Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 33, April 29, 2014

Note: This issue is coming out a touch earlier than normal in order to presage Joy Primrose's talk (see our 2nd article).

Interview with Lisa Fogg, Owner of Alder Bistro & Lounge

TYG was happy to meet with Lisa Fogg to discuss the new restaurant opening this past week at the corner of 2nd and Beach Streets, in Yachats.

Alder Bistro & Lounge, Yachats, Oregon

TYG: What’s your background in the restaurant business?
Lisa: Well, back in the day when I was really young, I actually worked here at this restaurant, for the original owner. I worked here from the time I was 14 until about 22, and I started out bussing and doing tables—helping people—and I did some waitressing. Then I went into the kitchen. I was actually [doing] salad prep, and eventually became the breakfast cook in the morning. […]

TYG: Why did you choose to go into the restaurant business?
Lisa: Well, I decided I needed a way to come back and live here, where I grew up. I was born and raised in Yachats, and I decided I needed a way to come back. My sister let me know the price had dropped on this building, and so it was something that became within my reach. So I made an offer on it, because I’d really like to live here all the time.

TYG: And stay with your daughter!
Lisa: Yes !

TYG: I know you’ve been living up in Portland for some time. What do you do up there?
Lisa: I work for a health insurance company in Portland, and I work in pharmacy compliance. I make sure that we follow the state and federal rules for our pharmacy department.

TYG: What has it been like restoring this place?
Lisa: Well, this building has great bones. There are a lot of things that are really great about it. It needed a lot of cosmetic things done to it, but luckily there aren’t a lot of structural things that needed to be done. It’s been a lot of fun! We have people who used to work here—back when I was here, or after I left, when it was still La Serre—and they’re very excited about this coming back. Half of our wait-staff used to work at La Serre—it’s like a reunion for people, because this is what they used to do. They love this building—they loved working here at the time, and they’re excited to work here again. Our baker is the original baker from La Serre—her name is Lorraine.

TYG: By the way, just a couple of questions about the menu. Do you offer plain sourdough bread? [TYG staff chuckle]
Lisa: We do offer plain sourdough bread. Is that a favorite of yours?

TYG: [With a relieved grin] Yes. […] So, will there be—aside from fancy stuff—American-style food? French fries, burgers, that kind of thing?
Lisa: Yes. We call [our menu] Northwestern, with a Southern flair. Our chef is originally from Memphis, and so he’s bringing a Southern influence into the food. And we do have burgers, but [they] aren’t just regular burgers: we have lamb burger, bison burger, and what’s called a Yachats Burger, which is a vegan option. And we have fries. […]

TYG-Graphic Design: So, what about your Chef?
Lisa: Our chef’s name is Eric McElroy. He’s been in Bend, and working at some places over there, and […] he’s been here in the northwest—I think he said—about 10 years, maybe a little shorter. But he used to work up in Newport, then he moved to Bend with his wife, and now they’re moving back here! He came from Memphis originally, so he’s into Southern cuisine: flavorful foods, smoked foods…

TYG-GD: Speaking of smoked foods, you have “alder” in your [business] name—so are you offering alder-chip smoked foods?
Lisa: Yes! We have alder-smoked salmon—they just smoked it the other day. And we’ll get more—we’re working on getting a bigger smoker.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: May I ask? How did you choose the name?
Lisa: That’s a funny story! Vicky—my sister—and I were debating about names, because we had to choose a name. We wanted something that fit here in the northwest, and was simple and memorable. We also had intended a play on the smoking—because a lot of things are alder-smoked—so that’s how we chose. We talked about many things, but we decided it had to be something natural, either land or sea. We could not come up with any good sea names, really; nobody wants to go to some place called “Clam.” [laughter]

TYG: Where did you come up with the idea to have a very natural feel to the place?
Well this building, when it was originally built in 1977 by the original owner, it was a French, country bistro and it intended to be basically a greenhouse, and it has the vaulted ceiling and skylights for that purpose. And it was always filled with lots of plants and greenery, like it is now. It lends itself to that—we wanted a natural feel for it; we wanted the plants.

