Wednesday, February 12, 2014
“Squeeze the Pig” was the rallying cry for a night of bacon and poetry on behalf of the Helping Hands Against Violence organization.
About 80 people of all ages attended the event at Springhouse Cellar, sampling dishes made from bacon and witnessing a bacon-eating contest, all to raise funds and awareness for the Hood River-based program that provides shelter, a hot line, counseling, and other support services for abused women and their children.
Five Poets of the Porcine stood and read their original works, each required to squeeze a plastic yellow pig before orating. Bob Camillucci of Hood River won for his “Haiku on Bacon,” and received a bouquet of “roses” fashioned from rolled-up — what else — bacon slices. (See related photo in Neighbors, page B7.)
In the Gorge’s first Aporkalypse Now, attendees sampled bacon-forward dishes made by five area chefs, vying for the Judges’ Award and People’s Choice awards for best dish based on taste, appearance and creativity.
“What’s not to love about bacon? So we decided to start one here,” said Helping Hands board member Sharla Weber, who is also The Dalles Rotary president.
“I went to a Rotary event and learned how a Rotary group from Alaska had done the same kind of thing,” Weber said
Judges’ Choice went to Apple Valley BBQ of Parkdale, for its bacon and beef sliders, and the People’s Choice winner was White Buffalo Wine Bar, for its cream-cheese-filled, bacon-wrapped jalapenos, coated in raw sugar and smoked for two hours. Also competing were Double Mountain Brewery and Tap Room, Stonehedge Restaurant, and The Station Cafe of Trout Lake.
Lee and Roger Montavon donated, as prizes for best bacon dish dishes, a whole hog (cut and wrapped by Mountain Meat Service of Mt. Hood). The Montavons raise hogs and feed them blueberries from their own bushes at their Parkdale farm. One half of the hog went to the Judges’ Choice winner and the other to the People’s Choice winner. Lee has just stepped down as Helping Hands director, succeeded by Stephanie Irving, who was introduced at the event.
Irving said, “We want it to become really a Gorge-wide event, because Helping Hands is Gorge-wide and a lot of people don’t know that. This is a really good way to bring the two sides of the river together — bacon. We can make it a cross-river event and have a lot of fun.”
Attendees tasted dishes from all five chefs, and a cadre of celebrity judges cast the deciding votes.
Mike Caldwell of Stonehedge Restaurant prepared pepper bacon with potato dumplings, baked in Fontina cheese.
Cherie Van Laar of The Station Cafe presented chocolate bacon cake made with a cup of espresso, and jalapenos topped with bacon.
(Van Laar has owned Heavenly Ground and gas station for 11 years, and took ownership of the cafe three years ago. “Now it’s all one business, cafe, gas station and espresso shop,” she said.)
Double Mountain Brewery and Tap Room’s Rory Johnson and Josh Blanchette brought bacon mushroom goat cheese puff pastry, garnished with green onions and peppers, and truffle shuffle pizza, with bacon.
“Mushrooms and goat cheese is the best way to go with bacon,” Johnson said.
Leila Coe and Genevieve Coe, mother and daughter team from Apple Valley (whose logo features a flying pig), said their miniature hamburger buns were cooked with bacon fat, and placed around 50-50 patties of beef and bacon, and topped with bacon Boursin cheese, and red onion bacon jam with peach habanero pepper jelly. Each slider was topped with a tiny triangular bacon flag.
The first Aporkalypse Now Glutton Award went to Nick Alvarado, a friend of the family of the Montavons. Nick ate more bacon in one minute than four other contestants.
“Keep it clean and keep it down,” Weber said before the contestants, clad in commemorative “Porkin’ Out” shirts, dug in.
But the night was about more than, well, pigging out.
“(Helping Hands Against Violence) did a presentation a couple of years ago and it floored me,” Caldwell said. “It was a real wake-up call, just the severity of what goes on in a town you think of as Nirvana. And to have my little world shattered by that, that day, I’ll do anything to help these guys out.
“People who have the gift to deal with this kind of stuff, if I can do the silly stuff I do and help the people who do the real heavy lifting, then I think we’re doing the right thing.”
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge