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Leah’s Notebook: Ethnic adventures around Chicago

Leah's notebook

¡VIVA PILSEN! Mexican Independence Day is tomorrow, and more than 25 restaurants in Pilsen celebrate during the second annual ¡Buen Provecho! Participating eateries, such as Mundial Cocina Mestiza, Ristorante al Teatro, Honky Tonk BBQ and Nightwood, show off the community’s range of cuisine. You can try any of them between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. for $30 at the door…. Meanwhile, check out Jaime Guzman at Pilsen Portal’s nice interview with Eleazar Delgado, owner of Cafe Jumping Bean, on the history of his influential Pilsen coffeehouse.

GREEK FEAST. The National Hellenic Museum showcases the new Greek wines at a benefit dinner, A Night at the Kouzina, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17 at River East Art Center in Streeterville. Along with Greektown’s finest chefs, such Chicago culinarians as George Bumbaris of Prairie Grass Cafe, Carrie Nahabedian of Naha, David Schneider of Taxim and Jimmy Bannos of Heaven on Seven will participate. Tickets are $85 at the door. The premium Greek wine tasting is another $10.

IT’S THE ECONOMY. The North Shore’s Apple Tree Theatre has closed after 26 years of award-winning productions, a casualty of the economy. An announcement said: “In this difficult economy, theater subscriptions and class enrollments are down significantly, foundation support is being squeezed and remains unpredictable, fund raising events and private donations have taken a significant downturn, and much local public funding has dried up.” It’s surprising we haven’t lost more theater companies….

ABU DHABI BOUND. Even Chef Charlie Trotter’s eponymous Lincoln Park restaurant has seen a 20-percent drop in sales, Monee Fields-White of Crain’s reports. Undaunted, Trotter is proceeding with plans to open new restaurants in New York and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This will be Trotter’s second attempt at a New York restaurant. The chef backed out of a deal to open a seafood spot in Time Warner Center in 2005 after he and the developer disagreed on cost issues.

DID YOU KNOW? Chicago is home to more Bulgarians than anywhere outside Sofia. Check out Mehanata in Des Plaines for a look at Bulgarian cuisine.

COLUMBIAN COFFEEHOUSE. Macondo has opened in West Lakeview. The new cafe from the owners of Las Tablas across the street serves Colombian empanadas and fair-trade and organic Colombian coffee. It’s starting up with a limited menu and abbreviated hours, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, but after the grand opening on Oct. 12, it will open daily at breakfast time.

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