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
6:30-9pm
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)
www.strength.org/portland

Young Winemakers of Oregon Event

December 12th, 2011

Young Winemakers of Oregon this Saturday...

Please consider checking out the second Young Winemakers of Oregon event this Saturday, December 17th from 5-8 pm at Red Slate Wine Co. (also known as Ambonnay Champagne Bar; next to Olympic Provisions) in Southeast Portland. It costs $10 to taste the nine wines featured and that fee is waived if you buy six or more bottles. Here are the details pretty much straight from the source…

Taste wines from these winemakers:

Division Winemaking Company– It started as an “itch” when Tom enrolled in an entry level sommelier course and when Kate visited her family home in the Loire Valley in central France. It has now evolved into a winery on Divison Street in Southeast Portland, the site of Tom and Kate’s first home together.

God King Slave Wines – At 24 and 27 years old, Christine Collier & Chris Jiron, have released their inaugural wine, a Syrah-Tempranillo blend from the Rogue Valley. Their mission is to “Create like a God. Command like a King. Work like a Slave.”

Brigadoon Wine Company– Having caught the winemaking bug at an early age, Matt Shown has been working in the vineyards since he was 8 years old. Matt will be showcasing the Pinot Noirs and Pinot Blanc his family is committed to making.

Saturday, December 17th
5-8pm
Red Slate Wine Co./Ambonnay Champagne Bar next door to Southeast’s Olympic Provisions
www.redslatewine.com
Portland, Oregon
$10 tasting fee for tastes of nine wines (waived with a 6 bottle purchase)
Facebook event page

Voodoo Vintners & Montinore Estate

November 7th, 2011

My friend Karen checking out the cow horn stuffed with *@#! at Montinore Estate.

In early September I was lucky enough to be invited to one of the Hardy Plant Society’s Kitchen Gardening Group outings. I’ve been to other events with this group and they’re great. You might remember this talk all about grapes that I went to last spring.

For September’s outing we met at Montinore Estate vineyard and winery just outside of Forest Grove. We waited in the vineyard parking lot — it was a beautiful day — until everyone arrived and then moved into the tasting room where we met Montinore owner and vintner Rudy Marchesi and his wife Susan Fichter. Lucky for us they took us on a tour of the 230+ acre vineyard that Rudy’s owned since 2005. (He owns 30+ additional acres at other area farms.) Here’s a great article in The Oregonian all about Rudy and Susan’s passion for food and drink.

Check out Katherine Cole’s book that came out this summer that features Montinore Estate — Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers — if you haven’t already. I wrote about Cole’s book and some of her upcoming book events and wine tastings in last week’s Willamette Week.

During the Montinore tour Rudy taught us all about biodynamic farming and it was inspiring. I worked on a biodynamic farm in Spain for several months in 1996 through WWOOF and it was a trip down memory lane for me listening to him describe and sometimes demonstrate various biodynamic practices.

On biodynamic farms cow horns, such as the one above, are packed every year with cow manure, buried and overwintered until the spring when they’re dug up and mixed with water in a vessel shaped like a pregnant woman’s belly. I got the job of stirring that shit so to speak and then applying it to the fields of the culinary herb farm that I worked on. Biodynamic practices are very unique and from my limited experience they seem to work.

Rudy Marchesi of Montinore Estate talking with the Hardy Plant Society's Kitchen Gardening Group about biodynamic farming.

The group taking in the scenery and learning the history of Montinore Estate.

Where water turns into wine at Montinore...

It wouldn't be a wine tour without a tasting in Montinore Estate's beautiful tasting room.

I learned a lot during this tour including:

The name Montinore comes from the original ranch owner who was from Montana before he moved to Oregon. Get it? Mont-in-Ore.

Because of all the moisture this growing season mold and mildew have been a constant struggle in vineyards. It’s been a challenging and expensive season.

Rudolf Steiner was a rad dude. He’s the grandfather of biodynamic agriculture as well as Waldorf education.

The reason Rudy got into biodynamic practices…phylloxera. An area of the vineyard was destroyed quickly by this pest so Rudy reevaluated growing practices and in 2001 (before he owned the vineyard) stopped all use of herbicides.

In 2003, Rudy took a biodynamic course in New York while still farming back east and in 2005 he bought Montinore Estate. In 2008 it was certified as biodynamic.

There are 25 or so biodynamic vineyards in Oregon but only seven are certified.

Hardy Plant Society Oregon
www.hardyplantsociety.org

Montinore Estate
3663 SW Dilley Road
Forest Grove, Oregon
503.359.5012 ext 3
Open daily 11am-5pm
www.montinore.com

Buy Katherine Cole’s book Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers
Read my review of Voodoo Vintners in Willamette Week

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

Portland Italian Food Panel @ Elephants Delicatessen Tuesday Night

January 10th, 2011

Darryl Joannides owner of Cork: A Bottle Shop will talk about Italy to Portland wines at Mangia, Mangia!

