Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicago Gourmet 2012

This was my third year covering this event and I have to admit that every year there are new perks that bring me back.

This show celebrates Chicago’s amazing food and the chef’s who inspire us all to go home and cook.
Nothing better than mixing great food with fine wine and spirits and of course a double dose of people watching.

For the first time in 3 years, I popped in on the Grand Cru. Once you expose yourself to wines of this caliber it is difficult to settle for anything less. Honestly, I became a wine snob in one hour without any effort at all.

The real excitement for me is discovering new chefs. Every year I go away with a long list of new restaurants to try.
So what was new?

The Purple Pig Roast

When I was at the World BBQ Cookoff in Memphis this year, a pig roast was simply the order of the day.

Chef Jimmy Bannos served up roasted pork and rumor had it that he cooked up ten, 100 lb. pigs throughout the weekend.

Thousands of people lined up for the feed and this proved to be the most popular servings of the show.

Design your own chocolate bar by Buick

Did you know in a digital kitchen you can create your own chocolate bar? Enter Buick. Pick your ingredients and they will deliver it to you in a few short weeks.

I can’t wait to get mine – a combination of white chocolate, lemon, bacon and caramel. Have to admit that the combination was really delicious when I took all the ingredients in a little cup and downed it all in one gulp just like a shot.

It was the show stealer I wished I had thought up.
Drinks And Other Liquid Indulgences

I sampled (sips) so many delicious drinks at Chicago Gourmet this year, I quick counting. The remarkable thing was that most drink masters gave away their secrets on a little recipe card. I tucked away at least a dozen.

The mixologists (bartenders who take a culinary approach to liquor) were an artistic compliment to the chefs and have definitely created their own big buzz in Chicago culinary circles.

John Besh: A Chef Who Knows His Burgers

One of my favorite New Orleans chefs was the hit of the Hamburger Hop Friday night and proved to be a audacious judge eating so many hamburgers that he was still able to single out the winning few.

Yoshi Katsumura of Yoshi's Cafe in Lakeview, won with an American wagyu burger topped with Asian pear jam, panko-crusted fried green tomato, pickle, brie, microwasabi and a smoky Asian barbecue sauce on a poppyseed brioche bun. Can you say that all without taking a breath?

Matt Troost, chef at Three Aces (one of my favorite places on Taylor Street), was the people's choice winner with a 50-50 mix of prime chuck and sirloin, topped with bacon jam, aged Wisconsin white cheddar, red onion and mesclun greens on a pretzel bun.

Their mystery ingredient? Bone-marrow salt, created by packing bone marrow in salt for several months to let the meaty flavor permeate the salt.

Healthy Eating: Gluten Free

Many athletes I know swear that their performance has improved leaps and bounds by going gluten free. All I know is that when I am on a detox, I feel so full of energy because I am not eating gluten.

I would seriously think about eliminating gluten from my diet for good but I am totally addicted to bread.

You know the MO – preparing to be Italian in my next life.

The Grand Cru: Seriously, A Tequila?

Casa Dragones is the utter magic of Bertha González Nieves, the first female Maestra Tequilera to be certified by the Academia Mexicana de Catadores de Tequila and recognized by the Tequila Regulatory Council.

I’m going to have to ask my tequila friend and expert, César Mascorro Pérez, to weigh in on this tequila because Casa Dragones has set its status as the darling of the culinary world, with utter devotion from culinary experts from across the world.

I have to agree. This was one tequila that was absolutely worth it’s price tag ($250.00) but regrettably out of my budget… but I did savor the taste.

Wiskies of the World

Call it an acquired taste. I’ve decided that I’m going to educate myself on whiskey this year and the Whiskies of the World was my first stop.

It never lacked for customers the entire show and honestly, I tried a few times before I got on the inside asking questions.

Although the blends and distilling techniques are complex, I found the rich and diverse flavors worth the pursuit.

Stay tuned.

Guacamole? Pass the Chicharrones

Ask anyone in Chicago who their favorite chef is and Rick Bayless wins the vote every time.

It’s always a full house at the opening of Chicago Gourmet 2012 when Adam Rapoport, Editor of Bon Appetit and Rick Bayless entertain the crowd… and this year with Mayor Emanuel.

What’s new with Chef Bayless besides a cookbook featuring Guacamole and Margaritas? A new tip for Guacamole: Top it off with Hot Sauce, Cheese and Chicharrones.

Whatever you though you knew about cooking, I bet you didn’t know this one? Always deflame the onions. Running water over chopped onions will remove the sulfurous compounds so you will not cry or taste your food long after you have eaten.

Science? Hold on. Wasn’t that suppose to be Homaro Cantu’s segment on Kitchen Chemistry 101?

Bon Appetit!