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You need this mac-n-cheese stuffed chicken wing from Stuft Bird

The Stuft Bird is a new food truck in town, specializing in fried chicken wings stuffed with fillings. Parked just off the corner of University and Fourth in Champaign, this silver truck serves up wings stuffed with macaroni and cheese, wings stuffed with dirty rice, wings stuffed with greens and cornbread, and wings just plain and unstuffed — in addition to fries, sides, and desserts.

The Stuft Bird silver food truck is parked on a sidewalk with a large cooler in front. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

I love macaroni and cheese, and I love chicken wings, so you know I was all about trying a macaroni and cheese stuffed wing. Just look at this stuffed wing. 

A fried chicken wing from The Stuft Bird is cut open to reveal macaroni and cheese inside the wing. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

This stuffed wing was a total game changer. The Stuft Bird takes some of Shan's famous mac-n-cheese and puts it inside these giant wings and fries it to perfection. There was a miraculous amount of mac-n-cheese inside my wings; it doesn't make sense how much macaroni was inside the wing. It was wild and crazy and freaking amazing. 

Here's the menu.

A laminated poster of The Stuft Bird's menu is duct taped to the silver food truck. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

You can place your order online for pick up or delivery here. Pick up is at their location on 4th street and University. Parking is tricky to navigate as there is no parking lot, but there is a gravel driveway you can pull into to park. Find The Stuft Bird on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

The Stuft Bird
104 N Fourth Street
W-Sa 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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We’re rooting for Julianna Jung from Champaign on Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship

There's a Champaign resident on this year's Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship, and her name is Julianna Jung. This is the seventh season of the Holiday Baking Championship on the Food Network, and this season is off to a great start.

Photo from Julianna Jung's Instagram page.

Here's Jung's bio from the Food Network website:

Julianna works in the healthcare industry but spends her free time baking. She wants to compete against professional pastry chefs to prove to herself that she has the potential to take her baking to the next level.

Photo from Julianna Jung's Instagram page. 

Twelve bakers are competing for the $25,000 prize, a chance to be featured on the Food Network Kitchen app, and the title of Holiday Baking Champion. In this year's competition, bakers are ranked on the Naughty or Nice List after each challenge. The lowest ranked baker is eliminated each week. 

This season started November 2nd of this year, and it will continue to air every Monday night until the finale on December 21st. There's only been four episodes so far, so you can catch up on the previous episodes here and keep watching every Monday as we cheer for Jung to win the whole competition.

Follow Julianna Jung on her Instagram @cakedupjourney for more of what she's baking up.

Top image from The Food Network website.

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View Somi's in the absence of things the first week of December

in the absence of things, "an experimental short film that blends spoken word, art song, and movement with deconstructed concert recordings from Somi’s new live album "Holy Room—Live at Alte Oper with Frankfurt Radio Big Band," will be available for viewing starting on December 1st, courtesy of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Somi, who was on the road at the onset of COVID-19, "decided to head to her hometown of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, to shelter in place with her mother where she found herself reflecting on the deep sense of personal vacancy she was feeling in the absence of live performance."

The following information comes from the recent Krannert Center announcement: 

This free, virtual first look at "in the absence of things" will be followed by a conversation with Somi; the director of the film, Mariona Lloreta; and Obie Award-winning Artistic Director of New York City’s National Black Theatre (NBT) Jonathan McCrory to discuss the meaning of the film, the collaborators’ creative process, and the role of Black artists during and beyond COVID-19. This event is also presented in partnership with NBT and Salon Africana.

Closed captioning will be available for this performance.

This performance and conversation will last approximately one hour.

The performance and conversation will be available for viewing from at 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 1st. through Tuesday, December 8th.

Find out how to view here,


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Suzu’s Bakery in Downtown Champaign is a delight

Suzu's Bakery opened last Tuesday, and it is a beautiful addition to Downtown Champaign. Led by Chef Suzuko Enomoto, this bakery offers a variety of baked goods and drinks in a gorgeous, minimalist spot that used to house Cream & Flutter

Several minimalist white bouquets are in glass bottles against the glass wall at the entrance of Suzu's Bakery in Downtown Champaign. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

In the interior of Suzu's Bakery, there is a wooden counter with various baked goods on display. Two staff people are masked and working to help customers. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The beautiful baked goods are on display when you walk into the shop. 

Two cakes in a glass enclosure are on glass cake stands with a brightly lit string of lights inside the case behind them. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Several Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Several cream filled baked goods sit in white papers inside a glass case at Suzu's Bakery. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Muted, colorful meringues are sealed in a bag labeled Suzu's at Suzu's bakery in Downtown Champaign. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I was able to try several of the bakery items, and they were each scrumptious in their own way. I have to tell you about this mini lemon cake ($3.50), though, because it was the cutest thing I've ever eaten. 

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

This is a lemon-shaped cake that has a light citrus flavor with a candied lemon peel on top. The mini cake had a delicate lemon flavor: the strongest flavor was the soft sweetness of the cake, followed by a fragrant lemon taste. It's not cloyingly sweet nor is it overly sour; it is a wonderful tasting cake that is adorably small and fit for an afternoon treat.

