a prayer for fat tuesday: paczki day 2013

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A souffle-waffle experimentIMG_4320A slice of chocolate mousse cake from Bon Appétit circa 1980IMG_2878Truth in Portlandia

Thank you, cruel Dominates of Moderates, for leaving your groveling minion one last day of respite: Fat Tuesday, the day we celebrate all that’s excessive and fat and delightful in carne-vale-esque fashion.

For I sing (softly and despairingly and despondently at times, but I sing) the body electric, for those of us who look like paczki and act like paczki, for we endeavor to lick the creamy filling out of our mortal days on earth.  I sing against watering down bourbon and decreasing diversity and kneecapping the tasty and pleasurable and loving.  I sing against the heart made of stone and the heart heavy as a stone and the body denied and the breath captured and the unseeing eye and the muted word, even though I know that Lent will still come and what will rise in the place of pleasure is not nearly enough.

But today, wearing my new perfume — no, not THAT perfume, Jesus — I will sally my pączek form forth into the daylight, and greedily, desperately, try not to feel the legacy of enforced continence, the pinch of the present, the undeniable, frightening, slouching-toward-us-inchoately horrors of the future.

Nothing better we can do, really.

Culinaria Eugenius Paczki Day coverage throughout the years can be found here.

planting seeds: good, bad, ugly

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IMG_2698 IMG_2701Seed catalogues for 2013 are now out.  The Willamette Valley is one of the richest seed-producing areas of the country, so we’re fortunate to be able to have close and intimate relationships with several farms and businesses cultivating seed crops.  Seeds that are adapted to Northwest gardens or heirloom varieties from maritime cool climates elsewhere in the world that grow well in our fair state are plentiful.  I’ve listed my favorites, and welcome your suggestions for others.  You also might want to be aware of vegetable hybrids that are owned by Monsanto.

Monsanto-owned brands (these may be distributed by other seed companies, so look at names of particular varieties):

Northwest-friendly, bred in Oregon:

  • Territorial Seed (Cottage Grove, OR): This is the big boy in the crowd, but still a solid local business.  They’ve stopped stocking Seminis seeds as of a few years ago, so the rumors of a Monsanto connection aren’t true.
  • Adaptive Seeds (Sweet Home, OR): Also Open Oak Farm, specializing in beans and grains and roots and all kinds of wonderful things for the PNW.  The pictures above of cool vintage farm equipment and the field used in their seed operation were taken a couple of months ago during a tour of the farm.
  • Wild Garden Seed (Philomath, OR): Also Shoulder-to-Shoulder Farm and related to Gathering Together Farm, specializing in lettuces and flowers, too.  Farmer Frank Morton developed my favorite variety of kale, White Russian.
  • Log House Plants (Cottage Grove, OR): excellent plant hybridizers responsible for the grafted tomatoes and a range of unusual seeds; check out their new Drunken Botanist collection.
  • Nichols Nursery (Albany, OR).  “New and Unusual” features sugar beets and a great romanesco-type zucchini.
  • Siskiyou Seeds (Williams, OR): Also Seven Seeds Farm.  Lists a number of cooperative seed growers locally and in WA and northern CA, too.

Others:

  • Chinese/Japanese/some Thai produce: Kitazawa Seed Co. (Oakland, CA): These are often sold in big Asian supermarkets on the West Coast.  I’ve seen them in Uwajimaya in Beaverton, but not around Eugene.
  • Italian produce:  Seeds of Italy (Italy): Absolutely gorgeous range of Italian varieties of vegetables and herbs.  Be careful on the growing seasons for some of the hot weather crops.

