Here & There for The Fall 2012 – Brain Rumbles to Ponder

Nov 09

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Here & There . I like the sound of that . It is like you can go where you want , and do what you want , and whenever you want . Food lovers …foodies ; cooks and enthusiasts – I think they all agree the freedom we have in the kitchen and at any dining table  is much of the attraction of why we do what we do . Besides… eating well is best accomplished if we have a personal hand in any or all phases .

Filberts or Hazelnuts ? Anyway you look at them ,  they are a popular nut from the Hazel tree or large shrub . Oregon’s Willamette Valley grows 99% of the USA production ! That being said , it is most popular in Europe and the eastern Mediterranean . World wide production leader with 75 % is in Turkey…although the crop is grown in Greece ,Italy , south of Spain , Georgia , and in the far East . Have you had Nutella ? It is to Europe what peanut butter is to the USA . Hazelnuts are used in so many wonderful ways- in pastries ,with fine chocolates , savory recipes …many more than I have room to recount .

Here is a favorite way to enjoy hazelnuts .  ****Put 2 cups of nuts on a sheet pan and place in a preheated oven at 425 temp . Be sure to check every 3 minutes until skins start to darken and a wonderful scent comes wafting forth . (Don’t burn them! ) In about 6 – 9 minutes , remove to a clean kitchen towel ; let cool a bit and rub the nuts with the towel to remove as much of the darkened skin as possible.  Toss the nuts in a S/S or non stick saute pan with 2-3 Tbsp. of heated canola oil ,  a big pinch of sea salt , 1/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon , 1/4 tsp. of granulated garlic , a good grating of fresh nutmeg ,  a small pinch of cayenne pepper and a tablespoon or so of brown sugar . Shake the pan all around until all is melted and smooth . Turn out on a plate to cool . Store in a covered container …or BETTER YET – forget that ; open a bottle of your favorite Oregon craft beer  and grab a handful of those nuts with a friend . Two or more friends …. you didn’t make enough nuts ? So let’s make more !  You now have gone beyond that ” old Beer Nuts and peanuts-in-the-shell at the favorite tavern practice ” .

RESTAURANT REVIEWS  – I recently read Willamette Weeks review of Imperial…Vitaly Paley’s new venture in Hotel Lucia .

A POINT of THE KNIFE Martin Cizmar’s words gave me some “Rumbles to Ponder ” . This young gentleman has an impressive record as a  journalist . Music critic , now a restaurant reviewer for Willamette Week …. he  has published his adventure to weight loss (very commendable as I myself have  shed 185 lbs. since 1997  )  and  made a brave  stand for his beliefs . After reading the review about IMPERIAL  ,  I queried some restaurant diners that I have known for many years about this article . These are folks who have been to Imperial recently and are also fans of Paley’s Place…not to mention many of the other  marvelous  choices we have in Portland for good food experiences . These are people who have the lifestyle choices and experiences that extend to years and years of travel to legendary spots for unique eating experiences on a global scale . They , like me , disagree with the overall tone of Mr. Cizmar’s piece .

I think Chef Paley’s Duck Meatballs are marvelous ; the Rabbit dish is also a delicious preparation . I am not going to go into great detail of the complete text here . I feel strongly that the review seemed more like he felt a need to present a clever approach , rather than to  review the Imperial simply and concisely  . I found it interesting that Mr. Cizmar has stated in print that he really doesn’t like to cook . One would question a restaurant reviewer in this day of  ” the culinary awareness ”  to be qualified for the position if he doesn’t really like to cook . Maybe in a  different city ; one that doesn’t have such a successful culinary  food profile and reputation  ( like is so prevelant here in Portland ) . Everyone is definitely entitled to opinions. Restaurant reviewers AND an old chef & restaurant veteran alike . I hope to see less references to Conestoga wagons and Granny Clampett ; and less clever food observations  and a lot more honest , knowledge based substance in Mr. Cizmar’ s future presentations.

