gary dawson designs Random Musings of a Goldsmith!

36 Hours…

Almost 36 hours of time off!  Well, not completely off of course, when you work for yourself you’re always working in some manner or another.  But to put this in context, on one day last week I fielded 42 support and inquiry calls before I took a lunch break around 2pm…didn’t count the after-lunch crowd!  Gary Dawson Designs is rockin’ on!!  But on Saturday, after tending the garden…

Alysia and I decided to get on bike and go!

First stop was River’s Edge Winery located on the West side of Elkton on the Umpqua Hwy (Oregon Hwy. 38).  Keith and Marcie

Helpful wine guides!

were delightful hosts for our tasting of River’s Edge offerings and we selected a 2008 Elkton Vineyard Pinot Noir and 2010 Pinot Gris wishing we had more room in our sparse luggage.  We ended up hanging around for a while chatting with this couple and these guys know their wines, have very nice wines to offer AND know food so can make valuable recommendations based on your taste in both food and wine.  Recommend the stop!

Next stop Winchester Bay (also known as Salmon Harbor) on Hwy 101 just south of Reedsport.  I had previously enjoyed several meals at a deep-fried fish place on the north end of the boat basin called Griff’s so that was our lunch destination.  I had a disappointingly luke-warm Cioppino.  This stew had obviously been frozen and microwaved back to serviceability.  Alysia had scallops that were, in fact, cooked to perfection but were served with soggy fries and a mediocre tartar sauce.  This place has remarkably high marks on Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon and Yelp so maybe this was the occasional bad day that every place has, but after that meal I’m a little sorry that I had recommended it to Marcie and Keith at River’s Edge.

In Bandon we stayed at a reasonably nice place but can’t say a lot great about it so we’ll let that part go…on to food, ya!

Alloro Wine Bar

Alloro Wine Bar is likely the nicest place to eat in Bandon and I think they work hard to serve quality food in a nice atmosphere.  When we arrived for our 9pm reservation however, we were pretty happy to sit in a hallway booth out of the main dining area that was occupied by two inebriated and unnecessarily loud groups of Golfers.  I suppose Bandon Dunes, a world-class golf resort is a boon to this small beachside community but, well, I hate shouting over dinner to have a conversation!  If our server is correct about the frequency of this type of atmosphere, I may recommend getting there earlier in the evening, before wine kicks these types into overdrive.

Our server was gracious enough but went pretty blank when we asked for a wine recommendation based on our food choices.  “Something middle of the road” was not the specific advice we were seeking.  Our eventual choice of a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir was a bit pale but did service our food reasonably well.

We shared a nice appetizer of Zucchini Blossoms Stuffed with Oregon shrimp, prawn and basil, deep fried with saffron-lemon aioli and then Abby’s Greens, a salad of Local organic greens, beet vinaigrette, blueberries, goat cheese, and balsamic onions.  Of the two the salad was much better balanced though we wished that we could have had more than one tiny balsamic onion on the plate.

Our choices of Maple Leaf Farms duck breast, cranberry-cherry salsa, wild rice, farro and hazelnut pilaf, and green beans and Ravioli of Herb-roasted pork, beet greens, hand-dipped ricotta, local lobster mushrooms, in a butter sauce were  both very finely prepared and savory.  But our ravioli shared a common trait with the squash-blossom appetizer which was an awkward balance that tended to heaviness.  Fortunately for us, we had asked for lemon slices to be served with our water and we discovered that by simply adding a small squeeze of lemon juice to both dishes, we improved the balance to elevate these dishes from ok to really great!

Our desserts of Cannoli with fruit and a chocolate gelato with coconut and macadamia nuts were both excellent!

Overall the prices were reasonable for the quality of food served and we were happy to have sampled the fare of this small boutique eatery.  But for the style of service and what they seem to be trying to do there, it seemed a bit out-of-place to have to doctor our plates at the table to really bring out the flavors of this otherwise well-prepared food!

The next day began with great coffee at Bandon Coffee Cafe. with biscuits and gravy, apple pie, and a cranberry cookie!

Bandon Coffee Café Y El Poderoso Tigre’!!


The way home was fun with a stop on a sunny beach to share a bottle of wine al-fresco!

No caption needed!!


And look what we found in the roof of the announcement shelter at the beach stop!!  :)


The Three F’s!

Does this photo really need a caption?

No obligatory gifts and (usually) no unreasonable expectations…just the three F’s!  That’s family, friends and food…lots of food, and usually pretty good food at that.  And that is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  And here’s a treat for you to consider as part of your T-day fare.  But of course there’s a backstory…

I live very close to King Estate, one of the largest wine producers in Oregon.  They have a hilltop castle-like winery that has a reputation for good wine, pretty nice events and pretty decent food.  OK, so I’m jaded…I’m a pretty good cook myself and a foodie to boot!  I’ve been a wine club member at King Estate for years and have always wanted to attend a club release tasting event.  Time and circumstance have alway intervened.

Finally, just last night I attended one of these events with a friend.  The wines were nice of course, and in addition to the nice company, one thing really stood out…the hot, potato-salmon croquettes, with just a dollop of tartar sauce on top, that were being passed among the guests.  There were other light snacks…the chef’s take on Croque Monsieur with duck panchetta, and chanterelle-butternut squash pastry-puffs, but for me, the croquettes were the star of the culinary evening.  They smelled and tasted like my childhood!

My Mom’s instructions for making them were pretty (again, pretty…right?) simple…see the image of the 3×5 card that I wrote while on the phone with her one nostalgic afternoon years ago.

Mom’s instructions, taken over the phone, and transcribed onto my 3×5 index card.

Since then, I’ve begun using panko for most breading and the photos of this batch made recently use that instead of cracker crumbs.  There is a more complex recipe on the Saveur Magazine website here, which I am passing along, but have to admit that I’ve never tried.  I love “Saveur” but Mom trumps any other source every time!!

These little crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside hot delights can make a really fine meal, and my experience last evening leads me to believe that instead of rolled into logs as depicted here,they can be rolled into fairly small (25 cent piece size) balls and served as aperitifs or as part of a snacking wine or cocktail-party atmosphere.

Fry in hot oil to brown and, if necessary, finish in an oven for a few minutes.

Here are the ingredients of a simple tartar that I make to go with… Finely minced shallot, Mayonnaise, and Mustard powder…adjust ingredient quantities to taste.

With a salad, and perhaps a little rice, these make a meal, or make smaller portions for perfect hot snacks!

And finally, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season.  If you are considering a jewelry project with Gary Dawson Designs as a holiday gift, there’s still time…but please do contact me at your early convenience.  I make these things, and it takes a bit to do the “pretty” good job ;) that I always do.

Thank You!  And have a super Thanksgiving!

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