Monday, July 9, 2007

Taste of Chicago

From catfish to oxtail, Chicago has no shame. City vendors will fry just about anything to serve up one of the greasiest festivals known to man. But that doesn't stop me from going, every year.

Depending on where you're from, you may or may not be familiar with the annual summer food fest in Chicago nicknamed the "Taste." If you're not, just like you might imagine, it's quite literally a taste of Chicago's cuisine (do NOT take this to mean that grease is all Chicago has to offer, it is by no means an exhaustive collection of Chicago's fine dining). More specifically, it's a 10-day event that hosts almost 60 restaurant vendors throughout Chicagoland. Each station has a "taste portion" for 3 tickets (approximately $2) to allow for more accessible sampling.

Anyway, yesterday was the last day and I made it there in the nick of time. I sort of make it my duty to try and go annually, so that I can feel like I've done my job as a Chicagoan. This year I made myself extra proud because I braved the 92-degree heat! (I drank a TON of water.)

But let's be honest, I eat the same food every year. So I guess I'm not really "tasting" much, just showing my support. Give or take a couple of variances, each year my stomach has to deal with at least one Indian samosa from Arya Bhavan, one pierogi from Kasia's, a slice of deep dish from one of the many pizza places (this year it was Bacino's pizza of Lincoln Park), and the ever delicious Original Rainbow Cone (an aggregate cup of pistachio, cherry, orange sherbert, Palmer and chocolate ice cream.) But don't think this year's list stopped right there. Those were just the staples. I also sampled a famous Billy Goat hamburger, a fried chicken wing, a frozen banana, beef on a stick, and....that may be it.

Oh no, wait. I was pleasantly surprised to see a new item that piqued my interest: Chocolate-Dipped Ginger Saffron Cookies from Vermilion, but in all honesty, they weren't as good as they sounded. The cookie was a bit dryer than I would have liked.

(Yes, I have it displayed in the grass, there aren't too many other seats at the Taste.)

All in all, the gorging fest met my expectations. 41 food tickets (a friend and I split!) and a full stomach, for the most part, later, I did not go home disappointed.

-Hillary, wishing "Hey Sushi" would come back to the Taste and serve their delicious fried green-tea ice cream
Editor, Recipe4Living


Lydia said...

Chicago has such a great variety of ethnic foods -- this festival looks like a great way to celebrate the city's culinary diversity.

Hillary said...

Thanks for the comment. Chicago is very diverse and the festival is a good sampling, but definitely not exhaustive of the large multitude of cultures Chicago hosts.

Mary Sue said...

I lived in Chicago in the early 60's. Carl's Hotdogs(loaded)were the best. The taste of his greasiest of fries still remains in my memoryand on my hips. Carl used Vienna Hotdogs, you can only get them in Chicago, (can't get 'em in Naples Fl or NJ, I have serched far and wide) luckly friends who live in Chicago still bring me the Vienna Dogs when they come to visit. Vienna Dogs are top dogs to me. Anyone serving the Vienna's at the festival?

Hillary said...

Hi Mary,

Of course Vienna/Gold Coast Dogs was there!

Here was their menu:
Vienna Beef /Gold Coast Dogs (SPONSOR)
Locations throughout Chicagoland.
Hot dog (plain or Chicago style); Jumbo hot dog (plain or
Chicago style); Polish sausage (plain or with grilled onions
and mustard; Pickle on a stick

You should come back to Chicago and visit next year. They already have the dates for the 2008 Taste!