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Get your Just BEE Açaí fix in the Illini Union

The local açaí food truck has moved into the Illini Union and will be open for business starting this Friday. Famous for signature açaí bowls, Just BEE Açaí was previously operating out of a cute yellow Shasta around town.

If you want to learn more about Just BEE Açaí, read our interview with owner Emma Reinbold and check out these yummy bowls from the açaí restaurant's socials.

Peep this winter bowl with citrus.

Photo from Just BEE Açaí's Facebook page.

This chocolate one had me drooling.

Photo from Just BEE Açaí's Facebook page.

Check out the menu here.

Just BEE Açaí
1401 W Green St
Urbana
T-F 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sa 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Top image from Just BEE Açaí's Facebook page. 

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Do you remember Persimmon Grocery?

I do not, because I did not live in Champaign-Urbana before 2007 when it closed, but from what I hear, it was a gem of a spot. Thad Morrow, the original owner and chef at bacaro, owned and ran this little grocery in Downtown Champaign, right next to the restaurant. 

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have another small or specialty grocery store in Downtown Champaign?

In the meantime, check out this Persimmon Grocery menu from circa 2004. 

Photo of a chalkboad menu for Persimmon Grocery, including salads and sandwiches. Photo by Thad Morrow. Photo by Thad Morrow. 

Top image screenshot from Thad Morrow’s Facebook page.

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La Bahía Grill is now open in Downtown Champaign

La Bahía Grill, a new restaurant serving Mexican seafood, is open in Downtown Champaign inside the old Sushi Kame space. The restaurant has a large menu with appetizers, entrees, and desserts. The inside of La Bahía Grill is brightly colored and decorated with a nautical theme.

Inside La Bahia Grill, there are empty tables with white table cloths and black metal chairs. There is a feature wall with brightly colored interlocking shapes and nautical themes. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

On the menu, you can find burritos, tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas, fajitas, flautas, and quesadillas.You can also find great dishes like oysters, salmon al gusto, and enmoladas, a tortilla with mole, meat, and onion. They even serve langosta rellena which is lobster filled with scallops, octopus, shrimp, and abalone. My favorite name of a menu item was the costillas de oink oink which is pork ribs cooked with onion, cactus, and salsa.

On my visit to the new restaurant, I ordered a variety of things to get a taste of La Bahía Grill.

A mug with hand-painted florals sits on a white side plate with a metal soup spoon. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I started with a coffee ($2.50), and it came in this very cute mug. The staff brought out complimentary chips and salsa plus a bowl of shrimp soup which was delicious.

On a white plate, there is a bed of fries with cheese and sliced avocado. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The appetizer I tried was the papas locas ($8) which was a bed of fries drizzled with spicy queso and topped with sliced avocado, bacon, white onion, chicken bites, salsa, red onion, and shredded cheese. What would normally come on nachos instead came on fresh, hot fries, and it was insanely delicious. The smoky bacon was thick, and it had a crisp edge and a soft, tender chewy bite. The spicy cheese sauce had a good heat level that lingered. There were so many textures and flavors in this one app, and if you like cheese fries, you'll love this.

On a large white plate, there is a bed of rice covered in white cheese sauce with chicken, steak, and shrimp. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I wanted to try the namesake entree, so I ordered the La Bahía ($15) which was a bed of rice topped with chicken, steak, and shrimp, covered in a spicy cheese sauce. It was a huge portion, and it was packed with meat. The chicken and steak pieces were cut bite-sized, and the plump shrimp had a great charred flavor from the grill. The rice was fluffy. The hearty platter could easily serve 3-4 people, so you will not leave hungry.

On a white plate, there is ceviche with white fish, limes, sliced cucumbers, and diced veggies. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

My absolute favorite dish at La Bahía Grill was this ceviche. I ordered the fish ceviche ($15), but there are options on the menu for shrimp, octopus, or mixed seafood as well. The ceviche had cold, delicate bites of white fish with diced veggies. It was light and bright, and it was amazing. The citrusy flavor was well balanced, not too sour, and the white fish was so good. I don't know of anywhere else in C-U I can get ceviche, so La Bahía Grill is an awesome place to get a ceviche fix. The chef nailed this ceviche.

