Recently, I was invited by Bertolli to an event that promised to show Chicago food and wine bloggers authentic Italy in Chicago. It was an amazing afternoon of Italian food, wine, and culture. And it proved that you don't have to go to Italy to haven an authentic Italian experience!
Bertolli took us to four local establishments for our culinary adventure. Here's a peek into our itinerary, and make sure you check out all the pictures!
L'Appetito, 875 N. Michigan Ave., for a discussion and tasting for Italian cappuccinos, gelato, and cookies.
This coffee shop (and then-some) will make you feel like you're in Italy. Its convenient location, at the base of the John Hancock Center, makes it the perfect stop after an afternoon of shopping on Michigan Avenue. You can grab a coffee and some Italian treats--and even pick up a bottle of wine for dinner.
Well known among the Chicago food-and-wine crowd, Pastoral is the perfect place to pick up some cheese for a pre-or-post dinner snack/dessert. We sampled five cheeses, my favorite of which was the Montasio Vino Rosso, a cow's-milk cheese bathed in Merlot and Cabernet. The wine flavors really came through! I also loved the Parmigiano Reggiano, which I grated over pasta that I made with some Olive Oil and Garlic Bertolli sauce. Yum! Bertolli sauces are great if you don't have time to make your own, like me!
Old Town Oil, 1520 N. Wells St., for a discussion and tasting of olive oils and vinegars.
I cannot stress this enough: GO HERE! I had never been before this trip, and now I want to go back every weekend! This olive-oil specialty store is so fun to just pop in a sample new oils and vinegars. The olive oil flavors range from Tuscan Herb to Blood Orange to Mushroom and Sage, and the vinegars come in flavors like Fig, Strawberry, White Honey & Ginger, and my favorite of the day, Cinnamon Pear. Imagine a scoop of ice cream with Cinnamon Pear Balsamic poured over it!
Coco Pazzo restaurant, 300 W. Hubbard St., for a discussion and tasting of fresh homemade pasta paired with Italian wines.
Finally, we ate a fabulous Italian meal at Coco Pazzo complete with wine pairings. We started with beautiful plates of antipasta--full of cheeses, meats, and grilled vegetables. Then we ate three mouth-watering pastas paired with Italian wines:
Mezzelune Gorgonzola (half-moon pasta) paired with the Kerner, Abbazzia di Novacella 2009, which was my favorite wine. A light and fruity white wine.
Tagliolini Neri (black squid ink pasta with rock shirp), which was my favorite pasta dish, paired with Bianchetta Genovese, Bisson, Golfo del Tigullio 2009
Pappardelle al Coniglio (wide flat noodles with braised rabbit), paired with Pinto Nero, Meczan, Joseph Hofstatter 2009
Everything at Coco Pazzo was delicious. I cannot wait to go back with He Sips some time!