Wednesday, November 22, 2006

So much to blog, so little time!! What's up with the month-long breaks between blogs, you ask? My lack of an internet connection, and most recently, a constant stream of wonderful houseguests to keep me more than busy.

Here in the Kingdom of Lila, the last of our visiting dignitaries departed this morning, leaving memories of many a good meal behind (in my mind and in the size of my thighs!). I must say, it was difficult to choose between all of Portland's excellent restaurants when it came to what I wanted to show people and what I had an appetite for. Because restauranteurs here take "local" and "seasonal" incredibly seriously, what's growing is what's on the menu, and that means rich stuff--hearty root vegetables, and meats like pork, rabbit and duck. You're hard pressed to find a salad that's much more than mixed greens right now, and when a friend came to the Northwest with a craving for salmon, it was impossible to satisfy. Here the good restaurants won't serve salmon if it's been frozen, so when I called 4 different places, they all told me some variation of "sorry, it's not in season." Which is definitely admirable, albeit slightly frustrating. This is also a bit hard to get used to for most people, because in many places in this country and around the world, you can get any food at any time (it just has to be flown in from somewhere). But once you get used to eating food at the peak of it's season, you lose your appetite for the mediocre.

This past week, between delicous meals out, my friend and I collaborated to make what we deemed the best dinner of the week. We spent saturday morning at the farmers market, where we snacked on woodfired pizza (made right there in that oven-trailer) with lamb, leeks and chanterelle mushrooms, a yucatan chicken tamale, and caramel-pecan pie, sampling tastes of sauces and ciders along the way. We admired all of the intersting squashes and enormous root vegetables that are out right now--carrots, parsnips and such. Brussel sprouts were piled high, stuck to the stalks that they grow on like big war clubs, and all kinds of colorful variations of cauliflower (orange 'cheddar', purple, green). The mushrooms were out in mass supply--mounds of golden chanterelles, dusted with the dirt that they're found in. We sampled some wild ones that the farmers call "fried chicken"--savory, smooth round disks. We bought some of those, and my favorite, maitakes (the ones that look like grey coral heads, and taste so meaty). I already had a bunch of roots that I had bought a couple of weeks before, so with those and some shallots, we were set.

We bought some fresh free range chicken legs/thighs from new seasons (3 big ones for less than 5 bucks, I might add). We rubbed those with olive oil, hawaiian salt, red and black pepper, topped that with sprigs of thyme and rosemary (from the bush in front of my neighbor's house). We layed the chicken in a roasting pan atop a bed of sliced onion and golden delicious apples, and baked it until crispy. It was soooo moist and delicious!! I roasted a pan of the root vegetables--yams, parsnips, turnips, celeriac (celery root) with some quartered shallots, and olive oil and rosemary--that was so good too!! THEN we sauteed the mushrooms with shallots and that was just the perfect match for the other two. Such a yummy, savory winter meal. I ate the leftovers for lunch yesterday and impressed myself again. I think I'm still stuffed. mmmmmmmm....

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