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October Surprises. Spooky Fall Adventures

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

It’s October already, do you believe it? Dear readers and friends, don’t let too much time slip away before you take your family to pick out a pumpkin and decorate your home for the spooky nights to come.  Hideous gargoyles actually chase away evil spirits, the traditions tell us, so prepare accordingly!

Today, Saturday, October 9th, let’s all meet at the Green Mill, https://greenmilljazz.com/, 4802 N. Broadway St., about 2:00pm, to sit in Chicago’s best venue for anything: jazz, blues, beer, comedy, or simply ogling at the interior of this infamous place, once the hangout of Al Capone and his gangsters. At 3:00 we’ll be treated to a “live magazine” performance by Paper Machete, https://thepapermachete.org/, The Paper Machete lineups always include a mix of everything, with a strong emphasis on comedy. It will be good, I promise; they call it “a cavalcade of culture, politics and wit featuring journalists, actors, comedians and musicians offering idiosyncratic reports on the news of the day.” This will be raucous, likely a bit rude, with  hysterically funny, spot-on jabs and barbs at the events of the week, punctuated with music from a great performer or two.

Wasn’t that as good as promised? I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. It’s after 5:00pm, and we’re getting hungry, how about you guys? Let’s try Tesfa, https://www.tesfacuisine.com/, 1023 West Wilson Avenue, for some Ethiopian cuisine, shall we? There are eight of us, so how about the family style platter? It has all sorts of sauces and dips to try, and no, really, I don’t know what any of them taste like. We’re on an adventure, eat up! It will all be good and satisfying, we’ll each have our favorites, and there’s plenty for everyone. They even have tiramisu for dessert. Oh, that’s one of my go-to treats, but this evening I think I’ll try the B-Tesfa, and ask if it’s an Ethiopian recipe, or something they developed once they settled in America. Yes, some authentic Ethiopian coffee will be perfect with that dessert, thank you.

Here we are, once again eagerly in search of some easy adventure with friends. Last week we tried African food.  This Friday, October 15th,  let’s try a new type of “food fusion” at Polombia, https://www.polombiachi.com/, 916 W Fulton Market (inside the Time Out Chicago Market). Here we’ll find Cynthia Orobio & Phillipe Sobon, hard at work producing their signature Emparogis, Kielbasa Perro, and other fantastic foods arising from their Polish and Colombian heritages.  Polumbia is well worth searching out; the Kielbasa Perro has a sweet pineapple glaze that’s really tasty, sweet, salty and savory all together.

I have yet to meet a kolaczki that I didn’t like, and these are no exception; the pastry is just right, buttery and soft but firm and the marmalade filling is sweet, and deliciously tangy. Perfect.

Cynthia and Phillipe met in 2019, and when the pandemic hit their careers were also hit hard. They started experimenting with fusion dishes in their own kitchens, decided that their cuisines had much in common, developed an assortment of recipes, then opened a space in a food hall.  When indoor restrictions once again forced them to close, they quickly switched to a delivery-only “ghost kitchen” by renting time in another establishment.

Now they are in their own space, albeit within the large food court of the Time Out Market.  They plan to open their own stand-alone restaurant when circumstances allow, but in the meantime, what they present here is unusual, tasty and quite impressive, don’t you think?

Today, Saturday, October 16th, we plan to visit the farmer’s market one last time, and you should too. We’ll hope to see you at about 9:00am at the Nettlehorst French Market, 3252 N Broadway St., where we’ll find that a decidedly French accent enhances the open-air market experience greatly. Maybe it’s just the novelty, but we’re both really liking the colorful vendor booths, the fresh flower displays, and oh, look, French bread, real and freshly baked, with that crispy, flaky crust and soft chewy inside that you never get in a grocery store’s sad excuse for “French bread”. A warm croissant? Yes, certainly, two please, then we can all share.

Now, let’s head west and north a bit to the North Center Market, Northcenter Town Square, 4100 N. Damen, where we will indulge at the stalls with their array of freshly picked fruits, veggies and melons, Wisconsin cheeses, fresh honey, and even more French breads and croissants. I’m such a sucker when I get to a farmer’s market, can you tell? That was such fun; now it’s time to go home and put all this away before anything spoils.  See you soon.

