Posts for December, 2011
December 23, 2011
New Year’s Eve is a night of over-the-top indulgences–donning your new $3,0oo crystal-smothered Christmas Louboutins, kissing strangers, riding around town in a stretch Escalade, kissing strangers, and dancing all night at the Crystal Ballroom until someone in your party passes out on the dance floor and you all get kicked out. Did I mention kissing strangers?
But none of that holds a soy candle to the real reason New Year’s Eve was invented: to give you an excuse to eat an appallingly decadent NYE dinner. ‘Tis the one night a year when Portland restaurants can gild their menus with wild abandon, writing caviar, foie gras, lobster, truffle and champagne as many times as they want without anybody so much as batting a pearl-studded mink fur eyelash.
How do you wade through this sea of culinary bling and pick the perfect menu to help you ring in the new year right? I don’t know! I stay home on New Year’s Eve like a sensible person, following a simple annual routine: don my pink bunnysuit pjs, light a few sparklers, eat an entire See’s Candy Gift of Elegance box, drink too much Champagne, and watch Love Actually three times in a row. But I will help you make this weighty decision, and here is how: I’ve gone through my vat of NYE dinners press releases and assembled a simple profile for each one. All you have to do is scan the list, and when you’re finished, whichever offering resonated the most with your stomach is your last-meal-of-2011 soul mate. Easy, right?! Okay, let’s do this.
(Note: In the interest of keeping this post slightly shorter than Santa’s naughty list, if a menu had multiple choices per course, I picked a particularly tempting one to represent. Website links are included so you can peruse each restaurant’s info at your leisure.) Read full story »
December 21, 2011
And so continues All I Want For Christmas, where I scour the town looking for cool food-related presents that secretly, I would really like to get, but that I’m also pretty sure you and yours would love too.
I’ve been a little behind on posting gift ideas for All I Want For Christmas, mostly because I fell down a rabbit hole. Just kidding, but that is sort of what this holiday season has felt like. I have been saving up ideas though, so let’s play catch up.
Be your culinary vice whiskey, wine, beer, coffee, cheese or cigars, take notes on your favorite finds in these easy-to-tote Scout Books formulated by BS Brewing‘s Dave Selden. Billed as “a pocket-sized companion and memory aid,” the index card-sized journals come equipped with features like flavor wheels, color meters, and space for your undoubtedly brilliant tasting notes. The wine books even have wine mixed into the ink for extra authenticity. Find them at fashionable retailers around Portland, or buy them at 33beers.com–booklets are $4 a piece, or for $20 you can get all six.
December 16, 2011
I’m going to risk seasonal sacrilegy here, but I’ve never been a huge fan of eggnog in its purest, straight-from-the-carton form. I’ve nothing against nutmeg-enhanced eggmilk but there’s something about the thick, cloying texture that reminds me of the fateful time I accepted a dare to drink a pint of buttermilk. Fortunately, this time of year, eggnog manifests itself in all sorts of delicious and novel ways, delivering the best of its festive flavor without taunting one’s gag reflex. Here are five ambrosial incarnations I’ve found around town this week:
This perpetually-busy Nob Hill boulangerie specializes in sweet Gallic holiday extravagances like hazelnut caramel Bûche de Noël and almond cream-stuffed king cake, but their freshly-baked eggnog bread pudding is a winter pastryscape at its best–stare at it long enough and you’ll see craggy croissant cliffs towering over eggnog custard valleys, and streams of caramel sauce trickling between snowy confectioner’s sugar-sprinkled brioche mountaintops. Or, if you’re a less fanciful/hallucinatory type, you’ll just see one heck of a December breakfast. Owner/master baker Dominique Geulin created the Eggnog Pudding in the likeness of his popular Normandy Apple Toast, a French-style bread pudding built with brioche and croissant instead of regular bread. Gripped by the holiday spirit, he drowned the pudding in spiced rum-spiked eggnog custard, drizzled it with housemade caramel and added a dusting of sugar. Ooo-la-la!
