dining niblets: may flowers edition

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  • Hungover. With delight, that is, at seeing our homeboy and “celebrity bartender” Jeffrey Morgenthaler come home last night, the prodigal son, to sling a few drinks at our new favorite Bar 201.  He couldn’t have done it without us.  Let’s just face facts: it was a lovefest.  So many people there to welcome him back made the bar absolutely effervescent with glee.  A good time was had by all.  A special menu with drinks that ranged from the amended (the East of Eden #2, a gossamery concoction of gin, St. Germain elderflower, lemon and Pinot Gris reduction), the sweet (a peach syrup mint julep), the totally excellent (Remember the Maine, with rye, cherry heering, and absinthe), and the floozie (the Caneflower, with aperol, cachaca, and St. Germaine).  Rico says that some of these will remain on the menu.  Some?  All?  I forget.
  • Present: many local celebrities of a certain stripe, including Elliot Martínez, whom I greeted with a complaint about BoozeWeek’s My Space page.  Kind of an obnoxious way to meet someone, and I’m sorry, but I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this ‘zine for, like, ever, and I’m too old to be at the right place at the right time.  This budding liquor rag now has a plain, grown-up WordPress blog.  YAY. Good luck, guys!  The ‘zine and blog look great (but yikes, copyedit sheer genius, please) and I’m going to subscribe.  This means I’ll never have to leave my house again.  If I keep going around being an asshole, I’m sure I won’t want to risk the streets of the Whiteaker.
  • Chinoiserie.  East Meets West on E. 13th doesn’t have a secret Chinese menu other than a few items on a whiteboard next to the cash register, but they have some rather good chive and shrimp dumplings listed.  We were also able to order some dishes that weren’t on the menu, thanks to our (read: not mine) Chinese prowess.  Tasty green beans with pork belly, see above.  Ask for ‘em by name.DSCF4100
  • Spicy! Another Asian restaurant stretching toward sort-of-not Americanized, have you visited the newest Korean restaurant in town?  Café Arirang on E. Broadway near Ferry St. Bridge has a weird location, but the food is good, and it is close to the university.  The owner makes her own kimchi, and there are several Korean standards.  My picture isn’t the best, sorry, but witness the spicy pork, two of the three (more please!) banchan dishes of kimchi, miso, and a forgettable tempura done in panko.
  • The new Cornucopia downtown is cute, with a warm design and friendly, if not exactly attentive, atmosphere.  The space is much more, well, spacious than the original.   Sadly, the dip for the French dip has not changed.  I don’t know if it’s just too much bouillon per cup, but it’s so salty it is almost inedible.  Other than that, no complaints other than I wish they had thought to liven up the menu a bit.  We didn’t try the cocktails, but I was surprised and suspicious they were more fancy than a burger place might call for, not to mention more expensive.
  • Pupusas, delicious pupusas, can be had at a cart on 1st around Washington, a reliable source tells me.  Maybe everyone knows this but yours truly.  I sure am glad I do now.  These Central American disks of masa (corn meal) filled with cheese or other goodies are served with a fresh salad.  Eugenia Bob says check ‘em out.  I’ll be there in line behind you.
  • I had no idea I’d be missing so much in a mere month away!  What else has happened on the food scene since I’ve been gone?  I’m still waiting to try the new gyro place on W. 11th: 5-buck gyros that spill out of the pita bread in bountiful meatiness, whoa!  Can’t beat that bizness.

spreading the dirt on off the waffle

If you haven’t tried Off the Waffle in Whiteaker yet, here’s another reason:  a new savory waffle with goat cheese and egg.  The “Goat Cheese Louise” is filled with said goat cheese and juevos haminados, or slow-cooked eggs Sephardic-style.  Lovely.  You can also choose from the wildly popular Nib-tella (made with a cocoa-hazelnut spread whipped up by Nib Dessert and Wine bar in town), banana chocolate chip, and a vegan coconut-banana concoction called “No-Dairy Gary.”  The Gary is made on non-vegan waffle irons, so purists might want to go eat a carrot or something instead.

I’m a big fan of these guys, if you haven’t noticed.  Dave and Omer Orian are kind and conscientious business-owners, offering a unique product and forging bonds between other food purveyors and the community at large.  They now have a barter board set up in the waffle shop, where Eugeniuses can exchange goods and services.  And you can always take some good stuff to barter for waffles.

But the main reason I’m posting this is to spread the dirt (haha) about another way the shop is sustainable.  They compost the waste from waffle-fixins, and have too much to use themselves.

A 5-gallon-bucket-worth of fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells (organic from Deck Family Farm) can be yours for free if you give them a call at 541-653-3972.  Bring your own bucket.

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Omer tells me that they can fill up a bucket in a couple of days.  They also have waffle scraps and dough for chickens, if you’re interested.

It’s too late to start your own compost for amending veggie beds, but you can start it now if you’d like to use the finished compost as top dressing later in the summer or create new beds that will be ready next spring.

