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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Psst! To see my friends' photos from the trip, view this post on a desktop or tablet.
5. Brett's Baby Shower
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!
9. In the Kitchen with Fabio
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.
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.
14. Working with Great Brands
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.
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