This month, I’ve committed to the theme — you’ll find the flavors of the fall (apple, pumpkin, pork) on this month’s list.
Though I am a fan of pumpkin pies, I snub my nose at the ubiquity of “pumpkin spice”- flavored things. You know those things (coffee, coffee creamer, butter, yogurt, cookies, deodorant) do not actually contain pumpkin, right? That the spice is just a collection of mediocre cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg? For this month’s list, I instead offer you some real pumpkin. Likewise, I also suggest some apple picking for you basic bishes out there. You can then take your apples and cook them with some delicious pork sausages for a quintessential autumnal feast.
Do also note that the 6th annual C-U Oktoberfest is this weekend, and it’ll feature a whole bunch of polka, prost-ing, German-style beer, and brats. It’s a good time, especially for those who need an excuse to don their dirndl and lederhosen.
Beer + Brats | C-U Oktoberfest
The 6th Annual Oktoberfest takes place Saturday, October 6th in Downtown Champaign. It’s an afternoon and evening full of German food and culture. There will be plenty of local brews on tap (as well as some imports) for drinking, and brats and pretzels. Destihl will be on hand for food, but you can also catch Chester’s BBQ food truck if German food isn’t your thing. Look for brews from JT Walker’s, Triptych, Riggs, and Blind Pig. Don’t forget to bring your polka shoes, as there will plenty of opportunities to dance of those beer calories. It’s $5 at the gate, and $1 per ticket for food and drink. The event benefits DSC of Champaign.
Saturday, October 6th
3 p.m. to midnight
Downtown Champaign (Neil + Washington)
Apples | Red Crib Acres or Curtis Orchard
It’s the season for apple picking, and posing for the ‘gram in front of or on an apple tree. (You know what I’m talking about.) In addition to the aesthetic opportunity of the chore, apples are indeed in season and local ones are quite good. You don’t need to pick them off the tree, though; you can find locally grown apples at Common Ground Food Co-op or at the farmers’ markets. You can also swing by Curtis Orchard for their tasty AF doughnuts and bags of apples; their cider is widely available in local grocery stores.
3902 S Duncan Rd
M-Sa 9 a.m to 6 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pumpkin | Golden Harbor
A couple of weeks ago I had dinner at Golden Harbor with a group of friends. Our SOP is generally one dish per person, and someone ordered the spicy pumpkin. This was an excellent choice. The spicy pumpkin (970, $15) is fried and tossed with garlic and spicy peppers. It was delicious, and neither too spicy nor too garlicky. It was undoubtedly my favorite dish of the night. There are other iterations of pumpkin available, too; the special pumpkin menu is posted near the register. I strongly suggest you scratch your pumpkin itch with this dish.
505 S Neil St
T-Sa 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. + 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Su 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. + 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Piemonte Sausage | Available at these local shops
Something that pairs quite nicely with apples (and pumpkin, for that matter) in savory applications is pork sausage. Urbana-based Piemonte Sausage makes some really delicious sausages in a variety of flavors and types. There are all sorts of Italian style sausages, as well as chorizo, bangers, Merguez goat, and chicken sausages. Even if you don’t eat pork, sausages are easy to grill or throw in a baking dish (with some potatoes) for an easy dinner. You can find these sausages all over town, or you can visit a local restaurant that serves them.
Pumpkin cinnamon roll | The New Sweet Indulgence
Look at this thing! It's huge. Pop it in the microwave for fifteen seconds and you'll be moaning as you eat it. The New Sweet Indulgence doesn't lie: this roll was indulgent, and sweet, and really, really, good.
On Wednesdays they are only $3.
The New Sweet Indulgence
1121 Windsor Ave
M-F 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sa 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Photos by Jessica Hammie