Paris and Beyond

Our Personal Tour de France & Other Exciting Adventures!

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Fall at the Falls

fullsizeoutput_5cbAs planned, we returned to Silver Falls State Park for an autumn viewing. We were not disappointed. Our wish to capture some fall color was granted at an unlikely moment. If you have ever delved into any serious photography, you’ve learned that shooting in the middle of the day is generally not recommended as the sun is high in the sky and your subjects can turn out rather flat and uninteresting. However, there are exceptions to ever rule in photography. This day was proof of that. We arrived at our destination around 11:30 and hiked for two hours. Absolutely midday but the combination of sharply angled autumn sun and a forested canyon location was, nevertheless, perfect. We encountered many beautiful trees still bright with fall yellows, greens, and reds radiantly backlit by the sun. Here are some of the results of our efforts. We hope you enjoy them.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are certainly thankful for many things in our lives not the least of which is living in a beautiful state where we are surrounded by ever-changing seasons.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Silverton’s Silver Lining

While searching for some breakfast one morning during our countryside adventure, a short drive led us to the town of Silverton. We stopped in to “Silverton’s Original Coffeehouse”, the Live Local Cafe. It was definitely live-ly and definitely full of locals. This time of year, I would guess we were probably the only outsiders there. Nevertheless, we experienced a warm and welcoming atmosphere while enjoying yet another delicious Oregon coffee (Longbottom Peruvian)  and chai accompanied by scrumptious bagel breakfast sandwiches. Originating at Silver Falls State Park which is nearby, Silver Creek runs through town and the cafe features creekside dining which we would have appreciated on a warmer day. 

Following Main Street into town, we passed The Oregon Garden. I had read about this place before but didn’t realize it was located right in the heart of Silverton — truly a silver lining if there ever was one for this small town and our adventure. Even though the day had begun with a drizzle, the rain seemed to be poised to take a break for a couple of hours… or so my weather app said — generally not to be trusted, but this time its predictions held true. I really wanted to check out the gardens so we stopped in for a tour. On this day in late October, we practically had the place all to ourselves.

The Oregon Garden is an 80-acre botanical garden divided into 20 different specialty gardens with a focus on the flora of the Willamette Valley and Pacific Northwest. We began our tour in the large central plaza known as the Bosque (forest in Spanish) where four brick reflecting ponds surrounded by 40 Pacific Sunset Maples were resplendent in fall color. This area immediately draws you into the heart of the garden which then branches out in all directions to a variety of unique spaces. Additionally, we explored the Amazing Water Garden and the Wetlands, both combining local water treatment with the creation of a healthy habitat for plant and wildlife. 

It was definitely a fall feast for the eyes. So we roamed the grounds trying to find the best perspectives and angles to capture the essence of the season. Norman was on the DSLR this time and the first three photos here are his. I think he really nailed it. You can certainly tell the difference between those and the last three that I took with my iPhone.

As the clouds reappeared overhead and the skies became grey once again, we headed out on our way back to our country cabin. Time to relax by the fire with a glass of wine. I’m sure the Garden will be a place for many return visits throughout the seasons of our life here in Oregon.

Joyeux Anniversaire!

Of all our adventures together in the past 24 years, our most cherished ongoing adventure has been our marriage. Yesterday was our anniversary and we were thrilled to be celebrating so many happy years together with breakfast at our local French restaurant, Marché, followed by our customary coffee, chai, and pastry in their Provisions bistro. Later we enjoyed a dinner of duck breast and risotto prepared by my absolute favorite chef, my husband. When I realized we had forgotten to pick up dessert, I quickly whipped up an Apricot Clafoutis. Yes, we blew all the calories we “earned” at the gym this week, but our anniversary only comes once a year. No matter how we greet this day, we always reminisce about how amazingly well this adventure began.

