1. IRON CURDS: Cheese Bar owner Steve Jones is preparing to battle the world’s 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 competition’s 40 international contestants, he’ll show off his skills (“a lot of geeky, technical stuff,” he says) like carving cheese to specific weights without a scale in the hopes of winning bragging rights and $10,000. (He’s got skills, by the way—he and Rogue Creamery’s Tom Van Voorhees won the national American Cheese Society mongering competition in 2009.) “It’s [also] a blind tasting,” Jones explains of the Invitational. “They give you a 1-ounce portion of cheese and you’re tasting it and telling them animal, varietal...like, ‘It’s a cow’s milk, a mountain cheese, raw milk, and I think it’s from Switzerland. You get more points the more you guess right. That’s the deep dorky part of it. That’s the part I’m not too worried about.... I eat a lot of cheese.”
  1. PARTY LIKE IT’S 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....
  1. HAN LY HWANG OF KIM JONG GRILLIN’Credits: IMAGE: Christa ConnellyRESTAURANT ROULETTE: Castagna’s forward-thinking chef and chief forager, Matthew Lightner, is leaving the restaurant. According Karen Brooks over at Portland Monthly, he’s opening a restaurant in New York in August. Lightner’s 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 McBride’s creations, from biscotti and gluten-free carrot cake to ham and Gruyère hand pies. >> In bad but good news, 2011 Eat Mobile Carty Judges Choice Award winner Kim Jong Grillin’ has closed—kinda: “I had so much fun serving you all as your dictator of lunch and ambassador of Korean cuisine,” owner Han Ly Hwang wrote on Facebook. “I am currently working hard on opening a new restaurant. Same cuisine, more options, places to sit and lovingly serving soju.” Three other carts, Mono Malo, the Kettle Kitchen and Chili Pie Palace, have also recently closed.
  1. 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 didn’t raise $100,000 by the end of last month. The group has surpassed its goal, raising $135,000—$50,000 from a single, anonymous donor.