Pssst: Mind Snacks and Musings
By Carolyn White
Illustration by Cari Vander Yacht
New Old World
Beckham Estate, a small vineyard in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains, has launched the Amphorae Project, a stunning amalgamation of art and craft. Andrew Beckham is a ceramics teacher by day at Beaverton High School. By night and weekend, he hunkers down in his studio to create hand-thrown terra- cotta amphorae—ancient-style vessels historically used to store and transport food and liquid.
Along with a few other experimental winemakers around the world, Beckham is fermenting and aging in these clay vessels, a practice that contributes immensely to their terroir. A side-by-side comparison to macro-bin fermentation found that the amphora wine was earthier, spicier, and had broader tannins.
After being treated to a generous tasting tour (hic!), I marveled at their mammoth wifi-enabled electric kiln custom made by Skutt in Portland. All told, it takes about 50 working hours, or three weeks, for Beckham to create each vessel. The Beckhams released 24 cases of their first amphora wine, a 2013 Pinot noir, earlier this month—most of which is reserved for their lucky wine club members.
Odes to Vegetables
Read adoring and eye-opening odes to vegetables by Catlin Gabel fifth graders.
Into the Wild
I first encountered John Kallas, the rogue genius behind Wild Food Adventures, in 2011, when I presented on a panel with him for a “100-mile diet” event. He’s taken the “eat local” concept to the next level, bypassing cultivation and going straight to harvesting native foods in the wild.
This April, he’s hosting a Native Shores event, where intrepid participants journey to the Oregon Coast to forage everything from wild greens to shore- dwelling clams. While the workshop is by no means cheap, the cost covers four days of wild meals, camping, and a lifetime of precious knowledge.
So what are you waiting for? Pull on your wellies and indulge in one of Oregon’s best edible adventures.
$350 (discounts available)
Wild Food Adventures
Listen Up to Grow PDX
What? An agriculture-themed call-in show
When? Wednesdays, 1:30–2:00pm
You Say Potato, I Say Wapato
Once abundant throughout the Pacific Northwest, the small, potato-like tubers called wapato have all but disappeared from their wet, swampy homes. Unsurprisingly, the arrival of European settlers led to habitat destruction that nearly wiped out the wapato.
After a decades-long restoration project to restore floodplains (the environment in which wapato thrives), the Yakama Nation in Toppenish, Washington is once again harvesting the starchy vegetable. For many Yakama people, it’s the first time they’ve seen or tasted this essential first food that provided sustenance for their ancestors for millennia.
The Yakama Nation has returned more than 440 acres in Washington to wetlands, generating a surge in wildlife and granting the first major wapato harvest in more than 70 years in 2011.
Time for Change
The latest Census of Agriculture reports that less than 5% of Oregon’s 35,439 farm operators are classified as a race other than white.
For Sakiko Setaka and Yuri Kawano Baxter-Neal, making miso is as much
a cultural act as it is a culinary one. For both expats, miso has been their soul and comfort food reconnecting them to Japan. Since last year, they have decided to introduce this pleasure to Portlanders.
Setaka and Baxter-Neal host super- small, hands-on miso workshops through Life Sampling, a business that they originally launched to lead food culture excursions for Portland-crazed Japanese tourists. (Fun fact: Setaka works for Popeye, Japan’s cult “magazine for city boys.”)
So far, publicity has been solely word of mouth, something that complements these intimate six-person events. During the workshop, guests make their own miso (and take home three pounds) along with simple Japanese dishes that are eaten together at the end of the class.
Making miso is surprisingly simple: beans, salt and Koji—a rice-based mold— are mashed together and fermented in crocks. But interested folks should come to class with patience in tow—the miso will need to ferment at home for at least six months.
Send class inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Guess What. Pork Butt.
Paradoxically, the fun-to-say “pork butt” is actually a shoulder cut.
As a young Floridian, the mealy, tasteless, thick-skinned tomatoes bred to take a beating during transport were all I knew. And that’s why now, as an adult, I’m a fool
for homegrown heirloom tomatoes. One of the best is Chocolate Stripes, a dense, sweet monster with green stripes that’s good enough to eat like an apple.
Evan Gregoire at Boondocker’s Farm in Beavercreek, Oregon explains that knowing when to plant tomato starts in the Pacific Northwest is tricky.
“The best thing to do is plant some in April with a cover and some in May without,” he suggests. Chocolate Stripes tomatoes are big producers and ripen early, so you might be noshing on a fat harvest by June—a major bonus for tomato freaks everywhere.
Order Chocolate Stripes seeds and other heirloom varieties at boondockersfarm.com
Carolyn White Carolyn White force feeds her friends and writes about food culture in Portland, Oregon. She’s a copywriter for New Seasons Market.
READ: More stories from the Spring 2015 Issue