And if you’re thinking about learning more about gardening by volunteering, check out the Food for Lane County Gardens Program, which reports a record-breaking year in 2012. 190,000 pounds (their largest yield ever) of produce distributed to meal sites and pantries!  Contact Jen Anonia, Gardens Program Manager, janonia@foodforlanecounty.org or 541-343-2822.  Or just donate to FFLC!  There’s a terrific 1-for-1 matching program for the month of February.  All donations will be matched by an anonymous donor.  We’ll be interviewing Executive Director Beverlee Hughes this Sunday on Food for Thought on KLCC.

pickled ginger for locavores

Amazed to see a big tub of beautiful, pristine young ginger at the Groundwork Organics stand on Saturday morning.  I’ve long been dissatisfied with the preservatives in pale pink Japanese pickled ginger (gari), the Tonto to the Lone Ranger of sushi, so on the rare occasion I can find some new ginger in season, I make my own.  It’s crucial not to use the fibrous, older storage-ready ginger with the beige skin, since it will be too tough (I know from experience).  Instead, use the stuff that appears once a year or so in Japanese markets.  AND NOW IN EUGENE, WOO!

Groundwork should probably still have fresh ginger knobs for another week, judging from what they had left.  Don’t hesitate.  Ginger can be profitably frozen as-is.  You’ll lose the texture, but the taste when grated is just a bit muted, so use a little more.  I usually grate it while still frozen.

The pickling solution for the following recipe is rather mild.  You can use this ginger as you would fresh ginger, too.  I think the salt and vinegar just add a nice mild pop to the flavor.  It’s great in fried rice.

To achieve the pink color one sees in the commercial pickled ginger at sushi restaurants, don’t use red food coloring, as they do.  Instead, add a slice of beet briefly to the pickling solution, or carefully trim the darker pink base of the stem, if you have it left on your knob of ginger, and add the trim to the top of the jar.  The pink stem isn’t really edible because it’s too fibrous, so just be sure to remove it.  That’s what I’m using above.

Pickled Young Ginger

Makes half-pint

  • 1/2 lb. chunk of fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 c. rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • slice of red beet or dark pink outer rim of ginger (optional)

Wash, trim, and rub skin off young ginger with the tip of a spoon. Using a mandoline or Japanese slicer, slice ginger into paper-thin bite-sized pieces.  Salt the slices and let sit on the counter for an hour or so.  Drain off liquid and pack in half-pint canning jar or heat-proof container.  Bring rest of ingredients to a boil, then pour over ginger slices.  Optional: add a slice of dark beet or the layer of dark pink ginger for color to the liquid as it boils, then discard before pouring over ginger.  Let cool, then refrigerate for at least a week before using to develop flavors.  Should keep for several months refrigerated.

halloween came early in vegas, glad to be home

It’s been an intense month, but I’ve got a bit of breathing room.  It’s been a struggle to reorganize my priorities to spend more time strengthening my leg as I learn how to get full range of motion again, but it needs to be done.  I do less in a day so I can spend more time exercising and going to the gym.  But that’s ok for now.

Walking and taking photos has been a pleasure.  Since I’m so slow, I can see a great deal.  Walking downtown has been thrilling, seeing all the new food businesses emerge (a long overdue restaurant post will come soon, I promise). I’m also really excited to have been part of a team studying some possibilities for a food studies program at University of Oregon.  We went up to OSU to meet a number of Oregon scholars interested in a food studies coalition of sorts, then hosted several eminent food studies faculty from other institutions back at home.  I hope something good comes out of it all.

I’ve been planning some events with my food research group on campus, including the visit from Sandor Katz on November 16, too.  Then I spent a half-week in Las Vegas at a literature conference last week.  I’m still haunted by the Strip, where I saw Dora the Explorer and Freddy Kruger mingling among the tourists outside the Flamingo.  And don’t even get me started about what was inside.  Halloween came early!

Creepy, no?  The talking animated tree was at the Bellagio and the talking Neptune posed between the Nike swoosh and a Cheesecake Factory logo was part of an inaudible animatronic show depicting the fall of Atlantis at Caesars Palace.  The eyebrow-raising relief of Roman soldiers raping naked women, also Caesars Palace.  Check it out and its companion piece of Roman soldiers beating men when you enter the slot machine area.  No fucking joke.