On a white plate, there are six churro sticks with chocolate syrup on top with whipped cream poufs. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Of course, I had to order a dessert, too. I ordered the churros which came very hot from the kitchen, sliced into six churro sticks with a chocolate syrup drizzle and whipped cream poufs. The cinnamon sugar coating was great, and the inside of the crisp churros had a drippy, sugary sauce. Sweet and crunchy, this dessert was a sweet way to end the meal.

On the wall of La Bahia Grill's dining room, there are letters painted in different colors and animal prints reading DOWNTOWN CHAMPAIGN. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

If you're looking for something new to eat, La Bahía Grill is a wonderful new restaurant to go. The food was awesome, and the staff was attentive. There is more than just seafood on the menu, so if you like Mexican food, give La Bahía Grill a try.

La Bahía Grill
132 W Church St
Champaign
Su-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo / Word

I took a Hunny Bunny Bakes cookie decorating class at the new CU flower house

I took a cookie decorating class with Mary Enright, the owner and founder of Hunny Bunny Bakes, in the gorgeous space at CU flower house on Neil Street by Old Time Meat & Deli. The space acts as a co-op for Hunny Bunny Bakes and the CU flower shop in addition to Apricity Ink, a local calligraphy business. 

A green counter with black flower art is the feature counter in the CU flower house. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Everywhere I looked inside the new space was stunning.

There is a beautiful white gown with feathers on a black mannequin, and several shirts on hangers in front of a black wall. Photo by Alyssa Buckley. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

It's so pretty I can't even.

Two long black benches are pulled up to a long table with a brown craft paper table cover. There is a feature wall behind that is black with flowers. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

This is the table where we got to decorate winter cookies.

On a table covered with brown craft paper, there are piping bags of blue, white, red, and green icing. There is a metal pan with eight cookies in four different shapes. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Eight unfrosted cookies, several bags of colorful icing, and other tools were all provided by the bakery. Each person in the class had their own stash of icing, cookies, and tools that we got to take home after the class.

On a metal pan, two wreaths made out of icing with red circles sit on parchment paper. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The first thing we learned was how to make a wreath out of icing. I was so scared of this difficult task, and I was totally sure that mine would be horrendous looking, but somehow, with Hunny Bunny Bakes' instructions, my little wreaths actually looked so cute!

The author's tray of cookies in the process of being decorated. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

This is a progress picture. Look at those smooth iced cookies that I decorated myself. It looks hard to do, but learning how to do this in the class was easy.

Hunny Bunny Bakes made sure we all knew what we were doing. Sometimes, I did not know what I was doing, and she was there to help. She explained how to make flowers twice to me and even squirted icing flower petals on the back of her hand, so I could see what she meant.

On a metal baking pan, there are eight frosted cookies, empty piping bags beside it. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Here are my finished cookies. If you don't look too closely, you can see how seriously cute they are! If you do look closely, you'll see that I am not a cookie decorater, but I tried.

This class was so much fun, and I highly recommend it if you have a chance. The setting is just gorgeous, and the teacher was awesome. She explained everything step-by-step and made me feel comfortable by saying that all cookies look a little ugly at some point in the decorating process but to keep going. Private classes for a group are available in addition to offered classes with sign up dates. Email Hunny Bunny Bakes for more info or follow the bakery on Facebook.

Inside the CU flower house, there are a pair of yellow chairs with a swing in between. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The class is $40 for two hours of cookie decorating. In the class, you can learn four designs to frost eight cookies.

Hunny Bunny Bakes
2006 S Neil Street
Champaign
T-Sa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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Darren Bailey shared some Obama cookies at his latest fundraising event

State Senator Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, is running for governor, and it looks like he might be considering "Hope and Change" as his new campaign slogan. Funny, because that symbol is pretty visible in this meme he posted — in which he was big mad about a groundbreaking for the Obama Presidential Library. 