Alder Lounge & Bistro, main dining room

TYG-GD: I notice you have a lot of art on the walls!
Yes, we have several local artists displaying here. […]

TYG: Where did you come up with the idea for the fountain [in the middle of the main dining room]—that’s just so perfect!
Well, the original restaurant used to have a great big huge Norfolk pine. And that was still here in the restaurant that was in between us. But the center area… instead of putting another table [in…], we decided to have more of a natural feature, and we thought that the fountain would bring a little bit of that natural water noise. Plus, with “Alder”—alders often grow by streams, and we can have natural foliage around [the fountain.]

TYG: Although then again, unless you up the water dosage a little bit, it doesn’t make much of a noise.
No, well, that’s another funny story. They actually have to put a bigger tank underneath it, because right now, if we turn it up much more, it goes on the floor. [laughter] But it is actually really nice. Visually it’s really great. Eventually we’ll have a little bit more noise. But not too much! We want people to be able to talk. And eventually the foliage will grow up around it.

TYG: It’s beautiful! […] Instead of pots [of flowers surrounding the fountain], are you ever going to have just one big pot?
We’ve actually talked about that! We going to put some water plants in with the water, and then we’ll have another one around it with some other plants, and we’ll change those out. One of our servers, Tasha, is part of our gardening [crew], and she does all of our flowerboxes outside, and she has really great decorating ideas.

TYG: Interesting contrast with these lamps [hanging over each table], that are very British-style, elegant, Victorian.
Yes! These are from the original restaurant, and have that French country feel. And they’ve lasted all this time—they’ve been in here since 1977! And they were so pretty, we just decided we didn’t need to replace them. […]

Original bistro lamps at Alder Bistro & Lounge
 TYG-GD: How do you manage to have such a varied menu?
You know, it is varied, but it’s actually cross-functional. There are a lot of things that we have that we use in different ways for different services. We don’t have things that are just one-offs. So we have a lot of seafood in different things, or in different dishes throughout.

TYG-GD: So how many waitstaff will you have?
We have approximately 10 or so—that includes waiters, bussers, and bartenders, and about an equal amount in the kitchen. […]

TYG-GD: Can you tell me about the other side of the restaurant, the Dispensary Lounge?
TYG: It’s a shame that I can’t get in there!
Well, you can look in, and if we were serving food [this interview was before the opening], you could sit at one of the tables away from the bar. […] So, [the name] is kind of a play on my pharmacy background. A dispensary can be many things: a dispenser for your soda, or a dispenser for your hand soap… We called it the Dispensary Lounge, and some of the drinks have medication names. […] We also have a lot of Southern drinks: mint juleps, and Creole Lady. But yes, it’s a play on my background. For example, the table vases are beakers or flasks, and they’re going to use little test tubes for some of the things…

TYG-GD: [laughter] Like Jello shots?
Yes—the bartender is going to make up little shots, and they’ll be in a test tube.

TYG: I didn’t get that.
Our bartender is Sarah Kohler—she used to work at the Landmark, and she’s our primary bartender.

TYG: About the shots—I didn’t get that.
So, do you know what a shot is?

TYG: Yes, of course, I’ve taken many of them.
Lisa: [protestations from everybody over 21]
No, no! Not like a shot in your arm like your Dad would do. What they are is, they take a little bit of alcohol—like an ounce of alcohol—and put it in there…

TYG-GD: In a glass.
In a glass, not in a syringe! So it’s some alcohol, in a little glass, and sometimes people put in sweet stuff, like lemonade.

