The Joys of Lardo, Fried Sage, and Solitary Bees

Portland amazes me. You’d think by now I’d be used to the beautiful scenery, temperate climate and good food. But no. I am constantly experiencing her RoseCity surprises including but not limited to what you see in the title.

Lardo is a restaurant whose name is taken from the Latin word for “salted pork” seasoned with herbs and spices. We went there for lunch today. Their menu includes more than pork although Catherine will tell you the Pork Meatballs Bahn Mi is one of her favorites. Along with the Smoked Copper Cuban and the Griddled Portabella  you can choose the Cold Fried Chicken or, as I did, the Italian Tuna Melt. Totally delicious and almost too much sandwich for one person (unless you skip breakfast as I did). They also serve Lardo Fries…a paper container of freshly fried potato strips seasoned with herbs and parmesan, Just to make it interesting, there are leaves of seasoned fried sage tucked in with the taters. One taste was all it took to convince me I need to try this at home. Crisp, and not a bit oily, the sage flavor comes through tempered by the seasonings used for the fries. Yum. And the bread. Some of the best ciabatta I’ve had anywhere.

A bit of trivia. Lardo started out as a Portland food cart back in 2010. There are now three restaurants and each one is busy. I can see why. The food is fantastic, the service quick and courteous, and the prices are, as they say, right.

Now for those bees. Given that the sun is shining and the breezes are light and warm, the chairs in the back yard proved too inviting for us to ignore. We chatted and watched the yard’s colony of solitary bees, hard at work buzzing around, pollinating and hovering, the males waiting for the females as they gathered the nectar from one place, took it to the next, reserving some for their own nest. No beehive? Nope. Solitary bees are just that. The female builds a nest underground, carries leftover nectar inside to form a ball of nutrition, and then lays a single egg on top of that ball, covering it with a cocoon-like substance. She repeats this procedure 20 to 30 times, a single egg each time. The little shells remain underground until it is time for the new bees to emerge, having been nourished by all that nectar. And the cycle continues on up to three times a year…before the bees are gone. They’re no threat. They don’t sting. Their focus is pollination. Watching them is a pleasure; the joy lies in their single-mindedness and in the gentle little buzz that accompanies their acrobatic flights through the greenery. I wonder if they ever need a nap?

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