For Your Viewing Pleasure Pt. 4

July 9th, 2012

Toro Bravo's charcuterie program manager Josh Scofield tying off the just stuffed North African sausage.

I don’t have time to do a proper blog post today so I’m putting up a snapshot from recipe testing for the Toro Bravo Cookbook: The Making, Breaking and Riding of a Bull (McSweeney’s fall 2013). We’re full steam ahead with the book and I have a lot of recipes to write this week so I’m going to get back to that. I also have a nasty sunburn to apply aloe to every few hours since Portland summer has finally arrived. Hope you are doing well and getting out and enjoying summer to the fullest. I spent Saturday at the river and Sunday at a lake. Lucky.

www.torobravopdx.com

For Your Viewing Pleasure Pt. 3
For Your Viewing Pleasure Pt. 2
For Your Viewing Pleasure Pt. 1

DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 2 — Q&A with Dave Blaikie

May 29th, 2012

Dave Blaikie is a meat smoking master...

Q & A with Dave Blaikie
(If you haven’t read the first part of this blog series you can at DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 1)

Me: When did you build your smoker?

Dave: In 2009.

Me: How did you make it?

Dave: I made it out of a 55-gallon drum that used to be filled with vegetable oil. A man was selling them in his front yard and I had to get one. It was 15 bucks and I wedged it into the back seat of a Mazda Protege. Sheet metal that I found in a scrap pile and angle steel lengths make up the smoker box and stand. It took a week to cut and weld all the pieces in my garage. The design is based on a smoker my friend had.

Me: What are your favorite things to smoke?

Dave: Anything pork. Baby back ribs are my faves followed by the pork butt, and country-style ribs.

Me: Any advice for someone who’s never smoked meat before and is about to try?

Dave: Ask questions. For starters, get a good book because you have a lot to learn and you’re going to be sitting for a while. Don’t use lighter fluid, unless you like that taste in your food. Use a mixture of woods. I use oak or mesquite as a fuel wood and add any fruit wood that I can get my hands on. You can use all fruit wood if you want for both fuel and flavor as well. Apple wood is my favorite and if you can get your hands on some, do it.

Get the temperature in the smoker up to where you want it. You want to have a good fire going but want the smoke to be as light as you can get it. Don’t worry it’ll have a smoky flavoring without too much smoke. That’s about it. Every smoker is different and it takes time to understand the in’s and out’s of each one. Oh yeah, don’t rush it. This is all about kicking back with your friends, drinking and salivating over an aroma that can only be made from smoking meat.

Check out DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 1

Dave and Tyler doing what smoking meat requires -- a lot of waiting...

Blaikie with friends with a rib in his hands. Eating smoked meat from the smoker that he built of course...

After learning from the master Tyler tried his hand at some smoked pork butt. It turned out really good.

Juicy and perfectly smoked pork butt.

DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 1

May 21st, 2012

Our friend Dave Blaikie built this smoker and we're storing it for him in our backyard. We are lucky.

Our friend Dave built the above barrel smoker a few years ago and we’ve gotten to eat all sorts of delicious things smoked in it. A little less than a year ago Dave needed someplace to store it and we’ve had it at our house ever since.

Late April Dave and his fiance Rachel came over and we celebrated their engagement by smoking an insane amount of meat for four people while splitting wood from our old apple tree that we cut down this winter. It was a really old tree — one arborist thought it was nearly as old as our 100+ year old house — and hollowed out as you’ll see in the photos. Although the wood is still drying it was the perfect combo because apple wood which is ideal for smoking meat.

That day with Dave and Rachel we smoked a five pound brisket, three pound pork butt, and a rack of pork and beef ribs. Don’t worry — in the end, we invited some other friends over to help us eat it all.

The Basics

We mortar and pestled herbs and spices and then dry-rubbed all of the meat with various combinations, adding brown sugar to some of the rubs and leaving it off of others. We got the smoker up to temperature (Dave says the sweet spot temperature-wise is 220-230) with mesquite, dried some apple wood while doing that, and then put all the meat into the smoker at 3:30pm to cook until about 8pm — 4.5 hours.

