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This July. Chicago IS OPEN

 
July 1, 2021 - July 31, 2021
 
Chicago

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

 

Well, friends, the fireworks from the 4th of July celebrations might be over, but July is just beginning; time for our new adventures.

This Wednesday, July 7th, let’s dive into our outdoor summer with an evening concert in Grant Park, https://www.grantparkmusicfestival.com/. Meet us on the Great Lawn at the Pritzker Pavilion, about 6pm, to be sure we can secure a big enough spot..  Some restrictions will still be in place, so remember to bring masks along with the folding chairs, blanket and food. The concert is from 6:30 until 8:00pm, beginning with pieces by very different composers, before heading into the stirring opening bars of Rossini’s William Tell Overture, https://youtu.be/CsGhI0oYA9I. Isn’t it great to be back outside, amongst friends and family, enjoying this actual live performance of amazing music? Whew!

Afterward, we’re strolling to 310 S. Michigan Avenue and the inimitable Kilwins Chocolate, Fudge, and Ice Cream Shop, https://www.kilwins.com/.  Can’t you already smell all that chocolate goodness? Kilwins is famous for their Mackinac Island Fudge (pronounced “Mak-in-aw”), and deservedly so; look at all the flavors, and yes, please, I’ll have a sample of that one. Yumm!

Today, Friday, July 9th, meet us downtown, after work. We’ll just grab a quick bite to eat and then we’re going back to Grant Park to hear Brahms Symphony No.3, https://youtu.be/-PyAkTW5HDU, resound from that wonderful stage. This is another magnificent orchestral piece, music to which we should all listen upon occasion, broadening our cultural awareness as well as absorbing the complexity, grace, and fluid interactions of the score. And so we have! Thanks for meeting us again so soon, of course we’ll be back.

Last month we said “we’re back”. This month we prove it. The Chicago Auto Show returns. It starts this week Thursday, July 15th and runs through Monday, July 19th. It is not to be missed. We’ll be there Sunday, but if other days work better for you, go. GO!

This Saturday, July 17th, let’s head out to Oak Park for lunch. We want you to experience the warm ambiance and the deliciously authentic food at Lea’s Street French Cafe, 106 N Marion St, Oak Park,  Everything is baked and cooked right here and the tastes are incredible.  As they put it:

“We have worked to adapt our traditional French recipes to the local ingredients.  We

            have amazing farmers and artisan ingredients right here in the Midwest!  Our menu

            recipes are simple with the intent of allowing each ingredient to shine.”

That is exactly what happens when you take a bite of any of their delicious offerings. ALL the individual flavors come through in just the right way. Try the L’ Opéra Sandwich Croissant, with rosemary chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. See what I mean? Even with the mayo on it, the flavors come through, the bacon doesn’t overpower the chicken, and the croissant has just the right texture and flaky deliciousness. Are we suddenly in Paris? Be sure to indulge in a chocolate chip cookie! It’s just the right thing for those last sips of your cafe au lait.

We’ll finish our treats, then stroll around Oak Park for a while. There are interesting stores; art galleries, antiques, home furnishings, and more. Walk on Forest Ave., and we can see  private homes built by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright including his home and studio. His studio really demonstrates the force of geometry, attention to every detail, and interplay between the building and its surroundings that so characterizes his work.

Now it’s time to walk back and drop into The Little Gem Cafe, https://thelittlegemcafe.com/, 189 N. Marion Street, just in time for our table reservations. Look at this menu! Our little group can handle two appetizers, right? How about the Fig and Honey Brie Crostinis along with the Hummus, Olives and Toasted Pita? Delicious. Have you picked an entree yet? It’s the New Zealand Lamb Chops that I’m choosing tonight. Chicken Paprikash and Australian Sea Bass for you two? Those sound like great choices, too. The food is tasty and properly prepared, every dish. The glass of wine pairs nicely doesn’t it? Drink up! Time to go!

Live theater resumes at 8:00pm tonight with Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, as the Oak Park Festival Theatre, https://oakparkfestival.com/, returns to its beloved outdoor setting in Austin Gardens, just a few blocks away. As the Festival website tells us:

“The world is turned upside down in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” when a ship is caught

            in a magical storm conjured by the powerful wizard Prospero. Compassion, forgiveness,

            and grace in exile are found on an island of magic and mystery, spirits and monsters, and

            the love that comes from rediscovery.”

Some very accomplished actors and playwrights such as David Mamet and William H. Macy earned their chops on this stage, so it’s no wonder that this Tempest is well staged, directed and performed.

