2013 | chicago foodie girl


Thirsty Thursday: Absolut Chicago Moscow Mule

Welcome back to Thirsty Thursday! Considering I've already been to three holiday gatherings and a restaurant opening this week, the last thing I probably need is to indulge in Thirsty Thursday, but hey... 'tis the season, right?!

Not too long ago, Diana and I were lucky enough to be invited to a fantastic event hosted by Absolut Vodka at the Hubbard Inn. Not only did they serve us a wonderful brunch, but they also plowed us with all sorts of fabulous cocktails and sent us all home with beautiful bottles of the new Absolut Chicago (which we had both been coveting since Chicago Gourmet).



Cranberry Pistachio Pudding Cookies

As my wise friend once said, it is officially Eating Season (she swears it should have some sort of national holiday designation). Thanks to such a late Thanksgiving, I do kind of feel like I've been eating almost nonstop ever since then. There was our awesome Thanksgiving spread (here was my contribution), then there were all of the delicious leftovers... as soon as we finished up with the leftovers, it was time to shift into holiday cookie baking (and sampling!) mode. My first order of (cookie) business? The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

TGFBCS is the brainchild of two lovely bloggers. The concept is simple: they match you up with three other food bloggers, you bake & send a dozen cookies to each of your matches, and your matches do the same for you. Not only is there all sorts of cookie awesomeness, but also, the event supports a great cause (read more about it here). 

Chocolate Dipped Double Coconut Macaroons from Mary Beth at A Carrot and a Cupcake
Gingerbread Trees with Lemon Icing from Carol at Cafe Carol

Thick & Chewy Gingerbread Cookies with Gingerbread Oreo Bits from Becky at The Cereal Baker


Maple Walnut Blondies with Maple Butter Glaze

Autumn snow!

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a fantastic start to the week. I don't know about you, but I am soooo not able to concentrate on anything work-related this week; between a packed weekend that included a burlesque show and a clothing swap, the transition to winter weather, and the upcoming holidays, my brain is off in a million different directions. Thankfully, today is actually my last day and then I'm off for a lovely five-day stretch (if only every week could be like this!). ;-)

As with many of you, I also already have Thanksgiving food on the brain. I've never been in charge of a full dinner and honestly, I prefer it that way. I'm mostly interested in making various side dishes and desserts (aka the best parts of the meal!). The recipe I'm highlighting today is not only one of my new favorites, but also one that would be a perfect addition to the T-giving dessert bar (especially for those of you who may not be big fans of pie): Maple Walnut Blondies with Maple Butter Glaze. While my love of pumpkin has been well recorded on this blog, I've sadly neglected to mention my almost equivalent love for maple. I'm one of those people who have at least six different types of maple syrup in the refrigerator at all times - not only is my kitchen flooded with syrup options, but I also always have at least three varieties of maple sugar on hand (this is the best). Bottom line: I love maple! These Maple Walnut Blondies are straight up full of maple-ly deliciousness. I gave some to two of my maple-lovin' friends and they proclaimed them to be super fantastic (in their totally unbiased opinions, of course). If you love maple, I promise these blondies will make you very, very happy... and I bet they would go swell with this fabulous pumpkin pie martini!

As always, Mario and I will be spending the holiday with our friends and will enjoy a day filled with awesome food, video games, movies, and board games. I hope you all have a wonderful (and delicious) Thanksgiving... I'll see you back here next week! :-)



Monday Foodie Porn: Andersonville Dessert Crawl

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. :-) This was the first weekend since August in which I had nothing on the calendar, no homework to complete, and no papers to grade. *whew* It felt like such a luxury to finally have three days of downtime after a whirlwind October (the heaviest part of the semester + birthday excitement + Halloween excitement). I ran a few errands, made a much-needed visit to my chiropractor, spent some time with friends, baked, and read for pleasure. I also finally sorted through the many photos from the Andersonville Dessert Crawl (all while catching up on the last two episodes of Top Chef and American Horror Story: Coven).

