When the tents come down and the last paper food-boat is shoved into an overstuffed garbage can, don't cry over your final curry fry. Here's how you can find (or make!) your favorite summer treats all year long.
Bridie, Scottish meat pies filled with spiced ground beef and onion
Fest: Scottish Festival and Highland Games, June 20–21
Off-season source: Sure, the Scots are known for chopping up oddball animal bits such as hearts, lungs and intestines, and passing them off under the innocuous misnomer pie. But bridie, with its simple-but-savory ingredients, makes for a crowd-pleasing exception to the genre. The version you get at the Scottish fest can be found year-round at Winston’s Market in the south suburbs (7961 W 159th St, Tinley Park; 708-633-7500).
Bienenstich, a light cake layered with custard, topped with a shell of caramelized almonds
Fest: German-American Fest, September 5–7
Off-season source: Fest fans who miss the opportunity to wrangle a piece of German cuisine’s sweeter side are afforded another chance at the Austrian Bakery in Lincoln Park. On weekends, the place is packed with German speakers ordering old-country–caliber cakes and pastries—including our favorite, Bienenstich—as prepared by meister bäcker Michael Mikusch (2523 N Clark St, 773-244-9922).
D&D’s arancini, deep-fried balls of ground meat, rice and peas
Fest: Taste of Melrose Park, August 29–31
Off-season source: Dio and Dora Vaccaro and family, the folks behind this Italian treat, only make it once per year—so if you miss the fest, you’ll have to get your hands dirty at home. The Vaccaros concoct it from memory—the recipe’s never been written down—but it goes a little something like this: Cook two pounds rice; add a large pinch of saffron and two large handfuls of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Set aside in fridge for a half hour before mixing in two beaten egg whites. Now make your own thick Bolognese sauce as the Vaccaros do or use a store-bought version and sautée with two pounds of ground beef and one cup peas. Sculpt the rice into three-tablespoon balls, press a hole in the center of each, stuff it with a teaspoon of the sauce, press the opening closed and roll in hands until smooth. Refrigerate one hour, then coat with bread crumbs, deep fry and…voila!
Ginger Bliss, all-natural Caribbean-style ginger juice drinks
Fest: International Festival of Life, July 3–6
Off-season source: The warm spice of these locally brewed, small-batch ginger juice drinks gives festgoers a cool, rejuvenating kick when served over ice. A variety of flavors—including our perennial favorite, ginger-mango—can be shipped to your door with a phone call to Café Café Coffee (773-456-0181, cafecafecoffee.com).
Kintoki, crushed ice topped with sweet azuki beans
Fest: Ginza Holiday, August 8–10
Off-season source: There’s no quick and easy way to grab ahold of this cool treat—it’s made in-house by members of the Midwest Buddhist Temple. Adventurous foodies can try it themselves, though: Soak one pound azuki beans overnight in enough water to cover. Then, cook in a large wok on low heat with one teaspoon baking soda. Once the water has almost evaporated, add two cups cane sugar and _ teaspoon salt. Cook until dissolved, stirring constantly to keep from scorching. Once the azuki cools, serve it on a bed of shaved ice (ingredients available at Mitsuwa Marketplace, 100 E Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights; 847-956-6699).
Curry fries, hand-cut french fries slathered in a sweet curry sauce
Fest: Irish American Heritage Festival, July 11–13
Off-season source: Also known as curry chips, this rich, greasy staple of Dublin pub and club life appears stateside at the IAHC’s annual fest and every night of the week at the Abbey Pub, where it’s best washed down with a well-poured pint of Guinness (3420 W Grace St, 773-539-6116).