September is here, but I'm not yet ready for pumpkin spice. I'm holding onto summer with everything I've got until the autumnal equinox on September 22th. You won't find any fall favorites on this list.

This month, I wanted to focus on new foods. My September list features foods and a drink that are new-to-me. They’re a bit different than my usual go-tos, and I’m all about it right now because September feels like the right time to try new things. I bought some Ticonderoga pencils and new crayons for my kids, and while I don’t need school supplies myself, I definitely need new things. Staying home for six months and staring at the same walls of my house is feeling monotonous. I’m ready for some new things, and maybe you are, too.

If you have any suggestions of things you think I should try next month, email me at AlyssaBuckley@smilepolitely.com and let me know.


Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Hemingway Cocktail | Hamilton Walker’s

Let's start with a drink, shall we? New to the to-go cocktail game, Hamilton Walker’s came to play with four carryout cocktails and a mimosa kit to-go. I tried the Hemingway cocktail because I’m a sucker for anything with cherries — and also, because after reading The Paris Wife, I'm fascinated by anything Hemingway.

This cocktail was made with white rum, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit juice, lime, and amarena cherry. It looks a bit like a margarita with the lime garnish and yellow-green color, and it tastes a bit like a margarita, too. The grapefruit flavor is light, and the drink is very strong; I was buzzed almost immediately. 

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Hamilton Walker's to-go cocktails came in a sealed glass bottle with a cute HW sticker on the outside with a lime and an amarena cherry for garnish. The bottle poured two glasses (in my coupe glass) and a little extra, so for $15, this drink is a great deal. The drink itself was delicious, and it had me feeling relaxed and fancy well before I finished it. I highly recommend switching up your usual evening drink with this fun cocktail from Hamilton Walker's. You can order online here

Hamilton Walker's
201 N Neil St
Champaign
W + Th 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
F + Sa 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
 

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Papa y Queso (Potato and Cheese) Flautas | Maize

These potato and cheese flautas ($11) from Maize are my new favorite thing. I’ve actually ordered them twice in the last month because I cannot get enough of the creamy, savory filling they put in these flautas. The flautas are served with guacamole, shredded lettuce and cabbage, and a fresh jalapeño pico de gallo in addition to rice and pinto beans with cheese on top.

The three flautas are fried, so each flauta did have crunchy bits, but they were still a bit soft like an enchilada in parts. The potato filling is simple and savory, and it appears to just be potato, like mashed potatoes. This warm trio of potato flautas might be my favorite thing to get from Maize right now. It is a meal that fills me up, and I crave it on the regular. Switch up your taco routine, and try out these flautas.

Maize at the Station
100 N Chestnut St
Champaign
M-Sa 2 to 10 p.m.
Su 2 to 9 p.m.

Pistachio Pizza | Pizzeria Antica

I had a date night in the other night with pizza and drinks from Pizzeria Antica. The real star of the evening was this pistachio pizza ($16). With flavors and textures I'd never had on a pizza before, this pizza was wild. The pizza was topped with undressed arugula on top of several big slices of mortadella. Some of the mortadella was charred from the oven, and it tasted like bacon.

The pizza had big shavings of Parmesan cheese with a good, thin crust that was chewy and soft, mostly — with some parts crispy from the heat of the oven. There were pistachios on the pizza as well, and they were delightful flavor bombs. The crunch and saltiness of the pistachio complimented the pistachio in the mortadella. If you're bored of pepperoni and cheese pizza, this is a great, different kind of pizza to try that is insanely good. You can order Pizzeria Antica online here

Pizzeria Antica
10 E. Chester St.
Champaign
M-Th 4 p.m to 8 p.m.
F S 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.


Tomatoes | Ellen’s Melons, Roots, & Fruits

At the Urbana Market in the Square, I was drawn to the tomatoes at Ellen’s stand. She was laying out tomatoes of various colors and sizes, and they all looked beautiful. I asked her which tomato she thought was the best, and she said, “Whichever one is in my mouth!”

She helped me pick out one of every kind of her tomatoes ($3.75), and I ate them this week on my chicken wraps and on my salads with dinner. One day, I made a caprese salad with the yellow and red tomatoes I got from Ellen's Melons, Roots, & Fruits with basil from my garden and balsamic vinegar from Grovestone

It was divine, and if you can get to the Saturday market in Urbana, do find Ellen’s Melons, Roots, and Fruits’ stand and check out the tomatoes she’s selling. Honestly, she was right: the best tomato was whichever I was eating at the time. They were all fantastic.

Ellen's Melons, Roots, & Fruits
Urbana Market in the Square
401 S Vine St
Urbana
Sa 7 a.m. to noon

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Tuna Sandwich | Bread Company

The Bread Company is famous for their sandwiches. I’m obsessed with their breakfast sammies, but I went for lunch the other day and was blown away by this tuna sandwich ($6.77).

For the cold sandwiches like this tuna, you can choose your bread: baguette, white, wheat, or rye. I chose baguette because I love how big and hearty the freshly baked baguettes from The Bread Company are. The sandwich is topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and raw red onion. Of course, the bread was fanastic: soft, thick, and fresh. The sandwich itself was a perfect summer sandwich: a light tuna taste with a really creamy texture. The tang from the pickles made this sandwich divine which means it is now competition for my usual order (ham and gruyere). If you're looking for a new sandwich to add to your life, this tuna sandwich could be it.

The Bread Company
706 S Goodwin Ave
Urbana
M 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
T-F 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sa 3 to 9 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.