Sunday, December 05, 2010

Coming: The Best Garage Sale Ever!

Our weekends used to be spent in pursuit of the elusive perfect garage sale. Dave, who always gets up earlier than I do, would circle likely targets in the classifieds. Then when I'd managed to gulp down enough coffee to keep my eyes open, we'd head out, cruising by first to scout the location and parking if it looked like a good prospect.

He'd head for the basement or the garage looking for tools while I hit the kitchen looking for old Bauer ware, Pyrex dishes or state plates. This went on for a few years, then one day it dawned on us that (duh!) we really didn't need any more stuff. Plus the really good sales, the ones where the vintage treasures were plentiful and cheap, began to disappear.

But there's one garage sale I wouldn't miss for the world, where the items for sale will never need dusting or storing in the basement when you're tired of looking at them, and that is Jim Dixon's annual Olive Oil Garage Sale. It's a recreation of the of the rural food festivals called sagre in Italian, with the olive oil poured out of 50 liter stainless steel barrels called fustino (left) into whatever container you bring.

Usually held in his Northeast Portland garage (right), last year it was so cold that the olive oil wouldn't pour out of the fustini, so this year he's moving it to his warehouse indoors. He always makes up a pot of soup to share (free!), a bit of wine (free!) and, he says, "maybe some other surprises." On hand, as usual, will be:
  • Freshly pressed “olio nuovo” from California (limited quantities)
  • The last of the 2009 Italian extra virgin olive oil (bulk and already bottled)
  • Everyday Extra Virgin from California
  • Portuguese flor de sal
  • Real balsamic vinegar from Modena
  • Katz Orleans method vinegars
  • Farro, brown rice, red beans and garbanzos
And, from personal experience, let me tell you that your foodie friends will thank you multiple times over to find a basket of Jim's goodies under their tree rather than the latest groovy wine opener or some geeky book (again, no dusting, no storage). You'll need to bring your own containers for the bulk olive oils (empty clean, dry wine bottles work great for this) and, also as usual, he'll only be accepting cash or checks. Christmas just doesn't get better than this.

Details: Jim Dixon's Olive Oil Garage Sale. Thurs.-Fri., 12/9-10; 11 am to 6 pm; cash or checks only please. At 833 SE Main (corner of SE 9th & Main), space 122 (On the NE corner of the building facing the parking lot. Look for the olive oil sign on the sidewalk out front.) Please park on the street since the other Activspace tenants need the lot during the day.

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If you're a total olive oil 'ho (and I mean that in the best way possible), be sure to ask Jim about his Olive Oil CSA. As he said in his recent Real Good Food newsletter:

"The economics of importing require significant cash up front with a long payback. In the past I borrowed the money, then tried to pay it back as I sold the oil. This worked, sort of, but never quite as well as in theory. I didn’t want to keep adding to the debt, so I created the Olive Oil CSA.

"In community supported agriculture, customers pay the farmer a flat fee for a share, then receive their prepaid produce over the course of the growing season. The olive oil CSA works much the same way, except I use the money to purchase and ship extra virgin olive oil from Italy.

"Here’s how it will work. If you send me $100 now, you’ll get $120 worth of olive oil (or anything else I sell) after the shipment arrives from Italy. I’m contacting my producers in Italy now and setting up the orders, and I’ll need to start sending them cash soon. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail for more details."

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