December 12, 2011
Today is Day Five of my holiday blogathon, entitled All I Want For Christmas. This is where I scour the town looking for cool food-related presents that secretly, I would really like to get, but that I’m also pretty sure you and yours would love too. If you missed previous installments, click here.
According to the Good Book, the reason for the season is newborn Jesus, but yesterday at the Olio Nuovo Class led by Nostrana chef Cathy Whims and olive oil sommelier Jeff Bergman, it came to my attention that newborn olive oil holds a special place in December’s heart as well. Read full story »
December 9, 2011
Soon, the classic accoutrements of Christmas carol lore will fill your homes–lords a leaping all over your custom hopscotch court, amorous swans a swimming in your hot tub, partridges Occupying Your Pear Trees. Thusly, you’ll have your hands full placating litigous lords moaning about sprained ankles, knitting booties for baby swans, and scrubbing partridge poop off your pears so you can slice them up for last week’s Pear Prosecco Cocktail, but please consider taking time for one more Christmas distraction–12 Faces a Stuffing, your chance to win a copy of Portland’s 100 Best Places To Stuff Your Faces each day for the dozen days leading up to Christmas.
See, yesterday, Wieden + Kennedy graciously permitted Mette and I to set up a table in their atrium to sell Best Places To Stuff Your Faces to hungry brilliant advertising people. As part of our display, we shared Swedish fish with everyone, and held a Win A Book & The Leftover Swedish Fish! contest.
December 8, 2011
Today is Day Four of my holiday blogathon, entitled All I Want For Christmas. This is where I scour the town looking for cool food-related presents that secretly, I would really like to get, but that I’m also pretty sure you and yours would love too. If you missed previous installments, click here.
Everyone has a different relationship with soap. Some people believe that soap should perform a very basic function, that is, preventing Smelly Guy/Girl Syndrome. Some people believe that soap should be used as a decorative element, and should come in interesting shapes, emit beguiling perfumes, or have weird Goldschlager-esque flakes or scrubby specks in it. Some people use soap as a status symbol, making sure that their eight guest bathrooms, four kitchen sinks, yacht bar, and stretch Escalade’s cupholders all sport full dispensers (labels out!) of Molton Brown myrrh muske & cypress at all times. Personally, I believe that soap should look and smell like food.
Thanks to Janell Anderson‘s pretty little Portland-made Prunella soaps, which come in almost-edible blends like pink grapefruit & oatmeal, blood orange & ginger, cinnamon & coffee bean, and peppermint poppyseed, washing your hands before dinner becomes a sudsy little amuse bouche. (No really–they are organic and vegan and smell so good you’ll probably end up tasting them.) Read full story »
December 7, 2011
Today is Day Three of my holiday blogathon, entitled All I Want For Christmas. This is where I scour the town looking for cool food-related presents that secretly, I would really like to get, but that I’m also pretty sure you and yours would love too. If you missed yesterday’s installment, click here. (When you’re sitting pretty in your Doomsday Bunker, enjoying the prestige that comes with being your clan’s head marmalade maker, you’ll thank me.)
Today, you get a threesome, and there is chocolate involved. Oh boy! Before you get too excited, pervo, this threesome is a trio of a few of my favorite local chocolate purveyors–Alma Chocolate, Cacao, and Bees & Beans. And frankly, if those three made up the entirety of your holiday shopping destinations, you’d be fine. More than fine. You’d be a Hero.
I am going to pause right here to tell you a relatively pathetic little story. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, I was born into Jehovah’s Witnessdom. Among other things, this meant we didn’t celebrate Christmas. One year, when I grew old enough to understand what a stinky raw deal the whole getting no presents thing was, I saved my allowance, and a few weeks before Christmas, I bought a giant Hershey bar at the drugstore. You know, the one pound version. Back then, that was my version of heaven.
