Gibassier, mon amour

It would not be hyperbole to proclaim that we ate (and drank) our way through Portland this holiday season.  Some notable meals included a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at Bar Avignon that began with a perfectly seared foie gras and country pork pate and moved through duck leg confit with cranberry gastrique, cauliflower with pickled raisins and a roasted chicken with hazelnuts, blue cheese, beets and bacon. Our dinner at Imperial was also a high note – hitting the highest with the duck meatballs with prunes and orange gremolata as well as the quail with grilled figs and mint/walnut pesto.  Our dinners at Urban Farmer and Lincoln were forgettable, except for the braised short ribs (Urban Farmer) and pig skin “pasta” with lamb ragout (Lincoln) – both unctuous and satisfying, but the rest of the meal fell flat. 

We somehow managed to make it to Lardo for sandwiches three days straight – and after our second day, we decided to revisit rather than try our luck at Bunk.  Our favorites were the lemony Italian tuna melt with olive tapenade and shaved fennel and the drippy Korean pork shoulder with house kimchi and cilantro.  Both sandwiches deserve a revisit – as well as those spicy, salty, sweet, crispy homemade Korean BBQ potato chips.

As far as beverages go, the infamous Amontillado sherry and tequila eggnog (sounds disgusting, tastes amazing) at Clyde Common fortified us for the chilly Portland evenings.  And, of course, we tried an array of donuts from Blue Star – blueberry/bourbon/basil, marionberry with PB powder, pistachio cheesecake and passion fruit/cocoa nib were some of the favorites we sampled in our assortment of eight flavors. 

Among all of these great tastes, however, the food memory I bring back home with me like a souvenir is the breakfast bread from Pearl Bakery called gibassier (the pronunciation is difficult to come by, but I’ve read it’s zee-bah-see-ay).  After doing some research for a recipe (I cannot live my life without another one – even if I must make them myself!), I realized that I’m not the only one to wax poetic about these humble little treats.  Best consumed with a steaming coffee drink, these yeasty little fists of dough are subtly flavored with olive oil and orange blossom water and studded with candied orange peel and aniseed.  Once they emerge hot from the oven, they are given a bath of clarified butter and coated with superfine sugar giving them a sandy crust worth licking from one’s fingers.  If I could pop one of these in my mouth every day along with my morning cuppa, life would be grand.

Gibassier photo from Shantilly Picnic

photo from Shantilly Picnic


Of Butter, Bacon and Grit

During my yoga retreat in Montana, part of our “required reading” was an article about the research of Stanford professor, Carol Dweck, Ph.D., on motivation, achievement, and success in learning. Dr. Dweck categorizes learners into two camps: those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset. In a nutshell, those with a fixed mindset believe intelligence and talent and predetermined  – and those with a growth mindset believe, with enough effort, anything is possible.  Growthies aren’t afraid to try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, fail, fail.  Growthies have “grit”. Growthies are concerned with the process and the effort.  Fixies are focused on the outcome.  Most of us fall somewhere on the continuum, but I must admit,  I’m from the Fixie tribe – not the Growthies. Sure, practice will make improvements, but only so much.  I “know” intelligence isn’t malleable. And that, according to Dr. Dweck, is my problem.

Is this why my culinary aspirations have stalled?  Is this why I’m jealous of my fellow chef’s accomplishments while I look on from the sidelines?  In the kitchen, I’m focused on the final dish, the finished product,  what the other chefs are doing, and how I don’t measure up.  What if I gave myself permission to play in the kitchen, if I tried to make a dozen awful dishes, if I cooked like no one was watching?

Some Privacy, Please…

I’ve been away – far away, practicing yoga and sleeping in a yurt in Montana.  I needed a break, some time to regroup and renew.  I wanted to think about things – big life-changing things and not so big things; just lots of things.

I came to a decision about my posts – one of those “not so big things”.  You see, I’ve reduced their quantity.  I’ve marked all of the boyfriend posts “private”.  It’s time.  He’s no longer just some guy in my life – he’s important – and I would never want him to be hurt by the discovery of my silly musings.   If I can’t tell him my thoughts about us, I shouldn’t be telling you.  He deserves the most respect I can give him now, even if that means a less interesting blog.

Like Clouds

“Aparigraha”.  The concept came to me in the middle of yoga class, when I was supposed to be focused on my breathing.  “Aparigraha”.  There was my answer.

Aparigraha is the yogic Sanskrit term for “non-grasping”.  Non-grasping, letting go, or “non-attachment” for the Buddhists out there.  All of this pain associated with my new work situation and the uncertain relationship status with the guy are a result of my grasping, my attachment.

In this life, nothing is FOREVER.  People, jobs and things come and go in our lives.  It may be a marriage for 20 year – or even 50 years, a relationship that’s 9 months new, or a career of 10 years, but at some point, change happens.

In life, forever doesn’t exist – we die, we change, they change, things wear out, get lost – things get broken.   We should delight in what we have NOW (its OK to hope that the good things lasts a very, very, very long time) – and temper our mourning when things must change and move on across the sky.

What I want – right now. Friday at 3:09

I want to go to my yoga class tonight. I want to practice until I’m hot and sweaty and my arms are weak. I want to call him on my way home, tell him to meet me. I want to peel off my damp yoga clothes and show him how much I’ve missed him, how flexible class has made me. I want to see his strength. I want to be left trembling on the bed.