Cooking the Toro Bravo Book Party Pt. 6

March 31st, 2017

The only problem with this photo is that Sarah Taft who took it isn’t in it and neither is Sarah Ryan-Knox because she left before we took it. Well, a lot of folks aren’t in the photo who’ve participated in our cook the Toro Bravo book dinner parties throughout the years but it’s hard to get everyone together. So fun.

The time has come for us to literally and figuratively close the book on our cooking the Toro Bravo cookbook parties. Over the years, since the book came out from McSweeney’s in the fall of 2013, we’ve had six big and raucous dinner parties at the homes of a very special group of hungry, good cook friends where we all cooked different dishes from the book. You can check them out here, here, here, and here. I didn’t post the fifth dinner from fall 2015 and I’ll do that soon too.

We looked through the Toro book’s table of contents at the end of our grand finale Toro book dinner party last weekend, and it turns out that we cooked about 85% of the book. None of us are completists in life, so we feel pretty dang good about cooking all of those awesome recipes and not cooking every single recipe.

The biggest holes were in the Charcuterie and Cocktails chapters and meat dishes throughout the book. The first because those recipes take a good amount of time and special equipment (although our group tackled the Coppa Steak twice, the Pork Rillettes, and the Sherry Chicken Liver Mousse), the second because that’s a lot of cocktails for six dinner parties (we made the Toro Martini, Venus 75, Jerez Negroni, Casa Rita and White Sangria), and the meat dishes because we have a few vegetarians and pescatarians amongst us (we made the Harira Lamb and Lentil Stew, Coppa Steak, Drunken Pork, Moorish Meatballs and Chicken and Clams Cataplana). I might have left a few out of those lists but that’s most of them.

So, we ate, drank and were quite merry, as always, and I’m posting a bunch of the photos here for you. We’ll probably do one more Toro party, that’s not strictly recipes but that includes the Paella and Rabbit Fideos, this summer because that sounds like a lot of fun. After that, we’re going to do a one night only James Beard cook from the book night — everyone will choose a dish from whatever cookbook of his they’d like.

After that I’m really hoping that the group chooses Hello! My Name is Tasty: Global Diner Favorites from Portland’s Tasty Restaurants, which comes out August 15th, as its next cook from the book cookbook. More than a little biased. I love that we can have brunch and dinner parties with that one.

If you want to watch a fun video that Rebecca and Fred Gerendasy of Cooking up a Story did of our dinner party series you can check it out here. Love that they captured it.

Alright, without further ado, photos from the night.

Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. dinner party menu

Toro’s White Sangria made with my Concord grape wine
Boquerones with Toasted Bread and Piperade
Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Octopus a la Plancha
Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins
Butter Lettuce Salad
Harissa-Stewed Butternut Squash
Coppa Steak with Salbitxada
Panna Cotta two ways
*We also had really yummy Olympia Provisions ham, pork rillettes, chorizo and sopressata that Josh and Sarah brought. Josh is Olympia Provisions’ plant manager.

We started off the night with Toro’s White Sangria that I made with my homemade Concord grape wine. It was really citrusy and yummy with sliced oranges and kiwi. Tastes like summer.

Next up we had my Boquerones with Toasted Bread and Piperade. I made these for our first Toro cookbook dinner at Loly and Faulkner’s so it was fun to make them again at their place for the final one. This is one of my favorite recipes from the book. So simple and delicious.

A little closer…

Josh’s Olympia Provisions spread. It wasn’t from the Toro book obviously but it was a super tasty addition. Pork rillettes, manchego, soppressata, ham, chorizo +++.

Tom working hard on his Bacon-Wrapped Dates 😉 And I love that I captured Alec in the mirror.

Most of Alec’s Toro Tapenade on charred bread got snapped up before I got a photo. Love the Toro Tapenade!!

Loly with one of Tom’s yummmmmy Bacon-Wrapped Dates.

Faulkner and Loly cooking up there Octopus a la Plancha. We are the luckiest. I ate two of these and had a hard time stopping myself from eating more. There was so much more food to come.

