Monday, September 18, 2017

Peach Picking at Eckert's

Though Ben and I have lived in the Midwest for a decade now, we've never gone on those pick-tour-own farm activities until this year. To be honest, the prospect of being carted over with a bunch of people (with loud kids) really isn't our cuppa. But we heard (and I tasted!) that the peaches at Eckert's this year were too delicious to pass up, so we relented and drove about an hour southeast of StL to Eckert's Belleville farm to get our peach and blackberry fixes!

It was a gorgeous and surprisingly mild summer day when we decided to visit, so it was perfect for a languid fruit-picking. We spent about three or four hours walking down the rows of peach trees with boughs sagging with the weight of heavy fruit-- each one perfectly taut and blushing. When we'd picked more than the comfortable weight to tote about, Ben and I headed over to the blackberry fields and quickly filled our basket (and mouths) with the large, ripe berries.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Beast Craft BBQ

Ben and I love our BBQ. Especially after moving to St. Louis, we pretty much have made it a priority to try as much barbecue as we can, and we definitely have our favorites here in the Lou. 

We were pleasantly surprised by our amazing first meal at Beast Craft BBQ, and admit that we underestimated what we would be getting. The photos we took do no justice to how tender and flavorful the meats were. Holy moly-- Ben's Texas pork belly was so porky but not overly fat and greasy. AND the ribs were seasoned impeccably plus! had actual bite to them. 

Ben, I guarantee, will wax on about how stuffed and tasty the taquitos were (which, they were!) but by the cheese gods, I swear-- their mac and cheese beats every other mac and cheese out there!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Shaved Ice

Summer nights here in St. Louis are hot and humid--  perfect for shaved ice weather. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Firefly Grill

On our drive back to St. Louis from Champaign-Urbana, Ben and I decided to make a lunch stop at Effingham to try out Firefly Grill... because we read that it was a lovely farm to table restaurant, was open on a Sunday, and was literally a few exits from where we already were when we decided we were crazy hungry.

I must admit that when we got off our exit, I had a little panic attach because there was nothing as far as the eye could see but gas stations and fast food restaurants. But we kept on driving and came upon a quiet road, away from the scads of travelers. Then we saw the large rooftop sign surrounded by field flowers and tall grasses.

It was just getting busy as we walked in, as people were filing in for brunch, but we had pretty good seats, looking out into the koi pond. Ben and I decided on a light lunch: he got a burger with a side of fries, and I ordered the Caprese salad with a crab cake. Each bite from all three dishes was delectable! I especially enjoyed my salad-- the tomatoes each had a distinct flavor and were bursting with sweetness. We capped our meal with the Chocolate Valrhona cake that had a layer of caramel and espresso ice cream.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Graphic Urbana

As we rushed to get our morning cuppa, all the color caught my eye. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Saturday in Shampoo Banana

9:00 AM: We spent a few precious minutes perusing the excellent produce at the Urbana Farmers' Market. We stocked up on these delicious doughnut/Saturn peaches. 

10:45 AM: We headed to downtown Champaign to meet a friend for lunch. Had a few minutes to kill so we stopped in Jane Addams Bookstore, one of our favorite bookshops ever. Since we only had a half hour, I only had time to look through the mystery room, and walked out with a couple of cozies!

2:00 PM: After lunch and invigorating conversation over bubble tea, Ben and I checked out some art, particularly for some clay pieces to add to our collection. We didn't find anything we really wanted, but we always have a great time learning about the artists' or pieces' stories. 

3:00 PM: Back to Champaign to visit our old haunts for treats. We stopped by Pekara to check out their entremets, then went to Cream and Flutter to get cupcakes to save for later. 

6:00 PM : Had an early dinner at Xinh Xinh Cafe where we finally were able to get nataing after 4 long years! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Dreamy Home

On a recent trip to Urbana to meet old friends and their baby, we lucked out on our lodgings found via Airbnb. This home was pretty much what I imagine my home would be if Ben and I stayed in Illinois. Located in a quiet, residential neighborhood, but still close to both downtown Champaign and Urbana, it's pretty much walking distance to lots of restaurants and cafes. The house had warm brown hardwood floors and large windows that let tree-filtered light in-- basically, every room was a perfect reading nook. I also loved the wild-ish garden brimming with greenery and dotted with bright petals. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Space Monkey Treats

Jilly's is one of the choice treat stops we stop by regularly. We love that they change their cupcake lineup every month, which also adds another reason why we frequent it. This time, Ben and I split a Space Monkey cupcake which looks just as ooey gooey as it looks. It's a banana toffee cupcake base, filled with toffee dulce de leche and then topped with a caramel swirl buttercream icing. Yum!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cat Tails

I never noticed these cat tails growing in the most inconspicuous of places (behind corporate buildings!) until just this summer. They look like slim corndogs on green sticks!

Monday, August 21, 2017

An Incredibly Delicious Pit Stop

A few weeks back, Ben and I drove up to Champaign, Illinois to meet up with some friends from grad school. On our way up, we decided to stop by Incredibly Delicious Cakes in Springfield because I had ingrained in my memory that their gigantic macarons were the best I'd ever tasted at the time. 

It was a balmy, quiet Friday afternoon when we got to the downtown Springfield area, and we found parking right away. I took a few moments to just appreciate the gorgeous building with the contrasting trim and details, as well as the well-tended greenery surrounding it. Then, Ben and I proceeded to find our way through the rooms of seating areas to the counter where we picked out a scone, a few macarons, and a coconut entremets (Ben also got a cookie to-go!)

The macarons were as delicious as I remember (though these were small, "regular"-sized macarons as opposed to the giants I had before) but this time, the filling was a little too buttery for my tastes. The coconut cake was DIVINE-- light and very flavorful, and the scone was a perfect, crumbly, savory late lunch. 

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