Spotlight: Birthday Dinner at Found Kitchen and Social House

Well, you guessed it. TODAY is my BIRTHDAY!!! But it’s not just my birthday, it’s my good friend Ali’s birthday as well. Like, same day AND same year, and we’ve known each other pretty much forever (our dads worked together in the pinball/video game industry). So it was only appropriate that we meet up for a little birthday celebration!

Last time Ali came by me to Tête Charcuterie, so this time I headed north to Found Kitchen and Social House, located in the heart of Evanston. I had heard a lot of good things about the restaurant during the week, so my expectations were pretty high!

My first impressions when I entered Found: cozy, comfortable, lively, eclectic. The decor reminded me of Salvage One, antiques and unique finds every place you look. We were told there would be a 45-minute wait without a reservation (book early!), but it didn’t take that long to be seated.

Ali and I had a drink at the bar before we sat down: she a Manhattan, and a Punch special for me. That day the Punch was made from bourbon, apple cider, and I honestly can’t remember much else (must take better notes). Bourbon is a little strong for my liking, but this drink was quite tasty. I forget that some cocktails are best sipped.

We sat at the counter with a pub-height bench for two. Now, if I didn’t know Ali well, this could have been completely awkward. It was a little difficult to get in and out of the bench seating, but would be perfect for a date! We also had an excellent view of the wood-fire oven and the chefs, so that was really nice.

The menu is made for sharing, so we started with a kale and Swiss chard salad that had nuts, seeds, and cranberries with a light vinaigrette. Let’s just say my portion left my plate pretty quickly. I could eat mountains of this salad!

Then we split a bacon and leek flatbread that was also divine. I really liked this combo, with the smokiness of the bacon and light bite of the leeks. Yum…

For our entree, we enjoyed a salmon special on top of sautéed greens with more bacon! The fish pretty much melted in my mouth. I’m not a huge salmon fan, so let me tell you this was probably the best salmon I’ve ever had.

As if I wasn’t pleased enough with our menu choices, we opted for mango sorbet for dessert. Our waiter–who was wonderful, by the way!–was so sweet to put birthday candles in our ice cream. Ali and I made a joint wish (I can’t tell you or it won’t happen!), and I savored each bite of my sorbet.

This restaurant is truly a gem for Evanston. I love how they value local cuisine, have excellent service, and I enjoyed the decor. Book your reservation for Found now!

And happy birthday, Ali! 🙂

Found Kitchen and Social House
1631 Chicago Avenue
Evanston

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Spotlight: Apple Picking at County Line Orchard

If you have Facebook friends who are:

  • In their late 20s/early 30s;
  • Have a child; and/or
  • Live in the Midwest

Chances are you’ve already seen a million apple picking photos. Well, this post will be one million and one!

Yes, I’m 31 years old, and this is the first time I’ve ever been apple picking! Nate, my brother Christopher and his wife Melissa, and our friends Clint and Gina joined me for a morning of apple picking and corn mazing. I chose County Line Orchard based on some feedback from my Facebook friends (thank you!) because it’s relatively close (about an hour) and has good activities (corn maze, pumpkin patch, U-Pick sunflower field, roasting marshmallows, bee hives…oh, yeah, and apple picking).

We drove to Hobart, Indiana, the Sunday after our Revolution Brewing Oktoberfest Party, and we couldn’t have picked a more perfect day. Blue sky + cool temperature = ideal apple picking weather.

We started our experience in the Timber Frame Barn, sampling apple cider, and tasting apple cinnamon and pumpkin-glazed donuts (holy amazing) while we browsed the gifts, food, and mementos for sale. Then, we headed outside to get our tickets for apple picking.

We were told the corn maze was muddy, but we wanted to do it anyway. For the Explorer Pass (access to the maze and apple picking), it cost $7 per person, in addition to the apples costing $1.89 a pound. Now, I understand apple picking is a novelty, so I didn’t think these prices were too outrageous.

We hopped on a tractor ride and made our way to the corn maze. An employee handed us a map of the maze that was designed to honor Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux, and had 10 checkpoints (you got a hole punch at each point). We successfully completed the task, although we did get a little dirty. There was also a beautiful sunflower field next to the maze, so we snapped a few photos there.

Next, we walked over to the apple orchards, which were partially picked over (it was early October), but there were still plenty of apples to pick. I opted for mostly Jubilee Fuji, which—according to my information guide—are good for eating, cooking, pies, and frying. We picked six pounds, and I actually ate most of them, giving a few to a friend. I’ll have to get more next year to bake and make some homemade applesauce!

Our trip to County Line was wonderful. I went home with my apples, as well as a mix of donuts for my co-workers, and some delicious kettle corn. My brother ordered a soft pretzel (his favorite!) from a vendor outside, and it was the best pretzel I’ve ever had. (They have many vendors and food trucks outside to visit before or after your pick.) There’s also a kid’s farm, and plenty of pumpkins and decorative items to purchase, and, I know I’m biased, but they also have weddings here! (See photos from our barn wedding)

Would I return to County Line? Definitely. Will apple picking be a tradition in our house? I sure hope so!

County Line Orchard
200 S. County Line Road
Hobart, Indiana

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Revolution Brewing Oktoberfest Party

When my husband received an early bird special email in his inbox for Revolution Brewing‘s Oktoberfest Party, we both agreed we had to go. So we invited a bunch of our friends from college to come and have a stein with us!

For $25, your ticket to the Oktoberfest Party buys you a commemorative glass stein and one fill up (that’s 33.4 ounces). What did you think was going to happen?!?

You guessed it–this light weight had the time of her life at last Friday night’s event. These were a few reasons why:

1. I was able to check “visit a local brewery” off of my to-do list.
2. I didn’t have to wait much in the super long line to get into the event (if you remember, it was chilly and raining).
3. When it was time to refill my stein (yes, after the first 33.4 ounces went down rather smoothly), the brewers were going around giving people free cans of Oktoberfest (please go to your favorite local grocery store and get some–it’s delicious!). Here is Revolution’s description of Oktoberfest:
 A classic German-style Oktoberfest beer that goes down smooth with a pleasant, toasty malt flavor. Hallertauer Mittelfruh hops  give the beer a crisp, balanced bitterness and a spicy, earthy aroma. Our head brewer Jim Cibak says our 2014 version is our most refined yet!
4. So many of our friends from college were there–it was amazing! (This is the most important reason!)
5. The people in #4 let me take as many group selfies as I wanted to. But even better than that GlitterGuts was there with a photo table with free prints! (All photo booth photos from the event are here.)
6. There was a rock band, food trucks outside as well as German fare inside, a touchdown toss, drunk tank, and more activities to enjoy.

When this event comes up next year, do yourself a favor and go. For now, just pick up some Oktoberfest and enjoy!

Revolution Brewing
3340 N Kedzie Ave
Avondale

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