Fall is upon us. The temperatures are dropping and the oversized sweaters and booties are resurfacing. And let me tell you, I’m on cloud nine.
Fall is my favorite time of the year. The cool, crisp breeze; the comfy clothing; the food; and the holidays make it the most wonderful time of the year (though Andy Williams may disagree). Aside from the pumpkin, varieties of squashes, spices, and chili/soups that I love, one my favorite flavors comes from apples.
Luckily, Chicago also appreciates my obsession.
This past weekend, one of my dear friends and I partook in the perfect (and most basic) fall afternoon. We attended both an apple festival and an apple pie contest in the same day. An apple overload, right? Maybe. but for me, it wasn’t enough. It was one of the best days I’ve had in a very long time.
Though the day began on a strange note thanks to an UBER driver who stopped to get gas, got out of her car to yell at another driver, and tried to bribe me with cash for a good review despite her short temper as she put it, I eventually arrived at my intended destination a hour later than expected.
Our first stop: The Lincoln Square Apple Fest.
The festival was filled with apples, live music, fall treats, and apple aficionados and their canine companions. The main drag in the northern Chicago neighborhood was lined with vendors and sponsors galore.
Our mission. To acquire all the freebies we could, indulge in some of our fall favorites, and take a cute photo — quite the feat, but JB and I were up for the task.
One of the first sets of freebies we came across came from CLIFF. Though the brand doesn’t make gluten free protein bars – the company that owns them does also manufacture Luna Bars that are. Unfortunately they didn’t have any let, but because they felt guilty – they supplied me with one thing they do produce that is gluten free: their version of fruit leathers. And a boatload of them at that.
From here, I had to find my first cup of hot apple cider of the season, and boy did I. Nearly every vendor had some to offer. The one I selected, most certainly hit the spot. Not too hot, and filled with the perfect amount of sweetness and spiciness in one mug. I couldn’t have asked for a better cup of appley-fall delight.
Next – we had to get a picture. The two of us were aching for another insta-worthy moment and today was full of them. We actually stumbled across a professional photographer taking free shots in a booth, so naturally we had to take him up on his offer — however we are still awaiting his prints to be emailed to us. (No worries – I’ll keep you posted once we get our hands on them).
However at this point in the afternoon, the rain commenced, so we made our way to our final destination of the afternoon: Bucktown’s Apple Pie Contest – Occu-Pie Bucktown.
Two years ago, the local neighborhood decided to hold a fundraiser for its major Park – Holstein Park, and they wanted to do something unique. Thus the apple pie contest was born.
So how does it work? Professional bakers and susie homemakers prepare two pies that will be judged in three rounds. Each pie is scored on the following:
- Appearance: 10%
- Filing & Crust 40%
- Over All Favor/Taste: 50%
Unfortunately none of the pies were gluten free, so only JB got to enjoy the American classic. But, lucky for me, the whipped cream was.
The pies were stunning. Each unique but all jam-packed with an assortment of apples and freshly baked goodness.
Since I didn’t get to enjoy in the baking fun, I decided as soon as I got home I had to cook up a storm in the kitchen, and that I did. I prepared an apple concoction of my own liking. I made an apple oatmeal breakfast cookie. And I hate to toot my own horn, but those bad boys were divine. The perfect end to an apple-filled day.