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Beach Life

It was some time in January that I found myself having one of those days. Every once in awhile, the realisation that I live 6500 miles away from friends and family creeps in and lays a giant funk that leaves me feeling a little empty. I don’t regret a single second of globetrotting, but the older I get, the more I realise that the people I love are spread all over the planet. And then the horror sets in of wondering when and if I will ever see those people again.

You can only close the oceanic gap so much by way of the internet. So after a conversation over Skype, a few Facebook messages, and a couple weeks of surfing for a great deal, I finally booked a ticket to Portland, Oregon.  I’ve never lived in Portland, but a few people who’ve played an important part in my life call it home.

In 2002, I got a wild hair and applied for a job in Antarctica. Besides being one of the best experiences of my life, Antarctica gave me the chance to meet some pretty incredible women. These ladies manage airfields on sea ice, figure out where helicopters need to go next, build green houses, and work in the wilds of Alaska. They run, surf, climb, ski, and paddle. They speak fluent Italian, design jewellery,  and rock the best Lady Gaga getup I’ve ever seen. Over the years, we’ve all gone our separate ways -some still return “to the Ice” as we like to call it, while others (or more specifically yours truly) decide to run off with mysterious men to faraway countries.

It’s been eight years since we’ve all been on the Ice together, four since we’ve last seen each other.  This past week in Oregon we ate, drank, laughed, and caught up on old times. I took it upon myself to be cook for the weekend at our little beach hideaway. Here’s a few of the dishes we munched on in between lots of chat.

Clams with Fingerling Potatoes and Chorizo


I was looking for Spanish chorizo for this dish, but the only thing I could find in the beachside supermarket was Mexican chorizo. They’re quite different, the latter being pretty crumbly with a distinctive addition of Mexican chilies. I’d probably opt for the Spanish kind if you can get it.

  • 1 pound or 500 g of fresh clams
  • 500 g of fingerling potatoes, cleaned and sliced in half
  • 1 link of Spanish chorizo, finely diced
  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 shallots, finely sliced
  • vegetables stock
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • a dash of cream
  • basil chiffonade
  • salt and pepper

Place the live clams in a pot of cold water until ready to use. In a large stock pot, gently fry the garlic and shallots in a bit of olive oil. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and then cover with enough stock. Cover and gently boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes. Fry the chorizo separately. I don’t like my chorizo too crispy, so only a few minutes will do. Drain on a plate with a paper towel and hold until ready to use. Uncover the potatoes and stir. The broth should be reduced, but if not at this point, boil uncovered until reduced by half.  Add the clams and cover again, steaming for 7-8 minutes. Discard any closed shells, add the chorizo, cream, basil, and stir to combine. Serve in a giant bowl with crusty bread.

Red Cabbage, Apple, and Goat Cheese Salad

saladThis is not the prettiest picture of this salad, but I guaranteed it’s a tasty one.

  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 Granny Smith apples, sliced into matchsticks
  • A crumbly goat cheese
  • 2 mild red chilies or 1 Thai birds eye chili, finely diced
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss. Serve immediately.

Crab, Apple, Rocket and Soft Boiled Egg with Basil Tomato Vinaigrette

jetty fishery
We picked up our seafood from this amazing little mom and pop place right on the seafront called the Jetty Fishery.  We had some fresh oysters with a few beers while we waited for the guys to cook our crab. We gobbled most of it for supper one night, but we had one whole crab left over. I picked all the meat and made this salad the next day with all our leftovers.

  • one whole cooked crab
  • juice of 1 orange
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 apple, finely sliced
  • a crumbly goat cheese
  • a bunch of rocket or arugula
  • a bunch of basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 5 eggs

Pick all the meat from the crab and toss with orange juice and salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine basil, balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Squeeze in the flesh from the tomato and stir. Toss the vinaigrette with the rocket, apple, and goat cheese. Plate and then top with crab. Cooked the soft boiled eggs as suggested in my Scotch egg recipe. Peel and slice in half, serving on the side with the salad.




  1. What a wonderful looking and sounding break (and an exciting back story too). It’s so important to keep in touch with people that you have shared experiences and become friends with. I’m coming to realise that more and more as time passes and friends spread out to the far corners of the globe. And all the better if you can do it somewhere as cool as Oregon looks (judging from your post), and with food as good as that.

  2. I want to make that crab/soft boiled egg salad. Tonight. Yum.

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