Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oh Oregon, my Oregon

Here's the thing. I will always love Oregon; vibrant green, year-round trees! The rocky blue-grey tumultuousness of my beloved coastline. Portland and all of its funky, obsessive, delicious quirks. The sweet, cozy, Shakespearian hippy-ville known as Ashland. Salem, that lovable dump.

That said, I was dealt a bit of disappointment this past weekend. Like the fancy jet-setter I'd like to be, I flew home for the weekend this past Saturday to attend a Food Justice conference being hosted at the University of Oregon of all places! Since in was a)close to home and b) something I could potentially be reimbursed for I thought I may as well attend. Mom and I decided we'd go down to Eugene together just for the night and make a little mother/daughter trip of it!

Now, my mom is terrific, as shown here :

and she and I had an absolutely fabulous little mini-break. We began, as is tradition now, with drinks at Gilt on the way home from the PDX airport. A necessary thing that must always happen immediately upon arrival or else. A Gilt Manhattan (not sure exactly what makes it Gilt-y but she was happy) for her, Bombay Dry martini for me. Up with olives and maybe some French fries wouldn't be a terrible thought either. This all means that I've arrived in Portland and re-entry can commence, that's all, the end, welcome home and thank you very much.It was a lovely start. Home by 1am to fall into bed and snuggle a bit with the kitty - all in all, I was happy to be home, as usual.

Up at the crack of 7am the next morning, with a quick stop for coffee at the Clearing Cafe for coffee and seriously the dream dreamiest scone I've EVER. TASTED. IN. MY. 26. YEARS. ON. PLANET. EARTH. Lemon currant. It was layery-flakishness, with tart little hint of lemon and the occasional subtle little currant. This scone taught me the meaning of the word tender. OOooof I give up. There are no words. You know how 99% of scones are just a disappointment, but you order them anyway because you think "maybe this one will be good" but it just never is. Well this one was better than good and it made me believe in scone-dom once again. I've asked for the recipe and if I get it, I'll pass it along I swear. Unless they say I can only have it if I keep it secret in which case you're on your own.

Moving on. I do go to school you know, I can't just sit around and blog about scones all day. Sheesh.

So Eugene. Well, the trees were blooming, which was a real treat and saving grace. See below.

The conference, quite honestly was largely a disappointment. There were many smart, accomplished, impressive people there on the panels. Unfortunately, there were also sort of vapid-seeming and air-head-ish types who were on the same panels with those smart, intelligent types. The audience was heavy with Eugene hippies and undergraduates who have recently decided it would be cool to go work on a farm and try to not use plastic for a year and think that it'd be pretty radical to drink their water out of mason jars wrapped in socks. These people also thought it would be cool to ask long-winded questions of these incredibly smart panelists and by questions I mean babble on for way too long about some silly little personal-agenda-type issue and then ask a half-assed, simple-minded question that was clearly actually an afterthought and excuse to enjoy the sound of their own voice.

Alright, tirade over. I appreciate you bearing with me. The big news is that because there were so many airheads and hippies, Darra Goldstien- founder and editor of Gastronomica, and keynote speaker at this conference - was not surrounded by people all the time because most of the people there didn't really know/care about the academic discipline of Food Studies so I was able to introduce myself and (sort of, in my dreams) make friends with her. We had a lovely conversation and somewhere 21 year old Miranda is worshiping at my feet. My interaction with this amazing, fascinating, accomplished, inspiring lady seriously made the whole trip worthwhile - if you've never picked up a copy of the journal, do it asap! The readership is actually only 35% academics, so it's really approachable. It's like a really really smart food glossy - the dear departed Gourmet on steroids.

Sunday night, mom and I enjoyed an absolutely lovely dinner at Marche - recommended to me by my friend Mike who works at Podnah's (Portland's finest dining establishment) and who did well by us! Marche was perhaps not the most cutting edge of places, but I enjoyed every last bite, and so did mom. We left full but not too full, very satisfied and happy! We ate...

Beet salad!

Tempura-fried, giantic salt cod fritters! (my second favorite of all time! second only to Toro Bravo's unbeatable mountain of fritterliciousness)

steak frites!

and 4 cheese and black truffle pizza!

Oh, and cocktails of course. Martin Miller martini for me, negroni for mom. We're classic girls, none of this prohibition revival junk for us.

Monday night, after a long day of hippy-dippy panel discussions, a lovely dinner at Dad's with Margaret (who cooked the lovely feast), Grandma Ruth, Marina and Dad of course. Spanish rice, with lobster tails!!!!!! Chorizo, chicken, squishy, clumpy savory rice, heaven.

Grandma Ruth's precious Christmas Peanut Butter Balls. These things are coveted each Christmas by all members of the Rake clan, and Grandma brought her last few to share with us for dessert. A true occasion!!

Chocolate peanut butter utopia, thank you Grandma!

Actually it was a pretty great visit, now that I think about it. The conference was just an excuse for me to go about all the real business of my life - my dear dear dear family.

In light of that, I'll leave you with the coziest feeling in the world - the view from the car as mom drives, OPB on the radio, chugging along towards home, the sun just beginning to set, a delicious dinner at Dad's awaiting me at the end of the journey.


Chelsea said...

Ohhhh, this is so lovely!!!!

B. Brooksby said...

fritterliciousness. that was an amazing word Miranda. sad i missed you!

wananling said...

You really captured a wonderful weekend in your inimitable prose and lovely pictures!

LeLo said...

Mason jars in socks: I can imagine the scene perfectly thanks to this description. Oy vey.
P.S. Gastronomica is a wonderful publication!