Today, Sunday, July 18th, we’re off to experience the Chicago Auto Show. North America’s largest presentation of automobiles and transportation vehicles is right here in Chicago. This year it’s in the McCormick Place West building, and in outdoor spaces where Ford, will show off the new Bronco, Bronco Sport and all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV. Other car makers will no doubt join in the outdoor fun; Indiana Ave. and a few other streets have been closed off to allow expanded test tracks, drives and other demos. Hmmm, that Mach-E looks like a ton of fun to drive.

One of the high-tech features this year comes in Chevy’s Bolt EUV. It’s “Super Cruise”, GM’s semi-autonomous driving system. Under very specific conditions (highways mostly) you can drive “hands free.”  Super Cruise can maintain speed and keep your car in the lane even on curves. You have to pay attention, of course, especially since Super Cruise actually monitors your eyes while you’re driving. Look away from the road and your car will sound an (no doubt quite annoying) alert.

New and upgraded cars and trucks are everywhere. Ford’s F150 is getting a lot of attention, especially the all electric version.  Chrysler’s newer mini-van, the Pacifica, is a sleek and highly featured option for those with families to move around. As interesting as affordable and environmentally friendly vehicles are, it’s the super cars that we all love to ogle; Lamborghini, Aston Martin, McLaren,  Rolls-Royce are all here. California based Karma is showing an all-electric super car with amazing performance.

This is just wonderful. Look at all these improvements, new safety features, and styling changes in cars from around the world.  What will the future bring?

This evening, Friday, July 23rd, you can find us, once again, heading out to hear that fabulous Grant Park Orchestra play Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony, https://youtu.be/Bvb06gVdtiU. The exciting thrill of this incredible masterpiece, one of the world’s most popular symphonies, will make for a most enjoyable musical evening indeed.

Today, Saturday, July 24th , we have timed-entry admission tickets at the Morton Arboretum, https://mortonarb.org/.  We love to stroll through this place, “the champion of  trees”. Here we’ll see the “Human+Nature” exhibit by artist Daniel Popper. Five different, exceptionally large sculptures entice us to feel the connections between human and nature. Their website describes it this way:

“…a short walk from the Visitor Center, guests are able to step within a huge female figure,

            as if into the heart of nature. Continuing along a less than mile-long walk, they encounter a

            majestic maternal figure as tall as a tree, and a sculpture of diverse human facial traits

            interwoven with root structures. On the West Side, two hands joined by intertwining roots

            extend near a grove of old oaks, and a towering face evokes the interconnectedness of

            humans and trees… The largest ground footprint is 28 feet wide and 37 feet long.”

Doesn’t that figure with the tree rings inside have you thinking about human growth, the “layers” of experience that add up over the years as we become the people we’re meant to become?  After the sculpture, we’ll keep walking through the tree-filled acres, learning about the varieties of trees and the tremendous way the Arboretum assists scientists and conservationists around the globe.

Today, Sunday, July 25th, please call the gang and we’ll make big reservations at a new Greek restaurant, Andros Taverna, https://androstaverna.com/, newly opened in Logan Square at 2542 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tell everybody to arrive hungry.

At a Greek table, the meal is to be shared, and a crispy kataifi cheese pie seems a good place to start doesn’t it?  Let’s just order the “Best of Andros” which includes the kataifi pie, Cretan sausages, a collection of spreads, crudites, and pita, then moves into the signature salad, Mediterranean octopus, and entrees of grilled lamb and whole sea bass. Everything is excellently prepared and served.

Lets share a bottle of wine and relax, catch up, plan ahead, share some photos and enjoy each other’s company. In the aftermath of Covid-19, maybe we’re all just trying to make up for the year we lost by cramming as much as possible into this one. Relax, it’s OK, we’re friends, there’s no need to rush.

To end this month with a BANG, today, Saturday, July 31st, let’s meet after lunch, then head out to Lombard, to a place called Wicked Ballhttps://www.wickedballchicago.com/,where we are going to have so much fun! They have jousting, nerf wars, laser tag, even giant, inflated “Sumo Suits” we can put on and then try to knock ourselves around. Of course I will joust with you. Prepare, brave knight, my jousting skills are renowned throughout the kingdom! Take that! WOW! OW! Good jab, old friend. Now for our well-earned rewards.

It’s not far from Wicked Ball to the Rainbow Cone Ice Cream Shop, https://www.rainbowcone.com/, 498 E Roosevelt Road, Lombard, where they serve five different slices of ice cream heaped on a crispy cone or a waiting bowl. Orange Sherbet, Pistachio, Palmer House, Strawberry, and Chocolate slices, not scoops, are carefully put together just for you. Isn’t this a cold, delicious and differently flavorful delight after all that jousting?

Yes, friends and readers, we’ve conquered yet another month of adventures, grown our friendships, enjoyed our company, and even managed to spend time relaxing together.  Wonderful! As always, until next month, keep adventuring!

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