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16th Annual SausageFest Report
The 16th annual SausageFest.com Sausagefest took place on a cool Saturday evening on August 31. The slight overcast kept the temperature down but made for a long pleasurable evening of sausage, wine, beer and many memorable moments.
• A new sausage category was established with Johnny G’s Atomic Sausage. “Oh my god is this hot.”
Was one of the milder editorial opinions expressed.
• The best state of Michigan Sausage was won early by the Cheeseburger with Mushroom Brat. They disappeared faster than the Cubs pennant chances.
• A face-off between Montreal Merguez Sausage and Toronto Chorizo. The game ended in a tie and no Canadian was happy. Overtime was spent at the bar discussing Bordeaux wines and hockey.
• Many new sausage artists were first time participants: Steve’s Lounge (Chicago, Il.), Johnny G’s (Bloomingdale, IL), Local (New Buffalo, Mich.), Gene’s Sausage Shop (Chicago).
• Plus the usual outstanding artists from: Elburn Market (Elburn, IL), The Sausage King (Toronto), This Little Piggy (Champaign, IL), Lalich Deli (Niles, IL), Schmeissers (Niles, IL), Paulina Meat Market (Chicago), Heybecks (Palatine, IL)
This year a modicum of organization was attempted as the planning committee tried to do “Sausage Flights”. Each flight consisting of eight sausages to give the attendees some structure to their tasting. Of course there were those naysayers who said “Sausagefest doesn’t need any stinkin’ organization.” Even the Libertarians at the fest weren’t sure what negative effects there could be to adding organization to the fest.
Balancing out the twenty-six sausages that were on the tasting board, we also saw Other Sausage dishes, but none better than Jack’s McClure Meat Pie – a three-time winner in this category. Three consecutives wins at Sausagefest is a rare thing – 2011, 2012, and 2013. Jack also impressed the throng by doing a Porchetta to boot. It was there for a second than the piranha-like crowd got to it.
The wine tent was very busy and there were many great wines to taste and share: a 2008 Turley Zin (is there a better sausage friendly wine?), the 2007 Silver Oak (just wonderful), and a 1995 Dry Creek Cabernet that still had legs to it. (Why can’t they make wines like this anymore?) For the first time in several years we had some sparkling wines show up as well. Not a bad idea for a palette-cleansing interlude. Thankfully, there was no major tequila debacle that marked last years event. The wine bottle count was approximately 35 by 10 PM – after that we quit counting.
The Sausagefest Awards:
• The Best Sausage of the Show – New Mexico Sausage
Champion Sausage Artist: Norah Colson (Amateur Sausage Artist)
Amazingly fresh lime taste in a pork/chicken sausage with just enough hot bite for long lasting interest. A combination of two meats not usually put together in such intimate surroundings.
• The Best HOT Sausage – Atomic Sausage
Sausage Artist: Johnny G’s (Bloomingdale, Ill - Professional Sausage Artist)
• The Best Michigan Sausage – Cheeseburger Mushroom Brat
Local (New Buffalo, Mi. – Professional Sausage Artist)
• The Best Sausage Creation in a Baked Recipe – Sausage Meat Pie
Sausage Artist: Jack McClure (Amateur Sausage Artist)
Three years in a row and still improving.
• Best Food Truck Sausage – Tailgate Brats
Sausage Artist: Ed Grabowski (Professional Sausage Artist)
Ed makes the transition from amateur to professional flawlessly. The other food trucks should be very afraid.
• Canadian Sausage Champion – Chorizo
Sausage Artist – The Sausage King – Toronto
In 2012 we thought this great tasting sausage was a winning one-time rookie. In 2013, it’s established as just damn good sausage. Who knew chorizo tasted great this far north?
• Best Chicago Polish Sausage – Steve’s Lounge
Sausage Artist – Steve’s Lounge (Chicago, Il – Professional Sausage Artist)
A sausage meant to be eaten by itself. No condiments, no sauerkraut – just a homemade family taste no chain store could ever match. (Too bad Steve’s is so hard to get to.)
• Best Sausage & Vegetable Combination in One Casing – Artichoke Sausage
Sausage Artist – Johnny G’s (Bloomingdale, Il – Professional Sausage Artist)
• Best Serbian Sausage – Cevvaccippi
Sausage Artist: Lalich Deli (Niles, Ill - Professional Sausage Artist)
The Mariano Rivera of sausage! Every year, every taste is beautiful. 16 years straight and always in the bullpen ready to taste better than anything you want to compare it to.
• Best New Sausage Name – Shot and a Beirwurst
Sausage Artist – This Little Piggy (Champaign, IL)
• Turducken Sausage – Paulina Meat Market (Chicago, Il)
• Pork Shoulder Sausage – Rich Klott
• Merguez Sausage – Montreal
• Hungarian Brat – Schmeisser’s Deli (Niles, Il)
The Many Thanks Department:
• Chuck & Nancy Rizzo
for great grillwork when our regular chef went down!
• Alan Rohrbach
– more great grill work!
• Kate Kleiva
for commanding sausagefest central and the crowds of piranhas she was swarmed by.
• Tom Graan
for another flawless wine sommelier evening in the wine tent – like watching air traffic control at O’Hare on a Friday night.
• Kathy Kleiva
– hostess and operational expertise to the power of 10 – great overall project management.
• Steve Chastain
for all the marketing and website work.
• Rick and Melissa Herring
for pre-event operations and logistics.
Another amazing event. It only took me two days to recover.
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