Saturday, March 10, 2007

North Idaho Food Heaven

I'm thinking I should start another blog, just for my food interests. Maybe it wouldn't go. But, then again, maybe it would. It just seems that talking about food here in the midst of grand (sic) political commentary, well, it just doesn't seem really complementary. However, given that I'm supposed to be writing about how Idaho rocks, maybe it is appropriate....

I'm on this line of thought because I've been reading Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. Her book is contemporary, witty, funny, insightful, informative, and inspiring. I came to IdahoRocks not knowing whether I should write about politics, books, or food. I decided that if it was positive about north Idaho, I could write about all three. Well, I'll give the food a second? third? try, and if it doesn't receive comments, I'll start a second blog. And then maybe a third one about books....

Anyway, Julie Powell did inspire me to cook this morning, an omelet to be precise. I thought that I had actually begun to master the pan-flipping technique so popular on food tv. Ha! I was certainly humbled this morning. I tried Julia Child's recipe for the perfect French omelet, flipping it so it folds over on itself with the one second jerk and 20 degree angle method. Unlike Julie, it didn't end up on the floor, but not only did it not fold without help from me, but the egg that ended up under the burner forced me to light my aroma oil candle just to get rid of the stench. I chose Cosmic Chi oil because it sounded like something that might cause me to have good karma. Needless to say, the perfect omelet did not slide out of the pan onto the plate, but it certainly tasted delicious. I did note that Julia Child's recipe did not require the milk or cream that Miss Betty Crocker had instructed me to use in my youth. It was just eggs (being north Idaho my local farmer friend, Helen, sells me her eggs), butter (unsalted, organic), sea salt and pepper. Yum!

Back to the karma. I needed to do something for good karma because first thing this morning I received a letter from my friend, Shaela, currently teaching English in Seoul, who, after recounting interesting personal and cultural events, proceeded to explain how, while riding her bike, she was hit by a taxi running a stoplight, and now has to spend 6-8 weeks in the hospital awaiting knee surgery, dying of the heat, and eating, well, let's just call it "hospital food." She certainly need much more good karma than I do at the moment, so, I encouraged her to write a blog....

Food does occupy a significant part of my thought every day. After spending time in Europe, my husband and I decided it was much better for our health to eat like many Europeans, i.e., a big meal in the early afternoon with a tapas-like snack in the evening. So, after defrosting something the night before, like the wild salmon my friend, Chris, catches in Alaska every summer, I begin to plan the next day's dinner. At various points in the evening or morning, I consider what kind of vegetables, starches, etc., I have in storage somewhere in my house, root cellar, freezer, or refrigerator, as accompaniments to the entree. This is, almost always, an extremely pleasurable and blood-pressure reducing process for me. I love cooking and most of the food in north Idaho is really natural, delicious, free of chemicals, growth hormones, etc., and a delight to prepare.

I should add here something about the abundance of good food we have here in north Idaho. My beef comes from my friends, Fred and Alice's, Scottish Highland cattle, which are hormone and antibiotic free, only eat the first cutting of alfalfa, and also receive a mixture of grains and apple peelings from the local apple juice seller, Will. My buffalo comes from our local buffalo ranchers, Spud and Bentley. My wild salmon and halibut are from a guy who fishes in Alaska every summer. Organic chicken and gourmet cheeses, as well as La Brea Bakery bread come from my friend, Julie, who owns our local health food/gourmet food store, Mountain Mike's. She also supplies me with organic Giusto flour (for my weekly bread-baking and European pastry specialities), Bob's Red Mill grains, real smoked, Spanish paprika, organic olive oil, Molinari sausage, organic and free trade coffee and chocolate, and the list goes on. At the Farmer's Market in summer I can buy a vast variety of organic produce, plus some speciality items like morel mushrooms in the spring, huckleberries in mid-to-late summer, and even Yak, from our neighbors in the Pack River area. What I cannot find in town, I can usually find not too far away. My squid, lox, octopus, and wurst (pork cold cuts) come from Canada (drat, we still cannot bring veal over the border). The best Hungarian sausage I ever tasted comes from the Russian deli in Spokane. At the Salzburg-native-owned Alpine Deli in Spokane I buy German goods, and at the Italian deli in Spokane I can even buy anchovies in salt! Now that is some Mario Batali excitement! Huckleberry's in Spokane is great for some game, organic specialities, and gourmet food as well. My local grocery store keeps me supplied with a Two-buck-Chuck style wine, although I have to go elsewhere for variety, like a really good Sancerre. And in Hayden Lake, I can actually buy decent calamari steaks and VEAL! For everything else, I wait until I visit my son in Seattle and then hit Salumi, Uwajimaya, and either the Capital Hill or the University Village QFC (Quality Food Center Grocery store). Finally, one of my favorite Seattle stops is Seattle's Finest Exotic Meats, where I can pick up anything from reindeer to rabbit to alligator, at a very competitive price. I'll tell you, after all that I cannot believe that every DEMOCRATIC foodie around wouldn't want to live here!

So much talk about food has left me sated. So, to finish the blog, and the evening, I'll sip a small bit of my homemade Rose Petal Liqueur, invite Democrats to move here, advise them to buy real estate from Century 21, Bonner Ferry, Mike Peterson, owner, and finish by saying Bon Appetit et Bon Soir!

4 comments:

Sara E Anderson said...

I can't say that I agree that North Idaho is any kind of food Mecca. As a Palousean, if I were to subsist only on area foods, I'd be up to my ears in wheat, barley, peas and lentils. A more moderate climate would go a long way toward making good food easier to be had around here.

But hell, they'll truck it in from anywhere, I guess.

IdahoRocks said...

Aw, come on, the Palouse produces good food, albeit filled with pesticides. But think about this, farro, used in Italian cooking, is like spelt, and is considered an old, Etruscan wheat. It is often cooked up like barley. Think of those great, French Puy Green Lentils used for salad, and one of my favorite soups is Italian Sausage and Brown Lentil cooked up with homegrown spinach or chard. Yummy! I don't really like "trucked in" food, which is why I value my trips to Seattle. Up in Vancover, B.C., in 2005, a couple decided to live a year on a 100 mile diet (www.100milediet.org) and the results of that year are quite interesting. Luckily, up here in the gateway to the Canadian Rockies, we do have not only our gardens, but also hunting and locally raised farm animals. I cannot speak for the Palouse, but it certainly has potential...

Sara E Anderson said...

You know, I actually read about that couple, and my immediate thought was, "Pah, try that where I live." I don't mind drinking imported beer or getting spinach from California in December. My thinking is that there are lots of ways to improve the sustainability of our food system that don't require me to eat lentils every day of my life. I'd be satisfied if there were 50% less pesticides used tomorrow, rather than just me using only organic crops. The local landscape can go a long way to feeding me, but I don't feel 100% loyalty to locally-grown food.

And anyway - isn't food you bring back from Seattle "trucked in?" (But less efficiently than the grocery stores can manage.)

IdahoRocks said...

I guess you could say I was trucking food in from Seattle, but, if I wasn't going for business or to see my son, then I wouldn't go to Seattle for food. As I didn't do for many years. But I like to save my wants for when I visit somewhere else. Like, when I was in Boise for the Frank Church Banquet, I made my way to the Basque store.

I don't think north Idaho is a food mecca for restaurants (although I love Cafe Trinity in Sandpoint), but for homegrown fruits, veggies and herbs, and locally raised lamb, pig, beef, and the occasional chicken or rabbit, it's not bad.

As for the 100milediet, Vancouver and the surroundings have a much better all season climate than north Idaho.