(a week in june)
Rather than a singular Secret Restaurant event, this entry serves to document my time as an artist in residence at Hannon Welch's Residency In The Garden program. I am blessed with the school calendar schedule, and was able to spend my first week off for the summer thinking about, cooking, and sharing food. Now, half a year later, I'd love to share the experience with you.
With the help of some good friends Hannon designed and built this outdoor canvas tent room, to be occupied by a different artist each month of the summer. I was the first resident, moving my outdoor kitchen in mere hours after the structure was complete.
The studio was in the backyard of a house nicknamed The Hideout, where friends of mine have lived for years. It is about a 10 minute stroll from my house. I'd rise very early each day, water and tend my garden, then stroll down to their garden for the day.
I'd start by editing recipes and photos for my cookbook, Myrtlewood: home cooking from the Pacific Northwest. After an hour or two at the desk, I'd get to work doing prep work for the day's lunch. The idea was to make a lunch every day from Elizabeth David's Summer Cooking (1955). Elizabeth David was an English food writer who can be credited for giving English and American readers the confidence they needed to try out "exotic" french, Italian, and Mediterranean dishes. Summer Cooking is her collection of casual, thoughtful food, and has been a favorite for a long time. I thought if I spent each day working on my own book, I'd want to make Elizabeth's food for lunch, to sort of have a mentor figure on my shoulder.
Each day of the residency had a different guest or guests who had signed up for lunch. The lunches were free to the guests and were funded/supplied entirely from Hannon's food stamps, my garden, and the garden at The Hideout. These guests shared reviews of the experience, which you can read, along with the menu for that day, down below. The square Instagramy-photos were taken by me in the moment. Scroll way down for a gorgeous gallery shot by our usual photographer, Peter Schweitzer.
After lunch, I'd go back to writing at the desk, usually returning home or being out in the world for dinner, then whenever I could I'd do one more session by lamplight, cassette tapes quietly humming along with the buzzing of the summer night.
The experience very much echoed the one I had in 2011, working and cooking on a farm in New Hampshire with friends from college.
The week culminated with an evening garden party, where the whole Secret Restaurant crew took on the desserts from Summer Cooking using the bounty we could get our hands on. See #61 to read about and scope it!
A salad made entirely from greens available in the garden on site. Orach, pea tendrils, mache, and nasturtium. A light dressing of lemon, olive oil, flaky salt, and a touch of mustard.
E.D.'s beautifully simple recipe for a meltingly tender, buttery potato under a crisp edge.
From E.D.'s recipe for 'Cucumber and Chive Salad,' where at the very end she says, offhandedly, "A plain cucumber salad with no dressing at all other than a few drops each of olive oil and tarragon vinegar is equally delicious."
The English cucumber ended up with this brilliant translucence because it was frozen halfway earlier that morning (the mini-fridge in the tend was too full and everything near the freezer compartment started to freeze too!). Something I certainly wouldn't recommend doing to your cucumbers, but I was thrilled it ended up being not only still edible, but extra pretty and delicious.
Swiss chard with cream.
Inspired vaguely by her recipe for spinach and eggs, which has you cook the moisture out of the spinach, then bring it to life again with cream.
Seeded baguette with peaches and apricots.
Peaches and apricots, pitted and cooked in butter with a scattering of sugar on the grill, then piled onto the leftover baguette.
REVIEW from guest Grace Amber:
Walking through the veil, symbolized by canvas tent flaps, I met Andrew and sat at the small table. Restaurants build atmosphere by buying funky lights or trance-y watercolor paintings, Andrew’s atmosphere is an entrance into his way of doing. I would like to be able to splice Andrew’s cooking from any comparisons with restaurants because thats what the lunch of 3 salads did for me.
3 salads, sliced bread, make your own Bruschetta. I agree with the menu Andrew had been dreaming up and he starts doing. These salads had particular dressings and crunchiness to be sprinkled in ways that I copied off Andrew. Have you ever thought about making 3 salads before? [I have not.] 3 salads means you care about the relationship between each vegetable and you know that putting them in a loud crowded room would stress them out, and anyway its hot July- they need their space. 3 green salads also means you went to that treasure trove porch and collected veggies who’s sun is setting, so you created 3 salads for those veggies to flourish in.
Every object and kitchen utensil placed in Andrew’s tent kitchen installation was meant to be there. In this realm, utility and beauty were balanced. I have a bias of rudely stamping style as “bougie.” Andrew’s way of doing is style. Andrew’s style is caring.