I did enjoy seeing colleagues at the conference, where I presented my work on sexual modernity and on modernist food, and the Flamingo wasn’t a bad place to stay at all.  My room was very clean and the hall was absolutely silent.  Couldn’t ask for more, especially in the middle of the decline of Western civilization.  Great meals, too, at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon and Lotus of Siam, a hole in the wall place off the Strip in a mini-mall, made famous by Jonathan Gold a few years ago.  I had a noteworthy lamb leg with apples and blanched rutabaga cubes with a wonderful bottle of wine at the former, a pounded Northern Thai jackfruit and pork “dip” and a puffed rice and sausage dish at the latter.

But now I’m home sweet home, and couldn’t be happier to see my friends and neighbors and farmers at the market this weekend.  I walked around on my own for the first time in months, and it was a little hard, but I managed, even in the rain.

I skipped the zombie Thriller in Kesey plaza.  I had seen enough Halloween.  Instead, I reminded myself of how dazzling our fall produce is.  The hard winter squashes in yellows, oranges, reds, and slate blues are gorgeous, especially with the multi-hued peppers that remain, but I more stimulated by baskets of quinces and huckleberries at the gourd guy’s booth, brilliant red and gold flint corn polenta at Lonesome Whistle (their first go at flint corn!), and tiny American persimmons at Grateful Harvest alongside Concord grapes and the rest of the Italian prunes and fall strawberries. The weird weather created a stellar apple crop.  I bought some huge, delicious Pippins from Hentze farm, and drooled over Dave Biancalana’s description of his apple cider pork sausage with rosemary and apples.  There were golden raspberries and juicy Napa cabbage and new ginger (!!) at Groundworks Organics.  My favorite White Russian kale was available at Ruby & Amber’s Organic Oasis (I hope I’m remembering this one correctly). Cider from River Bend farm and roasting peppers were enticing us at the front of the market.  Someone whose name I forgot was selling local sweet potatoes, an important item of note for Thanksgiving.

As for what’s coming:  the mushrooms are sprouting up, especially golden chanterelles.  Beans and grains are being sorted and cleaned right now: expect the new crop very soon.  I’m pretty sure the hazelnut crop got swept up before the rains, too, so that means great plump filberts.  Walnuts should be here soon, and cranberries.  Time for homemade cran-vodkas, my favorite fall drink!

I love this little valley, this great state.  I’m so glad I’m here to share it with you.

partycart takeover with gabriel gil’s mexican food!

In the many hours I’ve sat at the bar listening to the food talk at Rabbit Bistro (now closed and soon to reopen downtown, we hope), I’ve only longed helplessly for one thing I thought I’d never have: Chef Gabriel Gil’s staff meals.  He often, it was reported, made food influenced by his Mexican grandma and all he soaked up by her side in the kitchen or out in the neighborhoods of Southern California.  So many times, I heard his entranced staff recount, enraptured, the staff meal they had eaten that week…and then they’d fantasize about other things Gabe said he’d make in the future.

Exhibit A:  The Tijuana Hot Dog.  As described in this charming illustration, the midcentury creation known south and north of the border as the Tijuana hot dog is a fiesta in a bun: hot dog wrapped in bacon with pico de gallo, pineapple, avocado, grilled jalapeno, crema.  I can’t remember if Gabe served it to his staff, or if they just WANTED IT.  But I very clearly remember that I wanted it, too.

And here’s my — and your — chance.

Next week, August 14-17, the chef will be taking over PartyCart‘s cart, to give the hardworking Partiers a rare couple of days off.  He’ll be making Tijuana hot dogs and a host of wonderful Mexican specialties that you’ve probably never heard of.  Throw away all your Norte prejudices and Tex-Mex paradigms, and come party with Gabe.  If you love good food and have an open heart, you won’t regret it.