The hottest spot on the racks is of course right by the smoke chute. We put our meat in when it got to 200. Then as the meat smoked we occasionally rotated things and cracked the door if it got too hot — we tried to keep it between 220-230 — and added wood if the fire got low.

You don’t want too much smoke — just a bit. We put wood shavings in a small cast-iron skillet and had an apple wood fire with mesquite coals in the barbecue. Although we didn’t do it this time Dave usually adds vinegar and mustard to the meat toward the end to keep it moist. And if you don’t know this already you always want to remove the silvery membrane from ribs so that they cook properly.

Gartner's never fails -- brisket, pork spare ribs, pork butt and Dave brought beef ribs.

We gave all the cuts nice dry rubs and put them in the smoker when it was 200 and nicely, lightly smoking.

Masters of the meat -- Rachel, Dave and Tyler. And Rubin -- can't forget the white wolfie.

Splitting apple wood while the meat smoked. Apple wood is great for smoking meat and seafood.

Sweet spot.

Not much longer to go.

Carving time.

Brisket!

We climbed meat mountain and lived to tell the tale! So good.

Up next a Q&A with the meat master himself — Dave Blaikie!

Taste of the Nation 2011

May 9th, 2011

Celilo Restaurant's (in Hood River) morel and fromage blanc topped crackers were super tasty.

Taste of the Nation truly gets bigger and better every year. We had a fantastic time eating and drinking all sorts of amazing things from Portland area chefs and food/drink folks at this year’s Taste of the Nation at Luxe Autohaus. (Always made much better by the fact that 100% of the proceeds go toward local child hunger relief.) If you don’t know about the event you can read more about it here and here. We paced ourselves a lot better this year so that by the end (and we stayed until the very end — as in tables being folded) we felt full but not roll-out-the-door full.

It’s hard to pick favorites but I think it’s good to give credit where credit is due. SO here are my top five favorite things that I ate at this year’s Taste of the Nation (not to mention all the delicious wine, beer and bubbly) followed by photos…

Top five bites at this year’s Taste of the Nation in no particular order…
La Calaca Comelona’s rainbow chard wrapped masa with pork in a red sauce
Biwa’s braised pork and house pickled vegetable lettuce wraps
Bamboo Sushi’s Oregon albacore carpaccio
Fifty Lick’s coconut lemon saffron sorbet
Davis Street Tavern’s cold carrot fennel soup with sorrel salsa verde

Screen Door's mini chocolate and peanut butter pies were really good. Especially when eaten right after their...

Smoked meatloaf and whipped potato bites topped with crispy shallots. Yeah, pretty genius side-by-side.

Biwa kicked ass as usual with their braised pork lettuce wraps with pickled veggies.

Fratelli was set up right next to Biwa with some yummy rockfish crudo that got topped with yuzu foam seconds after I took this photo.

No, he did not get stuck in the ice cream cooler. 50 Licks' coconut lemon saffron sorbet is incredible.

Andina had a lovely spread of marinated fish in a aji colorado al batan sauce, fava bean salad and okra rellena stuffed with braised oxtail. Top that why don't you.

We hung out with friends until the lights-out end. Another fantastic Taste of the Nation with 100 percent of proceeds going to local child hunger relief organizations. Cheers Portland!

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation
Monday, May 2nd, 2011
5-9pm
LUXE Autohaus
410 NE 17th Ave.
Portland, OR 97232
Stay tuned for next year’s Taste of the Nation
www.portlandtaste.org

Winner of Taste of the Nation 2011 Tickets!

April 25th, 2011

Jamie-lucky-commenter-17 wins two tickets to this year's Taste of the Nation!

You know who you are lucky #17 commenter Jaime! You’ve won yourself two tickets to this year’s Taste of the Nation. Drop me a line @ info at lizcrain dot com with your full name and contact info. and I’ll pass that along to the organizers who are donating the tickets.

