Cafe Eugene Makes Winning Tofu Paté

Sure, it’s a bit hippie-dippie, but it’s also smart, creative, and tasty.


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Ryan Murff of Cafe Eugene riffs off Toby's Family Food spread for the tofu pate he whips up as something to smear on bread.

Photo by Lori Eanes

Albany’s Cafe Eugene is a passionately, innovatively regional restaurant. But the region it invokes isn’t exotic or far away.

It’s the lettuce-lovingly cool, salmon-stokingly sea-kissed, hoppily beer-blessed Pacific Northwest.

One popular starter is a rich, satisfying tofu paté, based on the spread made by Oregon-based Toby’s Family Foods, which Café Eugene’s co-founder Ryan Murff loved while growing up in his restaurant’s namesake town.

“I didn’t know the recipe, so I bought a tub of Toby’s and really just winged it,” Murff recalls.

“It starts with firm tofu that we crumble by hand, then chop finely with celery, capers, and sweet onion. Next, finely chopped parsley and thyme are added along with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

“The key to Toby’s is the addition of nutritional yeast,” which “mimics the richness of Parmesan or other aged cheese. The key is to pulse all of the ingredients in a food processor.

“Our paté has a more rustic texture than the original Toby’s. I added capers, fresh thyme, and a little more mustard to kick up the acid and savor.

“Natural foods, physical health, and the arts are such a big part of the culture in Eugene. Tofu paté was invented by one of these great Eugenians looking to supply her family—who had dietary restrictions—with something that was healthy and creative.

“Look at how Portland has grown into a culinary mecca. This was born from these same principles. Tofu paté is smart, creative, and a bit hippie—just like myself.”

 

Café Eugene, 1175 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-647-9999, CafeEugene.com.

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