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Cooking for an Italian

Not sure what is wrong with the present generation that, when visiting Portland on vacation with their Italian boyfriend, think it would be fun to spend the evening with us. Shouldn't they be belly-up to the bar at Pok Pok or nibbling on farm-fresh deviled eggs, VooDoo Donuts or, at the very least, sipping a local micro-brew?

Nope. Kids these days just want to spend the night in The Tiger Room and have DT grill them up a little supper. We love it when Lisa's friends come to visit. They love to see her childhood home (and her room!) and we love to cook for them. Tonight, Lisa's friend Elle (lives in Los Angeles) and her boyfriend, Duccio (lives in Florence, Italy), came for dinner.

As you all know, I cook Italian food much of the time around here, except for the nights we go to an Italian restaurant... or the nights we are eating/cooking Mexican food. Cooking Italian food is one thing. Cooking Italian food for an Italian is quite another. We wanted to showcase Oregon foods - yet give a little nod to Italy.

Oregon olive oil and Oregon sea salt on the table

Our deck is just barely dry enough (after refinishing) to return the patio furniture, but the weather beckoned to dine outdoors. It was a lovely evening with nearly a full moon.

I actually made a Negroni cocktail for an Italian man and he drank the entire thing. (NOTE/WARNING: I make a Negroni with one part gin (Tanqueray), one part Campariand one part Dubonnet - instead of sweet vermouth). The herby concoction is served in an old-fashioned glass, over ice, with an orange slice garnish.

Appetizers featured a few marinated Italian veggies (peppers, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives) and also a few Oregon treasures - sweet just-picked Oregon cherries and roasted Oregon hazelnuts. Dave poured a rose from a local vineyard (and by local, I mean at the bottom of the hill).

Tonight's main course is one of our easy-party favorites - Caesar Salad with "something" on top. Tonight Dave grilled chicken and line-caught wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon to serve on the salad. We also provided tomatoes and sliced avocado.

Duccio had seconds, so I was a happy hostess tonight.

Elle & Duccio

Oregon came to the forefront at dessert. I was pretty sure Marionberries were never on a menu in Florence, so baked a little crostata (miniature one-crust Italian open-faced pie) for Duccio with berries from my Aunt and Uncle's farm. We Oregonians are very proud of our little hybrid berry and eat them like mad when they are in season. This is Lisa's favorite pie.

My aunt just gave us pounds of Marionberries!

There is the remote chance I may have churned a little vanilla ice cream to serve with the pie.

Until my next update, I remain, your Oregon correspondent.