I’m back from the Bite of Eugene with photos and tasting notes to share!
Bite is an annual foodie fest that brings local restaurants and eaters together for a day of small plates, live demonstrations, and unique edible wares. This was my third year attending the Bite, and each time it’s fun to see who’s cooking as the event evolves. There were about 20 food vendors serving bites this time around, which seemed a bit on the light side for a festival like this, but it has so much potential and I really hope to see it grow in the future with more restaurants, food carts, and small-time manufacturers participating. That said, I had some pretty awesome food…
My favorite bite of the day came from Party Downtown. Their grilled fig with crème fraîche and mint was gorgeous in its simplicity. The caramelized sweetness from grilling the fig paired with the creamy sourness of the crème fraîche and the bright aromatic mint created a delicious harmony. The fig was so tender and juicy that it almost had the sensation of melting in my mouth.
I also tried their chicken rillette with housemade wheat thins. Mark made the rillette by simmering shredded chicken in lots and lots of truffle butter, resulting in a crazy moist dish that was like a fancy chicken salad. They served a blueberry pie too, which was a real stunner…
It was really hot out there and I was parched! A thirst quenching treat that I look forward to sipping each Bite is the “frosty frothy iced teas” from J-Tea International. Josh travels to small family tea farms in Taiwan and China in search of special, high quality oolongs, puer, black, and green teas for his beautiful tea house in Eugene.
A few years ago, he started doing a shaken iced tea preparation that helps the tea flavor blossom by introducing air bubbles to the infusion. He also adds a touch of simple syrup or fruit for a subtle sweetness. I loved the Charcoal Dawn, which had lightly smoky notes and a rich creaminess.
Next up was a bite from the food cart Delacata. Their southern fried menu always catches my appetite. Being from the South, I couldn’t resist the Dungeness Crab Hushpuppy. My nugget had a crispy crunch on the outside, a piping hot and delicate crumb, with some nice succulent lumps of crab in the middle. The spicy remoulade was terrific, if not a little overpowering for the fragile sweetness of the crab meat. Very tasty overall! I also heard a rumor that Delacata is opening a brewery downtown sometime soon with a menu featuring their signature southern cuisine. Exciting!
This year the Bite offered some great seminars and cooking demos including one about cooking duck. Iron Chef Oregon Jeff Strom of Koho Bistro taught the audience how to butcher a duck and then demonstrated the art of confit. I left feeling quite inspired to try it out, since duck confit makes my taste buds grow wings and fly to flavor paradise.
Two of my favorite confectionary shops were there too slinging some special sweets. Red Wagon Creamery makes super dense, rich ice cream with the highest butterfat content possible and fresh seasonal ingredients. (You might find a pint of Blackcap Raspberry Cheesecake in my fridge right now.) Stuart told me that he and Emily hope to have homemade drumsticks and ice cream sandwiches available in the shop by this winter! Droooool.
The other sweet yum yums that I love were being offered by Off the Waffle. I have been smitten with their Liège waffles for years now. Made from a yeast-based dough sparkling with imported Belgian pearled sugar, the entire pastry caramelizes to create an almost sticky, but crisp shell with perfectly fluffy goodness inside.
Before I left, I picked up a jar of this exquisite rose petal jam from PremRose Edibles. Linda offers several varieties including a chocolate chipotle rose sauce that was really incredible, but I splurged for the fresh rose jam made from her own organic homegrown flowers. It’s fantastically dreamy stuff and I can’t wait to play with it in recipes!
Another year at Bite has come and gone! If you didn’t make it out this year, mark your calendar for next summer to experience some truly unique flavors of the Eugene food scene.