TYG: Why?
And then they drink it. It’s just like having a glass of wine, or a mug of beer. So they’re going to use little test tubes instead of glasses. It’s just like a little tiny glass. […] The really fun part in the lounge is that they have the beakers, with water-beads in them—do you know what water-beads are? They’re like these liiiiiiiittle tiny things, these little tiny bullets of plastic. You put them in a little bit of water like this, and they expand. What happened yesterday is that they put too much water in it, and they had too many beads. So beads were popping out of the vase. They accused Azura [a little girl in Vicky’s household] of pulling the beads out of the vase! They were all over the table… Well, it was not Azura—the vases were so full they were just popping out!

TYG-GD: So, what are you really excited about? 
I’m really excited about getting the doors open! And I’m really excited to share the food. I can say that the kitchen—Chef Eric—has done an awesome job developing the menu, and I’ve had the pleasure of tasting several dishes, and they’re very good, very, very nice.

TYG: What are your hours going to be?
Until May 15, we’re open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4pm to 9pm, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we’re open 9am to 9pm. We’re closed on Tuesdays. After May 15th, we’ll be open 7 days a week, from 9am to 9pm on Sunday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday we’ll be open late until 10pm.

TYG: Thank you so much!
Allen, very nice being interviewed by you—thank you.

Interview with Joy Primrose

The Yachats Academy of Arts & Sciences is sponsoring Joy Primrose’s presentation, “A Diversity of Whales, Dolphins & Porpoises,” at the Yachats Commons on Tuesday, April 29 at 6:30. She will speak about twelve different species of the order Cetacea that inhabit the Oregon coast.

TYG: So, what got you into cetaceans?
Joy: I grew up in Ohio, far from an ocean, and my initial experience with cetaceans occurred at Sea World of Ohio.

TYG: There’s a Sea World in Ohio?
Joy: There used to be. It’s no longer there, but for quite a few years, there was a Sea World of Ohio. It was open during the summer. What I didn’t know then—that I do know now—is that they would transport the animals in in time for the summer season, and then at the end of the season they would transport them out. So it was just a summer thing.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: From where?
Joy: From the Florida and San Diego locations. So that was my first experience, and then I moved to Mesa, Arizona—the desert. But from there I could drive to Mexico, and I could drive to California to go whale watching. And that’s when I started whale watching. It was in the mid-80’s I started going to Mexico and California to go whale watching. […] I always went down to what used to be called the Sea of Cortez, which is now called the Gulf of California. […] So it turns out, which I didn’t know at the time, that that area is the home of the vaquita [Phocoena sinus].

TYG: What’s a vaquita?
Joy: A vaquita is the world’s most endangered marine mammal. It’s a very small porpoise. […]The vaquita is very interesting-looking: it has this sort of Goth look to it. It has bright red on its lips, and then this dark eye ring. The only area in the world [where] it lives is right here, in this small area [shows the very top of the Gulf of California]. It just lives in this limited location.

TYG: So, always endangered.
Joy: Well, the point is that it lives in a pristine habitat. The problem it faces is that it’s only 5 feet long, and it gets entangled in the shrimp fishery nets. That’s where its real hazard is. The government of Mexico and the United States have combined in working on this problem. See how they get wrapped up in the nets here? They’re developing these mini-nets that will allow the shrimp to be caught, but have an escape route for the vaquita. So they are making these. And the government of Mexico is working with the fishermen to help them get these nets, and they’re also for fishermen who don’t want to change to the new net and would rather go into some other line of work—they’re helping them start other businesses, in order to help save the vaquita. There are only 150-200 animals left, is what they estimate.

TYG:  When did you first join the society?
Joy: I discovered that Oregon did not have a chapter of the American Cetacean Society back in 2010. So I decided I would start a chapter in Oregon.

TYG: So you’re the founder of the chapter. Wow!
Joy: I am the founder! We have members in Eastern Oregon, Central Oregon, Portland, Willamette Valley, and the Coast.

