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It's fall and there are things to do! Here are several of them! First up, Tuesday night you can taste a rooftop preview of Andersonville's Cantina de la Granja (slated to open next year), benefit the Gary Comer Youth Center—and maybe influence the direction of the restaurant's menu. Chef Diana Davila-Boldin will show some of what she plans for the "Modern Mexican" concept, which will include a substantial rooftop garden as well as a farm-to-table approach to Mexican food using local farmers. Tickets for the multicourse meal are $100, all of which goes to the Gary Comer Youth Center and its own urban agriculture programs, which help feed its south-side community and support various extracurricular activities for students. Find out more here.
• And speaking of modern Mexican, Rick Bayless will be leading an all-day event on that very subject at Kendall College on Saturday, September 13. Mod Mex & Mod Mix: The New Face of Mexican Food will bring together chefs and mixologists—including Curtis Duffy, Fany Gerson of Brooklyn's La Newyorkina, Pablo Salas of Amaranta in New York, and mixologist Dave Arnold of Booker & Dax (also New York)—to do new things with Mexican flavors. Tickets for the all-day event are $95, and there's a follow-up dinner the next night at Topolobampo; find out more here.
• And one more Latin note—if you've been curious about Sobremesa Supper Club but not to the extent of shelling out for one of their dinners (like the one on September 21 with chef Brian Fisher), they'll be dishing up tacos at substantially more accessible prices at Villapalooza, the Little Village music fest, on Saturday. (Latin note? Did you get it?)
• CH Distillery's latest guest bartender night will be next Tuesday and feature Dejorn Huffman from Tenzing Wine & Spirits, who'll use CH Distillery's own bourbon, amaro, aquavit, and other spirits. The pouring starts at 8 PM and runs till midnight.
• Henry's Swing Club is showing Chicago movies on Tuesday nights together with themed snacks, beginning this Tuesday with The Fugitive and Primal Fear. Check out the lineup here.
• Lincoln Park's Gemini Bistro will be celebrating its fifth anniversary all next week with a variety of specials, including a $55 five-course menu on Wednesday, and picking five lucky tables at random for dinner for only $5 on Friday night. See the lineup here.
• I've been digging on Sicilian wines since this dinner at dear departed Telegraph, and Piccolo Sogno Due will wet your beak on September 16 with a dinner showcasing Donnafugata winery. Tickets for the five-course dinner and pairings are $90; call 312-822-0077.
• Barley's Angels, a group working to expand the appreciation and understanding of craft beer among women by bringing them together with craft beer professionals to explore craft beer, will be doing both drinking and traveling on September 22 with an event at Penrose Brewing in Geneva, Illinois. Get your $12 brewery tour ticket here, and Metra can get you to Geneva.
• Shaw's will hold its 26th annual Oyster Fest on September 26th at 560 W. Grand and the Chicago River, featuring live music, beer, and, oh yeah, oysters. There will be assorted specials the whole week, too, if the past 25 years are any indication.
• Want a new career in tequila? The Indie Spirits Expo hits Chicago at the end of the month and Fountainhead will host Master Mezcalier classes, leading up to Master Mezcalier certification. There are two levels of classes, which cost $225 each, but at least they include a light lunch at Fountainhead. Sign up here.
• Takashi of Takashi (and recent Key Ingredient fame) is moving on to the finale of Top Chef Duels on October 8, after defeating David Burke, and he'll have a viewing party and dinner at both Takashi and Slurping Turtle that night. To make reservations, call Takashi (the restaurant) at 773-772-6170 or Slurping Turtle at 312-464-0466.
• And it's not too early to check out the Food Film Festival, which returns November 20-22—they just posted the film lineup for this year's event in Chicago.
• You can't get it in Chicago, yet anyway, but if you're a beer geek this Gizmodo piece on the struggle to recreate Ballantine IPA, made famous in a Jasper Johns artwork but allowed to go extinct in the 90s, is well worth your time over a beer.
• Finally, congrats to Nathan Sears of The Radler for winning Cochon 555 last weekend. He will advance to the finals this fall in Aspen, where we expect him to follow Jason Vincent in conquering the world with his Pork-Fu.