Italian charm, pulled pork dates, stellar tastes, Fiddlin memories

A little slice of Italy, right here in the Gorge

We live in such a homogeneous place, here in Oregon. No real Little Italy or Chinatown or Greektown, save but for a festival or two in Portland.

So that’s why we were so enchanted to be catering Franco Marchesi’s wine dinner this past Saturday. He made the Italian wine; we made the Italian food. Not to forget the music, Franco brought the opera singer and put her right up there in the loft where he is making vin santo.

And at the end of the evening, even though he would later pay a nice gratuity, Franco put a little money in each server’s pocket.

“Coffee money,” told them.

How Italian. Thanks, Franco.

This week’s cheap date

We hear you like the “surprise” factor of our cheap date night. And shouldn’t any date have at least one surprise? So this week, come hungry: Braised pork shank in Asian BBQ sauce on Rainbow’s buns with lime chili slaw, fries or salad. That’s two big sandwiches and all the goodies for $12.

And on into the weekend:

Just in case you’re revving up your appetite for Friday and Saturday dining, here’s some of what you’ll be smacking down:

  • Seared scallops, pistachio mole verde, Mexican crèma, sweet potato frites in ancho chili lime salt
  • Whole leg duck confit, duck sausage, pommes frites, pomegranate relish
  • House-made gnocchi, oxtail, roasted heirloom tomatoes, jus, grana cheese and fresh herbs
  • Mountain Shadow lamb chops, mint salsa verde, corona beans and roasted fall vegetables
  • Rib eye steak, fingerling potatoes and braised Brussels sprouts with pancetta, blue cheese butter
  • Dessert: fried pear pie and brown sugar ice cream

Apropos of nothing: A high school production of Fiddler on the Roof

We noted this past week the passing of songwriter Jerry Bock, who wrote, among other things, the score for “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Not that a girl growing up a in Jewish household in California in the 50’s and 60’s needed much reminder, but life as my grandparents knew it in the Russian shtetl was no picnic, yet full of love and tradition. Bock made us all sing the songs while feeding the chickens or tinkering at the piano in the evening.

Ah yes, if we were rich. Oh, then. And if we would meet the man of our dreams, he wouldn’t be the butcher, we were sure. And if we disappeared into the Russian steppe, alone, with our dream man, well, that was just the way life was. To life, la’chaim.

So when my high school drama department put on Fiddler (one of more than 25,000 productions worldwide since its Broadway premiere), I went, just to see the kids I passed in the hall each day, never expecting in this, my first experience in live theatre, to be taken back in time, half way across the world to my grandparents’ lives.

There was that football player, all blond and square jawed, transformed as Tevye.

And the short, quiet, shy girl from geography, shining and earnest and real as the youngest of Tevye’s daughters, the little bird, fluttering away.

Bock gave words and music to my family’s own drama, and introduced me to the life-altering experience of live theatre, and I’m thankful to have known him, in a way, perhaps the best way, to know anyone.

Thanks, Mr. Bock. We’ll be humming “Do you love me?” when we see you around Nora’s Table.



2 responses to “Italian charm, pulled pork dates, stellar tastes, Fiddlin memories

  1. Kathy, I never noticed the subtitle on your blog before this evening – but it sure rings true! In fact Audrey and I were on the way into the Skylight Theater last week when we were stopped by two couples on the street who asked if we were locals. Upon getting the “yes” answer, their response was “so where’s a good place near here where locals go!” I answered without even giving it a thought – three blocks West to the Duck and turn right – to Nora’s Table! They immediately set off. You do know your customers. (And how much we enjoy your place)

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