As I mentioned last year, the Dessert Crawl is one of my favorite foodie events of the year. It always seems to fall on one of those perfect autumn days (slightly chilly and sunny) and is filled with miles of deliciousness. Really, what's there not to love about strolling through one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city with friends and eating yourself into a sugar coma? ;-) After much evaluation and the weighing of options, Diana and I decided to go with the Caramel Apple route this year, as we were both enamored with the idea of banana pot de crème. Ultimately, I think we made a fantastic choice - there were so many delicious desserts on our route that we actually couldn't even finish the crawl!



Chicago Gourmet 2013

The sixth annual Chicago Gourmet festival, aka the culinary event of the year (and the festival I had been eagerly anticipating since purchasing the tickets last November, i.e. EONS ago!), took place in Millennium Park the last weekend of September. There were 175 Chicago-area chefs, more than 100 wine and spirit producers, and just over 12,000 attendees. Yes, you read that right. A little over twelve thousand foodies made their way down to the coolest park in the city in order to rub elbows with celebrity chefs, stuff themselves with gourmet food, and drink themselves into a stupor (really, considering the amount of delicious drinks flowing through the festival, it was impossible *not* to!). 



Monday Foodie Porn: Chicago Food Social

As I've mentioned numerous times since the inception of this blog, I love a good food truck. In fact, I have been known to plan an entire outing around a Twitter food truck stalking session. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that the trend is a fairly recent phenomenon in Chicago (thanks to some strict legislation that for years made it difficult for them to operate in the city); however, there's also the fact that there is some damn good food coming out of many of those trucks! I love the whole concept of a mini restaurant on wheels - ever since I visited my first bona fide food truck in Austin back in 2010 (Hey Cupcake!), I have been obsessed with tracking down various trucks and sampling all of their awesome offerings.

The third annual Chicago Food Social took place the weekend before last and of course, Diana (aka my food truck stalking buddy) and I were all over it! I have to admit that I was slightly apprehensive about the redesign of the festival (previously known as the Food Truck Social), as there was not only a change of location but also the addition of non-food truck restaurant booths; however, the moment we stepped foot onto the festival's grounds, all of my worries were squashed. To put it simply: it was *amazing*! There were rows and rows of food trucks (twice as many as last year!), many of which were new to us and/or impossible to track down. Seriously, it was food truck heaven!

The only downfall was that because there were so many fantastic food trucks, we ended up eating way too much (even though we did share each item & we spread it out over five hours). While we did managed to narrow down our choices to a list of absolute must-visits (that was hard for me because now that I work in the 'burbs, I miss out on most weekday food truck opportunities), we still ended up skipping quite a few because we were soooo stuffed. We've already made a plan for next year that involves visiting in shifts in order to allow for maximum digestion/calorie burn time in between the lunch and dinner sessions. :-)
The Tamale Spaceship: This was at the top of my must-visit list, as I was starting to feel like I was the last foodie in the city to never sample their delicious tamales. The Spaceship was the first stop of the day and ultimately, one of my top picks from the entire festival.



The last five weeks...

*Tap, tap, tap* Is this thing on? Ahem. I'm finally poking my head out after whirlwind end to summer break and a whirlwind start to the fall semester.

Despite the whirlwinded-ness (yes, I totally just made up that word) of it all, I still can't believe five weeks have flown by since I last posted... especially considering I've written at least 20 posts in my head during that time! I did intentionally take a small step back from the 'net after a summer glued to the computer, but that small break turning into a longer break, and now, I feel like I have to make some grandiose re-entrance. Um, so, I'm back! Woo-hoo! :-)

Here's a bit of what I've been up to during the last month or so...

Hair chopping!

I've had short hair before, but it had been about 11 years since the last time I made the big chop. I went through about 10 seconds of shock when I rubbed the back of my head for the first time, but then I immediately fell in love with the awesomeness (yes, I realize how narcissistic that sounds, but it's true!). ;-)



Monday Foodie Porn: Andersonville Dinner Crawl

As I've mentioned numerous times over the last year and a half, I have hardcore love for Andersonville. It is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago - it's filled with adorable shops, amazing restaurants, and a fabulous community (Swedish/LGBT/Middle Eastern/young professionals). Andersonville has the perfect blend of diversity, oodles of delicious food options, and some of the best festivals & events in the city (e.g. multiple food & wine crawls, Midsommarfest, St. Lucia festival).

