Category Archives: Restaurants

Sammich Ashland

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A while back, I shared a recipe for olive oil poached albacore tuna, which was inspired by a local restaurant, Sammich. Two months after my post, I received an unexpected e-mail from one of the owners of Sammich, asking if I wanted to come in and try some items off their menu sometime? Completely surprised by the offer, I of course said I would love the opportunity.

As Urban Dictionary states, “a sammich is not just a sandwich, it is not just a meal. Sammich is a term reserved for only the holiest and mightiest of all sandwiches. A sammich is a true work of culinary art; a feast on a bun, if you will. A sammich is not made of the best ingredients; it is made of the right ingredients. It needs the right meats, and the right cheese(s), the right sauce, the right veggies, and the right kind of bread.” But Sammich owners Chandra Corwin and Melissa McMillan DO use the best ingredients. They take the time to use local grown produce from Talent’s Fry Family Farm, locally baked breads from La Baguette. The meats are additive, nitrate, and preservative free and comes from ranches solely found in the Pacific Northwest.

Outside of the attentive and impressive care that’s found in regards to Sammich ingredients, what’s even more stunning is the obvious love that is poured into each meal you’re lucky enough to have cross your palate. The character that Sammich exudes was the thing my husband and I were both most impressed by. Melissa was an incredible hostess, extremely engaging, and the pride that she and Chandra both take in their work is more than evident. While you can expect to eat a first class meal, you can do so in a setting that’s laid-back and nonchalant. As we ate, there was another diner close by who mentioned that she had eaten at Sammich three times in the last two days and in fact, was having lunch AND bringing another sammich back to her hotel for later. She too mentioned how much she enjoyed the overall ambiance, especially the non-pretentious feel that so many Ashland restaurants seem to lack.

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We had the opportunity to try an extensive amount of food. To start, we were brought two different soups – the house staple tomato soup and the day’s special, a delicata squash soup. Both were vegan, but creamy and flavorful. The tomato was my favorite of the two – balancing tart and sweet perfectly.

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Next came a huge salad featuring local greens, roasted beets, and a nice tangy vinaigrette. Delicious!

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Melissa then brought us an albacore sammich. I apologize for the lack of a better photo – as soon as this sat in front of us, I needed to eat it. I’m not sorry for that part. The albacore is poached in-house, then sammiched with sprouts and avocado in a soft bun. Each bite simply melts in your mouth, all the while being perfectly seasoned and begging you to keep eating. We had a side of the potato salad, which was also no-frills-delicious.

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While we split the tuna sammich, Melissa asked my husband, laughing from behind the counter, “So you don’t eat beef? What’s wrong with you?” He told her that didn’t matter – I’d eat beef… To which she replied, “I KNOW! Don’t worry I’m bringing her some!” The next round of sammiches included their melanzane – roasted eggplant, red peppers and onion with a feta basil garlic spread, wrapped up with arugula. While my husband is a vegetarian, roasted veggies are rarely his thing. However, after eating this entire sammich, save for the one bite I took, he told me how much he enjoyed it, especially the peppers that worked particularly well with all the other ingredients.

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While my husband enjoyed his melanzane sammich, I was graced with a half of this pastrami beast. I will tell you right now – beef isn’t usually my thing. If I am eating meat, it’s usually chicken or turkey. But this sammich. HOLY CRAP. I like to joke that I know when I’ve prepared a good meal because our house goes silent. Around the dinner table, no one says anything because they’re too busy shoving food into their faces. That is precisely the effect this pastrami had on me. Dead silence until I’d eaten every single bite. This hot sammich features a house cured Double R brisket on rye, served with swiss cheese and a house-made slaw. You can order it mustard or russian – my version was russian, which is how Melissa said chef Chandra prefers it. This sammich is magic. I dare you to order one, then try to eat less than the whole damn thing, no matter how full you think you may be about halfway through…

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To top off our already extravagant meal, we were brought a slice of this cotija flan. Can I tell you that flan is usually at the bottom of my certainly-want-to-eat-desserts list? Well, that is the truth. BUT this flan blew my mind in the most fantastic way. It was so incredibly tasty! The custard was delicate and wonderfully balanced in sweetness, while the luscious caramel sauce topped everything off with a rich, but delicate flavor I haven’t tasted anywhere else before in nearly 30 years.

While perhaps I should’ve taken Melissa up on her offer to wheel-barrow-cart us out to our car after this Sammich experience, I am certain that the bigger sign of appreciation and gratitude for the experience is to urge you to visit Sammich for yourself. I will certainly be back time and time again. I will try to keep from eating so much during each visit, but cannot make any promises.