Loly with the finished dish.

Dana cooking up another one of my favorites — Toro’s Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins. If you love spinach I HIGHLY recommend making this dish at home.

My niece’s first grade class is doing the Flat Stanley project right now so she sent me her Stanley from Cincinnati and I brought him with. He had a few too many of the Toro sangrias and not enough food to start so we let him doze on the Toro book for a bit.

Chris who was the ringleader for most of these dinners made the Coppa Steak again. It was awesome! Perfectly smoked, tender and juicy. Alec made the Salbitxada to top it with.

Dana and Oliver made the Harissa-Stewed Butternut Squash. Mmmmm.

Loly and Faulkner’s tasty Butter Lettuce Salad. Nice to have some fresh crisp greens in the middle of the feast.

Mid-way through the night we took a walk around Columbia Park to get some fresh air and walk off a little of the food. Beautiful spring night.

Once the Coppa had rested Chris carved it up. Perfectly pink and delicious.

Izzy kitty enjoyed the festivities too.

Eating, drinking, and more eating, drinking. Good times.

With dessert we did a Toro Limoncello taste-off from a couple batches — mine and Loly and Faulkner’s. Both were awesome.

Some of Faulkner and other’s instant photos from the dinner.

Chris’s Toro Panna Cotta. Really good as always. The one in the pie dish is topped with red wine braised pears and apples with cinnamon, cloves and star anise. The individual ones are with his blood orange Campari topping. YUM! Great way to finish the meal.

Cheers to you for reading this! Maybe you’ll put together one of these for a cookbook too? I highly recommend it. So fun. Happy Friday!

Sandor Ellix Katz Powell’s Books Event for Wild Fermentation 2nd Edition

March 20th, 2017

I’m so lucky!! Me and Sandor signing books after his full house book event at Powell’s for the 2nd edition of Wild Fermentation. Wild Fermentation is the book that’s had the biggest and most positive impact on my life. Photo by Dane Fredericks of Powell’s Books.

I’ve been very lucky over the years to get to be “in conversation” with all sorts of incredible food and drink people such as Mark Bittman, Dana Cowin and now Sandor Ellix Katz at my favorite bookstore on the planet — Powell’s Books. Sandor was in town mid-February for various events on his book tour for the second edition of Wild Fermentation and I was the lucky one who got to spend the night asking him questions in front of a full house in the Powell’s Books Pearl Room. Thank you life.

For those of you who couldn’t make the event I uploaded the audio of it here. Also, Sandor did some radio and TV segments while in town and you can check out his KATU News AM Northwest spot here and his KBOO Healthwatch show feature here.

Below are bunch of photos from the standing room-only excellent Powell’s event. Thank you Powell’s Books, Sandor and everyone who came out and made the night special.

Full house of Sandor fans and fermentation enthusiasts!

Before the event Sandor served up some of his delicious fermented daikon that he makes every year from a Tennessee neighbor’s cover crop. So generous, so yummy!

Sandor talking about everything from his 55-gallon bourbon barrels that he’s used in the past to ferment vegetables to his recent travels in Asia and all of the ferments that he tried and learned about while there. Photo by Loly LeBlanc.

So cute! And look at all of those beautiful life-changing books. So colorful and inspiring inside and out. Photo by David Barber.

We got through my questions and then opened it up to the audience. When an audience member asked Sandor about the potential spirituality of fermentation he summed it up after thinking about it for a moment as — “unseen forces can be very powerful.” So beautiful and true. Photo by Denise Pasquinelli.

Long line of folks after waited to talk to Sandor and get their 2nd edition of Wild Fermentation signed.

At the very end Dane Fredericks of Powell’s had Sandor and I sign a bunch of books. Such a treat. Such an honor. I am officially the luckiest.

Thank you so very much Sandor & Powell’s! And thanks to everyone who came out for the event.

Purchase the 2nd edition of Wild Fermentation.