On November 8, 1997 we took our vows under a white gazebo on the lawn of the famous Palm Springs Racquet Club, a resort opened in 1934 by actors Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy and frequented by all the big Hollywood stars. When we checked out this venue for our wedding, its popularity had severely declined, but it was still being well-maintained. We were planning the wedding ourselves on a budget and did we ever get a deal as they were happy to have the business. We stayed in the Mary Pickford bungalow where we were able to host all of our family after the wedding late into the night. Our reception was held in the Humphrey Bogart Room. There were even Bogart stamps issued that year which we used on our handmade tuxedo invitations. I made my dress and my dad, age 75, walked me down the aisle like I had always wanted him to do. Norman built two pedestals for each side of the gazebo to support tall ceramic vases he made which were filled with Stargazer Lilies by students from the ROP floral program in my school district. He also created over a dozen candle holders as well as smaller flower vases to decorate the tables at our reception. The cake was simple, but delicious from a local grocery store bakery decorated by additional Stargazers when it arrived. We spent a good portion of our budget on a mariachi that played for both the wedding and the reception. We didn’t have an official photographer in this pre-digital age so we don’t have a lot of photos but, boy, do we have incredibly wonderful memories of this event. It was certainly a dream come true for me.

n & c's wedding cake

We’ve celebrated our anniversary in various special ways every year, some more extravagant than others. Here we are in Lake Tahoe on Anniversary #10… ah, we were still so young. This photo was taken by a professional photographer who just happened to be on the scene and offered to do it for us.

c&n tahoe '08

Last year, we completed two decades of marriage and splurged on a stay at the Whale Cove Inn on the Oregon Coast. Selfie time…

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This year, I suggested we take another selfie, but as we are getting back into our photography with a new kit, Norman insisted we do it properly. So he set up our equipment and took about 20 or so shots of us. He finally got one we were both happy with then did some editing and voilà… here we are on Anniversary #21.

N&C 2

We enjoyed yet another special day together doing things we love and hope to be fortunate enough to celebrate many more anniversaries to come.

Willamette Countryside

East of Salem, Oregon’s capital, lies a picturesque countryside of gently rolling hills. It’s covered with vineyards, Christmas tree farms, and various other crops along with the requisite horses, goats, pigs, and chickens anchored by solitary farmhouses. Sprinkled here and there are small towns with interesting names such as Scio, Stayton, Lyons, Sublimity, and Silverton. The major tourist draw to this area is Oregon’s most renown state park, Silver Falls. Its 7.2-mile Ten Falls Trail is a hiker’s and photographer’s delight. 

Beyond traditional picnicking and camping which are limited to warmer, drier times of the year, there are few restaurant and hotel options in the area. On our recent visit for a return to the Falls as an early anniversary celebration, we were extremely fortunate to find an incredibly luxurious AirBNB cabin on the Santiam River a few minutes from Stayton. 

Riverhaven Cabin
The View from our Deck

This cabin is amazingly well-appointed. The hosts literally thought of everything. We were so impressed upon arrival that we immediately added another night to our stay. While we did spend some time visiting the area and taking in the fall color, most of the time we simply relaxed in the cabin… reading, knitting, sketching, watching some of our favorite shows warm and cozy in his and her recliners in front of the fireplace, listening to music or just the rain, and reveling in the peacefulness of our surroundings. All this was complemented by some great food and wine that we brought along to enjoy as well.

During a stay at this cabin, guests have the opportunity to join the hosts in their cleverly-named “Artsy Fartsy Studio” to experience an acrylic pour. There are dozens of videos demonstrating this on YouTube if you are not familiar with the technique.

I was curious so I tried my hand at the process accompanied by a glass of wine and some great conversation with the hosts. I love creative projects and this technique is one with endless possibilities. I chose to do a “dirty pour” and layered my cup with turquoise, orange, yellow gold, white, and silver paint which I inverted on a canvas and released. Here’s my rather surprising result. Not what I expected but beautiful nonetheless.

All in all, we spent a wonderful four days in the country and look forward to planning another adventure to experience a different season at “our” cabin on the river.

