Monday, September 13, 2010

More from vacationland

So we went to Portland. And we ate. A LOT. Aaaand that was just part of our vacation. Off to Jacksonville!

We hopped on a one-hour flight from Portland to Southern Oregon to visit Jon's grandfather, Fa, and see some of his cousins who were also visiting.

We call these planes "Buddy Holly Killers"

Jacksonville is an old mining town set up in the mountains of Southwest Oregon, (a quite beautiful, yet ear-popping car trip). The landscape is like someone mixed a Pacific Northwest mountainy forest with the dryness and heat of a desert, lots and lots of farmland and then threw in a shit load of vineyards for good measure. Now I'm well aware that this type of biome probably has a name, and half of you are probably like, "duh, Sherry, it's a shrubland/montane forest/coniferous wonderland". But to a girl from New Jersey who's opinion of what qualifies as a mountain is quite laughable, it's just crazy – in a good way.

Jacksonville has a very old-timey wild west feeling, especially downtown. 

Downtown Jacksonville (photo from:

Jon and I don't get much outdoor adventure time in NYC, you know, with the pavement and all, so outside activities were certainly in order. There was river swimming, hiking and a trip to the Rogue River for some rafting.

Jon, sporting his "vacation outfit", complete with french-fry print swim trunks

I never get to be in the pictures

Rogue River

Big Andy, little Andrew

As normal as it gets


Robbie: "I'm on vacation. I'm not rowing."

Besides being all adventurous and Boy Scout-y, we also spent a lot of time just relaxing at Fa's house, which is always nice.

View from the back deck

Deer and turkeys run around like pigeons in Jacksonville, except people actually like them

Andrew watering the flowers


A game of pool at the J-Ville Tavern

And of course, it wouldn't be a worthy entry if there wasn't food involved. And if there wasn't food involved, it probably wouldn't be my vacation.

Luckily there's a great farmer's market in Medford, so we headed out to brainstorm and buy supplies for a dinner party for Fa and a few of his good friends.

The food here is so fresh. It comes from farms like, on the other side of those trees

Fresh tricolor corn

So sweet and ripe you can eat it raw! This is such a great treat, something I do with fresh Jersey corn as well

This is the "Sherry stop taking pictures" look. I get that a lot

Then there was a quick stop in Fa's garden for some more fresh pickins. Due to a late frost, there weren't any ripe tomatoes yet, a big bummer since they were SOOOOOOO good last summer, but the abundance of green beans more than made up for it.

And then, it was time to start slaving in the kitchen.

Jon braising the lamb

Here's that look again

I think cooking in someone else's kitchen is a real treat. Besides the game of Memory you play trying to recall in which drawer you saw that meat thermometer, oven mitts, tongs, and measuring cups, it's a really welcome change to be able to fit both of us in a kitchen comfortably. Unlike fabulous Manhattan living, we get to have our very own work spaces – without using the top of the fridge – and don't have to worry about clocking each other in the face every time we reach for a pan. We can actually use the sink and the stove at the same time without wanting to piss for territorial rights, and there are no ankle-nipping cats to look out for underfoot.

And this is what we came up with for dinner, all fresh and all local:

Appetizer of grilled fig and chévre crostini with honey and black pepper.
Local all-natural lamb leg stuffed with baby arugula, chévre and garlic

Green beans in butter sauce with white wine, garlic and morel mushrooms, roasted corn salad and the stuffed lamb

And really, what's a successful dinner party without a decadent dessert? I worked a little magic and a rolling pin and turned these babies:

into this:

I call it the "Black and blue Pie". Get it? Get it? It's a derby pun! HA! And boy was it tasty.

Everyone went to bed stuffed and happy, possibly with crumbs still stuck to their faces.

Note: 8 bottles of wine were consumed between 7 people.

The next morning, our last in Jacksonville, Fa decided that he would make his famous popovers for breakfast. Popovers are like eating a fresh pastry, an omelette and pancakes all rolled up into one delicious, eggy, decadent package.

I have been waiting 3 years for these babies, and oh man was it was worth it! Jon and I make popovers with Fa's recipe occasionally for weekend breakfasts, and they come out really good, but not Fa good.

One last look around the garden, and behold! One perfectly ripe tomato just for me!

Mr. Fly trying to wrestle me away from the delicious tomato. Guess who won?

Somebody had mentioned something about an alpaca farm nearby, so with a little leg clinging and pouty face-ing, a stop on the way out of town was arranged.

STRANGER DANGER! Alpacas on alert

AHH! How could you not love these?!?!


And then, with a little fuzzy alpaca fiber teddy bear from Fa to hold me over until I get my real alpacas and some poop on my flip flop as souvenirs, it was into the rental car and back to Portland for some more food and a plane trip back to reality.

This is Jon's traffic face. This is my cheesy-dance-music-on-the-radio face.

Until we meet again, Fattyland.

1 comment:

  1. you truly captured it Sherry!! I adore the Alpaca's too...i want one.