In the nick of time: the farmer version

When it arrives at the restaurant still warm from the field, you know it’s fresh. That, our dear friends, happened several times yesterday, without a moment to spare.

Kathy was waiting anxiously for mint from Windflower Farm, sunburst squash from Hood River Organic, and cherries from Idiot’s Grace. It was getting close to show time. Every time the back door opened, she looked up expectantly from her station. Nope, job applicant. Nope, wine delivery. No mint, or squash, no cherries.

Kathy called Brian McCormick, the wine maker and vinyardist for the McCormick family labels “Memaloose” and “Idiot’s Grace” wines, as well as cherry grower. “Brian, cherries on the way?” Now, you gotta love the answer: “I just picked them and washed them and the box is in the cooler. I’m on the way.”

“No worries,” Kathy said, “I’ve got a spiffy four-pitter, so it’ll go fast.”

“Really? A four-pitter?”

“If you’re really nice, I’ll show it to you,” Kathy joked.

The cherries arrived, Brian got a demo of the cherry pitter, and within minutes, we had cherries, port, shallots, thyme, lemon and lemon zest on the flame for a nice sauce for our duck confit.

One down, two to go. Kathy finished the menu. Sam printed them up. The doors opened. Still no squash or mint. We sat four tables immediately. Kathy walked past one and heard, “And I’ll have the lamb curry.” Drat! That dish comes with blueberry raita, which is nothing, nothing we say, without fresh mint. Time for evasive action. Kathy headed out the back door to sneak just a little sprig of mint from Six Street Bistro’s herb garden (what are neighbors for?) when around the corner comes Caroline from Windflower with a nice bag of mint and fresh peas to boot.

Kathy raced back to the kitchen, and as she passed through the dining room, heard another guest ordering the potato and squash enchilada. Drat! No squash.

But as promised (just a few minutes late), in walks Brian Shaw, Hood River Organics, with his honey-farmer-squeeze Connie Garrant, and a box of sunburst squash.

Whew. Worth the wait? Oh baby. This is our favorite time of year. Our local farmers make the flavors pop off our plates. We couldn’t make you moan without them. Thank you Brian, Brian, Caroline, Paul, Laurel, Blayney, Silas, Jim, Connie, Dan, Meredith, Ron, Nic, Lori and Gary. Thanks for picking it when it’s ready and not a moment before, and getting it to us as fast as you can.

Here’s where it all goes on our plates

And what are we doing with all that July bounty? Here’s some of what you can get this week in our dining room:

  • French Roquefort mousse, Wildwood beet jewels, arugula salad
  • Duck confit, herb spaetzle and fava beans, Idiot’s Grace bing cherry sauce
  • Open-faced potato and sunburst squash enchilada with red chili mole, Wildwood Farm kale and masa tortilla, peruano beans with Hood River Organic peppers, roma tomatoes and cotija cheese
  • Double-thick cut Mountain Shadow pork loin chops with pan roast of Spanish-style mussels, peppers, potatoes, Hood River organic cherry tomatoes, sherry, smoky paprika and saffron
  • 12-ounce Cascade Natural rib eye, gnocchi and Hood River organic mushrooms in brown butter, salad of Zion spinach, red onions and smoked ricotta salata cheese
  • Sockeye salmon, beet risotto, crispy beet chips

Desserts:

  • Chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise with strawberries
  • Strawberry, vanilla and pistachio semifreddo with strawberry coulis and pistachio lace cookie
  • Maryhill peach pinwheel cobbler, praline caramel ice cream

See you around Nora’s Table.

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One response to “In the nick of time: the farmer version

  1. Vicki Seymour

    We wish we could sample some of this exciting menu, but the lavender business is taking us away. When you give up cooking, Ms. Watson, you have another instant career as a food writer in any gourmet zine, blog, etc. We continue to relish your posts and pine for your meals — Vicki and Steve

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