Thanks everyone for all of your tasty comments! I’m looking forward to checking a lot of the places out and trying the foods and drinks that you mentioned. I haven’t tried a lot of them which makes me happy. I might just print all the comments out and keep the list in my bag so I don’t forget.

For those of you who didn’t win tickets there are still tickets left for this year’s Taste of the Nation and if you can I suggest you snag them. It’s one of the absolute 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. Gotta feel good about that.

Thanks everyone!

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation
Monday, May 2nd, 2011
5-9pm
LUXE Autohaus
410 NE 17th Ave.
Portland, OR 97232
Tickets $85 (order by phone 877.26TASTE, online or at any New Seasons Market)
www.portlandtaste.org

Happy Anniversary Blog: Two years and counting

February 22nd, 2011

It’s been two years since I started this blog as a sort of companion piece to my book Food Lover’s Guide to Portland. Since the beginning I’ve aimed to keep my posts short and sweet and informative for Portland food folks and visitors. I hope it’s been helpful.

This time last year I celebrated one year of blogging with a sort of year-in-review. It was a nice way to take stock so I’m doing it again for the two-year marker. Thanks for stopping by now and again. Thanks for chiming in now and again. Thanks to each and every one of you out there who celebrate our local food scene in Portland and beyond. Here are some blog highlights from the past year…

I started off February 2010 with our semi-annual Cincinnati chili feed. Can’t beat Gartner’s dogs, spicy Cincy chili and finely grated Tillamook cheddar…

Sometimes 3-ways are sloppy. Cincinnati chili 3-ways that is...

Portland International Film Festival followed shortly after. PIFF is my favorite local film fest and we always do PIFF + Pizza. Was going to giveaway some tickets here for this year’s now in its final week but unfortunately got too busy. Go to PIFF while you still can!

Cheese followed by egg...

I won an Excalibur Food Dehydrator and made my first batch of spicy beef jerky late March. It was amazing and I’ve made it many times since…

Thin sliced tri-tip ready to marinate and dry...

In May I had my first interview in The Sun Magazine with one of my favorite people — Sandor Ellix Katz

I never thought this day would come...

Several weeks later I had a kick-ass book launch party for Food Lover’s Guide to Portland the day it came out — July 1st, 2010…

The best celebration I could have hoped for. So much fun.

At the end of summer my boyfriend and I went on a magical 10-day sailing trip around the San Juan Islands and I blogged about our DIY galley cooking in three installments…

We have a stainless grill too but most of what we cooked on the boat happened here.

In the fall we put together a filled-to-the-gills second annual Portland Fermentation Festival at Ecotrust…

Biwa's rocking kimchi with big chunks of daikon and lots of fire.

Late December I got to press hard cider with our friend Nat and he gave me a carboy of the stuff to take home and ferment myself…

Nat sorting through one of the last Newtown Pippin apple bins.

And just in time for the new year I made miso for the first time. In a month or so I’ll be checking on it…

After mashing the soybeans you mix that with the brined koji...

THANKS FOR ANOTHER GREAT YEAR!

Eat, drink and be hairy!

Primal Cuts Comes to Portland Nov. 12th & 18th

November 11th, 2010

Judge this book by its cover. What's is even better...

I get a fair number of review copies in the mail and I have to say that Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers is one of the more exciting ones. One reason I got a review copy is because of the 50 US butchers that Marissa Guggiana interviews in what her publisher Welcome Books calls “a modern meat bible” three are from Portland:

Ben Dyer of Laurelhurst Market
Jason Barwikowski of Olympic Provisions
&
Berlin Reed aka The Ethical Butcher

I wish I had a scale here at my studio because I’d weigh this meat tome. Oh wait, there’s the online oracle — ok so it’s an impressive three-plus pounds. This is a hefty book that costs a pretty penny and although I know you can get three-pounds of pork butt for significantly less — and then you can make Ben Dyer’s Little Smokies pickled in a hot vinegary brine on page 125 — the book is worth every penny.