TYG: So that probably gives you some influence in the Society as a whole!
Joy: Well, we’re hoping that we’re making an influence, and that we’re getting people to affect the environment. That’s one of the goals of our chapter. The whole ACS [American Cetacean Society] organization is set up on the goals of public education, research grants, and conservation actions. And it’s a bridge between the scientists and the lay public. Our goal is to get people engaged. We do things like beach clean-up, we do shore-based whale watches, we have the researchers come and give presentations and speak to us on their research—we try to get people involved.

TYG: Interesting! What will you be talking about at the talk?
Joy: I’m going to be talking about the diversity of whales, dolphins, and porpoises that we have here off the coast of Oregon. Many people, if they know we have any whales, they know about the gray whale, usually. Most of the time they don’t know about the other cetaceans that we have. We have minke whales, humpbacks, blue whales, fin whales, sperm whales; we have dolphins and porpoises.

TYG: I didn’t know we had dolphins!
Joy: Yes! We have Pacific white-sided dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and Northern right whale dolphins.

TYG: A Northern right whale dolphin? That doesn’t make much sense!
Joy: The right whale dolphin is named that because just like the right whale, it has no dorsal fin. And that’s why it’s named that, because its appearance is similar to the right whale’s.

TYG: Does it have the same crusty look?
Joy: It does not.

TYG: So it’s managed to keep its sides clean.
Joy: Yes! [laughter] Those are called callosities, on the right whale.
TYG-EA: Like “callus.”

TYG: Although in reality, they’re sea life.
Joy: Well, there are whale lice. But whale lice are very good for the whale, unlike human lice which we try to get rid of.

TYG: I’m referring to the barnacles and things that grow on them.
Joy: Okay. Whales have two things: they have barnacles, and they have whale lice. The whale lice actually eat dead skin cells, keep wounds clean, and prevent infection. Barnacles don’t really help with the whale in any way.

TYG: Except as armor, I guess.
Joy: That could be. But they don’t really hurt the whale, either. Basically the barnacles are there catching a free ride for food. Do you know how a barnacle works?

TYG: Yes. You have the basic shell, then you basically have a tongue of flesh that opens up once it’s underwater, and captures food with its stickiness and then digests it—an all-in-one organ.
TYG-EA: Is it a radula?
Joy: No, it’s not a radula. When the barnacle cements itself down, it puts itself head first, so those are actually its feet sticking out in the water, and it’s filter feeding.

TYG: Why does it go down head-first?
Joy: So it can put its feet in the water and collect food. […] So, back to the talk: we’re going to talk about the different kinds of whales, dolphins, and porpoises we have in Oregon, we’re going to talk a little bit about the ACS and what it is, and what it does, and then some of the projects the ACS has worked on over the years.

The ACS has an unusual history. In its beginning, the couple that originally started the Cetacean Society had come up with the idea that serving whale meat to people would help solve the problem of world hunger. And as they started investigating this idea, they learned that the whales themselves were in need of saving. That’s when they formed the American Cetacean Society, in order to do conservation of whales.

TYG-EA: When was that?
Joy: 1967 was the official start of the American Cetacean Society. It’s the oldest whale conservation organization in the world. And there are members in countries throughout the world.

TYG: Of other societies?
Joy: We have members of the American Cetacean Society throughout the world.

TYG: Why don’t they go in their own?
Joy: There are some others. There is Cetacean Society International, which is world-wide. There is a United Kingdom Cetacean Society…

TYG: That makes sense, because it’s an island, with lots of craggy coastlines to go whale-watching, and it’s got a lot of fishing. So the whales there really do need protection.
Joy: Right! And that [brings up] some of the other things we’re going to talk about: the threats that they’re facing right now. So everything from just normal threats, like predation, and then fishing nets, entanglements, boat strikes, pollution, whaling.

TYG: I’m surprised a small little boat strike with tiny propellers could hurt a blue whale.
Joy: Well, large ships have impaled whales. Oftentimes it’s not known until they pull into port and there’s a big whale draped across the front of their ship. When this happens, the ship has to undergo a huge inspection before it can be put in service again. So on the East coast of the United States, they have changed shipping lanes, because it was in the whales’ migratory path. It works out for the benefit of the whales, and the fishermen and the shippers, because they’re not having damage to their boats. So they’re looking at doing a similar thing in California, and changing some of the shipping lanes coming in down there. That’s a project that’s being investigated.