This is the menu, as it stands.  (There might be changes over the weekend as they finish the prep.) He is keeping the PartyCart format of smaller and larger plates.  I don’t have a list of prices, but I’m sure they’ll be reasonable.  Don’t know what something is?  Google it! You’ll be happy you did.

Chef Gabriel Gil’s PartyCart Takeover Menu — August 14-17

-smaller-
*elote mexicano
*soup: summer squash, epazote, green chile
*salad: heirloom tomato, cactus, melon, radish, habanero,
*salad: vanilla octopus, jicama, pineapple, cilantro, cucumber

-bigger-
*Tijuana hot dog
*red chile noki, mushroom, spinach
*tacos de lengua
*pork tenderloin, papas nortenas, manchamantel

And Eugeniuses, if you want something particular that is not on this menu, something that fits your specialized, food-phobic, hyper-nutritious, elimination-insistent, or otherwise selective tastes, please don’t bring your complaints to the cart next week.  Go somewhere else.  There are plenty of places around town that will cater to your whims.  This is our opportunity to enjoy a great chef’s personal pleasures at a venue that works hard to bring new and unusual local food to Eugene.  Understand that this kind of thing doesn’t happen anywhere else.  If you can’t dig it, go away.  I can’t say this more kindly. Live in the moment, just as the Buddha would.  Seize the day like a Roman poet. Just do it, sayeth our Nike overlords.

If it goes well, and I’m SURE it will, perhaps PartyCart will do more takeovers in the future.  And how cool would that be?

the unexpected pleasures of savory watermelon

As soon as the sweet, dense, singular Eastern Oregon-grown Hermiston watermelons hit the market in late July, I try to keep a tub full of ready-to-eat slices close by in the refrigerator, just in case a heat-related emergency arises.  But heat and watermelon can be even chummier, I realized last night at an illuminating supper.

Taco Belly (which no one calls by its official name, Taqueria Belly) is the fancier new Belly’s scruffy kid sister, but no less beloved by its owners and staff and customers.  The regular menu is good, but the specials…well, sometimes the specials just Knock. It. Out. Of. The. Park.  I submit to you Exhibit A:

A grilled watermelon “salad,” special du jour du yesterday.  Watermelon salads are usually fussy things, with little cubes and precious dots and twiddles and fringes.  This was big, luscious slices of watermelon, grilled on a hot fire with the rinds on.  Then the slices were topped with pepitas, fresh goat cheese (I think), a simple roasted salsa roja, and a smattering of white onion and cilantro.  The pile is crowned with a few edible nasturtium flowers, which add not only fiery glory but a peppery and slightly bitter note.

This morning, admittedly high on watermelon, I found an elegant appetizer of salmon sashimi draped over a spiced watermelon refrigerator pickle from the slightly odd blog My Man’s Belly.  You can find her recipe linked in the watermelon category of the Punk Domestics preservation collective blog.  You might try smoked salmon, homemade gravlax or quickly seared salmon, as well.  Oregon salmon, of course.

But we can’t stop there.  I’ve been saving a recipe from the Bite of Eugene last year for exactly a moment like this, an original recipe that Iron Chef Oregon 2010, our dear Gabriel Gil of Rabbit Bistro & Bar served at the festival and distributed to attendees. Watermelon gazpacho. Yes.  It’s a subtle and perfect blend of watermelon and sweet, acidic summer tomatoes, with red peppers, cucumbers, onion and garlic to provide the underpinnings a good gazpacho needs.  It was my favorite soup last summer, so I asked Chef Gil (last year, hope he remembers) if I could post it on the blog.  And I trust my delay will be your future pleasure!

The soup should be started the night before you plan on serving it, since it needs to sit for 12 hours.  I suggest using dark, high acid tomatoes and Sungold cherry tomatoes, but any garden tomato is a winner in August.  You might want to reserve some of the vegetables for a little garnish in each bowl.  Straining the soup through a fine sieve is really an important step for a mind-blowing texture that will make your guests roll their eyes back into their heads in delight, but if you don’t have a sieve and don’t mind a more rustic finish, the blender will do.  You will still be loved.

