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Chicago Is Always Amazing

January 2018

Frank Brishetto

Yes, it’s January once again, and our winter coats, sweaters, boots and all are in good use.  It’s the coldest month of the year in Chicago, but that does NOT mean we’ll stay home.  Afterall, we can go sledding!  Up on the North Shore, the Glenview Park District offers two excellent sledding hills, both of them are lighted until 10:00pm.  When the snow is deep enough we’ll meet at Flick Park, 3600 Glenview Rd., or Johns Park, 2100 Central Rd., both in Glenview, IL. The lights are a very nice touch, adding greatly to the enjoyment.


A bit further west, Wood Oaks Green Park, in Northbrook, has an excellent man-made hill just for sledding.  It’s not lit at night, but it is quite the ride.  If you live that way, don’t miss it.


Visit Caldwell Woods, 6200 W Devon Ave., Chicago, for a quality sledding hill with plenty of room for lots of people and a warming center, fire pit and indoor bathrooms that make this a great destination for kids. www.fpdcc.com,  800-870-3666.

Sledding is fun, but how about ice skating?  Chicago is full of skating rinks, the best ones being the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, 337 E. Randolph St ., and the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink  in Millennium Park, right in front of  the Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Street. Skating at both locations is FREE and open to the public, and you can rent skates for $12.00.  Once you’ve got your skating legs, I recommend the Ribbon.  Go there, once, and you’ll see why.


If you prefer your skating indoors, head south to Morgan Park Sports Center, 11505 S.Western Ave., Chicago, where you’ll find a real National Hockey League sized arena, and programs for skaters of all ages and abilities.  This rink is open year round, regardless of weather conditions, so we have no excuse for not skating. http://morganparksportscenter.com/ice-rink-sports/ 773-840-4622.


How about meeting us and the Filament Theatre Ensemble, for a great, intimate evening in a very small setting?  The Van Gogh Cafe is playing from January 20th through February 4th, but with a very unusual twist: the performances are in Fannie’s Cafe, 5044 W. Montrose (at Milwaukee) and our ticket price includes a dinner designed to complement and enhance the experience!  That’s so cool.  The story centers around 10 year old Clara and her father’s small cafe, where magic is bound to happen, and we’ll be right in the middle of it all.  I can’t wait, when are you free?  Let’s book an evening well in advance.  http://www.filamenttheatre.org/2018-season/

For a fun, family adventure, how about trying this out?  The Kids’ Table, https://www.kids-table.com/ offers healthy eating and cooking classes for “tots, kids, teens and families,” and looks to be a lot of fun, and a good way for anyone to learn a few delicious new recipes to try.  Check out the website for classes, descriptions, and lots more information; they have classes in Wicker Park and Bucktown.


Speaking of food, at the end of January, and spilling into February, it’s time for Chicago’s annual Restaurant Week!  Actually it’s two weeks, from 1/26 through 2/8, and we’ll need that much time to pick, choose, visit, taste and indulge ourselves in the delightful offerings from over 370 local restaurants.  Yes, if we had time, we could spend an entire year and not visit every one.  I love Chicago.

For this event, the participating establishments set a speciality, prix fixe menu for brunch or lunch ($22.00), and a different dinner menu with one or two choices ($33.00 and/or $44.00).  You should ask for the speciality menu, either when you make reservations or when you are seated, and please remember that drinks, taxes, and tips are not included in the special pricing.  Oh my goodness, I can’t begin to list the restaurants involved, but you’ll find Acanto, in The Loop, serving fine Italian; Appellation, north in Andersonville offering  American Contemporary; Bistro Voltaire, French, of course, in River North; in Lincoln Park there’s Cafe Ba-Ba-Reba, renown for tapas and Spanish cuisine.


Trust me, from Edison Park to South Chicago, Blue Island to Aurora, and from Asian to BBQ, French to Ukrainian, Ethiopian to Peruvian, there is no neighborhood, nor cuisine, missing from the offerings at hand.  I’m starting my New Year exercise program now, just to be ahead of my waistline before Restaurant Week even starts.

Whew!  That takes us into February, and boy, oh, boy, I’m stuffed just thinking about all this food.  We will have to spend more time outdoors next month, yes?  I hope you’ll join us in at least a few of these merry adventures.