Sammich Ashland
424 Bridge Street
Ashland, OR 97520
Ph: (541) 708-6055

Day to Day Life: Weeks Forty + Forty-One

Last week was a little crazy. Then Sunday came and I was not feeling well, so this type of post didn’t happen. I was going to forego a Day to Day post for last week (week 40) all together, but I’ve decided to combine the last two weeks. Here’s a glimpse:

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After working out one afternoon, stepping out of the gym revealed this gorgeous sky.

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Two little puppy dogs who like the cold weather we’ve been having because they get to be in the house whenever they want.

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Last week I made you (and us) these muffins. They are so damn good.

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Two weeks ago we were in Eugene for a water polo tournament. VooDoo Doughnuts‘ third shop is in Eugene… A dozen VooDoo-Pick was necessary.

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The old dirty bastard is one of my favorites. A yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, oreo cookies, and peanut butter.

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The pool Vincent had some of his first polo games for the weekend was ghastly looking in the latter part of the evening – you couldn’t see anything. The 40-degree weather wasn’t helpful either. As the goalie for his team, I don’t know how V does it. Treading water constantly with balls flying at your face when you can barely see two feet in front of you? I’d die out there.

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We found a new taqueria/restaurant in Roseburg when heading home to Ashland. Burrito Vaquero is located close to the freeway, making getting there then back on the road super easy. We called in our order for three wet vegetarian burritos to-go when 10 miles away from the exit. This burrito was huge and delicious – don’t go by my blurry iphone-in-the-car-oh-hey-its-dark-out photo.

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I pulled the last of our dragon carrots from the garden.

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Our amount of traveling and junk food eating left me feeling like making this soup was necessary.

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My mother-in-law, smiling in some cold, cold, football weather…

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Because she comes to watch her grandson’s football games whenever possible.

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This girl likes to get as close as she can, whenever she can.

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I call this a fine example of my preferred meal genre to cook: CaucasianAsiaCan . May I introduce the waffleada – a tostada on a homemade chile and cheese waffle? Superb!

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Blue and sunshine – a quickly fading thing around this little valley.

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Vincent‘s the starting goalie for the Ashland High School water polo team. As a sophomore, he is absolutely kicking ass! We happily watched many games over the last two weeks.

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Silas’s sister, Kenya, is also playing water polo this year. She’s kicking some ass, too! This is her, making the last goal for her team in this particular game.

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Silas didn’t have school this Thursday or Friday. Playdates galore (oh, you call it “hanging out,” not “playdates” once you reach 8). This little girl is a basketful of ridiculousness. Pair that with a rambunctious Silas Henry and my sanity was gone within 2 minutes. But… they are hilarious and fun to hang out with.

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Found this guy sitting behind me at a winery my husband played a gig at tonight…

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At the same gig there was a food truck I had seen before but never tried, Blue Toba. First things first – the owners were super approachable and sweet. As I looked through the menu (three separate times) I couldn’t decide what to order because everything sounded delicious and my knowledge of Indonesian cuisine is basically non-existent. I ended up ordering the special – an Indonesian fried chicken served on a bed of turmeric, coconut, and lime leaf rice. The chicken had been marinated overnight in coconut milk, ginger, and some other spices (I think that’s what I remember…) and let me tell you – while I don’t eat it often, this was the best chicken I’ve had in quite some time. The flavor was incredible. Served with a side of Indonesian red chili sauce that was a perfect balance of sweet and spicy, I could have easily ordered a second plate. I did order a second – the Gulai with tofu and vegetables – for my husband. This mildly spicy curry was also incredible, packed with flavor, and certainly delicious. Should you find yourself anywhere Blue Toba happens to be (check their website and Facebook for locations) I couldn’t recommend them more highly than I already do.

Day to Day Life: Week Twenty-Nine

The last week looked a little like this:

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IMG_1536I’m glad I cleaned out our refrigerator before going out of town. So many condiments and hot sauces, still. And squash.

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Brunch.

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A dinner to use up dairy and picked produce in the fridge.

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California sunshine. We took a super last minute trip with both kids this week.

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4 hours in.

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Trolley mirror shenanigans

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Two little (big) Wright boys riding in the Hammerhead. 360-degree spinning right after lunch isn’t my forté, thank you very much.

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I think Sylvester may have gone to UC Berkeley; Stanford and this massive 14-year-old perplexed him greatly.

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Working on my line-standing sunburn at Six Flags.

