Chicago Gourmet apparently saw about 6,400 people stroll around the grounds during the food and wine fest's inaugural weekend -- and we're guessing a lot of those people were drunk drunk drunk -- and hungry. We hit Millennium Park on Saturday to check it all out and were impressed at the site's set up. But after strolling the booths on the great lawn, we quickly realized that there were only a little more than a handful of food spots and a whole bunch of wineries. Organizers kept touting all the blue chip culinary heroes Chicago has to offer -- and they were there -- but could you eat their food? Sometimes. But the lines, because everyone needed to soak up the wine, were so long.
The food we did get to taste -- from the Peninsula Hotel's lobby cafe, Aria, Pastoral Artisan cheese shop, gelato from A Mano and others -- was delicious. There's just wasn't enough. Which begs the question: was this a food and wine festival or just a wine fest with some food? We did see Rick Bayless strolling the grounds, looked for Stephanie Izard, gave Alpana Singh a kiss hello. Heard about the Hearty Boys. But again, didn't eat too much. Which sucks because we went hungry. Very Hungry. The wine, however, was plentiful and amazing -- we did a private, rare Opus One tasting, which was a royal treat. There were more than 100 wineries represented on the field and in tasting tents (nice job, Terlato!). Overall, however, organizers need to rethink this festival if they honestly want to compete with Aspen and South Beach -- because this did not cut it. Sorry. It just didn't.