Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just plain nuts!

"Everything we've done today has involved eating somehow," said Shana yesterday as we watched a plate of Mighty-O donuts circumnavigate the sushi train restaurant in which we had taken shelter from the rain in the last hour of my trip to Seattle before we had to return the rental car. The cucumber roll and edamame that we had plucked from the conveyor belt probably weren't necessary after mussels and fries from Brouwers and ten thousand free samples from Theo. But, hey, it was rainy, we were bored, our rental car was small, and I'd never had revolving sushi before. It was an experience, and the waitress probably assumed that we just had eating disorders, or were vampires.

And that's not even counting breakfast--some fresh eggs from the Ballistic Chicken Coop, which is the name of the house where Shana lives. Don't worry; it's just the name of the house. Shana doesn't live in an actual coop. Only the chickens do. Shana's room is more of a closet. Anyway, the eggs were perfect, so ridiculously fresh that in the process of frying them sunny-side-up, one of the yolks just fell off of the white on which it was perched. I fished it out of the pan and plopped it back on intact as if nothing had happened. Eaten on top of some wheat toast with a little smoked salt--oh man, it was a revelation.

Prior to that we had been camping on the Olympic Peninsula for three days, during which we consumed $20 worth of hazelnut products. I was at the U-District Farmer's Market on Saturday gathering some groceries and I walked up to the Holmquist Hazelnuts stand, figuring that a little bag of them would make a comforting snack as we traipsed through the rainiest stretch of the continental United States.

"Sweet or savory?" asked the hazelnut lady.
"Well, I'm usually more of a savory kind of a guy."
-- the truth, especially at breakfast.

The first nut I sampled was an epiphany: it was truly the best hazelnut I had ever tasted in my life; all hazelnuts I had previously eaten seemed tasteless in comparison; flavors that I had never before known to exist were electrifying my senses.

"WOW! What kind of flavors did you put on these nuts?"
"Nothing. That's just the natural flavor of the hazelnut! We dry roast it to--"

Within thirty seconds I had been upsold to buy an $11 bag of hazelnuts and a $9 jar of butter--the nuts to snack on as we were climbing mountains and the butter to make sandwiches when we got to the top, reasoned the hazelnut lady. Sure. That makes perfect sense. We aren't really climbing a mountain. Just give me every hazelnut you have. By the time I had pulled myself away from the intoxicating scent of the nuts, I had also promised to send a letter to Berkeley Bowl urging them to contact Holmquist Hazelnuts so they can buy a sampler pack.

I felt a little sheepish as I showed Shana the camping spread I'd put together, neglecting to mention that I had spent as much on hazelnuts as I had on all other food combined. Still, much to my surprise, we managed to eat all of them. I mean... seriously, all of them. Hazelnut and kale couscous. Hazelnut oatmeal. Hazelnut butter and cucumber sandwiches. Hazelnuts cherry granola. Hazelnut butter straight out of the jar licked off of a spoon. It seems likely that all other nut and seed butters will be disappointments to me until I taste this food of the gods once again.

...and that's only half of my trip to Seattle!

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