Pork Belly and the Blues

If you thought Day 1 and 2 were busy and full of good eats, Day 3 is for champions!

Up early with a cup of hot coffee, reheated deep dish and jalepeno poppers. I mean you couldn’t throw it out! We lazed around for a little bit. This down time was welcomed because we knew what was ahead. Time to ready ourselves to greet the day. The weather has been fab! We had a big storm last evening while sleeping as evidenced by large puddles but inclement weather has not interfered with our plans. For the most part we have been sticking to the itinerary.

The Uber drivers have also been mostly friendly and informative. The system seems more efficient than in Toronto. One driver pronounced Shannon’s name sha-non. Lots of giggles over that one. Roana and Shanon headed to Logan Square to a place called Fat Rice. It looked a little sketchy from the outside but Shannon said this was on recommendation. Reservations were at 11:00 and we were sure to have a great meal. I’m not really sure what it was supposed to be. It was a little confusing and it had a cool, hipster vibe. Flowers painted on the exterior window panes, tables close together, an open kitchen with a lunch counter and lots of beards. Teas and drinks with optional CBD oil boosters.

Definitely an interesting menu to be shared.  We started off with a carafe of mango mimosas and took the server’s lead on dishes to order. Portuguese sardines served in a can with Chinese mustard, a spicy pickle and nori wraps. Shannon wasn’t sure about that dish but soon found herself digging in. Next was the melted cheese, potatoes and bread, the pork and ginger dumplings and the the Lacasse noodles. Very intense flavours and a menu mixed with Portuguese and Macau, China dishes. It was pretty dang good!

After brunch we needed to walk off the food so we made our way over to the 606 that was to be similar to the High Line in NYC. We walked for 30 minutes until sweat was rolling and found an air conditioned Uber back to the flat. Not sure if we started at the wrong end, but I didn’t find it to be anything too exciting. It was pleasant enough with places to chat, some art installations and rubberized walking paths.

No one tried to recruit us – phew!

Time to cool down, and prepare ourselves for our final evening in Chicago. Nap time!! LOL

Before heading to the Fulton Market where the chef competition was to be held. we walked the street under where the train passes taking photos of beautiful street art. The colours were vibrant and rich. Here were some of my faves.

The detail was incredible and artists were represented from many different nationalities. I loved this.

Before finding the location of the competition, we walked past various filmmakers and models posing for cameras. One had grey smoke billowing from a flare to create a post-apocalyptic experience.

At 5:02 pm, we arrived at our destination. The lineup isn’t too bad and we are grateful for some air conditioning because we were melting from the walk. It is extremely humid today.

For those unfamiliar with the Grand Cochon, it is an underground Heritage pork competition. Chefs have been competing across North America and today is the finale where 9 chefs will compete for the top prize. There are also sommeliers and mixologist competitions.

With VIP tickets in hand, we entered the facility not really sure what to expect. We picked up our wine glass and walked into the hall where on the perimeter were food stations by 9 competing chefs and their teams, wine stations, scotch, rye and bourbon stations and other stations held by sponsors. This was all inclusive, no limits! Music pumped up the excitement, photographers flashed bulbs and people moved from station to station. First stop the VIP Oyster Bar, the Whispering Angels French rosé stall and then a visit to the Roka Akor tartare station. With our voting chip in hand, we scoped out the room and proceeded to try interesting dishes. Each chef must present 3 dishes. 9×3=27 – OMG!!! That’s just the competitors and doesn’t include the sponsors sharing their wares.

There was even an entry from Banff, AB Who had a ham stew that was rich and full of flavour! We also loved his maple and bacon candy floss.

My personal favourite was Brian Redzikowski from LA

His food was creative and so delicious. His pork belly bao bun was incredible and his whiskey-infused jellies shaped as little piglets were adorbs. You know the gelatin was made from pork parts.

By time we made it round to the Canadian entry we were pretty full so we took a breather and freshened up our wine glasses.

As we progressed through the stations some of the dishes were getting a little more interesting. Whipped lardon, trotters, snout and my personal favourite head cheese. The little ball of magic was crunchy on the outside and had head cheese inside that had an amazing mouth feel. Bliss in a ball!

At 8:00 pm the winner was announced – Brian from LA and so well-deserved!

It was a well-run event and I’m so pleased I was able to witness it with Shannon. I honestly don’t know anyone else who would have had the stamina or appreciation for the Grand Cochon! Thanks cuz!!!

What do 2 gals do at 9:00 pm on a Sunday evening in Chicago? You hit a blues club!!

Off to the Kingston Mines for some drinks and good music! The place was packed and lively. The bands and audience rotate between rooms every hour and the bands play 3 sets to 4:00 am. We quickly got into the spirit and I was playing air guitar in mo time at all.

The mood was so fun and let me say that although we didn’t make it to 4:00 am, we made a good dent in the post-midnight time clock. We laughed, danced and sang until hoarse before making our way back to West Town.

Good night Chicago!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s