A veritable playground for wine and food lovers, Wine Enthusiast’s 6th annual Toast of the Town Chicago drew 2,060 guests to the soaring main hall of Chicago’s Field Museum on Friday evening, June 17.
Revelers, among them actor and comedian Vince Vaughn, had their pick of 500 wines from all over the world, sipping them in Spiegelau glasses in the shadows of Sue, the world’s largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.
Standouts included 2007 Maximus Red Feasting Wine, a bright, velvety blend from Napa Valley’s Bennett Lane, as well as the fruity 2004 Beni di Batasiolo Barolo Vigneto Cerequio, hailing from Italy’s Piedmont region. Familiar labels like Rodney Strong, Moët Hennessy and Penfolds were complemented by less well-known brands such as Sledgehammer, an Aussie import pouring bold, complex 2008 North Coast Zin. Not to be overlooked was citrusy 2009 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc and bubbly 2006 Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé.
Attendees also sampled Crop Vodka’s summer-ready tomato and cucumber versions, Michter’s bourbon and brews from Unibroue and Sam Adams.
Participating Chicago area chefs contributed more than 35 elegant small plates: 676 Restaurant, spoons of minted spring peas, apples and grilled lamb bacon; Coco Pazzo, a thimble of Pecorino mousse with walnuts and Tuscan honey. From Dean Zanella’s, tender, braised rabbit with pillow-light gnocchi; From Shaw’s Crab House, mini lobster rolls, filled with sweet meat. Perhaps the most artsy app of all was the hamachi and sea urchin prepared by L20; flecked with salt and finished with a whirl of olive oil, it was set atop shiso-lime emulsion.
Not surprisingly, the evening’s finales proved impossible to resist. Sixteen’s strawberry panna cotta topped with rosé gelée and strawberry-almond crumble and the mini cone from Black Dog Gelato, filled with lightly spicy lemongrass-ginger ice cream were crowd favorites.
Throughout the night, easy listening, tunes from the Joey Edwin Group filled the soaring, totem pole-punctuated space.Toast of the Town continues on to the historic Moore Building in the Miami design district on September 23. Visit toastofthetown.com or call 800.847.5949 for tickets. Read tweets the on night’s event by searching hashtag #TOTT.