While the Dessert Crawl is my favorite of Andersonville's festivals, the Dinner Crawl isn't far behind (how could you not love an event that involves strolling through an awesome neighborhood with friends & sampling all sorts of delicious goodies?!). The 2013 Taste of Andersonville Dinner Crawl took place last week, and of course, Diana and I were all over it! After scrutinizing the options, we eventually decided to go with the Pepper Route, as we were both fixated on the idea of salmon tartare wontons. We definitely made the made the right choice - we had a fantastic time and walked away with several new favorites! Correction: we actually waddled away, as we were totally stuffed to the brim. :-)



Thirsty Thursday: Cîroc Vodka Lemonades

Welcome back to Thirsty Thursday, aka my favorite day of the week! :-)
As I've mentioned a million times over the last year & a half, I'm definitely not the biggest fan of summer (mostly because I'm a humidity wimp), but even I have to admit that there are a few fantastic things about summer that the other seasons just cannot touch. This is the time of year in which the city is at its best: the days are filled with long walks along the shoreline, gorgeous sunrises over a glittering Lake Michigan, awesome street festivals, free outdoor concerts, and fun BBQs/picnics with friends. Of course, we can't forget the most important and delicious part of the season... the amazing fruity cocktails! :-)

Last week, Mario and I were invited to visit 25 Degrees in order to check out their new line of Cîroc Vodka Lemonades. To me, vodka + lemonade = the quintessential summer drink, so it should be of no surprise that I was thrilled to have the opportunity to sample a drink (or two... or maybe even three).


Taste of Chicago 2013

The 33rd annual Taste of Chicago took place last week. I went to the Taste the first three years I lived here & then one random year when my friend from London was visiting and wanted to go; I've intentionally avoided it ever since. Why would a foodie avoid the city's biggest food festival of the year? Well, after the novelty wore off, I realized that between the horrendous crowds (particularly the slow-moving suburbanites who loooove using their SUV-sized strollers as weapons), the lack of variety (approximately 90% of vendors offer stereotypical Midwestern cuisine: fried/greasy/breaded/swimming in gravy), and the inevitable heat/humidity, it really wasn't all that fun. I made a conscious decision to end my relationship with the Taste and that was that... until this year.
The city just had to get slick and add a new! shiny! feature to the Taste. Food trucks. Oh yes. Food trucks, aka my kryptonite. As has been well documented here, I love a good food truck - everything seems to taste so much better when served out of a cute little truck! As soon as I learned the news of the food truck addition, I knew my anti-Taste stance would have to come to an end. I rallied the troops (well, really just my favorite fellow food truck lover) and made a plan. After thoroughly analyzing the food truck section and our schedules (we're both hardcore nerdy planner people), we decided to brave the Wednesday evening fun crowd (i.e. scads of overexcited teenagers).

The food truck/concert area 
While the city did decide to allow food trucks to participate, they were confined to a small area (the easternmost part of the festival - far away from all other vendors) and heavily restricted. They were only allowed to start selling an hour before each of the nightly concerts (as opposed to the other vendors, which were available all day/night). Unfortunately, the city still hasn't fully embraced the food truck craze (WTF, Chicago?!). Obviously, I'm glad the trucks were included in this year's festival, but the setup was kind of a bummer.

The food truck/concert area

This was one of the new-to-me food trucks & the one I was most excited to try. I'd heard nothing but good things about their food but hadn't managed to track them down. After my experience at the Taste, I can now officially count myself as one of their many, many fans!

Rosemary fries drizzled with truffle aioli from The Fat Shallot. I cannot say enough good things about these fries! Seriously, they were some of the best fries I've EVER had! The fries were perfectly crispy and covered in truffle amazingness... *drool*.

Amazing truffle fries = :-)  :-)  :-) 
(BTW - that little peek of bandage is covering a piece of my new tattoo. More on this later!)

Thanks to our experience with Beavers at last year's Food Truck Social, we both knew that this food truck was an absolute must-try!

Nutella Dream (strawberry sauce + Nutella) and Reese's Gourmet Mini Donuts (chocolate sauce + Reese's peanut butter sauce) from Beavers. They're crispy on the outside, and light & fluffy on the inside... pure donut perfection.

A few of the other food trucks: Taquero Fusion and Jerk. Modern Jamaican Grill (they have the best logo!)

