It is that time of year when we are hoping to express our appreciation to those of our customers who keep coming back! Since our gift certificate promotion of last season was so successful we decided to repeat it. The number we can offer is limited, of course, and we have more members this year so we had to limit purchases to two per email address. That way more people can participate. Anyone not on the Encore list must wait for next year for this particular promotion. To sign up for encore, you must have attended at least one class already. Then click the ENCORE link to sign up and fill in your information. Simple! And when you recieve the email to make sure it is your desire to sign up, just click yes and you “opt-in.”
This offer in no way is equal to the amount of our appreciation to our returning customers and to those who send new guests our way. Whenever we can we will reach out to you and send you first for any and all of our invitations, incentives and promotions.
My days right now are full of baking, and holiday catering, so this must be short. You can also read short notes from me on Facebook and Twitter (when I can get on), so please look there as well.
Many thanks from Lenore and me for your continued support, and heartfelt wishes for a wonderful winter and holiday season.
A couple weeks ago now Lenore and I were in Wash DC for the first time in a long time (15 plus years) and we took full advantage of our time there. Truly the trip was arranged to attend a very important wedding for a very special friend of ours. We managed to pack every other minute with shear indulgence. Lenore had a mani, pedi, and facial, while I shopped spice shops and markets. Everyday we went into town or at least as far as Bethesda to eat lunch and often made a point to see two or three new places each trip. We did enjoy the time spent with friends of course, and certainly enjoyed seeing the changes in the area. Bethesda was hard to recognize for example. And of course the choice of spending an anniversary dinner with close friends, John and Alice, at the Inn at Little Washington was a definite favorite.
We had always wanted to go to this Micheline star property. It wasn’t the expense so much as the distance. Now that we live and work on the coast of Oregon, 1 1/2 hours from Portland and 4 hours from Seattle, we didn’t think an hour to Washington, VA was long at all. Besides with old friends the drive affords face time together! Anyway we arrived early, better than the opposite. We strolled the town and realized that the “INN” is the town! Not a whole lot going on there. But then there is Warrenton VA just a little distance away.
Sometimes it is just better to imagine how wonderful a place is to avoid the let down. We knew over the years we may have even inflated our expectation of the INN. We had attended a series of lectures by chefs at the Smithsonian, years before, and when Chef Patrick O’Connel spoke of his restaurant and the quality standards they demand, we were hooked. Could it possible be as good as we thought all these years?
Well, except for a few minor service blips, our time spent was absolutely worth the wait. Of course our dinner company helped. It is great to share the experience with friends with whom we have a long history and who share our love of fine dining. So to begin with, nothing had to be better than that!
We opted out of the prix fix menu because it meant we all had the same foods. We are so used to sharing at the table with this couple that we ordered every choice. We even call our sharing , the wave—to the right or left—we pass our whole plate until it makes its way back to us. Luckily we were seated in a private-ish area and didn’t look too bourgeois.
Everything was so good. It was as if flavor and ability to relate to the food was the goal as much as creativity and something new. I like real relatable foods. This meal was both relateable and ample. We had some favorites and I am already planning to recreate some in our place. More on that later.
The rest of the week we found some other favorites. 1804 in Bethesda is a little office building space–mostly for lunch that was serving homemade charterie platters along with everything from scratch incorporating the whole animal. Another lunch, downtown on H street, was at Potenza for Italian. Loved the cocktails and must say the service was a highlight. My favorite lunch spot in DC was Zaytinya, one of Jose Andres’s places. I had seen an interview with him on 60 Minutes, and really related to his effort to almost apply the food science of flavor to each item he fixes. All of his places in DC represent the antithesis of the more typical over sized portions in that he serves only small plates in all his restaurants. Zaytinya is Greek, Leanese, and Serian. Everything was extraordinary.
I am glad I have taken time to recap our experience. I can almost taste it all again. Lenore and I feel totally re-energized and renewed. This is an exciting time for culinary in our country and we enjoy being apart of it.
It’s too cool weather-wise this summer especially for those of us who live here year round, and who’s business relies on visitors coming to the beach! It seems to our surprise, visitors actually like the cool since many are coming from an unusually HOT summer in their home towns. It is all a matter of perspective. Anyway it started me thinking about the fun we have in the summer whatever the weather story. We enjoy the blend of places from which our dinner guests come: Florida, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Edmonton, Nova Scotia, and even Mexico City. A group from Mexico joined us at lunch one day, after having viewed “Oregon Uncovered” on their local Travel channel. That’s the one in which we were fortunate enough to be featured.
We are doing more cheese boards on the deck this summer, despite the clouds. We get some great comments about how having our cheese boards on the deck with wine and good bread reminds them of being in Europe.
We like summer because the high school and college kids are back to help. It reminds Lenore of her days teaching culinary arts to high school students in Maryland. And their enthusiasm is very energizing for me. I do enjoy watching the activity of our team moving with the purpose to make the guests happy–the hum of the hospitality business you might say.
