Happy New Year’s from the Big Apple! Ken, Cruzzie, and I just arrived back home from our Oregon holiday trip visiting my family in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon. For a medium-sized college town (go Ducks!), Eugene has a lot to offer, so I wanted to share some highlights of our visit. (By the way, the Oregon football team plays in the Rose Bowl TODAY! Not that I care that much about football, but I am an avid supporter of anything from Eugene).
While most people think of Sonoma and Napa when it comes to West Coast wines, The Willamette Valley (where Eugene is) has become a growing hotspot for wine enthusiasts. The climate and environment are perfect for growing grapes, and the region has become famous for its pinots in particular (especially because they are more affordable than their California counterparts). Some of the most popular pinots include:
St. Innocent Winery
St. Innocent Wine
The below bottle is what we had on New Year’s Eve. It was amazing, and only $14.95/bottle! It is an exclusive for our local wine store, Sundance, which you can visit online here. Or you can call 541-687-9463 and ask for Randy.
EUG Pinot Noir -- made by the Sundance Wine Cellars
Sundance ships around the country, depending on your state’s local liquor laws. Enjoy! And next time you are ordering wine at a restaurant, look for Oregon wines. They are delicious… and reasonably priced!!
Wandering Goat Coffee
Oregon is also known for its coffee houses and roasted beans. Wandering Goat — a local and fabulous coffee shop has the most delicious (you guessed it) coffee. This small local joint roasts their own coffee right next door and serves sustainably-grown coffee drinks and homemade baked goods.
Inside Wandering Goat Coffee Shop
They also sell their coffee beans in local stores and online here too. Or if you are lucky like I am, your mother sends you pounds of coffee from Wandering Goat in frequent care packages (yes, she still does that, and yes, I love it).
I have a feeling that Wandering Goat is the next Stumptown Coffee — just a local, low key, laid back, down-to-earth coffee joint that all of a sudden explodes and becomes HUGE.
By far, one of my favorite activities in Eugene is the quick hike up Spencer’s Butte. Located right in Eugene, a 10 minute drive from my parents’ house, it is the perfect workout in the perfect natural environment. In the summertime when I am off from teaching and visiting my parents, I like to hike the Butte every day.
Here we are this past Summer on the Butte.
My father carrying King Cruz. Hiking backpack is KEY!
The Butte is even great in the wintertime, despite the rain, mud, and not-so-perfect conditions. We had the opportunity to go up the Butte only once this trip, but it was for sure one of the highlights. The views on top of the mountain were breathtaking and a great reminder of why I love Oregon as much as I do. The lush green, the mountain ranges, the sounds of the wind and animals, and the crisp smell of the fresh air are all extremely calming and relaxing.
Ewok Forest, kind of.
Ken and Cruzzie admiring the view from half-way up the mountain. We had no backpack on this trip, so Ken was a super hero and carried him the ENTIRE time. He has HUGE muscles.
Mountain ranges, clouds, Oregon beauties.
Café Yumm – Yumm sauce
Surprisingly, a bazillion different healthy products are produced in Eugene and sold nationally – most of the products these days can be found in any grocery store. Examples include: Toby’s Tofu Pate (delicious), Emerald Valley Salsa (can’t get enough), So Delicious Coconut products (just getting big now), Nancy’s yogurt (a family staple), and many more…
Yumm sauce. YUMMMMMMMMMMM.
Yumm sauce is a hippy-dippy-healthy-unexplainable-sauce that is made in Eugene and sold in many grocery stores and online. The sauce comes in three flavors (original, garlic, and chipotle) and is a great addition to dishes – it adds some pizzazz and spice, and is great if you are a sauce person. We love having it on the side for squash, rice and beans, fish and meat. Give it a shot!
Eugene has several Cafe Yumms around town. One is super close to my parents and is actually walking distance.
Family time in Oregon is priceless. I might be one of the few people who loves spending as much time as possible with my parents and siblings, but I can’t get enough of them. Each minute is sacred and special, and I feel so lucky to have them in our lives. Until the next time together…..I will miss them greatly!
One of the family dinners chez home. My mother is such an unbelievably good cook that you never have to go out to eat. She is like a healthy-experimental-no-recipe-Julia-Child. (Ignore me stuffing my face).
Cousins -- Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum.
Until Wednesday, Have a great first week of 2012!