Each butcher profiled introduces him or herself and then there are great, big photos of them with their meat (excuse me but it’s true) as well as recipes for everything from cinnamon oxtail stew (Gabriel Claycamp, formerly from The Swinery, WA) and pork belly confit (Olivia Sargeant, Farm 255, GA) to boudin (Donald Link, Cochon Butcher, LA) and venison jerky (Scott Leysath, The Sporting Chef, CA). In addition to recipes the books includes DIY for homemade sausage, bacon and dry cured meats as well as advice for kick-ass burgers, deboning a chicken and making stock.

It’s a fantastic book and I’m really looking forward to learning and cooking from it. Even though it’s a little over the top when pulled out of context I really like what Dario Cecchini says in the book’s introduction:

Here is the essence of our craft as butchers: a task crude and compassionate, strong yet delicate, always respectful toward the killed animal, with the ethical imperative of always using the meat in the best manner possible, knowing that, since the beginning of time, these animals were were given to mankind as a gift from God.

Saving the best for last, Primal Cuts is coming to Portland:

Friday, November 12, 7:30pm
Dinner with Marissa Guggiana, Jason Barwikowski, & Ben Dyer
Simpatica Catering & Dining Hall
828 Southeast Ash Street
Portland, OR 97214

The menu from Simpatica’s site:

Sliced Corned Veal Tongue and Fried Oxtail Roulade with Broken Sauce Gribiche, Grilled Toasts and Bitter Herb Salad

Turnip and Turnip Top Soup

Wood-Roasted Whole Cattail Creek Lamb with Chickpea and Viridian Farms Grilled Pepper Stew and Skordalia

Blood Orange Curd Crepes with Chantilly Cream

Price is $40 per person plus wine and gratuity. Dinner begins at 7:30pm. Please email Simpatica or call the kitchen at 503.235.1600 to make reservations.

And Thursday, November 18th:

Info. from the press release:

$20 PRESALE. $30 DOOR.
Buy your ticket today at theethicalbutcher@gmail.com
Thursday, November 18th 7-11pm
The Cleaners at Ace Hotel
403 SW 10th Avenue

***AFTER PARTY***
After you fill up on all that local meaty goodness and get dancing to the beats at The Cleaners you’ll want to keep going. Head down the street to Beauty Bar for Homo Deluxe/Primal Cuts After Party.

Beauty Bar

111 Southwest Ash Street, Portland

Oregon Culinary Institute Pig Project Dinners

November 5th, 2010

Red Wattle piglets...

In October I got an invitation to attend one of two Oregon Culinary Institute dinners that I’ve been looking forward to ever since. Both dinners sound great but by process of already-have-plans elimination I’m going to the first one next Tuesday night.

What exactly am I talking about? Here’s some info…

Tuesday, November 9th, 7pm @ Oregon Culinary Institute — Suds & Swine five-course fundraiser dinner with beer pairings from Upright Brewing to benefit Chefs Collaborative. MENU & TICKETS.

Wednesday, November 10th, 7pm @ Oregon Culinary Institute — Wine & Swine five-course fundraiser dinner with wine pairings from Chehalem Winery to benefit Ecotrust’s Farm to School program. MENU & TICKETS.

Tickets for each dinner are $75.

Oregon Culinary Institute chefs at Heritage Farms Northwest.

A little background…

In May, OCI purchased three Red Wattle hogs from Heritage Farms Northwest in Dallas, Oregon. Red Wattles are a breed of hog listed on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste. According to Slow Food USA, “Red Wattle pork is exceptionally lean and juicy with a rich beef-like taste and texture.” Mmm.

The breed is named for its color and distinctive wattles that hang from either side of its neck — similar to the wattles of some goat breeds. Since May two of the pigs have been pen-raised at Sweet Briar Farms in Eugene and the other pasture-raised at Heritage Farms Northwest. All OCI culinary students were invited to participate in the project.

On November 9th and 10th OCI Chef Instructor Josh Blythe and a crew of students will prepare five-course dinners with each dish featuring side-by-side comparisons of the pasture- and pen-raised pork. OCI Baking and Pastry Chef Instructor Salvatore Hall and his students will prepare dessert. Each course will be tailored to the beverages served that night.

