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Punch! is officially open

Punch! officially opened in downtown Champaign yesterday, and I stopped by with my spouse to check it out.

It's connected to the lobby of Hyatt Place, but there is an entrance from the street. There's a lounge-like area with booths and small tables with comfy looking chairs, then also ample seating at the bar, which is where we settled in. It had a dark and cozy vibe, with a subtle Ernest Hemingway theme, which I think is probably easily overlooked, but the menu utilizes his quotes on each page, and you can spot some of his books on the shelving above the bar. 

They've got a decent selection of wine and beer, including a few local beers on tap, but the cocktail menu is definitely the most robust. There are several classics and seasonals to choose from.

I've become a fan of the aviation recently, so I decided to give that a try, and my spouse went with a seasonal drink, The Firecracker, which involved tequila, strawberry, lime, and habenero. Both were good.  

There's also a snacks menu that we didn't try because we were headed to dinner. 

Seems like this could be a nice place to meet up for a drink after work or as a first stop for the evening. 

Photos by Julie McClure

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New bubble tea emoji coming in 2020 developed by group with ties to U of I

Yesterday, July 17th, was World Emoji Day, which in part, means a day that Apple reveals some of the new emojis that will be launched in the near future. One of the new emojis that will be implemented in 2020 includes something that was developed in part by humans at U of I. The bubble tea emoji will be included in the Unicode 13.0 series of emojis — along with others I'm sure you will be thrilled to see on your keyboard soon. This emoji was devloped/proposed by Assistant Professor in Computer Science, Ranjitha Kumar, and three others — a former student Sujay Khandekar ('18 MS CS), and two others.

With all the amazing technological developments launched into the world, it comes as no surprise someone connected to C-U helped make this happen. Sure, it is just an emoji, but there's an insane amount of research and development that goes into something like this. 

Top photo from developers of bubble tea emoji

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Consider Siam Terrace for lunch this week

Last weekend I had lunch with a friend at Siam Terrace. I hadn't been in a while, and was pleasantly surprised to find the food was just as good as I had remembered. I ordered the Pad Thai with tofu ($10) and made it spicy (3 out of 4). It was really tasty and well balanced. I really like the way the tofu is prepared; it really makes the whole dish.

My friend ordered the fried tofu appetizer ($5) and the carrot and cabbage slaw ($4). It was a perfect light lunch with an interesting combination of textures and flavors, but more than enough food to share.

If you haven't been in the restaurant in a while, I recommend going for lunch or dinner soon.

Siam Terrace
212 W Main St
Urbana
M-F 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. + 5 to 10 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su noon to 9 p.m.

Photos by Jessica Hammie

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Tuesdays are for teachers at The Idea Store

Did you know that The Idea Store is offering 10% off for teachers every Tuesday? Daycare providers and homeschoolers are welcome as well. All you need is your school I.D. Not sure how that works for homeschoolers, but I trust they've got it figured out.

As a former teacher, I know that they are scrappers and savers and that they have to provide a lot of their own classroom supplies. The Idea Store has a rather ridiculous amount of items that would be useful to educators, and items that are already inexpensive. Plus you are reusing. Always a bonus. 

Photos by Julie McClure

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This week in good looking local food and drink

Here's the local food porn that has had me drooling this week.

Common Ground Food Co-op's chocolate espresso raspberry cake

 

Avionics' chicha morada

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chicha Morada is back y’all

A post shared by AvionicsFMC (@avionicsfmc) on

La Mixteca's molcajete

Crane Alley's Exegg-Q-te

Top photo from Crane Alley's Facebook page

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Fleurish is hosting a mini art show during Friday Night Live

I very much enjoy how Friday Night Live has encouraged various downtown Champaign businesses to add to the atmosphere of the event; having art vendors at Café Kopi comes to mind. 

Fleurish is joining in the revelry with a mini art show, one that will hopefully be recurring. Artist Kristine Fisher will be showcasing her work in a newly curated art space at the back of the store. She has previously displayed her art during Boneyard Arts Festival. Here's a sneak peek:

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Fisher uses recycled items: pizza rounds, recycled windows, a surfboard, even tires. All of the work is for sale, and the store will be open until 8 p.m. for browsing.

Also, because it's Fleurish and I just can't resist, look at these lovely purple flowers.

Fleurish
122 N Walnut
Champaign
Tu-Th 11 to 5 p.m.
F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (8 p.m. during Friday Night Live)
Sa 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
 

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Have you tried a scrappy at Hopscotch?

Yeah, yeah, it sounds a little weird. A scrappy is a collection of bakery scraps — cake, frosting, brownies, cookies, etc. — combined in one container. For the bakery, it's an excellent way to minimize food waste and make a little money back or get the most of the money already spent on ingredients.

I've been eyeing Hopscotch's scrappies for some time, and finally tried two last week. I tried a cookies 'n cream and a caramel cinnamon roll ($5 each). Totally delightful, they were easily shareable, with leftovers to spare. Next time you're unsure of what to try at Hopscotch, give a scrappy a try.

Hopscotch Bakery + Market
802 W John St
Champaign
M-Sa 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Su 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Photos by Jessica Hammie

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Pour Bros. building is 100 years old this month

Pour Bros. Craft Taproom has been in the building at 40 E University for about a year now, but as of this month the building itself as been around for 100 years. As seen in the photo above, it was once a Willy's-Overland car dealership. Fun fact: it was also home to Champaign Surplus (now Champaign Outdoors) for a stretch as well. Seems like a good enough reason to go try some beers. 

Photos from Pour Bros. Facebook page

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Naya is good for sharing

Last week I visited Naya with my spouse in honor of that day that comes 'round once a year where you're supposed to go out and celebrate your love or whatever. In general, he is not a food sharer, but thankfully the menu at Naya lends itself well to sharing several items, and therefore I got to live out my ultimate dining experience, one where you get to try all the things. The menu is divided into six sections, and while my eventual goal is to have a meal where I try something from each one, we restrained ourselves to four, beginning with the scallop skewers pictured above, then:

Buffalo mozzerella

Japanese fried chicken 

Rigatoni bolognese

We left too full for dessert, unfortunately, but quite happy with our selections. 

Naya
212 E Green Street
Champaign
M-Sa 5 to 10 p.m.

Photos by Julie McClure

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Have you tried these drinks at Maize?

I'm talking specifically about the corn margarita ($8) and the jamaica, a hibiscus tea available iced ($3). The corn margarita is made with pureed roasted corn, and has a smoky, earthy flavor. The tequila isn't masked quite as much as with a regular or fruity margarita.

The jamaica is not only beautiful, it's sweet and tart and absolutely deliciously refreshing. Give them a try next time you visit the Downtown Champaign location.

Maize at the Station
100 N Chester St
Champaign
Su-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F + Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Photos by Jessica Hammie

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Triptych has a cool new mural

Last week, my family spent a lovely evening at Triptych Brewing. Yes we brought the children to a tap room, no judging. There was Dragon Fire Pizza and Scrabble and Shuffleboard playing and fun was had by all. 

Anywho, it was the first opportunity I had to check out their new mural, created by artist Megan Hinds, that details the brewing process. Here's the full view:

Triptych's tap room has undergone some serious upgrades after moving the brewing production across the street to The Memery, and this adds another nice touch to the atmosphere. And, it's educational. 

On a somewhat unrelated note, look at how pretty these beers are:

Triptych Brewing
1703 Woodfield Drive
Savoy
Monday-Wednesday 3 to 10 p.m.
Thursday-Friday 3 to 11 p.m.
Saturday 12 to 11 p.m.
Sunday 12 to 8 p.m.

Photos by Julie McClure