Fresh lunch options abound in Hood River

Lunchtime doldrums got you down? Have the mid-day food options in Hood River grown stale? Are you looking for a little taste of variety?

If you’re tired of the same old restaurant fare every day, it may be time to sample the three new ethnic food varieties in Hood River.

Try Thai for a day, falafel the next, and later, some cajun that will make you feel vexed. Thai Winds, Falafel Nation and Gumbo King are here to help break up the rest.

“I’ve always wanted to run a food stand,” said Tom Aviv, owner of Falafel Nation, which set up shop just over one month ago at the corner of 5th and Cascade. “I wanted to do something that made me feel like I was contributing to the community, and express something opposite from all the corporate, fast-food restaurants everywhere.”

Aviv came to Hood River from San Francisco last summer and chose to share some of his Israeli family recipes with the downtown clientele.

“I wanted to be a cook more than a waiter,” he said, “and so far, it’s been popular enough to help justify my time.”

Another downtown business enjoying tremendous success is Thai Winds, owned by Ana and Lee Kober. After selling ethnic food at the Saturday Market for two years, they purchased a trailer, made some upgrades and worked out a deal to operate in the Dell Mart parking lot at 4th and Oak.

“We’ve really benefitted from the location,” said Lee Kober, who just re-opened at Dell Mart in April after a six-month stint on Tucker Road. “This town really needed Thai food and we’ve been seeing a lot of return customers.”

Aside from the central location, the reason for Thai Winds’ success has been the culiary talents of Jaroon “Ana” Kober. She has been cooking luscious Thai food for years, and the menu continues to expand.

Another menu that has continued to grow every month is that of Glenn Couvillon’s Gumbo King. The New Orleans native has been cooking savory cajun food since he was a boy, and received such positive feedback, he figured he’d take advantage of his commodity.

“Part of my wanting to open a cart is selfish,” Couvillon joked, “because now, I can eat the food all the time. You can never have too much cajun.”

Gumbo King opened at the Pine Grove Texaco in March, and after two months alongside Thai Winds at Dell Mart, it returned to Highway 35.

“Business in Pine Grove has been much more steady,” Couvillon said. “We’ve had lots of return customers but not a lot of returned food. That’s a pretty good average.”

Couvillon envisions Gumbo King franchises in time, along with his own brand of coffee and sausage. He also offers catering services and plans to start a website to sell his famous roux, spice blends and secret sauces.

“People will be able to make the same gumbo as me, only not with the same attitude,” he said. “If you have all the ingredients, it’s pretty hard to mess it up.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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