Cooper's Hawk Comes To Oak Park

I live in Oak Park and was invited to check out the new Cooper's Hawk location on Lake Street. This was greatly anticipated by the community, as we don't have many close options for wine tasting in the neighborhood. I have been to Cooper's Hawk before, in South Barrington and Burr Ridge, and enjoyed the experience of tasting through their wines and found the food to be very good. 

I took my wife and we started out in the tasting room. It is really welcoming with a large L shaped bar, staff ready to help, televisions for sports viewing in the bar, and tons of wine chatchskis for purchase. When we started tasting, I was startled by the amount of different wines Cooper's Hawk had in their personal portfolio: Sparkling, Sparkling Rose, Moscato, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay (both oaked and unoaked, and a premium Lux brand), Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir and Lux Pinot, Barbera, Merlot, Malbec, Zin, Cabernet and Lux Cabernet, Lux Meritage, Tempranillo, "Super Tuscan" (Sangiovese based blend from Tuscany), Cotes du Rhone, and Shiraz. I tried a few of the wines and found the Sparkling Rose, Pinot Gris, Barbera and Super Tuscan to be quite good, plus the Cotes du Rhone collaboration with Jean-Charles Boisset was excellent as well. Some of the other wines were in the mediocre category, but definitely worth a taste.

Us CH Pic.jpg

In The Barrels

Enjoying some Cooper's Hawk OP!

We later shuffled over to our booth and ordered our food. After speaking with the GM and our Waiter, we found that the restaurant employed over 200 staff members, mostly comprised of the surrounding neighborhoods of Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park and Austin Chicago. That is a huge bonus for the community. Back to the cuisine, the tuna tacos are an excellent starter with nice Asian/Mexican fusion flavors. My wife loved her chicken entree but I found my NY Strip to be slighly overcooked (I ordered it Medium Rare) and kinda flavorless. I am unsure where the beef is from, but I would go GrassFed as it tends to have loads more flavor. Our dessert was delicious, the Key Lime Pie, which was our waiter's fav.

All in all, it is a great addition to the 'hood and a fun time whether you are a wine club member or a casual diner. I will definitely go back to sample the new wines!

September is Right for Wine in Chicago

The weather is cooling off, kids are going back to school, fall is just around the corner and this month is the right time for wine in the Windy City!  Two of my favorite fests, the Windy City Wine Festival and Chicago Gourmet, come around every year at this time and give us a chance to sample great wine along with food from local restaurants & chefs on the lakefront.  They are both different from eachother and definitely worth the experience.

The Windy City Wine Festival normally takes place in the first half of the month, this year on September 9 & 10, at Buckingham Fountain.  I went on Saturday afternoon (gates open at 3pm) and couldn't have asked for a better day- sunny and clear with a fresh lake breeze.  Tickets are $35 at the gate, $27 in advance, which gets you a souvenier cup, 10 drink sample tickets and the opportunity to purchase wine by the bottle at a discount.  The only hard thing was to figure out which wines to use the tickets on!  Some of the wines I tasted are A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir which is a great under $20 wine, Emilio Moro Malleolus Ribera del Duero is an amazing Tempranillo, Clos de los Siete which is one of my favorite red blends under $15, and Cline Cellars Cashmere which is a smartly priced GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre blend).  Some very good local wineries were onhand and pouring some interesting stuff.  Cooper's Hawk Winery had a very impressive Almond Sparkling wine made with Chardonnay and almond oil which reminded me of almond biscotti.  Lynfred Winery was pouring their Vin de City White & Red which are good value blends and Wollersheim Winery had a very nice Riesling and a decent Wisconsin Pinot Noir.  Pretty good food samples were for sale from Sullivan's Steakhouse, Markethouse, The Melting Pot and Caoba Mexican Bar & Grill.

Chicago Gourmet takes place in the latter half of the month, this year on September 23-25 in Millenium Park.  The weather was not as kind, as it was about 50 degrees, cloudy and rainy, which affected the grass surface making things very muddy.  That didn't stop everyone from having fun though as the wine was flowing and the aroma of small bites filled the air.  There was a great variety of beverages like illy coffee, Blue Moon beer, Lucid Absinthe, Pyrat Rum and Gosling's Stormy Ginger Beer.  Oh, and the wines- Cosentino Winery, Domaine Drouhin, Newton, Casa Lapostolle, Chalk Hill, Grgich Hills Estate, Heitz Wine Cellars, Northstar, Silver Oak, Livio Felluga and Laurent-Perrier, just to name a few.  Food was being served by many restaurants like Benny's Chop House, Frontera Grill, David Burke's Primehouse, Gibson's, Market, Texas de Brazil, Fulton's and the upcoming Filini Bar & Restaurant.  And not to be missed, amazing chefs like Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno), Dirk Flanigan (The Gage/Henri), Jimmy Bannos Sr.(Heaven on Seven/The Purple Pig), Graham Elliot, Rick Tramonto, Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat) and Tony Mantuano (Spiaggia) were onhand for cooking demos.  Another amazing experience!

Make sure to watch out for these events next year in September and I hope to see you there!

The Arboretum of South Barrington: Uncorked from the Heart

The Arboretum of South Barrington is Chicagoland's newest outdoor playground.  You can dine, shop and play in the company of trees and gardens out in the 'burbs.  On Thursday, March 4th, you can also catch a special event: Uncorked from the Heart.  For $40 in advance ($50 at the door) you can experience wines from around the world and cuisine prepared from six Arboretum locations : Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant, L'Eiffel Bistrot & Creperie, Gold Class Cinemas, Pinstripes, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, and Acquisitions for the Home.  The evening starts at Pinstripes, an awesome space which features 18 bowling lanes, 10 indoor/outdoor bocce courts, outdoor patio and fireplace, Italian/American food and wine, and blues and jazz bands.  The fun moves from there to the other venues with shuttle service all night long.  Come out and enjoy an awesome suburban wine and food evening!