Wealth Underground Farm, an organic CSA farm located on Newberry Rd. off Skyline Blvd. in Portland, is providing produce for both dinners.

All events surrounding this project, leading up to and including the final dinners, are being filmed and edited into a final video production by Actual Industries.

Learn more about the dinners here.
Learn more about the pig project here.

About Oregon Culinary Institute:

Established in 2006 as a division of Pioneer Pacific College, Oregon Culinary Institute offers a complete, practical and affordable culinary arts education where students can earn Associate of Applied Science degrees in Culinary Management, Baking and Pastry Management, and Restaurant Management. The school also offers diplomas in Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts, and Restaurant Management, Students may also earn a Sommelier Diploma at Oregon Culinary Institute in cooperation with the International Sommelier Guild. OCI’s student-run fine-dining restaurant serves lunch and dinner, most Mondays through Fridays. Reservations are recommended.

In the walk-in until next week's dinners...

Syncline Winery and the Gorge

September 15th, 2010

The perfect spot for a picnic -- Maryhill Museum of Art's picnic grounds. That peacock did not eat with us but I'm sure cleaned up our crumbs.

My mom and her husband visited Portland from Cincinnati (where I grew up) mid-August and I’ve been meaning to post about their visit for awhile since a lot of what we did centered around food and drink as it usually does. We had some great meals out at Toro Bravo, Ping and Acadia to name a few and we also had a really good barbecue at home on their last night in town.

The trek we took this time while they visited was out to the Gorge. On our way out in the morning we stocked up on all sorts of great picnic supplies and then we pretty much beelined for Maryhill Museum of Art. I wanted to finally visit what Raymond Carver referred to, in so many words, as the strangest museum he ever went to.

By the time we got there mid-day — it takes about two hours from Portland — we were hungry and headed straight to the picnic grounds. It was a great picnic spot next to the sculpture garden and behind the museum with our peacock friend. My favorite foods from the picnic were the spicy paprika loaf from Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen on Grand Central baguette and the tiny pickled anchovies from New Seasons Market.

On the way home (the museum was great and I fully agree with Carver) we only had time for one winery stop so we made it Syncline Winery and I’m so happy that we did. We tasted several of their delicious reds and whites and came home with two whites — their Viognier and Roussanne. I’ll be back to Maryhill and to Syncline. Check both out the next time you’re in the area.

We tasted the whites and the reds. Tastings are $5, deducted if you buy wine...

Turn here for Syncline Winery in the Gorge...

The tasting room is in the production house with the fermenting tanks and the barrels.

Syncline Winery, if you can't tell already, is beautiful.

Maryhill Museum of Art
www.maryhillmuseum.org
509.773.3733
Goldendale, Washington

Syncline Winery
www.synclinewine.com
509.365.4361
Lyle, Washington

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

July 2nd, 2010

The dessert table pre-party...

So much has happened since I last posted. I really don’t know where to begin so I think I’ll start with what’s consuming my thoughts just 100 percent today — my book launch party last night for Food Lover’s Guide to Portland at Fortune Tattoo. I know it’s probably dorky to say but last night was one of the best nights of my life. I’m beyond happy that so many friends, fellow food folks and complete strangers came out last night to celebrate. It was magic. Loving life right now.

((ATTENTION: My ex-boyfriend, Tyler Adams, no longer co-owns Fortune Tattoo. Visit his North Portland shop — Grizzly Tattoo — which opened June, 2011.))

I’m overwhelmed by the thought of describing the evening so I’m just going to post a bunch of photos for those of you who were there and those who couldn’t make it. It was a blast and couldn’t have happened without the overly generous food and drink donations as well as awesome help of my friends, boyfriend, Fortune Tattoo and of my publishing house Sasquatch Books. Thank you Portland. I love you more than ever!

And then it was on...

And on...

My friend Rale Sidebottom rocking it in the loft for the party...

They got the Fortune Tattoo sign up just in time!

Tyler eating the Newman's Fish Co. smoked black cod...

The savory side...

Good mugs in food coma.

Before the perfect storm. Cheers to you! Thank you Portland!