Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nameless Cuisine

There are so many food (and drink!) memories from Pacific. Breakfast at Maggie's Buns, the mysterious Grendel's Pasty, and the jalapeno popper rubber glove debacle. But of all the foodie memories in Forest Grove, most probably took place at Izgara. It's an odd little restaurant, not the kind you'd expect to find in a small town tucked between the coast, farmland and vineyard hills. It claims to serve middle eastern cuisine, which it does--falafel, shwarma, and some of the best house-made hummus I've ever tried. But there's some strange fusion going on, like the German-influenced chicken schnitzel pita wraps, and sizzling fries.

(They don't really sizzle, unfortunatley. They're just fries.And as a result, there's the strange addition of a ketchup bottle next to the baba ganoush).

Tonight, while I was trying to dream up a nice and refreshing dinner involving shrimp, I started thinking of my favorite residency restaurant. Vaguely middle eastern flavors mixed together just 'cuz they taste good. At Izgara, they bring out these tiny bowls of appetizer salads before the entrees. They are kind of random, like a really delicious corn salad and cole slaw, but when you mix them together on some naan bread they become a delectable Mediterranean-inspired nacho.

For our own strange smorgasbord I made a curry-scented carrot salad, chimmichurri, basic cole slaw and bought some tzatziki at Whole Foods. The shrimp were marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper. Just a brief marinade, though--20 minutes or so--too much marinade for shrimp and they start to get gross. I skewered them and gave them a quick squirt of lemon at the very end. They grill up about as fast as the pitas do before they turn to rubber, so don't leave them alone. They hate to be alone. We assembled our own open-faced sandwiches, served with spiced couscous and fresh corn on the cob.

It didn't make a whole lot of sense, and I don't know what to call it exactly, but I can tell you it was light, bright and fresh for the first 90+ degree day of the year. And that's a win in any language.

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