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Preparing to be shot through 3500 feet of twists, turns and loops. My favorite of the day.

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Silas getting a kiss from Jocko, an 18-year-old walrus.

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Roller-coaster-brain having a rest.

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Silas petting sting rays.

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Water slides for day two of vacation.

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A post water park dinner at the hotel restaurant, Plate & Vine. Craig and I shared the dungeness crab macaroni and cheese along with a wood-fired margherita pizza. And cocktails. (Bourbon Baked Apple for me, Latin Groove Margarita for the husband.) The drinks were delicious, the food was tasty, the staff was super friendly, and for “liking” them on Facebook, we got a 20% discount off the bill.

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SF Giants hair attire.

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Excellent Ethiopian food at Ensarro in Oakland for lunch before heading back home. SO GOOD.

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Salmon and veggie taco lunch at the Sacred Seeds Community Festival my husband MC’d for this afternoon.

Mahi Mahi “Burgers” with Slaw


When people ask me if I miss home after finding out I’m from Kauai, my answer rarely fluctuates. Yes, I miss parts of the place I spent more than half of my life thus far. One thing I especially miss is being near the ocean. It’s in my blood. There’s a sanctuary in those warm salty blue waters that I crave incessantly. I grew up in the water, on the beach, outdoors, fishing.

My siblings and I, circa 1989 or so.


Next month makes five years since my Uncle Ronnie passed away. I remember many weekends filled with shoreline fishing adventures with Uncle Ronnie, my mom, sister, brothers, sometimes my dad, at times aunties and uncles who may or may not have been blood related. Funny thing is, I couldn’t stand to eat anything fishy. Uncle Ronnie would pay me to eat sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish) by the slice.

Uncle Ronnie and my sister, Jenn.


That has changed these days. I still don’t care for very fishy-tasting fish, but love halibut, mahi mahi, cod… mostly white, flaky fish that is light in flavor (that and salmon cooked well). A few years ago my husband, now 14-year-old stepson and I went to Maui for some shows Craig’s band was playing. While there, we ate at Paia Fish Market, whose fish burgers we’d heard rave reviews about. The market’s “burgers” are charbroiled pieces of fish – mahi mahi, ono, ahi, whatever other fish they’ve got – signature coleslaw, tarter sauce, tomato, and cheese, on a sesame bun. The sandwich is simple, but the flavors are amazing and fresh.

When we got back to Ashland, Craig and I would both crave these sandwiches every now and then. I haven’t been able to find Paia Fish Market’s top secret slaw recipe, but have found that my go-to honey cumin lime coleslaw works nicely on our version of these fish burgers. The other day I saw halibut on sale and knew instantly what was for dinner. The flavors worked well together. Keep in mind, these burgers get messy quickly, but that’s just part of the fun!

 

Halibut “Burgers” with Slaw

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

¾ lb. mahi mahi fillet, skinless (you can use halibut or even cod)
2 tbsp. olive oil
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
¼ tsp. granulated garlic

2 hamburger buns (my favorite is Dave’s Killer Blues Buns)
1 ripe tomato, sliced
1 – ½ a recipe honey cumin lime slaw

optional:
grated cheddar cheese
tarter sauce
Directions:

Cut the fish into two fillets. Rub each side of the fish with one tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle each side of the fish generously with the salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic.


Heat a cast iron, or heavy bottomed pan over medium-high. Add one tablespoon of oil. Once the pan is thoroughly hot, add the fish. Fry the fish until crisp and lightly golden (4-5 minutes) then flip and cook until the other side is crisp as well (3-4 minutes).

Toast your buns if you prefer. I like to lightly butter the inside surface of each bun, then toast in a pan on the stove until golden brown.

To serve, place the fish on your bottom bun (teehee!). Top with a generous amount of slaw, tomato slices, and cheese. If you want to add tarter sauce, feel free. I find it unnecessary with the creaminess of this slaw.

Enjoy while this fish is still hot. Make a mess, use a fork as necessary. The messier, the tastier, so do not enter this meal fearfully! :)

The Art of a Homemade Veggie Burrito

A few years back, my husband wrote an article for the local paper, rating various taco trucks and hole in the wall taquerias around the Rogue Valley. Being a vegetarian, his firsthand experience was strictly set on the veggie burrito at each of these locations. Since this article was written before I ever met my husband, I’ve lucked out and have spent the last five and a half years simply eating already tested, tried, highly rated burritos. That said, when we’re traveling and come across a new taqueria or taco truck, it’s a gambling game. One we both enjoy playing!

