My Favorite Foodie Moments of 2017

2017 was kind of a tough year overall. Like a lot of us, I often find myself dwelling on the negatives.

(And as someone who deals with depression, it's easy to do so!)

But there were a lot of great moments in 2017, too. Really great moments.

I started writing a list of my favorite foodie memories this year, but I quickly realized that it's never just about the food -- it's always about the people and the food.

Favorite Foodie Moments of 2017 by 312food

Rosas y Xocolate - Merida, Mexico

The people who make the food, the people you dine with, and the people you share it with (in my case, a LOT of you!) -- that's what truly makes for a great meal.

I want to say THANK YOU to all of you, my foodie friends, for being such a wonderful part of my year. I love you all, and I hope you enjoy that you are all a part of this list!

It's a little more personal than most of my posts, and so I hope you like the peek behind the curtain. Thanks for reading! <3

Favorite Foodie Moments of 2017 by 312food

1. Learning to Use My Camera

In January, I had an epic brunch with Ashley (of Sed Bona | @mushroomstew), where she taught me everything I needed to know about how to shoot in manual on my new camera (the Sony A6300).

She's always been a great friend, but this was TRULY a lifesaver. I learned so much in just 2 hours!

Ashley is a great friend with a really kind heart, and I'm really grateful for her and her friendship. 

Pssst: this smoked salmon platter from Siena Tavern eventually made it on to my smoked salmon guide -- 11 Fancy Smoked Salmon Dishes in Chicago. YUM.

2. Birthday Lunch at Kitsune

On my birthday, Katie from Always Hungry Chi arranged for Kitsune to open up for us for lunch so we could shoot their absolutely beautiful menu in the daylight. Katie, Ashley, and I had the best meal!

Both the food and hospitality were fantastic. I've been to Japan twice, and I love the Japanese hospitality that this place exuded throughout the meal. Their dishes, like these oysters, were amongst the most beautiful I've seen in this city.

Pssst! Here's Ashley's recap of the day -- Kitsune Restaurant & Pub.

3. Heaven on Seven + #POBOYFACE

If you haven't been to Heaven on Seven, then please stop reading this article and GO so we can be friends again. 🙂

Many of my favorite moments this year were spent inside the 4 walls of this restaurant, eating their yummy cajun food & creating #poboyface photos with Chef Jimmy Bannos. Everyone in this family is so warm and wonderful, and I feel like I've known them my entire life instead of just the past year and a half.

The Bannos fam is SUCH an important part of my life and year.

Pssst: Heaven is also on the following lists -- 14 Hidden Restaurants in Chicago + Chicago Brunch Checklist.

4. Foodie trip to MEXICO

When I launched my instagram, I did not in my wildest dreams think it would take me on a foodie trip to MEXICO! 

I was invited on a trip in April to Merida, Yucatán, hosted by the kindest people. I LOVE that we got to experience the beauty of Mexico through their eyes.

We spent 3 epic days eating delicious Mexican & Mayan food, swimming in cenotes, and visiting ancient Mayan sites including Chichen-Itza.

I got to travel with 2 great friends (Seth and Ashley) and meet 4 new ones (Simeon, Graham, AnaSofia). This is clearly top of the list in my favorite foodie moments of 2017.

Psst! To see my friends' photos from the trip, view this post on a desktop or tablet.

5. Brett's Baby Shower

My friends' baby showers at Cafe Spiaggia are becoming somewhat of an annual tradition -- last year, Erica, this year, Brett.

We all showed up to this shower in June wearing shades of white and blue, unplanned.

And now Brett has the MOST BEAUTIFUL baby, Blake. I wonder who will be next? 😈

6. Taking Every Single Visitor to The Gundis

My husband and I found a new favorite brunch spot this year, and it's right down the street.

It's a Kurdish restaurant called The Gundis, and they have this really special offering called Kurdish Breakfast for 2. It's a soft scramble served alongside all these tiny platters -- almost like Korean BBQ -- and it can easily serve 3 IMO.

I think we repeated this EXACT meal with every out-of-town guest this year. We've done it at least 6 times! I just love having visitors in town.

Psst: you can find this spot & 19 others on my Chicago Brunch Checklist.

7. Chicago Gourmet

Chicago Gourmet is my favorite foodie festival every year -- it's DAYS of the best food from all around the city and world.

I went on Saturday and Sunday this year, which was awesome but also completely exhausting. It's a good thing it only happens once a year.

In addition to eating and drinking my face off at the event, I also got to judge the Mac and Cheese cook-off between Chefs Tony Mantuano, John Hogan, and Jimmy Bannos, thanks to an invite from my friend Lyn.

These 3 Chicago chefs and BFFs always close out the weekend with an epic and hilarious culinary challenge. It's hands down my favorite part of the Chicago Gourmet weekend each year.

Psst! I wrote a full of the event, including where you can get everything year-round in Chicago: Best of the Best at Chicago Gourmet 2017.

8. Lunch at Snaggletooth

Although it's no longer here, I'd be remiss if I left Snaggletooth off of my 2017 list.

