Gorge in the Gorge » Blog

Pioneer Pizza in White Salmon is a great new-ish spot for pizza and beer… and fried chicken! I love fried chicken and have attempted to make it myself a few times which has ended with pretty disappointing results. When Christiaan, owner and chef at Henni’s Kitchen and Bar, first told me that he and Micheal were opening a pizza place that also had fried chicken and jo-jo’s I thought it sounded crazy and wonderful. We’ve been to Pioneer Pizza a few times now; once for pizza and salads; once for fried chicken; and once for their $2 slices + $2 domestic pints happy hour. The setting is fun and inviting, and our daughter loves the fact that they have games and kid-friendly movies. Did I mention they also have air conditioning?

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I’ve written before about Chelsea’s amazing school, WildCraft Studio School, which is located up in the hills of White Salmon, but I wanted to share a little more about her school. She offers a fantastic array classes and workshops that are, in one way or another, connected to our local environment. I sent her a few questions so that we could get to know her better, and understand what her school is all about…

01. What is WildCraft Studio School? What’s the idea behind it? What’s your mission?
WildCraft Studio School is an art center offering adult workshops in subjects that intersect creativity and nature. We are offering over 40 classes this season, in subjects like Seasonal Medicine, Weaving in the Wild, and Dye Plants of the Columbia River Gorge. The idea for WildCraft grew out of a desire to bring contemporary perspectives on art/ design/craft and merge those practices with traditional skills and folk knowledge. My mission is to encourage a deeper connection with the natural world through sharing in creative skills.

02. Why did you choose to relocate and open the school in the Gorge?
The kind of classes I was most interested in offering require immediate access to wild spaces. Getting people out of the urban environment is incredibly valuable in terms of changing patterns of thought and The Gorge is such a perfect escape. Personally, I was looking for a different landscape, a little more sun and more space!

03. What’s the most rewarding part of hosting, participating, and preparing these classes?
There are so many inspiring aspects of running WildCraft: creating the space for talented teachers to share their skills and knowledge and seeing how grateful students have been for the experience has probably been the most rewarding experience. One of the loveliest comments I receive as people leave is, “thank you for creating this space”. Those words keep me going up here.

04. Which courses are you most excited for this season?
I’m really excited for an upcoming class Kalapuya Basket Weaving, led by Grande Ronde tribal member Stephanie Wood. That class really exemplifies what we are trying to do up here: bringing traditional skills into contemporary practice, while engaging students with materials from nature. Doesn’t get much better than that.

I recently visited during the end of one of WildCraft Studio’s natural dye classes to take some pictures. I can’t wait to take some of her classes.

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I’m sure many of you already are aware of this, but I do the recipe section of The Gorge Magazine. The Gorge Magazine comes out seasonally, and the summer issue is currently available. The magazine is free and available all over town. In the summer issue, I’m sharing my recipe for Grilled Eggplant Tartines! These tartines are simple to make and the flavors of the smoky eggplant, briny olives, salty feta, earthy thyme, bitter arugula, and sweet honey all come together in these Greek-style sandwiches. Grab a copy of the latest Gorge Magazine and happy grilling!

My daughter and I love making cooking videos so we made one to accompany this recipe! Enjoy.

GRILLED EGGPLANT TARTINE from withlovekacie on Vimeo.


loaf of french bread, sliced
two medium eggplants, sliced into 1/4 inch discs
baby arugula
1/4 cup mayonnaise
a pinch of fresh thyme
feta cheese
green olives, thinly sliced
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Lay the eggplant slices out on paper towels or thin dishtowels. Sprinkle the slices of eggplant with a tiny bit of kosher salt, flip and repeat. Lay another layer of towels over the top of the eggplant slices. Place a large roasting pan, with a heavy cookbook on top, to help press out a bit of the moisture for twenty minutes. Paint or drizzle both sides of the eggplant with a bit of olive oil and grill on medium high heat until nicely browned. Set them aside and allow them to cool a little while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise with the thyme and a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a little pepper. Smear a very thin layer of the aioli onto your toasts, and pop them under the broiler until they are slightly bubbly and golden. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.

Spread the rest of the aioli on the cooled toasts, top them each with a small handful of arugula, a few slices of eggplant, some crumbled feta, and sliced olives. Finally, drizzle each toast with a little slightly warmed honey, olive oil, and a little freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 4-6.


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