Fall is here! I’m not sure exactly if that’s worthy of an exclamation, but let’s roll with it. The cooler temps and encroaching early evening darkness have me thinking about drinking, pork, apples, and root vegetables. All right, it may be too soon for root vegetables. October also means Oktoberfest(s), and though C-U’s was last weekend (did you catch SP’s review?), there’s no reason you can’t celebrate in spirit by drinking the Oktoberfests brewed by our local gem breweries. October is prime apple-picking season. Round up the kids, or friends, or both. In need of a first-date activity? Apple picking should be at the top of your list.
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Oktoberfest Biers | Blind Pig, Triptych, or Riggs
Oktoberfest brews are perfect for the falling temperatures and shifting late-day light. Those Germans knew what they were doing when they crafted the template for a late summer/early fall beverage. Since the weather is still warm enough to warrant outdoor seating, grab your brew, and have a seat on the lovely patios at Blind Pig, Triptych, or Riggs.
For more info about the specific breweries, click the links above.
Apples | Curtis Orchard
Who doesn’t like apples? Even if you’re not into biting into them, you can cut them and eat them that way. They are the perfect snack with nut butters, honey, cottage cheese, any other kind of cheese, olives, bread, and/or crackers. They are perfect in savory and sweet applications. Apples are one of the most versatile food items to have ever evolved. Curtis Orchard offers several different varieties, so you can select the one with the appropriate sweetness for your purposes. If you really don’t like eating them, try drinking apple cider or eating apple cider doughnuts. Or making pie. Or cake. Or bread. Or sauce.
Also, did you know that cats could climb trees? I guess that explains the whole firefighter-getting-a cat-out-of-a-tree thing.
Curtis Orchard is located at 3902 S Duncan Rd, Champaign, and open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (through October 31st.)
Sausages | Bayern Stube
Bayern Stube is a good ways away from C-U, but if you’re looking for some German comfort food, it’s well worth the nearly two hour round trip trek. Oktoberfest celebrations run through the 22nd (weekends only, reservations required), and there are plenty of ways in which you can indulge your meat habit. Try the sausage platter—it’s indulgent, for sure, and meaty, and with some kraut and potatoes, pretty tasty. You may want to designate a driver, someone who is not only sober, but also immune to post-meal sleepiness.
Bayern Stube is located at 209 N Sangamon Ave, Gibson City. For more info, visit the restaurant’s website, or call (217) 784-8304.
Lunch | bacaro
Bacaro’s Friday lunches are easy ways to have delicious, seemingly fancy but affordable, hipster chic eats. The lunches are also great ways to welcome the weekend; let’s be serious: how much work do you really get done on a Friday afternoon? There’s no shame in going for lunch and then “working” your way through a food coma before the weekend. The riff on comfort classics (like this week’s bologna panini) and street food (tacos, kebabs) is fun and appetizing. You can check out each week’s menu on bacaro’s Facebook page.
Bacaro is open for lunch Fridays only, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., or until lunch is sold out. Lunches are $15 and generally include the entrée, side, and a fancy soda.
Autumn berry stuffs | Autumn Berry Inspired
The autumn berry (or autumn olive) is a wild fruit and invasive species that is harvested and turned into delicious yums. Locally these are harvested by Autumn Berry Inspired. Surely you’ve seen ABI at the market, or the products around town. The autumn berry tastes like an earthy, slightly tart red fruit, sort-of, kind-of like a cranberry. It’s really good. The autumn berry jam is quite tasty, particularly with almond or cashew butter. (Or on Cracked Truck’s morning bender!) I’ve used the spicy autumn berry jam as an ingredient in homemade cranberry sauce, which was delicious. According to Facebook, ABI has also turned those berries into a barbeque sauce, which sounds delish, though is not available for purchase. The fruit leather is a yummy, slightly sweet snack. I’ve seen it with chia seeds, with hemp seeds, dipped in chocolate, and with pepitas. Swing by Common Ground to pick up a bit, or contact Autumn Berry Inspired to see exactly where you can find the products.
For more info, check out Autumn Berry Inspired's Facebook page.
All photos by Jessica Hammie.