Rich and I decided to stay in downtown Eugene and get to see a bit of the city.
We like the idea of walking to the track and to local dining and coffee venues.
We arrived late on Thursday and on Friday morning we got up and started patrolling the streets for some good coffee and potential breakfast.
Apparently the residents of Eugene are not early risers.
Most of the places we found didn't open til 8 or 8:30... and started walking around 7...
So we did a lot of walking and read the menus at promising looking houses of yum in anticipation of a good dinner at days' end.
We eventually did find our way to the Bagel Sphere thanks to a really nice local who pointed the way.
The bagels were excellent.
I had a multi grain bagel with avo, sprouts, cream cheese and tomato.
Rich had a veggie sausage and egg bagel.
We both thought we should have gotten what the other ordered... and since they were cut in half we swapped halves and had both.
The coffee was just OK so we set our sights on finding an improved version the next day.
Our good fortune, though, was that while we were walking and reading menus we happened upon belly.
It billed itself as having "Rustic, European Farm House Soulfood". Using local organic suppliers and changing their menu seasonally to reflect the best of what's available.
The menu looked really interesting:
And then there was the award in the window 2009-10 Restaurant of the Year.
So we put that in the memory bank and returned after Day 1 at the track.
We were told that there was a 45 minute wait.
Plenty more things to peruse in that part of town.
They took our cell # and said they'd call when a table was ready.
When the 45 mins was almost up we were getting pretty hungry so we headed back over to hover near the door.
As we waited people came out saying to each other "That was so good".
Just what we wanted to hear.
Finally our table was ready.
We entered the cozy space with about 10 or so tables and a bar.
We checked out the fun and unpretentious drink menu written on a giant flip chart next to the bar and ordered up.
Making a decision about what to order from the dinner menu was no easy task.
For starters I went with the grilled hearts of romaine with buttermilk-bleu dressing ....ahhhhmazing.
Rich chose the bay shrimp, butter leaf, avocado, saffron rice and bacon with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette.
He made happy noises too but I was so absorbed in my buttermilk-bleu I could not be distracted.
For the main course I finally settled on the Duck leg confit, and Rich ordered one of the specials, linguine alfredo with chicken breast and morel mushrooms.
Oh. My. Goodness.
This was one of those meals.
The ones you can count on one hand.
The ones you smile all the way though cause it's that good.
The ones you wake up thinking about the next morning.
Fab. Fab. Fab.
People listen up!
If you ever find yourself near here you gotta do this.
I don't think you could possibly go wrong no matter what you ordered.
We were actually really stuffed and happy after that but absolutely knew we would regret it forever if we didn't try whatever happened to be on the dessert menu.
So the Shaker Lemon Pie it was and some coffee.
Coffee arrived first.
Best coffee we had the whole time we were in Eugene....wonderful.
More smiling...even the coffee was amazing.
Neither of us had ever had a shaker style lemon pie before and it was wonderful as well.
A pretty different beast from the lemon meringue we've all grown accustomed to.
It's a double crust pie with layers of Meyer lemon slices.
As we sat back and looked around every table was full of smiling laughing patrons.
Happy to be there and to be sharing their meals with friends.
As we walked back to our hotel and got into the elevator I overheard...
Yes I admit I was eavesdropping...
"The farmer's market will be open tomorrow behind the hotel"
Put that in my feeble memory bank before I fell into a blissful sleep.
Of course I had already forgotten by the time morning arrived.
I had already begun trying to decide where to hunt for the morning java when I peeked out the balcony window and saw this:
Happy dance around the room. Farmer's market setting up right behind our hotel.
So we sort of started to gather our stuff together for Day 2 at the track to give the vendors a little more time to set up.
Lucky for us we didn't need to be at the track til noon.
When we could stand it no longer we headed out and found an early bird vendor set up for espresso and crepes.
We scored a great cup of coffee and a couple of spinach, feta crepes and chatted with the vendor who knew a guy from Brookings that Rich knew from sailing with Sean and port life in general....small and yummy world.
Soon the farmers started to open and we had a field day check out the amazing produce and baked goods.
I mean seriously...check out these carrots and beets
And made us feel like garden underachievers....in the best possible way
And since you can never have too many peppers plants we had to get one more.
Holy moly do these Hideaway Bakery people know their way around a pastry, and a bread loaf....and coffee....thumbs up.
Rich found this cool mug too for his green tea.
It was a whole festival of everyday gifts.
My kinda weekend.