Buy This Salt or I’ll Trash Your Restaurant

Dust of the sea, in you the tongue receives a kiss from ocean night…

from Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Salt

In 2005 I wrote I wrote a short review of Castagna, a Portland restaurant everybody else loves. I thought some of the food was bland. I’d said the same in an earlier review several years earlier. But at that time I wasn’t selling salt. The restaurant owners thought I was picking on them because they weren’t buying salt from me.

Here are the various reviews, letters to the editor, and other commentary about the salty episode.

  • Castagna review published in Willamette Week on September 28, 2005
  • the same review, but as I submitted it (e.g., before editing)
  • Castagna owners Siu and Gibson strike back in a letter to the editor. Despite my editor Kelley Clark’s statment (I stand behind Jim Dixon’s salty review, but I should have made note of his business connection with the crystal demon), I haven’t written a word for the weekly since.
  • Phil Stanford (under appreciated crack columnist or worn out hack, take your pick) hints at an oily quid pro quo in the Portland Tribune
  • even more letters, and, if you scroll down that WW page, my response, the last of three drafts penned at the editors’ request with every bit of information about anything I ever did that might have any connection to salt or writing, no matter how tenuous (but, like any freelancer worth his itemized expense account, I got paid for it)
  • I can’t quite figure out just what point Ed is trying to make, but you gotta admit he’s got a lively style.
  • The thread of comments at Portland Food and Drink, may be the most thoughtful discussion, with the ubiquitous ExtraMSG weighing in (and my son Joe, too)
  • the Accidental Hedonist gets purposeful
  • our neighbor to the north glances southward
  • a fellow journalist piles on (check the facts next time, Dave)
  • PDX veg sounds like he needs a little protein
  • my personal favorite, the Mercury’s Conflict of Interest Corner
  • and my original review of Castagna from 1999, long before I ever dreamed of importing and selling salt