Sky Full of Bacon

Stuffing Ourselves for Sustainability

I’m sure it’s a total cliche to say that the annual BBQ to benefit Chicago’s chichiest farmer’s market, the Green City Market, is the real Taste of Chicago.  But it is what you wish that massive event could be— the best chefs in town knocking out inventive picnic food and drinks on a gorgeous (okay, slightly rainy) summer night by the lake. Of course, even at a few hundred folks this event had its share of things served lukewarm and so on, so multiply it to the Taste’s million or so milling munchers of pizza on a stick and you can only imagine how impossible it would get. At the size it was, things managed to move well, only a couple of booths had significant lines (Rick Bayless’s is so popular no one goes there), and I tried lots of wonderful stuff (and happily, the chefs I knew all acquitted themselves well).

Here are some highlights from early on, I stopped taking pictures after the sunlight disappeared:

Philip Foss of Lockwood cooked this brisket sous vide for 40 hours or something. It also spent some time on a grill, because I definitely got a burnt end, which was yummy.

Naha’s elk, really nicely put together though you did lose the game meatishness a little in the salad. The salad was terrific, though.

Prairie Grass’s crostini with grilled portabellos and goat cheese, worth giving up precious pork stomach space for.

That’s Stephanie Izard back there smiling her 1000-watt smile (even out of focus, good for 300 watts) behind her excellent goat and goat cheese combo, the first public taste of her impending, someday The Drunken Goat restaurant.

Crofton on Wells’ rabbit dog with apple cider ice. One of my top 3.

Three Floyds brewery guys cranking out what was billed as “pork fat hot dogs.”

Paul Kahan of Blackbird dishing up the most daring dish of the night– the blood sausage corn dog– which was a surprising and total success, another of my top 3 (and same for nearly everyone I talked to).

Bill Kim of Urban Belly making something like bulgogi on sope-like pieces of masa; the Asian flavors were good (and hot) but the masa was so hard it hurt my tooth.

Guys from Tru putting truffle foam on a sausage-cracker combo.

Mado made a Memphis pulled pork sandwich… except they used tongue (and, incidentally, baked their own white bread).

Nathan Sears of Vie serving…

…barbecue turkey with pickled greens and stuff on it. This was the other of my top 3, probably my favorite in fact, certainly the one that dazzled the most despite unexciting-sounding meat. Basically it was like soul food, and really likable.

A few other things I really liked but no pics: Cary Taylor of Chaise Lounge’s smoked blueberry pannacotta, no I didn’t taste the smoke either but it was just what I needed after Bill Kim’s spicy dish; a blueberry-ginger Maker’s Mark cocktail which I think was from the folks at Sola; Lula/Nightwood’s white gazpacho with sweetish beets and bits of bacon in it; and, though I didn’t taste it till well after I was stuffed, Fig’s grilled trout (one of the very few fish items).

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