Chicago Gourmet came to a fantastic and memorable close out on Sunday, September 24, atop the Harris Rooftop at Millennium Park (205 E. Randolph St), with Prost! In The Park. This event offered enough oompa to launch a bratwurst into orbit all afternoon from 1-4pm, where the wursts were the best and the beer was bountiful, Prost! In The Park was its gourmet version of Oktoberfest.
The event featured chef takes on classic German delights, craft brews, creative cocktails, music and more. I was blown away by the impressive variety of brews, ciders, food items and entertainment. What a wonderful contemporary spin on the traditional Oktoberfest celebration!
Instead of the limited choice of a few beers, served in a liter stein, you were given a small glass to sample ales and lagers from almost every local brewery you could think of.
There were vendors to encounter, as well as local and in the area mainstays including Old Irving Brewing Company (delicious Cushy Mango Peach Sour Ale and refreshing Til Death Pilsner), Energy City Brewing (Bistro Pumpkin Cobbler-made with pumpkin puree and spices, and Chocolate and Coconut Macaroon Dark Stout-fantastic and natural chocolate and coconut flavor).
There were German beer choices as well for good measure. As a big fan of traditional German fest beers and Oktoberfest Marzens, it was intriguing to sample interpretations of those styles from a smorgasbord of our local breweries.
Let us sing high praises to the Chicago Black Owned Moor’s Brewing Company, which boasted some of the most unique brews of the event. There was their Session Ale (green papaya, lime, lemongrass), the Imperial Porter (hoppy, lavender, blueberry, chocolate, coffee) and Helles Lager (honeydew melon, German hops).
D’Andre Carter of Soul and Smoke gave out pastrami burnt ends. Mariano’s own Four Star Artisan had beer can chicken sausage with summer slaw pickles. Nikhil Abuvala of Roux 30A and Nanbu Noodle Bar dished out delectable and perfectly prepared Cajun spiced golf shrimp with German style macaroni and cheese.
Appreciated by the non-meat eaters were Monteverde’s delicious salt roasted beets (double ricotta schmear, poppy seeds, horseradish and dill) and, and my favorite Chicago chef, Tigist Reda, of Ethiopian restaurant, Demera, who wowed the crowd with a meatless side dish of chopped purple cabbage, roasted eggplant with traditional skillet baked bread.
The thick, gooey cookies from Lavain Bakery were top notch (caramel coconut chocolate chip cookie and the fall chocolate cinnamon chunk). A very unforgettable experience was the liquid nitrogen-dipped sweet puffs.
At the event, instead of the usual polka you would find at an old-school Oktoberfest, Prost! In The Park had a very talented DJ, who elevated the vibe with a mix of party favorites, pop classics, classic rock and hip hop. Music variety and clever transitions were impressive.
Along with the rest of the fun, attendees were jovial and courteous, and we had no problem sharing a spot at the stand-up tables scattered around the event with our food and beer. It was one of the more memorable event experiences I have had in recent years. Until next year, Chicago Gourmet!
Photos: Jennifer Lunz
For more information on next year’s Chicago Gourmet and updates, please visit the website.