Monday, September 6, 2010


Vintage Square Tablecloths Line Drying

Took my buddy Pat (who is here for a week-long visit) to Sellwood to check out the antique shops and found vintage square tablecloths to put on my patio table for company. When you compare the table linens of my grandmother and mother's generation, our contemporary looks are decidedly unimaginative. Even the two I chose are tame in comparison to others I might have chosen. Once home, I gave them a good soak, then ran them through the washing machine and line dried them outside off my balcony. They smell amazing. I do my sheets this way too.

I also put up eight more pints of pickles--this time using the recipe with more sugar and onions. They are ready to be stored for winter use. Canning is a lot of hard work! I may have retired for the season.

Last night Pat wanted to go out for dinner, so we went to Le Pigeon, a restaurant I've been to before and enjoyed thoroughly. It anything it was even better this time. It's located on busy SE Burnside and 7th Avenue, near a number of other hot restaurants on this strip, including Doug Fir and Noble Rot. We arrived wanting to sit at a counter overlooking the open kitchen. We got a prime spot on the side where we could watch the cooks put together an amazing number of entrees. We ordered a fabulous bottle of Pinot Noir (Ayres) and watched the show. Le Pigeon is a very good bistro with imaginative variations on classic dishes. We started with a dish of sweetbreads, which were sauteed in an obscene amount of butter. When the chef spooned off the portion and dumped it in the hot pan, Pat audibly expressed her shock! As the hot butter boiled away, the chef spooned it over the sweetbreads to color them. They were served on a kind of potato salad with wisps of frisee, some basil oil, capers and pieces of cooled cooked skate--an unusually wonderful combination. The sweetbreads were both creamy on the inside and crunchy out.

I wanted Black Cod, which was a thickly cut fillet sauteed with spears of yellow zucchini, mushrooms, smoked paprika, and a little sherry vinegar. The simple preparation let the quality of the fish shine through. Pat loves beef, and Beef Cheek Bourguignon is one of the most popular entrees, the rich and tender beef braised and served with carrots, shallots, and thick slices of of sauteed potato and napped with a thickened braising liquid. Throughout the meal we talked with a young couple from San Francisco who were sitting next to us, as well as to the sous chef in charge of cooking the fish and meat. At the same counter was a quiet Asian cook who assisted the chefs and presided over the preparations of desserts, which included adding sugar to creme brulee and hitting it with the blow torch to caramelize it. I'm not a fan of Le Pigeon's dessert offerings. Last May the table ordered among other things a kind of corn cake which they cover with butter and reheat in the a hot oven and then top with a scoop of maple ice cream, bacon bits and some sort of gooey sauce. That's not dessert to me, that's a brunch item and I'm no fan of brunch.

It was a wonderful dinner, however, and the level of cooking at this tiny restaurant with communal tables and lot of young diners, is extremely high. They are opening a new restaurant outpost in the SW part of the city this fall. I'm told it is a little more French.

Prune plums are showing up at the markets these days, an August ritual. I have an old recipe for an Italian plum cake that I decided to make on Friday night. It has almond flour and tasted not only perfect for dessert but leftovers make for a great breakfast.

Off to Costco to find a fire pit for the patio!

Italian Plum Cake

Classic Bread and Butter Pickles

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