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!!

Thank You Portland! Food Lover’s Guide to Portland 2.0 Launch Party

September 8th, 2014

So much fun at last week's book launch party at Reverend Nat's Cidery!

For the past five years, in addition to food writing ++ I’ve worked as editor and publicity director at Hawthorne Books. Hawthorne published the second edition of my book Food Lover’s Guide to Portland so I wrote a blog post over there all about last week’s book launch party. It seems like a big old waste of time to do the same thing here so here’s the link to all kinds of photos and words about the night. CLICK HERE!

Rachel Smith: Editorial Assistant Extraordinaire 2nd edition Food Lover’s Guide to Portland

June 25th, 2014

Oh, just hanging out in the Swiss Alps. Rachel Smith, world traveler and on her DOWN TIME editorial assistant for Food Lover's Guide to Portland 2.0.

I just want to quickly introduce the lovely lady pictured above. I first met Rachel when she interviewed for the fall 2012 internship at Hawthorne Books — the publisher of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland and where I’ve been publicity director and an editor since 2009. Right away, Hawthorne publisher, Rhonda, and I knew that Rachel was in. She’s bright, passionate, always curious, has a great sense of humor and is just a genuine pleasure to be around.

Rachel kicked ass during the 10-week internship and we were sad to see her go. When we decided to do a second edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland I was in the thick of completing Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. and felt a little overwhelmed but knew that the time was ripe and that the book needed an update. I thought about how to best manage my time, how to lessen the stress of another book project as much as possible and then I had the bright idea to hire an editorial assistant. Rachel was my number one choice and she said YES!

During the insanity of updating Rachel did everything from fine-tooth combing all of the contact info. throughout the book and making sure addresses, hours etc. were up to date to interviewing new subjects and writing the respective listings. I couldn’t have done the second edition without her. She was on top of every project every step of the way, and most importantly, she was really fun to work with. Love you Rachel! Without further ado…

Sweet, sweet Rachel Smith on food, travel and working on the second edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland:

When I was 6 years old, I used to pretend I was allergic to pizza and spaghetti sauce—not tomatoes—just pizza and spaghetti sauce. I disliked mushrooms, melted cheese, and loathed mustard. Strange textures and peculiar flavors were a no-no. I could barely choke down cooked vegetables. Sausage, meat on the bone, and meat cooked rare made me gag.

Eventually, as it happens for most of us, my taste buds and I began to grow up. Traveling became a priority in my life, and being a picky eater doesn’t go along well with it. I came to learn that one of the best parts of going abroad is experiencing the food. I also realize, when I travel, I desperately miss the food at home, and when I’m home, I crave the food from abroad.

Portland is a food-obsessed city. We know it, we love it, we partake in it. My head could explode thinking of the incredible variety of restaurants we have, the locally sourced vegetables and meats, the microbreweries and markets. As Portlanders, it’s in our veins. Outside of Portland, this isn’t as common—no news flash here. Yet every time I travel, I notice I have forgotten this. What, your bar doesn’t serve food? Your grocery store closes at 6? You don’t have any Mexican restaurants, because I could kill for a burrito right now.

I don’t mean this out of ignorance; I mean it is as a fantastic appreciation of what we have at home. It wasn’t until assisting Liz that I came to understand this even more.

As I write this, I’m on the brink of my third month visiting Switzerland. I’ve been eating melted cheese on the regular, devouring pizzas the size of my face, and obsessively ordering sausage. I recently tried horsemeat (and though it’s a horrendous thought to many people, and I vowed I would only try it once, it was quite good). But my stomach is rumbling at the thought of eating chorizo tacos from Uno Más or fresh sashimi from Bamboo Sushi. The idea of a Painted Hills burger with blue cheese and applewood-smoked bacon is enough to make me weak in the knees. Whining is not part of my intention here—I’m thoroughly enjoying the food and the experience, yet I do miss the access to variety.

Eating well in Switzerland...

Sweet Rachel in France...

Working on the second edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland was a reminder of our access and diversity. We have the ability to go straight to the source and pick fruit on Sauvie Island, go crabbing at the coast, or take a drive into wine country. We can feast on Vietnamese, Thai, Cuban, African, or Japanese food any day of the week. And we’re really lucky to have that—not only in restaurants, but in our grocery stores too. Did you know how many ethnic grocery stores we have? Or that Cheese Bar sells raclette so I can get my fix when I’m missing Switzerland?

My point is: the delicious world of food is at our fingertips right here in Portland. We can find just about anything we’re after. And when I’m home in 3 weeks, the first thing I will be doing is hunting down and demolishing the tortilla-wrapped goodness of a marinated pork burrito.

Pre-order the 2nd edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland
from Powell’s
Pub. date September 1, 2014