Smile Politely

Breakfast and more… in downtown Urbana

“Why would you get up at 5:30 on a Saturday?”

Food. That’s why. In fact, much of the reason why I am able and look forward to getting up early is the prospect of eating breakfast in the morning.

Yes. It’s food drives me to get up in the morning. And food got me up at 5:30 in the morning this past Saturday. Fresh produce was calling as I made my way to the Market at the Square in Urbana. As summer progresses, more produce shows up and I am in a happy and colorful place. After reveling in the afterglow of buying fresh produce, I met with my friend Beth for a brunch date. We ended up at La Gourmandise in downtown Urbana.

I had been there once before and thought it had a very friendly atmosphere along with delicious split pea soup. For brunch, I went relatively healthy and got the oatmeal with roasted apples. Really hit the spot.

I then led Beth to Art Mart to get some Ruben’s Chocolates. I was extremely excited after discovering that Art Mart carried their line, because I was crestfallen (to say the least) to learn that their shop had closed and that they were only doing wholesale business. Well, their wholesale has once again gone retail and has landed in Art Mart.

I happily bought a box for my sister and told Beth to pick something she thought looked good. I got her the signature Ruben’s chocolate with caramel and chocolate cream. She was pretty much left speechless. And then proceeded to tell me how much she appreciated that I had shown her so many new food experiences here in CU.

And then I realized that I could give culinary walking tours and make some extra dough.

Or not. But I have come to realize how much food has been a big influence in my affection and feelings toward this town. I have grown to love the community here and the fact that so many smaller businesses seem to be so appreciated here and are given their fair share of support. And I truly feel satisfied and proud when I’m able to introduce my friends to new food experiences and am just as grateful when I’m on the receiving end of trying cuisine I haven’t yet had the chance to try.

Beth and I also discussed how “walkable” CU is. I don’t have a bike here, so I pretty much walk everywhere. And I love it. I live near downtown Urbana, so I’m within walking distance of the Market in the summer and other sources of food including delicious Thai at Siam Terrace and delectable baked goods at Mirabelle (hey, since I’m walking there, I figure the calorie intake and exertion balances out…somewhat).

So with good food so close at hand, why wouldn’t I get up at 5:30 to sample it? With more hours in my day, that gives me a lot more time in the day to squeeze in chances to eat. And more time for me to walk it off, of course.

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