Once we were finished with the food truck section, we decided to hunt down a few of the Pop-Up Restaurants... but first we had to fight our way through the sweaty, greasy crowds. Ick.

Pop-Up Restaurant menus: hearty and Inspiration Kitchens 

Cilantro-Garlic Pulled Pork Sandwich from hearty. Both Diana and I had pictured a pulled pork sandwich topped with cilantro - we were pleasantly surprised to find the pork had been cooked in a cilantro sauce. So delicious! I'm guessing it was the same sauce they use for their cilantro-garlic ribs. If you are a fan of cilantro, the sauce is a must-try!

Crawfish Pistolette from Inspiration Kitchens. While I wouldn't rate this as a bad sandwich, it was my least favorite item we tried. It was a little too bready and far too filling (I'm sure some of this had to do with the weather). However, the sauce was quite good, so I'm definitely open to giving it another try!

After the Pop-Up section, we decided to walk around the rest of the festival to check out the offerings... commence Taste of Chicago suckiness. After passing approximately 20 rib, sausage, and pizza places (blah, blah, and blah), we finally gave up and spent our final tickets on Italian ice. 

Watermelon Italian Ice from Franco's Ristorante

I have mixed feeling about my return to the Taste. On one hand, there's a part of me that's glad I decided to check it out - I was able to add a fantastic new food truck to add to my list and I had fun hanging with D. On the other hand, my experience reconfirmed exactly why I don't care for the festival - it's overcrowded and quite overrated. Ultimately, the Taste just doesn't hold a candle to the scads of smaller and far more awesome food festivals (Food Truck Social, Baconfest, Chicago Gourmet) that happen throughout the year. 

*Recommence Taste of Chicago hiatus*



Silverland Bakery

I was recently contacted by Silverland Bakery to see if I would be interested in sampling and reviewing some of their products. I will admit that I do get contacted quite often about reviews and I've had to learn to become picky about what I say yes to, as I don't want to end up in a situation where I have to promote a product I wouldn't otherwise buy/use/eat. However, in this case, I took one look at their website and sent back an email with an emphatic "hell, yes!!" (in a much more professional tone, of course). :-)

Silverland Bakery is a small mother and daughter-run company, with an amazing selection of offerings including brownies, blondies, cookies, fruit bars, and raw bars; this includes several gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free products. Bonus: all of their ingredients are non-GMO and preservative & trans-fat free. Not only are they an awesome independent bakery that offers high-quality products, but also founder Athena Uslander established a community foundation to enhance the lives and self-esteem of women and girls in need. A pro-woman company that offers handcrafted baked goods and gives back to the community? To me, that is the epitome of small business goodness.

Silverland sent me a complimentary package of twelve dessert bars, along with a giant White Chocolate Blueberry Cookie (one of their newest products). Holy motherload of desserts! I took the tray to a get-together with friends and quartered each bar so that we could all try a little of each (click photo to enlarge for maximum foodie porn!). We all loved each of the bars and had a hard time deciding on our favorites - personally, I was torn between the Siberian Bearclaw, the Salted Caramel Brownie, and the Raspberry Crumble Bar.


Marinated Peppers & Chickpeas Salad

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I had a very packed one filled with grocery shopping, grading, and homework... lame, right?! Thankfully, Sunday was filled with more than enough excitement to make up for the rest of the weekend - Mario & I headed down to Boystown and met up with some friends for the Pride Parade. While the parade was definitely tamer than in years past, there were still plenty of boobs, beers, and boys. :-)

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm mostly in my summer no-cook mode (it's been a bit of a weird summer, temperature-wise, so I'm back & forth with wanting to turn on the oven & avoiding it like crazy). I'm also still on a serious salad kick, so I've been scouring Pinterest religiously in search of inspiration. Today's Meatless Monday dish is based on two awesome salads I came across during my search. The Marinated Peppers & Chickpeas Salad is packed with flavor and works just as well as either a side dish or as a light meal on its own. Bonus: it's easy to assemble and perfect for those hot weather days in which you don't want to turn on the oven. :-)



Watermelon, Mint & Feta Salad

Lemon Italian ice at Midsommarfest
As you've probably noticed, I haven't been posting much lately, despite my ambitious summer plan to work through all of my half-written drafts and actually finish them. Let's just say that the combination of the two online classes I'm teaching & the two online classes I'm taking, along with the lure of the fantastic weather (I am all about the awesome street festivals and walks by the lake), has left me *so* ready to unplug by midday. Oh, and let's not forget my rockin' gym schedule (I've made it 35 times since the end of the semester!), visits to new restaurants (more about this soon), and various birthday celebrations (my favorite six-year-old turned seven - where did the last year go?!). It has been quite a crazy-busy, but totally awesome summer so far!

