Smile Politely

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

March: the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and spring in C-U means spring break. Spring break means heading out of town for some, or staying put while everyone else leaves (my preferred option). The quiet of the student-less twin cities is palpable, and makes for an excellent opportunity to take advantage of some Green Street and Campustown favorites with ease. St. Patrick’s Day is also a thing that people celebrate in March, and I’ve offered a less rowdy, arguably more sophisticated option for those looking to celebrate gently. Spring in Champaign also indicates the arrival of baby goats at Prairie Fruits Farm.

Do you have any favorite drinks or bites in and around C-U that you’d like to see featured? Let us know in the comments.

Cocktails and fresh juice | 3rd Annual CSA Fair

This year’s CSA Fair is happening in conjunction with Urbana’s First Fridays, which means the CSA Fair is now a CSA party. The event is from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 3rd at the Urbana Civic Center. In addition to twelve local CSAs with info tables, Dancing Dog and Lumen Events will be on hand dishing out fresh squeezed juice and vegan-friendly cocktails. Picture this: shopping for your six(ish)-month supply of  veggies/meat/flowers with a cocktail in hand while your children are entertained for free. Now that’s a fancy Friday night. Other samples will be on hand too, so there will be a little nosh for your drinks.

For more info about the CSA Fair, check out the City of Urbana’s website, or the event’s Facebook page. For more info about CSAs, and info from last year’s CSA Fair, check out my review (info will be out of date, but it should give you a general idea of what to expect). 

The 3rd Annual CSA Fair is Friday, March 3rd from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Urbana Civic Center (108 East Water Street). The event is presented by Urbana’s Market at the Square (City of Urbana) and The Land Connection. Poster is from Facebook. Photo by Jessica Hammie. 

High Tea | Sylvia’s Irish Inn 

Some of us who are of a certain age no longer wish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with binge drinking and debauchery. Sylvia’s Irish Inn is offering a St. Patrick’s Day High Tea on Sunday, March 12th. This event will feature live Celtic music and storytelling, as well as punch, tea sandwiches, desserts and a glass of champagne. Reservations are required, and tickets are $25 per person.

Sylvia’s Irish Inn only does special food events (Greek dinners, Valentine’s Day dinner, etc.), so this is bound to be worth attending.

Sylvia’s Irish Inn is located at 312 West Green Street, Urbana. The High Tea ceremony is 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 12th. To make a reservation, call 217-384-4800. Photo from Facebook event page. 

Affogato | Caffe Paradiso

Italian cuisine knows a thing or two about pairing flavors, feelings, textures, and temperatures, and the affogato is no different. A shot of hot espresso is poured over a scoop of gelato or ice cream to create one of the best desserts (or beverages?) you’ll ever have. Like most other Italian food, the beauty lies in the simplicity of ingredients. The combination of caffeine and sugar give your post-meal body a little oomph. Caffe Paradiso’s affogato is quite good, and comes garnished with some wafers. The double shot-double scoop is more than a little oomph, so use your best judgment if you consume a double shot in the afternoon. The slightly melty ice cream is spoonable and drinkable, and you have both the spoon and the wafers for slurping and scraping all the goodness from your cup into your mouth.

Caffe Paradiso is located at 801 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana (corner of Lincoln and Nevada) and open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Consider stopping by the coffee shop while the students are on Spring Break, March 19th through 25th.

Goat’s milk hot chocolate (and other goodies) | Prairie Fruits Farm

Speaking of delicious creamy, indulgent beverages…

It’s about to be the most wonderful time of the year at Prairie Fruits Farm. The baby goats are about to be born, which means time for baby goat breakfast and goat’s milk hot chocolate. PFF’s Spring Open House is not to be missed. The goats are too damn adorable, so freakin’ precious, and full of personality. The sweet and savory breakfast treats, hot chocolate, and Columbia Street Roastery coffee are all worthy of the trip to the farm; those treats are excellent rewards for rising early on a Saturday morning.

PFF’s Spring Open House is 9 a.m. to noon each Saturday from March 18th through April 29th. Get there early to ensure you get some food — the farm is open until noon, but the food is sometimes sold out by late morning. 

Prairie Fruits Farm is located at 4410 North Lincoln Avenue, Champaign. For more info, check out the farm’s website. Photos by Jessica Hammie. 

All you can eat breakfast buffet | Farmhouse Restaurant at Harvest Market

Harvest Market’s in-house restaurant, Farmhouse, serves up some pretty good food. On the weekends — Saturday and Sunday — the restaurant offers an all you can eat breakfast for only $10 per person ($6 for kids). That’s a steal. Buffet food is always a gamble — it could be sitting out for too long, it could be soggy pancakes or dry eggs or limp bacon — but the food I’ve had at Farmhouse coupled with photos on social media has me feeling confident enough that I could enjoy at least $10 worth of food. The house-made biscuits and house-made butter are reason enough to check it out (they’re great!), and with roasted meat, fresh fruit, and eggs, there’s likely to be something for just about everyone. You could make a morning of it by having breakfast and then going grocery shopping (though I’d argue that there are more affordable options around town for most of your groceries).

Farmhouse at Harvest Market is located at 2029 South Neil Street, Champaign. Breakfast is available Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon. Photo by Rebecca Wells. 

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