Waterfall Wonderland

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South Falls

There’s no denying that the west coast is replete with natural beauty. We can verify that. Early in our adult lives, we unknowingly spent several years on opposite sides of Washington state enjoying the magnificent surrounds of Seattle and Pullman respectively. Both native Californians, we lived many years throughout the Golden State. During the 24 years we have been together, some of our most memorable experiences were photographing Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, the Coachella Valley, and the Monterey Peninsula resulting in some amazing images that hang on our walls.

Our new home state of Oregon possesses its own unique natural beauty with abundant scenic landmarks and breathtaking landscapes all within easy reach. In fact, it was on our 2001 six-week, six thousand mile western driving tour that we explored the full length of the Oregon coast and also discovered Eugene. Though our stay here was very brief, it left a lasting impression on us and now that we have lived here for awhile, we know why.

Rugged ocean shores, meandering rivers, and gleaming lakes abound surrounded by snow-capped mountains creating… my favorite — waterfalls galore. They are everywhere! And they are spectacular!! Last spring, we ventured out to Silver Falls State Park which is considered the “crown jewel” of Oregon State Parks. It certainly lives up to its reputation. Encompassing 9,200 acres, it is effectively the largest park in the state. The popular Trail of Ten Falls is a 7.2 mile loop with an elevation change of 800 feet. While this is very doable in one fell swoop for the average hiker, we’re not your “average hiker” anymore. So we broke it up into three smaller loops in order to take in all ten falls with plenty of time for photography along the way as well as simply soaking up the experience. This plan was made possible by reserving a three-night stay in the Calypso Cottage at Silver Falls Lodge located nearby. The cottage was built in 1945 and was originally used as a staff residence. Recently, it received an upscale renovation and is now open to the public — quite nice if you like to camp the way I do.

The park is located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Hikers are surrounded by a dense forest of both deciduous and evergreen trees. Descending to the bottom of the canyon, waterfalls seem to appear around every bend flowing over the rocky canyon walls.

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Along the Trail

At 177 feet, South Falls is the tallest and affords the opportunity to walk behind it. Fortunately, it happens to be the easiest hike so everyone can enjoy it.

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Behind South Falls

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Lower South Falls

 

Upper North Falls was our favorite. It’s only 65 feet tall but pours into a large pool one can imagine would be so inviting for a dip during the warmer months.

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Upper North Falls

Silver Falls is calling us back for a few days at the end of this month. We’re hoping to catch some shades of autumn along with a different seasonal perspective on those spectacular waterfalls. Stay tuned!

Back in the Saddle Again, Again!*

It has been two years since our dreams of retiring and moving to France were dashed. So much has transpired in this time. When I left off here with my last post, we had explored Eugene, Oregon and found it to be a very acceptable substitute for our French country life plan. Then we made the big move. We were on the cusp of moving into our new home. That was a very exciting adventure, but, as anyone who has ever moved knows, it’s quite a task. While our new home was pretty much turnkey, there were many aspects on which we wanted to put our own stamp. Getting unpacked, organizing our belongings (and sorting them yet again), painting some rooms, decorating and furnishing, and taking charge of the yard and garden occupied all of our time the first several months. The summer and fall of 2017 are pretty much a blur but with very positive results. It’s just how we work together. We go at everything full speed though we seem to expend a lot more energy doing that these days. 

At the same time, we were also busy establishing ourselves with new doctors and getting various health issues addressed. I was fortunate to find a remarkable new rheumatologist who understood my disease well and recommended treatment I would not have received through my insurance plan in California. Norman, who has been battling scoliosis for quite some time, had a laminotomy to relieve the pressure on his spine and ultimately alleviate some of his back pain… a procedure his California doctor said couldn’t be done. We also got back to working out at the gym — not my favorite activity but a necessary one made a little more pleasant by the fact that I don’t have to do it after a long day at work anymore. I can’t help but think that we are both much better off having moved here for so many reasons — lifestyle, cost of living, and health — in ways we didn’t expect. 

