Experiencing new flavors is literally the spice of life. When it comes to kids trying new things, that may not be the case. My kids may not like everything but they are willing to try just about anything. The goal of my Eugene Food Tour was not only to expose a group of 6-12th graders to some new tastes, but to show them the rich food scene in downtown Eugene. Most of the kids in the Navigators Homeschool Group are from smaller towns on the outskirts of Eugene, so many of them had never dined in the places on our tour.Wanting to promote international flavors, small business and a few kid favorites; I came up with this list of vendors that were within walking distance of each other.
Part food truck, part bus, this place is all about comfort food Hawaiian-style. In fact while Marcus Mariota, Heisman Trophy winner, was playing for the Oregon Ducks, he frequented the Mothership quite often; even bringing his family (from Hawaii) to eat there when they were in town. So of course, our dish of choice for this first stop was the legendary Loco Moco. Five orders gave 50 of us a nice sized sample of deliciousness. The owners, Norman & Rebecca, go above and beyond for their customers. #2 Noodle BowlThere are so many complex flavors in Korean food but one traditional item is trending in the food world now. Kimchi, fermented cabbage and vegetables, is a strong smelling side that accompanies nearly every meal. I’ve seen many people reluctant to try it but once they do, they are surprised at how much they like it. It was fun watching the kids experience a toothpick-full of this food for the first time.#2 541 SushiRight next door, 541 Sushi, was just opening and we enjoyed watching the belt full of beautiful creations go by. The manager had 50 portions of California Rolls, already boxed up for us to sample out on the sidewalk.
#3 Bon Mi
“Pho” pronounced like the “fu” in fun was next up to sample. Since this traditional noodle soup would be a little difficult to portion out, we opted to just try a sample of the Beef Pho broth. While the kids were sampling, they tried to pick out the flavors of cinnamon, star anise, cloves and fennel, that make this soup such a unique experience. My son and I actually went back to this place for lunch the next day.
Ice cream, no explanation needed here. However, the manager was kind enough to open the doors early for us so we could take over the place. For just a small fee, the kids tasted many flavors of this high-end ice cream made with the finest ingredients. I am still dreaming of the Goat Coffee flavor.
I must admit, I am on the Kombucha bandwagon. A hip and trendy, possibly health-promoting drink made of fermented tea is tastier than it sounds. After filling a few carafes from the tap, everyone got a sample of Superberry Kombucha. One of the joys of kombucha is that it has a wide range of flavors, keep sampling to find your favorite. #6 Voodoo Donuts
Although they have a vast selection of unique donuts, there was no question I wanted the kids to have a sample of the Maple Bacon Bar. The staff at Voodoo was kind enough to cut the maple bars into fourths so everyone could have a good sized sample. Leading a group of 50 around Eugene took a little pre-planning and I contacted each of the business owners/managers ahead of time. Equipped with sample containers, sporks, tasting cups, toothpicks and napkins we were able to efficiently serve everyone outside without disturbing the establishments.
10:45 Meet at Mothership Food Cart 285 W 6th Ave. Norman & Rebecca 541-870-1158 Mothership on Yelp
10:50-11:00 Sample LOCO MOCO (Hear the story of where Loco Moco originated in Hilo, Hawaii.) My version of Loco Moco.
11:00-11:15 Walk to Noodle Bowl
11:15 Sample Kimchi @Noodle Bowl (How is kimchi made and why is it such an important food in the Korean culture?)
11:20 Sample California Rolls @541 Sushi
11:30 Sample Pho @Bon Mi (What is Pho and what is used to flavor the broth?)
11:45-12:00 Red Wagon Creamery Ice Cream Samples
12:05 Sample Kombucha @Townshend Tea House (What is kombucha and how is it brewed?)
12:10 Sample Maple Bacon Donuts @Voodoo Donuts (cash only)
12:15 Walk to Eugene Public Library for parent pick-up
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