MEET THE MAKERS: Shades and Punchy

On Friday September 14th, Shades and Punchy hosted a dinner here at the Hop This was their second dinner here with us and they plan on having another at the end of October (information will be posted soon!)

Tell me a bit about yourselves and how you started doing pop-up dinner events.

Leslie and Mark have about thirty years each in the food and beverage industry, and while we've never had a place to call our own, we've tried to create a number of unique experiences and tried to explore various food trends unavailable in our area. Call us insatiable, but we're experimentalists with a never-say-die attitude. We've done hotdog carts and lobster roll shacks, Greek dinners and Burgundian tables, whole hog bbq in South Carolinian style and izakaya bar snacks from Tokyo. We had a long running happy hour at the now shuttered Corkscrew in Urbana which featured Danish open-faced rye-bread sandwiches known as smorrebrod. We've also held a roving ramen pop-up for the last five years thanks to the generous hospitality of Black Dog Smoke and Ale House, Crane Alley, Bunny's Tavern, Cafeteria & Co., and Watson's Shack & Rail.

What's your philosophy when it comes to food and feeding people?

Not sure we have a "philosophy" per se, but Mark always thinks of the Yoko Ono piece which inspired John Lennon: Climbing a ladder and armed with a magnifying glass, the viewer looks at a small work posted on the ceiling which reads "YES".  That positivity, and how that piece validates an effort on the part of the viewer, is energizing. We like to be as positive and open to experience as possible, always trying to come to the table or cookspace with fresh eyes. We'd also like our diners to join us in the journey, and hopefully give them moments of revelation and delight.

Tell me the importance of locally sourcing ingredients in your menu.

Sourcing locally is part and parcel of a "Small is Beautiful" economics, where we value shorter and more familiar chains of relationships. Knowing who the caretakers of our community and environment are and appreciating the labor that goes into our bounty, makes our work more fulfilling and feel better connected. We appreciate locally sourced foods as the result of a friend and neighbor's strenuous work and concern. This village-level thinking informs what we value from the outside of our small circle of production; so we trend towards the limited-production or family-run or sustainably-minded or personal-projects.

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During the subtle and languorous transition of Summer into Autumn, we'd like to share our “flechazo” (love at first sight) of Iberian cuisine at our next installation.The dinner menu features a number of tapas, shared plates, and wines from Spain and Portugal, and (seafood aside) is once again aggressively local with produce sourced from Blue Moon Farm, Sola Gratia, The Seasonal Plate, Prairie Fruits Farm, Red Crib Acres, and others.

Menu

Pintxos (Basque hors d'oeuvres)

Calabrian anchovy toast, cultured butter, lemon zest

Potato & herb tortilla, uni aioli

Benton’s aged ham, kuri squash, nasturtium, sesame

Beaver Dam peppers, saffron rice, octopus, parsley

Braised beef cheek, greens

“Ensaimada Mallorquina” (apple strudel), PFF Moonglow

Wines

Partida Creus, MUS (2017) Vermouth, Penedes, SP

Casa de Saima, Bairrada Espumante Bruto (2015) Baga, Bieras, PT

Camino Roca Altxerri, Txacoli de Getaria Rosado (2017) Hondarrabi, Basque Country, SP

Bodegas y Veñedos Raúl Pérez, Bierzo Ultreia (2015) Mencia, Castilla y Léon, SP

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MEET THE MAKER: Joan Jach, Old Town Flowers

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Joan Jach is a remarkable urban flower farmer (Old Town Flowers) and we want you to know who amazing this maker/farmer is. Here at The Hop she provides us with flowers, body balms, teaches classes, and every once in a while a peach or two. Joan’s farm is located in Old Town Champaign and she lives there with her husband Jason, daughter Abby, two cats and a dog. Not only does she provide goods and services to the shop, she is our dear friend and confidant.

Hi Joan! You're a hyper local maker, tell us about your farm and how it came about.

Our farm is in our backyard which is about 5 blocks away from Hopscotch - we keep bees and chickens in our backyard, as well as grow flowers and veggies. It is about a quarter of an acre maybe a little bit smaller - it is a small space but we do a lot of farming in the backyard and there is a lot of diversity. I use the flowers and the herbs in my bodycare products and I sell the flowers as straight up bunches. Many flowers and herbs that I grow I turn into medicine and the body care products.

What does 'shop local' mean to you?

To me is a powerful statement about voting with your dollars. Being a farmer who has sold flowers and vegetables, when you buy from a farmer you know who is supplying your food and that the dollars are staying in your community. When you support a local business that money is reinvested when they go out and spend money in their community. It’s a power statement when you buy your veggies from a local produce or flower farmer instead of going to Walmart and buying a flower arrangement. It's about knowing you are supporting a real live person and you can meet them - that's really important to me.  

You are a natural teacher - what is different about your classes?

I teach from the perspective of someone who's been in a classroom for the last 15 years of their life teaching all ages. My view on teaching is that people learn by doing and you will not find me talking for more than 5 minutes at a time during a class. When you come to one of my classes there's minimal talking from me but there is a lot of interaction and instruction on a one-to-one basis as I walk around. In my class you will be doing and not just sitting there listening.

What classes do you have coming up?

My next class is Build Your Own Terrarium where we will be making terrariums of all shapes and sizes and we have a bunch of fun plants, ornaments, rocks and crystals in the terrarium. We will be learning about how to make it and how to keep it alive depending on what kind of plants to put in the terrarium. This fall I am going to do the pumpkin floral arrangement class which is great for the upcoming holidays and centerpieces. I also teach painting classes based on my love for water color that I have been doing for my whole life.

What is your favorite goodie at the shop?

It’s a toss up! Flourless chocolate cake, but I also love the coffee cake, but I also love the cheesecake. If I had to choose I would get the cheesecake for two and eat the whole thing with a cup of coffee. Her daughter Abby’s favorite are the following: macarons, the flourless chocolate cake, the cheesecake, the peanut butter cookie, the chocolate chip cookie, the donuts, lemon custard with the strawberries on top (pure summer in your mouth!).

Listen to Joan here

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Fall is around the corner...

 Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Labor day! The day we unofficially welcome fall back in to our lives. Is there anything really better than fall? Sweaters, savory treats, our world changing colors. Here at The Hop, we are transitioning in to our favorite season with a new fancy drink menu.

LUXARDO COFFEE COLA espresso - Luxardo cherry syrup

One shot of espresso with Luxardo Cherry syrup, sparkly* water with a cherry garnish!

STRAWBERRY BASIL LEMONADE fresh strawberry basil puree -  house-made lemonade

Locally grown basil and strawberry puree mixed with our in-house lemonade garnished with fresh basil.

PIÑA COLADA FIZZ pineapple - coconut milk

A roasted fresh pineapple puree + fresh lime zest mixed with fizzy* and coconut milk with of course, a mini parasol.

CUCUMBER FENNEL SPRITZ cucumber - fennel - ginger - apple cider vinegar

Pureed cucumber (from Prairie Erth Farms) fennel ginger and lime zest with sparkly* water nasturtium leaf garnish

ROSEMARY BEET LATTE rosemary syrup - beet powder - Malawi black tea - milk

A tea latte, with beet powder and a rosemary simple syrup - served hot!

 

*House carbonated filtered water. 

 Cucumber Fennel Spritz

Cucumber Fennel Spritz

 Rosemary Beet Latte

Rosemary Beet Latte