I brought pictures of things: here’s [a journal about] killer whales, all the different ecotypes of killer whales.

TYG: Why does that one look green?
Joy: It has a yellow cast on it due to diatoms. Do you know what diatoms are? [... They] are a single-celled organism, a phytoplankton. So it will collect on their skin, particularly in the white patches, and give them that coloration.

TYG: […] I’m surprised they’re so black and white, not dark and light blue, for example.
Joy: Well a lot of times they do—even fish—they do this thing called counter-shading: and so they’ll often be darker on top, so as you’re looking down on them, they blend in; and lighter underneath, so that looking up, it blends into the surface.

TYG: It would make more sense to have a deep blue on top and a light blue on the bottom, and on the side have kind of a blend. That predator would rule the seas or its local habitat, because nobody could see it coming.
Joy: The thing is, as you go to different depths in the ocean, light changes, so that the color we see up here is not the same under water.

TYG: Deep under water, you’d want to make yourself red. Because that’s the only light wave that penetrates that deeply. […] I learned that from “Blue Planet,” by BBC David Attenborough.
Joy: Yes, [he] is wonderful! He does whales too. The BBC does wonderful programming, and they used to put out a really good science magazine too, but I haven’t seen it published recently. […] This [magazine] is about the beaked whale, which are very unusual-looking.

TYG: Why are they pouring water on him? [pointing to a different photo with a beached minke whale]
Joy: This was a minke whale that stranded, so they are trying to rescue it at this point still.

TYG: But he died?
Joy: Mm-hmm. Yes, usually that’s what ends up happening.

TYG: Why couldn’t they just take a bulldozer or something and push him out in the water?
Joy: Well, a lot of times it depends on why they’ve stranded. Usually there’s something wrong with them that causes them to come ashore. Sometimes it’s disease, sometimes it’s an injury that they have.

TYG-EA: Do they strand themselves intentionally, or inadvertently?
Joy: Both. A lot of the whales seem to strand unintentionally, but there are the mass strandings—those, they think possible, may be related to group dynamics, and that they’re coming because there’s one there that is sick or injured, and the group follows, particularly the really social ones. And then they’re stuck there.

TYG-EA: I was wondering whether you personally, or the ACS, have an opinion on the current concern that has circulated in a lot of social media about whether marine mammal shows are ethical or appropriate?
Joy: ACS is currently working on policies on that issue. It’s a very complicated subject. We had an existing policy that said that the ACS did not support “swim with dolphins” programs sponsored by resorts and those types of things that were not an educational program. It wasn’t opposed to the programs that work with people who’ve suffered from traumas and healing therapies, and those kinds of things. But the for-profit, with no educational component, was done by some hotels and resorts. The problem with it is that some of those animals are kept in captive situations for that purpose. We’ve also formulated a policy that has gone to the scientific board for review stating that we’re opposed to the live capture fishery industry. What the ACS does: We have the national board of directors, which I’m on. We do all the background research, cite the studies, put together the policy. We have a scientific advisory board, and that board has to review and approve all of our policies before they come out. They are looking at that particular policy. We’re working on some other policies, but it becomes much more complicated and you have to break it down into sections. If, for example, you were to say you are opposed to programs that are for entertainment, then it comes down to what constitutes an appropriate educational component of the program. And you have to define that. Then, for those that don’t fit that criteria, what do you do with the animals that are currently in captivity? What do you do about animals that are brought into those facilities for rehab? Are they still going to do rehab? So there are a lot of layers to it, and it becomes much more complicated. But what we can say is that large cetaceans do not appear to do well in captivity.

TYG: Well, thanks so much!
Joy: Thank you, you’re welcome!

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