For most people summer is a time to take long walks on the beach, sip wine on the deck and enjoy being outdoors. For Lenore and me those activities are more for the shoulder season, as they say. Summer kicks off the busiest time of year in our little town when you are a business owner. Visitors are now coming not just from Portland and Seattle but also all over Europe and points down under. So as we get started on this roller coaster we call high season, I hope you’ll stop in and say hi from time to time, remind me what day of the week it is, and join us for lunch. In fact, that is why we opened our family meal, as we call it, to the public. We are pretty busy seven days a week now, so it is the best way we know to do some socializing. Come for coffee, a great bowl of soup, bottle of OR wine paired with some artisan cheeses and our crusty bread, but come on in. One thing for sure, we’ll be here all season
The concept of a family meal is not new. Staff members eating together prior to dinner service is part of the kitchen culture. It bonds us and gives the opportunity to discuss service, new ideas and just get caught up on each others lives. The menus have been a great chance to try new recipes out, re-working leftovers into something completely different and of course getting competitive! The latter of this gets really going in the summer at EVOO. Since we offer twelve seats up to the general public it is no surprise that we put our best foot forward to make sure the experience is as good as any other we provide. In the past, Lenore and I have come to head and towards the end of last year I cheated more a than a little. (You would have to come in to hear that tale.) This time out, every staff member is having a go at it. This week is Paco’s turn and his eagerness is contagious. Between his fathers hand made tortilla press to the groceries he procured from Portland, he is determined to make the first week the bar for others to aspire. I plan on keeping this posting up to date with a play by play of our success but for now I leave with our first menu.
Chicken Soffritos – Dark meat chicken braised in chipolte, jalapeno, garlic, onion and tomato. Fresh tortillas lightly fried and served with shredded lettuce, feta cheese, creme, tomatillo salsa and salsa Rojas. The dish was vibrant with hits of appropriate spice and tangy turns. Each bite offered a new experience but the simplicity made it all cohesive. A great beginning to what should be a phenomenal summer of family meals!
Not sure why EVOO got front page of the Travel section, but grateful all the same. It has been an interesting afterglow to say the least. Every now an then I am told by new guests that they just happen to see that picture of me in the Oregonian and it made them want to check us out! Some people have just said something like they have been reading about us and that picture finally made them pick up the phone and make a reservation. Lately too, we get calls from people who are sure they cannot get in for the following weekend because we are so popular. Let me reassure, we have sometimes only filled up the day of the class just hours before it starts! And this year particularly, we see lots more last minute reservations than past years; spontaneous beach trips where people are waiting till the last minute even to make hotel accommodations. So don’t hesitate to ask if we have space–most likely we do. If we don’t, we will try our best to talk you into something else real soon. Read article: http://evoo.biz/press
Spring Break brings families to our town. We know it is all about the children, so don’t really expect the families to attend our classes. So today when I saw four teenage girls walk in at 9:00 for the ARTISAN BREAD class, I was wondering if they really understood that this was a 5 hour class. Then their mom came in and made me a bit more comfortable, and finally the last attendee, a customer who had been in before, was the only guy. Nice size class but still wondering if I will keep their attention, I got started. It had not yet occurred to me that this was the day before Easter Sunday. It wasn’t until one of the girls said “happy Easter” to someone that I decided to add a little holiday relevance to the class. We were shaping dinner rolls and cinnamon buns from the sweet roll dough, the very same I use for the Italian (and Greek) style breads for Easter. So I asked one of my cooks to make some eggs and dye them–so we could demonstrate yet another example of what can be done with this versatile dough. RECIPE
I finally feel like I am getting traction with our goal to get some products to market. I found a local chef / manufacturer today who has similar ideals and philosophy. He will take a look at our spice blends, and with his current client list and product placement this could propel our project ahead of our expectations. Lenore and I have been focusing on other products to manufacture, too, and it is by accident that we have these spice blends. We developed them to promote the Savor Cannon Beach weekend in a joint promotion with the Hallmark Hotel in March. Now that the formulas are blended we can take the next steps.
We sampled the blends this past month on our menus and we had great positive response that only encourages us more. What makes these spice blends different is that SALT is not our primary ingredient. I like the idea that home cooks can control the salt. It is okay to use these blends without salt, though sometimes it is best to add salt. Putting the choice in the hands of the consumer is important to us. We currently have a Madras style curry blend, an Andalusian Basque style spice mix, and a Coriander sea salt, where salt is the secondary ingredient. Since I use coriander and salt in combination almost always anyway, it just seemed a natural combo for my blends, especially since when I use coriander I tend to use less salt.
I know it sounds weird that we take a break exactly when Portland schools are on break–presuming lots of people will migrate to the beach, and that’s good for business. Actually we had planned to go a week earlier but our business community group got together to drum up business on this historically slow week before Spring breaks begin. In addition they talked the children’s center into doing their fund raiser wine walk that weekend, and of course, we all felt the need to support this important effort. So the timing was unavoidable this year. Savor Cannon Beach weekend and the Children’s Center Winter Wine Walk was a big hit. Our Zerba wine dinner was one of our best– both well attended and received. We now believe if you build a wine dinner around ZERBA they will come!
