native foods meet contemporary plates, dinner on sunday

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I had a chance to chat about the menu of the upcoming Oregon Native Foods Collaboration Dinner with one of our best Eugene chefs, Tiffany Norton of Party Downtown, over a glass of nettle champagne made by a local wildcrafter.  Tiffany and the team at PDT are collaborating with Chef Crystal Platt, formerly of Marché and now at large, to create new cuisine inspired by native ingredients and techniques.  The menu’s still in development, but think pemmican, acorn flour, huckleberries…Tiffany was even spotted in the wilds digging camas bulbs!

Of all the wonderful dinners I’ve shared with both of these ladies, I can tell you this one is not to be missed.  They both really understand flavor layering, and their experiments make you think and rethink old techniques and ingredients.  The meal will be a big one, 9 courses + 9 pairings of wines and cocktails by Kirsten Hansen of Rt. 5.  $100/ person. Sunday, May 17th @ 6pm. Reservation only; please call ASAP. Call 541-345-8228 or email downtown@partyeugene.com.

our own little taste of bavaria at reality kitchen

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Have you been to Reality Kitchen (645 River Road in the former Wild Plum Pies space) yet?  Chef Jim Evangelista’s brainchild, the café provides training and experience for developmentally disabled adults, who help the bakers create some unusual breads, fantastic pastries, and even chocolates.  The cases groan with a range of sweet and savory well-crafted croissants every morning, and whatever strikes the team’s fancy, like marionberry bread pudding, carrot cake, and cherry turnovers.  You can also order up breakfasts and lunches of sandwiches and soups…all at budget prices for the quality.

But the real standout is a special order item — huge, soft, Bavarian-style pretzels.  They’re just as good as anything I had in Germany, and I ate *a lot* of pretzels in Germany.

Since they don’t keep well, you need to order ahead of time, so give them a call at (541) 337-1323 and order at least 3. You won’t regret it.  $3 a pretzel.

food symposium and a few spots left in my writing workshop on saturday!

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The fourth annual CSWS Northwest Women Writers Symposium will be held May 7-9, 2015, and if you’re interested in food (which I assume you are, given your choice of reading material) and free talks, you’ll be happy to know we’re welcoming back to Eugene the enchanting keynote author, Diana Abu-Jaber.  She’ll be presenting and empanelled with urban farmer extraordinaire Novella Carpenter and Sista Vegan Project’s founder Dr. Breeze Harper.  My students and I have just finished reading Carpenter’s Farm City in my New Farmer’s Movement class (COLT 305), so I’m excited to chat with her at a public conversation on May 8 at 1 p.m. and see slides of the farm and all her work.  For more details about the many events of the Symposium, click the link above.

I’d also like to encourage you to snap up the last few slots for the free, open to all, writing workshops being offered through the Symposium.  Two are still open, including mine, and both seek to diversify food writing by using very different approaches. I’d love to have you join us, especially if your own perspective is lacking in today’s food media.  Descriptions below.  Workshops take place on May 9, from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. at the downtown Eugene Public Library at 10th and Olive (100 W. 10th St.). To reserve a slot, call the Eugene Public Library ASAP at 541-682-5450 (Press 2).

1)  “Food beyond Foodie: Strengthening and Diversifying Food Writing for Publishing,” taught by Prof. Jennifer Burns Bright, columnist at Eugene Magazine and sole proprietor of the award-winning blog, Culinaria Eugenius. She moonlights as a travel and food writer while teaching literature and food studies at the University of Oregon, writing about anything from Dutch pickles for NPR to Russian dumplings for AAA’s Via magazine.

Workshop Description: Blogs and magazine writing tend to present food as conservative, traditional, and overly sweet. We will explore techniques to make your own individuality heard in its grumpy, queer, unsavory, messy, aged, or just plain weird glory. We’ll seek to strengthen your critical voice, define your own taste, and attract audiences with more diverse lives or particular interests, all the while taking inspiration from unconventional food writers who broke the mold. Please bring a piece you’re working on or ideas for a story.

2) “Narrating Racial [In]Justice Through Critical Food Writing,” taught by Dr. Breeze Harper. Breeze Harper edited the anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society and is the author of the social justice novel Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (2014). Her blog is The Sistah Vegan Project. Workshop Description: In this workshop, participants will use food writing to explore their own personal experiences with racial injustice as well as anti-racism activism. The workshop is an outlet for those who love critical food writing/reading and have experienced the frustration and pain of being survivors of racism and/or are anti-racist activists.

Image is a mural outside the Port Orford Co-op.  A supermarket in Oregon.  I love this artist’s unique imagination.  I smile every single time I see it.  Leeks in the waves!  Watermelons washing ashore!  What peaches and what penumbras!