dining niblets: so you think you’re special edition

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Dining Niblets column on the ol’ blog.  I’ve been hearing tidbits of news but haven’t had a chance to flip ’em over into the omelette of my made-to-order prose.  That’s all about to change in 3…2…1…

Drumrongthai, a new Thai food cart perched on a triangle of pavement at 6th and Blair, somewhat awkwardly across the street from Chao Pra Ya, is opening today (ETA: or did it? I went by around 2:30, and the place was closed).  There goes the neighborhood!  I drove by yesterday to see operations on the finishing touches, and the cart is adorable, all colorful and whatnot.  You can bet I’ll check it out.  More Asian food in Eugene!!

Speaking of which, I spent most of the week stuffed with Korean pancakes that owner June Jang of Café Ari Rang made especially for me when I told her my husband loved the things.  We had a seafood-green onion pancake, simple fried fish pancakes, and some excellent mung bean-hot green pepper-fiddlehead fern-onion pancakes.  They’re not on the menu, but perhaps, just maybe, quite possibly, we could convince her to put just one — like a kimchi pancake or a green onion pancake — on the menu in the future?  Please?!  She did tell me that there will be some spring specials coming soon.

And also coming soon…a semi-permanent block of food carts at Kesey Plaza.  All you Voodoo Donut lovers rejoice — something to cut the sugar!  Unless things have changed, Field to Table/The Nosh Pit and others will be opening up some more delicious street food options as of May 15.  A small voice whispered “Cuban” to me, but I cannot confirm or deny what kinds of food might be occupying the space.

Benedetti’s Meat Market in Springfield offered an irresistible special on their Facebook page yesterday: a “five dollar footlong” made of trimmings of tenderloin from a special order.  It was the best non-Philly cheese steak I’ve ever had, stuffed with meat, melting provolone, and aïoli slathered on a fresh roll from…um…one of our amazing local bakeries whose name I don’t know.  Also special: Facebook discounts on their grass-fed ground beef.  Yet another reason to keep up with your social networking!

I spent an amusing evening at Pfeiffer Vineyards a couple of weeks ago for a fundraising event for Save Lane Co. Extension.  The wine, available only at the winery, is quite interesting.  I’m not a wine connoisseur by any means, but I do know that small, quirky wineries tend to make wines that develop and mutate in sometimes fantastic ways that make them seem wholly unlike their varietal cousins.  Their viognier is strange and seductive, with a nose of (of all things!) banana.  I couldn’t resist and bought some of their lovely pinot gris (pear all over the place, with melon) on the spot.  The pinot noir is more of an investment, but it’s also very, very good.  Was even more amused to see the Eugene liquorish ‘zine Boozeweek is back, and includes a review of Pfeiffer…was nice to read just a few days after I visited!  Ah, memories.

Let’s wine for just a moment longer.  The 2009 Sweet Cheeks riesling is shaping up quite nicely.  We had some as part of the Spring Winemakers dinner last night at the winery.  I was disappointed not to have the tasting notes supplied by the winemaker himself, but he had arrived back in town from Australia that day and was feeling justifiably exhausted.  I’m a big fan of Sweet Cheeks riesling in general, but this vintage seems especially good.  The dinner, which featured Anderson Ranch lamb, tiny duck confit wonton cups, Rogue Creamery blue cheese mousse-stuffed peppers, and a perfectly prepared havarti-potato gratin, was very well done.  Their chef is great, and I’m so glad she’s offered her services to the winery for these dinners.  I’d been looking forward to the event for weeks, and they didn’t disappoint.

And on the other side of the dining spectrum: french fries at Humble Beagle.  We eat there regularly, but I usually opt for something other than the burger and fries, so I hadn’t tried them.  And lo, i did, and they were good.  Very good.  Thinly cut with a mandoline or similar blade that makes perfect, thin, matchstick-y batons, the fries are topped with just a bit of European-style coarse salt, parsley, and raw garlic.  I think their fryer is a bit too hot, so the fries tend to be a bit browner and not quite mealy inside as I like, but there is a certain pleasure in a slighly underdone fry to remember the potato it once was.  Burger and brew special on Mondays: $9.  Eugenia Bob says check it out.

And a couple of ehs, just for those of you who love to hate my “opinionated” ranting.  Eh: Hop Valley Brewery in Springfield by Gateway mall.  Beer is a bit bland and the space feels very commercial.  I liked it that there was an excellent ratio of burly manly men to, well, me.  (This is a service announcement for single ladies.)

Eh: the service at Perugino.  We really don’t need the attitude, thanks.  Love the music, though.  Probably the best in Eugene.  Right tunes, right volume.

Eh: another vegan, another burger joint.  This time both.  The pictures look fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but I’m so tired of the burger joints, and we’re full up on vegan joints.  So…eh.

Get out there and garden, Eugene!

8 thoughts on “dining niblets: so you think you’re special edition

  1. Ellen Singer 18 April 2010 / 11:10 am

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for turning me on to Cafe AriRang, and to the fact that they will sell their wonderful kimchis, including my favorite, the julienned radish kimchi, by the quart! It complements most of the Asian-style dishes I produce.


  2. brandon 19 April 2010 / 12:39 pm

    wow,,,,for once I really dont what to say. Hop Kiln? where is that located? The only brewey I know of in that area is Hop Valley [Ed: oops! Hop Kiln is a fun winery in Sonoma Cty. Fixed.]


  3. Maria 19 April 2010 / 2:17 pm

    Never thought I’d see the day that anyone complained there were too many vegan joints! Har.


  4. Eugenia 19 April 2010 / 2:31 pm

    Maria — yet another reason to come visit me!


  5. Amy V. 19 April 2010 / 3:16 pm

    So where is Voodoo going in? Pre-existing location or new building? And when? Any details?


  6. Dave 19 April 2010 / 8:40 pm

    Akemi, Kesey Plaza is on the corner of Broadway and Willamette.

    Amy V., rumor has it that Voodoo is going on on E. 13th, near the UO campus. Tentatively, the hours are 10 p.m. to 10 a.m.

    Eugenia, I have to agree with your assessment of Hop Valley Brewery. My wife and I ate their last night. We liked the beer, but the food was just so-so. I had a Garden Burger since they run a $7 burger and brew special on Sunday nights and was disappointed that they charge an extra $1.25 for the veggie option. That’s weak. Even weaker is the fact that they charge $0.50 for mustard. That’s right, $0.50 for mustard. It was stout stone ground, but still, I’ve never been charged for mustard in my life. My wife had the seared ahi sandwich, and it was okay.


  7. debbi 20 April 2010 / 10:03 am

    I missed the dinner at Sweet Cheeks but heard it was fantastic! so happy to see them in your review. I will pass the Hop Valley review on to my single friends!


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