Rabbit Bistro’s Watermelon Gazpacho

  • 2 lbs. assorted heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 pint basket heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 1.5 lbs. clean watermelon, no seeds
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 baguette, diced
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup dry red wine, preferably Spanish
  • 1 cup olive oil, preferably Spanish
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large container, mix all ingredients well and press on the tomatoes and watermelon, ensuring that they release enough liquid to almost cover the mixture. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Blend, in a blender, in batches, and pass through a fine sieve.  Serve in chilled bowls.  Serves approximately 8.

kinoks: capturing oregon’s summer

I absolutely love the new short film project by local business and internationally renowned Archival Clothing.  And not just because I appear as a hand and bust model alongside the tandoori tub and the nefarious smoker of yesterday’s post.

The films are called Kinoks, after Dziga Vertov‘s Kino-Eye (or ‘kino-oki‘) filmmaking group, who produced some of the first cinéma vérité film montages.  They made films of Russian city life in the 1920s. The Archival Clothing team brings the technique to Oregon — they splice dozens of one-second clips from ordinary point-and-shoot camera video to make art, ordinary life like a string of pearls.

Interested in participating?  I am.  Send along links of your finished one-minute film to Archival Clothing via their Facebook page.

niblets: your dad is celebrating no more tuition bills edition

A triple threat celebration this weekend: Father’s Day, UO graduation, and Bloomsday.  I might be the only one celebrating the latter, but celebrate it I shall.  So what’s new and notable in Eugene?

  • Well, first of all, we’ve got a fabulous Father’s Day Food for Thought on KLCC show coming at you tomorrow (Sun., June 17) at noon.  Boris Wiedenfeld and I are hosting with special guest Sheree Walters of Cornbread Café fame. We’ll be discussing alternative ways to enjoy the thrill of the grill, including tips for vegan and other non-steak specialties offered by local celebrity chefs, too.  Please join in the discussion and share your own grilling escapades this weekend at Food for Thought on KLCC.
  • Not one but TWO dumpling carts have sprung up like mushrooms on the wild streets of downtown near Broadway and Willamette. Open late for the drinking crowd, both, alas, are fusion.  Hott Buns Baozi [sic] offers cheeseburger and “breakfast burrito” flavors, and Dump City Dumplings (an even more unfortunate name) offers flavors including meat balls marinara and pad thai. But that’s ok, we’ll take what we can get for now and hope they have good traditional offerings, too.  Let ’em know we’re down for that if you stop by!  I sure will.
  • Sweet Cheeks Winery will be featuring Dump City as one of several vendors on their Food Cart Fridays this summer.  Check out the whole lineup on their website.
  • Red Agave has an important announcement: red and white sangrias are available with their outdoor seating.  Have a grilled shrimp skewer special and a few on this lovely weekend.
  • Or if you’re looking for a pick-me-up, sample J-Tea’s shaken, frothy Lemon Emerald Iced Tea, served on their patio.
  • Vero Espresso House will soon be serving wine and beer with small plates, too.  Join them for later evening hours and live music, starting in July.
  • Rye has a new menu, and that’s a good thing.  I want them to do well, and the food needs some fine-tuning to match the quality of the cocktails, especially the small plates.  You can’t go wrong with a Vancouver cocktail, by the way.  It’s like a gin Manhattan.
  • Word on the street is that Rennie’s Landing has the best Bloody Mary in town.  Not that you’d need one with family visiting. Just sayin’.

  • I am in need of a tall, cool one after helping out with demos at the Master Food Preserver jam and jelly class.  We made a dozen or so jelled delights using all manner of sweeteners and pectins to demonstrate the range of possibilities. And STRAWBERRY PIE, pictured above. Hope that convinces you to join us for the next classes in the series, check out the website for Basic Waterbath Canning in July and Pickling in August, plus tuna canning classes and more.
  • Jeff Eaton writes that the Garden of Eaton has started their end-of-planting-season sale:

Just thought I’d let you know that I’m putting all tomato, pepper, eggplant and tomatillo plants in 3-1/2″ pots on sale starting Saturday for just $1 per plant. This is a great opportunity to get you garden planted, if you have not already done so, or to try out some new varieties for a very affordable price.