Returning from a brief trip into the sink, I returned to find Andrew had set out 2 warmed fruit desserts that sweetly reminded me luxury was not owned by the market.
Pan Bagna 4 (Ratatouille En Salade between some bread) with SG arugula.
E.D.'s recipe for "ratatouille en salade" in the Hors d'oevre and Salads section. I'd cooked it in the hot, later afternoon hours of the previous day. The need to clear out the mini fridge a bit to prevent further freezing and E.D.'s note about how it is "equally delicious served cold" inspired the idea to make it in the afternoon and have it ready for sandwiches the next day.
I picked some of the long established wild arugula from my backyard garden before walking over that morning.
My guest brought the bread, so the first thing we did was slice the baguette, stuff them with the eggplant/onion/tomato/pepper mixture, and left a cutting board on top. At the last minute, they were stuffed with the arugula.
Laitue a la créme.
Another E.D. salad– this one is for enjoying fine lettuces with a dressing designed for "those with an aversion to olive oil." Who the hell has an aversion to olive oil? Well, perhaps this was more common in 1958. It featured just one soft boiled egg– the yolk went into the dressing, with cream and white wine vinegar, and the white was chopped up and tossed over the finished salad. Really, it made the lettuces shine, which is exactly what it was trying to do.
Whole baked trout with cucumber salad, fennel fronds, and borage flowers.
Trout baked in parchment with lime leaves. An English cucumber salad similar to the one from the previous day, with tarragon vinegar and olive oil. Fennel fronds and borage flowers scattered over.
Served with a Sauce Ravigote, from E.D.'s section on sauces. Essentially a salsa verde (pounded herbs and anchovy) with the addition of egg yolk, it comes, originally, from 'La Cuisine Messine' by Auricoste de Lazarque, whose sauces, she says "are always just a little better than other people's."
REVIEW from guest Christine B. Hunter:
If you were to ask me about my luncheon with Andrew, I suspect my immediate reaction would be one of eye-rolling and emphatic “ugh!”-ing. And not because I did not enjoy it. In fact, quite the opposite. The incessant charm of being in a backyard, roughly constructed canvas tent, complete with tiny dining table, ladder shelf, tape deck humming African guitar, and a camping stove style flat top, is nearly unbearable; but so pleasantly sweet that one cannot help but feel entwined in the setting. Indeed, Andrew Barton’s food is a perfect complement to this saccharine setting. A vinegary tang. Zesty, light and mouthful. A very subdued richness. And the feeling of improvement: mentally, bodily, that is generally only accompanied by plates of good nigiri and heaps of lightly pickled ginger. He crafts delicate, beautifully fresh foods that aptly intoned the mildly hot summer afternoon upon which we shared them. I left feeling inspired and invigorated, both by Andrew himself and the dishes we shared. A languid afternoon, two hours spent making sauces, an indulgence that is rarely engaged in - I am sure that I will not have another experience like this in the foreseeable future.
Parchment baked trout from the previous lunch, a freshly poached artichoke, romaine lettuce, pickled peppers, garlic croutons made from the previous day's bread, and nasturtium flowers, dressed in the remaining Sauce Ravigote.
Ratatouille en salad.
The last serving of ratatouille en salad, this time with grilled garlic bread.
Cucumber and chive salad.
Yet another fantastic, wouldn't-have-thought-of-that, Elizabeth kind of salad. This one had a creamy dressing.
Apricots baked with vanilla sugar.
I followed E.D.'s recipe here exactly, and served them with cream in a little jar.
REVIEW from guest Joshua James Amberson:
My Lunch With Andrew was the casual intimacy of Secret Restaurant distilled. An out of time afternoon of storytelling and looking at food in relation to the season, the land, and the community. It was making a brief piece of art that didn't lose sight of food's primary role of sustaining life. My Lunch With Andrew felt like someone saying, "Life can be good, let's help each other stay alive."
Glazed carrots with mint.
I'll just type out the recipe for you, to give a sense of E.D.'s simple directions: Blanch a pound of small new carrots in boiling salted water for 6 or 7 minutes. Strain, and put them in a heavy pan with 2 oz. of butter; after 5 minutes' gentle cooking add a tablespoon of sugar; simmer gently. When the carrots are tender, reason with salt and ground black pepper and stir in a tablespoon of chopped fresh mint.
Navoni all' agliata (turnips with garlic sauce).
Maybe the most delicious single dish of the week. I used some She has you smash a clove of garlic in the mortal and pestle, then toss in just a small amount of vinegar and warm oil, magically creating the most luxurious sauce.
