Of printers, mystery desserts and power outages

The printer: One night in July, Kathy streaks from the kitchen into the office at 4:30 to print the night’s menu. Behind schedule, but what else is new? The catering crew has just packed the van and headed out to a wedding. The dining room crew is scurrying through the opening list. Cuate is mopping the dining room. Justin is loading six loaves of bread into the convection oven.

And the printer dies. Kathy goes through every diagnostic. No luck; the thing is a boat anchor. It’s 4:50. She clutches the one menu that printed correctly, a stack of paper, and she runs. She tries both real estate offices just across the way. Closed. She runs up Oak St., sticking her head in several doors. Got a photocopier? Nope. Nope. Try the library. The library is closed. She makes it to Hood River Stationers. Closed. She bangs on the door. They let her in, and initiate a quick print job.

Now don’t run all the way back in this heat, they say. Kathy runs. Run, Kathy, run. It’s 5:15. Guests are already at tables, the servers doing a remarkable stall job. The bread comes out of the oven. The walk-in is cold and agreeable. The menus, a little crooked on their pale yellow paper, are crumpled and spotted with red wine and curry by 10 pm, just like every other night.

The mystery dessert: Nice table of mid-western visitors are intently reading the dessert menu. One has taken out his smart phone and is googling “Rainbow Trosper.”  We just can’t figure out what kind of dessert this is, he asks the server. Once again, with ever so much grace, the server says, that’s not a dish, that’s our pastry chef. (Who actually is quite a dish.)  So on our dessert menu now, we’ve dropped the line, “Rainbow Trosper, Pastry Chef” way down to the bottom and put it in italics. Just to end the confusion. She makes the desserts; she isn’t dessert.

The power outage: It’s 4:30, the Thursday before Labor Day weekend, and we are buzzing, like we do, in that last hectic hour before 5:00, when the power goes out. Thankfully, that new printer is on battery back-up, so we finish printing the menu, and bring battery operated lights into the kitchen. We ice the fish in the walk-in. We wait. Sam washes windows. Sergio and Justin and Kathy chop and mince and stir in the eerily quiet kitchen, their metal spoons pinging loudly on pots, their knives going tap-tap-tap on the boards.  Mike hauls in a generator to the keep the ice cream freezers going at Mike’s Ice Cream next door. Heather wipes down the woodwork in the dining room. We fold napkins and pace and wait. Pacific Power calls with automated cheery messages every fifteen minutes about our prospects for power in the near future. Kathy watches imaginary dollar bills with wings flying out the windows.

And then, at 6:30, the power comes on. Like dancers on a suddenly lit stage, we spring into action. The kitchen fills with the hum of the hood fan and the compressors rumble back to life. We open the walk-in with relief, find the salmon, and lay that glistening pink flesh in a sauté pan.

Here’s what’s on the menu

It’s the luscious, most tempting time of the year, if you like the best a farm garden can throw at you. We only hope we’re doing our farmers justice. Here’s some of what we have on our menu this week:

  • Salmon and Dickey Farms corn chowder with applewood smoked bacon
  • Hood River Organic beet and fennel carpaccio, orange vinaigrette, crisp beet chips
  • Wildwood Farm candied cherry tomatoes,  savory crème fraiche panna cotta, basil vinaigrette
  • Crispy wedge of pork belly, Gravenstein apple and fennel salad with honey walnuts, salted caramel
  • Fried calamari, napa cabbage salad with celery, peanuts, radish and spring onions, lime chili vinaigrette
  • Garden samosas with corn, squash, potatoes and shallots,  red onion date chutney
  • Seared divers scallops, sauté of summer squash and summer beans, pesto cream, grape mustard
  • ·        Hawaiian tombo tuna, coconut lemon grass risotto rice cakes, Windflower Farm Asian long beans, citrus miso vinaigrette
  • ·        Cascade Natural 12-ounce rib eye, gnocchi and mushrooms in crème fraiche horseradish sauce, Windflower arugula and red onion salad
  • ·        Grilled tandoori-spice-rubbed Mountain Shadow lamb chops, coconut tor dahl, green beans, curried peach gastrique
  • ·        Seared duck breast, Oaxacan tomato and fruit sauce, Quercus Farm chili rellanos with goat cheese and golden raisins
  • Cream tomato fenugreek curry with fresh paneer cheese, eggplant, sweet onions, pole beans and patty pan squash, rice and grilled naan


Dessert: OK, we’re only going to list one thing, because it just makes us swoon: fried peach pie, cinnamon ice cream. Need we say more?

Other sundry things to tell you about

It’s nearly October, and you know what that means. Wednesday is, once again, “Cheap Date Night.” We really have no idea what it’ll be yet.

We are also planning some really cool themed dinners this fall and winter to keep you occupied while you layer on the fleece. You’ll hear more as time goes by. But how does this sound: take a trip down Route 66, circa 1966. Stay tuned.





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