Fermentation Future Forum 2017

March 20th, 2017

On day two of F3 I got to speak with Yusuke Sezaki, 4th generation owner of Kaneshichi katsuobushi, for awhile (thanks to Etsuyo who translated). I ended up leaving with his handmade kezuriki (katsuobushi grater box) and two of his perfectly paired katsuobushi that are smoked, sun dried and fermented for months. I gave him a copy of my book, some Bee Local honey and I invited him to the Portland Fermentation Festival. I hope that he comes! So lucky that I got to meet Yusuke.

I had the extremely good fortune to be invited to speak at Tokyo’s first annual Fermentation Future Forum (F3) in January. The forum was organized by cultural luminary Teruo Kurosaki and his bright and creative staff. Kurosaki-san is a world renowned designer, former owner of Idee, founder of the Tokyo United Nations University Farmers Market, publisher-owner of Media Surf, owner-founder of Midori co-working spaces, Freedom University and much, much more. I have had the pleasure of getting to know him the past several months through a project that I am editing for Hawthorne Books — the English edition of True Portland — which comes out this summer.

Pretty soon after Kurosaki-san and I met he was interested in the annual Portland Fermentation Festival which I co-founded with my dear friends George Winborn and David Barber in 2009. Some folks close to him attended this year’s late October festival and the next thing you know I had an invite to come speak at his first annual Fermentation Future Forum. Kurosaki-san works fast!

There is much to share about F3, which was held at the United Nations University and Kurosaki’s UNU Farmers Market there — and I think that photos do the best job. They give you an eye into just how special and inspiring the weekend was. I also uploaded my talk here if you want to have a listen. The translated talk (translated by Mai Oyama and moderated by my friend Etsuyo Okajima of Freedom University) took place in the main hall at the United Nations University where the forum took place.

The talk right before mine featured super rad hip hop DJ Misoshiru (making fermented food and other Japanese traditional foods and cooking hip in Japan through her music) along with Seiichiro Tsuji, a specialist of Japanese fermented foods from 6,000 years ago during Japan’s Jomon period. This sort of program coupling gives you just a bit of an idea of what a diverse feed the mind and feed the belly festival F3 was. Thousands attended and it was a huge success. There was also the outdoor part of the fermented food festival that took place during the indoor talks (also free and open to the public) where fest attendees sampled all sorts of sakes, misos, cured meats and more from the makers themselves. Chef Shinobu Namae of two-star Michelin restaurant L’Effervescence was there serving up one of the best ramens I’ve ever tasted, Yoshida Brewery (of the film Birth of Sake) was there sampling sakes and many, many others were there from throughout Japan serving up delicious and creative ferments.

Again, I am so honored that I got to be a part of Tokyo’s first annual fermentation festival and I hope that we have many years of colorful, creative and inspiring collaboration ahead between the Fermentation Future Forum and the Portland Fermentation Festival.

Fermentation Future Forum — F3

Listen to my talk at F3

Chef Shinobu Namae of 2 Michelin star restaurant L’Effervescence with his enormous crazy tasty pot of ramen at the outdoor sampling area of F3. The talks and workshops were all inside. Shinobu used Yusuke’s Kaneshichi katsuobushi for it. I will dream of this ramen. Incredible.

Soooo cold! Luckily there were a lot of crazy tasty sakes on hand to warm us up.

It was really crazy having just watched the excellent documentary Birth of Sake which features this fellow — Yachan aka Yasuyuki (Yas) Yoshida — sixth generation at Yoshida Brewery and the next in line to take over the brewery. Yas is in the yellow jacket and to see him and Yoshida at F3 was wild and…

I got to try Yoshida’s newest winter sake. It tasted like lychee and grapefruit and snow all at once. I’ll never forget it and I really hope to have it again soon.

F3 was part indoors — talks and workshops — and this outdoor area and the adjoining corridor, that’s not in view, was where all of the fermentation sampling took place. Beyond that and out front was the weekend United Nations University Farmers Market which gets 15-20k visitors a day.

