Friday, May 15, 2015

Mayo and Pickles.

Mayo and pickles, again.

My stepmom woke me up, hurried and excited.

“Get up! You’re late, let’s go!”

I am 8 years old and it doesn’t occur to me to glance at a clock and protest. I’m pulled out of bed with feelings of dread. Quickly I dress myself and head to the dining room where my stepmother is ironing like a madwoman.

“Go, go!” She hands me my lunch pail and shoves me out the door.

It’s a crisp January morning. The grass crunches under my feet, frosted over with dew. As I walk to school I watch my breath when I exhale into the frigid morning.

Hurried. Anxious. And alone. I remind myself how stupid I must be, like a mantra. I repeat it to myself because that’s what I’ve been told so many times and I allow the stupid tears to well up in my eyes.

My stepmom rarely misses an opportunity to remind me how unwanted I am. This morning she shoved me out into the cold to go to school. No words were needed.

I arrive and the double doors are locked. I circle to the side door only to find that door locked as well. I am not late. Not only is school not in session, it isn’t even open yet. I cup my hands and push my face up to the glass to peer into my classroom window, hoping my teacher is sitting at her desk working away.

She is not.

I’m scared to go back home. Worried to meet the wrath of my stepmother. Petrified she will tell my Dad how useless and stupid I must be.

I don’t go home.

Instead I sit under the window sill, my lanky limbs pulled close and I wait.

I wait long enough for a grumble to rise from my belly. In her haste, she did not feed me breakfast. I make the choice to eat the contents of my lunch, skip the lunchroom this afternoon and wait it out until dinner time. If my Dad is home from work tonight, which is rare, I am guaranteed a meal. If not my stepmom may create a feast and neglect to feed me.

I didn’t know what bulimia was back then but came to understand much later the special kind of torture she displayed to me, concocting full meals she would gorge herself on to only throw up after while I went hungry.

I open my pail and retrieve my sandwich, peel apart the slices of white bread and peer at the contents with disdain.

Pickles and Mayonnaise. Again.

My stomach groans at me some more and my 8 year old mind is convinced that I am being punished. My father doesn’t want me because I am bad. I can’t help but be bad because my mother is bad. This is what I am told and I believe it because I am sitting outside in the freezing January morning, biting into a mushy sandwich, tart with pickle slices that slide around in the mayo.

Tears threaten to pour from my eyes as the lump in my throat builds. I take small nibbles and throw away the remainder of my meal.

Then I wait some more.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Secret Sauce Society: Beginning

Again, due to circumstance this is later than I anticipated. But I'm sharing anyways because if these itty bitty glimpses compel you to attend one of these divine events it's totally worth it.
They call themselves The Secret Sauce Society.
They concoct pop up dinner parties throughout the South Sound.
These dinner parties include several courses of small bites that boast exquisite execution across the board. The ambiance varies. The theme changes. The flavors and presentation are always superb. You should sign up for their newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming details.
The most recent event took place in what will soon be home to upcoming dining concept, The Table. I'd call the digs rustic, at best as they are in the process of renovating. No light fixtures were present so while dinner began during daylight hours during a glorious sunny day, as the sun set dinner was lit by tabletop tealights and a large work lamp in the corner where the chefs buzzed like an assembly line preparing each plate. Exposed wires hung from the ceiling, bits of wall were interrupted by bare pillars. There's lots of work to be done still but The Table is sure to wow when it opens.
Each item plate prepared was inspired by what's to come at the The Table. Which is a good indication of what we can expect. 
Pretty bouquets adorned the tables.
Among mason jars to sip from and white linens. 2 full tables filled the space equating to over 30 diners excited to take a culinary journey. Some were first timers. Others had been to several.

The first course was a bonus and was not mentioned on the menu. Sweet strawberries with a tart creamy cheese sat atop a perfectly toasted baguette. Pretty presentation.
The Sweet Potato Hash was divine with leeks, local mushrooms, hazelnut and a lovely fried quail egg. It was well balanced in the flavor and texture department and made me wish for an entire order.
This classy number was a Lamb Sausage atop corn grits with crumbled goat cheddar, peppers and a cherry gastrique. All of the components singularly were exquisite and when they found themselves on a fork full together they took you right to flavor town.
The Fried Salmon presented Oregon Troll Caught salmon with a pops of flavor provided by a salsa verde, preserved lemon and celery seed aioli. There was a sweetness, smoothness, spiciness. Very playful, definitely one of my favorites of the evening.
Here sausage, cave aged cheddar reside in an Arincini, (tender rice ball on the inside, lovely crisp texture on the outside) paired with a bernaise sauce this nibble was glorious. Again, a lovely balance of textures and the cheese game during this whole dinner was to die for.
I found it refreshing to have salad in the midst of the meal rather than at the very beginning. This Mirepoix Salad featured butter lettuce with a carrot tomato vinaigrette, caramelized leeks and a celery marmalade. Every nibble was fresh and divine and the celery marmalade, though I was suspicious is amazing with loads of peppery spice and pops of sweet that had me wanting the recipe.
Duck, which I anticipated to be my favorite was in fact one of my favorites. Tender duck breast, seared with malt beer jus, duck agnolotti, greens and currants was decadent.
The Baby Octopus was served grilled with roasted pepper marinara, mussels, spring garlic and fettuccine. The seafood was meaty and tender and the roasted pepper was flavor forward.
I will never turn down the dessert menu when asked. The finale of our dining journey was a Dessert Duo. Lovely little raspberry beignets with vanilla anglaise and a chocolate pot de crème. I could have enjoyed the chocolate by the buckets full.
I was not kidding when I said they were buzzing away like an assembly line by the light of a work lamp. Proof. they fact that such exquisite food is prepared in these odd locations is a wonder. Some of the best chefs in town gathered around this table to make this dinner happen, a testament to not only how inspiring our local culinary culture is but to the level of community that can be found among these great minds.

 Libations of the evening were provided by Heritage Distilling Company, including their Elk Rider Bourbon and Coffee Vodka. The latter which has inspired me to concoct a grown up mocha cocktail that you will be seeing at Maxwell's Restaurant and Lounge before you know it.