A few months back Jesse Locker of the Portland Bologna Sister City Association (PBSCA) asked me to be a part of PBSCA’s January Know Bo event at Elephants Delicatessen. I was honored and now here it is mid-January and the event is tomorrow night.

I’ll be hosting the Mangia, Mangia! panel for PBSCA’s monthly Know Bo tomorrow night at Elephants on NW 22nd Ave. from 6-8pm. The event is free and open to the public. There will be minimal food/drink samples but plenty for purchase to eat/drink during from Elephants Delicatessen. I’m the event moderator so I’ll strive to sound smarter than I am about Italian food while asking local experts about everything from red sauce to Italian ristretto style espresso.

Joining me on this Italian food folk panel will be folks featured in my book Food Lover’s Guide to Portland — Cathy Whims of Nostrana, Andrea Spella of Spella Caffe, Patricia DiPrima LeConche of DiPrima Dolci Bakery and Darryl Joannides of Cork: A Bottle Shop. I’m really looking forward to it. The more the merrier. Come on out and mangia, mangia with us.

Andrea Spella will talk all things Italia coffee at Mangia, Mangia! Tuesday night.

Portland Bologna Sister City Association (PBSCA) January Know Bo Mangia, Mangia!:
A food panel about Portland/Italian food hosted by me
@ Elephants Delicatessen
115 NW 22nd Ave., Portland
Tuesday, January 11th 6-8pm
Free and open to the public

www.elephantsdeli.com
Facebook Mangia, Mangia! event page

Homemade Cherry Wine Pt. 2

July 22nd, 2010

One glass of chilled homemade cherry wine on the house.

Last summer was a big year for my friend Craig’s backyard cherry trees. He has two trees — each three maybe four years old — and last year was the first year that they went off. The boughs were loaded with Black Tartarian and Rainier cherries. So heavy, in fact, that we decided to use three gallons worth for some old fashioned homemade cherry wine. Neither of us had made it before and we decided to use Sandor Ellix Katz’s basic fruit wine recipe from his book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods.

A year later, as in just last week, we siphoned the five gallons into 20-plus wine bottles. And into our mouths. It’s delicious! We couldn’t be happier with it. We first drank it at room temperature and it was great. (We had an impromptu bottling party and clinked glasses on the front porch.) Once we chilled it, though, is when the real magic happened. I think the best way to describe our cherry wine is as a nice, nuanced pinot noir fortified with the flavor but not the weight of a tawny port. It’s not too alcoholic — I’m guessing 11 percent — typical for wine — but it does sneak up on you. That might have to do with the fact that it’s hard to stop drinking…

If you want to read about how we made it check out my post from last summer — Homemade Cherry Wine Pt. 1.

Ten bottles of cherry wine for us and ten for our friend Craig.

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!

The Cheese Bar Spectacular — Monday, June 21st 6-9pm!

June 17th, 2010

Why I wake up in the morning...

I don’t think that the fact that I LOVE cheese is a secret to anyone who reads this blog. The thought of a cheese-less existence sends shivers down my back. It would be a bleak, cold, tasteless world were there no cheese in it.

Next Monday night Portland’s cheese haven, Cheese Bar, is hosting a rare, wonderful cheese event. From 6-9pm at Steve Jones’ Cheese Bar you can try 101 of Steve’s favorite cheeses. I did not mistype. That is 101. No, not 10.

Steve has partnered up with Adam Berger of Ten 01 to host this awesome event. Along with 101 of Steve’s favorite cheeses you can saddle up with wine selections from Ten 01’s sommelier Jeff Groh, cocktails by Kelley Swenson, and local beers on tap.

Tickets are $39 in advance or $49 at the door and include all the cheese you can taste, two drink tickets for draft beer or wine by the glass, and a $5 voucher for Cheese Bar. There be six wines at $5/glass and local draft beer at $3/glass.

Get your ticket while you still can because they’re going fast at www.brownpapertickets.com. If you want a more exclusive experience, 50 VIP tickets at $59 a pop are available. That gets you a 5-6pm more intimate tasting with sparkling wine and champagne.

If you want to read more about Cheese Bar check this out.

Eat cheese!

Cheese Bar
6031 SE Belmont St.
503.222.6014
www.cheese-bar.com
Tuesday-Sunday 11am-11pm

Taste of the Nation Portland — Spring 2010

May 3rd, 2010

Nuestra Cocina rocked this year's Taste of the Nation...

Last week I got to attend my first Taste of the Nation here in Portland and I’ve been daydreaming about it ever since. I wrote about it on the blog a few times leading up to it because I was given two free tickets to give away in order to promote the 100% charitable event. Every bit of the proceeds from Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation go to local hunger relief agencies. How amazing is that?