These folks put together enormous pot after boiling pot of imoni with lots of miso, taro, burdock and wild mushrooms. Both days of F3 were extremely windy and cold so this was a very popular soup. They would hit the soup lid as they propped it up really hard with the ladle, treating it like a giant gong, every time that the soup was ready.

Close-up of the delicious imoni.

I certainly wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it.

This warm amazake (low or no alcohol fermented rice drink) was such a treat too. No sugar or sweetener added but so naturally sweet. Another unforgettable taste from F3.

I really love that F3 was free to attend (the talks and the food sampling were free and open to the public and you bought stickers for food/drink samples) and that they had these two types of reusable sake cups that you could purchase for sampling. Brilliant.

This was the only cured meat at F3 and it was yummy.

Did you know that Japan has a Miss Sake? They do! This is her — Mai Morita. She travels the world as an ambassador of Japanese sake. Love it. A lot of the organizers and VIP participants wore these white F3 lab suits. So stylish and fun.

Bird’s eye view of the main outdoor corridor of F3.

The Saturday F3 workshop that Luuvu Hoang, Etsuyo Okajima and I did at nearby Midori. Luu did a demo. on fermented Vietnamese food, I spoke about Portland and the Portland Fermentation Festival and we all hung out together for three hours learning things and eating yummy things. It was awesome.

This sign for it made me happy.

Afterward Luuvu and I walked over to the F3 food/drink area and got Shinobu’s awesome ramen made with Yusuke’s katsuobushi. The stuff of dreams.

Yusuke Sezaki (one of my favorite people that I met in Tokyo) of the legendary Kaneshichi — maker of katsuobushi. Yusuke is who Rene Redzepi travels to in order to learn about katsuobushi. Redzepi is currently experimenting with making bear and venison katsuobushi. Yusuke is helping him.

The perfectly coupled katsuobushi that Yusuke gave me. (He also hid a third in the bag.) In Japan when couples marry a traditional parting gift for good fortune is this — a “male” and “female” katsuobushi — pieces that fit perfectly together. It’s rare and brings good luck.

I really wanted to do this 50-minute sake tasting but we were too social to make it happen. We wanted to walk around and talk to everyone. Next time.

They had an F3 DJ!! He played Roy Ayers’ Everybody Loves the Sunshine and during it the sun came out. It had been cloudy for a bit. So cool.

All of the signage and graphics for the festival were striking.

Super cool festival poster front…

And back.

A box of F3 images. It’s astounding how well designed every little detail was at the forum.

Etusyo Okajima (moderator), Mai Oyama (translator) and me before my F3 talk.

Right before my talk was one with super hip DJ Misoshiru and Seiichiro Tsuji, a specialist of Japanese fermented foods from 6,000 years ago during Japan’s Jomon period. This sort of program coupling gives you just a bit of an idea of what a diverse feed the mind and feed the belly festival F3 was.

Sandor’s book on display on the table outside of the main hall!!

I got to meet Kantaro Oizumi and sample his kombucha which was inspired by trips to Portland after our Portland Fermentation Festival! Kentaro will be launching his Japanese kombucha later this month at Kombuchakon in Long Beach, CA. It’s really, really good stuff.

Kurosaki-san, Etsuyo, Mai and I trying Kentaro’s kombucha before my talk.

I had such a great time talking about the Portland Fermentation Festival and Portland food/drink at F3. We all sat on bean bags in the middle of the room and while Mai translated someone was also typing up what I said in characters that were projected on large screens. So well organized for year one. Really fun talk. There’s a link above in the main body of the post if you want to listen to it on Soundcloud.

Left to right: Mai’s mom (I forget her name!), Mai, Etsuyo and me after the talk. All bundled up and ready to hit the fest food/drink area again.

First stop, hot sake! Just what the Dr. ordered.

The long line to get into F3 never let up on either day. So cool.

I got to meet my Portland friends’ — Earnest and Yuri Migaki, makers of Jorinji Miso — friend! Kousaku Hotta of Salmon & Trout with his super mackerel sandwich.

