Taste of the Nation Portland 2013

May 30th, 2013

Bollywood Theater's bhel puri with green and tamarind chutneys.

This year’s 26th anniversary Portland Taste of the Nation at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom was incredible as always and rather than type up all of the reasons why I’m going to lay it all out in photos for you. This was the first year Taste was held at the Crystal Ballroom and it’s a great venue although next year they should consider cranking up the air. It got a little toasty. If you weren’t able to make it please consider attending next year. It costs a pretty penny but 100% of proceeds go toward hunger relief in Oregon. Without further ado…

Biwa's soy cured escolar with shaved beets.

Lardo's beautiful porchetta.

Boke Bowl sui mai action.

Craggan hydrating and about to eat a Boke Bowl pork and shrimp sui mai.

Racion's chicharrons topped with tuna? Ahhh, took too long to post this and can't remember exactly but DO remember they were super tasty.

View from the balcony an hour or so into this year's Taste of the Nation.

Our plates of Trigger hot wings and other tasty things with Captured by Porches kolsch.

Anthem Cider's organic hops cider.

Departure's grilled scallop hand roll with coconut miso.

St. Jack's not so pretty but delicious chicken liver mousse with port poached prunes.

Laurelhurst Market's corned beef tongue reubens with a smoky bourbon cocktail. One of my favorites of the night.

And for dessert, 50 Licks soft serve churros and chocolate ice cream.

Stay tuned for next year’s Taste of the Nation! Always delicious and always 100 percent to a great cause.

Heidi Nestler’s Cooking Classes at the Urban Farm Center

May 13th, 2013

Heidi Nestler's son Ranmu Fukushima illustrated this image of miso soup for one of her upcoming Japanese cooking classes at the Urban Farm Center.

My friend Heidi Nestler — who I first meet at this gathering way back when and who has been a part of the Portland Fermentation Festival since day one — is about to start teaching cooking classes in Portland. The first one sounds great — it’s all about miso soup this Saturday, May 19th from 10:30am to 12:30pm at the Urban Farm Center. The class costs $20 per person and you can sign up for it here. Here’s what Heidi has to say about it:

Good miso soup starts with good dashi! We will cover making dashi, the broth that is the base for miso soup, as well as a key ingredient in all Japanese cooking. We will make three different types of dashi. We will experiment with different types of miso and learn how to choose ingredients to put into your soup. We will explore the savory and satisfying world of the traditional Japanese breakfast. Hint: miso soup is at the heart of it. Miso soup is great at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ll also show you how to make a clear soup which pairs well with sushi.

For $50 you can hang out all day at the Urban Farm Center, attend Heidi’s miso class as well as her Japanese food tasting from 1pm to 2pm (try Japanese breakfast foods and dishes from every class that Heidi plans to offer) and her Japanese sea vegetable cooking class from 3:30pm to 4:30pm. Here’s what Heidi says about that one:

Learn to incorporate mineral rich seaweed and kelp dishes into your everyday life. We will learn to make traditional dishes including salads, soups, savory side dishes and condiments to enjoy with rice. We will be using konbu, hijiki, nori, wakame, and more. We will also experiment with adding seaweed to more Western style foods.

In upcoming months Heidi will teach all sorts of affordable cooking classes at the Urban Farm Center including a class on DIY natto, Japanese pickles, dairy ferments and more. I’m not sure which ones I’m going to go to yet but hopefully I’ll see you at one. Sign up soon before they fill up!

Heidi Nestler Cooking Classes

Urban Farm Center
3736 SE Harvey St.
Milwaukie, Oregon 97222

2nd Annual Ulisse Edera Tomato Sale

May 6th, 2013

Get tomatoes next Friday grown from seeds that this man, the late Ulisse Edera, grew for years -- 100 year old, tomato seeds that he brought to Portland from Italy. Photo courtesy of Keith Skelton.

Want to buy this man’s Italian, 100-year-old heirloom seed tomatoes for your garden? Wish granted. Go to HOTLIPS Pizza’s 2nd annual, Ulisse Edera Tomato Sale — a one-day plant sale at its Ecotrust location next Friday, May 17th from 9am-5pm. Each one-gallon tomato plant will be $10 and 100% of sales go to support Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center. Here’s more info. pretty much straight from the press release…

HOTLIPS owner, David Yudkin, has saved seeds and propagated these 100 year old tomato plants since meeting the late Ulisse Edera in 1984 in Edera’s garden south of Portland in Milwaukie’s Ardenwald neighborhood, where many of Portland’s early Italian truck farms were located.

Born in Canelli, Italy, in August, 1890, Ulisse was an orphan raised by three different families, finally in Colcavagno, Austria, where he attended school. After serving in the Italian Army, Ulisse followed his brother to the US at age 23, hand carrying tomato seeds on the voyage. Ulisse filed citizenship papers at La Grande, Oregon in 1916, and in 1917 joined the US Army. The brothers made weekend visits to the Italian families living in Ardenwald, who farmed and sold produce at the Portland Farmers Market. It was there he met his wife, Daria, and at age 31 Ulisse and Daria were married. In 1925 they built a house on 32nd Avenue in Ardenwald and continued farming on 22 acres then known as Johnson Creek Farms. They both lived in that house the rest of their lives with close Italian neighbors and many friends nearby.

