Sticky, hot, and moist are three words that can be used to describe the weather and, perhaps, your sweaty body during the month of July. It’s been gross, and cooling off can be difficult. When it’s super hot out, most folks don’t want to cook or bake. That’s understandable, and paying someone else a few extra dollars to do those unpleasant tasks is well worth it, in my opinion. I’ve identified five items well worth considering this month. As always, feel free to share your favorites in the comments.
Milkshake | Courier Café
As if I need to explain this suggestion.
Courier Café’s milkshakes are delicious, and that’s a fact. You know they’re made right because the milkshake is brought out in a milkshake glass, and the remainder is brought out in the stainless steel mixing container. At $3.75, these shakes are a steal. I’m partial to visiting Courier a little later in the evening with a couple of friends, ordering something super savory and salty like the skinny dippers and washing it down with a milkshake. Share the snacks, keep the shake to yourself. I suggest trying a combo like chocolate banana. Yum.
Courier Café is located at 111 North Race Street, Urbana, and open Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to midnight.
Fruits + Veggies | Farmer’s Market
This is the best time of year to eat fruits and veggies: they are fresh and real and in season and local ones are more delicious than grocery store ones. Eating veggies can sometimes feel like a task for me, but it’s not so hard right now. The fruits at the markets have been awesome, and well worth the price. Veggies are a little cheaper, which is nice, and they taste fantastic grilled with a little bit of salt, pepper, and olive oil. Which veggies, you ask? Virtually any. Zucchini is also quite tasty when cut into ribbons and served raw with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Drop some fresh cheese on that salad and it’s practically a meal. Make a point of visiting one of the markets and picking up some fresh, local produce soon. You won’t regret it.
The Land Connection’s Tuesday market is in Downtown Champaign (Neil and Main) from 4 to 7 p.m. Urbana’s Market at the Square (Illinois and Vine) is Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon. For market updates, check out our Market Watch column.
Sandwich | Cheese & Crackers
Remember, just a few paragraphs ago, when I said that it’s worth paying someone a few bucks to cook your food on a hot day? This is it. Cheese & Crackers makes my favorite sandwiches in town. For about $10, you too can have a huge sammie with Pekara bread stuffed with meats and cheeses and veggies (or just veggies). My favorite is Mindy’s Italian with all the fixings. But since eating a bunch of cured meats isn’t always in my best interest, I alternate with Woody’s Turkey, which has turkey, goat cheese, artichokes, and those little drops of deliciousness called sweety drops. Your sandwich will pair nicely with a bag of jalapeno or salt and vinegar chips. And a fancy soda, if you’re really feeling feisty. This is the perfect picnic lunch or dinner, so think about grabbing a blanket and heading to Hessel Park.
Cheese & Crackers is located at 1715 W Kirby Ave, Champaign, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Anything | Hopscotch Cakes & Confections
Hopscotch is one my guiltiest pleasures. I often find myself making unplanned stops at Art Mart and making a beeline for the Hopscotch counter. Instead of getting one or two items for the hubs and me, I get four. I just can’t seem to be able to get just one thing. The upside of this is that I’ve completed extensive research on all of the offerings (including the pies at Watson’s), and I can tell you that everything is awesome. In need of a quick pick me up? Grab an éclair ($2.75). Need something more substantial for sharing with someone you like? Get a baby cake ($8). I most recently had a slice of gooey butter cake and nearly died. It was the best cake-bar-dessert I’ve had, maybe in my whole life. Amazing. You can catch Hopscotch at the Tuesday Farmers’ Market in Downtown Champaign, too, or Hopscotch pies at Watson’s in Downtown Champaign.
Hopscotch is located in Art Mart (Monday through Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.), but you can also grab the goods at Downtown Champaign’s Tuesday Market, 4 to 7 p.m.
Salad | Hendrick House Food Truck
Salads always taste better to me when they’re made by someone else. What’s that about? I suppose the deliciousness of the salad hinges on the quality of dressing, and whether or not the dressing can marry the flavors of the individual components. The Hendrick House food truck does an excellent job making salads, and I make a point of getting one when I’m out and about eating from food trucks. If you can find the kale salad, order that. And while it’s not technically a salad, per se (or is it?), the chicken and waffles served with kale is also delicious. There are new salad specials all the time, so stop by the truck when you see it.
Follow the Hendrick House Food Truck on Facebook for hours, and where to find it.
All photos by Jessica Hammie.