so I recommend dropping your plans and grabbing a ticket.
The festival is in Lincoln Park – just east of where the Green City Market takes place. Upon entering the gates for Chicago Food + Wine you find a series of neatly organized tents holding the Demonstrations, Tastings, and the Grand Tasting, along with displays from brands like Don Julio, Zappos, La Marca, Stella Artois, Citi Bank, and more. Plenty of picnic tables were laid out between the tents giving festival goers a place to sit and relax.
This festival is well organized and not overcrowded. I barely spent any time in line. The only significant line was for Hoosier Mama Pie – and I promise it was worth it. Unlike Chicago Gourmet, each food and drink distributor had a separate table, which kept the lines short (or nonexistent).
Here is a rundown of some of the best things I tasted throughout the day:
I need to begin by talking about the #DiPie station that the brilliant ladies at Hoosier Mama Pie created. You got to select a pie crust (classic, chocolate, or gingersnap), then a filling (cherry, peach/raspberry, apple, mango, or chocolate), and then toppings (whipped cream, blueberries, raspberries, toasted coconut, toasted oats, or chocolate shavings). Clearly I was thrilled to make a pie, and my hair was being difficult due to the rain and humidity.
My friend Maya made a chocolate banana pie with a gingersnap crust.
e discovered a rose that we adored.
One of my instagram followers told me to check out the corn at The Florentine’s booth, so we went on a mission to find it. They were serving Italian Elotes with black truffle and pecorino. This was one of the most talked about dishes at the event.
Gibson’s made filet sliders with beef so tender it was like butter.
Black Dog Gelato was making affogato with vanilla gelato, turkish style coffee, and a lemon whipped cream. It was the flavor of the lemon whipped cream that made this simple dessert spectacular.
Nellcote prepared peaches with burrata and pea shoots and sunflower seeds. It was a great end of summer dish, and something you could recreate at home!
River Roast made figs wrapped with a duck proscuitto drizzled with balsamic. I loved the small size of this tasting since I was starting to get full!
La Briola was serving garganelli with a truffle ragu that was so good some of my friend went back for seconds. It had giant pieces of shaved truffle!
Nico Osteria was serving up a profiterole which was a mini version of the one of their dessert menu. It was filled with a pistachio cheesecake mouse, and it was a bite of heaven.
Outside of the Grand Tasting tent, there was lots to do.
Stop by Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint early before they run out.
They were serving up pulled whole hog with a vinegar based barbecue sauce and coleslaw on white bread. I ate every bite.
And visit Stella Artois for a fun mini three course food and beer tasting.
The tasting started with cheddar and a passionfruit jam, then a crostini with a pineapple curry chicken salad, and ended with dark chocolate. It was a fun interactive experience, and I learned how great dark beer pairs with dark chocolate.
I also need to mention the stellar deejay at the center tent. This tent had tables where you could hang with friends, eat, and drink. Later in the day it became a dance party. Throughout the day the deejay was playing a mix of 90s hits with more current songs – and a day where I can sip rose, eat pie, and listen to 90s Mariah Carey with my girl friends is a really great day.