Cocotte Contest

October 29th, 2012

Comment here for the chance to win two $25 gift certificates to Portland's Cocotte!

Have you checked out this year’s Willamette Week Restaurant Guide that came out last week? I look forward to it every year. Partly, because I always get to review restaurants for it but also because it’s a great compass for Portland dining and always makes me hungry to try more places.

This year I wrote three reviews for the guide — Ocean City, Bamboo Sushi and Cocotte. I’d never been to Cocotte and loved it and think you might too. Here’s a bit of what I wrote:

“For all of the complaints that Portland doesn’t do seafood right beyond a few sushi spots, let’s have a drum roll for Cocotte. This pretty little corner bistro on Northeast 30th Avenue’s restaurant row (neighbored by Beast, Yakuza, Autentica and DOC) is all about small plates and entrees from le mer. The smoked salmon salad over a fallen potato soufflé with tarragon aioli is topped with farm-fresh greens, moist and not too smoky salmon, and slivers of radish in a lemony shallot vinaigrette. It’s perfect…”

Read the full review

Cocotte’s co-chef/owner, Kat LeSueur, sent me two $25 gift certificates for a blog contest so I’ve chosen a lucky number and that numbered commenter gets both gift certificates. This is what I’d like you to comment about here — what’s one of your favorite dishes to prepare solo at home when the days get shorter? When the weather gets cold a lot of times we tend to want to make big pots of stews and soups and braises — enough to feed a small army. What’s a smaller dish — just for you — that you love cook in the fall and winter?

2930 NE Killingsworth Street
Portland, Oregon 97211

Winner of Taste of the Nation Portland 2012 Tickets!

April 30th, 2012

Congratulations lucky number 6 commenter! Email me so we can set aside two tickets for you at will call!

You know who you are lucky #6 commenter! You’ve won yourself two tickets to this year’s Taste of the Nation next Tuesday, May 9th at Jeld-Wen Field. 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. Your two general admission tickets will be available the night of the event at will call. (Don’t worry if it takes me a few days to respond — I’m out of town for work and will be back mid-week.)

Thanks everyone for all of your tasty comments! I hope that some of these businesses come to fruition. If you build it they will come!

For those of you who didn’t win tickets there are still tickets available for this year’s 25th 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. Gotta feel good about that.

Thanks everyone!

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
Jeld-Wen Field
1844 SW Morrison St.
Portland, OR 97205
Tickets $85 and up (order by phone 877.26TASTE, online or at any New Seasons Market)

Cooking from Lucky Peach

March 26th, 2012

I decided to cook up this blackened bluefish recipe in the second issue of Lucky Peach...

I’ve been pretty loud and clear about my love of Lucky Peach magazine published by McSweeney’s. I wrote about it here in late November but at that point I had yet to cook from it. (We also hadn’t sealed the deal for the Toro Bravo Cookbook with McSweeney’s, fall 2013, at that point…) Now that I’ve cooked from it — and now that issue number three has hit the shelves — I’m putting photos of a couple of the things I’ve made here. That’s it. Oh, and go get yourself a copy if you don’t have it already. It really just keeps getting better and better.

I got the fixings together -- homemade miso mayo made with my year-plus old homemade miso, pickles, spicy chips and thinly sliced iceberg.

I blackened dover because that was what looked best at the market...

And then I put it all together in between buttered and broiled ciabatta. So fucking delicious. Cook this!

I made a custardy breakfast sandwich with the leftover blackening spices, miso mayo, iceberg and some cheddar on ciabatta.

The third and latest issue of Lucky Peach, on shelves now, has this story by Rachel Khong...

Including a recipe for this Two Minute Chocolate Mug Cake that I've made a couple times now. It's not so pretty but it is fun, quick and tasty.


The Parish: Q&A with Tobias Hogan and Ethan Powell

March 5th, 2012

Ethan Powell and Tobias Hogan are at it again -- their new Cajun/Creole restaurant The Parish is set to open this summer in The Pearl.

