Friday, June 26, 2009

sweet life bakery, eugene, or

It was a craving for diner food that made my friend and I pull off the I-5 in Eugene OR. First the iPhone sent us to a creepy town across the river from Eugene, the kind of town that can only be the setting for that old fiction topic The Stranger Comes To Town. Well, we were the strangers and we rode out.

In Eugene we found a newfangled diner and purchased elaborate burger sandwiches and fried goods. Tempted by the sign on the door that read Pie Happy Hour 3:30-5 we asked out server to explain, which is how we found out about the Sweet Life Patisserie, who supplied Happy Hour pies.

thanks gina pina

It would be open till ten or eleven. We would fine a line outside the door, she assured us. And it was not to be missed! So we paid, crossed town to the bakery, and waited in a very long line. Maybe you've never been to Oregon or maybe you are one of those people who only goes to Portland, so it bears explaining here: the majority of rural Oregon has a problem with the gays. Sure, Eugene is a college town, but we'd seen neither hide nor hair of queer culture and a whole lot of fundamentalist bigot radiom and the only gay bar in Eugene had closed down 2-3 years earlier.

Once we made it into the Sweet Life we tried to decide between the gelato, chocolates, cookies, cakes, creme brulee, pies and other items. When bakeries have a lot of items I tend to get nervous, because you can't reasonably expect one chef to excel in all those areas.

I went with the mixed berry pie (blueberry, blackberry, ollalie and marion, which prompted a discussion on Marion friend thought it was a joke) and he got the chocolate strawberry cake, basically a chocolate version of strawberry shortcake (whipped cream frosting, ganache, strawberry compote). Coffee drinks to go.

My pie was great. They heated it up for me and gave me a generous slab (for $4, I'd hope so), although they didn't offer whipped cream or anything I guess you could buy ice cream to get it a la mode. The cake was moist, the berries flavorful.

Here's what was so exciting about the Sweet Life: it offered a place for the smart kids, the geeky kids, the gay kids to go and hang out in a town that didn't seem like it had much cultural escape to offer. The cashier at the sweet life was totes gay. And the day before our visit, the Sweet Life bakery had participated in Bites for Rights, a fundraising program that donated 15% of the day's sales to Basic Rights Oregon, an equality organization.

As if being progressive on the issue of equality isn't enough of a reason to love Sweet Life, here's another:

the bakery is super conscientious of those with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Vegans and gluten-free girls, little signs in the case will tell you which products you can eat, so you don't have to hold up the line asking.

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