niblets: summer days driftin’ away edition

IMG_7539Niblets is an all-too-occasional feature on the ins and outs of the Eugene food scene. Syndicate me?  You know you want to.

Get your last meals in at your faves soon: behold the imminent closure of a long-time Eugene fixture, Keystone Café, who will be shutting the doors for a long-deserved retirement; Kopi-O, on what we hope is a temporary stoppage due to the sale of the building; and the latest venture of Eugene restaurateur Sara Willis, Carmelita Spats, who has “decided to simplify and only do dinners when I can personally work every aspect of the dinner/event,” according to the Facebook page.  She plans to do catering and other events, including a project slated for fall.

Catering seems to be the way to go in this town.  The Party Downtown duo has put their lunch service on hiatus for the summer months due to an upswell of catering gigs.  They still serve brunch on Sundays, though!  Look for more changes and upgrades as the dog days saunter on.  They recently celebrated their first year anniversary, I’m happy to say.  And Belly is 6 years old!  Congratulations to two fine establishments.

Kamitori is agonizingly no longer serving sushi, as previously reported, but the new incarnation, open Tues-Sat until 3 p.m., is actually quite lovely.  And that’s saying a lot from a person who doesn’t like dining out for breakfast.  Eugene so desperately needs a full service, non-greasy-spoon-diner breakfast place, and Kamitori may just be that place.  It’s a rare treat to have an expertly trained, internationally experienced chef serving breakfast and lunch with an eye for quality, and the standards show it.

Our baked goods and pancakes are all hand-made from scratch, made from fresh eggs and fresh milk to make them very soft and milky.  NO water added.  So please stop by and try our new menu including Thick & Fluffy Pancakes and Soft & Juicy French Toast, both are served with lots of fruit toppings to your taste, French-style Omelets, Japanese style Sandwiches, and Japanese breakfast & lunch, including Tonkatsu, Curry Rice, Udon and Soba Noodles.  Also please try our very creamy milk-brewed Cafe au Lait, Tea au Lait, and Matcha au Lait.  We sell some Japanese style Bread, too, such as Shoku-pan (milk bread), Zenryu-pan (whole wheat milk bread), An-pan (sweet red bean filling), Jam-pan (homemade jam filling), and more.

And although I had my doubts at first, having tasted Masa’s zenryu-pan, a milk-based soft wheat bread very popular in Japan for breakfast, and melon-pan, which doesn’t include melons but is a soft cakelike bun with a crunchy slightly sweet topping that resembles the netting on a melon skin, and seeing photos of the thick & fluffy pancakes with a mountain of fruit and whipped cream, I was convinced that he has an idea that will draw not only locals but visitors from afar.  They also serve some Japanese lunch set standards like curry rice and shio-saba yaki (salt-grilled mackerel) and even, if they have it, sashimi teishoku.

So listen up:  this is the perfect place for brunch with a mixed crowd, as most can enjoy a great American breakfast, some can enjoy more adventurous Japanese pastries, and the freaks like me can enjoy a real Japanese breakfast set with green tea, miso soup, rice, egg, and pickles.  Yes, as in a Japanese breakfast that you can only get in a U.S. restaurant in places like San Francisco or New York, and even then only in a couple hotels in Japantown. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Told ya it was going to put us on the map.

Even better: Olivo Tapas, the first solo venture of former Executive Chef of Ox & Fin and Sous Chef of Soubise Alejandro Cruz, will be operating soon out of Kamitori’s space at 1044 Willamette in the evenings.  Click here for updates on opening times and a menu that’s heavy on seafood and light, sophisticated fare.

IMG_7690 IMG_7573 IMG_7834Other up-and-coming dining ventures in town are all excellent food carts:  Tam’s Place Vietnamese in the former Party Cart space at 28th and Friendly, nearby Green Plow Juicery (both pictured above), across the way from a sort-of interior food cart: Red Wagon Creamery’s new ice cream scoopery at the Friendly Street Market. Two particularly good carts that service Oregon Wine Lab on various days of the week for the welcome experience of having a glass of crisp Riesling on the patio with your meal: DaNang Vietnamese Eatery and Twisted Tako, a fusion taco cart.  I’ve yet to try Whapping, a Costa Rican Afro-Carribean-focused cart that looks promising.  Check their pages for locations and times.  Also look for Taco Next, a new venture with an excellent cook, on Main Street in Springfield soon (see details above on card!).

Join Facebook and friend me there for updates about many more local events than I can post here on the blog.

carts and a cold one TONIGHT!

The third annual Carts and A Cold One Cook-off at Ninkasi Brewery will be held tonight!  The festival is a benefit for Slow Food Eugene‘s programs: School Gardens Project, Farm to School, and Terra Madre Program.  Carts battling for supremacy: Vanilla Jill’s Frozen Yogurt, The Sandwich League, PartyCart, Rolling Stone Pizza, and Sammitch.  Way cooler than Faerieworlds, in my opinion, but I’ve never really been one for elven ears or excess vowels.  If you want a taste of what you’ll see, watch Whiteaker tastemaker Elliot Martinez on a short film from last year’s CACO.

Also: listen in on Food for Thought on KLCC today at noon with Laura and Ryan, who will host Farmer John Karlik of Sweetwater Farm.  They’ll discuss the local food movement, a new farmer’s market in the Fairmount neighborhood, and Sweetwater’s efforts to bring fresh produce to a low-income neighborhood in Springfield with LCHAY, WFFC, and Dari-Mart.

And a note to project managers: if you want me to promote your food-related festival in Lane County or thereabouts, send me a very short blurb (paragraph-length) and .jpg image like the one above at least a week in advance to my Facebook page or email at wellsuited [at] gmail [dot] com.  The easier it is for me to post, the more of a chance I’ll be able to do it.

more food events, now with beer

I’ll be the first to admit that travel is not friendly to blog posting, especially with so many Eugene food events that occur in July.  So don’t miss these Oregon Craft Beer Month-related events.  God, we’re so lucky.

1) Cheese Wars II, July 19, 5:30 or 8 p.m., Supreme Bean, $20.

The Supreme Bean (29th & Willamette) will host 16 Tons and Oakshire Brewing for CHEESE WARS II. Cheese Wars is a food-pairing showdown between two ancient beverages. We will feature 5 courses of cheese carefully selected by Oakshire’s cheese enthusiast extraordinaire Eriel Hoffmeier. Each cheese course will be paired with a beer and a wine. Brewmaster Matt Van Wyk will choose and present the beers; Isaac Silva of Estelle and OBM will choose and present the wines. Which pairings work best — only you can decide. Cheese Wars is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the processes of making beer, wine, and cheese. Tickets are limited. Purchase tickets at 16 Tons or online at BrownPaperTickets.com.

Should be fab.  Read more here!

2)  Carts and A Cold One, July 31, 5-8 p.m., Ninkasi Brewery, $15 advance/18 at door.

Slow Food Eugene and Ninkasi Brewery present “Carts and A Cool One.”  This is a cook-off between cart vendors from all over the area, with pairings of beer for each sample. Visitors vote for their favorite cart. Proceeds of the event go towards the School Garden Project, the Farm to Table Program, and sending local delegates to Terra Madre.  TICKETS:  $15 packet–in advance from Brown Paper Tickets.  $18 packet at the door.  $4 for individual tastes (only available at the door).

Support your local food carts, The Nosh Pit, Devour, Red Wagon Creamery, Rolling Stone Pizza Company, Betty Rocker’s Street Kitchen, and PartyCart, with carrot hot dog above.  Read more here!