Every Friday, we celebrate the beginning of the weekend by sitting on our back deck, armed with a strong glass of pastis, nibbling on a small bite of some kind. It’s our perfect way to unwind and quickly settle into relaxation mode. By the end of the pastis, I usually don’t feel like getting up and making anything too complicated or labor intensive for dinner. This week, I sauteed pork chop with garlic and pastis, a simple dish I wanted to share with you. …
Chaga is one of the weirdest mushrooms you may ever see. A fungal parasite found on birch trees, Chaga is a hardened, blackened, crusty formation that looks like a bursting tumor. – Paul Stamets, Fungi Perfecti founder and president
I was nodding at my computer yesterday afternoon like I do most days around two. The obvious result of too many hours staring at a screen. I walked into our large, communal kitchen to grab a cup of coffee and stretch my legs. I bumped into John, our leader and the force behind Foods in Season, and started talking food as we so often do. He offered a cup of chaga he was brewing and proceeded to tell me about some braised chicken he prepared the night before. He marinated them in chaga tea overnight and it gave a very pleasant pheasant-like taste. I was intrigued. I only heard of chaga mushrooms and was familiar with their healthy beneficial qualities. No one ever talked about using them in a culinary sense….
Roast Tail and Trotters Secreto with wild Arugula, New Haven Peaches, Mustard vinaigrette
A simple, refreshing Summertime combination of succulent roast pork, tree ripened peaches and tangy Dijon mustard. This dish got it’s foundation while spit roasting Tail and Trotters hazelnut finished pork over an almond wood fire during the intense summer heat in Southern California. I was looking for something meaty to eat for lunch but served cold in a lighter more salad like fashion. It reminds me of something my mother would have prepared for us as children.
WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart, nor any vegans who may not have fully understood the title of my blog page and it’s full implications. Good Ramen is serious porky business.
I start my blog with a confession. I have been a confirmed ramen addict for several decades now. The disease shows no signs of slowing even though, for the most part, I have stopped eating gluten and pork. The addiction began in earnest as a small child left to fend for himself and forage the near empty cupboards of 1970’s America. Instant ramen noodles seemed the perfect cost effective solution for parents of constantly hungry adolescents. Any child with half a brain could boil a cup of water, open the tin foil flavor packet, drop the waxed noodles in and eat. It progressed, or degressed depending on your point of view, to high school where I put the high in high school and had the munchies that needed constant tending. Ramen was the perfect solution….
I always feel like a small child at Christmas when I go to the Saturday PDX Farmer’s Market because every time I discover new and exciting products and producers. One of my recent finds has been a company called Tails and Trotters who I was originally was introduced to by Malia, my saleslady from Foods in Season, a specialty food purveyor in Washington State. What makes Tails and Trotters so unique and amazing is how they feed their pigs to create the best tasting pork you’ll ever try. Founder Aaron Silverman works in conjunction with a local family farm that GMO free and sustainably raises pigs, than finishes them on a diet largely composed of Oregon hazelnuts similar in concept to the black footed Spanish pigs who forage the Dehesa forest ecosystem feeding primarily on acorns. The result is a healthy, tasty pork with a higher percentage of unsaturated fats and scarce amino acids….
I have wanted to eat at Cotogna for a long, long while. The seed was planted by Lee, our fearless leader at Figue, when he mentioned dining there and seeing the rotisserie of his dreams. He was so moved by the experience that he bought a similar model for our restaurant Figue in La Quinta. For the first few months, I waited and waited for it to be delivered, dreaming of spit roasting rabbit porchettas, lambs, pigs and chickens. Rotisseries give food a flavor not matched by roasting or sauteing and a super crispy exterior.
our Universo Tuscany 180 Rotisserie with Jidori Chickens Spinning!
“I’ve always divided human beings into two categories:
those who resemble a courtyard and suffocate you between their walls-
Then there are those who resemble a garden, where you can walk and be silent, and breathe.”
– Antoine de St. Exupery
Lisa, Beau and I had dropped off our VW bus for routine maintenance at Van Cafe in Santa Cruz in the morning. The drive to the Bay was punctuated with lively conversation about seeing old friends we hadn’t seen in a long time and the impending eating marathon. Our friend Peter, with whom I completed the Appalachian Trail with in 2000 would be there with his new wife Eileen and dear friend Gina and her three handsome boys. We were looking forward to this for weeks. Luckily we found a spot in front and shaded as Lucy the wunderhound had to stay there. Peter and his lovely wife Eileen showed up Just as we pulled up.
All of us at the table doing what we all do best!
Gina had phoned to say she was running late so we started the onslaught of dishes. The first few dishes were rustic as promised with great depth of flavor. We started with Leek Sformato with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Pate di Campagna and Terra Firma Farm Tomatoes and Burrata.
We plowed through three bottles of a Sardinian red that on it’s own wasn’t the most interesting wine ever but coupled with the food danced. The next courses brought Ravioli di Ricotta with a Farm Egg and Brown Butter, Heger Farm Corn Triangoli, Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu, Octopus with Pole Beans, and Heritage Red Wattle Pork. The thing I loved the most about the pork was that the Chef did not feel the need to tell you what came with it… you simply ate it. I think Americans are too scared of food in whole to do that with regularity across the country. I loved it. I did not notice anyone freaking out that all the secondi were presented that way.
To finish it off we ordered three Pizze… Artichoke, Stracchino Cheese and Black Olives; Gypsy Pepper. Nepitella and Flor di Latte Mozzarella; and Happy Boy Farm San Marzano Tomato, Nettle and Sausage Pizze.
Thoroughly sated with indulged with Olive Oil Cake with Strawberries and their Dark Chocolate Budino with Cake Crumble. Overall I thought the restaurant was fun to eat at. I would definitely go back… it was great to see old and new friends…
Cotogna is located at 490 Pacific Avenue and can be reached at 415.775.8508, www.Cotognasf.com