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Eugene Weekly : Food : 8.13.2009

 

Taking a Taste of Town

Try a few new things at the Bite of Eugene

by Molly Templeton

Are you a noncomittal diner? Don’t want to brave a new restaurant without knowing just what you’re getting into? If so, you might want to find your way to Alton Baker Park this Saturday, Aug. 15, for the first Bite of Eugene, a one-day event at which you can inexpensively try out what some of Eugene’s restaurants have to offer. Marché Provisions, Ninkasi, The Rabbit, King Estate and Eugene City Bakery are just a few of the restaurants, wineries, brewers and other purveyors of food and drink that will have small plates from $1-$6 available for your taste-testing needs.

If there’s a funny thing about the Bite of Eugene, it’s that it seems like it’s taken us a while to get an event like it. Portland hosts the Bite of Oregon each year. Downtown had a Bite just last week. What took greater Eugene so long? “We’ve been asking ourselves the same question,” says organizer and Eugene Magazine publisher Steve Olivier. “Why no outdoor party for the masses for free?” Olivier, who previously produced the Bite of Bend, says that the inexpensive Bites have always been a great family-friendly event, so to bring one to Eugene, he bought the domain name (biteofeugene.com) and “just got to work.” 

Part of that work was ensuring that the Bite has a focus on sustainability; to that end, those now-ubiquitous corn cups will be used for beverages, and Waste Free Oregon, which works to keep the highest possible percentage of waste materials from an event out of landfills, will handle recycling. The event is also a fundraiser; part of the proceeds will benefit FOOD for Lane County and the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition.

Beyond the immediate appeal of trial-size edibles, the Bite of Eugene has plenty to keep you busy while your mouth is full: an Iron Chef competition; cooking classes led by Adam Bernstein (Adam’s Sustainable Table/Café Maroc), Ibrahim Hamide (Café Soriah/Café Zenon) and Shane Tracey (Nib); a kids’ area; and music from local groups including Reeble Jar (appearing with Apocalyptica Fire Factory and live painting by Marlis) and tango harpist Noah Brenner. Olivier’s neighbor, a tango dancer, tells him “hundreds” of tango dancers will show up for Brenner’s performance. If you’re nearly in a food coma by that point, you can always join them.

Bite of Eugene. 11 am-10 pm Saturday, Aug. 15. Alton Baker Park • Free. www.biteofeugene.com