While the temperature is still fairly mild, I've still started moving into my summer no-cook mode. I've mostly been craving salads and sandwiches (the Avocado, Apple & Brie Sandwich has made multiple appearances), as well as a ton of fruit. Above all, I am seriously digging all things watermelon this year. I picked up a lovely watermelon and feta salad at The Goddess and Grocer not too long ago and was inspired to make my own version (one that doesn't involve me picking out all of the onions!). The Watermelon, Mint & Feta Salad is a simple dish that highlights one of the best flavors of the season. This salad is light & refreshing and has a delicious sweet/salty/minty flavor combination. It has officially become my new favorite summer dish!



New Items at Corner Bakery

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a spring menu tasting event at Corner Bakery. Unfortunately, due to a prior obligation, I couldn't make the event, but the people at Corner Bakery were nice enough to offer to send over some gift certificates so that I could check out some of their new fruit and veggie-inspired offerings. Seeing as I love Corner Bakery (it's definitely one of my top picks from the fast-casual market), I jumped at the chance.

I have to admit that I order the exact same items every single time I visit Corner Bakery: the Uptown Turkey sandwich or the Tomato Mozzarella sandwich. If I'm feeling really daring, I'll mix it up and switch to the Harvest Salad during the summer or the Roasted Tomato Basil soup during the winter. Despite the fact that Corner Bakery has all sorts of awesome selections, I am very much a creature of habit and will rarely move out of my comfort zone. Of course, that means that I can easily miss out on awesome new dishes, which is why an opportunity to sample their new offerings was exactly what I needed.

Spring Asparagus Soup: asparagus simmered in a light vegetable broth with a touch of cream. Both Mario and I loved this soup! Honestly, I would not have ordered on my own - I'm so glad I had the push to try it because it is one kick-ass soup. Seriously, if you're an asparagus lover, you need to run to Corner Bakery *right now* and order yourself a gallon of creamy asparagus deliciousness!



Friday Five Restaurant Revisited: Gaudi Cafe

*Guest post by chicago foodie girl contributor, Diana

Hi All! Hope you're all having a great extended weekend!

I finally made it back to a restaurant that I reviewed recently on a "Friday Five" post and wanted to share some of the foodie porn with you. This was a restaurant I don't go to often but needed to make it a point to get back there again and I finally did!

I picked up my sister on Saturday and she had a taste for tapas but didn't want to drive too far away, nor sit in bumper to bumper traffic to go downtown. I remembered that Gaudi Cafe had a nice selection of tapas, along with salads, sandwiches, and breakfast all day, so I thought it was a perfect choice. We headed out to the Ukrainian Village I gushed all the way there about how much I enjoyed their food and how excited I was to go back there!

After perusing the menu, we decided to go for tapas and nothing else. We started with two wonderful plates of marinated olives and bacon wrapped dates:



Marcus Samuelsson!

Brazilian Mojitos from Coco

Happy hump day! I hope everyone is having a fantastic (or at least tolerable) week. :-) To be quite honest, I'm having a hard time keeping track of the days - I really only know which day it is by my gym class schedule (Wednesdays = Chisel fo’ Shizzel with my favorite instructor). While I'm still working (my summer classes start in two weeks), I have to say that it's soooo nice to finally have a little time off from the commute and from the constant high level of interaction. As I've mentioned before, I love my school, but I desperately need a little recovery/introvert time.

Thus far, my recovery has included quite a bit of time at the gym (making up for all of the days I missed during the semester), pleasure reading time (my to-read book and magazine pile is diminishing!), and some quality time with friends and Mario. As one of my favorite academic bloggers called it, it's time for me to become my Best Summertime Self! The first part of being my BSS included a fabulous weekend in which I met the totally adorable and so sweet Chef Marcus Samuelsson, discovered the best mojito I've ever had, and attended my first sumo match.



