duck, duck, goose, ice cream PARTY: food for thought today

IMG_3276Don’t forget to party with Boris and me today at noon on Food for Thought. We’ll be chatting with James Beard Award-winning author and wild foods expert Hank Shaw, who will discuss his new cookbook, Duck, Duck, Goose, morel season, and fishing in Depoe Bay.  And we’ll hear all the news downtown from Chief Churners Stuart and Emily Phillips from Red Wagon Creamery and Chef Mark Kosmicki from Party Downtown.

Coming your way fast and furious: Food for Thought on KLCC Sunday at noon (PST) on 89.7FM in Eugene, or its sister stations all across Oregon, or live on the web.

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new year’s eve experiments in asian fusion

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The year ended for us with some food play — a joint special dinner with the new Asian fusion restaurant Mame and our local favorites, the PartyCart duo.  The green interior, unfortunately, makes the light less than appetizing in photos, but I could save a few, and I think the others adjusted pretty well in black and white.

My favorite dishes were cured yellowtail nigiri sushi; a version of chicken Kiev by way of Buffalo and Paris, with blue cheese mousse and celeriac; Thai deep-fried “son in law egg” with quince caramel and fried shallots; and the lovely, tender raw scallop with “shaved scallop bacon” and a jalapeno vinaigrette.  Retrogrouch models the scotch quail egg with chorizo and a miso honey mustard sauce, above.  The courses were paired with a range of intriguing beverages, each wholly different from the next: a pink bubbly, peach mead, beers dark and white, and one flavored with saffron.

I’ve posted a few of the more intriguing specialties here, and a full set on my Facebook page.

Top to bottom: most of menu, skewered chicken skin with “weird sauce,” fried chicken, son-in-law eggs, toro nigiri with black truffle, soba with greens, scallop.

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Hope you had as many delights and more as 2012 drew to a close!

slowly but surely: photos of the one field meal 2012

We had a lovely time at the Slow Food Eugene One Field Meal yesterday evening.  It was held this year at McKenzie River Organic Farm, a beautiful old farmstead out east of Springfield on Highway 126.  The farm, owned by Carol Ach, Sam Ach, and Jack Richardson, still has producing blueberries from nearly 70-year-old bushes.  I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to withstand the walking tour, but I am excited for the invitation to go back when I’m able.

Instead, I took pictures of the pig roast breakdown. That gorgeous layer of fat! Those brilliant blue gloves!  You’re welcome!

Take a look at the full set on my Culinaria Eugenius Facebook page.  I hope you’ll also get some pleasure looking at the local meal whipped up from PartyCart and Red Wagon Creamery.

We started off the evening with Territorial wines, Ninkasi beer, and pickles, always a good idea: eggplant, cantaloupe, and zucchini.  The pig, raised to a fat beauty on the farm, was finished with sea salt and dressed at table with PartyCart Chef Tiffany Norton’s and Chef Mark Kosmicki’s harvest gold sweet-sour ground cherry barbecue sauce.  My waistline said thank you, PartyCart, for many delicious vegetable sides instead of the ubiquitous potatoes — we ate splendidly of vinegared greens, chow-chow blackened green beans, and corn maque choux, which is like corn on her prom night, bedecked and jeweled.  The evening ended with an unusual peach leaf and brandy ice cream made by the brilliant mind of Emily Phillips at Red Wagon Creamery, and served up with Chef Emily’s gluten-free blueberry teff cobbler.

The meal was a fundraiser for the Farm To School Program, the School Garden Project, and to send delegates to Slow Food’s Terra Madre annual conference.

Yes, a delicious fall evening in the field of apple trees, flanked by strawberry and blueberry fields.  The farmstand was open after the meal, so we were able to take home cherry tomatoes and carrots.  I regret not picking up a few pints of ground cherries for more of that barbecue sauce.  Thanks so much for such a pleasant experience to all the chefs, McKenzie River Organic Farm, and Slow Food Eugene!

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?

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.