Every inch of Ulisse’s small yard was planted with vegetables and flowers. He grew 200 pounds of garlic every year, drying it and selling it, along with homemade vinegar. A visit with Ulisse always included a taste of his “bagnait” on dried bread with a sip or two of red wine. Visitors left his house without a bag of garden delights picked during their visit. Ulisse died at age 103. Though he had slowed down some, he was still gardening, cooking, preserving foods, hunting mushrooms on Mt. Hood, welcoming visitors and visiting neighbors at that time.

About Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center

Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, (a private 501(c)3 non-profit), was founded in 1989 as Friends of Opal Creek to gain protection of the Opal Creek watershed for future generations to study and enjoy, a goal we achieved in 1996. Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center maintains and stewards Jawbone Flats, a rejuvenated historic mining town in the heart of the 35,000-acre ancient forest watershed of the Opal Creek Wilderness and Scenic Recreation Area. We are located on the west slope of the Cascade Mountains, one hour east of Salem, Oregon, and approximately two hours from Portland, two and a half from Eugene and three from Bend. Opal Creek’s Mission” “Promoting conservation through educational experiences in wilderness.”


Founded in 1984, HOTLIPS is a Portland family-owned business with five pizza restaurants and a line of real fruit soda. Our mission is to preserve culture and celebrate humanity through rich culinary experiences, and by joining others in finding new and sustainable ways of doing business. Currently with 135 on staff, we train our folks to get out and talk about sustainability, ask questions, think of new things. We spend a lot of time teaching, taking our show on the road. We love what we do.

2nd Annual Ulisse Edera Tomato Sale
Friday, May 17th
9am-5pm at HOTLIPS Pizza @ Ecotrust
721 NW 9th Ave., #150
Portland, Oregon 97209

Winner of Taste of the Nation Portland 2013 Tickets!

May 3rd, 2013

Lucky commenter #4 wins two VIP tickets to this year's Taste of the Nation Portland on Tuesday, May 7th! There are still tickets available to purchase.

You know who you are lucky #4 commenter. You’ve won yourself two VIP tickets to this year’s Taste of the Nation on Tuesday, May 7th at McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom! Drop me a line at info at lizcrain dot com with your name and contact info. and I’ll pass that along to the organizers who are donating the tickets. Your pair of VIP tickets will be available the night of the event at will call.

Thanks everyone for all of your tasty comments. I hope that some of these businesses come to fruition. As for me, I want a soft pretzel cart in my North Portland neighborhood, near my house, or fuck it, in my driveway with all sorts of homemade mustards and sauces.

For those of you who didn’t win tickets there are still tickets available for this year’s 26th anniversary Taste of the Nation. It’s one of the best food events in town and I highly recommend it. In addition to it being delicious and super fun 100% of proceeds go toward ending local child hunger.

Thanks everyone!

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom
1332 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97205
Tickets $85 and up (order by phone 877.26TASTE or online)

Taste of the Nation Portland 2013 — Ticket Giveaway!

May 1st, 2013

Oven & Shaker's meatball sliders were super tasty at last year's Taste of the Nation Portland.

Share Our Strength’s 26th annual Taste of the Nation on Tuesday, May 7th at McMenamins Crystal Hotel and Ballroom is less than a week away and in an effort to help generate last minute ticket sales I’m offering a ticket giveaway here. The bighearted, hardworking folks at Taste of the Nation Portland have donated a pair of VIP tickets ($150 dollars EACH, gen. admission is $85) to me for this year’s event. (Actually, two pairs. I get to go as well.) VIP ticket holders head in to Taste of the Nation and sample select food and drink an hour before everyone else and they also get complimentary valet parking.

I love Taste of the Nation because 100% of ticket sales go toward working to end child hunger via Oregon Food Bank, Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul Food Recovery Program and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. Read about last year’s Taste of the Nation here.

This year’s TOTN will showcase food and drink from 30-plus restaurants, 17 wineries, 7 distilleries and 7 breweries. The list is growing daily.

So it’s a VERY worthwhile cause that I highly recommend buying tickets for. You can also try your luck for a pair of VIP tickets here on my blog. I’ve got a number in mind and I’ve written it down and taken a photo of it as proof. That numbered person to comment takes the cake — you get me your name and contact info. Please help me to spread the word about this ticket giveaway and Taste of the Nation on Twitter, Facebook etc. so that we can all help promote and support the event and generate ticket sales. I’m foodloverPDX on Twitter.

So what to comment about? Let me know what sort of food/drink business you’d love to see launch in Portland. It could be a food or drink product, a market, a non-profit, coffeeshop, brewery. It could be something that already exists and you’d like to see replicated in another neighborhood or it could be a business you’ve just always wished existed here that you’ve never seen. Leave a comment and let me know — I’m curious.

I’ll announce the lucky winner this weekend or early next week!

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom
1332 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97205
Tickets $85 and up (order by phone 877.26TASTE or online)