Smile Politely

Five things to eat or drink in C-U this month: December 2017

It’s the end of the year! Hoorah! I’m glad to see this absurdist dark comedy of a year fade into oblivion (though 2018 isn’t shaping up to be much better), and to celebrate/medicate, I plan on eating all of my sadness, frustration, and rage from now until January 1st (that’s when the diet starts, duh). This month’s list includes one vegetable, plenty of sweets, and some social events where drinking and eating are foregrounded.

As always, leave your suggestions in the comments. Eat, drink, be merry. Or miserable. Happy New Year!

Pickled Brussels sprouts (and other pickled things) | Harvest Market

I’m a sucker for an olive bar. I was recently in Harvest Market and while picking up some fancy olives, I noticed spicy pickled Brussels sprouts as an option, so I bought some of them, too.

I am generally a fan of picked things, so I figured I would like these little bites. They were surprising in their tastiness — vinegar-y, a little spicy, soft while retaining integrity. They make an excellent addition to a holiday cheese plate, and accompany broth-y soups particularly well. Plus, you’re eating your vegetables. Do yourself a favor and get a small container of them for your next social event, or for your own pickled pleasure.

Harvest Market is located at 2029 South Neil Street, Champaign, and open 6 a.m. to midnight, daily. 

Photos by Jessica Hammie. 

Doughnuts | Lucky Pierre Bakers at Avionics, BrewLab, Common Ground Food Co-op, Flying Machine/Pizza M, Urbana’s Market in the Square

I briefly wrote about these doughnuts when it was announced they were becoming more widely available in town, and Patrick wrote about how good they are just a couple of weeks ago.

These doughnuts are really, really good. Get some for yourself, and maybe your significant other. Eat them with impunity, but be sure to savor the flavor and texture. Previous flavors include cardamom vanilla, lemon, buttermilk, black cherry, pear cider, lamington, pomegranate pink peppercorn, and mulled spice. Flavors are likely to change based on the season and availability, but you can’t go wrong with whichever you choose, so get as many as you can find.

Check Facebook for flavor updates and specifics. 

Photo by Patrick Singer. 

Cupping | BrewLab Coffee

BrewLab Coffee is  a new-ish coffee shop on campus, but it’s been getting some good buzz (see what I did there?).  SP reviewed it not too long ago, and since you’ll already be heading there for some Lucky Pierre doughnuts, you might as well learn something, too. BrewLab will offer a cupping — that is, a coffee tasting — at 11 a.m. on December 17th. Columbia Street Roastery also does this monthly, and it’s a really interesting and informative way to learn about the delivery mechanism for the drug you pump into your body daily. Like wine, coffee differs on where and when it was harvested and the ways in which it was produced. BrewLab is living up to its name by offering some edutainment: coffee as science, with coffee nerds distributing and receiving accurate information. Plus, it’s kind of fun to tell people you are going/went to a cupping and watch their faces wrinkle in confusion. (But then you get to spread the knowledge!)

You can follow BrewLab’s cupping schedule through this Facebook group, and on BrewLab’s Facebook page.  

BrewLab is located at 630 South 5th Street, Champaign, and open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily.

Photo by Brittany Busboom. 

Festivus | Triptych Brewing

Triptych’s annual Festivus is a party: there’s booze, there’s food, and there are a bunch of people milling around. There aren’t any specifics yet regarding which food trucks will participate, but you can always bring your own food (or have some delivered).  This year’s celebration is on December 23rd at the brewery in Savoy. If you’re in need of yet another excuse to leave the house and/or spend time with visiting friends and family, you can stop by Quality for the second annual Festivus Eve celebration on December 22nd.

More information will become available on Facebook, so be sure to follow the event there.

Festivus is Saturday, December 23rd, noon to 11 p.m. Triptych Brewing is located at 1703 Woodfield Drive, Savoy. 

Photo by Katie Simpson. 

Sake Lunch | Sakanaya

Technically this isn’t a December event — this sake lunch is scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. on January 13th (a Saturday) — but you’ll need to make reservations in advance. This Sake Sessions two-hour lunch will feature four courses and dessert (so, five courses), with sake expert Jonathan Edwards of Maverick Wines on hand to offer knowledge about each course’s sake accompaniment.

This event is presented by Japan House and Sakanaya, and as such, Tomonokai Members are offered tickets at a discounted rate of $45. Regular tickets are $60. You can purchase them online here. This is something that would make an excellent gift for the sushi/sake enthusiast in your life. 

Here’s the menu:

edamame and salmon skin sembe (cracker)

First Course
takosu – octopus, wakame, cucumber, lemon vinaigrette, shichimi
hamachi, radish sprouts, dry miso, ponzu
daikon, seaweed salad, baby anchovy, bonito flake, yuzu vinaigrette

Second Course
three nigiri – shrimp (avocado, shaved onion, mayo), seared salmon (onion, teriyaki sauce), scallop
three maki – Green Street roll (salmon, salmon skin, squid, masago, scallions, mayo), tempura Willis maki (tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, crab, avocado), tuna with avocado roll

Third Course
gyupon with oden – braised sliced beef, daikon, potato, egg, scallions, ponzu, shichimi

Fourth Course
spicy shrimp tempura udon with tempura beets and tempura shiso

to be provided by Japan House, from Cream & Flutter

Even if you don’t make it to this lunch, consider visiting Sakanaya over the academic break — fewer students means more access to your favorite Green Street restaurants.

Sakanaya is located at 403 East Green Street, Champaign, and open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. 

Photo by Veronica Mullen.


All event information is accurate to the best of our abilities, but sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes event information, times, prices, etc., change after we look them up. Whenever possible, we’ve provided a link to the original event page; you should always double-check the source before you make any firm plans. Thanks for your understanding.

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