Thursday, August 26, 2010

Graham Elliott (Lollapalooza) - Chicago, IL

I went to Lollapalooza earlier this month and while my cousin was going crazy for the lineup, I was busy creating my own lineup, plotting what I would eat throughout the course of the weekend. hehe. I've been to my share of street festivals this summer and was getting a bit tired of the usual funnel cake, fried cheese curds and elephant ear offerings. So you could imagine my excitement when I found out that The Southern, Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Kuma's, Sunda and Graham Elliott were all going to be there.

We all have Graham Elliot Bowles, the Culinary Director for Lollapalooza this year, to thank for the fabulous chow town line up. For those of you who are not familiar with Mr. Bowles, he, at the age of 27, was the youngest chef in America to ever receive four stars while he was at Avenues at the Peninsula Hotel. Then Bowles went on to open a River North “bistronomic” spot named after himself two years ago. He's known for creating signature dishes like his “foilipops” (fois gras speared like a Tootsie Pop and encrusted with Pop Rocks) or his deconstructed Caesar salad, which is made up of baby romaine, white anchovy, Parmesan fluff and a brioche Twinkie.

His restaurant represented at Lolla and offered up three tasty choices: Lobster Corn Dogs, Truffle and Parmesan Popcorn and Watermelon Gazpacho.

We got the lobster dog and the popcorn. The Truffle and Parmesan popcorn was so addicting. They did not skimp on the truffle oil, cracked black peppers or chives. This is popcorn done right. It was a definite steal at $5.

Arguably one of the best things at Lolla that weekend was the Lobster Corn Dog. The man is a genius. He took a quintessential state-fair eats and transformed it into a gourmet fare. For me, the makings of a good corn dog is all about the batter. The hot dog is often an afterthought, but not this time around. This lobster corn dog did not disappoint.

The corn meal batter was perfectly crisp and delicious with just the right amount of sweetness. Lobster often needs a side kick, like melted butter or mayonnaise. Here, the sweetness of the corn meal batter, the tang of the lemon aioli and the kick of the cayenne pepper highlighted the lovely piece of sausage inside.

Here's close up of the lobster on a stick. The one we bit into had lobster claw meat skewered at the end of the sausage. Well worth the $9 if you ask me.

On Saturday, while we were walking around the grounds, guess who we ran into? Graham Elliott Bowles himself! Jung was so confused. He had no clue who he was, but I suddenly turned into a shrieking school girl and ran up to Bowles and asked him to take a picture with me.  It'd be akin to Jung running into Billie Joe of Green Day at Lolla.

Look, that's his arm around me. keke. I know I'm such a dork. :) When he's not being clobbered by random fans, he's busy being a judge on Gordon Ramsey's new show MasterChef and on launching an upscale sandwich shop, Grahamwich, this fall. I just walked by the store front a few days ago. It'll be on State Street between Ontario and Ohio. I can't wait!!

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