When you hand in your ticket at the door — the event was at Luxe Autohaus on Northeast 17th — you get a little clear plastic food tray and wine glass to eat and drink from for the duration of the evening. I saw more than one person grabbing napkins to clean up their saucy trays as the night went on. I did once too when I didn’t have any bread to sop up one too many romescos.

I took a bunch of photos of food that I sampled during the three — yes three — hours of eating and drinking. (At least you walked a bit of it off while circling the tables.) There were 50 restaurants, 20 wineries and 5 breweries sampling food and drink. Mostly I drank pinot blanc, viognier and pinot noir from all sorts of local vineyards including Anne Amie Vineyards, Apolloni Vineyards, Lange Estate Winery and more. They poured tasters and sometimes when white followed red I’d have a blushed white.

In addition to incredible food and drink from Portland’s finest — and beyond PDX — there was live music, a silent auction, and even a magician although I never saw him. Maybe he had on his invisible cloak.

Here are some of the really good things I tried…

Nuestra Cocina's housemade tortillas...

Their chicarrones with salsa verde...

Don't touch my Nuestra Cocina barbacoa taco...

Firehouse rocked it too with meatballs and lamb sausage...

As did Autentica with its bay scallops on tortillas with green chile sauce...

It wasn't just memorable because it was one of the last things I ate at Taste. Bluehour's smoked pork sausage with frissee was awesome.

Tyler's favorite at Taste of the Nation from Jory at the Allison -- crispy pork belly, pickled ramps and truffle apple salad.

Get a little closer...


Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation
www.shareourstrength.org/portland

Say Cheese: Last Day for Steve’s Cheese Feb. 21st, Sneak Peak at Cheese Bar to Open Mid-March

February 8th, 2010
One door closes and another opens -- Steve Jones will still have his hand in cheese at Cheese Bar on SE Belmont St. and 60th Ave.

One door closes and another opens -- Steve Jones will still have his hand in cheese at Cheese Bar on SE Belmont St. and 60th Ave.

Only the good die young…

but only the great rise again like the phoenix.

Sorry for the cliche overload but it’s hard not to wax poetic when discussing Steve Jones’ still-open-but-not-for-long Steve’s Cheese on NW Thurman and his newest venture Cheese Bar due to open mid-March at 60th and SE Belmont.

I spoke with Steve late last week and here’s the scoop…

How would you describe Cheese Bar?

Cheese Bar is a cross between an old world delicatessen and a tabac.

What’s a tabac?

In France and Italy both there are these things called tabacs and they’re on almost every corner. It’s where old men come in in the morning and buy their tobacco — although we obviously won’t be selling tobacco — and then they’ll stand and have a glass of espresso and maybe a croissant. And then in the evening they’ll come back and have a glass of grappa and piece of cheese or something.

I’ve always really liked the social aspect of them. People coming in and out — and quite often they’re in and out in twenty minutes. It’s really the only fast option you have in Europe — everything else takes forever. So it’s kind of cool you can get a little bite or boost and keep on moving. That’s kind of been my intention with this. If people want to linger they can but Cheese Bar is more for when you’re on your way home and you stop and have a glass of beer and a piece of cheese, or a glass of wine and a small bite.

Other differences between Steve’s Cheese and Cheese Bar?

I keep telling everyone [Cheese Bar is] everything you’ve got now [Steve’s Cheese] and more. We’ll still carry everything including all the meat and cheese but you’ll also be able to have a beer while your shopping. That’s, you know, my dream moment. To get a beer and then shop for cheese. I mean, hell yeah, that’s perfect.

I think if we’ve got a really long line I’m just going to grab a pitcher of beer and just pour everyone a little glass and say, “Here, have a beer.” I used to shop at an old meat shop in St. Louis and no matter what time of day you’d walk in they’d ask — “Want a bavarian beer?” It’s 9:30 in the morning and they’d be offering you a beer…”

Same killer cheese selection at Steve Jones' Cheese Bar plus beer and then some

Same killer cheese selection at Cheese Bar plus beer and then some

Other things I learned about Cheese Bar:

The small menu will be stocked with sandwiches, soups, salads (such as garbanzo, tuna, and red pepper) snacks (sardines on toast), and hot plates ranging from $2-$10.

Cheese Bar will have the same rocking cheese selection (available in-house or to-go) as Steve’s Cheese as well as all the other retail food and drink products such as vinegars, pastas, pickles and more.

There will be in-house beer, wine, and beer and wine cocktails. Curious about the latter — we shall see.

And the look and feel? Lots of reclaimed wood and reused materials, four tables, two small bars (one standing bar, the other with stools), and a warm color scheme with lots of reds and browns.

I know where I’ll be come mid-March.

Cheese Bar
opens mid-March
503.222.6014
6031 SE Belmont St.
10am-11pm Tue.-Sun.