nose-to-tail eating in eugene

IMG_3012Surely not for the faint of heart, but a great pleasure for adventurous eaters: nose-to-tail cooking.  Popularized by British Chef Fergus Henderson, the concept asks cooks to honor the animal by consuming as much of it as possible.  This usually translates into sausages and terrines and soups, many European specialties, but there are also some wonderful options in Asian and Central American restaurants, too.  Many Americans find the idea of eating “the nasty bits,” as Anthony Bourdain calls them, revolting, but I think it’s worth our consideration as meat-eaters and ethical diners.

The duck chins, above, are Exhibit A.

IMG_3018At least with the larger mammals.  Tiny squid?  Well, it’s just pleasure to eat them whole.  Above, hotaru ika sushi at Kamitori, one of the finest preparations of squid I’ve ever eaten in my life.  Hotaru means firefly, and these little guys, about an inch or two long, bioluminesce in the dark water.  And since I’ve long suspected that squid were ruined for me after the most exquisite experience eating ika sashimi on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Japan, freshly hauled from the water, I’m so grateful.  Once again Chef Masa has filled me with unspeakable joy by serving sea creatures with respect and craft.  And no eyeballs, which were kindly removed.

Also, I was honored to join some of my students for an adventure this week at Spring Garden restaurant in Springfield, where we tried some of the more unusual items on the menu, including rabbit in a clay pot with ginger, salt-and-pepper fried chicken cartilage, stir-fried elk with onions and peppers, “saliva” chicken in a spicy sauce, and a dish that will horrify the local sportsfans among us, spicy duck chins with their little tongues a-waggin’ (top photo).  Below, you can see the English translation of the menu and the other dishes we enjoyed.

Spring Garden is a challenge, but it also has great possibilities on the Chinese menu even if you’re not into nose-to-tail cooking or exotic birds and reptiles.  You might also, if you must, order from the American menu with all the standards.  If you’re curious about the duck chins, which are of course the lower part of the duck bill, they are crunchy on the tip, and you eat the tongue, then pick at the meat at the base of the bill.  The chicken cartilage was crunchy, as expected; it was chopped into chunks and deep-fried in a batter lively with salt and Sichuan peppercorn, and decorated with chiles. Saliva chicken seemed to be steamed chicken in a spicy sauce — probably my favorite of all the dishes of the night.

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Spring Garden Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

carts and a cold one TONIGHT!

The third annual Carts and A Cold One Cook-off at Ninkasi Brewery will be held tonight!  The festival is a benefit for Slow Food Eugene‘s programs: School Gardens Project, Farm to School, and Terra Madre Program.  Carts battling for supremacy: Vanilla Jill’s Frozen Yogurt, The Sandwich League, PartyCart, Rolling Stone Pizza, and Sammitch.  Way cooler than Faerieworlds, in my opinion, but I’ve never really been one for elven ears or excess vowels.  If you want a taste of what you’ll see, watch Whiteaker tastemaker Elliot Martinez on a short film from last year’s CACO.

Also: listen in on Food for Thought on KLCC today at noon with Laura and Ryan, who will host Farmer John Karlik of Sweetwater Farm.  They’ll discuss the local food movement, a new farmer’s market in the Fairmount neighborhood, and Sweetwater’s efforts to bring fresh produce to a low-income neighborhood in Springfield with LCHAY, WFFC, and Dari-Mart.

And a note to project managers: if you want me to promote your food-related festival in Lane County or thereabouts, send me a very short blurb (paragraph-length) and .jpg image like the one above at least a week in advance to my Facebook page or email at wellsuited [at] gmail [dot] com.  The easier it is for me to post, the more of a chance I’ll be able to do it.

sweetwater farm’s two new markets — and one partnership with dari mart!

Excited to learn that two of my favorite local farmers, Lynn Crosby and John Karlik of Sweetwater Farm/Good Food Easy CSA, are breaking ground yet again!  That’s Farmer John, above, at this year’s Fun with Fermentation festival.  Creswell-based Sweetwater Farm has two NEW farm stands, one in the Fairmount neighborhood at 19th and Agate on Sundays, and one in an unexpected place — outside the Dari Mart at 1243 Rainbow Drive (at Centennial) in Springfield on Wednesdays.

