Too much of a good thing?

Hello, wonderful readers. Sorry for the posting delay–I had many photos, but couldn’t post them until I managed to track down my SD card reader. So now I have photos!

Specifically, I have photos of the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show, which I attended on 16 November.

Fine Chocolate Show

2012 Chicago Fine Chocolate Show

The Show took place in one of the Festival Halls on Navy Pier. I love visiting Navy Pier as often as I can–generally to people watch and indulge in fried dough–so I jumped at the opportunity to attend this event when I saw a deal pop up for it on LivingSocial. Incidentally, this was the only way I heard about the Show, and I suspect it was somewhat poorly attended as a result of poor advertising.

Now it may come as a surprise to some readers that the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show displayed chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. I hazard to say too much chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate as much as the next red-blooded woman, but this event was pretty much the Taste of Chicago, but with chocolate.

Chocolate Art

Chocolate sculpture from the French Pastry School.

In fact, it functioned much like the Taste of Chicago. For the uninitiated, the Taste of Chicago is a summertime gluttony fest where patrons purchase tickets, which are then traded for food from vendors representing popular Chicagoland restaurants. The Chocolate Show was similar: admission included tickets, the currency required for chocolaty bliss.

Eagerly clutching my tickets in my fist, I carefully surveyed the exhibit hall. My plan was to scope the vendors to carefully choose where to spend my tickets. However, it turned out that only about half the vendors required tickets in exchange for a sample. In fact, the very first table I approached furnished me with an incredible slice of chocolate mousse cake, ticket-free!

And so I embarked on a journey through a sea of chocolate. Chocolate truffles, chocolate cream puffs, chocolate cheese, chocolate cake, chocolate wine, chocolate cheese, a drink made by steeping roasted cocoa beans (like you’d steep coffee beans), chocolate vodka, and even chocolate sandwiches!

Chocolate panini

A chocolate panini–the least-sweet item in the show

And as weird as it sounds, the chocolate panini was fantastic. By the time I found that vendor, I was craving salt something fierce. And, of course, anyone who ever dipped fries into ice cream knows the bliss of the sweet-salty flavor combination.

While eating my sandwich, I watched a demonstration by the French Pastry School. I actually watched three of them over the course of the day. I learned how to make chocolate marshmallows, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate bouchon. Of course, each presentation was accompanied with samples of the items being created–without tickets!

Chocolate demos

Chocolate demonstration given by the French Pastry School

In addition to guaranteeing I wouldn’t eat another chocolate bar for weeks, I bought a bread knife. I passed the Gunter Wilhelm knife booth. As I dutifully sliced tomatoes to test blade sharpness, I mentioned I was looking for a bread knife but couldn’t afford designer cutlery. The nice guys at the booth kindly sold me one of their demo models for a very reasonable price. I don’t know much about knives, but it slices my nice hot loaves (no, I do not have the patience to let them cool, and I never will) rather than squishing them, which my prior knife did. And I’m a sucker for a good deal.

One booth in particular deserves mention: the folks of Icing Smiles Inc.  were holding a fundraiser. Three fancy cakes were on display and you “voted” for your favorite by putting a dollar in the appropriate fishbowl. And got a chocolate sample in exchange. Icing Smiles is a nonprofit that matches volunteer bakers with children suffering from critical illnesses. Once matched, the bakers make–for free–incredible custom cakes to help cheer up the child and the family. Bakers can also provide cookies and less fancy cakes for fundraisers and the like. It’s a really great idea and makes me wish I had crazy pastry talent.

Icing Smiles, Inc.

Icing Smiles Inc.’s “voting” fundraiser

I finally left the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show with half my tickets still in hand, total chocolate overload, and tons of truffles and other chocolate samples. They have been hanging out in my kitchen like Halloween candy nobody wants–and might just stay there until next Halloween at this rate.

Thank you as always, readers, for following along. Hopefully there will be a smaller interval between now and the next post. In the meantime, I leave you with a few more miscellaneous Chocolate Show photos.

Chocolate log

Chocolate log

Truffles

To-pretty-to-eat truffles

Chocolate mustaches

Chocolate mustaches

Chocolate Buddha

Antiqued chocolate Buddha

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A Fair Day for a Faire

One reason I love Chicago is the street fairs. There are street fairs going on all over the city throughout the summer. Last Saturday I went to the Custer’s Last Stand Festival in Evanston. It was conveniently nestled around the Main St. El stop, so it should have been simple to get to.

The General Himself

General George Armstrong Custer, in the flesh.

Even more pictures (and, incidentally, some more words) after the cut. Continue reading

Friday Food Review – June 8th 2012

One of the beautiful things about living in a big city like Chicago is the infinite variety of food offerings. Especially a city that worships food the way Chicago does — I’m looking at you, Taste of Chicago (which I will actually be able to attend this year!). You can get off at just about any bus stop or El station and have hundreds of different little (and big) local food joints within easy walking distance. That number climbs into the thousands if you want to take a nice long walk to work off those calories!

And I love food, so I will be partaking of Chicago’s food variety as often as my budget allows. So because I wanted to post some lighter fare before Part 2 of Networking for the Socially Challenged–and because this blog is as much about me being in Chicago as much as my job hunting/networking issues–I’ve decided to create a repeating feature in which I talk about some of the food I’ve eaten here recently. It will also serve as emergency filler when I need a post but can’t think of a topic. It won’t be every week; I don’t eat out that often (but I wish I did!). I’ll post whenever I amass enough photos to make it interesting.

Fondue, pancakes, hot Asian buns, and soup after the cut. Continue reading