One of the things that I love about a newspaper subscription is its regulatory. Regular, in that it's there every morning (nearly every morning), and regular, what I really like, is the rotation, the features I always follow: Sunday's poker column, Wednesday food section, Thursday's At Play (play the Phil Vettel Game!). For my wife, the best day of the week is Saturday. She gets the soap summary and One Fine Day, perhaps her favorite feature (see here for an example). In the tradition of One Fine Day, I present our latest.
Magazines and Music, Oak Park Borders (1144 Lake St Oak Park, IL 60301(708) 386-6927) - Saturday is our day to sleep late, and for me, getting out of bed at 8:15 is nicely late. I need that extra bit of sleep because morning coffee gets delayed until Borders. Each Saturday three to six Oak Parkers take over the Northwest corner of the Oak Park Borders cafe. Some carry acoustic guitars, one regular plays a jazzy but muted hollow-body electric (which at least once per morning he solos using an organish effect), one has a mandolin (and does a bit or two with a recorder) and most of the time, there is a woman with an stand up bass. They play a mix of standards and rock. Brief words cannot convey how talented these folks are. They have technique like instructors but also unique and quality vocals, both as solos and as harmonizers. It has to be the best free show around. Listen, read, cafinate.
Fressers rejoice at Manny's (1141 S. Jefferson, Chicago). We time our departure from Borders generally to the musicians, but today we stayed longer awaiting our daughters commencement of her Young Scientist Conference (Dad all morning: "paging young scientists, paging young scientists, please report to lab..."). We are always more than peckish after Borders, but the lunch choices close by are seldom to our tastes. We let our tummies wait just a bit as I drove us to Manny's (love the valet parking!). Mom and Dad split roast beef. Luckily for us, French rare works, and corned beef. Dad splurged on a diet Dr. Browns, while Mom advertised her thrift on a fountain drink, "free re-fills". The kidz split corned beef and chicken.
We now find ourselves joining Binny's to any Manny's visit. The new location, across from Manny's, has a large selection and a decent deli (see side bar) but what makes it worth stopping is their drinks bar. All pour are priced from retail. It's a chance to sample an eighty-five dollar bottle of Calvados for less than ten bucks.
What's Local at Binny,s Across the Street from Manny'sBinny's did not have the local booze we had been seeking. That would be Lush, a few blocks away (1306 S. Halsted, Chicago). As mentioned in Time Out Chicago, Lush sells Death Door Vodka and Death's Door Gin, booze made from wheat grown in one the best places on earth, Washington Island, Wisconsin. Lush also offers wee tastes of booze for free (free!). I'll take that $85 Calvados and raise you a $135 Scotch sample.
Local pork. OK, I counted maybe three local cheeses in their whole selection, and one was Maytag, but there are other cheese stores. What Binny's did have for this localvore were local pork products. Nueske ham, Nueske bacon, good; really good, La Quercia ham, La Quercia guanciale and La Quercia pancetta. Get yourself there as the Quercia proscuiutto was less than $20/lb, a real steal
It's hard to believe anyone needs more food after Manny's, but we can hardly let a visit to this area go by without something sweet. Often, we end up at Ferrara (2210 W. Taylor). And I will guarantee you that every time we go there, my wife will comment at some point, how the Italian pastries in New York are just so much better. I do mostly agree, chauvinist that I am. A Ferrara sfogliatela would be finer if we got them at a different point. Ferrara, however, puts them in a refrigerated case that saps a bit of succor from the pastry. Minor quibble though.
A One Fine Day should be nobler than four or so of the deadly sins. It should also be a chance to put on a nice suit (sans tie for trendy affect) and cavort with the animals. What I mean is that our day was that much finer because we finished with the Have-a-Heart benefit for West Suburban PADS, the organization that provides emergency shelter and other services to the homeless in the near-Western suburbs. The event was at Brookfield Zoo, and part of the time we got to hang with the giraffes. We noshed, we bid, we listened to the awesome pipes of our Congressman Danny Davis, and watched a tear inducing film about some of the people PADS has helped.
Nothing against finger food noshing, but it's almost de rigour for benefit goers to have a hot dog on the way home, is it not? Pete's (6346 Roosevelt RD, Oak Park) offers a better than average Chicago style dog, even five minutes before their close.
If the day was not fine enough, I won an online poker tournment later that night.