National Food Days in December

It’s hard not to love this time of year. Holidays, decorations, an excuse to watch Elf and Love Actually without judgement…

To Me You Are Perfect

It’s also an excellent month for food! You already have the dates circled for family traditions on your calendar. Now you can break out the marker once more and plan ahead for some more exciting National Food Days!

As you participate in each National Food Day, designated by a committee comprised of the federal government and corporate sponsors, feel free to share your photos with me on Facebook or Twitter

December 8th

National Brownie Day

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Did you know…

…that the brownie was actually invented in Chicago? At the behest of Bertha Palmer, whose husband owned the Palmer House, a “ladies dessert” was created to be served at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition held in Chicago from the Women’s Pavilion. The first printed use of the word “brownie” to describe it wouldn’t happen until 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Farmer

On this day, the modern Palmer House Hilton is handing out free brownies to commemorate the birth of quite possibly my favorite sweet and the National Holiday. If you’re in Chicago, swing by 17 E. Monroe St. after 11:30 AM CT to get your complimentary brownie.

December 9th

National Pastry Day

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In case brownies aren’t your style, you get to pick up your favorite baked dessert the next day! Otherwise, you have an excuse to stop by the bakery two days in a row…Not the worst thing.

As mentioned in my Food Truck Challenge, I personally recommend the Chicago Cupcake  truck. Seriously unlike any kind of cupcake I’ve tried before . They also have store fronts in Wicker Park, if you’re not willing to hunt down the truck for adventure.

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December 11th

National “Have a Bagel” Day

New York Bagels

Bagels may sound like an everyday thing to most, but this seems like the perfect occasion to get creative and get something awesome. Every now and then, I get a craving for New York style bagels and luckily there’s an NYC Bagel Deli in Chicago with NY style pizza slices as well.

But if you want to be adventurous, I recommend Brobagel in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area, just next door to Piece Pizza and Brewery. Amazing bagel sandwiches and people with matching personalities to make them so.

 

December 14th

 

National Biscuits and Gravy Day

Biscuits and Gravy

Some folks tell me that they or their moms make the best biscuits and gravy…If you are one of these people, please invite me over to try them because I LOVE BISCUITS AND GRAVY.

Whenever I go out for breakfast, my eyes usually search for biscuits and gravy right off the bat because my stomach has complete control of them. I have to say that in recent memory, the best biscuits and gravy I’ve had in Chicago is from a place with the perfect name…Brunch. They also have a perfect selection of mimosas to pair nicely.

 

December 16th

National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

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Nothing will be running through my head more than Gene Wilder serenading a tour of the Wonka Factory on that day…

 

This also happens anytime I walk into the Confectionery in downtown Long Grove. There’s a little old woman in a corner glass screen room, doing nothing but dipping strawberries in chocolate. From what I’m told, she has dipped over 2 billion strawberries in her time there…and they make an amazing gift as well.

 

December 20th

National Sangria Day

Sangria

The bottom 3rd of the month is all about drinks.

12/24 (Christmas Eve) is National Egg Nog day. 12/31 (New Year’s Eve) is National Champagne Day. Those are pretty easy to remember and adhere to. However, why not kick the final stretch of the year off with a drink just as, if not more delicious than both.

I actually have out-of-town company coming in for the holidays, so I plan on treating them the way I normally do for most of my guests…with great food and booze.

 

For more National Food Holidays this month, check out the calendar on Foodimentary. If you’d like to team up for some food adventures, or just want to share your food porn, let me know on Facebook or Twitter.  

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December in Chicago: Things To Do To Make Winter Suck Less

Consider this a cognitive therapy session to help you feel better about the season that several of your friends and family have moved away from. If you still live here after the past two winters, congratulations…you’re a midwesterner. You grew up with 4 seasons, strapped on your snow pants, found creative ways to de-ice your windshield because you forgot your scraper, and you haven’t been stomped by AT-ATs on State Street…yet.

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I personally like snow and I know I’m not alone. I also don’t mind a trip somewhere warm in order to endure it with a tan, but I take pride in where I’m from and love that I can appreciate the other 3 seasons because of Winters here. You also get an awesome and natural excuse to stay in and binge watch Netflix shows with a glass of some-something.

So before posting your super cliche “ugh, Chicago Winter. Get me out of here” Facebook status, turn up 93.9 on your radio for 24/7 holiday tunes and consider some proactive options that you can’t get most places.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

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Lions, Tigers, and beers…oh my!

You read that right. Along with a whole calendar of events, you can peruse the zoo with beers (and maybe Bears) or other adult beverages as the whole place gets lit up like you’ve never seen before. It’s free to enter, as always, and there’s a number of activities to partake in including rides, crafts, and seeing Santa. There are a few dates to mark on the calendar as well.