I didn’t get to try these but they looked awesome.

This realllllly young sake (day two of fermentation) was so good. It reminded Etsuyo of the strawberry in mochi (ichigo daifuku) that she had at our kaiseki dinner at Higashiya Ginza the night before.

More really yummy sake — this time from Heiw Shuzou where one of Etsuyo’s friends brews. So cold outside!!!

Sake lees aka kasu from one of the sake brewery’s. It’s used to make amazake and sometimes miso. It’s also traditionally used as face paint. I didn’t try any and I wish I’d gotten a bag to bring home.

Aaaaand that’s a wrap. Thank you F3 and Kurosaki-san and everyone who helped put F3 together and attended. What a dream.

I was lucky enough to get to spend a lot of time during my visit to Tokyo with this the man — the man who made it all happen. He got me to Tokyo and took care of everything. F3 founder and one of my heroes — Teruo Kurosaki. I can’t thank him enough. Long live Kurosaki-san and long live F3!

Thank you for reading this. Now go figure out how you can visit Tokyo soon!!

Portland Fermentation Festival 2016 Redux

March 20th, 2017

Perennial festival favorite — Choi’s Kimchi. Co-owner Matt Choi on the right and family and business friend Moah Son on the left. Matt’s mom Chong — co-owner of Choi’s Kimchi stopped by for a minute but she’d been up the night before until 4am making kimchi so she was a littttttle tired and headed home. Matt was on last year’s and this year’s Panel of Fermentation Experts.

Well, we did it again — another wild, stinky and super fun Portland Fermentation Festival at Ecotrust! This year’s Seventh Annual fest was chock-full of tasty funky fermented foods, smarty-pants exhibitors and attendees, an excellent Panel of Fermentation Experts, all sorts of fun DIY demo’s, rooftop good vibes thanks to DJ Jimbo (check out his festival playlists here and here) and Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and much much more. Thank you all for coming out for it and joining the stink!

We put the Portland Fermentation Festival together every year with a shoestring budget + heaps of volunteered hours (thank you sooooo much to all of our kick-ass volunteers!) and as always we’re so grateful that Ecotrust puts up with us year after year. Thank you again Ecotrust! We love you.

We had some great coverage this year including this segment on KGW News with Cassidy Quinn. We’ve posted most of the other coverage on social media. If you’d like to keep up with local fermenty goings-on please check out Facebook and Twitter pages.

Below are a whole bunch of photos from this year’s Stinkfest! If you have some great ones too please post them to the Facebook page or Twitter them with the hashtag #pdxfermentfest.

Thank you, thank you, thank you and see you all again next year we hope! Stay stinky! Oh, and please let me know if I attributed anything incorrectly. Thanks!

Pre-fest KGW News coverage thanks to Cassidy Quinn. She, Nat and Claudia tried Nat’s chicha on camera AND Nat chewed and spit up some of the corn mash that this traditional Peruvian corn drink is made of. You read that correctly — they essentially drank Nat’s spit! (I did too and it was actually pretty good — light, sweet and slightly roasty smoky) Nat always brings something wildly experimental to the fest every year and we love him so much for it.

We kicked off this year’s fest with a super inspiring and informative Panel of Fermentation Experts with left to right: Tara Whitsitt (Fermentation on Wheels), David Barber (Picklopolis), Matt Choi (Choi’s Kimchi), Nat West (Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider) and Claudia Lucero (Urban Cheesecraft).

A little bit closer. Such a great panel! We ended it on each of their best pieces of advice for the beginning fermenter. The general gist: just do it. You don’t need fancy equipment or lots of know-how, this is a born of mistakes primitive way of preserving food. Tap into that and have fun. Kick your intimidation to the curb.

Once the panel concluded the doors opened for the first of the night’s two tastings and madness ensued. A fun, yummy, wild ferments madness.

Portland Fermentation Festival co-organizers left to right: David Barber, me, George Winborn. We love you!

