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09/27/11: We had a nice vacation last week. It started with the annual block party on our street. Last year I picked up a mini-keg of Newcastle Brown Ale and proceeded to finish a significant portion of it. This year I found a Breckenridge Brewery sampler 12-pack at our local liquor store. I discovered Breckenridge earlier this year when a guy who was planning to consume nothing but beer and water for Lent recommended their Pandora's Bock, which was outstanding but only available in the spring. I've since tried several of their beers and have enjoyed them all. The sampler had three bottles each of their Avalanche Ale and Vanilla Porter, which I've enjoyed before, and three each of their Oatmeal Stout and Lucky U IPA, which hadn't. They are still batting 1000 in my book, as the new two were excellent as well. I would recommend any of them to anyone looking for a tasty brew.
     Later in the week, we went out to dinner with my brother and his family. They took us to Chi Tung on 95th and Kedzie. We've been to other hibachi grill restaurants before, with all the utensil juggling and food tossing, and this one rates highly among them. These types of places are never inexpensive, but I think Chi Tung was a good value for the price. And the fried rice was out of this world! Recommended.
     Later in the week we piled in the car and took a trip up to Kenosha. In our haste to get out of the house, we forgot Kisu's leach, and while we're comfortable with her off-leash in the yard and to-and-from the car, we didn't want to walk her around Kenosha loose and risk tragedy. Fortunately, in the trunk I still had the coated wire that the car salesman gave us to walk Cheyenne around the neighborhood the night we found her, almost 18 years ago. I don't know what the people who saw us thought, but we walked all over and she was safe. While there, Stephie checked out some of the outlet stores, and we had a great lunch at the Brat Stop. Since we had Kisu with us, Stephie stayed outside at the picnic bench and I went in for the food. While waiting for our brats, I was browsing the gift store and spotted some New Glarus Bock beer, which they fortunately had at the bar. I sampled a bottle while waiting, and went back to buy a six-pack before we left. I'll have to see if that's available around here.
     Before heading home, we had to stop at the new Mars Cheese Castle, pictured here. They built this huge store behind the old one, and have really expanded their selections. We also stopped at Bobby Nelson's, which is a little store a block or so away from Mars. We were bummed to find that they don't carry pheasant pot pies any more, but we did pick up some sausages and other meats.
     We finished the week by attending the monthly reading series at the Tamale Hut Cafe in North Riverside. This is the third time we've been there, and the second time I read a new chapter from the current book I'm working on. (The first time I read a chapter from 'Casco Cove'.) I got a really good response from the audience and several people came up to me afterwards to encouraging me to continue. It's fun to have friends and family members read my stuff and give me positive feedback, but it's even more fun when total strangers do that! I'm looking forward to next month's reading on Oct 15.

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