Today I had the opportunity to go on a completely unplanned adventure to the Taste of Chicago. I woke up wondering what the heck I was going to do with my day as I signed onto Facebook. My friend Mel asked me if I was willing to go to the Taste and said our train left in an hour. Even though I wasn’t feeling totally up to it since my last Taste experience was awful, I decided I needed to get out and figured this could be fun. In the Taste’s defense – the last time I went to it I was about 7 or 8 years old and it was on the 3rd of July and it was complete madness. I had no respect for food at that time and all I was concerned about was fireworks – which I never saw!
I did wake up for a hankering for a Chicago Style Hot Dog and when I shared this desire with my brother he told me I can’t possibly go to the Taste and just get a hot dog. It was then that I decided I need to completely use this chance to try something strange and new to me. I felt that lately I have remained in my safety zone and haven’t ventured far out of it. I entered the Taste knowing that I had to use at least half of my tickets on new and unique food items. I bought 36 tickets (Yes, for myself. Thanks!). I then looked at the map and tried to set a game plan. I was upset to see there was only one item that was truly unique to me – GOAT! To give you a small side story, I have had a personal vendetta against goats for many years and there would be nothing else that would bring me great pleasure to eat a goat and show them who is boss. So I did.
The goat was from an African restaurant called Vee-Vee’s. To my surprise it wasn’t so bad. I’m aware that all over the world people eat goat frequently but it hasn’t made it my way yet so to me this was very awkward. I was just visiting goats at a petting zoo the other day I didn’t think I would be eating them in my near future. I was expecting a very gamey and wild flavor to it. It fell apart like beef-stew meat and tasted similar to it as well. My only complaint would be that the flavor of the goat was lost in a pool of spicy sauce. Since I now know that the taste of goat isn’t like chewing on the side of a barn I am willing to try it again when the flavor wont be so hidden.
Since I was able to check off “taste a unique food item” I decided the next thing I had to find was something Irish. I embrace my Irish heritage and it’s not something I get to eat often. After a lot of walking and hunting we stumbled upon Abbey’s booth where I purchased Fish n Chips and an amazing “Irish Egg Roll”. The fish and chips were a little bit disappointing. It tasted like it may have been sitting for a while. Instead of having a tender flaky inside it had a tougher texture more like a chicken tender – awkward! I will have to say that the Irish Egg Roll wins for the best thing I ate all day. It was a very large freshly deep fried combination of corned beef, cabbage and oozey melted cheese. I’m not quite sure what cheese it was but my guess is either brick or mozzarella. I’m aware that the whole corned beef and cabbage thing isn’t genuinely Irish, but for today I decided to pretend it was totally authentic.
With only six tickets left I decided that after walking for hours with the sun beaming down full-force that I needed some Italian ice. I remembered seeing the booth, but for the life of me couldn’t remember where. I ditched my group so they didn’t have to fight through the crowds just for me to have Italian ice. Of course with my luck it was one of the last booths on the complete opposite side of the park from where we were. After fighting through the crowd and waiting in a long line (two lines to be exact – after I got through the first line I was told it was pizza only, oops!), I finally got my little cup of cherry Italian ice. Reggie’s is very lucky they have amazing Italian ice or I may have lost my mind. I had two tickets left after this adventure. So what did I settle on? A massive slice of watermelon.
So my trip to the taste was a success. It is pretty expensive but I think for a once a year type of thing its worth it. If you are into all things Chicago food – which I totally am, then its worth the fight and the money. Here’s the breakdown of where my tickets went to:
Robinson’s Rib Tips (taste portion) – 4 tickets
Vee-Vee’s Goat (taste portion) – 0 tickets I mooched
Reggie’s Italian Ice – 4 tickets
Watermelon x 2 – 4 tickets
Pork/Banana Alcapurrias – 4 tickets
Steak Jibarito (taste portion) – 0 tickets I mooched again
Abbey’s Irish Egg Roll & Fish n Chips – 15 tickets
Pepsi – 5 tickets
You may think that after all that food that I would be done for the day. But no…I still haven’t had my Chicago Hot Dog fix. At the train station I decided to solve problem that at Gold Coast Hot Dogs for a train ride treat.
Last but not least – the highlight of my day was an email I recieved on my phone while walking to the train station. I received an e-mail from the Casting department for the Food Network TV show CHOPPED! I have qualified to move to the next round for my chance to be on the show! I will be filming my casting video this Saturday. Maybe you will see me on TV?!