And taking a break? Make no mistake as difficult as it is for us to break away from the never ending “to-do” list, Lenore and I really needed the opportunity for sunshine, good friends, great food and drink, and a chance for business out of sight and out of mind. Makes me better now. Always good to be home, play with the poodles, and cook in our kitchen again.
I am writing tonight even as late as it is to capture a discussion at dinner tonight before I forget. It was the first night of our March Dinner Show menu. We had a full house with three birthday guests and one anniversary couple in to celebrate. Being a new menu I guess I am a little edgy about the execution. We have been testing the recipes for a couple weeks but until the first night it really doesn’t seem to matter. It’s opening night and it has to go off without a hick up. This evening was going very well until I described the fish I was about to cook up as Rockfish, or aka, snapper. I was so focused I barely notice when one of the birthday guests shyly raised her hand and said, “I don’t mean to be disputatious, but I believe Rock fish is striped bass and not snapper.” She said she is quite sure they are different and she should know being from Maryland where Chesapeake Bay Rockfish is the state fish. I explained that the West coast species is more like snapper and of course that was the conversation I had had with my fish perveyor who described the Pacific Rockfish species to a tee and said we also call it snapper out here. When I got home, did a google search and found we are both right because we were dealing with a varied species all around. The Maryland species is definitely different, and depending on origin, Rockfish come with different flavor profiles. As much Rockfish as I cooked in Maryland when I was there, you think I would be more confident. The guest making the point was really anything but disputatious. She was persistent and yet ate my fish offering with gusto. She said it was her favorite course of the night. Further she said it wasn’t a big deal, and told us it was kind of like the time she told her husband that dinner was spaghetti with red sauce. When he came to the table the spaghetti was spaghetti squash and he really had a taste for the pasta kind. In other words, her point of reference was Maryland rockfish and that is what she expected when the name rockfish was use. It all shook out just fine with laughter all around and we had a great time with the word “disputatious” the rest of the evening. “dis put ta’ tion,” noun- the act of disputing or debating; verbal controversy; discussion or debate.
Lenore used to teach high school. She told me how each year meant a new beginning because the student were new, of course, and her curriculum could be rewritten for a fresh start. She’d keep what worked and dreaming up new stuff. She would tell me that she enjoyed thinking up ways to motivate students when Sept rolled around. Her classes were called “culinary arts” and they were for students aspiring to be chefs. Her inspiration for lesson plans often came from current events and movies. This was all before the food network, though, and I have a feeling it might be pretty different for her today. In any event, it occurs to me that she was doing then what she does now for our business. She didn’t call it marketing then, but it was similar–trying to inspire the students and to attract more of them at the same time. As we are in a slow season right now, we too are planning marketing strategies to bring our customers back again and to inspire new ones to come for the first time. I can now relate to what she was talking about back in those years, because doing business here in CB is really like starting over each year, and dreaming up a new beginning of sorts as we get closer to another busy summer is very motivating for me.
As of yet, our plans are to focus on getting done what we’ve already dreamed up–like getting some of our products to market and maybe having them ready by farmers market. We are bringing back FAMILY MEAL for the summer. This is the one that we invite customers to come on a first come first serve basis and they eat what we make for the staff meal. Only once we start inviting guests, we don’t depend so much on the leftovers, but rather actually plan the menus. The criteria for a family meal is that it be like the old diner blue plate special or what my mom calls comfort food. It is fun for us to do it, but more importantly our guests seemed to enjoy it too.
We are happily looking forward to the new summer season approaching.
Just realized it has been long since I wrote in this blog. I promised Lenore I would write at least once a week. Then she got me signed up for Facebook and while she was there we did a page for EVOO. So that makes three places to post and I am not yet routinely doing any of them.
But for today there is a sense that time is speeding by and keeping in touch socially is supposedly ensures people’s mental healthiness! So to testify that I am mentally sound, I am making contact to those who care to read this and admittedly it gives me pleasure knowing that someone might care to read this.
Lenore and I are busy because it is slow here! That is, it is a “shoulder season” in Cannon Beach. Visitors come weekends only and only about a tenth the number we see during season. We are used to such a feast and famine existence because that is the way it is in the restaurant world. We are busy or slow–it’s just the way it is! It doesn’t mean we like it–because as the owner of a business being slow directly impacts the bank account. We know how to deal with the manic times of the dinner rush in a restaurant and then the decompression in the down time, but when you are the owner there isn’t down time. That is when we dream up ways to drum up business! This is when we must do the jobs that in the summer we have employees doing. Things like filing, recycle, dusting, laundry, yard work, sweeping and washing windows. And on the home front, we do our own housework instead of farming it out. And while all this is going on we still exist under the delusion that we have extra time now to get together with friends and take a few days away now and then. So that is why we are busy during the slow time.