Grilled Sweet Corn
Corn is one of the cheapest and easiest vegetables to prepare, which is why it makes an appearance at darn near every summer barbecue. The problem is, most backyard chefs botch it by under or overcooking, neglecting to use salt and butter, or grilling after shucking; no, no and NO! The ancient vegetable (the Indians called it "maize"), was intended to be steamed in its husk. Spork knows this. They also understand that the volume on corn's flavor can be turned all the way up to 11 with proper dressing. At the new Newport Avenue eatery, the grilled sweet corn comes Mexi-style, slathered in chili mayo—the glue that binds all the other tasty bits to the cob—salty cojita cheese, fresh green onions and cilantro with a dash of lime round out the hand-held treat. It's filling and, at only $4, a steal.
Spork, 937 NW Newport Ave. 541-390-0946.
Santa Fe Jalapeño Cornbread
OK, so cornbread is more of a cold weather side. But this particular cornbread has jalapenos baked in! And spicy foods make for good summer eating because they promote perspiration, right? (Seriously, though, don't take that as an excuse to sweat profusely in public, Mr. McGross.) Although not particularly spicy, Santa Fe Corn Bread is a great summertime staple. What is particularly distinct is its coarse cornmeal and corn kernel makeup, and a dense, chewy interior with melted cheddar on top. Perfect with soup, or buttered and accompanying a green salad. Call the bakery to check availability, but as of now they're making a loaf every other Thursday. Next up, July 25.
Great Harvest Bred Co., 835 NW Bond St. 541-389-2888.
We've all had the experience of tripping out of the gate—that is, ruining a perfectly good appetite by bogging down with bread-stomach after overzealously pigging out on the complimentary table snack before a nice meal. But Chef Riley Eckersly at Drake has found a hunger-inducing pre-dinner alternative: popcorn. When seated, Drake's host delivers small paper bags of the freshly popped treat to tables. The kernels are sprinkled with parsley, basil, chives and salt and pepper—a surprising but delicious herb combination. Easy to share while selecting entrees from the part-Southern, part-European diner menu. The herbs give the corn a bright and deliciously light flavor boost.
Drake, 801 NW Wall St. 541-306-3366.
Chef Bethlyn Rider of Broken Top Bottle Shop has been widely praised for her creative vegetarian dishes. One of the best non-meat options on the rotating specials menu is a stuffed poblano pepper that predominantly features corn as the anchor in a veggie-heavy stuffing. The salsa-like innards of the dish are fried up with roasted yams and tart tomatillos, sprinkled with melted jack cheese and garnished with a zesty cilantro lime cream. A twist on the traditional Mexican chili relleno, the pepper is plenty filling even for carnivores served with refried black beans, salsa lettuce and Spanish quinoa. Keep an eye out for it on the rotating specials menu, or for a staple corn dish from BTBS, try the Tamale Pie, a blue corn tamale layered with roasted corn, peppers, house-made veggie black bean chili and grilled zucchini and topped with house-made red chili mole enchilada sauce, cheddar cheese and cilantro.
Broken Top Bottle Shop, 1740 NW Pence Lane #1. 541-728-0703.