Tight as a tick and other summer sayings

The best lettuce you can buy in a diaper box

Our farmers are a resourceful lot, and darned talented, a fact we remember every time we look at our home vegetable gardens and realize we are a first-rate restaurant, but not necessarily triumphant at growing things. Which is fine by us, because Gorge farmers rock. Just this week alone, we’re serving local blueberries, raspberries, turnips, lettuce, onions, squash, squash blossoms, tomatillos, tomatoes, corn, fingerling potatoes, garlic chives, cucumbers, green beans, snap peas, and on the ranching end of things: lamb, beef, and pork.

Sometimes our farmers show up with things in neatly labeled plastic bins. Sometimes, we get things in Rosauer’s or Safeway bags. But nothing (and this is where the resourceful part comes in) beats Susan McCourt’s delivery from her luscious Tuckered Out Farm last week. Her incredible romaine lettuces arrived in, yep, diaper boxes. (Please note: these boxes never contained used diapers.) There they sat in our walk-in, announcing their fresh, absorbent qualities. Full of lettuce. Susan is, after all, a Mom and a farmer, and she didn’t name the place Tuckered Out for nothing. Or as they might call her on Car Talk, Erasmus B. Dragon.

Our chorizo: it’s not that ground-up **** , and other things to eat this weekend
Christiaan is beside himself. Is there anything better than hand-made sausage? Not if you’re a meat-a-holic like our Christiaan. So he keeps trolling his hand-made prizes out there on our menu, sometimes with limited response. Take his incredible chorizo, the kind every Spanish grandmother would love. “It’s not that ground-up crap!” explains Christians. It’s nicely cured link sausage, and he had it on the menu for a week without too many nibbles. But then he got devious. He added onion rings. And now it flies out of the kitchen. Which proves our theory. Broccoli alone? Meh. Broccoli with onion rings? Wahoo! So order the red chili posole and the onion rings, and right in the middle will be the shy but delicious star of the dish: Spanish chorizo.

Among other things to eat this weekend: The Alaskan salmon is still extremely nice, and you can order it two ways: one with pasta and a tomato tarragon salsa, and one on a nice salad, perfect for the hot days.

This weekend, we’re doing our part to keep the summer zucchini production down. We’re serving squash blossoms, filled with goat cheese, garlic chives and sultanas, and lightly fried, on a green chili tomatillo salsa.

Nathan is maxing out the fresh berry season, serving them this weekend with crème brulee napoleons.

And may we suggest our perfect “meal of the week” with three items from our small plates menu? Start with Nathan’s melon chaat salad, move right on to seared scallops on asparagus and fenugreek cream, and round it all out with our Mountain Shadow dry-aged sirloin, with first-of-the season fingerling potatoes from Mosier Valley Organics.

Now your eatin’.

Tourists: you gotta love ‘em
Far be it from us to ever complain about the sometimes quirky dining habits of our visitors. We are more than thankful to have those Wisconsin and Texan butts in our seats. You’re not gonna see that bumper sticker on our cars. You know the one. It says, “If it’s tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?”

But you will have to forgive us for having a few chuckles. Some recent questions we’ve fielded:

“Is that red chili sauce spicy?” (Answer: Yes, or we would have called it red wimpy sauce.)
“Why can we hear the music in here?” (Answer: Our speakers work.)
“I’m allergic to scallops. Can you serve that scallops dish without the scallops?” (You are allergic to scallops, but you’re strangely drawn to the scallops dish. Hhmm. No.)
“We’d like a reservation for 4 or maybe 5 and we’ll arrive sometime between 7:00 and 7:45.” (Answer: That’s not a reservation, that’s a wish list.)

The best thing though, no matter how or when they arrive, or what questions they ask, they leave with a big, frickin’ smile on their faces. And that’s what we’re all about.

Rainbow: Our newest kitchen magician
You won’t see her at night when you come in to dine, because she’s gone by then, but her touch is there. Last week, we welcomed Rainbow Macintyre to our staff as our daytime prep person, a position filled by Kathy and a few other part-timers, or any friendly visiting chef accidentally standing around chatting in the kitchen. Rainbow has already made our lives so much better, and saner, that we’d just like to just say Thanks and Welcome Aboard.

What Nora would say about that

For those who still want to know, Nora was founder Kathy Watson’s mother. She was beyond quotable, which means that in most cases, we can’t quote her in polite company. But every once in a while, Kathy finds herself saying, “You know what my Mom would say about that?”

So here are a few. Yes, you may borrow them, but please say you heard them around Nora’s Table.

Mom liked her coffee and tea hot, or as she would say, “Hotter than a pistola,” (whatever that means). And when she was served coffee or tea less than molten hot, she’d grumble, “I can pee warmer than that.”

Mom was a clean-freak and tucked a bit of house-cleaning into every hour of the day. When she got distracted by, say, a long phone conversation, she’d excuse herself by allowing as how it was time to go clean something. “Time to get back to my rat killin’,” she’d explain.

And finally, when she ate too much, she’d refuse further servings, saying she was “Tighter than a tick.” Think about it that next time one of those bloated ticks falls off your dog onto the carpet.

And with that, we’ll leave you to navigate your way into the weekend, and through the front doors at Nora’s Table.

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