So we finally made it out to this place. Friends had told us for years to go. It’s not that far but given our schedules on the road it had just never happened. Soooo glad we did. Sandy and I loved it, and we have been to a lot of amazing places.
Beautiful grounds and facility with great service all while being so relaxing. I’ll wait to write a ton more as we go to various concert events but I wanted to give you an idea of just a normal outing here. A relaxing hour in the afternoon or an evening adventure.
First, the drive out there is great. Heading out of Bloomington IL starts like everything but as the cool old barns and hills pop up , the drive gets interesting. When you arrive you will be impresses with the look. Cool house that they seem to just keep adding on to. You can see the vines and I really like how they mark what they are( if you like wine , it’s nice to know). An incredible little shop with gourmet items as you enter and then the tasting room. You get three free tastings and then each after is a dollar. You can also buy a glass($6 on average) as well as beer. This part is awesome because as you will see in the pics, they have a gorgeous deck to sit on and relax.
In the warm months they have a great concert series which the grounds are perfect for. Sandy and I will being hitting that this year and you know those pics will show up right here. For now, enjoy the pictures and we will talk after the jump.
You should definitely check this place and it’s wines out. Great place, great wines and a great time. Take the time to go. Check out their link here for directions and more info. Mackinaw Valley Winery and definitely tell them Bob and Sandy from the Combat Sports Lifestyle blog (and Team Transcend ) told you to show up. Follow us on twitter @combatsportlife . Also contact us to come to your place.
When are not traveling, we love to relax in Downtown Champaign. Great bars and restaurants and a cool place just to wander around. As i’ve said before, traveling to all the places we do actually helps us look for more treasures in our own area.
Great burgers, pizza and drinks from two great places. Guidos has a great menu and bar. Lots of screens, cool look and great outdoor seating. It also has a gorgeous downtown view especially when it is snowing. I’ll do a piece on that this winter. The esquire is a classic old school bar with a broad age range and fantastic food. They also have great outdoor seating. You can’t go wrong with either one.
Check out the pictures that also include the awesome Ten Thousand Villages store and just street shots. Talk after the jump.
Get yourself down in this area if you live nearby or if you are just visiting. Take advantage of the cool things, culture and food we have here. It’s a great place to just enjoy yourself!
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Check out the very cool champaigncenter.com for more info on the area.
First, this place isn’t what you would expect. Then again it also is exactly what you would expect. Huh? Remember you’re reading a blog from a guy who used to get hit in the head for a job! In all seriousness that’s true though. Courier is both diner and upscale experience at the same time. Hip and in a historic building but has died chicken and a salad bar like my farm town roots. How does that work. First we will talk about the area and building .
In 1837 a man named William Tompkin purchased the land where it is. Im told that it is likely a relative even though there is no s on the end. Lots of spellings and my family came off the oklahoma native territories ( called reservations elsewhere) to Illinois in the late 1930’s so who knows. My dadand siblings didnt have birth certificates!! ( Common in native families at the time). The lad was sold to the well known farming/banking Busey family. Eventually it became the Courier newspaper building in the early 20th century. It closed in 1979, and yes i well remember that happening. In comes Alan Strong!
When i was a kid there was a cool deli on the UIUC campus called Bubbie & Zadies. I was a small town kid dreaming of travel and loved going there. It floodec to the point of no repair once and a few years later he opened the Courier Cafe.
Downtown Urbana where it is located is an eclectic place. Decades before farm to table was chic, urbana was that place. It annoys me and I love it at the same time lol. I mean Urbana,the Courier is always cool.
From breakfast, to burgers and sandwiches. From fried chicken to unusual mixes and steaks. The place is part of a bygone era where you could have a broad menu but it was all REAL FOOD! I travel all over for fights and pr work and it is a rare institution.
On this trip I had the Hammerhead with fries. Excellent roast beef and swiss soaked in red wine Au Jus served on a Bubby Bun. A couple of Domain Du Page beers from Two Brothers Brewing and it doesn’t get much better. My wife Sandy had the fried chicken with baked potato ( always mashed but the waitress said no longer available??!!) And the awesome salad bar. Survey says?? Awesome all the way around!!! Check out the pics( why you reall read this blog!) and we will talk after the jump.
Whether you live here or you want to take a destination restaurant road trio, Courier Cafe fits the bill. It is historic, architectually profound and foodie paradise at the same time. Check it out. Heck, call me and we will go with you.
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Todays links ( be here for a very affordable rate!!!!!)
We love using fresh produce from our garden when we cook. As ive mentioned before, its something i learned to love when I was training to fight. These days it serves to keep me interested in eating healthy and as fake chef/ foodie it’s indispensable lol. You can’t beat it.
