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Tomatoes pack a simple flavor punch

Weekend!Food: Taste
by: ©2006 SHARI RAIDER, This weekend Sauvie Island Organics celebrates its tomato crop with a day dedicated to farm activities, salsa tasting, salsa music, demonstrations and kids’ games.

When I contemplate tomatoes (as one does this time of year) I almost always think of Harriet M. Welsch. The young heroine of Louise Fitzhugh's great 1964 children's novel, 'Harriet the Spy,' ate a tomato sandwich every day of her life.

A simple tomato sandwich is my favorite way to eat a really good tomato. Thick slices of the ruby beauty on hearty white bread with just mayonnaise, salt and pepper equal the perfect sandwich. If you've never had one, drop this paper (finish my column first) and go make a tomato sandwich. Eat it with a tall glass of milk. You'll thank me for it.

If you are a tomato admirer like me, you should not miss Salsa Salsa! On Sauvie Island, a celebration of tomatoes and farming from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at Howell Territorial Park on Sauvie Island. The free all-day event is a collaboration of Sauvie Island Organics, a 10-acre family farm; the Sauvie Island Center, a nonprofit center committed to teaching adults and youths about farming; and FoodWorks, a Janus Youth Program that provides garden and farm on-the-job training to at-risk youths.

Bring the kids and a picnic and make a day of it. Educational events include seed-saving demonstrations, an exploration of soil and composting, heirloom vegetable tasting and farm tours. Kids activities include trying to match seeds to vegetables and a vegetable scavenger hunt in which the only clue is a seed.

There will be four opportunities to tour the FoodWorks farm during the day. And you can learn more about the relationship between chefs and farmers by touring Sauvie Island Organics' farm at 10:45 a.m. with Marco Shaw of Fife or at 2:15 p.m. with Corey Schreiber of Wildwood.

Starting at noon, taste salsas made by chefs from Taqueria Nueve, Higgins, Roux, Park Kitchen, Fife, Wildwood, Hot Lips Pizza, Pambiche and others. Vote for your favorite salsa, then bid on a cup of it and the handwritten recipe signed by the chef at the silent salsa auction. And while tasting salsa, you also can listen to it. Salsa band Media Cana will start playing at noon.

Sauvie Island Organics owner and operator Shari Raider says Salsa Salsa! was born out of last year's Eat Local Challenge event, which brought more than 500 visitors to her farm.

'It was really fun to have so many guests at the farm,' she says. 'But when Ecotrust took over Eat Local Challenge this year they chose not to include the farm day. So we decided to organize something ourselves. We're hoping it's successful and becomes an annual event. This year people should pack picnics, but if it's a success, next year we'll include food booths.'

Maybe I'll set up a tomato sandwich booth.

To get to Howell Territorial Park from Portland, take U.S. Highway 30 north past Linnton to the Sauvie Island Bridge. Cross the bridge, proceed north about one mile, then turn right onto Howell Park Road and into the parking lot. Greeters will direct you to the Big Red Barn, the center of the event.

For information, visit www.sauvieislandorganics.com or call 503-621-6921.

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It's always fun to receive a new In Good Taste Cooking School class catalog and see who's teaching what this season.

Last week I was especially pleased to discover in the fall catalog that Joyce Goldstein is teaching a class based on her latest cookbook, 'Antipasti.' Goldstein was the owner and chef of Square One, an acclaimed restaurant in San Francisco, and also founded and ran a cooking school there. She's written dozens of cookbooks, too.

I had the pleasure of hearing Goldstein talk last year about cooking and cookbook writing. She's an interesting speaker who manages to seem entirely unpretentious while at the same time fancy and cultured.

The menu, which includes an onion and Parmesan custard with black truffles, and a warm salad of greens with scallops and mushrooms, sounds amazing, too.

The class is 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5. The cost is $125, which includes the 'Antipasti' cookbook plus food. There are only 16 spots in the class; register today by visiting www.ingoodtastestore.com or by calling 503-248-2015.

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A new Vietnamese restaurant debuts in Sellwood this weekend.

The grand-opening celebration of Mekong: A Vietnamese Grill (7952 S.E. 13th Ave., 503-808-9092) runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16. Stop by for complimentary bites of food, beverages and a Vietnamese dragon dance.

Mekong's regular hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Eventually you'll find more information at the Web site www.mekonggrill.com

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