Now and then we have had time to begin exploring this beautiful state. Eugene lies at the southern tip of the Willamette Valley which stretches north to Portland about two hours away. The valley contains the majority of Oregon’s largest cities and 70% of the state’s population — a mere four million people in total. Meandering lazily through the valley is the Willamette River. As we live right on the edge of the city surrounded by farmland, we have access to a tiny slice of the river via a small park located within easy walking/biking distance from our house. It’s perfect! Like living in the country without the mess… equivalent to camping at the Marriott. Yes, I am spoiled. 

Our Slice of the Willamette

Much like our beloved Dordogne Valley in southwestern France, Eugene is classified as having an oceanic climate. In fact, the coast is just 60 miles away. This past year, we have enjoyed several short trips to Florence, Yachats, Cape Perpetua, and Depoe Bay. While these areas possess nothing like the warm, calm California beaches to which we are accustomed, the rugged grandeur of the Oregon coastline is a sight to behold. It’s a photographer’s delight.

Sweet Creek Falls

Cape Perpetua

Heceta Head

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Depoe Bay

Now that we are fairly settled and my health seems to have stabilized (the doctor says we are keeping the bad stuff quiet)… in the immortal words of Gene Autry, I’m ready to get “Back in the Saddle Again”. Assuming my health continues to cooperate, next June we will be off for one more European tour through Spain and France. I hope many of you will come along on this adventure. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of new experiences to report on here at home.

*I realized that I had already posted a blog with this title. It seems I keep falling off of the horse and having to get back on. At least I never give up.

Friendly

The city of Eugene is comprised of many different neighborhoods with specific names. For example, we are currently renting a house in the hilly, forested Churchill neighborhood named after the illustrious Winston Churchill. In a couple of weeks, we are moving to the flatter, open Santa Clara neighborhood — slightly ironic having just moved out of Santa Clara County in California. This is Eugene’s most northerly district lying on the edge of farmland and the city with easy access to the Willamette River bike paths. There are other neighborhoods with historical names such as Cal Young, named after the son of a couple who homesteaded the area in 1851. College Hill retains its name from the days when Columbia University was located there. Whitaker, known as “The Whit”, home to many breweries and other colorful businesses is Eugene’s hip neighborhood. Trainsong as the name suggests is surrounded by the Southern Pacific’s tracks and switching yard. Each neighborhood has its own character, ambience, and topography. My favorite is Goodpasture Island — what? There’s an island in Eugene?! Well, there used to be when the Willamette River would flood its banks each winter before flood control dams were built in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s… a reminder that it is necessary to think about whether or not your house is on the flood plain. We made sure ours was not!

There’s even a neighborhood called Friendly named after one of Eugene’s mayors and reputed to have very friendly residents. However, I would say that moniker could apply to the entire city. We have been welcomed with open arms by everyone IMG_2056since we arrived over a month ago. It feels like traveling in a time machine back to the 60’s. We started off with house-hunting in February and met our realtor, Amy. Who knew we were going to like our real estate agent so much that we would want to adopt her into our family when business is done?! She has been amazing not only doing an outstanding job of finessing our search for and acquisition of the right home, but also checking in with us from time to time just to see how we’re doing or if we need anything. Having been born and raised here, Amy is a fountain of knowledge. She has been able to provide all kinds of references and information that have helped us get settled.

Once we decided that Eugene would definitely be our next hometown, we had to find a place to rent in order to make the transition. We were fortunate to find a furnished house available through Sabbatical Homes. As it turned out, we have a lot in common with the owner, Nancy, such as our love of jazz and travel. She has been nothing but accommodating as our needs have changed extending our rental window as much as possible both at the beginning and end of our agreed contract so we can make a smooth move from her house to our new home. She even reached out to friends when it appeared we were going to need a subsequent rental. Nancy checks in with us to see how things are going and joins in cheering the successes of our pursuit of a new life in Eugene. We have experienced a wonderful sense of support in our new community.

At one point, we thought our new house would not close until two weeks after we had to vacate Nancy’s place. In the process of looking for another rental, we met Richard and Marjorie who were renting out their house for a month while off to visit Marjorie’s family in Marseilles, France. We spent quite a bit of time talking with them. While, in the end, we didn’t need to rent another place, we have kept them in our contacts for the future hoping we will be able have more than just the acquaintance and also gain an opportunity to continue practicing our French. Another AirBNB contact regarding a rental introduced us to Milo and his wife who are retired educators with, as they suggested, “lots of stories to share”. They weren’t sure they could accommodate our timeline but offered the guest bedroom in their house if we needed a couple of days leeway to get into our house. Such a thoughtful gesture from people you have never met.

Shopping and interacting with clerks and other employees has been another simple pleasure we have experienced in Eugene. If you ask where an item is located, usually they will not only know but will take you directly to it. More often than not, they ask you first if there’s something you need. Upon checkout, the clerks always take their time with every customer and engage you in a short but sincere conversation. While Anthony was checking out our groceries at Fred Meyer, we discovered his parents live just around the corner from the house we are buying. It’s refreshing to be greeted every day like this. It makes us feel like we can actually become part of the community rather easily as opposed to what would have been years and years of effort in that endeavor with limited reward had we moved to France.

We were a little leery about revealing the fact that we had moved here from California, but we are not alone. Some of the houses we have watched go on the market and then sell very quickly have ended up with California cars in the driveway. An enthusiastic “Welcome to Eugene” has been the response from everyone whether our dealings have been in person or online. We’ve come to the conclusion that Eugenians are just plain friendly and we’re thrilled!

Five-Star Cuisine

Everyone has a favorite place for special occasions. For the past 12 years (and long before that whenever we were in town), ours has been Shadowbrook Restaurant in Capitola, Ca. Superior food, superior service, superior and very unique atmosphere — all for amazingly reasonable prices. The fact that they have been in business for the past 70 says it all. We have celebrated dozens of birthdays, anniversaries and other special events at Shadowbrook — most recently my retirement — all of them memorable. It’s also where we have taken out-of-town guests and they never failed to be impressed. Their tag line “There’s no place like Shadowbrook” couldn’t be more accurate. I doubt we will find its match anywhere. Nevertheless, in the spirit of adventure and new experiences, we set out to explore the possibilities in Eugene.

IMG_4553As I understand it, Portland has become quite the foodie mecca in the past few years. Based on our experience so far, I would venture to say that Eugene is not far behind. One of the places we discovered that serves well for those special occasions is Bruno’s Chef’s Kitchen. Run by chef-owner, Tom “Bruno” Bollag, it started out 15 years ago as a healthy fast food drive through and by demand eventually evolved into a full-fledged restaurant. Bruno grew up in Switzerland and his cooking is influenced by his father who was a cook, his Italian mother, and all his travels throughout Europe. His specialty is sauces and because his restaurant is small (about 15 tables), he makes each and every dish individually to order. The menu varies from week to week and he tries never to make the same thing twice. Like so many chefs in this area, he focuses on using local ingredients and developing his menu based on what’s in season which is pretty much how everyone cooks in Europe. One evening on our first trip to Eugene, we lingered over a sumptuous meal of generous proportions at Bruno’s. As a starter we enjoyed steamer clams followed by Scaloppine and Limone (pork tenderloin cutlets with caper lemon butter brown sauce and saffron rice) for Norman and Lamb Curry with Plum Chutney for me. By the end of our meal which concluded with a dessert we could barely manage but couldn’t resist, we knew we had found our special occasion place in Eugene.

