The crush is on!

It’s that exciting, crushing time in the Gorge, where our winemaker friends come in late each night, with purple fingers and all their friends in tow. You know those friends: they help with crush, and feel all the love, for a few bottles of wine at the end, and maybe a late night dinner at Nora’s. And we are so happy to see them.

This last week, Kathy went out to see how things were going with Rich Cushman as he and the crew make Viento and Phelps Creek wines. Rich got a little twinkle in his eye. “How would you like some juice? You can play around with it.”  So Kathy came home with a jug of fresh Pinot Gris juice that will ultimately become Viento Pinot Gris, and one of Pinot Noir that will someday be Phelps Creek Reserve Pinot Noir.  These are fresh unfermented juices. Kathy thought first about sorbet, maybe a rosemary shortbread. Nathan took over and handcrafted a sorbet of golden raspberries and Pinot Gris juice and yesterday afternoon, started on a Pinot Noir ice cream that we’ll serve this weekend with a rosemary shortbread cookie.

The grape crush is a reminder of something else: we’re almost through with the tomatoes and squashes of summer. This week, you’ll find us serving braised Brussels sprouts, parsnips, braised greens, fingerling potatoes, beets and chanterelles.  Nathan is bringing back his beloved beet salad, and Christiaan is keeping the hand-made gnocchi coming on with Autumn touches. Dig in with us. We were thrilled to learn today that one of our farmers, J&K Growers in Dallesport will keep the greenhouse going this winter, and supply us with fresh cherry tomatoes, snow peas, chard and kale. This is a special treat, since we are used to fall and winter bringing us cardboard boxes of produce from sunny California.

The end of summer as we know it

Well, it’s all over.  And Kathy and Rainbow aren’t sorry to see it end. Wedding season, that is. We are all back in the Nora’s kitchen now, staking out our own prep areas.  Kathy says the most surreal Wedding moment came as she was changing into her white duds in the outdoor toilet at Lakecliff, and had to take a series of phone calls. A dishwasher with keys locked in the car. A question about ice. A reservation call. “Well, you probably should call the restaurant. I could write it on the outhouse wall here, but it wouldn’t do much good.”

We are seeing more of our local friends these days, or maybe they just stand out better when not surrounded by Iowa tourists. But we’re still meeting and greeting the visitors, like the Montana cowboy who mused one night this week to his server, “Rockfish tacos. That’s fish, right?”

God bless ‘em.

New Art for First Friday

Mayh Bailey of Benjamin Benjamin Gallery brings us a new artist just in time for October First Friday: Hickory Mertsching of Portland. Hickory takes everyday objects that we may overlook, and sears them into memory.  towtruck

Of his art, he says: “I set out to create a peaceful contemplative setting, paintings that illustrate the relationship between man and nature, a reminder of our state of being and the simple aspects of life. Regardless of outcome the natural world is a presence beyond human control and I have great respect for that. I use formal qualities and objects of nostalgia as the prime vehicle to convey this idea.

I have been involved in the arts my whole life and have slowly narrowed my focus to painting. I work primarily with oils on canvas. The process begins as a drawing from direct observation of my subject matter. I enjoy the labor of painting, the sounds of brushes on canvas, smells of fresh paint on the palette, and the crisp brilliant colors that can be achieved.”  His work is perfect for fall, when we find ourselves a little wistful for past falls and loves. milkandhoney2

Start thinking November + wine dinner

Saturday, November 21, Kathy and Rainbow will be outstanding in a field. The field next to the barn at Wy’East, that is. And inside the barn, a group of lucky diners will be surrounded by wine barrels and twinkly lights, and they’ll be feasting on a six course dinner, and Wy’East wines.  The first dinner we did with them in August sold out, so get your reservation in now by calling the winery at 541-386-1277. If you’re a wine club member, it’s $55, and otherwise, it’s $65. Here’s the menu:

Date, bacon and pecan tartlets
Parsnip pear soup with lemon crème fraiche
Seared scallops in chive beurre blanc with mushrooms and fried sage
Warm duck confit salad with arugula, spinach and fig compote
Grilled lamb skewers in mole with goat cheese and kale tamales and roasted cardamom sweet potatoes
White chocolate ginger cheesecake with candied kumquats


4 responses to “The crush is on!

  1. This is all well and good, what you do,great food, fresh & local ingredients, community support, greenness…BUT it all comes down to the customer, right? Well it should. My husband and I came down for the week-end JUST to be able to have our anniversary dinner at your place, and were not even able to get the table we reserved! Be a long time before we return…

    • Nancy, so sorry your anniversary night was not all that you wanted. We actually do not reserve specific tables, and we never have. We will put a person’s table request in the reservation book, but we tell those making reservations there is no guarantee it will be available, only that a table will be available. I think you will find this is the most common practice among restaurants. In fact, I’ve never known one that PROMISED you could have a specific table, unless you paid some sort of premium, or are the owner’s mother! I’ve even asked for a reservation at any table in a certain section, or any table with a certain server, and been told they would note it, but couldn’t promise. If someone promised you that table and did not let you know that we don’t guarantee such things, I am very sorry. As to your return, you are of course welcome any time, and again, sorry for the confusion.

  2. Hi Kathy,
    This menu is devastatingly delicious. We may have to fly back from the Caribbean to indulge!

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