Tuesday, September 30, 2008

as i promised

cold but beautiful....crater lake

yosemite left me completely speechless.  there are no words.

6 am sunrise at abandoned state park in eastern Nevada

this pretty much sums up 7 days of camping from Oregon to Illinois...

no joke, the real deal as promised....and yes it is on the dining room table.

this has been our trip so far...hope you have enjoyed the pix.  we are currently chillin' in NC visiting old friends and eating fabulous food!  More to come...part 2: wine vineyard in VA....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

highlights thus far - good, bad, ugly.

in chronological order:
  • crater lake of course (which, upon arrival was deserted......however, emerging from the car the brisk 30 something degree weather explained having the place to ourselves).
  • eating a burrito the size of my head in Mt. Shasta City (as Dave said, it would have been an appropriate size if we were going to summit Mt. Shasta or bike across Rt. 80....Cliff and Ali take note: Seven Suns Bakery egg burrito)
  • waking up to frost outside the tent on night #1
  • a tempting " all clothing $3.99" sign in Groveland, CA
  • the abandoned campground at Stanislaus National Park (I wasn't sure I had been so scared in a while until nights #3 and 4 and 5....oh and 6 too).
  • Having to grind coffee in a restroom bathroom out of pure desperation - apparently if a National Park is abandoned it has not water OR electricity.
  • Yosemite, Yosemite, Yosemite.
  • Antelope Valley, more specifically Topaz, CA population 100.  Dave wasn't sure but thought Tremors just may have been filmed here.
  • ELKO a must stop!  For those that have not been informed, Elko is the home of cowboy poetry....and apparently there are words that rhyme with varmant.
  • Coffee out of a styrofoam cup.  Need I say more.
  • Surviving the odometer turning 131313.
  • oh...and tonight, I got to view a real life skeleton of a woman on a dining room table.  Pictures to come.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

coffee of the GODS! (no joke)

If this is not the picture of perfection, I'm not quite sure what is.  I spend entire mornings dreaming about espresso from the Cellar Door.  I have NEVER in my WHOLE life had a coffee as good as the Cellar Door's coffee.  The owner, Jeremy and his wife Andrea, roast their own beans and know (as far as I'm concerned) everything I ever wanted to know about coffee...and more.  I have drank a lot of coffee from countless places as far reaching as New Zealand, France, and Hawaii and have really enjoyed some coffee, even loved some coffee....but this...this is in a league of it's own.  Smooth, consistent, and perfect every time.  If you live in Portland, OR or plan on visiting, I would highly recommend just stopping in on the corner of SE 11th and Harrison in an old pharmacy, simply decorated with great character.  The music is never so loud you can't think and Jeremy welcomes you to stay as long as you want.  I also feel quite spoiled because on my early bake days when I get off around 9am, I will bring him some hot fresh bagels and I get an Americano in trade.  I have convinced him he is getting a great deal, but I think I really come out on top!  Thank you Jeremy (and Andrea) for all the wonderful cups...we will see you next time!

Monday, September 15, 2008

just another tastebud birthday!

Yesterday was a fairly busy day...I woke up a 4a.m. to bake two loaves of a chocolate sourdough cherry bread for the NW Chocolate Festival in which I was somewhat coerced into doing a chocolate bread baking demo by a man I met in San Francisco at the Slow Food Convention.  Of course before I had to lecture to this group at Whole Foods I panicked thinking maybe I wasn't the baker I thought I was and why are these people showing up to listen to me speak?!  Needless to say I survived and could answer all questions about bread except the differences in salts (even after suffering the The History of Salt, I couldn't muster up an answer).  

Feeling satisfied with my performance, I went home to begin the construction of an apple galette and a peach, vanilla, almond tart tatin for a friend at Tastebud, Ashley, who was having a house warming/birthday bash all in one that evening.  (P.S....Ashley, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your new place!)  I had been dying to make the tart tatin, a classic french dessert said to have been created accidentally by the Tatin sisters who ran a hotel in france.  The story goes, being overworked, one day Stephanie Tatin left the apples simmering in the butter and sugar to long in the pan so she put the crust on top and stuck it in the oven.   Once it was baked and set, she flipped it out and voi-la! Tart Tatin was born!  It is quite a beautiful tart, with the peaches (or apples/pears/fruit of your choice) caramelized and arranged in circular fashion.  All in all, it was a good day for baking.

