Sunday, June 19, 2011

Toast of the Town Chicago

IMG_0766My husband and I have a passion for food and wine that we like to indulge all year long, however this year we made a special trip into Chicago for Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s annual Toast of the Town Gala.   Benefiting the Field Museum of Natural History, Toast of the Town gathers together winemakers from around the world, and 35 of Chicago’s top restaurants, mixes them together with the sounds of a live jazz band and pours on the fun.   Where else but at this unique event can one taste 500 different wines!?  VIP tickets allowed us into the venue a little early for a chance to have exclusive access to hundreds of reserve wines, and the opportunity to talk one-on-wine with the wine makers and restaurateurs.  You can view the Event Guide to find out all of the fabulous tastes and sips represented.

IMG_0767We had a fabulous time tasting and sipping our way through the event.  I only wished that I had had an extra hand to take more notes on what we were eating and drinking.  It’s very difficult to balance a purse and plate and glass and notebook and camera.  Because of the balancing act, early on in the night I decided to be “done working” and I put the notebook away so I could simply enjoy the event.  I did however keep my camera in my front pocket and was able to snap a couple of pictures of our favorite things. 

Some of the best bites of the night were surprising to me, Carlos’ Restaurant, Ramiro Velasquez, Chef had Morgan Ranch Kobe Beef Sliders that were just exquisite and even though the guys were running late and didn’t have it quite together this was #3 in my top bites of the night.  The Strawberry Panna Cotta with Rosé Wine Gelee and Strawberry Almond Crumble from Sixteen was #2 on my best bites of the night and my favorite dessert by far it was bright and fresh, it went perfectly with the Opera Prima NV Sparkling Pink Moscato I was drinking at the time.  I'll fill you in on where you can find my #1 bite of the night in it's own post later this week.  

Strawberry Panna Cotta w/ Rosé Wine Gelee
and Strawberry Almond Crumble
from Sixteen at Trump Chicago
Chilled Pea Soup, Rhubarb, Lavendar
& Radishes from
Greg Elliott, Executive Chef 

Geordon especially enjoyed some unique offering put forth by Chatham Imports, Inc who showcased Crop Harvest Earth Organic Cucumber Vodka and Crop Harvest Earth Organic Tomato Vodka.  These vodkas incorporated the essence of the vegetables into the vodka.  His favorite of the two was the cucumber.  Since I've recently had tomatoes prepared many new ways, I tried a sip of that one.  The vodka was a little rough for my taste, but it did have a nice tomato scent to it.

Geordon samples the Vodka
Unique Organic Vodkas
As the event progressed the venue became very hot, and crowded, so Geordon and I left a little early.   It was so crowded you could barely move, kind of like Main Street in the Magic Kingdom right before the fireworks, only with more booze. We really enjoyed the time we spent at the event and hope that the organizers can relieve the congestion issues for next year.  If they had spread the tables out just a little farther it would have helped a lot.

Upstairs held some great treats, like my Rosa Regale, and other fabulous wines from Banfi.  The Banfi rep and I spoke a little about Epcot's Food and Wine Festival, where the Banfi distributing arm showcases many of it's fine wines in up to six festival booths.  Geordon and I especially enjoyed learning about the biodynamic wines Banfi is offering and he found a deep red that he really enjoyed.  We also made sure to stop by the table with the Louis Roederer Champange and I toasted my friend Amanda, who is a fan of the brand. 

Louis Roederer NV Brut Premier 
Scharffenberger NV Brut Rosé 
Assorted cupcakes from

Overall we had a fabulous time sipping and tasting our way around this diverse and unique gathering of flavors.  I look forward to next years event.


  1. I just read this! Thanks for thinking of me! Glad you got to try my fave!

  2. Sounds like a really fun event!!!

  3. This sounds like just my kind of event! What a wonderful evening you must have had. The wines and food sound amazing - especially that Strawberry Panna Cotta with Rose Wine Gelee - oh my! Thank you for sharing this lovely post with The Weekend Roundup.