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Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘Eugene

Food Carts Galore

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Eugene's new pod in Kesey Square downtown.

Hopefully this fair-weather, intermittent blogging will become more regular again, now that my spring classes have come to an end. Plus, after one of the rainiest June’s yet, it’s finally sunny in Oregon, so I have no excuse not to write about the bounty finally revealing itself in our gardens and farms. Now we have the al fresco dining scene to look forward to, too, and what defines outdoor eating more than mobile food carts?

Portland is world-renown for its ubiquitous carts and Eugene is trying to grow its base of them. Even in Salem and Bend have food carts. But restrictive regulations means Corvallis has next to none, apart from those who vend at our two weekly farmers’ markets. But folks, including a local crepe stand, are hoping to change that. I plan to follow the issue for KLCC.

There in Eugene today for a news meeting, I ventured over to the new pod for lunch. My indulgent Cuban sandwich (with braised local pork belly) from The Nosh Pit lived up to its reputation. For you stoners out there, on late nights the cart even plans to serve a burger on a glazed cruller from the new Voodoo Donuts just ’round the corner. Dropping by Voodoo everytime I’m at KLCC could become a bad habit I start justifying out of love for my husband. The Neapolitan one I had today (old-fashioned chocolate cake doughnut topped with strawberry sugar and marshmallows) could become a new favorite.

Speaking of fatty food cart fare, look no further than to the SE Hawthorne pod in Portland. I had wanted to try Potato Champion ever since glimpsing on a chalkboard list of favorite spots at Naomi Pomeroy’s Beat. But I was underwhelmed. Maybe I didn’t order right, getting the PB&J (Thai peanut and raspberry sauce), which sounds gross as I retype it now. Next time I’ll try the poutine or a truffled or anchioved sauce. Then for dessert there’s the neighboring Whiffie’s fried hand pie cart, the winner of the Willamette Week’s Eat Mobile fest this year. I prefer my fat calories for in the form of fries. But the savory-sweet Hawaiian ham and cheese was a nice savory-sweet compromise.

Beast's favorite spots.

Fried food rules here: The famous Potato Champion cart in Portland's SE Hawthorne pod.

Don't forge the fried hand pies at neighboring Whiffie's.

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Written by baltimoregon

June 16, 2010 at 1:06 am

Pizza Science

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PRI's Chef's Choice Mandala: Carmelized Eggplant, Curried Cauliflower, Peaches, Roasted New Potatoes...You Name It!

I finally branched out from our standby Poppi’s Anatolia and had myself an ethereal pizza experience for lunch (and leftovers for dinner) in Eugene today. For months friends have said we had to try the legendary, vegan-friendly Pizza Research Institute. My meal today confirmed the hype. Since it was no more expensive I sprang for the Chef’s Choice, a colorful mandala-like collage of 12-14 fresh toppings arranged on your pie. Today, this taste sensation included curried cauliflower, sweet carmelized eggplant, preserved peaches, grilled zucchini and piped florettes of ricotta. The zesty crust was flecked with herbs. Unusual homemade condiments–a coconut curry habanero sauce, a honey chipotle lime hot sauce–were on hand to dip your crust handles into. I started with a small simple salad, studded with toasted sunflower and black sesame seeds, dressed with a garlicky buttermilk poppy seed dressing recipe I’d love to obtain.

Especially revelatory was the candied eggplant topping. I mistook it for some type of piquant dried fruit. It made me want to try out a recipe for eggplant jam, such as the one Linda Ziedrich includes The Joy of Jams, Jellies. I’ll also definitely have eggplant the next time I’m at PRI. The chef recommended the chevre, marinated eggplant & carmelized onions pizza for next time. Next time indeed!

Written by baltimoregon

February 11, 2010 at 12:49 am

United By Our Love of Rhubarb, Edible Gardens, Food Preservation and Backyard Coops

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Blogs, like good food, bring like-minded folks together. Just nine months into our Oregon adventure, I’ve now befriended fellow foodies, in the flesh, who I first met through Culinate, the virtual Portland-based food news and social networking site. That’s where I discovered Our Home Works, a local eating/gardening blog run by software developer Amy McCann (and board member of the Willamette Food & Farm Coalition) and her landscape architect (jealous!) husband, Matt Scheibe. My second new blogger friend is Jennifer B. Levin, an English PhD. who writes food columns for the Eugene Weekly and blogs at Culinaria Eugenius. After trading posts for several months, we all finally met in person last Saturday night!

