partycart takeover with gabriel gil’s mexican food!

In the many hours I’ve sat at the bar listening to the food talk at Rabbit Bistro (now closed and soon to reopen downtown, we hope), I’ve only longed helplessly for one thing I thought I’d never have: Chef Gabriel Gil’s staff meals.  He often, it was reported, made food influenced by his Mexican grandma and all he soaked up by her side in the kitchen or out in the neighborhoods of Southern California.  So many times, I heard his entranced staff recount, enraptured, the staff meal they had eaten that week…and then they’d fantasize about other things Gabe said he’d make in the future.

Exhibit A:  The Tijuana Hot Dog.  As described in this charming illustration, the midcentury creation known south and north of the border as the Tijuana hot dog is a fiesta in a bun: hot dog wrapped in bacon with pico de gallo, pineapple, avocado, grilled jalapeno, crema.  I can’t remember if Gabe served it to his staff, or if they just WANTED IT.  But I very clearly remember that I wanted it, too.

And here’s my — and your — chance.

Next week, August 14-17, the chef will be taking over PartyCart‘s cart, to give the hardworking Partiers a rare couple of days off.  He’ll be making Tijuana hot dogs and a host of wonderful Mexican specialties that you’ve probably never heard of.  Throw away all your Norte prejudices and Tex-Mex paradigms, and come party with Gabe.  If you love good food and have an open heart, you won’t regret it.

This is the menu, as it stands.  (There might be changes over the weekend as they finish the prep.) He is keeping the PartyCart format of smaller and larger plates.  I don’t have a list of prices, but I’m sure they’ll be reasonable.  Don’t know what something is?  Google it! You’ll be happy you did.

Chef Gabriel Gil’s PartyCart Takeover Menu — August 14-17

-smaller-
*elote mexicano
*soup: summer squash, epazote, green chile
*salad: heirloom tomato, cactus, melon, radish, habanero,
*salad: vanilla octopus, jicama, pineapple, cilantro, cucumber

-bigger-
*Tijuana hot dog
*red chile noki, mushroom, spinach
*tacos de lengua
*pork tenderloin, papas nortenas, manchamantel

And Eugeniuses, if you want something particular that is not on this menu, something that fits your specialized, food-phobic, hyper-nutritious, elimination-insistent, or otherwise selective tastes, please don’t bring your complaints to the cart next week.  Go somewhere else.  There are plenty of places around town that will cater to your whims.  This is our opportunity to enjoy a great chef’s personal pleasures at a venue that works hard to bring new and unusual local food to Eugene.  Understand that this kind of thing doesn’t happen anywhere else.  If you can’t dig it, go away.  I can’t say this more kindly. Live in the moment, just as the Buddha would.  Seize the day like a Roman poet. Just do it, sayeth our Nike overlords.

If it goes well, and I’m SURE it will, perhaps PartyCart will do more takeovers in the future.  And how cool would that be?

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one of the best appetizers i’ve ever had: rabbit bistro

And there may even be a couple left, not sure.  Every Friday, Chef Gabriel Gil posts an appetizer and entree special on the Rabbit Bistro Facebook page.  They’re always fascinating, often mysterious, and sometimes challenging.  Separate the boys from the men, that’s what I say.  If you want to try it, relax your inhibitions a bit (might I suggest a cocktail special first?) and trust him.  I know this is contrary to the Eugene Way and the increasingly loathsome American practice of dietary eliminations and inspecting menus for their clinical traits.  So don’t go if you’re worried your needs won’t be met or you use “protein” to describe what you’re ordering for dinner.

But if you want to delight your tastebuds and widen your horizons…

How about a toothsome, cured and smoked venison carpaccio with the texture and flavor of pastrami sashimi?  It was brilliant, BRILLIANT, served with miner’s lettuce, slices of roasted rutabaga and perfect pickled tart apple, malt mayo (just a skosh too much), and iced milk that kept it cold and melted its milkiness down the mountain of cured protein, er, deer.

The picture, of course, doesn’t do it justice.  I rarely take pictures at Rabbit because the lighting doesn’t encourage it (and I’m the first to acknowledge it’s an awful habit, not to be encouraged at all), but I just had to share this one.  I wanted to lick the plate, pick it up and lick it.

We’re going to have Gabriel on Food for Thought on KLCC next Sunday, April 1, at noon, when I next co-host, so we can talk more about the culinary Renaissance in Eugene and what the Rabbit brings to the scene.  We’ll talk about ketchup, the Rabbit’s move downtown, and all manner of and creative possibilities for the future.  Tune in!  This Sunday (tomorrow), I hear that the delightful folks from Indie Pop will be there.

 

niblets: red carpet edition

 

Congratulations to Chef Brendan Mahaney of Belly for his James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef Northwest!  This award is one of the biggest honors in the culinary industry.  Images above are from my very first meal at Belly, dining al fresco with Retrogrouch in July 2008.  That beet-cabbage-parsley salad with a side of crème fraîche is still one of my favorite salads ever.

But an important omission, Mr. Beard & Associates: Chef Gabriel Gil of Rabbit Bistro, who was invited to the Beard House last year.  Boo.  You know what makes me excited, though?  Both Belly and Rabbit are moving to more spacious kitchens downtown, so the best is yet to come.  Watch out, Eugene.

Let’s not forget to congratulate fellow nominee Chef Matt Bennett of Albany’s Sybaris, here leading a round of applause for his staff at the Albany Carousel Dinner with Chef Brian Polcyn, and former Eugene bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Clyde Common in PDX for Outstanding Bar Program.

On the local front, see Chef Corey Wisun of Falling Sky Brewing in action, making cod over greens with pesto, on a relatively new and respectably produced segment, KVAL’s Tasty Tuesday.  I’m always horrified when I see food coverage on our local stations since it’s clear none of the reporters have ever been to a restaurant.  But Tony Gist seems to be clued in and articulate about food.  I hope they realize it and treat him well.

Marché’s own sous Chef Crystal Platt has been making local headlines among Those In The Know for her chicken croquettes served à la Buffalo, seasoned with hot sauce, Rogue Oregon Blue cheese, and served with a celery salad.  If you haven’t been to the pleasant new bar with the eponymous name, check it out.  Marché is serving breakfast now, too.

And speaking of new interpretations of Buffalo wings:

Yum yum, no?  Hot Mama’s Wings on 13th.  It’s really a cozy little place.  Clockwise from the top:  hot wings that taste a different than the normal Buffalo, glorious bleu cheese bacon, Thai peanut (a little gloopy for me), and sweet-hot raspberry chipotle.  (A p.s. from this perpetually grumpy correspondent to the perpetually grumpy server: a little hospitality makes everyone feel better.)

And last but not least in VIP news, spring is here.  Time to start thinking of tilling and starting seeds!  I suspect it’s going to be another distracted and travel-heavy summer for me, so no expansion planned, but will manage the usual.  If that’s not on your plate, consider a CSA this year.  You can meet potential farms and farmers at this Willamette Farm and Food Coalition event:

13th Annual – That’s My Farmer! Event
TUESDAY, MARCH 13th
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
First United Methodist Church
1376 Olive Street (Eugene)

$5-15 donation goes to subsidize CSA shares for low-income families

Hope to see you there!