If you haven’t heard already these two fine looking fellows — co-owners of EaT Oyster Bar on North Williams — are set to open another Cajun/Creole restaurant in the Pearl this summer called The Parish in the space that used to house In Good Taste. According to a recent press release:

“The menu at The Parish blends urban New Orleans cuisine with the country-style Cajun cooking. Focusing on locally sourced ingredients, the menu will reach beyond seafood and oysters to local wild game birds, rabbit, and even a whole pig. The co-owners have strong ties to the oyster farmers in Oregon, CA and Washington and will continue to offer fresh raw oysters year-round with a shucking bar and a new retail oyster program. A section of the menu will include classic southern dishes that won’t change such as BBQ shrimp, Seafood gumbo, Shrimp Étouffée, and an assortment of po’boy sandwiches.”

Here’s what Tobias had to say to me recently about The Parish, which is set to open this summer…

Why the Pearl?

We like it because of it’s central location for the Metro area. We’ll have close proximity to the central business district providing access to business luncheons as well as after work meet-ups. We’re also excited about the opportunity to expose our concept to people who live on the west side of the city and the suburbs to the west who don’t generally head to the east side of the city.

So you’ll be selling oysters wholesale and retail?

We will have an oyster wholesale center to service downtown restaurant customers as well as a retail oyster basin up front to sell directly to the public.

What are a couple menu items that you’re really excited about?

Our Duck Confit Gumbo (served with a crispy Confit Leg on top) is really good, we’re also going to be doing some great hot apps and oysters off the grill that will be visible up front by the oyster bar.

Can you give me some details about the space?

It will have a large visible oyster bar with other fresh seafood available. There will be some nice booth seating and a nice big bar where we’ll have local wines on tap by the glass, several local beers on tap and serving some great cocktails from the pre-prohibition influence that Portland has become famous for. To reference this tradition we’re referring to the bar as Bar Vieux Carre or “The Old Quarter” or a common name for the French Quarter in NOLA. It’s also a Tennessee Williams play set in NOLA.

Will there be live music at The Parish?

We’re planning on having a classic Jazz Brunch on Saturday and Sundays maybe music will happen other nights, but we don’t have plans for that quite yet.

Number one thing that you’re looking forward to with the new restaurant?

Getting open and presenting the space to our city as a showcase Creole restaurant and oyster bar. We’ve been strong proponents of oysters for many years with EaT and before. We’re very excited to update the concept of an oyster bar using our Farm connections to showcase the best oysters from the NW and beyond.

The Parish (and Vieux Carre Bar) opening summer 2012
231 NW 11th Street, Portland, Oregon

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
LUXE Autohaus
410 NE 17th Ave.
Portland, OR 97232
Stay tuned for next year’s Taste of the Nation

Homemade Dim Sum

January 6th, 2011

Christmas shrimp serrano ginger shao mai.

We had a home on the range, quiet Christmas this year. It was just my boyfriend and I so we decided to cook up two of our favorite things — seafood and dim sum. For supplies we went to Uwajimaya in Beaverton. We filled the cart with shao mai ingredients, two Dungeness crabs (live when we chose them but killed and eviscerated before handed over the counter), a couple pounds of prawns, nice sake, Kirin Ichiban, and more.

On Christmas Eve for dinner we started with Dungeness in drawn butter mixed with a generous squeeze of lime. One of my favorite things in the world to eat. Then we set to making our traditional shao mai, skins and all, from the cookbook below. The next day we used the same techniques but changed the filling to mostly shrimp with lots of serrano, ginger and shitakes. Awesome.

I’ve had Mai Leung’s book for years and finally got around to using it. I love potstickers and have pretty much used the same Florence Lin recipe, and variations of it of course, for years. I’ve finally taken a bite out of this book now and I’m looking forward to trying other recipes. I love Leung’s stories peppered throughout. The illustrations are pretty great too. Here’s what we made. Happy New Year!

This is what we filled the shrimp/serrano/ginger shao mai with...

Our instructor...

Nice illustrations...

We also made these classic shao mai -- skins and all.

And steamed them up.

10500 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy.
Beaverton, Oregon

Kokanee Trout

July 19th, 2010

Kokanee trout before trimming and scaling.

I didn’t know what kokanee trout was until a few weeks ago when our neighbor brought over a frozen sack of it. I thanked him profusely and learned about the fish from him including the fact that it’s land-locked sockeye salmon. This neighbor is unbelievably kind to us — over the years gifting us everything from freshly hunted elk and venison steaks and wild game sausage to all sorts of line-caught local fish — mostly salmon and trout.

We’ve been really busy in recent weeks so I tucked the already frozen fish into the freezer — with plans to make it soon. (A few weeks later and they’re still in the freezer — soon!) Yesterday afternoon this neighbor’s son knocked on the door with another bag for us. This time filled with eight fresh, kokanee trout that they’d caught earlier in the day. They were beautiful looking fish and smelled delicious so I cooked them last night. We had company so I put five in the oven on the red cedar plank that my mom gave me.

My boyfriend trimmed and scaled the already gutted and headed trout and then I stuffed them with slightly sweet homemade garlic scape pesto (made with candied almonds) and thinly sliced lemon. Part-way through baking them for 25 minutes at 350 degrees I brushed the skin with some of the melted butter from the sauteed snap peas on the stove-top and then sprinkled some sea salt on them.

We served the fish with snap peas from the front yard sauteed in butter with fresh mint, slow cooked green beans with olive oil, tomatoes and lemon, some freshly baked kalamata loaf from DiPrima Dolci, and chilled homemade cherry wine. The fish was tender, juicy and delicious. It was similar to sockeye but more subtle in flavor and texture. I hate to use such a cliche but it truly melted in your mouth. The best meal I’ve had in months. Just perfect.

Kokanee trout stuffed with lemon and pesto and roasted on cedar.

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!

A Week Away…

June 24th, 2010

Food Lover’s Guide to Portland Book Launch Party Invite

A week from today on Thursday, July 1st, from 6-9pm at Fortune Tattoo I hope that you’ll join me in celebrating the launch of my book Food Lover’s Guide to Portland! It’s been a long time coming and I’m more than ready to celebrate with friends and fellow Portlanders. It’s First Thursday after all so if you’re hitting up the galleries head across the river for a bit and celebrate PDX food and drink.

((ATTENTION: My boyfriend, Tyler Adams, no longer co-owns Fortune Tattoo. Visit his North Portland shop — Grizzly Tattoo — which opened June, 2011! For more info. visit, 503.265.8146. Grrrrrrrizzly!))

If you scroll down on the invite above you’ll see some of the fine food and drink folks donating incredible stuff for the party. These are some of my favorite Portland people and I’m so happy that they’re helping me out in this way.

I’m also grateful to my boyfriend Tyler Adams and his business partner Ms. Mikki for hosting the party at their open-since-April-1st tattoo shop — Fortune Tattoo. THANK YOU guys! Toward the end of the night I’ll be giving away a prize to one lucky book buyer that involves needles and ink. I wonder what it is…

Food Lover’s Guide to Portland — Book Launch Party
Fortune Tattoo, 1716 East Burnside St., Portland, OR
Thursday, July 1st — 6-9pm
Food. Drink. Music. Books.

River’s Edge Smoked Salmon

March 29th, 2010

It doesn't get much more spring than this...

I got a really nice package on my doorstep a few weeks ago from a woman that I used to work with at The Alameda Cafe — Erika Simeon. I hadn’t spoken with her in years and since then it turns out that she and her dad have started a business smoking and selling the above — River’s Edge Smoked Salmon.

The past two and half years they’ve been perfecting this secret recipe smoked salmon and I was lucky enough to get samples of the King and Coho. The King was definitely my favorite because it was so moist and flavorful. The Coho — on the salt bagel above with cream cheese, capers, and scallions — was a bit drier but still really good.

According to Erika they use wild line caught Northwest salmon, organic brown sugar, and solar evaporated sea salt for the small batch alder smoked salmon.

We went to the coast last weekend and I brought along a couple packages of chevre, along with some fresh herbs clipped from the garden and some of last year’s garlic. I minced the herbs (oregano, mint, thyme, chives, sorrel) along with the garlic and whipped them into the chevre with a good amount of half and half. One of the tastiest things that we ate over the weekend was wamed and sliced Pearl Bakery baguette smeared with the garlic and herb chevre and topped with River’s Edge Smoked King Salmon along with a nice, dry French rose.

Although River’s Edge products aren’t available in local stores yet — I’ll let you know when they are — you can purchase the smoked salmon online. If you’re local email Erika at for free Portland area delivery.

Local smoked salmon at your service

River’s Edge Smoked Salmon