After another grueling work-week, it’s time for some serious relaxation, and I can’t think of a better way to wind the week down than over good conversation with good friends, while indulging in a good glass of bourbon or rye. We hope you’ll join us for another rooftop experience tonight, Friday, October 22nd,  at Whiskey Business, 1367 N. Milwaukee Ave.,  https://www.whiskeybusinesschicago.com/, where we can still sit out, enjoy the fresh air, getting so crisp this time of year, and sip our whiskey slowly and with care. They have over one hundred different whiskeys from which to choose, selections from around the world, including Jack Daniel’s ‘Sinatra Select’ which I know personally is incredibly smooth, wonderfully aromatic, and will knock you back with very little effort, so be careful. The beer list is also quite substantial, and the food, while basically pub grub with fanciful names, is tasty and satisfying. Yes, of course I’ll have another glass, but just one, thank you.  Well friends, this has been great, but if we stay any longer, the whiskey will call to me quite loudly, and we just can’t have that.  Thank you all again.

It’s certainly autumn, the weather is cooler, but that’s no reason to slow down, so today, Sunday, October 24th, let’s run for beer! Join us before 10:00am, please, at Spiteful Brewing, 2024 W. Balmoral Ave., for the Boos and Brews Halloween Event, a 3.1 mile (5k) run, jog, or walk, that promises a “Spooktacular”  https://breweryrunningseries.com/illinois/, Boos & Brews Halloween Event! Come on, this will be great, and besides, when was the last time you burnt off your beer calories before you drank them? Spiteful Brewing is in the Bowmanville neighborhood, a quiet area tucked beneath the Rosehill Cemetery, and the run course should be lightly trafficked, quiet and scenic and the beer is just the thing after half an hour of running.

You know what? It’s been a long week at work and we need more Halloween fun. So after work today, Friday, October 29th, meet us at Navy Pier, please, where we’ll walk the full length out to the Lake, admiring the glorious display of over one thousand carved and lit pumpkins on our way.  Then we’re off to some delicious dining at Tiny Tavern, https://www.tinytavern.com/, right on the Pier, where we can dive into fresh baked pretzel bites, for instance, while waiting for your Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and my Tavern Burger to arrive. Oh, hey, isn’t this delicious? Is yours a good as it smells? Yumm!

Time now for an after dinner digestif, don’t you think? Yes, and let’s have our drinks at Offshore, https://www.drinkoffshore.com/. Right there, look up; it’s on the third floor of Festival Hall and from up there we’ll get a gorgeous, unique perspective of the city you won’t find elsewhere.  Westward is the skyline, all lit up and twinkling. Look east out over the vastness of Lake Michigan, isn’t that always enthralling?  Did you know Offshore is the largest rooftop venue in the country? Let’s all sit by one of the fire pits and relax for a while.  It’s time to really catch up.  How are your kids and family? Has everybody gotten this far through the unending pandemic without losing their sanity? It’s been tough, but we made it, and we’re glad you did too.

It’s Halloween weekend, and today, Saturday, October 30th, it’s time to start the party. Put your costume on and get ready for day drinking because it’s time for the Halloween Day Crawl, a riotous romp through the bars of the River North neighborhood.  Which ones? They won’t tell us yet. Where do we go to pick up our wristbands and freebies? They won’t tell us yet.  How do we register and find out more? Visit https://halloweendaycrawl.weebly.com/, and go from there.

WHAT’S INCLUDED: Tickets include admission to all bars and free gift cards to use on the crawl, drink specials, a costume contest, giveaways and more!

But don’t get too carried away down here in River North. The costume party is at your place this year so head home and make everything ready. We’ll see you about 8:00pm!

Whew, that was some party last night. And it’s finally, really Halloween today, Sunday, October 31st. It’s time to help your kids get dressed up in their costumes and take them out to trick or treat, or indulge in whatever Halloween activities are offered in your neighborhood. Go ahead, it’s OK, all the other parents partied last night too.

Thank you friends, for your company as we adventured through October. This month is at an end, but our love for Chicago, and our appreciation of the value of friends and family never stops. Until next month, friends and readers, keep your eyes open for the fun and adventure that is all around us.

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