Saturday, July 03, 2010

cherry dining


I have said it before.  And I will say it again.

Right now.

Summers in Oregon are practically perfect.

Even though the sun has not shown his face much, the most certain sign of summer in Oregon is amongst us.


This morning I walked the four blocks from my house to the Salem Saturday Market.  And walk I did.  I still favor my right leg a bit.  But I get around.

There was a day when markets afforded local farmers the ability to sell excess produce and for buyers to purchase fresh produce at a discount.

Those markets were similar to the produce markets in larger Mexican cities.

I do not have anything similar in Melaque.  But there is a market in Manzanillo where housewives can buy their daily food from fish, meat, vegetable, and fruit stalls.

Our Saturday Market does not share that character.  Jazz bands play while citizens buy emu and other locally-grown delicacies.  No longer the home for bargain-shopping senior citizens and single moms.  The average customer is far more likely to be able to describe the bouquet of a fine pinot noir rather than how to balance the food budget.

My cherries are a perfect example.  Let's start with quality.  They are not your usual Safeway bings imported from California.  These are locally-grown.  Sandra Rose.  Rainier.  Deliciously sweet.  Lip-staining and juicy.

And they are not inexpensive.  After all, these are Nordstrom people here.  Not K-Mart.  $4 a basket.

I wandered off with $12 worth.  Enough to last me for the afternoon.  In my own personal Tudor moment.

Two years ago I had an interesting conversation with one of the farmers at the market.  He chuckled that not long ago, he could not find buyer for some of his more exotic-looking tomatoes.  Then food faddie declared heirloom tomatoes to be "in."  The farmer, being a wily marketer, slapped a sign declaring his wares to be "organic heirloom" tomatoes.  He could not keep them in stock.

He was telling me the tale at my own expense.  While he was talking, I was buying three pounds of his rebranded vegetables.  Both his story -- and the tomatoes -- were perfect.

It may not be very warm in Salem today.  Certainly not as warm as it will be in Melaque.  But I will be celebrating summer in a truly Oregon fashion.  With cherries.  My hot tub.  And a good book.

It is hard to beat that combination.  But it is an experience worth repeating.

It is an experience worth repeating.


el jubilado said...

Never heard of Rainier cherries or is the a west of the mountians species actually called Rainy'er. They looked like Royal Ann

1st Mate said...

I love cherries, too - they have them at Sam's Club! But not the gourmet varieties you're talking about. Only thing: I can no longer gorge on them, after that scene in the Witches of Eastwick with the recycled cherry pits.

Tancho said...

All in one sitting?

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

OMG. Pacific Northwest cherries! And sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes. omg. Those are the only 3 things I miss excruciatingly. There are substitutes, but not the OR summer real-deal.
Pig out, while you can.

Leslie Limon said...


I hope I have the same luck as last year. You wrote about finding cherries in Manzanillo and a few days later, I found some here! :)

I think you should enjoy another basket of cherries for all of us expats who only dream of cherries! :)

Hope you have a Happy 4th of July!

Darrel said...

Kaitlyn is working at Farmer John’s, a local produce/catering/specialty shop in Tumalo (just outside of Bend) for the summer. They have some local but mostly valley, Hood River and Kimberly produce. She has been carting home strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and yes cherries to satisfy our summer binging. I love the excesses of Sumer. This is her last summer culinary fling before going off to Oregon State and living on Top Ramen and Mac n Cheese. Have a great Fourth and eat as many cherries as you can while they are available. In no time at all you will be returning to SOB.

Steve Cotton said...

el jubilado -- Rainiers are similar to Queen Anne cherries. I love them as much as the birds do.

1st Mate -- I doubt anything will ever keep me from gorging on cherries.

Tancho -- Indeed. One sitting. Followed by another sitting of another sort not too long after.

Mexicn Trailrunner -- I share your love for all three. And this year I will be here for each season. Not to mention the Oregon strawberries.

Leslie -- Thanks, Leslie. The three baskets of cherries I bought yeterday are gone. Time for more.

Darrel -- Maybe I should come over your way for fruit. I should have come this weekend. All of my obligations copped out on me. When are you coming over this way?

Ron said...

This summer in the Willamette Valley has been horrible. The furnace actually kicked on this past week. the high temps have struggled to get into the 70's.

Next week we will finally have some sunny days in the 80's and 90's. It is about bloody time!!

Most summers are wonderful, though.

Steve Cotton said...

Ron -- I thought today was going to be the start of our heat wave. But the hottest place in my back yard is the hot tub. And that is good enough for me.