best of eugene 2012

It’s that time again, when the good businesses and creative outlets of our little town beg their friends, fans, and associates to vote for them in the annual Eugene Weekly readers poll, The Best of Eugene.  This blog has been voted “Best Blog” for two years running, and I’d love to make it a triple crown, if you are willing to vote for Culinaria Eugenius again.

This year, the category is a bit confusing: “Best self-published literary item (blog, zine, etc.).” Vote here: www.bestofeugene.com.  We’d also very much appreciate a shout-out for Food for Thought on KLCC, our radio show and labor of love.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many categories you need to vote in to make it a valid ballot, but you do have to register with an email address (that won’t be used for anything else by EW).  They have had problems in the past with ballot-stuffing.

A final caveat:  Unfortunately, EW has decided to apply headache-inducing animated sparkles to its online logo for Best of Eugene this year.  When I mentioned it might be causing damage to their readers, their response was a shouty and puerile “EW LOVES SPARKLES!” Have a little respect for your elders, Powerpuff Girls.  If you have epilepsy, I’d suggest the paper poll instead.

And thanks so much for reading.  It’s always a pleasure to bring you my honest and forthright thoughts on the local food scene — warts and all — and to share my recipes and adventures far afield.  Like those with “Velveeta” (2003) by Linda Dolack, Museum of Fine Arts, above.

noodle n thai: a springfield surprise

If you’re working as hard as me, trying to get summer (spring?) projects finished before school starts at the end of the month, you will surely need a new Thai restaurant to help.  Check out my latest restaurant review for Noodle N Thai in Springfield.  It appeared this week in Eugene Weekly‘s Chow! quarterly dining guide.  I think the Register-Guard really dropped the ball on this one, as the quasi-review in the strange Q&A format restaurant column last month didn’t pick up on the fact that they make their own noodles and curry pastes.  This is Crucial Information, fellow foodies, Crucial.  (And I would encourage all restaurant reviewers to eat more than one dish one time at a restaurant before writing a review…these shouldn’t be marketing pieces but an assessment of the food!) Pictured above, Thai “spaghetti” red curry, made with said homemade curry paste and rice noodles.

By the way, the restaurant is down the street from Momma’s Kitchen, a great place for fried chicken.  The reviews have been mixed, but my admittedly and unabashedly northern taste buds quite enjoyed it, especially the collards and fried okra.

a cocktail for the last day of classes?

Don’t start too early.  But when you do, may I suggest a consommé cocktail at the Rabbit?  Read more about them in my latest article in the Eugene Weekly.  The photos of the pale, shimmery drinks were handled by EW photographers — didn’t they do a beautiful job with this Blue Moon, a cousin to the Aviation?

new ew article: café ari rang review

I’ve made it no secret that I’m quite fond of Café Ari Rang, a homestyle Korean restaurant situated between campus and the Ferry Street bridge.  Take a look at my latest article in this week’s Eugene Weekly to see why!  Since I’ve written the article, I’ve been back a few times, and owner June Jang has let me sample snippets of items in development in her kitchen.  Delicious.  Let her know if you think Eugene needs more authentic Korean specialities!

pnw cookbook reviews 2009

I had the great pleasure of reviewing new Pacific Northwest cookbooks for the Eugene Weekly‘s annual Procrastinators’ Gift Guide, out on the stands today.  Check out the latest in home cookin’ ’round these here parts:

  • The Paley’s Place Cookbook by Vitaly and Kimberly Paley;
  • Artisan Cheese of the Pacific Northwest by Tami Parr;
  • The Grand Central Baking Book by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson;
  • Rustic Fruit Desserts by Corey Schreiber and Julie Richardson; and
  • The Adaptable Feast: Satisfying Meals for the Vegetarians, Vegans, and Omnivores at Your Table and The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally by Ivy Manning.

Vitaly Paley commented that he found Oregon similar to France, respecting and sustaining local products and traditional methods.  I couldn’t agree more, especially after reading these beautiful books.  I’ll admit that I’m a cookbook junkie, and will read them cover to cover like novels.  In fact, I probably read cookbooks more than any other book.  But it’s been many years since I’ve seriously considered American cookery.  I’m drawn more to ethnic cookbooks, just because I need more help with the ingredients and methods.  These cookbooks made me change my mind.  Ouch, I was seriously bitten by the cookbook bug.  I’d love to do more reviewing in the future — publishers, authors, readers, got anything in mind that MUST be reviewed for 2010?  I can’t make any promises, of course, but I’m interested in hearing from you.