I have many fond memories of Willamete Week and will continue to do so . Matt Kramer, the internationally well , known wine writer/columnist/and author , was the reviewer in 1977  (he took a hard line and concise approach ) . His positive review allowed Belinda’s restaurant in Sellwood to move forward when we were unknown . Later on ,  WW featured a piece called, “We discovered him ….etc etc.” . I will always measure those words  a wonderful memory ; but  I and my staff earned them  In  the following few years ,  the customers came , dined ,drank wine , celebrated special times and that echoed what had been written . Mr . Cizmar is on a positive path to earning as we did those years ago ; meanwhile we will wait for the good  that is coming .

Lots of interest by young and old in this age of “food is a hobby too ” as many new restaurants open . Yaw’s Top Notch has recently opened on NE Glisan to big crowds. There are activities a foot for other places with past successes to open again in Oregon . They will have to work hard to “Know their customer ” and ” Fill the void “… if there is one . We all must agree that the truth is the only thing that will work always .  Just a good idea is not enough . It will be fun to see how these proposed “new ” places fare in the coming months . So ; the question is asked, “is what has been old is also new ?”

AN ANCIENT PROVERB –  ” To attract good fortune , spend a new penny on an old friend , share an old pleasure with a new friend , and lift up the heart of a TRUE FRIEND by writing their name on the wings of a dragon “.

COMING SOON…some good timing for  some favorites like Pumpkin Cheesecake with Hazelnut Brittle ; “The Chocolate Cake ” ; a wonderful Fall season recipe I stumbled upon that captures the natural sugars of root vegetables so they shine forth . Plus a story close to my heart …. about my friendship with a famous literary and outdoors family from Idaho that all will surely enjoy .  Trout fishing , memorable meals , mountain picnics ,  kind words spoken and written ; sprinkled with laughter and good wine with the fresh air of the Sawtooth Mountains .

 

 

 

8 comments

  1. Funny, I was just thinking about Matt Kramer the other day…..

  2. Chantal /

    Mmmm. Pumpkin Cheese cake. Can’t wait!

  3. I hadn’t made it in years . Julia and I made 2 of them yesterday ( she takes the pictures & it’s her kitchen); I wanted to add more spice to my recipe ; she said no & held her ground . She was right… I stopped by to pick mine up and had a piece for dinner . MMMMM Good! Roasted ground hazelnuts in the crust-that works.

  4. ChiroCrokin /

    Warming up the oven for roasted hazelnuts!

    • Yessir Doc. These hazelnuts are just the thing to take- a big zip lock bag of – when you go camping like I know you and your family loves to do in our “BEEYOUTIFULL ” Northwest!

  5. More From This Article

    Muffet Hemingway’s Two for An Outing
    Lait de Concombre à la Menthe (Milk of cucumbers with mint)

    Two cucumbers sliced as thin as possible ½ cup minced fresh mint 1 cup yogurt

    Mix together and chill in the stream next to your picnic location.

    Muffet’s Special Four-Bean Salad (From a recipe of Ross Pullen, a chef and family friend from Boise, Idaho)

    Equal amounts of kidney beans, wax beans, garbanzo beans and whole Blue Lake green beans—well-drained (use fresh beans when possible)

    Greek black olives

    Peeled, wedged and seeded ripe tomatoes

    Quartered hard-boiled eggs

    Thinly sliced crisp radishes

    Julienned fresh or canned artichoke bottoms

    Drained marinated artichoke hearts

    Minced flat anchovy filets

    Toss these ingredients in proportions of your own choosing. Combine with fresh basil dressing:

    ½ cup minced fresh basil 4 tablespoons minced fresh garlic 4 ounces capers with liquid 2½ Cups olive oil ¾ cup red wine vinegar Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste Chopped fresh parsley 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons dry mustard ¼ cup sugar

    After tossing, chill two hours before serving. The salad will keep several days. For picnics, drain off excess dressing and pack in a leakproof container.

    • Thanks James . Nice memories of Idaho and the only time I got my name in a National Publication for my Mom’s Five Bean Salad (which i changed a bit ); plus good time with the Hemingway’s…great folks !

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