I also have several hundred tomatoes that were potted up int  5-1/2″ pots a few weeks ago. These look great, and their more developed roots will give you headstart toward your first harvest. These plants are $4.00 each.  There are also discounts for larger purchases. Buy a full flat (18 plants) of 3-1/2″ plants for $15 or, if you buy five or more flats, you price will be $12 per flat. Flats of 8 5-1/2″ plants are $30, and five or more flats are $25 per flat.

I’m at 2650 Summer Lane (River Road north to Hunsaker; right to Summer; right again). Hours are noon to 6 PM every day. I’ll be wrapping up for the season in a couple of weeks, so don’t wait too long!

  • Gardeners may be watching their lackluster hot weather crops in dismay.  I know I am. Ross Penhallegon of OSU Extension says everything is slow and beans may need to be replanted.  Give it another go with bean starts at Eugene Backyard Farmer (5th and Washington), who announce:

We have magic beans available. Well, maybe not magic but they sure are growing fast and need to get into some gardens. Scarlet Runners for 2.49 and organic French Filet for 3.49. It is not to late to get most plants into the ground and we still have a good selection of peppers and tomatoes as well.

  • If you waited too long for Heidi Tunnell’s famous summer barn dinners on their property in Creswell like I did, though, you’re out of luck.  Completely sold out!

  • Luckily, I did have a chance to try the Mofongo special at Taco Belly (5th and High). It was a specialty from Puerto Rico and other Dominican locales. Pork belly mashed with ripe plantain to form a dumpling that was deep fried and sauced with a smoked tomato and chile puree, then topped with avocado and onion.  Fantastic.
  • Consider pickling your green strawberries.  I like the grassy flavor with a hint of strawberry aroma.  If we get several sunny days and the rain holds off, we may get some sweetness in the red ones…come on, sun!
  • Kandarian Wine Cellars and William Rose Wines, two boutique outfits operated with love by the winemakers at King Estate and Sweet Cheeks Winery, respectively, have some unbelievably good wines at terrific prices this spring.  You’ll see them at restaurants and specialty wine markets all over town, and you must try them if you see them.
  • Sweet Cheeks’ winemaker Mark Nicholl’s William Rose Wines are bold and buxom with Syrah as their foundation, including a dry, enchanting Merlot and Syrah rosé called Prohibition Rose, unlike anything else made in Oregon.  Both the reds, a Demon Bird blend and higher-end, smoother Syrah could snooze for a few more years in your cellar, or decant and drink now on a wild, dark night.  We love ’em, Mark.

  • Jeff Kandarian’s lineup for his little personal corner of King Estate, where he oversees the massive production of the wines we know and love, is equally thrilling.  His 2010 sauvignon blancs are particularly good.  Made in the New Zealand style, with that almost phosphorescent green tinge and playful tropical fruit flavors zingy with acid, you’ll be able to find the Blue Eye in restaurants around town.  It received a 90 from Wine Spectator, so it can’t be bad, right?  Alas, there are only just a few cases of the deeper and richer (!) Croft Vineyards organic Sauv Blanc, and the world suffers.  RUN down to Provisions to grab a bottle of the two cases Ryan begged off Jeff.  The 2009 Anomaly Zinfandel, which is an anomaly because it’s being bottled in Oregon and it is bright with the freshest red & black berries off the vine, both of and unlike the darker Zinfandels of central California, is also fantastic.  And the full-bodied, smoked-meaty Pepper Mélange Syrah was one of the favorites of the tasting group I was hanging with, so be sure to get that if you can.  You can contact Jeff through his under-construction website, which he confesses he’s too busy to update.  I guess we can understand.  Just keep making wine, Jeff.
  • Save the date(s?) for Bite of Eugene 2012, the best little riverside summer festival in Eugene.  I’ll be emceeing the Iron Chef Eugene contest again.  The only problem is that my sources have provided conflicting information about whether it will be held on July 20 or July 21.  Give us the scoop, folks!  We’re waiting eagerly!
  • We’re also awaiting more information on the annual Carts-and-a-Cold-One and the One Field Meal fundraisers for Slow Food Eugene.  Open! Open!

