HEAD'S UP: Don't know why these last two posts didn't show up. I know I posted them, but in any event, if they seem dated, they are by a few weeks.
One of my oldest friends (more than thirty five years now) also lives in Portland. Jean-Francois and I have been through quite a lot together and one of the reasons I love the city so much is that I got to reconnect on a regular basis with my old friend. Summer means travel and he and his partner, Jay, just got back from a long and extended stay in France, Italy and Belgium. Jean-Francois retired as head of Portland's French-American school a few years ago, but he keeps busy as a consultant to a number of schools from Italy to Houston and Virginia Beach. I snagged him for a free night at home and we had dinner on Saturday night--I did the cooking. Dinner included a pork loin braised in milk--a recipe I've been doing from Marcella Hazan's THE CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKBOOK for some thirty years now. It's always a a hit. You gently braise a lean loin of pork in whole milk for a few years until its tender. Meanwhile, the milk has reduced to these glorious nut-brown curds in the pan. You skim off the fat, add a tablespoon or so of hot water, reducing the curds and creating a sauce. You then pour it over the sliced meat and serve. It's an amazing dish. I forgot to take to prepare my roasted potatoes, and instead, ran for the freezer and Trader Joe's excellent Tater Tots. I added a big mixed salad, and sauteed zucchini with scallions, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and showered it with a chiffonade of basil leaves. For dessert we had a gallette of pears with orange zest and vanilla.
My hydrangeas have turned colors. The big, showy round ones are green with a blush of pink and the spear-shaped flowers have taken on a reddish color (they were pure white in July). I wanted to capture their fall beauty and created this nice arrangement for the table.
John Baker brought a selection of cut flowers with gorgeous jewel colors and felt like fall from Zupans, his local high end grocer, which has a fine florist on the premises. The result was to spectacular arrangements that feel like fall.