For this dish we used cilantro and basil and topped off with fresh spinach. A little garlic powder and Sage tossed on the chicken while it grills, gives you just the season to go with the fresh herbs. Good fresh herbs will have pop of their own. In this case I used my panini grill but I often use my charcoal grill outside for this dish. Then we eat on one of our patios
We served it on Bolillo Rolls we get at Sam’s Club. We love them and use the for all sorts of things. You get lots and they are fresh and inexpensive. While we were at Sam’s we also grabbed a bottle of Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend. We had that while we cooked and relaxed. It was excellent for an inexpensive wine. I was impressed with its character.
Basically once you’ve added your spice and herbs, there isn’t much to do. Let it grill, panini grill will get it there pretty quick so pay attention!!! Cut the breasts up. Mix with herbs and spinach evenly. Boom, you’ve got a great and healthy meal in a bun. Quick, easy and attractive ( guests are impressed if you serve things that are eye pleasing).
You can have food that looks and tastes great but still meet your training requirements. You just have to work at it a bit. Try some ideas like this and see what I mean.
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We had eaten here shortly after it first opened but I didn’t have time to take pics and think about writing on it. First, it’s a true cool destination location restaurant. Our downtown area has become quite hip, and is often referred to as micro urban. I should say that it’s close to where I live but I’m 15 min away in a tiny town. Champaign has about 100k people which is still small to many folks. My town has less than 8k lol. So I often refer to Champaign places as home to me.
OK on to the fun stuff. First, if straight dominoes, papa John’s etc is the only thing you like, don’t go! I love all pizza but this is wood fired gourmet rustic. Great locally sourced meats and cheese’s plus produce. Lots of olive oil and charred edges on the crust. Very good, and the place is a true experience. It’s in an old publishing building and very industrial looking. I love that! You can stand and Look at the specially made ovens which came from Naples Italy. Heck you can see the woodpile!!
A few pictures and then we will talk about the meal after the jump. Enjoy.
To start of I had a great Morreti Rossa and my wife had the house Chianti. We ordered the cheese plate for a nice start. Great local area cheese’s that were fantastic as well as olives/sweety drops jam and bread. It was very good. Not too heavy or much but classically excellent. Artisan local cheese can’t be beat for an experience.
For the main we had the pizza pomodorini. Fresh mozzarella and fresh cherry tomatoes plus prosciutto Di parma/parmagianno reggianno and fresh arugula. Excellent. Fresh and nice charcoal edges. Again if this isn’t your thing it isn’t your place. Give it a try though. I’m a Giordano’s and Filippo guy but I love this stuff as well!
It was a great meal in a very cool place. Made for a nice and different experience in our area. The only downside was service this time. I never complain about that but she disappeared! Dropped off the pizza and never saw her again. We really wanted more drinks (especially me!). Gone. We have fun wherever we go and laughed about it but it wasn’t great. Nobody seemed happy to be there. I hope it was a one off as I really like the place and will return, but that needs work. We travel often, eat everywhere and pay well as a general rule. This was off.
Again, it’s a great place and we had a wonderful time. Check it out if you’re in the area. If you’d like to be part of our sponsor/ad/ ambassador program email us. From inexpensive links to features or social ads/spokesperson work. Hit firstname.lastname@example.org today. Also follow @combatsportlife on Twitter.
Today’s sponsor is the awesome Westbrook Stables. Get a great riding and training experience in a Western family oriented environment! https://m.facebook.com/westbrookstable/
A link to today’s restaurant
Just for fun and something different, I thought I’d do a food/travel piece like that. A tiny description/thoughts on a place with a couple of food/drink/ambience pics. Let’s face it, you come here to read my goofy statements and see some pictures! I’ll never win any awards for this but you guys just keep showing up lol! Let’s do this.
First Nobu at Caesars in Las Vegas. As with every in Caesar’s, it’s great. Cool look with open modern area and skirted off private booths. Sushi,sushi,sushi!
Murphy’s Pub on the UIUC campus in chambana. A classic bar with great burgers. A nice dive that isn’t a dive.
Mama Sherry’s in Destin Florida. Pizza, wings and other great things. Great food at great prices in an area where food isn’t always cheap. Beer and wine specials, just an overall vibe that feels like vacation.
Jean Georges in Aria, Las Vegas. Beautiful, world class Steak house. Stunning selection of meat and seafood with great servers. The wine list and staff Aline make it worth a visit. Expensive but worth it. One of my favorites.
Black dog Smoke and Ale House in Champaign. Great BBQ in a cool old railyard building. Listed as one if the BBQ places in America. Great sides and a fantastic bar list. The ambience is with the trip alone.
Costa Di Mare in Wynn Las Vegas. One of the most knowledgeable staffs I’ve ever been around. I got a lesson in fish, and sourcing it from unusual places. Prep and cooking. Wine etc. It was amazing. Truly like nowhere else I’ve ever been. Like everything at Wynn, it is first class, and expensive.
Look for more in depth reviews of some these at another time. Just wanted to whet your appetite a bit, and entertain you. Yes a bit all over the page but so am I ! Burgers to sushi from a guy who likes to fight and write.
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