It was one of my absolute favorite spots in the city, and it was such a special place -- with their house-cured seafood tasting platters, inventive daily specials, and my favorite Sparrow coffee. I miss it!

Though I haven't made it over to Nico recently, I know you can now enjoy Chef Bill Montague's seafood at Nico Osteria, where he's the chef de cuisine. On my list for 2018! 🙂

9. In the Kitchen with Fabio

As part of a brand partnership with Johnsonville Sausage, Sam, Erica, and I got to hang in the kitchen with Chef Fabio Viviani as he taught us to prepare some delicious pasta and sausage dishes. 

The food was amazing, of course, and we learned some really great tips for making awesome pasta at home. It still blows my mind that they would set up something so cool and personalized for just the 3 of us to experience. 

10. In the Kitchen with Jimmy

For the second year in a row, a group of us participated in the Culinary Care Cook-Off -- a charity event where groups of friends/colleagues are paired with a Chicago chef to prepare an awesome meal. Proceeds from the event go to Culinary Care, an non-profit that provides nutritious meals to cancer patients and their families.

This year, our team was led by Chef Jimmy Bannos, and consisted of Tiffany, Mallory, Brett, Erica, and me. It's pretty cool to get to cook alongside such an awesome chef and friend!

Afterwards, he took us to his other restaurant, The Purple Pig, and we ate EVERYTHING. ON. THE. MENU.

Best night ever. <3 <3 <3

11. The #LiveUnforgettable Dinner

The #LiveUnforgettable dinner, hosted by Sophia Bush at Margeaux Brasserie, was certainly unforgettable. It was a stand-out experience in a year of incredible meals.

My friends are a lot fancier than I am, so it's honestly a little stressful for me when I get invited to such an event. I never know what to wear or how to pose for the blogger pics. 😅

But you've gotta love a beautiful dinner with such great friends -- Erica, Brett, Sam, and Janice (and Sophia, of course. hi) -- and where your parting gift is a Chef Michael Mina cookbook and a beautiful box of Venus et Fleur roses.

Definitely a "pinch me!" night. 

12. Fried Chicken on Paper Plates

On the opposite end of that spectrum -- some of the best meals are the simplest ones, and a few simple meals & moments meant a lot to me this year.

I moved this year, and we were temporarily "homeless" as we had 3 unexpected weeks between apartments. Moments after we FINALLY moved into our new place, my friend Ashley (of @cleanplateclubchi) showed up with fried chicken sandwiches from the The Roost. Not only that, she brought them deconstructed so they wouldn't be soggy.

In addition, my friend Karen (of @chicagofoodstories) hosted my husband and me at her apartment for 3 nights while we were in-between homes. I've met so many amazing and wonderful foodie friends in this community.

It's really just awesome, and I am super grateful for these friendships!

13. Dinner at Steak 48

Erica, Brett, and I had THE most incredible dinner at Steak 48 earlier this month. And as good as everything was, the biggest surprise to me was how awesome the seafood tasted. From the crab legs to the shrimp to the poke, the entire seafood portion of their menu was incredibly delicious and fresh. 

They have the most giant, freshest crab legs. Here's a hilarious snap of my reaction when they were served. 😀

Of course, I also recommend getting the filet mignon and the beignet tree, too.

Surprise Crab Legs at Steak 48

Surprise Crab Legs at Steak 48

14. Working with Great Brands

I got to partner with a lot of great companies this year, including the Cubs / Wrigley Rooftops and the Bears, which were honestly a dream.

I was grateful to work with so many awesome companies that I love. Some of my favorites campaigns included those with Sir Kensington's, Bertolli, The Soullful Project, Chameleon Cold Brew, Open Table, Johnsonville Sausage, Home Run Inn, Benihana, Pure Leaf Tea, Amorino, and more. <3

I am really picky about the brands I choose to partner with, and I put a lot of time into creating and executing my shoots and campaigns with them. I truly hope you enjoy my recs!

15. Making a LOT More Foodie Friends

I hosted several dinners & meetups this year, and I'm so grateful for the many foodie friends I've made all over this city!

Between my 312food meetups and attending others, like Erica's and Sam's, it's been so fun and exciting to start seeing familiar faces across many of the events.

I could never list everyone I've met, and I would be too worried to leave someone out. But I wish I could thank you all individually - I appreciate your friendship. 

16. Launching My Website

And last but not least, I think my biggest victory this year was bringing 312food.com to life.

I had NO idea how to build a website when I started any of this. I've spent so many hours tinkering with my site, and I know I have a long way to go, but I'm honestly really proud of what I've created thus far.

My most-read post so far is 14 Hidden Restaurants in Chicago. It has >6k views! 

Thank you ALL so much for reading what I write. 

14 Hidden Restaurants in Downtown Chicago 312food.com

14 Hidden Restaurants in Downtown Chicago

My Favorite Foodie Moments of 2017

I loved sharing a little more about myself and my year, and I hope you liked reading it! 

What were your favorite foodie moments of 2017?

Best wishes to all of you for a great 2018. <3 Erin

Favorite foodie moments of 2017!

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