Friday, September 7
If you're like me — or the Grand Dame of good times herself, Julia Child — one day is not enough to celebrate one's birth. Especially one's 100th birthday. Join the crème de la crème of Chicago's female food professionals for French food, cheeses, wines and desserts at La Grande Fête: A French Salute to Julia & Joan at The French Pastry School, presented by Les Dames d’Escoffier Chicago. Kicking off their Culinary Insiders Weekend, Alpana Singh hosts and Joan Reardon, a Dame of Distinction, will sign copies of her book As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. LDEIC promotes women in the culinary arts, sponsors educational and charitable activities and awards scholarships. Admission $150 general, $75 culinary students.
Saturday, September 8
Every time I visit the historic architectural and botanical gem that is the Garfield Park Conservatory, I kick myself for not going more often — especially since it's free to get in. This weekend the conservatory stages its 1st Annual Harvest Days Celebration in the outdoor City Garden. Activities include honey harvesting and tasting from their own hives; the Veggie Bingo Swap and Share; a Recipe Swap Tent featuring a special Harvest Days Soup tasting and recipe that will highlight fresh ingredients from the Urban Demonstration Garden, staged by Martha Bayne, author of the Soup & Bread Cookbook: Building Community One Pot at a Time; cooking demonstrations and tastings by chefs David Rosenthall of Inspiration Kitchens and Tara Lane of Jane Addams Hull-House Kitchen; food trucks — and more! Admission $3 suggested donation per person, FREE for GPCA Members and children under 3.
Sunday, September 9
Eat before you go (try Revolution, Lula, Longman & Eagle or Telegraph — all in the neighborhood) because you will want to drink at Vocalo Presents: MusicVox Live! at The Whistler, hosted by The MusicVox's Jesse Menendez. Featuring live music by Chicago's The Kickback and The Moses Gun. Yes, they have beer, but their classic and contemporary cocktails are the thing to get, especially the Tiki drink du jour. Admission FREE, drinks additional.
Monday, September 10
The maraş dondurması is back! It's the uniquely chewy wild orchid ice cream that's the signature item at the 10th annual Chicago Turkish Festival (September 9 to 12) at Daley Plaza, and worth the visit alone. But there will also be döner kebab sandwiches, Turkish waffles (think Belgian street food waffles), pişmaniye (often called Turkish cotton candy, but a far more complex butter-roasted flour, sugar and nut pulled confection), Turkish coffee and more — plus Whirling Dervishes! Admission FREE, food and drink additional.
Wednesday, September 12
I have a confession to make: On a recent restless late night, I drove over to peer into the closed windows of Bread & Wine. Set back from an always busy stretch of Irving Park Road, the restaurant is like a tiny modern culinary retreat in the neighborhood, with a lovely outdoor dining area off to the side of what was formerly a laundromat. They will host a Farm Dinner benefitting Slow Food Chicago with a menu by Bread &Wine chef Curtis Gamble, including apps of cured Guinea Hog face pancetta, Guinea Hog pork rinds, and assorted Spence Farm vegetables and garnish; a first course of assorted beets and garnish; a second course of lake white fish, sweet corn mascarpone, dill pickled green tomato, and young garlic salsa verde; a third course of Guinea Hog shoulder confit, BBQ peaches, crispy summer beans, and pickled gooseberries; and a fourth and final dessert course of honey panna cotta, lavender milk, and assorted flowers. Marty Travis of Spence Farm will be there to talk about the work they do on his family farm, settled in 1830, now managed by their eighth generation. Admission $55 without alcohol pairing, $80 with sparkling wine and Perennial Artisan Ales pairing.
Thursday, September 13
When I've been to Munich, I've always been impressed by how serious businessmen quaff a big beer with a hearty lunch (in Germany they say meat is the best vegetable), yet still manage to remain ordentlich and productive for the rest of the workday. Test what may be the secret to their cultural success at the 27th annual Berghoff Oktoberfest (September 12 to 14) at Federal Plaza (Adams and Dearborn). This year, they even have a VIP Experience option for you and and a minimum of 20 of your closest friends and/or colleagues, with an all you can eat — and drink — buffet, which can include the entire fest menu: soft pretzels, bratwurst with sauerkraut, grilled chicken sandwiches, apple strudel, German Cookies, corn on the cob, creamed spinach and German potato salad. Ja, ja! Admission FREE, food and drink additional.