As much as we love living near Portland, Maine, we have a fondness and much respect for our sister coastal city, 3,197 miles out west. I spent this past Sunday at High Mountain Hall in Camden, doing Nia. Nia is a movement technique that incorporates elements of dance, the martial arts and healing practices. It’s all about experiencing joy. And anyone can do it. Four years ago I trained to become a Nia teacher in Portland, Oregon, where Nia was created. We spent from seven am until seven pm every day for a week in the dance studio with an hour for lunch, when I would go wandering around near SW Yamhill street downtown. The closest place for lunch was Elephants Delicatessen, a cute cafe. There I experienced one of the most delicious flavor sensations of all time: their renowned tomato orange soup. This is really good stuff. So beloved, that a local paper reprinted the recipe, with permission from the deli; and thanks to the internet, I was able to suss it out at a moment’s notice. Amazing. I love the way the acid is balanced by a spot of dairy, like a warm, herbal creamsicle for your belly. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Just try it. Stir up a little pot of this soup and envision the mystic hush of the Pacific Northwest.
Tomato Orange Soup
From Elephants Delicatessen
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes, including juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (about three big, juicy navals)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
In a medium sized pot, melt butter and soften onions until translucent. Add tomatoes, herbs and baking soda, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for fifteen minutes, then blend (I used an immersion stick). Add orange juice and cream, as desired. I did a scant bit less than what was called for. Serve warm.
The other half of today’s lunch comes to us from direct from the post, a recipe that arrived in the mail the old fashioned way. I’m going to rip it out of its little booklet and fold it into my Moleskine recipe notebook. It’s definitely a keeper.
Pressed Ham, Gruyere, and Pear Sandwiches for Two
From Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food
- 4 slices country bread
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 3 ounces Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced or grated
- 2 ounces thinly sliced deli ham
- 1 cup baby arugula, shredded
- 1/2 pear, very thinly sliced (without skin)
- ground pepper
- knob of butter
- splash of olive oil
I applied Dijon mustard to the bread, then stacked half the cheese, ham, arugula, pear, remaining cheese and a few twists of pepper. I melted butter and oil together in a frying pan and used a cast iron skillet to press the sandwich, perhaps three minutes per side, until the cheese is melty and the bread is golden brown.
Soup and a sandwich, the most delectable bedfellows. Each of these have fruit components, are somewhat autumnal, and definitely rich. The problem we unexpectedly encountered was one of balance, we had an overload of deliciousness on our hands. My goal was to elevate the quick-and-dirty, Kraft and Campbell’s, cool weather lunch staple. The result is a little much, a bit excessive, a tad over the top. No one wants that, not really. The lesson demonstrated is that one of the two things must be grounded, basic, simple. Plain tomato soup and a fancy pants grilled cheese, or vice-versa. When one half of your daring duo excels, the other must be mellow, to lend control. It’s your classic My Two Dads scenario. If both dads had their respective heads in the clouds, The Judge certainly would have removed young motherless missy from the dudes’ sweet ass loft immediately, and she would have become a ward of the state. Don’t let that happen to Staci Keanan. Don’t be like me. Keep one foot firmly planted at all times. But do try this combo. Maybe just not all at once.