Thursday, September 29, 2011

CHICAGO My Kind of Town

I'm in my hometown of Chicago for the "2011 Radio Show" which really takes me full circle because its the same place as my first convention when I was a baby DJ back in the early 80's at the same place Hyatt Regency Hotel on Wacker Drive.

I moderated two panels this year; "OWNing Your Brand" with Erik Logan from Harpo Ent, Brian Phillips from CMT and Marc Chase of NuVoodoo Media and "Talking to Your Talent" with morning show consultant Steve Reynolds.

But let's get to the fun stuff all the great food and fine wine.

Roka Akor - Tuesday night sales dinner with CBS sales and new friends from Katz Media. Voted as one of the top 10 Sushi Spots in the US by Bon Appetit. They have a robata grill and every item has so many amazing flavors. Corner of W. Illinois and Grant across from Frontera. While they have Kirin beer on tap we enjoy some of their great wine from Napa.

1) Honig 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - by the glass

2) POV 2006 from Robert Sinskey - Stands for "Point of View" a propietary Red Bordeaux Blend while his winery is in the Stag's Leap district of Napa right on Silverado Trail these grapes are from Carneros region. Fantastic.

3) Justin - Justification 2005 - A right bank Bordeaux Blend led by Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Vineyard located in the Paso Robles AVA this wine was drinking absolutely fantastic.

Petterino's - A Chicago favorite located in the Theatre District. http://www.petterino'
We all had successful panels earlier in the day so its time to celebrate Wednesday night with Lori from Jacob's Media, and new friends Glenn and Bill. Their special of the night was Redfish, normally wouldn't order fish at an Italian Eatery but it was amazing and we paired it with:
1) TAZ - 2006 Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills. Pinots from this region are some of the best in California thanks to hot days and very cool nights.

Bandera - (312) 644-3524 The weather has cooled off in Chicago and I'm out with friends Frank, Mike and John as we head over to great restaurant on 535 N. Michigan Ave. that you can't even see from that side of the street because its on the 2nd floor and you'd walk right by it. Come hungry because this restaurant has big portions and an amazing wine list. Ok here are some of the must-haves on the menu; #1 Tuna Poke with Shrimp and avocado, Cornbread & Foccacia, Mac & Cheese with cornbread crumbles and the "Hacked" Chicken Salad for starters. For dinner I had the Center-Cut Filet with mashed potatoes and spinach and I couldn't even come close to finishing it....but let's get to the WINE - we are blown away from their list and we start with a battle or Pinots...

1) Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir 2008. WS 87pts
Tasting notes: Juicy Pomegranate and plum fruit flavors. This is Frank's choice and its very nice, but we have another contender from the Sonoma Coast...

2) Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2008. WS 93 pts
This is the highest review they have ever received from the Wine Spectator and it made their Top 100 list for 2009. Some tasting notes from winery; "This fruit driven, lush, harmonious, bold, mouthcoating wine blows other Pinots out of the water! with layers of brown sugar, cedar and rose petals balance out the smooth tannins and youthful body. The 2009 is already sold-out at the winery...there is still some 2008 out there, get it while you can! This was my choice...Frank evidently forgot who he was competing against...hey I get lots of practice!

And we're not done there is an absolute gem on the menu - I always look for the best taste and value on the menu and here is an unforgettable one

3) Diamond Creek - Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 WS 94pts
The rarest of their 3 vineyards with only 5 acres of grapes Gravelly Meadow is the their lowest yielding vineyards with the others being Red Rock Terrace and Volcanic Hill. I was just at the vineyard for barrel tastings and the winery was selling it for $175 and it was only $5 more here (I even looked up the pricing from an earlier post on this blog) if we called the winery right then and ordered a bottle and had it Fed-Exed it would cost more so we go for it! And with the amazing steaks this wine is one of the best I've had all year "F---ing Amazing!" The tasting notes "Earthy, Cedar, jammy and ripe blackberry with a spicy expansive finish." I'm going to have to find another bottle soon!

ENOlogy at the Fairmont. This is one of the reasons I love staying at this hotel for the wine bar in the lobby. And they had some great wine by the glass.
1) Chimney Rock - Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Tomahawk Vineyard, Stags Leap District
2) Chimney Rock - "Elevage"2007 Estate grown Bordeaux Blend led by Merlot.
3) Scherrer - Chardonnay 2007 Helfer Vineyard, Russian River Valley

Frontera - Home to chef Rick Bayless and creator of Frontera gourmet foods - love his salsa.
Yes there is an amazing Mexican restaurant in Chicago on 445 N. Clark Street, just across the street from Roka Akor. It is absolutely packed on Friday, but luckily a couple leaves the bar and we get the seats. Can't go wrong with the Chicken Tacos, but the Haberno salsa is so much hotter than the one at the grocery store - more Pacifico's Porfavor!

And any trip to Chicago would not be complete without a visit to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs. Sadly we won't hear "Hello again everybody Harry Caray from Wrigley Field and its a beautiful day for baseball" we miss you! Its a quick cab ride from Wacker and tickets are still available at the box office - just 7 rows off the field from 1st base. You can't go wrong with a Brat and some Old Style beer. Its warmer today the sun is out and the CUBS Win 2-1!

Its funny I got into radio with the goal of making it to Chicago and I never have, but Chicago is my kind of town and I love it! of course before winter.