IRON CURDS: Cheese Bar owner Steve Jones is preparing to battle the worldâs foremost fromage-heads at the second annual Cheesemonger Invitational this Friday in Long Island City, N.Y. As the lone Oregon competitor and only one of four West Coast mongers out of the competitionâs 40 international contestants, heâll show off his skills (âa lot of geeky, technical stuff,â he says) like carving cheese to specific weights without a scale in the hopes of winning bragging rights and $10,000. (Heâs got skills, by the wayâhe and Rogue Creameryâs Tom Van Voorhees won the national American Cheese Society mongering competition in 2009.) âItâs [also] a blind tasting,â Jones explains of the Invitational. âThey give you a 1-ounce portion of cheese and youâre tasting it and telling them animal, varietal...like, âItâs a cowâs milk, a mountain cheese, raw milk, and I think itâs from Switzerland. You get more points the more you guess right. Thatâs the deep dorky part of it. Thatâs the part Iâm not too worried about.... I eat a lot of cheese.â
PARTY LIKE ITâS 1999: Regulars at the Front Row Saloon, a joint that dates back to the days before the city gave Bill Naito his own street, may soon be dragged into the late 20th century: new owner Saba Tiruneh has applied to rename the tavern DOT COM Bar and Restaurant. Where everybody knows your screen name....
HAN LY HWANG OF KIM JONG GRILLIN’Credits: IMAGE: Christa ConnellyRESTAURANT ROULETTE: Castagnaâs forward-thinking chef and chief forager, Matthew Lightner, is leaving the restaurant. According Karen Brooks over at Portland Monthly, heâs opening a restaurant in New York in August. Lightnerâs right-hand man at Castagna, Justin Woodward, will take over the kitchen. >> Former Higgins pastry chef Erin McBride is now baking in-house at Cellar Door Coffee (2001 SE 11th Ave., 234-7155). Starting this week you can stuff your face with McBrideâs creations, from biscotti and gluten-free carrot cake to ham and GruyÃ¨re hand pies. >> In bad but good news, 2011 Eat Mobile Carty Judges Choice Award winner Kim Jong Grillinâ has closedâkinda: âI had so much fun serving you all as your dictator of lunch and ambassador of Korean cuisine,â owner Han Ly Hwang wrote on Facebook. âI am currently working hard on opening a new restaurant. Same cuisine, more options, places to sit and lovingly serving soju.â Three other carts, Mono Malo, the Kettle Kitchen and Chili Pie Palace, have also recently closed.
CLASSICAL WIN: Good news regarding our early June Scoop on the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which was in danger of having to cancel its 2011-12 season if it didnât raise $100,000 by the end of last month. The group has surpassed its goal, raising $135,000â$50,000 from a single, anonymous donor.