 

IMG_4580A truly complete surprise waiting for us in Eugene was a little piece of French heaven in the form of a restaurant called Marché and its adjacent gourmet food market, Provisions. Texas-born founding chef and owner, Stephanie Kimmel, started her culinary career in 1972 and established Marché in 1997. She benefits from much travel throughout her life as well as the study of French culture at the Sorbonne in the creation of her menus and techniques employed in the preparation of dishes using regional and seasonal ingredients. What she and her staff deliver is an outstanding, authentic French dining experience. You can even practice your French while you are there if you are so inclined. Marché offers a variety of ways to enjoy its cuisine from brunch to lunch, dinner, and a bar. To round out your French experience, after your meal you can head over to Provisions where there is a bistro, deli, and a gourmet market where you can find ingredients for those French meals at home. Additionally, Marché hosts a French Regional four-course dinner once a month complete with wine pairing. Once again, this is another special place with remarkably reasonable prices. This week we are joining in for an evening in Paris. Next month, off the the Loire Valley. So, you see, even though we didn’t make it to France for our retirement, we will still be able to partake of its pleasures in some small way here in our new hometown of Eugene.

 

 

Surf & Turf

In keeping with our the desire to continue our ever-evolving culinary endeavors, it was essential to determine what potential resources there might be in Eugene. During my extensive research, I discovered a couple of gems that we tried out on our first trip. Based on many further investigations around the city since we have moved here, I’m pretty convinced these are the “go to” places for all manner of surf and turf. In both cases, you can eat in, take out, or buy fresh to cook at home.

Fisherman’s Market

img_4571We love seafood, but even living near the California coast as we have much of our lives, unless we went right to the dock, most of what we could get was frozen or had been previously frozen. Fisherman’s Market is owned and operated by two Alaskan fisherman, Ryan and Debbie Rogers, which gives the place a certain level of credibility when it comes to fresh fish. Here you can buy live crab as well as fresh salmon, scallops, and whatever else is in season. That’s the key — buying what’s in season. When we first ate here in February, it was crab season. Norman had his first fresh crab ever and it was truly amazing. Since then we have tried other traditional seafood items on the menu such as fish and chips (choices are cod, salmon, mahi mahi, scallop, & shrimp) calamari, crab cakes, drunken clams, and crab cocktail. They make the best clam chowder we have had anywhere. They also serve an array of seafood sandwiches and salads. img_1936-1There are no less than six cocktail sauces from which to choose to garnish your meal, but they’re not really necessary as everything is so delicious on its own — hot, clean, and fresh from the fryer. Best of all, everything is so reasonably priced. To top off that fact, recently we discovered we could order off the “Kids and Seniors” menu. Lunch for two for $7. What a steal! Ah, the benefits of being “older”.

Noteworthy… Fisherman’s Market was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives of Guy Fieri fame. Check it out if you are ever in town!

Benedetti’s Meat Market & Deli

img_4518This market is actually located in the neighboring community of Springfield, home of the Simpsons. James Benedetti, originally from Rhode Island, opened his market in 2009 and eventually hired his partner, North Bend Oregonian, Mike Richardson as chef for the restaurant. Though not completely local as they contract with Cedar River Farms in northern California for all of their meat products, they focus on preparing dishes with the highest quality ingredients at moderate prices. While not in the fanciest location (a strip mall), the atmosphere is rustic and inviting and the food is definitely delicious. Upon our arrival in Eugene in February, we enjoyed two super generous and satisfying selections from their every-changing lunch menu. Norman had an Italian Grinder like no other and I had a creative take on the BLT, the Smoked Pork Belly BLTA (A = avocado). Whoa! We couldn’t eat this every day, but was it ever tasty! img_1934-2To compliment your meal, there are local beers on tap, Italian wines, and a full bar. Before we left, we perused their deli which featured absolutely beautiful cuts of all kinds of meat and sausage prepared in house at extremely reasonable prices. Recently, we returned to purchase a rib eye for dinner at home along with a variety of those sausages. All were incredibly tasty and tender. They don’t have a website, but you can follow them on Facebook to stay tuned for their daily specials.

Above all else, what we noticed about both of these places as we have everywhere in Eugene is that everyone is so welcoming and friendly. Coming from the rat race of the Silicon Valley, it’s rather refreshing to say the least and makes us really happy we have chosen this city for our retirement.

