Show: Unsilent Night Every holiday season since 1992, New York composer Phil Kline has been presenting his piece Unsilent Night in outdoor performances by and for the public, who literally carry the music as they stroll through city streets. Though a CD of the piece released by Cantaloupe in 2001 hints at its mesmerizing beauty, this is one work that needs to be experienced in the flesh. Its eight movements consist of layers of ethereal drones, bell-like electronic peals and chimes, and wordless vocals that intone drifting, hypnotic melodies, but the music gets its juice from the way live performances turn those layers into moving parts.
5pm, Historic Chicago Water Tower, 800 N. Michigan.
Dinner: Cibo Matto "What’s more, for every marquee item that delivered, I probably enjoyed two unheralded but quietly excellent dishes, beginning with a bowl of peppery bucatini carbonara with cured tomatoes, chiles, and a brilliant orb of duck yolk mixed in at the table--one of the greatest riffs on the classic I’ve ever had," writes Mike Sula.
201 N. State, 312-239-9500
Show: Jason Adasiewicz's Rolldown "Jason Adasiewicz's affable demeanor and outsize, loose-limbed vigor have long made the vibraphonist one of the more entertaining onstage presences in Chicago's creative-jazz community, but what's really established him as an MVP are his subtlety, harmonic facility, and textural imagination," writes Bill Meyer.
10 PM, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, 773-935-2118, donation requested.
Dinner: 90 Miles Cuban Cafe It’s impressive that such a tiny spot—it’s counter seating only—can turn out such an array so well, including full dinner plates and specials such as rice and black bean congris, sides like fried yuca, sweet or green plantains, and papas rellenas, and omelets, plus tropical fruit shakes and de rigueur Cuban coffee.
3101 N. Clybourn, 773-248-2822
Show: The Red Shoes Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Trilby-based ballet film (1948, 133 min.) has been the cult property of dance freaks for far too long. A look beneath its lushly romantic surface reveals a dark, complex sensibility, and that surface, rendered in the somber tones of British Technicolor, reflects a fantastically rich cinematic inventiveness.
2pm, 5pm, 8pm, Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604
Dinner: Bolat African Cuisine Don’t assume the big colorful balls of yam, cassava, and maize served at Bolat are just simple sides on a par with dinner rolls or mashed potatoes. Rather, amala (ground yam, purple and glutinous), fufu (beaten yam or cassava, white and firm), and kenkey (fermented maize) are integral to Ghanaian and Nigerian meals. Big as softballs, these doughy dumplings are to be ripped, shaped into small scoops, and used as eating utensils whose absorbency is a major consideration with many stews and soups served here.
3346 N. Clark, 773-665-1100
Show: The Maid "Never having lived in a household with servants, I can't offer much personal insight into The Maid," writes J.R. Jones. "But I've seen enough movies about the servant class to know that this small, involving Chilean drama is something relatively new."
5:10pm, 7:40pm, Renaissance Place, 1850 Second, Highland Park, 847-258-7282
Dinner: Carlos': Carlos and Debbie Nieto have operated this intimate French dining room in Highland Park since 1981. The atmosphere is regal, with handsome dark-wood trim, richly toned fabrics, and elegant porcelain dinnerware. Ramiro Velasquez runs the kitchen, dazzling patrons with the expertise he gained under such powerhouses as Jacky Pluton, Don Yamauchi, Eric Aubriot, and Alan Wolf.
429 Temple, Highland Park, 847-432-0770
Show: Redmoon Winter Pageant Redmoon's hour-long solstice celebration is packed with delightful fragments from delicious dreams.
Redmoon Theater, 1463 W. Hubbard, 312-850-8440, $10-$15.
Dinner: Mexique Imagine the intensity of native Mexican ingredients, finessed with French exuberance, and you have an idea of what you can expect at Mexique.
1529 W. Chicago, 312-850-0288