Serious Eats

Recap: City Flavors Couple-It Feast at Blackbird in Chicago

We came, we ate, we drank tea, it was all good.

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Thanks to the good folks from Serious Eats partner Gold Peak Iced Tea, 175 Chicago-area serious eaters gathered last night at Blackbird, one of my favorite Chicago restaurants, for a seriously delicious repast prepared by Mike Sheerin, the restaurant's chef de cuisine. Sheerin, aided and abetted by Blackbird's chef-owner partner Paul Kahan, served up five incredible nibbles, each paired with a different Gold Peak Iced Tea flavor.

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Everyone had a blast. Robyn Lee and I really enjoyed meeting some of the thousands of Chicagoans that comprise the Windy City's Serious Eats community. We got lots of great Chi-town food intel, which I cannot wait to make use of during my next visit to what is certainly one of the world's great food and drink cities.

Sheerin's inventive take on comfort food was great (tater tots with caviar, anyone?), the tea was tasty and refreshing, and everyone there seemed to have a great time. And why not? We all got to hang out a little and get to know our Chicago brethren better. After the jump, see what we chowed down on.

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Tater tots with trout caviar and pepper sauce, paired with Gold Peak Sweetened Iced Tea: As the chefs explained to us, potato and caviar are a classic combination so why not fry the potatoes to maximize the crunch and the deliciousness.

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Croque madame with house-cured ham, Swiss cheese, red onion and organic fried quail egg, paired with Gold Peak Diet Iced Tea: The best little ham, egg, and cheese sandwich ever, made with seriously delicious Blackbird-cured ham. I could have eaten a zillion of these rich little buggers.

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Pistachio and watermelon soup with Ahi tuna and dried black bean-cocoa powder, paired with Gold Peak Lemon Iced Tea: This soup sounds a little radical, I know, but pistachio and watermelon turned out to be a great combination. The ahi tuna was meaty and fresh, and the dash of dried bean-cocoa powder offered a jolt of intense flavor.

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Rye cannelloni with Peekytoe crab, washed down with Gold Peak Unsweetened Iced Tea: The crunchy house-made rye cannelloni were the crispy rye crackers of my dreams, and the sweet, sweet Peekytoe crab meat they were filled made for an ingenious canape take on the classic cannelloni crab filling. The sweet crab meat went perfectly with the unsweetened iced tea.

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Chicken sausage house-made "corn dogs" with dijonnaise, paired with Gold Peak Sweetened Green Iced Tea: What more needs to be said? Perfectly fried three bite-sized corn dogs made with succulent, flavorful house-made chicken sausage. These should be served at Cubs games.

My favorite pairing? You probably all think I'm going to pick the corn dogs and green iced tea pairing, but I'd actually give the nod to the rye cannelloni with Peekytoe crabmeat, washed down with the Gold Peak Unsweetened Iced Tea. What was your favorite pairing?

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Many thanks once again to the good folks at Gold Peak Iced Tea and Blackbird, who made this event happen, and to all the serious eaters who showed up for what turned out to be a terrific party. Hopefully, we'll get to do it again soon.

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