A man with short gray hair and glasses is holding a basket of cookies. Some are shaped like Illinois with white icing and red and blue designs, some are shaped like Illinois and are red, white, and blue with Bailey written down the center, some are circular with red and white waves, a blue background, and white half circle coming out of the waves. Photo from Darren Bailey for Governor Facebook page. Photo from Darren Bailey for Governor Facebook page.

Top photo from Darren Bailey for Governor Facebook page.

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Look at this cute little croissant-making video from BakeLab

BakeLab, a newish bakery at Lincoln and University (sister café to BrewLab), posted this adorable video of Christmas croissants being made. Pre-orders will be open soon (check BakeLab’s socials), and in the meantime, you can read our recent review of all the tasty treats.

BakeLab
410 N Lincoln Ave
Urbana
T-Sun 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Top photo by by Dai Shi.

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If you need a chill breakfast, go to Avionics+Page Roasting Company

The bagels and coffee at Flying Machine Avionics + Page Roasting Company make a lovely breakfast. The coffee menu has drip, iced, Americano, espresso, macchiato, cortado, latte, cappuccino, mocha, pour-over, and specialty coffee drinks.

I ordered the harvest moon latte ($5.50) which came made with a heart.

On a dark brown table, there is a white mug of coffee with a heart latte art in the foam. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The coffee was warm, delicious, and just perfect on a freezing morning. Made with saffron, sea salt, and mape syrup, the latte was delightful. It was not too sweet and with a bold coffee taste.

The food menu is small here, but you can order a egg sandwich, toasted bagel with cream cheese, and strata. I tried the everything bagel. It came lightly toasted with lots of everything seasoning, and the veggie cream cheese was so good.

Flying Machine Avionics is a relaxing coffeshop with light jams, pretty lighting, and the whir of the barista working behind the bar. Bonus: the coffeeshop also has a strong wifi signal which makes it a splendid spot to work remotely.

Flying Machine Avionics
202 S First Street
Champaign
M-F 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sa 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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Pho Noodle Station is open on Sixth Street in Campustown

In between Jip Bap and Oozu Ramen in Campustown, there's a new restaurant serving pho, banh mi, crispy egg rolls, and more. The entire menu is online if you want to preview it.

There are 18 different kinds of pho ranging from vegan mixed vegetable to brisket to Vietnamese meatball. Lots of appetizers like fried chicken wings, chicken on the sticks, pot stickers, crab rangoon, and more are available. There's one app that I absolutely need to try called fried shrimp sui mai which has six whole shrimp wrapped in egg roll skin with cream cheese and onion for $6.95. Find bun vermicelli noodle salads, Com Dia rice plates, and banh mi (even a vegetarian option with grilled lemongrass tofu) at the new restaurant.

Visit Pho Noodle Station in person or order online.

Pho Noodle Station
601 Sixth St
Champaign
Su-Th 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Top image from Pho Noodle Station's website.

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Coffee & Tea: Cups & Dessert benefits Giertz Gallery

If you're a fan of the Giertz Gallery at Parkland College, here's your chance to show your support. Coffee & Tea: Cups & Dessert ticketholders "may select from among a stunning array of handcrafted ceramic cups donated by the Parkland College Ceramics program faculty and students and enjoy desserts to go from Nothing Bundt Cakes." Your coffee or tea will taste even better thanks to the sounds of Guido Sanchez-Portuguez's classical guitar. 

The event will also include a silent auction of vases, bowls, teapots, pitchers, jewelry, and scarves, donated by Art and Design program faculty and students. You can even start your shopping ahead of time by placing bids online. 

Coffee & Tea: Cups & Dessert
December 9th, 4 to 7 p.m.
Giertz Gallery at Parkland College
2400 W Bradley Ave., Champaign
Tickets $25 in advance; $30 at the door

Top photo from the Giertz Gallery Facebook page.

