Smile Politely

Five things to eat or drink in C-U this month: August 2021

The last sticky, hot days of summer hit different. My new sandals are worn in, speckled with mud from the playground. Towels sit permanently in my laundry room, ready for a pool day at a moment’s notice. My kids have lost five pairs of sunglasses since May. School begins soon, but I am clinging to the last bit of summer, especially summery foods.

This month’s list is dedicated to Jacqueline on Instagram who reached out and requested that I write a “foods not to miss this summer” list after she read my July list. Ask you and you shall receive, dear readers. If you have something you want to see, let me know.

I searched for quintessential summer eats you can find in C-U. Since I have recently shared about boozy slushies to cool you off this summer and also cocktails al fresco, this month’s list features only foods, no drinks, that you should try this August.

On a wooden table, there is a salad in a plastic bowl with sliced almonds, sliced strawberries, sliced cucumbers, and a cup of poppyseed dressing. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Strawberry Salad | Art Mart

Salads are a great summer food. The ingredients are in season, and my body is always dying for some veggies. I’m not crazy about salads, if I’m being honest. If there are burgers or something with a side of fries on the menu, I am ordering that over a salad any day. But Art Mart sells no burgers, so I am more inclined to pick a salad from their grab-and-go case. The grab-and-go case is clutch for easy summertime lunch; I can swing by and grab something and be out the door in less than two minutes. 

This strawberry salad ($7.95) had a ton of spinach and mixed greens topped with big chunks of cucumber, almond slivers, sliced strawberries, and a good serving of chevre. The sweet poppyseed dressing was served on the side in a little cup. The salad had so many amazing components; a bite of cucumber, spinach, and a glop of poppyseed dressing was incredible, and the next bite of strawberry, chevre, and almonds gave my mouth a totally different, great taste. The combination of flavors was heavenly. The creamy chevre, the sweet, ripe strawberries, and the bitter spinach plus the almonds coming in for texture made for a delicious salad with no pre-order required. I will say that one cup of dressing was not nearly big enough for the whole salad. I used the dressing on the top of the salad, and I have some undressed spinach and mixed greens leftover.

Art Mart
1705 S Prospect Ave
M-Sa 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Su 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On a white table, a tin foil pan of peach cobbler is fresh from the oven and dark in the corners. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Peach Cobbler | Britt’s House of Sweets

Britt sells her baked goods at the Champaign Farmers’ Market. I bought this peach cobbler ($8) as it is National Peach Month, and peaches are excellent summer eating. Britt’s House of Sweets listed the ingredients of the cobbler on the outside of the package which I really appreciated as a mother of a child with allergies.

This cobbler was in a small pan that I popped into the oven for five minutes until it was bubbly on the edges. Britt said this cobbler could serve two, but if you’re hungry — or you super love peaches, then this serves one (lucky) person. The soft brown sugar topping has a warm, buttery flavor, and the peaches inside were sliced thick and cooked down tender-soft. I could tell she used fresh peaches for this cobbler and not any of those sticky, syrupy peaches from a can. The peaches were in big slices that were deliciously sweet and juicy. The peaches to topping ratio was 50/50 which I thought was great. The flavors are simple but elevated (especially from whatever half-ass baking I’m doing), and the peaches really shine in this cobbler.

Britt’s House of Sweets
Champaign Farmers’ Market
T 3 to 6 p.m.

On a brown picnic table outside Jarlings, there is a white styrofoam cup with a waffle cone inside with ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry on top with a white plastic spoon in it. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Two Topping Deluxe Sundae Waffle Basket | Jarling’s 

Obviously, an ice cream sundae is a summer standby. If you’re going to get a sundae, you need to go to the iconic Jarling’s Custard Cup. I bought a two topping deluxe waffle basket ($5.35) with chocolate and butter pecan plus cold fudge, M&M’s, chopped peanuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. I ate it as it slowly melted on a summer afternoon on a picnic table out in front of Jarling’s, and it felt very summery.

The waffle basket was a good call as it had a great crunch, but you can order the sundae without it. The two flavors I chose were both good, but the cold fudge — oh sweet gods of summer — the cold fudge was the best part. The fudge was decadent and thick, and I couldn’t get enough. The toppings options are plentiful (candy, fruit, nuts, syrup, cookies, and more), and they are all listed on their website. This dessert is totally shareable if you don’t have a big appetite, so before summer is over, text your love and ask if they want to split a sundae with you. There are eight large picnic tables if you want to enjoy your treats on site, or you can order your treats to go in the drive through.

Jarling’s Custard Cup
309 W Kirby Ave
Su-Th noon to 10 p.m.
F+Sa noon to 11 p.m.

In a black, circular takeout container, there is a yum nuau salad from Sticky Rice topped with white crushed peanuts. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Yum Nuau | Sticky Rice

Two salads in one list? What is happening? Salads are solid summer food. Salads aren’t usually my jam, but this salad is so my jam. I order it every time I order from Sticky Rice. It’s not a traditional garden salad; it’s a spicy Thai beef salad.

The warm marinated beef was thinly sliced, and there was a lot of it which was good because the beef was the best part. The salad was not lacking in dressing; this was a soupy salad, and I’m here for it. The cold lettuce, julienned carrots, thin red onion, sliced fresh jalapeño, and chunked tomato were saturated in the spicy, delicious sauce. The medium spice level (6/10) was perfect for me; it had a really good burn that required a drink in between bites. The salad was cold but wonderfully spicy with a heat that made my scalp itch and my mouth hungry for more. You can order this dish with no spice (0/10) or mild (3/10) if you aren’t a fan of spicy food. This salad literally has “yum” in the name, friends. I cannot recommend this salad enough. 

Sticky Rice
415 N Neil St
M 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
W-Sa 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Su noon to 8 p.m.

In front of Suzu's Bakery in Downtown Champaign, there is a cone of matcha green ice cream with red bean paste and blue mochi toppings. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Sofuto Hurimu | Suzu’s Bakery

Suzu’s Bakery in Downtown Champaign now serves sofuto hurimu, or soft cream. The sofuto hurimu is available in matcha, vanilla, or a swirl of the two flavors in a cup or cone. I stopped by to order the twist of both flavors in a cone ($6). When the sweet staff at Suzu’s asked if I wanted toppings, I said, “Yes!” and they gave me some of each: the sweetened red bean paste and mochi. 

The matcha flavor was delicate, not as strong as I’ve tasted in matcha desserts before, and so tasty. The vanilla soft cream was sweet and tasted like classic vanilla ice cream. Together with the matcha, it was fantastic. The sofuto hurimu was really creamy with a restrained sweetness which we love in the desserts from Suzu’s. The swirl melted together to make one awesome vanilla-matcha flavor. The toppings were unlike any that I’ve had on soft serve before. The sweetened red bean paste was the most unusual as there were beans (mashed and full beans) in a few bites of ice cream. A little went a long way, I learned. The texture was interesting and fun, and I enjoyed being able to taste a Japanese dessert here in the middle of cornfields in Illinois. The blue cubes were mochi, or Japanese rice cake, and they were chewy with a faint sweetness — and I thought they were the prettiest little topping I ever did see. The soft serve probably would not carry out well, so plan to enjoy it downtown in Suzu’s indoor dining area, on Suzu’s outdoor patio, or as you walk down Walnut Street. 

Suzu’s Japanese Bakery
114 N Walnut St
W-Sa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

Food + Drink Editor

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