Though of course I already felt like I knew them. Amy and Matt kindly had us over to their renovated Eugene home. There, we indulged on grilled baby back ribs (marinated with homemade smokey peach and Hoisin sauces), cornbread, bay shrimp-topped deviled eggs, kale bruschetta, grilled chicken with cilantro jalapeno pesto and a baby potato salad. It was a feast. Amy and Matt were the consummate hosts, ensuring that our glasses never went empty. We drank ginger-cilantro lemon-drop cocktails, crisp and addicting rhubarb sodas and lots of local beer.I had such a good time, I forget to photograph the spread of food! I also made a potchka for dessert: a custardy “Coconut-Cardamom Rice Pudding with Rhubarb” (minus the kumquats). It was a yummy, South Asian-inflected, sweet/tart concoction but probably not worth the effort.

Amy and Jennifer are also master gardeners and their knowledge puts us to shame. Amy and Matt’s 1/3-acre lot is perfectly landscaped, with fava beans as a cover crop, a row of blueberry plants, fig and cherry trees and now chickens. My new blogger friends are also food preservers. Amy’s garage shelf full of pickled cucumbers and dilly beans, canned tomato sauces and strawberry-rhubarb jams inspired me. Hopefully I’ll be there soon.

We’re already talking about our next meet-up. They’re intrigued to try The Woodsman, the logger bar/authentic Thai restaurant in Philomath that is now about our favorite restaurant in town:)
Rhubarb rice pudding

rhubarb rice pudding

Chickens in the backyard of Our Home Works

Chickens in the backyard of Our Home Works

Written by baltimoregon

May 11, 2009 at 11:53 pm

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Adventures in Truffleland

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How fortunate are we to have forest mycologists for next-door neighbors who are among the premier truffle experts in the state. I leaped at the opportunity when they invited me to hitch a ride with them to the Oregon Truffle Festival in Eugene today. It’s a hoighty-toighty gourmet event, but luckily today anyone could attend the marketplace event for $15. It was well-spent

That admission price included indulgent samples of truffled dishes and truffle-accented cheeses and olive oils. And this budding food writer absorbed numerous story ideas from panel discussions and other conversations there. Truffles could become a tobacco-like cash crop salvation for struggling small farms, the writer Kevin West said in a talk. Unfortunately most of us can’t afford to cook with truffles, as they go for $100 to $1,000 a pound. Hence the reason so many amateurs here try to forage for them themselves. I saw a festivalgoer today bartering some Oregon white truffles for wine and first-press olive oils, as if the truffles were gold.

The festival hall was redolent with the heady, pungent perfume of the truffles. The rare Oregon Brown Truffle (see above) had an especially potent, Roquefort-like aroma. Only the relatively more common white and black truffle varieties were featured in the food we sampled.

The chefs from Caprial’s Bistro in Portland whipped up a truffled fennel-potato soup and a simple roasted carrot salad. (See recipes below).

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A cloyingly rich marsala pasta with white truffles and flecks of foie gras followed from Newman’s at 988 in Cannon Beach. And Vitaly and Kimberly Paley of Paley’s Place in Portland were on-hand to sign their new cookbook.

Truffles are a gift of nature that fruit in the earth in all regions of the world. Desert truffles, I learned today, are abundant in the Kalahari region of sub-Saharan Africa, in Austrailia and in the Middle East. In fact, there’s evidence that shows the “manna from Heaven” that fed the Israelites was likely morsels of desert truffle. How cool.

Roasted Carrot Salad with Sherry Dressing and Goat Cheese and White Truffles (have you noticed sherry vinegar is all the rage? I just got some for the first time.)

Serves 4

4 large carrots, peeled and large dice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and black pepper

Dressing

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

6 tablespoons olive oil

salt and black pepper

2 bunches watercress, washed and spun dry

2 ounces soft goat cheese

thinly sliced white truffle

Preheat oven 425 degrees convection bake setting. Place a heavy gauge sheet pan in the oven to pre-heat for about 10 minutes. Toss the carrots with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on the hot sheet pan in a single layer. Cook until tender and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

While the carrots are cooking, prepare the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, garlic and mustard together. While whisking slowly add the oil and whisk til incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve the salad, divide the watercress onto 4 plates. Top with the warm carrots and drizzle with the dressing. Top the salad with goat cheese and sliced truffle and serve.

Courtesy of Caprial and John Pence of Caprial’s Bistro

Written by baltimoregon

February 2, 2009 at 1:44 am

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