Check out Tami Parr’s cheese blog or Ivy Manning’s cooking blog if you like the style and theme of their books.  I’m new to Ivy’s blog, but have been reading Tami’s for quite some time for PNW cheese events and reviews. Right now, she’s featuring a compelling selection of cheeses for holiday giving.

I’m sad that my copies of the fabulous The Joy of Pickling (rev. ed.) and The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Preserves arrived too late to be included in the EW review, but I plan to make amends.  :)  In the meantime, check out author Linda Ziedrich’s preservation blog and browse these lovely cookbooks at your nearest bookstore.  They’re a wonderful addition to the Ball Blue Book preservation repertoire, which is great but rather old-fashioned.  Ziedrich stresses food safety (with some exceptions) much more than the French preservation cookbooks with unusual recipes, and she also includes many international recipes from the Middle East and Asia, so you’ll find many unique recipes.  And her PNW cred is impeccable — it was so nice to see a recipe for home-grown medlar jam, for example, and a meditation on particular fruit varieties that are cultivated in Oregon.

Technically, The Paley’s Place Cookbook came out in late 2008, and The Farm to Table Cookbook came out a bit earlier, but who’s counting?  Each of these cookbooks had its inspirations, and testing recipes even provided me with a chance to play with my new KitchenAid mixer.

Speaking of which, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got my own procrastinating to address…cookies, cards and presents, oh my!

new column in ew: squash whip queen of hungary!

I’m failing as a blogger this week: just too busy.  But I have good reason.  Today, I’m teaching 50 students (including some of my own from the Clark Honors College at U of Oregon, yay!) how to make “gifts in a jar” for the Master Food Preservers.  Two full classes, yikes.  I’ve started the dried vegetable chowder, washed over 100 jars and lids for various activities, prepped the dried tomatoes for sun-dried tomato oil, picked and washed herbs, withdrawn from my berry account in the special depository in my friend’s freezer, and even dried my own cotton-pickin’ raisins for the Swiss trail mix.  All this is in the last quarter of the term, so it’s been a bit hard and the days have been loooooooooooooooong.

I still owe y’all a report of the delicious treats we enjoyed at the NW Food and Wine Festival in Portland last weekend, and another post on what we’ve been doing during our first week in the Dark Days winter local food blogging challenge.  Soon, I promise.  Stuff just keeps on, well, happening, know what I mean?

So in lieu of a real post, check out my latest food column in the Eugene Weekly, which hit the stands this morning.  It’s all about a most regal Thanksgiving side dish — Squash Whip Queen of Hungary.  For the column, I managed to get the photo of Anthony Boutard cutting squash this weekend on my mad dash to the Hillsdale Farmers Market.  He was discussing the differences between the Sibley (not pictured), the squash I used for the purée (marina di Chioggia) and the musque de Provence in the back.  Num num.  The fruits of his labor are really something to see…and taste.

The picture at the top of this post is also from the Hillsdale Farmers Market.  I didn’t write down the name of the farm selling these lovely romanesco and kale, but their produce arranger has a keen eye for green.

Ok, off to do the thousands of things that still need to be done.  Wish me luck!

second-best blog!

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Thank you to everyone who voted for me for the Eugene Weekly’s Best Blog award.  I came in second!  The EW! Blog came in first and a ‘zine with which I was unfamiliar, Urinal Gum, came in third.  I like the idea of being between EW! and a urinal.  That might make me the urinal cake.

I also wanted to put the shout out (again) to Best Restaurant, Belly, and Best New Restaurant, Off the Waffle.  I did the write-ups for these guys, and I’m so pleased that they won, because I really do feel that they represent the best our little town has to offer in yumyums.

One more delight I feel I should share is in the Best of the Ballots category:

BEST WAY TO IMPROVE EUGENE

Fix the fucking bike lanes before somebody gets killed. Also, a Lebanese deli would be rather sweet.

Now, there’s a man/woman after my own heart.  My husband bikes to school, and I worry about him more, now that the rain is here and leaves are piling up in the bike lanes.  By the way, I’ve been hearing good things about the falafel at Mommy’s Pastrami and Falafel.  Not a Lebanese deli, but it might take the edge off.