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Feast your eyes on these Is

In case you missed them during Homecoming, the nine artful Block Is, designed by local artists, are still on display in the Krannert Center lobby during regular business hours. Click here to sneak a peek at designs by Keenan Daily, Michael Darin, Darin Doty, Lisa Kesler, Stacey Robinson, Shane Rodem, Ralph Roether, Cody Shinker and Gregory Stallmeyer.

Top photo from the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Facebook page.

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Find gourmet pantry goods and gift ideas at Grovestone

Take a peek into Grovestone, a small shop in South Champaign that sells olive oil from their family's olive groves in the Northeast side of the Peloponnese in Greece in addition to many other pantry goods.

Inside Grovestone, there are white shelves on both left and right sides of the room filled with bottles of olive oil and vinegar. There is a long rectangular table with a black tablecloth and place settings. There are two customers checking out and a male masked cashier facing the camera. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I stopped by to pick up another bottle of Grovestone's balsamic vinegar reduction, but I was drawn to so many interesting products that I have to show you what's all inside the pretty store.

The white shelves are topped with silver beverage dispensers filled with infused olive oils. Below, the shelves have three sizes of bottles (small, medium, and large) on the shelf for sale. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There is a wall of olive oils and balsamic vinegars, each with flavor-infused options. Grovestone's olive oil is extracted under cold temperature pressing of olives, and because of the harvesting method, their olive oil has distinctive low acidity (oleic acid < 0.3%). The differently flavored olive oil had many options: bacon, basil, cranberry, blood orange, chocolate, garlic, lemon, lime, roasted onion, rosemary, and even, butter olive oil. 

In addition to the flavored olive oil, Grovestone sells infused balsamic vinegars as well. Flavors range from dark chocolate to wild blueberry to black walnut. Both olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles are sold in small ($6.95), medium ($17.95), and large ($28.95).

White shelves are neatly stocked with dry pasta in bags and jarred red sauce. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Grovestone sells dry pasta and sauces as well.

On white shelves, bottles of wine, bottles of sauce, and dry pasta in bags neatly line the shelves. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There is a small selection of wine, beer, tea, and even ice cream.

An overhead photo shows the inside of hand-painted bowls. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I loved these cute hand-painted bowls for sale at $7 each.

On white shelves, napkins, glasses, and tableware are for sale. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There were a lot of hosting gifts available, too. From funny napkins to witty pillows to glasses with sayings, the shelves were brimming with options for gifts.

In a green cardboard box, there are four mini bottles of Grovestone olive oil. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There were sets of four small bottles in a variety pack ($32) already ready to wrap. There were also bags available if you wanted to create your own sampler in groups of four.

Several packs of two small bottles wrapped in plastic sit on the shelf for sale at Grovestone in Champaign, Illinois. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

These two small bottles were how I started my Grovestone love. Two Christmases ago, my friend Krista got me a duo set of small bottles. Mine were the original olive oil and ultra premium balsamic vinegar, but the ones available in store are the bread dipping seasoning and ultra premium olive olive ($14) which would be a fantastic gift especially paired with a baguette. There are lots of gifts under $50 available.

So what did I buy? I meant to just buy another bottle of the balsamic vinegar (a pantry staple in my house), but I bought a few extra things that caught my eye.

On a wooden table, there are the author's buys: a small jar of seasoning, a Greek Myth bottle of seasoning, a large bottle of balsamic, and three mini bottles. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Of course, I picked up the large bottle of the aged balsamic reduction, but I also bought a mini jar of Little Italy pizza seasoning ($6.45), a shaker of Greek myth seasoning ($10.95), a bottle of roasted onion olive oil ($6.95), a bottle of jalapeno olive oil ($6.95), and a small bottle of espresso balsamic ($6.95). My cooking is about to get more flavor, and my coffee-loving husband is about to get a bottle of espresso balsamic for Christmas.

Visit the store in the Old Farm Shops with Cheese & Crackers and Sushi Siam, or order online.

Grovestone
1707 W Kirby Ave
Champaign
M-F 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sa 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.