BaconFest Chicago

If you haven't made the trek to BaconFest, you'd better start planning for 2016.  It is a show of culinary porkdom, craft cockpigtailing, smokey sensory meaty goodness.  I waded through a sea of people looking for a pork fix, piggy tricks and drink mix.  There were cooks from Chicago restaurants like Big Jones, Duck Inn, Epic, Lockwood, Perennial Virant and Taco Joint. Meaty, salty eats everywhere surrounded by beer from Lagunitas, Goose Island and Lakefront Brewery along with Wirtz cocktails.

The biggest quandary on what to do is where to start or how.  I figured it was best to start in the middle and work my way out, taking small bites from each vendor to save my stomach for later, while grabbing cocktails from Templeton Rye and Tito's and foregoing gutstuffing brews. 

Wading my way through the masses, I managed to find my favorites:

- Tanta (118 W Grand Ave).  They made my favorite dish of the Fest, a Chicharron Glazed Bocado, a spicy thick piece of bacon with pineapple which had the right amount of everything. Delicious

- Kanela Breakfast Club (1408 N Milwaukee Ave).  This was an extremely close 2nd, with an amazing dessert- Bacon Infused Loukoumades (Greek Donut) accompanied by the most outrageous candied bacon I've ever tasted!

- The Duck Inn (2701 S Eleanor St).  The most insanely delicious hot dog ever- The Frankenduckie: a duck fat dog wrapped in bacon with cheese sauce, pickled jalapeno and Calabrian chili relish. 

- Acre (5308 N Clark St).  Chicken Liver and Bacon Pate which was so delicious I almost asked for fourths!

- Sheekar Delights (Glenview IL).   One of the best Baklava ever with bacon, pistachio, walnuts and simple syrup, which made it lighter and better.

- Velvet Taco (1110 N State).  The Cuban Pig: a taco stuffed with grain mustard, slow roasted chili rubbed pork butt, cured ham, applewood peppered bacon, gruyere and pickles.  Perfect Cuban taco.

- Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse & The Budlong (6954 N Western Ave).  Nashville Hot Chicken Club was an insanely heat rubbed chicken paired with Nueske's smoked bacon.  I love the heat.

- Old Town Pour House (1419 N Wells St).  Ebel's Weiss Braised Pork Belly.  It was like pot roast but 100x more delicious with onion marmalade, red pepper coulis and sweet serrano chili pepper.  Love love love.

It's so hard to stop talking about the food but I'll stop there and leave your imaginations (and drooling) to wander).  Too many cocktails to think about my favorite with Koval, Tito's and Templeton Rye in the house.  You'll have to taste through the madness!  

Windy City Wine Guy trying to entertain his Wife   

Windy City Wine Guy trying to entertain his Wife


Tenzing Embarks on Chicago Journey

Three big names in the Chicago wine scene are embarking on a journey to bring quality wholesale wine and spirits to local restaurants as well as loads of wine knowledge.  As reported by Crain's, Tenzing Wine and Spirits is a new venture by Fernando Beteta, Master Sommelier and former Wine Director of NoMI, Doug Marello, former sommelier of L20 and Wine Director of Spring, and Ken Fredrickson, former VP of Wine Marketing at Wirtz Beverage Group

The name comes from Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali-Indian Sherpa mountaineer who guided Edmund Hillary to the top of Mount Everest.  This will be a another kind of journey, of wine and spirits tastings and knowledge.

Tenzing will focus on bringing their portfolio to the Chicagoland market, while educating consumers through their blog, along with classes and tastings in their storefront on 165 N. Morgan Street.  This is a smart idea, bringing the consumer in direct relation with the distributor and their products.  In Illinois with regards to alcohol, we have a three tier system where you'll have the manufacturer or importer selling their product to a local distributor, who in turn re-sells the product to restaurants, bars and wine/liquor stores.  More consumer demand for your distributed product will inevitably lead to wider availability and demand in both restaurants and wine shops.

Some items in the Tenzing portfolio include Block Nine Pinot Noir, Ayala Champagne and Domaine Select Wine Estates.  We'll look forward to more products as they're added and the tastings and classes which follow!