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Little known fact: you can get an awesome breakfast for $10 at Strawberry Fields

There are plenty of breakfast options in Champaign-Urbana, but if you're looking for an alternative to elaborate brunches and the Original House of Pancakes, look no further than Urbana's own Strawberry Fields, which serves breakfast every Saturday from 8 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Even better? It's $10. And for a uniquely international and fresh twist on breakfast, that's a pretty damn low price if you ask me. For more information, keep it tuned to Strawberry Fields' Facebook page here.

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The Rico sangwich at Papa Del’s is basically perfect

I married into a (mostly) Italian-American family who live in Chicago. There's a deli on Harlem, close to Higgins, called Nottoli, and more than 50% of my visits to the in-laws involve going to said deli and grabbing an Italian sangwich. It's amazing. 

Here in C-U, there are options for the same type of thing. Of course, there's Jimmy John's, and despite my misgivings about the corporation and the local operator of the locations, I still crush an Italian Night Club from time to time. I do a lot of things I shouldn't, so it's OK. 

There's Cheese & Crackers as well, and they serve Mindy's Italian which is a good sangwich too. It's served on baguette, which is a little too rough for my taste, and I like my Italian sangwiches on Italian bread, but still, solid. 

For me, however, the best of these sangwiches comes from the menu at Papa Del's, which is, of course, known for its Sicilian style pizza, a legendary meal around here. 

It's hard to order anything but their pizza, but if you want to try something different off the menu, this sangwich is basically perfect. It's got everything you want, and the slices of meat are premium, and the bread is perfect for this sort of meal. 

This is highly recommended. $10.00 USD. Comes with a side. I get mine with no tomato, because that's my preference. I frequently buy two, because wrapped up, and stored for a day, it almost tastes better. Not sure why. 

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The new Illini Republicans logo is…unsurprising

I don't know what I expected here, but the University of Illinois Republicans have just unleashed a new (and confusing) logo, which mixes the Republican Party's elephant mascot with a headdress. Yeah, it's that headdress. 

The caption on Facebook is "Raised Right," which is a reference to the GOP's political leanings, but also is dripping with unearned superiority. I don't know how standing in support of a (likely) caucasian Eagle Scout who does an inaccurate dance at sporting events for thousands of people who have little to no understanding of Native American Culture makes the Illini Republicans better than those who don't support it - but I guess it does? Who knows anymore.

This logo change comes on the heels of anti-immigrant propaganda found on the U of I quad last night, which mimicks the rhetoric displayed by our new Republican President. We live in trange times, everyone. Strange times. Photos below, taken by Jocelyne Robledo.

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Oops - Rodney Davis sends out incomplete form letter

Many constituents here in Champaign-Urbana have been mad lately, and they're mad because our congressman, Rodney Davis, has consistently ignored calls to converse with him from constituents who are concerned by a variety of issues, ranging from health care to immigration.

A common critique of Sir Rod is that he is notoriously absent from the constituent process, including sending the same basic ACA form letter to people, or ignoring their calls at his various offices. Today, we get a little bit of an inside look into Davis' process, as his offices seems to have accidentally sent out an incomplete version of one of these letters to a constituent. I guess that'll happen when you're trying to automate the most important part of your job.

This isn't an especially large knock on Rodney - he's done worse and I'm sure a lot of legislators have to do this, especially when dealing with a large volume of constituents. I am sure, however, that things like recycled constituent concern letters contribute to Davis' reputation as being out-of-touch with the 13th District, unlike, say, his predecessor Tim Johnson.

Among other things, the letter starts with the super-warm greeting of: "Letter begins here," and follows that up with a short paragraph that doesn't really say anything about policy, and then ends signed "D." Strange times, everyone.

Feast your eyes on the letter, below:

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Hello, C-U: Atticus, Erin, and Sawyer

Meet Erin and Atticus. They are C-U transplants from Tucson, Arizona. They moved here when Erin was accepted to the U of I graduate program in the Astronomy department. "Where I grew up in Arizona the sky was so clear and so there was a lot of astronomy majors. There is a thriving program [at U of I] too."

Atticus works for the Illinois Natural History Survey. His focus is on the wonderful water that we enjoy in these parts. With them is their dog, Sawyer, who is 11 years old and sporting the Arizona state flag around his neck. Erin, Atticus, and Sawyer are we're out Saturday morning because of how beautiful it was. I met them walking through West Side Park. "We are going to Pekara for crepes. I love the roasted veggie," says Erin. "And I really like the chicken and pesto crepe," Atticus adds.

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Nitaya Thai mural being scraped off

I was walking downtown this morning and saw some workers outside of the old Nitaya Thai restaurant working on some repairs. I asked them what was going to happen to the mural on the other side of the building. They told me that they were going to start scraping it down today. I quickly grabbed this photo. They also said that they plan to replace it one another mural. Let's hope so.

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Here’s how barley is malted and used in Riggs’ beer

A few of us had the opportunity to go check out the brewing process out at Riggs Beer Company on High Cross Road in Urbana yesterday, and aside from tasting some of the brews, we learned a bit more about the process.

Pictured above is a handful of malted barley — which you can literally eat, and is delicious. The raw barley is grown directly next to the brewery. A farmer in Thawville at Mammoth Malt takes the barley, malts it (which is a process where you wet the barley and allow it to generminate for five days), and then puts it in a kilm to dry out and produce more flavor and aroma.

That, plus a few other steps in the process allow for their brews to become reality.

Read Emilio's review of Riggs back when it opened while you're at it.

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Check out this coat exchange in the middle of Downtown Champaign

It is easy to lose faith in humanity nowadays, with everything that is happening — but this restores things a bit. This open-air coat exchange, pictured above, is sitting near the Blind Pig Brewery and Cowboy Monkey in Downtown Champaign. There's some background to the whole story.

The News-Gazette's Tom Kacich has more info:

CHAMPAIGN — John and Laura Biggan of Champaign saw a need, acted and now downtown Champaign has an open-air coat exchange for people trying to stay warm in the late winter.

“We moved up here from Texas a couple of years ago so for us the cold is maybe a bigger deal,” said John Biggan, a researcher on aging at the University of Illinois, who said he and his wife spend a lot of time in downtown Champaign. “But we’ve just seen a lot of people who are out and about and don’t look like maybe they’ve got the proper attire to keep warm on these cold nights. And so we just wanted to do what we could to help out.”

So Wednesday afternoon — during what turned out to be the biggest “snowstorm” of the season — Biggan put a coat rack on the Taylor Street pedestrian mall with a small sign that reads, “Need a coat? Take one! Have en extra Leave one!”

Top photo by Boswell Hutson.

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Ethan Cutkosky (Carl Gallagher from Shameless) paid a visit to Canopy Club recently

While celebrity sightings in C-U are few and far between for the most part, this is pretty neat if you're a fan of the show ShamelessIf you're unfamiliar with the show, I highly recommend checking it out.

Ethan Cutkosky, the actor who plays the hilarious Carl Gallagher in Shameless, paid a visit to the Canopy Club for the Louis the Child show on January 28th. Here he is, pictured with club owner/operator Ian Goldberg — and a bunch of other onlookers on their phones, probably on Snapchat in all likelihood: