Mark Bittman at the James Beard Public Market Fundraiser in Portland January 22, 2015

January 23rd, 2015

Mr. Mark Bittman and me at the James Beard Public Market fundraiser dinner at Leftbank Annex.

I’m a very lucky lady. I got to be Mark Bittman’s date when he was in town for the James Beard Public Market fundraiser dinner at Leftbank Annex last night. Greg Higgins of Higgins Restaurant put together an incredible Pacific Northwest bounty meal comprised of recipes inspired by Mr. B’s latest book How to Cook Everything Fast which Higgins joked in his intro. to the event was probably “the longest book on fast cooking.” It’s a whopping 4+ pounds after all. (My favorite dishes that I’ve cooked from the book so far: miso glazed catfish with mushrooms, caramelized cod and Vietnamese-style fish sauce brussels. Mmmmm!)

The James Beard Public Market has been in the works now for nearly 15 years and it looks like we’ll finally have a market sooner than later. There have been all sorts of recent developments including the securing of the space at the west end of the Morrison bridge from the county for development, the partnership with the Norwegian design firm Snohetta to design it, the partnership with Bon Appetit Management Company to develop the teaching and demo. kitchens and on and on. In other words, things are moving right along now and gaining momentum. There are so many great local food folks involved including board secretary Janie Hibler, outreach and operations director Ann Forsthoefel, board members Lisa Sedlar and Greg Higgins and many, many more.

The dinner met the night’s fundraising goals and the highlight was Mr. Bittman’s inspiring speech which I uploaded here if you weren’t able to attend. The sound is pretty crappy but if you crank it up you can get most of it. There were a lot of bodies in the room and a lot of wine glasses if you know what I mean.

I’m really looking forward to one fine day when we have a large urban, indoor/outdoor year-round public market. I grew up in Cincinnati with Findlay Market and I really get how important these hubs can be to local culture. I want it! I want it now! Patience. It will soon be. Help make the James Beard Public Market dream a reality. Let’s do this thing.

Leftbank Annex all pretty for the event. Three Leg Torso playing on the stage just out of view of the photo to the right.

Mark and Bon Appetit Management Co. CEO and co-founder Fedele Bauccio before the dinner.

Super tasty menu from Greg Higgins.

EVERYONE left with a copy of Mark's How to Cook Everything Fast.

Mark giving his inspiring speech. Link to the audio is above.

Greg Higgins' yummy dessert.

Mark and James Beard Public Market executive director Ron Paul at the end of the night.

The happiest and luckiest person I know at the end of the night. Yep.

Learn more about the James Beard Public Market at www.jamesbeardmarket.com

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
$17.95

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.
www.portlandtaste.org

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
6:30-9pm
McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom
1332 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97205
Tickets $85 and up (order by phone 877.26TASTE or online)
www.strength.org/portland

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
6:30-9pm
McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom
1332 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97205
Tickets $85 and up (order by phone 877.26TASTE or online)
www.strength.org/portland

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?

Cocotte
2930 NE Killingsworth Street
Portland, Oregon 97211
503.227.2669
www.cocottepdx.com

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

Media & Stuff

March 14th, 2011

The only connection between this post and this photo is that I'm responsible for both. My dog Rubin (aka white wolf) has been known to eat spicy curries, Sriracha and other foods that most would not deem dog-worthy. He is a good eater.

Every once in awhile I like to do a roundup of media and goings on here. If nothing else, it helps me get a hold on things. Hopefully it’s a decent source of local food info. for you too.

Here are some stories that I’ve done lately and other various media thing-a-ma-gigs…

My writing:

Willamette Week’s annual Cheap Eats came out last week. I contributed several write-ups. Get a copy while you still can if you haven’t already.

Cooking Up a Story has been featuring a five-part series of interviews that I did with Food Fray author and GM food expert and molecular biologist Lisa Weasel. Today they published part three.

Former Saveur editor-in-cheif Colman Andrews’ new site The Daily Meal launched in late 2010 and they recently asked me to contribute a Word of Mouth about Portland restaurants.

Food Lover’s Guide to Portland Coverage:

Broadway Books put together this lovely blog post about local food books.

Coeur de La food blogger Caroline Dahlberg came to Portland recently and I had coffee with her and talked all things PDX edible.

Reading Local Portland posted about this local food book club. Sounds fantastic.

Hope you’re doing well. Thanks for reading!

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