Trib reporter rates the entire Taste; I do the booze

By now you’ve probably read about Monica Eng’s $1100 Taste experiment; having a bite of each and every offering at Taste of Chicago and living to tell about it. Today she reports back with a rating of everything she ate. A very useful “get it”, “eh” or “forget it” system along with her top picks and best overall booths. So, if you’re going to brave the greasy mouthed masses, you can make a game plan ahead of time.

The only thing Monica didn’t hit was the booze. I did. Yes indeed, you can count on me to scope out the reasonably quaffable adult beverages at any outdoor festival. Read on for my less comprehensive, but all important, drink recommendations.

You’re probably best off drinking beer. None of its great, and the usual Goose Island offerings are sadly absent this year. Just get a Bud and try not to think about how much you’re actually paying for it. (See amended recommendation below!)

Skip the “mojito” from Bacardi. I expected some kind of slushy albeit, pre mixed concoction, but…oh no. It was much worse. The “mojito” is in fact a mojito-flavored malt beverage. In a can. In Monica’s words, “forget it”.

As for wine, the Gallo Wine Garden is the only place to get a taste of the grape. Its a nice spot to relax away from the crowd, but the hefty ticket price for a lilliputian plastic wine glass of juice is a bit hard to swallow. If you decide to brave it, get the Turning Leaf Pinot Noir. Its the best of the bunch. If you must have white, the Bella Sera Pinot Grigio is light, crisp, and well…better than the Chardonnay. As you might guess though, the crowd favorite is the White Zinfandel.

So, there you have it. I have about 9 tickets left over from my Monday night visit and I’ll probably spend them on food. I’m a St. Louis native and Taste is my only local opportunity to eat my hometown classic: Toasted Ravioli. This year there are FOUR booths offering the breaded and fried cheesy treat with marinara. Maybe I’ll just get a Diet Coke to wash ’em down.

Amended July 6: It appears I was wrong! Goose Island Summertime is available at one tent at the far North side of the Taste. If its less than 12 tickets, I say go for that for your grown up beverage choice. A helpful reader named Kelly informed me on Gapers Block. Read her info here as well as further discussions of St. Louis style Toasted Ravioli.


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