I filled the bin in the picture almost to the top about two months ago, and added grass clippings and food scraps (including some from Off the Waffle) after I returned home.  With the warm weather and a dedicated aerator (namely, me and my pitchfork),  it’s almost ready to go.  I’ll be using this batch for my new pepper bed.

postal food drive tomorrow: be there

Don’t forget to leave out your bag of non-perishable food for the U.S. Postal Service food drive tomorrow, Saturday, May 9.  High protein and heat-and-eat items (e.g., chili, tuna, beef stew) are most appreciated.  These foods greatly supplement the commodity goods provided by the federal government (hunger basics like dried beans and rice).  Individual donations for this major drive diversify the diet of those who visit the food banks.  Just like the rest of us, this population includes vegetarians, diabetics, picky kids, ethnic food lovers, great cooks, gluten-free eaters, etc., so a wide range of products is very much appreciated.

miss tomato 2009 competition

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I’ve been sneaking in trips to garden shops this week between readin’ and writin’.  Tomatoes ensued.  It’s always so difficult to choose.  I aim for six plants, plenty for our small family of two and my canning and drying activities.  Aim, I said.  I always feel this deep dissatisfaction when buying tomatoes.  It’s greed, plain and simple.  I want it all.  It’s so hard to balance the days to ripening, types of tomatoes, the size of the plants, and deliciousness.

So I add another row.

And thus, I present to you the contestants for Miss Tomato 2009.  They all support gay marriage, because they were raised that way in their country.  They will appear in green ruffled evening gowns with yellow sequins in the order in which they ripen:

  • Silvery Fir Tree (58 days! to ripe, determinant, little slicer) – lacy foliage, heavy producer, early.
  • Sungold (65 days, indeterminant, cherry) – sweet, orange, cracks on the vine but worth it.
  • Chocolate Cherry (70 , ind, cherry) – haven’t tried.  I’m a big fan of the deep, bloody, burgundy tomatoes.
  • Principe Borghese (x 3) (80 days, det, paste) – I’ll blame Amy of Our Home Works if these go wrong. ;)
  • Aunt Ruby’s German Green (80 days, ind, slicer) (pictured) – husband has a thing for green tomatoes, largely based on the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.  Don’t ask.  And yeah, I know.
  • Black (85 days, ind, slicer) – Nom nom nom.
  • Brandywine (85 days, ind, slicer) – Every single year.  Very poor yield.  But I.  Just. Can’t. Stop.  At least I resisted a Purple Cherokee this time.
  • Best neighbors in the world gave me not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Cherokee Purple starts.  I would have resisted, but they were from my own damn tomatoes — seeds saved from last year.  They’re tiny and I am out of room, so we’ll see what happens.
  • I bought a large Early Girl on sale at Fred Meyer’s.  I haven’t had much luck with FM’s tomatoes.  Call me a sucker.  Territorial still doesn’t have the Oregon Stars in, and I can’t find any viable ones elsewhere in town.

I think I ‘m going to devote the new row only to paste tomatoes.  I still have one more to buy, but Territorial is plumb out, and I can’t find it anywhere else.  My husband would be happy with exclusively cherry tomatoes, but I rather like fussing over the big ones, watching them fruit, grow, and ripen.  We lose a few to disease, malformation, and critters.  And when they’re ready, all warm and musky and juicy….ah.  The agony, the joys.  The soap opera in the garden.

Now if you please, maestro, warm this mOth@f&ck@ up.

it’s business time

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“Have fun!” he said, clean as a whistle and handsome in his slicker as he pedaled away jauntily on his English three-speed.

“Can’t wait to see you tonight!” she said, equally vigorously, drenched and covered in compost mud.  She waved her shovel in the air as he sped down the street.  He didn’t look back.

i say tomato

dscf2022Now that I’m back in Eugene, after a most excellent research month somewhat dampened by a grueling trip home on metallic flying bacteria traps across country (swine flu, anyone?), I’ve got the garden on the brain.

I feel as if I’ve missed all the delicious Ramping Up to Garden Season this year.  I haven’t had time to browse the seed catalogues or even plan what I’ll be growing in all my rows.*

This week I have to either (1) spread my own compost, or (2) buy compost if mine isn’t ready, and prep the rows for tomatoes.  There’s a bit of weeding to done; I took care of most of it before I left, thank goodness, because the unweeded parts are overrun.

By the time we rolled out of bed this morning, had a debriefing session with the cats, and stopped in for a waffle at Off the Waffle (notice new website featuring the review from yours truly), the farmers’ market had been pretty much decimated.  I noticed that some of the tomatoes were already leggy and overgrown, and all the uncommon kinds were gone.

So…help a laggard out.  What’s shakin’ in the tomato world this year?  I’ll buy starts for my favorites this week if I can find them — Saucey paste tomatoes and Sungold cherries.  Oregon Star won best paste at Territorial; that’ll be my second choice if I can’t find Saucey.  I’ve had great success with Willamettes, so I’ll probably buy some of those or other Oregon-developed slicers.  And I’m always drawn back to some variety of Brandywine, since those fat, juicy, meaty, sweet heirlooms so delicious and I love their funny leaves, even if they aren’t heavy producers.  But I’d like to try something new. I haven’t had much luck with the Czech and other Eastern European varieties — I heard that they do fine in the cooler part of the season and then can’t handle the heat of our late summers.  Dunno if this is true.

Which tomatoes you putting in?  What are your old favorites and new experiments?  Which cultivars should I try?

All I know is I’m looking forward to this:

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Mmmmmmm.  Let summer begin!

*I’ve got the caneberries, seascape strawberries, artichokes, leeks/shallots/garlic, rhubarb, some leftover favas and overwintered fennel well underway, plus my usual herbs and a hopeful start on cilantro, so I don’t feel as if I’ve neglected the whole thing, but I missed all the tulips and most of the daffodils, which just makes a person feel unsettled, know what I mean?