It’s the one summer event I never miss. I’ve been there while I was pregnant. I was there with an infant. I go if it’s raining. I’ve even attended when the temperature hovered near 100. I’ve flown there. Walked there. Ridden an elevated train to get there. What can I say? When it comes to food I’m a die-hard. So, it is with joy… no, make that utter glee, that I make my annual pilgrimage to the “Taste of Chicago” to indulge in delicacies from alligator-on-a-stick to Pad Thai, lobster rolls, wild boar sausage, grilled chopped lime chicken salad, and curry goat with rice and peas… and that’s just in the first 20 minutes.
If you have never been to the “Taste of Chicago” you don’t know what you are missing. Ok, sure, you’re missing the crowd of nearly 4 million hungry “Taste”-goers that converge on Chicago’s Grant Park during the 11-day festival, but you are also missing the chance to sample 300 menu items from more than 70 restaurants, listen to live music, have your children be entertained by jugglers and magicians, and watch live cooking demonstrations by world-renown chefs.
This year’s “Taste of Chicago” takes place from June 30-July 9 and will feature performances by Macy Gray, Train, Liz Phair, Joe Dee Messina, and Ray Davies (just to name a few). My 2-year-old daughter is looking forward to petting the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. They will be performing at the “Taste” as well, which works out perfectly because while my husband takes her to watch their performance I plan to watch Marc Summers from the Food Network host the Food Network Challenge at the “Taste.” From there, I will head to Dominick’s Cooking Corner to sit-in on a few cooking demonstrations conducted by some of the country’s top chefs. They share unique recipes, provide insight on cooking techniques and take questions from the audience. In years past I have left with some wonderful culinary tips and a variety of new menu ideas.
Since our daughter (a budding foodie herself) makes the trip with us, we never miss spending time at the Family Village and Fun Time Stage. It’s chock full of hands-on activities and entertainment for kids. This year’s performers include youthful singers, American Girl Revue and the Radio Disney Party Patrol. From there we get in line for free cheesecake. That’s right, FREE. Each year Eli’s Cheesecake celebrates its birthday at the “Taste” with a massive 1,000-pound cheesecake topped with marzipan cherries the size of baseballs. The crowd sings “Happy Birthday,” then the cake is sliced up and handed out. It’s delicious and by the time you make your way through the line you’re ready to inhale about three pieces. (Well, maybe that’s just me.)
Since the “Taste of Chicago” is held in Grant Park, located along Chicago’s lakeshore, we often take our turkey legs, Harry Carey chips, jerk chicken and fried pickles and sit along the banks of Lake Michigan to enjoy the view and the breeze. It’s a great way to spend a summer day. Just remember to bring sunscreen, a pair of comfortable shoes, and of course, your appetite.
For a complete list of menu options and other information on the “Taste of Chicago” click here.