Thursday, September 17, 2009

Foodlore from the Potato Man from Joseph, Oregon
He says Julia Child recognized his spuds at Higgins in Portland

I took this video this summer at the Farmer's Market in Portland, Oregon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Food Adventures
First Stop: Seattle

A few weeks ago, I packed up and headed out to do some traveling after I lost my job. First stop was Seattle, to a street festival in Poulsbo and the Pike Place Market with my friend Christian. It runs along the waterfront and is one of the longest continuously-run farmer's markets in the U.S.

At this market, fishmongers cry their wares in the traditional folksy sing-song style... and throw crustacious creatures like you'd expect a quarterback to throw a football. It works! The place has great fish, but the performance is just as important to business!

My friend Christian, who I hung out with, is a former Yugoslavian rockstar who played drums in a band called Kukuspit . Christian suffered a stroke a few years ago and now uses a cane to help him keep balance.

Here's Christian, back in the day, as the Bad-A prodigal son living the high life in Bratislava and playing in the band.

Christian's got a Frankensteinian scar that runs down the middle of his skull to the base of his neck. The stroke made it difficult for him to use the left side of his body. He says he's almost always dizzy as well. This guy has more tenacity than most people I know. He could have used his disability as an excuse to lounge around on his mother's couch, but Christian quickly got a job to rehabilitate, then less than a year later, chose to leave his family and move across the country without a job, just to have his independence. He landed a job shortly after and now get's along pretty well- except sometimes when he eats soup (read on.)

When I arrived at his apartment by the Navy shipyards in Bremerton, I was terrified by something bizarre I spyed on the ceiling. It felt as though I had landed in a crime scene: the ceiling looked like it was splattered with blood and guts.

"Who did you kill?" I asked him.
"It's soup." he said.

It was gross: little bits of red stuff resembling tiny pieces of mutilated flesh and blood from a murder scene hung dried from his ceiling and the top of his wall.

Like a detective, I inspected further and saw something that looked like celery and was reassured.

Christian's left hand is a little shaky since the stroke. He told me he had sat down to microwave some dried soup and his hand did some little post-stroke trick on him, catapulting the soup out of his bum hand and all over: onto the wall and ceiling. Needless to say, I insisted on helping remove the offending soup by scrubbing his ceiling.

That evening we went driving and stopped at a Norwegian town called Poulsbo. As luck would have it, it was that time of year when the Viking Festival was going on, a Scandinavian street fair. We stopped and wandered around.

There really could be no better way to start my trip than by a neighborhood street fair that sold food reminding me of my Norwegian heritage.

My grandmother used to make rosettes and sandbuckles for Christmas and my family makes Lefse and meatballs to celebrate our heritage during holidays.

We stopped by the Polsbo Bakery, famous for Poulsbo bread. I bought very yummy lefse, which is a flat potato pancake Scandinavians eat. They spread things on it or use it to wrap up meatballs.

Rosettes. They are much better when fresh from the fryer.

Some of the riffraff at the fair.

And look it's the Viking Days Royalty.

When the sun went down, the party just started. We all rocked out in the street with a live band.

DAY TWO: Downtown Seattle
A pair of firsts: Lychee and cow tongue

The next day we went to Seattle. It was my first time to the city and I highly recommend having the ferry do the introductions. There's something soo delicious about approaching a new city by boat.

It was an untypically sunny day in Seattle and we planned to spend the day at the Pike Place Market and downtown.

Pike Place Market made me giddy. It's a market and street baazar almost a block long. Women selling flowers, rows and rows of fresh produce, just-pulled-from-the ocean fish and lots of artisan foods, art and other wares. If this isn't a foodie's dream come true, I don't know what is. I bought some smoked salmon and Christian and I ate it outside.

I loved this board above the fishmongers case where people had tacked all kind of messages. It looked so seaworthy, it did.

This group of fruit and veggies growers were also really vocal in selling their produce. Here's a guy passing out samples of the most delicious peach!

Here's a guy trying his first lychee, which is a funny-looking fruit with a rough skin. The inside is very slippery and sort of rubbery in the mouth. It had a giant pit inside.

This is what they look like on the outside.

Here's the woman who sold me the lychee and the pomegranate, I like that her hair and shirt were both the same hue as lychees and pomegranates.

How to tell if you've got a good pomegranate? The woman above suggested I choose the one with the dullest looking shell and it would taste the most flavorful.

Before I left Seattle, I tried to catch at least one bite to sastify the gourmand in me. Foodies must be careful in Seattle, you can easily burn through money here on amazing finds. While walking back to my car, I stopped to ask a guy for directions and for recommendations of some places to eat.

As luck would have it, the guy who I asked was the pastry chef at Volterra, a Zagat-rated Italian restaurant in town. His name is Tom (I think the expression on his face is so funny considering what his shirt says. He looks almost guilty.)

He and his chef/server friends who sat outside drinking beer said, "we were just going to eat, why don't you come with us." Little did I know, I would soon eat my first morsel of a cow tongue surrounded by an bawdy group of slightly intoxicated men- or should I say boys :).

We walked up a half a block to a little french diner called Le Pichet.

This is Ben (left) and Josh (right). Josh works as a saute cook at Barrio. Michael sits beside me. All agreed that cow tongue is one of their favorite things to eat. Josh believes it has a cinnamon-like flavor. I'd have to put eating cow tongue on the top of my list of food adventures (you can see the taste buds on the slice of tongue) but these boys, especially Tom, have some stories to tell about edible adventures. One of Tom's most wild adventures was eating sheep brains in Morrocco. He tells me I've got to try a kind of Oyster that comes with a little sandcrab inside. And the boys inform me, "that myth you hear about the cooks having sex with the waitresses, it's not a myth."

"You don't want to know what goes on behind closed doors, it's fowl," one of the boys said. And I don't think he's talking about chicken.

Michael is a server who tells me he had some kind of dream that he was surrounded by people from India and he thinks he needs to travel there.

Their order came: Assiette de charcuterie: a selection of cured and preserved meats. On this plate was liver and cow tongue and the boys were happy to share. I pulled out a wedge of truffle sheep cheese and offered it to them as well.

I ordered the Rillete de lapin et sa confiture aux fruites d'arte: Potted rabbit-pork spread with caper berries and stone fruit jam. The rabbit pork pate had a layer of fat on one end, "the best part," the boys said.

Michael of the guys ordered this and offered me a bite.

Ham and eggs done-up more deliciously than I've ever tried 'em.

Nice guys. Thanks for sharing a plate.