Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer's Bounty/Food Shopping July 27, 2009

At the peak of summer, my thoughts have been much taken up with locally produced food, and Portland certainly provides some of the most bountiful markets I’ve ever encountered.  The variety, quality, and sheer beauty of fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and other locally produced foods is hugely impressive, and as good anything I’ve purchased in New York.


I bought red corn at Limbo’s, an organic vegetable and fruit market right next to my local Trader Joe’s.  It was gorgeous to look at, and tasted wonderful.  Each pale yellow kernel had a spot of red on its surface.  I sautéed it off the cob in butter with finely diced zucchini, and finished it with a chiffonade of basil from my garden.  The flavor was unbelievable.  I’ve roasted red peppers, and preserved them in oil with garlic and fresh oregano, roasted a small head of yellow cauliflower with just salt and extra virgin olive oil, and practically made a meal of it in one sitting.  I picked up a necatarine that was so fragrant I had to buy seven of these large beauties.  I brought them home, and made Lee Bailey’s peach cobbler with a pie crust gently lowered into a deep soufflé dish.  The sliced fruit was tossed with sugar, a touch of nutmeg and butter only.  I invited friends over for a bottle of Provencal rose and the cobbler with French vanilla ice cream.  I’m still thinking about the simplicity of that wonderful pie crust as a soft and yet textural contrast to the soft, deeply flavored fruit.  I can’t help it.  These smells and tastes and textures stay with me. 


I was in a hurry last week and made a pizza practically faster than anyone can reheat something in a microwave. I bought whole wheat dough  at Trader Joe’s.  I let it warm up, and rolled it out and put it on a peel with some cornmeal.  I slathered it with a red pepper, garlic and eggplant spread instead of traditional pizza sauce and topped it with finely sliced pieces of Monterrey Pepper Jack cheese, and popped it in a 450 degree hot oven for 13 minutes. With a green salad, it made a fine dinne, and was almost as good for lunch the next day. 


Lest you think I’ve gone totally loco, I’ve also eaten a lot of fish and chicken, and I’m avoiding as much bread and passing on the pasta.  Breakfast is usually oatmeal and fresh fruit, or shredded wheat and fresh fruit.  Lunch is generally a modest sandwich.  Been too busy with the house to stop to make much of a fuss about lunch. 


Locally on my rounds, I discovered Otto’s, a well-known sausage maker not too far from my house.  And I so love “tubed meats,“ to quote my good friend, Jon Sawyer,  They grill a smoked pork link hot dog and it tastes heavenly with a slather of locally made chipotle mustard, which I had to buy with a few of those dogs for some future lunch.


While exploring the local New Seasons—an upscale supermarket, like Whole Foods, I encountered ground chicken thigh meat at about $4.95 a pound.  I bought some and came home and made my standard meatloaf recipe from it (panko crumbs, parmesan, tomato sauce, sautéed onions and red pepper, a handful of chopped fresh parsley and oregano from my garden, an egg, some red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Was as good as my usual combination of beef, pork and veal, and made wonderful sandwiches for the next two days.


Been up since 6:30 this morning for my first excursion to the Beaverton (a local Portland suburb) Farmer’s Market, a huge outdoor market that sells everything from organic fruits and vegetables, jams and baked goods, relishes, pickles, organic meats, fresh fish, and outstanding fresh coffee and tea to locally made cheesecakes, artisanal candies, huge Tex-Mex breakfasts, and much else.  Kent Watson, the head of PubWest, a publishing trade association that I’ve joined out here, picked me up early to take in this popular local shopping area plus other favorite food haunts.  I couldn’t bring Beau because dogs have been banned from the farmer’s market.  I guess someone wasn’t in control of their animals, and the rules got changed.  No matter, he can’t go everywhere with me.


In short order, I bought fresh beets, an Italian artichoke for dinner tonight, some radishes, some Ranier cherries, a pint of aromatic raspberries, some small, deeply colored tomatoes and some hazelnuts (most hazelnuts in the U.S. come from Oregon).  I wanted corn again, but how many ears can you eat?  Variety is clearly needed, besides I had Purple Kale at home that needs to be cooked. 


Kent next to me to Uwajimaya, a superbly stocked Asian SUPERmarket, where I found some of my favorite chili-garlic sauce, a ginger chili sauce, plus a fabulous piece of skate wing for my dinner tonight, and then we were off to a kind of odd-job food market, where you could buy bottles of French and California rose for as little as $2.99 a bottle.  The market was huge, selling deeply discounted foods, and it was fascinating to tour the aisles.  I can’t wait to go back.


In addition to my pan sautéed skate wing with butter, lemon, capers and parsley for dinner tonight, I’ll have my steamed artichoke and the roasted beet, radish and cucumber salad with chopped chives, olive oil, sherry wine vinegar with some red wine vinegar for brightness.  And two glasses of rose.


The temperatures are rising to the low 100s for the next few days so it’s a good thing that I now have central air conditioning for the house.  Monday, however, I’ll move out for a few days while my living, dining and kitchen floors get refinished.


The new rugs and as well as the cleaned rugs from New York are ready to be laid, and the new refrigerator as well as a bed for the guest room have been ordered.  Painting is next. 


John Baker generously gave me his father’s lawn mower (Dad is 103 and living with his son).  So we mowed the jungle in the backyard on Friday.  It looks like an emerald carpet. 

1 comment:

  1. ooo... i am an eggplant super fan! sigh. i want the spicy eggplant sooooo badly right now. with rice.

    Here I bought a sauce pack so as to skip all the seasonings! and i will try this friday after work.