As excited as I am to see Sweetwater join together with a new local meat and poultry vendor Fair Valley Farm (Edited: some of the participants I listed earlier are not participating) at the Sunday market from 10-2:30, filling a void in our week full of markets, I’m even more excited about the Springfield market on Wednesdays between 4 and 6 p.m.

Why’s that, you say?

It’s not just because today, Wednesday, July 25, is their grand opening with cooking demonstrations and a kids’ activity area from 4:00-6:00 p.m…

It’s what this Springfield market represents: a growing movement to bring healthy and fresh local food to areas that don’t have easy access to fancy supermarkets and almost daily farmers markets like we do in South Eugene.  Dari Mart, a family-owned local company that also operates Lochmead Dairy, has almost 50 stores in the Willamette Valley, and we are so thankful for their interest in sustainability initiatives.  Last year, they formed a partnership  with several local non-profit organizations (including the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition and NEDCO (Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation) of Springfield) to improve good food access and fight childhood obesity in what are called “mixed-income neighborhoods.”  The organization spearheading the effort, Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth (LCHAY), notes that Dari Mart is a pioneer in this type of partnership, as there aren’t many mid-sized chain operators interested in connecting with local farmers and non-profits to introduce fresh produce and other healthy food to the convenience store.  You can learn more about LCHAY’s initiative called the Healthy Corner Store project, and more about Dari Mart’s efforts to bring fresh food to its customers, here.

Sweetwater Farm has been selling produce now for a few weeks at Dari Mart’s Centennial location, and Lynn tells me that it’s been going well so far.  Come make it even more of a success today, and enjoy their official grand opening!

And if your organization is interested in participating in a similar project or you’re looking to give these folks some welcome media exposure, LCHAY’s contact is Claire Syrett, Manager, Policy and Advocacy Initiatives, Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth (LCHAY), 541-682-4306, claire at lchay dot org.

niblets: wearing o’ the green edition

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Plant at least one potato for good luck, tradition tells us.  Then again, tradition tells us it doesn’t snow in March.  Forecast for Monday: low 42 degrees, snow showers.  That doesn’t even make SENSE.  Sheesh.

So I will ignore it, just as I ignored hail hailing on my head on my way to class at least eight days a week this term.

For there are springy things a-springing, and great news for us.

Springfield, for example, has a building — with the help of the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) nonprofit organization — for a new indoor, year-round farmers market. Housed in a former church at 4th and A Street, the future market recently hosted an open house to show plans for Sprout!.  The celebration was fun, with music and raffle drawings.  The gentleman above in the hat presided, and there was a visit from Samba Ja and free nibbles from a range of eateries.  The place was packed.

Sprout! will have two anchor café spaces and seventeen indoor stalls to expand and augment the existing outdoor farmers market.  The indoor stalls will be about 10×6′, and will be placed along the windows and down the nave and transcepts, as pictured here:

“It seems small,” groused one attendee while looking at the plans.

“That’s because it is small,” replied the patient man from the architecture team.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.  The place is big enough for a commercial kitchen and event space, plus the outdoor area for food carts and market vendors.  And we need to keep in mind that the winter markets usually don’t host as many vendors as the summer ones do.

All in all, I’m thrilled this space is being made possible as a reuse and recycle for Springfield.  NEDCO is really doing fantastic work.  I do hope the ‘!’ falls off the Sprout!, though.  People are going to find that exhausting and gimmicky.  You can follow the progress of Sprout! and the Springfield farmers market on their Facebook page.

And it’s wild greens season.  If you are tired of the little western bittercress popping its seeds in your eye, eat it!  Perfectly edible. Or you can pick some stinging nettles or buy them already de-stung at one of our local markets.

For more ideas about how to prepare more green things, like stinging nettles, wild onions, and dandelions, listen to Food for Thought on KLCC tomorrow, Sunday, March 18, at noon. Join me and Ryan at noon, with special guests Heather Arndt Anderson of the fantastic food blog Voodoo & Sauce, Ben Jacobsen of Portland’s first local salt company, Jacobsen Salt Co., and our very own Izakaya Meiji‘s Quinn Brown.