A couple of times a year, the whole Chicago Food Planet team gets together to celebrate, and last Sunday, we gathered at CFP owner Shane Kost’s house for our midseason shindig. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, and I was starving after an afternoon bouncing around Riot Fest in Humboldt Park.
Shane’s backyard is magical — it’s almost hard to remember you’re in America, much less that you’re just a little wooden gate’s crossing from one of the busiest streets in Bucktown. He went all out for the Chicago Food Planet team — and naturally, we celebrated with some of the best food and drink out there. Shane hired one of his good friends, Lucio Davila, a personal chef and culinary instructor, to prepare a beautiful meal that took cues from the many flavors participants experience on Chicago Food Planet food tasting and cultural walking tours.
We started with a little green salad with grilled figs, crispy shallots and a poached egg to create a simple dressing. It had everyone at the table raving from the start. Next up was sweet potato gnocchi served with smoked grape tomato and straw mushroom pan sauce — just a little taste of fall mixed in with the last bits of summer produce!
Our third course was beautiful grilled fish tacos served with a zucchini and pear slaw and a trio of sauces: avocado mousse, black bean puree and chipotle. This was by far my favorite dish.
Did I mention there were six courses? (And that we’d all filled up on the amazing punch Lucio made with cucumber vodka, sparkling wine, ginger beer and fresh basil?) But as Louis CK says, the meal isn’t over when you’re full. It’s over when you hate yourself. So we kept on enjoying the food.
Next up was soba noodles cooked in black tea hondashi, served with roasted baby bok choy and gorgeous, rich sliced duck breast.
Our fifth course — and the last before dessert — was perfectly grilled steak served over a streak of blueberry sauce across the plate, accompanied by roasted autumn vegetables.
And for a lovely, clean finish, we ended with chilled pomegranate soup. Chef made a “gelato” of mascarpone cheese blended with flecks of rosemary and garnished it with grilled peaches.
We paired our six courses with three wines: a Sauvignon Blanc, a Vouvray and a Cabernet Franc. It was up to us to mix and match our food and wine. I was almost too wrapped up in the flavors to focus on wine!
Just as lovely as the food was the opportunity to meet some of the great tour guides I hadn’t gotten to chat with yet. There are so many personalities that make the CFP tours unique, and I can’t wait to spotlight more of them in the future.
Find out more about Chef Lucio on the Chopping Block’s website. Thanks for the wonderful dinner, Chef (and, of course, Shane)!