Nat West serving up his Peruvian chewed/spit fermented corn drink. Nat always makes really unusual experimental ferments just for the fest. Last year he sampled his Mongolian milk wine and the year before that he brought his fermented LEG OF LAMB cider! Wacky and awesome.

Connie and Brian Shaw of Hood River’s Oregon Brineworks always bring the most delicious spread of their ferments. This year was no different. You can find their ferments all over Portland (at New Seasons, Green Zebra, Peoples Food Coop ++) — they’re soooo yummy!

Owner Sash Sunday of Olympia’s OlyKraut serving up all different kraut samples (also available in Portland markets) AND pouring shots of spicy spectacular pickle brine. YUM!! Next level ingredient for rad Bloody Marys.

George Tsesoukas of Soma Kombucha (based in St. Johns) pouring up tart and tasty kombucha samples. So many different tasty flavors.

Out on the mezzanine we had three demo’s throughout the night. Austin Durant of the Fermenters Club (he came up all the way from San Diego!) did this fun and inspiring DIY kimchi and gochujang making demo.

Right across the mezzanine at the same time Claudia Lucero led a fermented nut cheese demo. I definitely am going to try my hand at these now. So yummy, tart, smooth and creamy. She’s currently working on a book all about dairy-free cheeses! Her excellent One-Hour Cheese cookbook came out in 2014.

Festival veteran Heidi Nestler, owner of Pickled Things, sampled her sticky tasty natto at this year’s fest and…

Heidi also led a demo on pickled Japanese vegetables — — nukazuke, misozuke and kojizuke. I really wish I could have gone to that one.

While Heidi did her demo festival volunteer superstar Marty handed out natto samples at her table. Jimbo got to try natto for the first time! He loved it.

I’m bummed I didn’t get any photos of the lovely ticketing ladies in the atrium this year but I did get this one with three of them. Left to right: Michelle, Stacy and Loly. All dear friends.

Lion Heart Kombucha! I asked one little boy at the fest this year what his favorite festival sample was and he said, “ALL the kombucha!” Love it.

Tim Root’s incredible festival poster this year! We’re so lucky that he continues to do our poster year after year. So creeeeeepy awesome.

Colin Franger of Blue Bus Cultured Foods in Bingen, Washington. Colin has been coming to the fest for years sampling his yummy ferments and you can find a lot of them in Portland at New Seasons, Whole Foods, various co-ops and other markets. That’s his green bean kimchi — got more than one sample ?

Careen Stoll — another festival veteran — brought her gorgeous handmade crocks and mortars and pestles again this year. Check out her goods online

While Claudia Lucero did her demo folks sampled her awesome fermented nut cheeses.

Jon Westdahl and Julie sampling all different Squirrel & Crow tasty tempehs, misos and one of my favorite festival tastes this year — cultured vegan butter. So good.

A little closer…

Festival co-organizer David Barber of Picklopolis sampling his always delicious sour dills. One of my favorite pickles on the planet.

My good friend and super talented animation artist Stephen Bodin put this cool image together for us to announce the festival a few months ago. Love it so much.

First time fest exhibitors Sue and Wendy of NW Ferments (they sell all sorts of fermentation starter cultures) sampling their tasty kombucha.

Rooftop good vibes (and tunes) were provided by DJ Jimbo and Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider. Crazily enough we were rain-free yet another year. The Fermentation Fest is always on a beautiful night. Really pretty view on the Ecotrust roof.

Grant from Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider poured cider on the rooftop all night long. Nat West of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider’s is my very, very, very favorite hard cider maker.

Matthew of Eva’s Herbucha (one of Portland’s first commercial kombucha makers) poured yummy kombucha from their tap to thirsty festival goers.

I always end these posts with a photo of festival co-organizer George Winborn (in the background) in the jetpack vacuum cleaner but this year David got the honor ?

Thank you to every last one of you who came out and were a part of making this year’s SEVENTH annual Portland Fermentation Festival so special. Love, love, love you!