You can check out the menu and place your order for pickup here. I put my order in the day before, and when I arrived, my order was packaged and ready to go by the door. It was an easy process, and the staff was so friendly. Put your order in for a mini lemon cake and whatever else sparks your fancy.

Note that Suzu's Bakery will be closed on Thanksgiving on November 26th and the day after November 27th, but Suzu's will be open on November 28th for Small Business Saturday. 

114 N Walnut St
T-Sa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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The new Japanese bakery Suzu’s opens tomorrow, November 17th

There's a new bakery in Champaign called Suzu's. We told you about the bakery in September, and now the bakery is opening for business. Suzu's grand opening will be tomorrow, Tuesday, November 17th.

This Japanese bakery will serve traditional and contemporary cakes, pastries, cookies, bread, and drinks. Some of the offerings include kurimilo, miso cake, lemon cake, meringes, miso brownies, and more. Beverages include coffee drinks featuring iced coffee made with a special blend from Page Roasting Company, tea, and matcha.

Look at some of Suzu's treats. 

Photo from Suzu's website.

Photo from Suzu's website.

Photo from Suzu's website.

You can check out the menu, and place your order online here. Suzu's shares free curbside parking with Esquire, so you can park curbside, call 217-355-5400, and Suzu's will bring your pastries to you.

114 N Walnut St
T-Sa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Top image from Suzu's website.

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Krannert Art Museum hosts virtual opening for Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory

The long awaited Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory exhibition at Krannert Art Museum opened last week for in-person viewing. But on Thursday, November 19th, KAM will host an opening celebration via Zoom. The event will feature several guest speakers including curator Amy L. Powell. 

Bea Nettles: Harvest of Memory
Virtual Opening Celebrtaion
Thursday, November 19th, 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Register for the Zoom event here.


Top image from Facebook


Why yes, I would like a burrito with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in it

Yesterday, La Mixteca shared a series of photos illustrating the building of a burrito with Flamin' Hot Cheetos inside. This nod to California-style burritos, which were invented in San Diego and contain carne asada and French fries (pictured above), doesn't photograph well (what burrito does, really?), but I am eager to try it.

Even if Cheetos in your burritos isn't your thing, La Mixteca has a lot of other really delicious offerings. You can read our interview with owner Mauricio Contreras while you think about which item you'll order for take out this weekend.

La Mixteca
510 N Cunningham Ave
Su-Th 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sa 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Top image by Jessica Hammie.


Feast your eyes upon this sushi from Sushi Siam

Sushi is one of my favorite foods, and this sushi from Sushi Siam was excellent. The spicy tuna ($7.99) on the left was great, and in the center, the red dragon roll ($13.99) had tuna, scallions, masago, cucumber, and spicy sauce. The real show stopper was the roll on the right: the sexy roll ($13.99) which was a deep-fried roll with salmon, unagi, cucumber, avocado, and spicy mayo. You need to try this sexy roll because it's delicious but also because it's fun to say.

Sushi Siam has a Japanese menu which features sushi and other Japanese dishes, and they also have a Thai menu which offers curries, pad thai, and more. Sushi Siam is located in the Old Farm shopping center near Papa Murphy's and Cheese & Crackers.

Sushi Siam
1729 W Kirby Ave
M-Sa 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.


Have you seen the Chancla Vortex at Blacklight Box yet?

Next time you're in Urbana, make sure to check out the latest installation at Blacklight Box (2204 S Lynn Street) featuring Alicia O. De Leon's Chanclaz Del Cosmos. De Leon offers the simple chancla (flip flop) as a symbolic solution for contemporary strife. The artist's statement explains that the chancla delivers quick and efficient justice and discipline, and "is here to remind us that what we need is to mind our business and love (all) our neighbors." For maximum appreciation of this primo example of UV art, visit after sundown. 

Photo from Instagram


These skeletons are a mood

The skeleton Halloween decorations on the Eden Supportive Living Center at Church and State in Champaign are capturing how most of us feel right about now. In early October, they were attached so that they appeared to be climbing the side of the building. But now, after time and exposure to the elements, they are losing their grips.

Same, skeletons, same.

Top image by Jessica Hammie.


Get into the Halloween spirit with this Frankensandwich

Cheese & Crackers' Frankensandwich ($8.99) is the perfect Halloween sandwich. On a crusty Italian baguette from TriBeCa Bakery, the sandwich has ham, garlic mascarpone spread, vinaigrette, mozzarella cheese, and onion. The sweet and smoky ham was a hearty portion — that the staff sliced just moments before assembling my sandwich. The raw onions gave a good bite, and the thick discs of mozzarella stuck into the creamy, garlicky spread. Altogether, it was delicious. 

I mean, look at this sandwich. 

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There's nothing scary about the Frankensandwich, but the name will definitely get you in the Halloween spirit.

You can call ahead at 217-615-8531 to place your order, or you can walk in and tell them your order.

Cheese & Crackers
1715 W Kirby Ave
T-Sa 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.