Eugene Coffee Bean Scene

One of our favorite things to do is hang out for a couple of hours in the morning at an inviting coffee house while we read, research, catch up on the news, or blog. Every city has the stereotypical places like Starbuck’s or Peet’s which, truthfully, are not very interesting. On our exploratory trip to Eugene, we wanted to check out the local businesses so I did a lot of research in advance and chose a different “coffee stop” for each day. We were surprisingly pleased with what we discovered.

img_4532We started out at Noisette Pastry Kitchen where the owners, Tobi and Michael who boast years of culinary training, say they use traditional methods to create innovative food experiences. With a focus on using local products, they put forth an array of French inspired pastries, birthday and specialty cakes, cookies, and just about any other sweet treat you might imagine all baked in-house. On our visit we could not resist their popular almond-crusted Bostock made with orange blossom water which made it very distinctive. Along with their tasty confections they serve up Equiano Coffee, a locally developed specialty coffee from Eugene that my husband reported was especially smooth — totally to his liking. Their chai latte (always my drink of choice) was quite spicy and not too sweet. It reminded more of the delicious one I make at home with an actual chai teabag rather than a mix from a box — very delicious. In addition, Noisette has recently added to their repertoire by transforming into the “Salt & Sweet Wine Bar” on Friday-Sunday evenings when they offer cold and hot plates, wine, and table service. We liked Noisette so much that we returned and made it our last stop before leaving town.

img_4559Allann Brothers has been roasting specialty coffee since 1972. They have seven locations in Oregon with two in Eugene. We stopped in at their Beanery located in a beautiful old brick building formerly a train station. The selection of pastries here was quite varied also but obviously made elsewhere. We devoured two large apple turnovers that were chock full of apples. Super tasty! Coffee here was smooth as well and the spicy chai was pleasantly sweet and flavorful. The atmosphere was quieter than most coffee houses with no hard surfaces to create loud echoes of voices throughout the space. This worked very well for us since we were meeting with a couple, the son and daughter-in-law of a friend, who had recently moved to Eugene. It was nice to be able to hear each other without the bang and clang of coffee equipment or distraction of other people’s conversations.

img_4613Full City Coffee Roasters has two locations in Eugene. We visited the High City Café where we had yet another satisfying coffee and chai experience. The owner has been roasting coffee since the 80’s and beans are roasted on the day they are sold resulting in very fresh coffee. Food items here which include pastries, sandwiches, soups, quiche, and Cornish pies (which I know as pasties) are provided by their local sister company, The Palace Bakery. We sampled a raspberry muffin and an oat & raisin scone — both quite good. The only drawback to this place is that, unlike all the others, they don’t have wifi. So, unless you have a 3G connection (like we do), you’re limited to using  your phone, but perhaps you can appreciate not being surrounded by so much technology. You can relax and have an actual conversation with someone here which is certainly worth considering.

veroVero Espresso House is a quaint coffee hangout located in one of many old homes turned businesses in downtown Eugene. They serve Stumptown Coffee which is a Portland-based company recently purchased by Peet’s. Stumptown is a nickname for Portland from the early days when land was quickly cleared of trees and the stumps were left behind. They also have a selection of pastries as well as breakfast and lunch items prepared by various local businesses. The seating here while very inviting is limited. It’s the kind of place where people settle in and stay for a while especially since it’s near the U of O campus. On the day we chose to visit, it was very crowded so we were forced to make another choice for our breakfast and plan to return another time.

Typically when Norman drinks coffee out in our hometown, he often finds it very harsh and too strong. He always adds a lot of half and half in order to temper the after effect. He usually ends up with heartburn requiring a dose of antacids that I make sure to carry around for him. What was most interesting about all of the coffee Norman drank in Eugene (which included many other places) was that never once did he have this negative experience. We can’t help but wonder if it was the coffee, the water, the state or simply that here in the Silicon Valley people have become accustomed to and demand such a jolt of caffeine to fuel their money-driven, hectic lives. At the very least, the coffee was a great reflection of the more laid back environment we found in Eugene — one we are extremely anxious to enjoy very soon on a regular basis.

 

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