Beetroot with herb butter.
Exactly as the recipe dictated– an utterly sublime way to prepare beets.
Risotto with sorrel puree.
So this isn't a risotto in 'Summer Cooking,' though there are risottos in 'Summer Cooking.' However, there are multiple sorrel purees, a fact I found incredibly amusing (and thrilling, as I have a few patches of sorrel permanently installed in my garden).
The idea started because Hannon had brought a bunch of onion trimmings home from her work (she works at famed Mexican spot Por'que Non? nearby) and was inside making stock the previous day. I was like "we'll make risotto for your lunch, with the stock you made!"
Plums on the branch.
This idea comes from Nigel Slater, who in many respects does for us today what Elizabeth David did for people in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The big old plum tree in the Hideout hard had been having a rough year, and was so overladen with fruit that several branches had cracked down the week before the residency. These plums weren't the ripest on the first day, and were beyond perfect on this day. Ruby and Hannon and I ate our fill.
In the absence of a review, here is the inspiring passage from Nigel's perfect book, Ripe:
A plum feast
2nd July, 2007, a wet summer's evening and we had finished our steaks, the smokers amongst us had lit up, and the rain poured torrentially against the glass roof. Suddenly, my hosts put a vast branch on the table, its end apparently ripped from the tree, still in leaf and covered with wild red plums.
A memorable way to end a meal, but somehow brutal too; it was the tree's last stand. The branch had been rescued from an elderly plum tree in a century-old East End allotment near the River Lea in Hackney. A much loved site that was to be bulldozed for an Olympic walkway and its tenants evicted. Grown almost certainly from a wild seedling, its small, bright-red myrobalan bruit had been as much a part of the allotment as the beds, sheds, and broad beans. We pulled at the tiny crimson fruits, breaking off laden twigs and passing them round the table, sucking at the sweet-tart fruits while my hosts told the story of the community of allotment holders, their fig and fertile land and their futile fight to stop the march of the bulldozers.
I now kick myself for not planting one of the many stones that lay sucked on my plate. But their house is not far from mine, and I often wonder about the ancestry of the wild cherry plum that has appeared in my vegetable patch.
Risotto cakes with french sheep's feta cream.
Fried risotto cakes, made with the previous day's leftover risotto.
Pommes de terre a la méredionale.
Another perfect recipe, Elizabeth. It has you melt butter and toss the potatoes in it at just the right moment of warmth, then the herbs a little later when they are closer to room temperature. Gah!
Residency in the garden salad 2, with Blue Hill carrot yogurt.
Another salad created entirely from the assorted kale, orach, chickweed, nasturtium, and random greens in the garden at the hideout. Dressed with nothing but the noteworthily delicious Blue Hill carrot yogurt. I did this largely because I firmly believe Elizabeth David would be down with Dan Barber's product, and that she'd think that packing undressed greens on a picnic, with a separate serious dressing, would be perfect.
Courgettes with parsley butter
Another killer technique for dressing a simply cooked vegetable. This one was a hit with the children my guest is the nanny for!
Fresh cherry preserves on wheat bread.
I made some cherry preserves with the sour cherries from S.G. the weekend before the residency, just to try it out. They were like perfect cherry pie, drizzled in honey. Eaten simply on some Camas County whole wheat baguette, they had an extremely pleasing flavor and contrast!
REVIEW from guest Abigail McNamara:
During Andrew's residency at The Residency in the Garden, I was lucky to participate in one of his afternoon lunches. I brought along two small friends, ages 1.5 & 3 years old, to explore the Garden, enjoy a delicious meal, and help out preparing to the extent that they were interested and able. We ate fresh plums from the heavy hanging branches of the hundred year old tree, and popped in and out of the beautiful canvas tent where Andrew's charming kitchen was housed, chopping (and tasting) fresh herbs from the Garden as he carefully prepared our lunch. We ate a delicious meal of buttered zucchini, tender & creamy potatoes with parsley, fried risotto cakes, and fresh salad greens from the garden dressed with a carrot yogurt dressing. Served on blue speckled enamelware, I was struck with nostalgia for camping trips of my childhood. The meal was thoughtfully crafted to please a child's palette, but the adults present were just as enamored with the subtle, fresh and complex flavors. Some dishes buttery and creams, others tangy and earthy, our colorful plate reflected the vibrant Garden surrounding us.
residency in the garden gallery
Peter Schweitzer, the Secret Restaurant / Myrtlewood photographer, also joined us for this lunch, and shot this beautiful set of photos to capture the residency atmosphere on it's last day.