leave your inhibitions at the door
OK, so the music at this year’s Lollapalooza was a little less than inspiring, but at least the food was great. Celebrity chef Graham Elliot reprised his role of curator for “Chow Town” and once again did a dynamite job of bringing together an eclectic mix of food. My cousin El Douchebag also reprised his role as food sharer and was joined by my nephew Bugnutz. Yes, gluttony runs in the family. And even though we weren’t there the entire time, I think we ate enough for Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Coachella, and the Iowa State Fair.
Last year, I made the mistake of eating too much before I got there. This time I went to the festival on an empty stomach with the thought that it would help me pack away more food. Unfortunately (?), all it did was got me drunker faster. Hmmm, that seems as good a place as any to start…
We kept it pretty simple in terms of what we drank. And for those of you concerned, Bugnutz is now of legal drinking age.
– Copious amounts of water
– Beer: Bud, Bud Light
– Craft Beer: I was totally geeked when I saw the “Craft Beer Tent.” The choices were Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, 312 Urban Wheat (from Chicago’s Goose Island), Beck’s, Shock Top, and Bud Light… WTF?!?!? If you squint hard enough, those first three could be considered “craft beers.” But the others? Write your Congressman NOW and tell him you want yours truly to be the curator for the next year’s beer selection!
– Vodka and Red Bull/Vitamin Water/Coke – People are allowed to bring in two unopened bottles of water and I’ve “heard” from “friends” that “some people” dump out the water and fill the bottles up with vodka. And, allegedly, these “friends” mix the vodka with drinks sold at the fest. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? We did the vodka thing again. Bugnutz tried to tell me that Vodka and Coke tastes like Cherry Coke. Kids these days…
As much as I love Graham Elliot’s lobster corndog, there were too many other things I wanted to try. Here goes –
– Wow Bao: The traditional Chinese steam buns stuffed with barbecue pork was joined by teriyaki chicken and spicy Mongolian beef versions. There were vegetarian versions which, of course, we scoffed at.
– Mercat a la Planxa: This is Iron Chef Jose Garces’ Catalan restaurant that I’ve heard awesome things about. We had the steak sandwich and the ham & cheese potato chips. Not sure if I tasted the ham & cheese, but I did taste the steak. Not bad, just nothing really innovative.
– Chizakaya Japanese Pub: By far the best collection of the fest. We had the Pork Belly Slider, Takoyaki (fried octopus beignets), and the Japadog. That last one – bacon-wrapped hot dog, house teriyaki, Japanese mayo, pickled ginger, pickled cucumber, tomato, nori powder, bonito flakes – was my favorite.
– Edzo’s Burger Shop – Truffle-Parmesan Fries. Nothing special here, but late at night not much is better. They had a bottle of something called Ketchapeno that tasted great on it’s own, but didn’t do anything for the fries.
– Fajita Rita’s – I picked up some steak fajitas to munch on while fighting the crowds to go see Franz Ferdinand. Alas, the fajitas made it, but the pico de gallo was a casualty of some stoned hipster bumping into me. I don’t think the pico was going to help.
– Kuma’s Corner – We had the Electric Funeral – 5 oz patty, jalapeno and corn salsa, paprika crème fraiche on a pretzel roll. In previous years, the lines at Kuma’s were always the longest out of any of the tents. This year, the lines were almost non-existent as they somehow came up with a system to get the burgers out faster. Unfortunately, I think they were pre-made and sitting on a steam table. The result was an overcooked, dry burger. Very disappointing…
– Franks ‘N’ Dawgs – Pork of July: pork sausage, smoked pulled pork, cherry bourbon BBQ sauce, topped with house slaw. Great concept, better name, probably single best thing I ate there.
– Lagniappe Creole Cajun Joynt – I think it was a shrimp po-boy. All I remember was that I doused it in hot sauce. As God intended.
– The Australian Truffle – This is where we went nuts. I ordered the Grilled Cheese Perfection (Black Forest ham and Truffle Brie) and the Crack & Cheese. Nothing special you say? For an extra $15, you can “Make it Rain” – the chef shaves a whole pile of fresh truffles all over your food. It was almost too rich.
– Bacino’s – I told myself that I wouldn’t order Chicago-style stuffed pizza. Especially from a so-so place like Bacino’s. But they ran a 2-for-1 deal late at night and we couldn’t resist.
Crap, now I’m hungry.