12/2 BrewLights

12/10 Adults Night Out

12/14, 12/21, 12/28 Family Nights

1/3 Last Day

 

Comedy Shows

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Want to know a great way to stay warm in Chicago? Laughing. Where better to do that than in a tiny cramped venue, brushing shoulders with the table next to you, sipping on a rum and something, and then forgetting it all with belly laugh after belly laugh.

Dave Chappelle is in the middle of a 6 day residency at Thalia Hall, Dec. 1 – 6, but good luck getting tickets for that. All 12 shows were sold out, but MAYBE a ticket or 2 will show up on StubHub. Meanwhile, you and your rowdy friends can check out any of the following clubs for standup shows:

Chicago Improv (in Schaumburg)

Laugh Factory (on Broadway)

Zanies (Chicago, St. Charles and Rosemont)

Beat Kitchen (on Belmont)

Or you can get literally spontaneous comedy at any of the improv institutions that helped put Chicago on the map in show business like Second City, iO or Comedy Sportz.

Last, but not least, John Oliver is performing at the Chicago Theater December 30th and 31st. Maybe don’t miss that.

Christkindlmarket

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I’m sure you’ve heard of it but in case you’ve never been, head over to Daley Plaza at Clark and Washington to see for yourself. The tradition began in Nuremberg, Germany in 1545 and was brought to Chicago in 1996. It’s considered the largest open-air Christmas festival in the city, but my favorite part is the mug of hot wine that I can mosey about with.

It’s open till Dec. 24th, so get over as soon as you can.

 

Marshall Fields

(Nobody wants to call it Macy’s this time of year)

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This is Christmas nostalgia at it’s finest for most of us who grew up around Chicago. Winter break from school, Mom and Dad have some last minute shopping and your family from New York is in town…where do you head to? State Street, that great street, to see the windows at Marshall Fields.

Every year there’s a different story being told around the building, and people of all ages can’t wait to see what’s next. Inside, on the 7th floor is another sight to behold. The Walnut Room has been a Chicago tradition since 1907.

Walnut Room

 

Star Wars (Chicago Style)

If the pre-sale numbers and the marketing haven’t already told you, people are excited for Star Wars. So how can you best celebrate the release of Episode 7?

The Whistler in Logan Square will be transforming their bar into the Mos Eisley Cantina on December 16th. There will be local musicians on hand as the house band from A New Hope and the cocktail menu will be overhauled with galactic themed beverages.

Mos Eisley

Then there’s Adler After Dark the next evening, December 17th, as the Adler Planetarium will be hosting a Force Awakens party unlike any.

  • Star Wars Trivia
  • A screening of Space Balls 
  • Star Wars-inspired beer from Empirical Brewing
  • Lightsaber Combat Workshop!
  • human-robot interactives from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Force is strong, yes?

 

Sauced Night Market

Sauced Night Emporium

It’s a roving night market, self-described as being “dedicated to emerging culinarians, artists and that guy from high school who’s a DJ now – an evening of food, art and debauchery set to the tune of “Hypnotize”. Intrigued? Sure you are.

December 15th, SAUCED will be at Emporium Arcade Bar in Logan Square for your not-yet-last-minute holiday shopping, great food from Chicago vendors, and craft beer. It sounds way too interesting to pass up.

 

One Of A Kind Show

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Love art or just any alternative to retail? This is for you. From December 3rd – 6th, 600 artists from across North America will be at the Merchandise Mart on Orleans with every kind of handmade creation you can think of.

Accessories, ceramics, sculptures, furniture, photography, paintings, glass, jewelry, fashion, etc. And here’s the show schedule:

Thursday, December 3    11am-8pm
Friday, December 4         11am-8pm
Saturday, December 5     10am-7pm
Sunday, December 6       10am-5pm

All the One Of A Kind Show info is here.

 

Topgolf

Nighttime Tee Line Golfer

(Naperville & Wood Dale)

 

I find it funny that there are still people around Chicago who haven’t caught on to Topgolf. It’s the grownup version of Chuck E. Cheese, Enchanted Castle, Leaps & Bounds, or whatever kids amusement place you used to frequent when you were younger.

It’s golf meets bowling, where each individual ball you hit has a chip inside and you aim for targets to score points against your friends. Full bar, great food, multiple monitors to watch sports, parties every night…and you it’s open year round with plenty of heat.

I actually went with my dad on the coldest of year and it was an absolute blast. Here’s proof.

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If you have anymore recommendations to make December better, please pass them along on Facebook or Twitter