Sunday, October 4, 2015

Portland Oregon

Giovanna samples my pasta e ceci at Burrasca (Sept. 30, 2015)
Eastside Road, October 3, 2015—
YES, IT IS TRUE, I have been away from the blogs for a long time. We returned from a nine-day car trip yesterday; we'd driven to Portland and Seattle. You can be sure we dined from time to time; here's a concise report:

September 23, 2015: Dinner at the country home, outside Healdsburg, of friends who raise market vegetables to sell at the Farm Market — including the lettuces we particularly like. Mary made cannoli, rich and creamy and quite delicious, and we managed a few bottles of white and red.

September 24, 2015: The long drive (say eleven hours) to Portland left us too tired to give proper attention to dinner.

September 25, 2015: Dinner with friends and family at a restaurant new to us. The menu was fabulous, offering things like seared foie gras, duck confit, roasted marrow bones, mussels and frites, and steak tartare; but I ordered unwisely, seduced by a daily special too complicated to recall but involving a Scotch Egg, frisée, and grilled pork loin, garnished with tangerine sections, hazelnuts, and pesto.
Scotch egg, pork loin at Little Bird

There were really too many textures, colors, and flavors here for a single course; spread out across a meal it would have been quite fine. Oh well: think, Charles, before you order.
• Little Bird, 219 SW 6th Street, Portland; 503.688.5952
And afterward, coffee at my favorite place in Portland for coffee, where the carefully chosen coffees are roasted perfectly, aged properly, and brewed with great attentiveness. Whether taking an espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, or caffé latte, I have always been impressed.
• Courier Coffee, 923 SW Oak Street, Portland

September 26, 2015: Fish soup at home. Our son had given us several pounds of rockfish he and his son had caught off the Mendocino coast, and all hands set to to turn it into Ciuppin, from Coleman Andrews's cookbook The Country Cooking of Italy :
Make a soffrito of onions, adding chopped celery and carrot when the onions have cooked to transparency
Chop peeled and seeded tomatoes and add them with chopped parsley and a glass or two of white wine
After this has cooked a while, add the fish and cook until tender
When finished, put through a food mill, adjust the seasoning, and serve over toasted bread
With this, a decent white.

I don't recall how we dined on Sunday, a special day for its promised lunar eclipse. The next day, though, September 28, we drove up to Seattle to have lunch with an old friend contenting ourselves with fish and chips and a bottle of white. The restaurant has a routine fish-house menu but the tables are well separated, the service good, and the view out over the bay toward Bainbridge Island is marvelous; and it's hard to go far wrong with fish and chips.
Albariño, Idilico (Yakima Valley), 2014: clean, fresh, good flavor
• Ray’s Boathouse 6049 Seaview Ave. NW Seattle 206.782.0034, address; tel.

Vindaloo at Bollywood
September 29, 2015: We visited yet another bakery, Little T, where we were again impressed with the range of fine gluten shops in Portland — some day I'll make a serious post on the subject, but this isn't that day. For dinner, on the other hand, we returned to a known quantity where I treated my days-old head cold with just the right medicine: a very spicy pork vindaloo, served swimming in a pungent sauce, garnished with cilantro, and served with generously ghee-buttered rolls.
A pint of pale ale
• Bollywood, 3010 SE Division Street, Portland; 503.477.6699

Our last day in Portland, September 30, found us in what proved to be my favorite restaurant of this trip, new to us, a Tuscan eatery that began as a food truck and is now installed in comfortable, rather elegant quarters, with pleasant outside tables (see the photo at the top of this post). I ordered boldly, all in Tuscan: Arista, pasta e ceci, patate contadina, cavolonero.

The roast pork was perfectly authentic porchetta, generously rubbed with sage, salt, and pepper to provide a rich crust; nicely roasted to preserve moistness, sliced and sprinkled further with herbs, and on the side cannellini in a simple broth. I couldn't have been happier with the pasta e ceci, and the kale and potatoes all had a deep, comforting savor of pork — this place is definitely not Kosher.

I'd taken along a bottle of wine found in a local wine shop, pleased to find something from a favorite Sicilian producer famous for artisanal techniques involving terra cotta. The wine list at this restaurant is interesting, but sticks to Tuscany.
Nero d'Avola, Cos, Terre Siciliane, 2012: deep, rich, long finish, ripe and fruity
• Burrasca, 2032 SE Clinton Street, Portland; 503.236.7791

Canalé at Courier Coffee
Thursday, October 1, we started the drive home at noon, after stopping one last time at Courier for a pound of coffee beans, a last latte, and some of those delicious canalés. I love the canalés at Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland; the ones at Downtown Bakery and Creamery in Healdsburg, and we've had good ones at other places too. But no one does them better than Courier. The crust is perfect, dark, crisp, and sweet; and the interior is creamy and rich. It is an amazing thing.

A couple of hours later we broke for lunch in a bistro we really like in Eugene. I ordered steak-frites , knowing there wouldn't be much to choose from at dinnertime. The dish was utterly authentic, the steak signant and dotted with thyme butter, the frites crisp and clean-tasting.
Rhone, Domaine la Pequelette, ?2014
• Café Marché, 296 E. 5th Avenue, Eugene; 541.342.3612
In the evening, a faux-Caesar salad, innocent of anchovy or raw egg, was about all we wanted.
Sauvignon blanc, Chile
• Porters, 147 N Front St Medford 541.857.1910

Arista.jpg steakfrites.jpg sardine sandwich.jpg
Arista at Burrasca
Steak-frites at Marché
Sardine sandwich at home
We were home Friday, October 2, in time for a Martini. But what to do for dinner? Our favorite bakery was out of bread by the time we got there, and we had to make do with hamburger buns. I know: how about a sardine sandwich? Cook hard-boiled a couple of eggs, washed a few leaves of lettuce, and opened a can: on a buttered hamburger bun, the result was delicious.

roast chicken.jpgTHIS BRINGS US DOWN to tonight. We went into town to the Farm Market this morning, and bought tomatoes to put up tomorrow or next day, a bunch of radishes, Middleton Gardens's delicious lima beans, a couple of ears of corn, Franco Dunn's sausage of course — and a three-pound chicken. Haven't had chicken in months: not at home, anyway. I asked what breed of bird it was: "Freedom Ranger," the young lady replied. What, do they vote Republican?

Cook roasted it simply, letting it provide its own juice, with only a bit of salt to bring out the flavor. It was first-rate.

Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

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