Legend has it that when a team of British archaeologists outfitted themselves to excavate the tomb of King Tutankhamen, their journey began with an errand to London’s famed Fortnum & Mason, purveyors of biscuits and tinned meats to the Queen since 1707.
In fact, the spoils of the archaeologists’ successful journey to the North African desert were then packed in the now-empty picnic tins and wooden crates they schlepped to Egypt: untold treasures, millennia-old, brought back to the waiting Empire in crocks labeled “Potted Stilton” and “Waxed Cheddar Truckle.” (Because, if we’re going to the colonies, we bloody well better have our cheeses.)
If you’ve sidled by the University of Oregon campus just west of the Pioneer Cemetery recently, you’ve undoubtedly seen a huge construction project underway. The building, Berwick Hall, will serve as new digs for the Oregon Bach Festival (OBF), and the stalwart group’s leaders couldn’t be more pleased.
Before binge-watching, there was binge-listening, and NPR’s This American Life damn near invented the practice. To some, the hugely popular show might seem ponderous and overly introspective (and to many others, these traits may even be considered faults).
Nevertheless, the program, hosted by Ira Glass, has been exploring different facets of the American psyche since 1995, with subject matters ranging from Hurricane Katrina to an episode called “Kid Logic” entirely devoted to the reasoning abilities of children.
Maybe you’re the person in your complex or neighborhood to break out the string lights and don your festive turtleneck sweaters the day after Halloween.
Or perhaps you say “humbug” to the perpetuation of culturally exploitive and corrupt capitalism whilst you cozy up with some anarchist zines and a box of Franzia Blush (or kombucha).
From cuddly kittens to fat joints, there are plenty of wintery activities to help ease the impending gloom of winter. Here are the 12 Days of Euge-mas that you — yes, even you, little nihilist Grinch — can get down with.
I can’t think Christmas without a deep chill running up my spine. I smell burning and I forget for a second where I’m standing.
Something bad, way back, deep. But swell things, too.
For Christma-phobes, stepping foot inside the year-round Christmas Treasures gift shop on the winding McKenzie River Highway is liable to send mean pulses of nostalgia through your being, and your heart into convulsive spasms, almost.
I’m pretty weary of the usual holiday fare — the warbling moppets, the repentant codgers, the treacle, the tinsel. And after 2016’s punishing slog? Please. I just can’t.
So thank goodness Oregon Contemporary Theatre offers plenty of light-hearted laughs this season, with The Santaland Diaries and a visit from America’s favorite Dragapella Beauty Shop Quartet, the Kinsey Sicks.
When Mark Beudert arrived as its artistic director in 2006, Eugene Opera was in trouble. It was losing so much money that it could only afford to stage a single production in 2006-7, down from its average of three per year.
As a kid, Eugene-based stand-up comedian Seth Milstein watched Saturday Night Live religiously. “I thought it was the greatest,” Milstein recalls of NBC’s long-running sketch comedy show.
Then one night Milstein, who grew up in New York, stayed up late enough to catch Comic Strip Live, a late night TV stand-up comedy showcase popular in the ’80s and ’90s. “It was just a guy and a microphone,” Milstein describes. “That was amazing to me.”
Next spring, Eugene Ballet Company will stage the biggest project the outfit has undertaken in its 38-year history — a brand new, quarter-million-dollar envisioning of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, with all original music, choreography, sets and costumes.
“It’s good but not as good as Michelle’s,” is something Carmen Nasholm heard often as her seven kids were growing up. Michelle Reid, Michelle’s husband Dave and their two children became friends with the Nasholms through church in 1993.
“We always talked about how great it would be if I could have a place that sold jazz CDs and books and Michelle could have a lunch counter,” Nasholm says. In September 2015, once all but two of Nasholm’s kids had flown the nest, that dream became a reality with four tables plus a handful of stools in downtown Eugene. And, of course, a soundtrack of Nasholm’s preferred Dixieland jazz (most of the time).
If Eugene were Japan, there would be an izakaya on every corner — maybe several.
Most of them would be street stalls specializing in only one type of food, such as fish soup. Some, like the newly opened Izakaya Oyazi in the space of the former Granary Pizza restaurant, would have a broad menu.
Food journalists at respected culinary magazines venture that doughnuts are “having a moment” right now. Frenchified boutique pastries made with cage- and hormone-free ingredients at places like Blue Star — first in Portland then L.A. and Tokyo — masquerade as doughnuts and telegraph the coming of a revolution similar to the obnoxious cupcake uprising of yesteryear.
Feeling doughnuts slip away from the ordinary and into the purview of wealthy cosmopolitan foodies irks me because I know they are not meant for the haut monde. Dirt cheap and made from the worst stuff on earth, the glazed annulus fits neatly into my schlubby fist — the powerless fist of a futureless bum. Doughnuts are loser food. Knots of sugar and grease form perfect ballast for the all-night diner set, the “Nighthawks” Edward Hopper painted, folks with no place else to go.
What you know about Middle Eastern food is probably wrong — at least according to Alaa Albaadani. That’s why she started the Mediterranean Network Restaurant, to share the traditional tastes from her home in Yemen, along with other staples from across the region.
“I love American food, but every restaurant that is not American is Americanized,” Albaadani says. “I go to a Middle Eastern restaurant and it tastes totally different than what I’m used to. I get frustrated because people say, ‘This tastes good,’ and I say: ‘That’s not my food; that’s not the real thing.’”
As owner and operator of Brails Restaurant in south Eugene, Sang Joo (aka Joy) Knudtson provides a big measure of the joint’s appeal. On any given morning you can find her zipping around the linoleum floor of this old-fashioned American diner with the antic patterns of a human hurricane — part field marshal, part peppy maestro, all cult of personality. Her demeanor is flashy, welcoming and entertainingly out-loud, like a low-impact carnival barker, and the perpetual activity to which she subjects her environment belies a sly watchfulness that comes from running a busy café for the past 18 years.
“I can ramble,” Jim Evangelista warns me with a twinkle in his eye as we sit down in his bakery off River Road. “And I’ve got lots to talk about.”
Evangelista does have lots to talk about — mostly words of praise for all the people, organizations and institutions that came together to make the nonprofit Eugene bakery Reality Kitchen and its brand-new pretzel food cart a rollicking success.
It’s a familiar story: Pig & Turnip started out as a food stand in Eugene but with a stationary location that wasn’t easily accessible. Owner and chef Natalie Sheild decided it was time for a change. The German-inspired cuisine moved in February to its new location at Springfield’s Sprout! Regional Food Hub.
Sprout! is an incubator program that helps local small businesses grow. Pig & Turnip, along with a handful of other restaurants, is nestled in the Sprout! building. You’ll find it just past the courtyard of A Street and through large, heavy-set doors. As soon as you walk in, a barrage of different aromas fills the air.
One of Eugene’s newest breweries features some familiar faces: Matt Van Wyk and Brian Coombs, formerly of acclaimed local brewery Oakshire. In 2015, Van Wyk and Coombs, along with Coomb’s brother Doug, struck out on their own, launching Alesong Brewing & Blending, a company with a unique emphasis on barrel-aged beer.
In his office at Oakshire Brewing, Eric Keskeys flips through a weathered paperback revealing hundreds of ancient shapes and patterns. The room is dark, save for the glow from his dual computer screens, where working templates of beer labels have been put on pause.
He stops on a page to point out some trefoils in what he calls a design bible — the Handbook of Designs and Devices: 1836 Basic Designs and Their Variations, originally printed in 1946.