This month your humble Culture Editor is taking over the important task of telling you what to consume because, hey, I eat and drink interesting things, too, so don't try to contain me in one section because I am a complex and multi-layered person. 

French Toast Panini | Cafe Kopi

A guaranteed winner of a meal in my household is a Monte Cristo Sandwich. Basically, this is a fancied up hot ham and cheese, though I include turkey in mine. You assemble your bread (sourdough is excellent here), meats, and cheese then dip the whole damn thing in french toast egg batter. Pan fry it like you would french toast, then sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar. I was thrilled to discover this addition to Kopi’s sandwich menu. They actually have five variations of their French toast panini, with ingredients such as goat cheese, egg, peanut butter, and banana. But I went for the Monte Cristo...the classic. They served it with some jam and a little cup of maple syrup for dipping, and it was quite tasty. Warm, melty, savory, and sweet, you could enjoy this for breakfast or lunch.

Café Kopi
109 N Walnut St.
Champaign
7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

Photo by Julie McClure

Strawberry Lemonade | Yellow Canary Café

This is the latest food establishment to open in Lincoln Square Mall. You can find it in the food court — can we call it that now since there are two places to eat? I have not ventured into their food menu, though the day I stopped by it was a full on Soul Food Sunday offering, and they rotate through other chef specials throughout the week. We will surely be doing a proper food review after they’ve had a minute to get their bearings. I grabbed their delightful housemade strawberry lemonade. You can see it right there on the counter, as it infuses with real strawberries and lemons, right next to another container with housemade peach tea. It’s refreshing and just the right amount of sweet and tart. I look forward to going back for lunch or dinner. 

Yellow Canary Café
201 Lincoln Square
Urbana

Photo by Julie McClure

Beers and pretzels and sausages and things | C-U Oktoberfest

Grab your lederhosen or dirndl and head downtown Champaign for this year’s Oktoberfest celebration. Destihl and Chester’s BBQ will be there serving all of the German delights including schnitzel, brats and sausages, sauerkraut, potato salad, and of course some giant pretzels. Man, there is just something about a big ‘ole soft pretzel with some grainy mustard to dip it in. Also, it wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without beer, so drink up. You will find traditional German varieties as well as offerings from the locals: Triptych, Blind Pig, Riggs, and JT Walker’s. This probably isn’t the week to start your low carb diet, but it's okay because your carb consumption will support the Developmental Services Center. It's $5 to enter the festival, then another $5 will get you the commemorative stein which equals bigger pours for you.

C-U Oktoberfest
Neil and Washington
Champaign
October 5th, 3 p.m. to midnight

Photo by Jessica Hammie

Tapas | The Bread Company

I love The Bread Company. I really do. I have a difficult time declaring my favorite restaurant in C-U, because it shifts depending on my cravings and moods. But, Bread Co. definitely cracks the top five. Maybe even top three. So, I am always down for more opportunities to eat their food. Just recently they added tapas to their menu, offered during that happy hour time of 3 to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. I tried their two crostini variations and I can wholeheartedly recommend both. The vegetarian version is striking to look at, with lavender goat cheese, a slice of pickled beet, and a thin slice of pickled radish. The bite is tangy and vinegary with a touch of sweetness. The beef crostini is more rich, with a sweet tomato jam that has a bit a kick, paired nicely with the bleu cheese dressing drizzled over the top.

The Bread Company
706 S Goodwin
Urbana
M-Th 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F 7 a.m.  to 11 p.m.
Sa 8 a.m.  to 11 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tapas: M-Sa 3 to 5 p.m.

Photo by Jessica Hammie

Pumpkin Cookie | Art Mart

It's October, so I cannot complete this column without including something pumpkin. Yes, the pumpkin spice phenomenon is super extra, also the backlash against the pumpkin spice phenomenon is super extra. However, I think we can ignore all of this nonsense and focus on the pumpkin things that are truly delicious and are not ridiculous. One of these things is the pumpkin cookie at Art Mart. It has more of a doughy texture rather than a chewy cookie texture, but I'm not going to argue semantics here. It has the pumpkin spice flavor that I want, with a sugary icing on top. It pairs marvelously with coffee, and I'm sure it will taste even better when it's not 90 degrees outside. You have two months to get over there and get one...they are sold through Thanksgiving.

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

Photo by Julie McClure