niblets: your dad is celebrating no more tuition bills edition

A triple threat celebration this weekend: Father’s Day, UO graduation, and Bloomsday.  I might be the only one celebrating the latter, but celebrate it I shall.  So what’s new and notable in Eugene?

  • Well, first of all, we’ve got a fabulous Father’s Day Food for Thought on KLCC show coming at you tomorrow (Sun., June 17) at noon.  Boris Wiedenfeld and I are hosting with special guest Sheree Walters of Cornbread Café fame. We’ll be discussing alternative ways to enjoy the thrill of the grill, including tips for vegan and other non-steak specialties offered by local celebrity chefs, too.  Please join in the discussion and share your own grilling escapades this weekend at Food for Thought on KLCC.
  • Not one but TWO dumpling carts have sprung up like mushrooms on the wild streets of downtown near Broadway and Willamette. Open late for the drinking crowd, both, alas, are fusion.  Hott Buns Baozi [sic] offers cheeseburger and “breakfast burrito” flavors, and Dump City Dumplings (an even more unfortunate name) offers flavors including meat balls marinara and pad thai. But that’s ok, we’ll take what we can get for now and hope they have good traditional offerings, too.  Let ’em know we’re down for that if you stop by!  I sure will.
  • Sweet Cheeks Winery will be featuring Dump City as one of several vendors on their Food Cart Fridays this summer.  Check out the whole lineup on their website.
  • Red Agave has an important announcement: red and white sangrias are available with their outdoor seating.  Have a grilled shrimp skewer special and a few on this lovely weekend.
  • Or if you’re looking for a pick-me-up, sample J-Tea’s shaken, frothy Lemon Emerald Iced Tea, served on their patio.
  • Vero Espresso House will soon be serving wine and beer with small plates, too.  Join them for later evening hours and live music, starting in July.
  • Rye has a new menu, and that’s a good thing.  I want them to do well, and the food needs some fine-tuning to match the quality of the cocktails, especially the small plates.  You can’t go wrong with a Vancouver cocktail, by the way.  It’s like a gin Manhattan.
  • Word on the street is that Rennie’s Landing has the best Bloody Mary in town.  Not that you’d need one with family visiting. Just sayin’.

  • I am in need of a tall, cool one after helping out with demos at the Master Food Preserver jam and jelly class.  We made a dozen or so jelled delights using all manner of sweeteners and pectins to demonstrate the range of possibilities. And STRAWBERRY PIE, pictured above. Hope that convinces you to join us for the next classes in the series, check out the website for Basic Waterbath Canning in July and Pickling in August, plus tuna canning classes and more.
  • Jeff Eaton writes that the Garden of Eaton has started their end-of-planting-season sale:

Just thought I’d let you know that I’m putting all tomato, pepper, eggplant and tomatillo plants in 3-1/2″ pots on sale starting Saturday for just $1 per plant. This is a great opportunity to get you garden planted, if you have not already done so, or to try out some new varieties for a very affordable price.

I also have several hundred tomatoes that were potted up int  5-1/2″ pots a few weeks ago. These look great, and their more developed roots will give you headstart toward your first harvest. These plants are $4.00 each.  There are also discounts for larger purchases. Buy a full flat (18 plants) of 3-1/2″ plants for $15 or, if you buy five or more flats, you price will be $12 per flat. Flats of 8 5-1/2″ plants are $30, and five or more flats are $25 per flat.

I’m at 2650 Summer Lane (River Road north to Hunsaker; right to Summer; right again). Hours are noon to 6 PM every day. I’ll be wrapping up for the season in a couple of weeks, so don’t wait too long!

  • Gardeners may be watching their lackluster hot weather crops in dismay.  I know I am. Ross Penhallegon of OSU Extension says everything is slow and beans may need to be replanted.  Give it another go with bean starts at Eugene Backyard Farmer (5th and Washington), who announce:

We have magic beans available. Well, maybe not magic but they sure are growing fast and need to get into some gardens. Scarlet Runners for 2.49 and organic French Filet for 3.49. It is not to late to get most plants into the ground and we still have a good selection of peppers and tomatoes as well.

  • If you waited too long for Heidi Tunnell’s famous summer barn dinners on their property in Creswell like I did, though, you’re out of luck.  Completely sold out!

  • Luckily, I did have a chance to try the Mofongo special at Taco Belly (5th and High). It was a specialty from Puerto Rico and other Dominican locales. Pork belly mashed with ripe plantain to form a dumpling that was deep fried and sauced with a smoked tomato and chile puree, then topped with avocado and onion.  Fantastic.
  • Consider pickling your green strawberries.  I like the grassy flavor with a hint of strawberry aroma.  If we get several sunny days and the rain holds off, we may get some sweetness in the red ones…come on, sun!
  • Kandarian Wine Cellars and William Rose Wines, two boutique outfits operated with love by the winemakers at King Estate and Sweet Cheeks Winery, respectively, have some unbelievably good wines at terrific prices this spring.  You’ll see them at restaurants and specialty wine markets all over town, and you must try them if you see them.
  • Sweet Cheeks’ winemaker Mark Nicholl’s William Rose Wines are bold and buxom with Syrah as their foundation, including a dry, enchanting Merlot and Syrah rosé called Prohibition Rose, unlike anything else made in Oregon.  Both the reds, a Demon Bird blend and higher-end, smoother Syrah could snooze for a few more years in your cellar, or decant and drink now on a wild, dark night.  We love ’em, Mark.

  • Jeff Kandarian’s lineup for his little personal corner of King Estate, where he oversees the massive production of the wines we know and love, is equally thrilling.  His 2010 sauvignon blancs are particularly good.  Made in the New Zealand style, with that almost phosphorescent green tinge and playful tropical fruit flavors zingy with acid, you’ll be able to find the Blue Eye in restaurants around town.  It received a 90 from Wine Spectator, so it can’t be bad, right?  Alas, there are only just a few cases of the deeper and richer (!) Croft Vineyards organic Sauv Blanc, and the world suffers.  RUN down to Provisions to grab a bottle of the two cases Ryan begged off Jeff.  The 2009 Anomaly Zinfandel, which is an anomaly because it’s being bottled in Oregon and it is bright with the freshest red & black berries off the vine, both of and unlike the darker Zinfandels of central California, is also fantastic.  And the full-bodied, smoked-meaty Pepper Mélange Syrah was one of the favorites of the tasting group I was hanging with, so be sure to get that if you can.  You can contact Jeff through his under-construction website, which he confesses he’s too busy to update.  I guess we can understand.  Just keep making wine, Jeff.
  • Save the date(s?) for Bite of Eugene 2012, the best little riverside summer festival in Eugene.  I’ll be emceeing the Iron Chef Eugene contest again.  The only problem is that my sources have provided conflicting information about whether it will be held on July 20 or July 21.  Give us the scoop, folks!  We’re waiting eagerly!
  • We’re also awaiting more information on the annual Carts-and-a-Cold-One and the One Field Meal fundraisers for Slow Food Eugene.  Open! Open!

And good god, there’s much more, but this post is reaching epic lengths.  A couple of years ago, I resisted a kind request to write an article about a Eugene Food Renaissance, because I was convinced we weren’t there yet and it would make us look ridiculous to assert we were.  Well, we’re there now.  It’s going to be a great summer.

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