Note 1: If you've ever wanted to brag to your friends about eating tripe but were too terrified to order a whole plate of it, get thee over to Bellevue. This weekend, a visiting Portlander who'd come back from Beijing craving Chinese food more than she ever had before was asking me where she could get Sichuan food, and so I decided to take her to Bamboo Garden, which I hadn't been to in a while. I asked the waiter about the strange-flavored tripe appetizer I'd loved so much when I reviewed the place, and though I couldn't spot it on the restaurant's new menu she said she could bring us some. The stomach strips, dressed in a slightly smoky, sesame-nutty sauce laced with fine ginger threads and a tingly heat, were so flippin good -- no offal funkiness, no gelatinous crunch to put Westerners off. We ate as much as we could before our main courses arrived, and I'm eating the leftovers right now at my desk as I type this.
Note 2: I realize that note 2 will seem slightly sententious coming after note 1, but since I eat lots of meat at restaurants I don't cook it at home, with the exception of bits of meat I use to flavor other dishes: pork hock, fish sauce, chicken stock, etc. I was at the Madison-Madrona farmers' market on Friday night and noticed that the McCary Meat stall was selling "bacon ends" from Crown S Ranch's humanely raised pigs for $2.99 a pound. The ends are mostly lean, and generally too tough to slice up and fry, but they're perfect for soups. You can barely get smoked pork hock at Safeway for that price. I picked up a pound, along with kale and mustard greens from other stalls, and cooked up some smoky, pork-rich greens the next day. I've got enough bacon ends left to flavor a pot of beans and a few more pounds of collards.
Note 2.5: Dear waiter at Nishino: Wearing a sushi tie at a sushi restaurant is overkill.