I wake up and do some reading. Decide that I must finish grading the rest of my literature papers, having had no opportunity to do so in the previous two fully booked weekends. The natives are getting restless. So am I. But the distractions at home may overwhelm me today, so I decide to work either at a café downtown or over lunch.
After the gym.
After the gym, I pack up my papers and spy Field to Table’s Nosh Pit cart at Olive & 8th (in the M. Jacobs Plaza parking lot). It is on the late side for lunch, and I did, after all, have the working lunch plan…
…but oh well. The very delightful owner, Corey, scrounges up the remaining pork belly shu mai dumplings for me, and a cup of wakame and shiitake miso soup. Let me just say this: I’m still dreaming of the pork belly dumplings. They were that good. Wonderfully fat little purses stuffed with braised belly, pan-fried on the grill. YES. New tastes in Eugene. (For daily menu updates, check out The Nosh Pit on Facebook. The Menu for today, February 11th: Wonton Soup. Minced Lamb Flatbread – apple quince chutney, spicy pickled carrot. Hainanese Chicken Rice – Singapore’s national dish, served with chili sauce.)
I eat, Corey and I talk. This is not the paper-grading plan I’d envisioned, but I’m happy to chat about developments in the Eugene dining scene, and am thrilled to eat two well-prepared Asian dishes with an earnest, pleasant young chef while doing so.
I decide to repair to Holy Donuts on Willamette and 15th to tackle the grading. Plus, I have to talk to owner Karen about her upcoming donuts-for-donations Haiti fundraiser on Tuesday, because she’s making PACZKI and you know how I feel about that.
Karen’s not there, but sister Kelly is irresistible, and I chat with her for a bit about donuts and life while I coffee-and-donut myself with the weekly special, the Banana Fana. With a vegan “cream” filling, the banana cream is surprisingly light and tasty, and I am unreasonably pleased by the dried banana chip glued to the top of the donut with a mound of chocolate frosting.
I comment on the first page of one paper.
The waffle brothers from Off the Waffle come in. It’s the first time I’ve seen them in a while, so I catch up on a trip one of the owners recently took and the workings of the new restaurant. I love those guys.
I comment on the first paragraph of the second page.
J.P. of Eugene’s newest panini & soup delivery service Devour arrives, delivering sandwiches in his stylin’ VW bus. I haven’t met him, so we chat and he tells me about his new route. As soon as I have a minute, yes, as soon as I finish these papers, I will head over to Oakshire for one of his sausage evenings. Oh yes I will yes.
Karen comes in and we have a nice, long chat about her donut inspirations and the charitable giving she does through the donut shop. I am suitably impressed, so impressed I forget I have not fed the meter in a few hours, and, sure enough, get a ticket for my intellectual curiosity. Wounded,
I escape to a nearby bar to drink away my sorrows. OK, not really, but I do decide to stop in at The Rabbit to have a grapefruit consommé cocktail. It’s happy hour, after all, and I love their cocktails. I tell bartender Rico that I’m trying to hide from the world to do my grading, and bunker down in a corner at the bar. I ignore friendly man trying to talk to me about my “thesis” and a parade of interesting people coming in and talking shop with the Rico and owner. I am seduced by a discussion and taste test of a new (slightly disappointing) Fee Brothers bitters flavor, Aztec Chocolate, and french fries. It’s happy hour, after all. And The Rabbit’s french fries are the best — and only 2 bucks at happy hour. Who am I to pass up a deal like that?
I grade three papers. It’s 6:00. Since I’ve promised my husband I’ll actually make him dinner, I hop off to Market of Choice (what a deadly combination — good bar and grocery store next to one another) for some mussels that turn out to be just this side of rotten. But that’s OK, because I see that
Market of Choice is now carrying chocolate and vanilla It’s Its, the San Francisco treat. If you’ve never had this deluxe chocolate-dipped, ice-cream-filled, oatmeal cookie sandwich, you’re missing out.
Where was I? Oh right. Lots of work to do. A corporate assessment team would declare my inefficiency, my mobility, my distractions a disaster. Big City Dwellers would not envy the inability to remain anonymous in public places, to actually do work, unmolested by one’s community. But I feel richer for the day I had. Moments like these make me very happy I live in Eugene.
I’ll try again tomorrow. I have to, because this weekend I’ll be volunteering at the first of several low-cost, amazing bread baking classes for the community through OSU Extension. If you haven’t signed up yet, do so right away! At $30-35 for a full day of instruction plus a meal and samples, you won’t be able to find this kind of deal anywhere else! (Edited to add: this weekend’s class was canceled. :( Just I have more time to grade!)
My friends have been begging me to visit Eugene, which I have not done since 1995. After reading this post I am booking a flight STAT!!
I have to add, that the same sense of community can be found in NYC if you are open to it. Since I am a hick and could not live and breathe if I had to avert my eyes every time someone approaches me, I find that New Yorkers are friendly and talkative. Maybe not around Times Square at lunch time, but in the residential neighborhoods it’s delightful.
Good point, Judith. Some neighborhood enclaves could be like a small town. Enjoy your visit to Eugene!
Interesting post, having a bit of an issue accessing the RSS feed. I would quite like to subscribe to your blog. Will try again tomorrow. Thanks again, Lynn Rigoni