If you’re in the Rogue Valley looking for a good veggie burrito, my top three favorites are the Tacos Michoacan food truck in Talent, Tacopancho truck in Medford, and Los Arcos also in Medford. All three locations can be called ahead of time, then picked up for take-out.

But honestly, who can afford to eat out (even from a taco truck) every single day? We love burritos in this house. Seven-year-old Silas brought home a worksheet from his second grade class the other day called “Getting to Know You.” When I looked through his responses, “favorite food” simply stated “BRETO.” If you’ve got any hesitation about what that means, that would be bree-toe, as in burrito. Ask the boy what he wants for dinner and it’s often a toss up of burritos, tuna melts, or pizza.

What I’ve learned is there’s an art to making homemade veggie burritos. The really good ones are all about how the ingredients blend together once they’re wrapped up. If each individual ingredient is tasty on its own, you’re halfway there. My favorite veggie burritos contain beans, rice, cheese, salsa, sour cream (or crema), and avocado. Occasionally it’ll also have one or all of the following: cilantro, chopped tomatoes, lettuce. Let’s break it down by ingredient:

Beans: You can opt for pinto or black, refried or whole. I prefer homemade beans, as it’s another way to impart flavor into the final product. Plus dried beans are cheap and easy to make. Canned beans can be used too, though. Even then I like to drain off the liquid, rinse the beans, and reheat them in vegetable broth laden with fresh herbs and garlic.

Rice: I use long grain white rice. Typically, I’ll sauté 1 cup of rice in 1 tablespoon of oil until it’s toasty and lightly browned. At that point, I’ll add some cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Then I’ll add 2-3 tablespoons of tomato sauce, along with 2 cups No-Chicken broth, then cover and cook the rice until it’s tender (20 or so minutes).

Cheese: One thing I’ve found is that blending a few different kinds of cheeses gives me a variety of taste and consistency. I like to use sharp cheddar for flavor, mozzarella for stickiness and holding things together, and some monterey jack for both of the above reasons.

Salsa: There is so much variety here. You can go for fresh salsa, homemade salsa, chunky salsas, smoother blended versions… The spiciness is entirely up to your preference. I recently discovered Frontera gourmet salsas in our grocery store. Having tried various flavors, my favorites are the chipotle (with roasted tomatillos and garlic), the tomatillo salsa (with roasted serrano chiles and cilantro), the double roasted tomato salsa (with roasted onion and jalapeno), and the guajillo salsa.

Sour cream: This element works so well with the salsa in the final wrapped up burrito. Placed in the right spot, you end up with a creamy, spicy, saucy burrito. It’s magic. More or less. I like light versions, whole fat versions… whatever tickles your fancy.

Avocado: Also creamy and delicious, avocado blends so nicely with everything else in a good veggie burrito!

Cilantro, chopped tomatoes, lettuce: All three of these I say use with caution. You don’t want too much of any of ‘em, but a little of each creates a nice flavor and texture. If you prefer, you can leave all three off of your burrito and you won’t regret it, either! I know that doesn’t sound very helpful, but merely go with what sounds delicious to you!

The tortilla: We recently discovered Don Pancho Homestyle tortillas and I may have dropped the F-bomb in overzealous excitement right in the middle of the grocery store. Around here, often the largest flour tortillas I can find are 10-inches. These Don Pancho tortillas were 14-inches in diameter! That makes for a potentially large burrito! If you can only find 10 or 12 inch wheat or flour tortillas, they’ll work – you’ll just have to stuff them with less filling.

Putting it all together: I like to heat a cast iron griddle to very hot, then place a tortilla on it for about 30 seconds, flip the tortilla, then sprinkle a very generous amount of cheese on the tortilla, leaving about 2-3 inches around the perimeter of the tortilla. Once the cheese has begun to melt, remove from the griddle either to a plate or a large piece of foil. Spoon a generous amount of rice in the center of the tortilla, in a line, again leaving about 3 inches all the way around the tortilla. Spoon a generous amount of beans over the rice, again in a line. Next comes the sour cream and salsa, be generous and place it right on top of the beans. Place your avocado on top of the sour cream and salsa. I like to add another light sprinkling of cheese next, but that isn’t necessary. Add the cilantro, chopped tomatoes, and lettuce if you’re using them.

Turn the tortilla so the line of ingredients is running parallel to you. Fold in the right side of the tortilla, just over the ingredients. Fold in the left side of the tortilla. Now fold the bottom of the tortilla up, over the ingredients and the tucked-in right and left sides. Keep rolling, tightly. Wrap in foil for easier handling, or simply go for it!