Good vs. Evil: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert

Anthony Bourdain + Eric Ripert = über awesomeness

Last Friday, Diana and I attended what is totally the culinary equivalent of a rock concert: an evening with the super-awesome Antony Bourdain and Eric Ripert. The auditorium was packed with foodie fans, and as with any hot show, there were the requisite inappropriate screamers ("I love you, Tony!" "Come home with me, Eric!"), the note-tossers (I'm just going to guess that the notes two guys in skinny jeans & skull caps put on the stage pre-show contained phone numbers and invites to hipster bars), almost nonstop laughter & clapping, and a plethora of cheap beer.



Tasty Travels: California

*Guest post by chicago foodie girl contributor, Diana

Helloooo Foodies! Hope this finds you well. :)

Life's been pretty hectic lately with my job, but in between the madness, I found time to leave the Spring freeze of Chicago and head west to the sunny shores of Southern California. I spent a few days with my sister, then a couple of days on my own, then back home to reality. It was a great trip that I sorely needed. I hadn't gone on vacation in a couple of years and a break was certainly in order.

So let's get out of town and see what So Cal (I know people from California hate that term, but I'm lazy and it allows me to type less. HAHA!) has to offer...

We flew Virgin America. Great airline, comfy seats, accommodating staff. Next, to Jet Blue, they're my favorite airline. You're already in a sardine can, but on either airline, you definitely do not feel like a sardine. Being a lady of, um, size, comfort is important to me when air traveling. Thumbs up to VA!



Monday Foodie Porn

Happy spring! Yes, I realize spring technically started over a month ago; however, it was still very much winter in these parts until just a few days ago (we had tickets to a Sox game on the 19th that was snowed out!). The piles of dirty of snow have finally melted, the trees have sprouted tiny buds, and there's a whiff of the telltale spring smells (dirt, fresh grass, wet pavement) in the air. I'm so sure that the crappy weather is finally done that I actually put away the errant pile of scarves and mittens yesterday. Yippee!

We're rapidly nearing the end of the semester. My students' writing portfolios and my final few homework assignments are all due by the end of this week. After a whirlwind week of grading, I will be done, done, done with the semester! Yay! I have a really fantastic group of students this semester and while I'm sad to see them go, I'm also excited to finally have time to tackle my huge spring/summer to-do list (including a backlog of foodie porn & recipe posts, two new classes to design, and six grad credits to complete).

A few food highlights from the last few months...

Cupid's Choice Donut from Dunkin' Donuts: I have to admit that I'm a bit of a donut snob, as there are so many amazing donut shops in Chicago, but even I am powerless when it comes to the charms of cute heart sprinkles and rich Bavarian Kreme. :-)



Monday Foodie Porn: Baconfest 2013!

Bacon Nation!

Baconfest: we came, we saw, we conquered. Well, realistically, it's more like Baconfest conquered us... no matter how much you love the swine, really, there's only so much you can inhale before it gets the best of you (as first-timer Mario discovered). :-)

Baconfest 2013 was even more fabulous than its predecessor - mostly because I knew what to expect and I actually followed my own advice. As much as I wanted to stuff my face with one (or five) of everything, I knew I couldn't handle it, so I made a plan and mostly stuck to it (admittedly, I did get sucked into a few extra tables once I saw their fabulous creations). In our two hours of extreme bacon consumption, we encountered everything from bacon scrapple with bacon sriracha, bacon-salt cured egg yolks, and a bacon Malort Julius (the "Wake n’Bacon" from Three Aces) to chocolate bacon mousse in a bacon phyllo cup topped with bacon granola and bourbon caramel (Triple Bacon Chocolate Mousse from Chicago q). Mario's favorite (it was a tie for me) was the Benton ham & scallion waffle with Nueske’s bacon jam, Tim Burton’s bourbon maple syrup, and boozy smoked bacon & banana ice cream coupe from deca. Holy amazingness!