And good god, there’s much more, but this post is reaching epic lengths.  A couple of years ago, I resisted a kind request to write an article about a Eugene Food Renaissance, because I was convinced we weren’t there yet and it would make us look ridiculous to assert we were.  Well, we’re there now.  It’s going to be a great summer.

spring vegetables say hello, locavore!

A pile of the first, tender spring roots in our glorious valley never ever fail to make me all daffy.  You can keep your Jesus miracles.  I like natural ones. So I captured a bunch of the beauty at the Lane County Farmers Market today (with a few thrown in from last week).  Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

Lots of radishes: elongated French breakfast, bright pink ruby, and red ones. Hey Bales is growing daikon and has bunches of little ones about 4 inches long.  They’ll make wonderful pickles.

Tiny creamy-white turnips are a fleeting treat — they all too soon grow up, oy.  Pickle them whole or braise in a slightly sweet, buttery broth.  Spring onions are garlic are beginning to give way to leeks, and raabs are on their way out.

I saw one vendor with snap peas (the Organic Rednecks).  Beets in a rainbow of reds and yellows, from tiny to large, are all over the market.  You should retain the greens for beets and turnips; steam or saute them after washing, and dress with a little butter and garlic or with dashes of soy and rice vinegar and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Many vendors are selling tomatoes and peppers.  Unless you have a greenhouse, DO NOT give in to the temptation.  Every year I get closer and closer to the old timers who don’t plant tomatoes until mid-June.  Egads, who can wait that long!  But then I watch their tomatoes grow faster and better than mine.  So. Food for thought.

I also saw the first artichokes, new potatoes, many more eggs than last year, tender zucchini, napa cabbage, dried beans and grain, and flowers galore.  Those cherry blossoms are so gorgeous.  Too bad they’re so fragile.  SLO farm (who is selling the cherry blossoms) is also selling my absolutely favorite dark purple lilacs.

Enjoy the weekend and don’t forget to listen in to Food for Thought on KLCC (89.7) tomorrow, Sunday, April 29, at noon!  We bring you urban chickens and campus food pantries.

skate terrine and laughing ham: breakfast party

Saturday morning breakfast on a beautiful spring day at PartyCart.  They usually open at 9:00 for the special Saturday brunch and remain until the last Egg Mark Muffin is sold.

Above: slightly gelatinous skate wings layered in a terrine with yellow potatoes and herb salad, pickled carrots and shallots on the side.  Skate is a relative of the stingray, and I’ve had it in fishing communities, usually fried.  I’ve seen it crop up on high end restaurant menus, too, ones who probably get a charge out of serving a “trash fish” to yuppies. But for people like Tiffany who actually care about food and think you can spin skate wings into gold, it makes a perfect terrine material.  Perfect.  And at the best price point for a food cart.

What is an Egg Mark Muffin?  Thanks for asking.  It’s this.

Every week, Mark makes the English muffins out of local wheat and secret ingredients, then piles on different toppings.  This week it was an egg and cabbage frittata square, Laughing Stock cart-made ham (maybe the best ham I’ve ever had) and a miso-mustard sauce. This is what Eugene food can be, folks. Local, organic, made without clichés about being made with love.  Just creative, unique, delicious, tasty food.

PartyCart.  In the Healthy Pet parking lot at 28th and Friendly, across from J-Tea and next to the Friendly Street Market.  I’m going to keep talking about them until they are famous, so go sooner rather than later.  Menus for the week are posted here.