A quick note on the apples Ashley gave me to bake in the galette...I have never seen an apple like this in my whole life.  Yellow on the outside, I really didn't expect much from the color of the inside of the apple.  Just another yellow apple I thought, and then, this watermelon shade came bursting out on the first slice and took my breath away, I still haven't stopped talking about it.  I have been trying to find out the name of these apples so if anyone has any thoughts, please, please let me know!

Friday, September 12, 2008

a mini vaca

There is no better way to wake up on a crisp (boarder line cold) morning when camping than with hot coffee, a hammock, and a warm fire.  Dave and I just returned from a mini three day excursion in Bend, Oregon where we did some hiking, some exploring, and of course some eating.  

I had picked up some pastries from  Little T American Baker's new place on Division (which I have been wanting to try even BEFORE he opened up).   We could hardly wait until the next morning to eat them, but man, it was worth the wait!  Warmed up over Dave Mac's little camp stove, we had a chocolate croissant and a fresh peach turnover, homemade granola and yogurt and of course hot french press.  It couldn't have been any better.  I savored every moment of the morning wake up knowing Dave had a hike in mind! 

 We got an early start to Smith Rock so we were not suffocated by the heat of the mid day.  I must admit, it started off great.  We parked the car and wandered down the trail to the "trail head" sign. . . this is actually when the day began.  Standing in front of this sign (I give you one guess which one Dave "really really really wanted to hike"):

 you guessed it, the mere sound of Misery Trail got Dave all excited, there would be no Morning Glory or Burma Road for me this sunny day...
Not ONLY is it Misery Trail, but I don't think you can read the fine print up above...it casually mentions to "watch your surroundings because you are now entering rattlesnake territory."

Enough said.

In case you were wondering, there were no rattlesnake sightings (or cougars for that matter, apparently it is "cougar country" as well).   The rest of our trip went off without a hitch, we took a very quick dip in the Deschutes River and had a couple great dinners next to the fire and after an emergency whisky run to the liquor store, had some yummy whisky cocktails with Reed's Ginger Ale.  Ahhhhh, Bend was great!

Friday, September 5, 2008

SFN in review

I had high hopes leaving Portland last Thursday to go down to San Francisco and volunteer at the first ever Slow Food Nation (SFN).  I signed up a month ago when the Bread Bakers Guild collaborated with SFN to find professional bakers to help out at the weekend event.  I was hopeful that I would have the opportunity to meet bakers from all around the nation and chat about bread as well as an opportunity to talk with people attending the convention about the movement of "good, clean, and fair."  When I left the event I found myself wishing I had skipped volunteering to hit the music festival happening on the hill just above the event.

The way I saw Slow Food, with its motto being "good, clean, and fair" was as a movement to inform the world (rich and poor) about farming, buying local, and cooking healthy.  What I found, it seemed, was a group of people who could afford not only the $65.00 admittance fee but also fees and ticket prices reaching  upwards of $250.00 for benefit dinners.  (I realize some of the more "pricey" dinners were fundraisers for Slow Food where the money goes for education and outreach but I didn't realize that fundraising was part of the event).  Coming from the point of view of a volunteer, it was still quite expensive to fly out to CA, find accommodations, pay for food and transportation and then on top of these costs, each lecture, demo, and dinner was extra.  

I had the idea that the SFN was a spin off of Slow Food Terra Madre.  Located in Italy every other year this event brings together farmers and food artisans from all over the world  "to give voice and visibility to the rural food producers who populate our world."  This event in San Francisco, however, seemed to represent the glamor that California had to offer, celebrity chefs and all.  

After much reflection and mixed feelings about the event, I am hoping that the message reached the people who could afford to attend and the essence of the message of building an American food system that is sustainable, just, healthy, and delicious, will "trickle down" and reach the masses.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

who is coming to the table?

Just wanted to give you all a sneak preview into the next post which sums up my experience at Slow Food Nation involving just who came to "the table."