Feed us bacon!
Of the sixty-something restaurants that participated in the dinner shift, we sampled bacon delights from thirty of them... that probably equates to at least a pig each, right? As I mentioned last year, I had a fantastic time, but I'm glad Baconfest only happens once a year. While there's no such thing as too much bacon, my stomach does need a full year to recover from the meat-eating mania! :-)

During the hour & a half wait in line, we poured through the official guide and mapped out our route.  
The aforementioned amazing Benton ham & scallion waffle from deca.

Pork belly pastrami sandwich served on a pretzel bun, with Gruyere and caramelized onions from firefly grill. This was by far my favorite sandwich/burger of the evening, thanks to the delicious pastrami & the adorable presentation.

Bacon fat fries topped with homemade cheese sauce & bacon crumbles from Hash House A Go GoCan you really ever go wrong with fries and cheese?

French toast, seared bacon confit, cured egg yolk, and bourbon barrel aged maple whipped cream from 3 Floyds Brewing CoI'm a huge fan of the sweet/savory mix and this dish was totally spot on! 

Bakon margarita (Bakon vodka, tequila & bacon salt rim). Super potent & delicious! I wasn't sold on Bakon last year, but I can now say I am officially a fan.

Maple glazed potato hash, house smoked bacon, Labatt's bacon gravy, and smoked bacon Labatt's beer cheese from ManBQue.

Goose Island bourbon county stout braised bacon with kickapoo blue cheese, rhubarb salad, and a pickled quail egg from State & Lake.

Applewood-smoked bacon finocchiona with fig mustard & cornichon (right); Cherrywood bacon country pate (middle); and port cherries, fennel, smoked bacon & peanut butter verrine from QuayThe verrine was one of my favorite dishes of the entire festival (there's just something about peanut butter & bacon!). On the other hand, I came to the definite conclusion that I really don't like pate.

Carnitas de Pescado: 24-hour cured braised cod with fava beans, corn salsa, bacon vinaigrette, and crispy bacon from Mercadito

Bacon and Sweet Corn Hush Puppies with crème fraîche and chipotle lime emulsion from Market Bar.

Maple bacon tartlet with candied bacon from Terzo PianoI am a sucker for just about anything maple - I sooo could have had another piece if I hadn't already been stuffed by the time we made it to their table! This tartlet had the *perfect* balance of sweet maple and bacon.

Bacon gelato and Nutella drizzle (served over a mini waffle square) from Black Dog Gelato. BDG is my favorite gelato/ice cream store in the city. They have a wide variety of sweet & savory flavors (the sesame fig chocolate chip is incredible!) and the owner, Jessica, is super nice & so passionate about gelato. 

Bacon onion jam pop tart with smoked vanilla ice cream and bacon topping station (bacon icing, bacon powder, bacon bourbon maple caramel, bacon hot fudge, bacon peanut brittle, bacon whipped cream) from Acadia.

Bacon pate, beer jam aspic, bacon brioche, and bacon mostardo from Perennial Virant.

Smoked pork belly sliders: Hawaiian buns, pickled pineapple relish & brown sugar ginger soy glaze from SableYes, that is Chef Heather Terhune from Top Chef Texas!

Maple bacon mini doughnut from Glazed and InfusedHoly doughnut o' heaven! I've had maple bacon doughnuts before, but wasn't overly impressed by any, as they were all far too greasy. This one was perfection... I shouldn't be surprised seeing as it was from Glazed and Infused (their Crème Brûlée & Red Velvet doughnuts are to die for!).

P. Double B.L.T. (pork belly, bacon, lettuce, tomato & bacon jam) and Chef Ryan Poli from Little Market

Bacon Cake from Gingersnap Sweets & SuchOnce again peanut butter + bacon = awesomeness!

Rhubarb-glazed Italian-style doughnut w/Nueske’s bacon crème anglaise from Cafe SpiaggiaYes, that is the adorable Chef Sarah Grueneberg (Top Chef Texas) and yes, I acted like a total goofy fangirl when I met her (girl crush alert!). Not only was she sooo nice (especially considering everyone wanted to take pictures with her), but also, her food was seriously incredible. It was a tie between this awesome doughnut & deca's waffle for my top pick of the fest.

Adorable/morbid piggy balloons galore!

Pigs everywhere give Baconfest two hooves up!

Full Baconfest menu here

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