I snuck it home, wrapped it in some free holiday wrapping paper samples I’d found somewhere, tied a ribbon around it, and hid it in the back of my closet. It was an absolutely breathtaking secret, and about 25 times that day, I made sure the perimeter was secure, then crept into my closet, examined my prize and re-hid it. I couldn’t wait to open my secret gift on Christmas, like everyone else. I wish this story had a happy ending but it doesn’t. Even back then I wasn’t overburdened with self control, so I ended up unwrapping and eating my entire Precious that night, then shortly thereafter throwing up. Because a pound of Hershey’s chocolate isn’t an 8-year-old’s digestive system’s best friend.
The point of this story is that in spite of my holiday ignorance, I’d figured out early on that chocolate is the gold standard of Christmas presents, and now that I no longer celebrate the holidays in hiding, there’s nothing finer to be found in a stocking or hidden in the branches of a chocolate-dipped Noble Fir. (Call me an overcompensator, if you will.) Here are a few excellent local specimens. Read full story »
December 5, 2011
Today is Day Two of my holiday blogathon, entitled All I Want For Christmas. This is where I scour the town looking for cool food-related presents that secretly, I would really like to get, but that I’m also pretty sure you and yours would love too. If you missed Friday’s inaugural installment, “All I Want For Christmas Is A Few Good Dates,” click here.
For today’s “All I Want For Christmas,” I implore you to give someone the gift of knowledge. Not just any old quickly-scanned-and-forgotten knowledge, that’s what wiki is for, but more specifically, Do It Yourself Knowledge from Sellwood’s Portland Homestead Supply Co, bona fide den of delectable DIY endowments.
See, besides a quick scan of US Weekly while in line at New Seasons to buy chocolate, Champagne and pomegranates (the three major winter food groups), I try to ignore any source of current world news, but sometimes a snippet or two sneaks in from a stray NPR radiowave and from what I’ve gathered, the world is basically going to heck in a handbasket. Since we are all probably going to end up living in bunkers or caves or crude shelters in the scary end of Forest Park, it would be wise to learn some basic DIY skills. Because if a person possesses valuable talents like the ability to make sausage, cheese, beer, marmalade, and dog food (see below), I think it’s safe to say they will have their pick of the bunker tribes litter, or at the very least, be less likely to be eaten.
Not only can you find all the materials and equipment you’ll need to perfect these socially-elevating skills at Portland Homestead Supply Co, you can also obtain personalized instruction in potentially-profitable and life-enhancing/saving pursuits such as canning, chicken butchering, and backyard farming. I’ve posted their January class lineup below, and they fill up fast so I suggest you secure spots in them immediately, as a thoughtful Christmas gift to your friends and family members who a)could use a fun educational experience that teaches them something new and valuable, or b)possess very few skills that will be useful to a bunker tribe and are thus most likely to be eaten during the post-apolcalypse. Merry Christmas!
December 2, 2011
Happy December! Not to be a downer or anything, but in case you haven’t heard, there is no Santa Claus, which means you and you alone have a rapidly dwindling window of time in which to buy presents for everyone in your life who expects a present from you 24 days from now.
That said, welcome to Day One of my holiday blogathon, entitled All I Want For Christmas. This is where I scour the town looking for cool food-related presents that secretly, I would really like to get. Which means you and yours would want them too, because I have great taste, except when it comes to reality television, paperbacks, and dates. Just kidding…about the dates, I actually have amazing dates, thanks to the 2012 Portland Chefs Calendar.
This Christmas, you can give your food-loving pals the gift of good dates too. A whole year of them, in fact. Silver Moss Productions’ “The Tastemakers: Portland Chefs Calendar 2012” gives us a daily reminder that life is short, so why aren’t we eating out more? The calendar has 12 beautiful full-color photographs shot by none other than the magnificent Mr. David Reamer, who deftly captures the spirit of a dozen of Portland’s finest kitchen elves–Naomi Pomeroy, Gabe Rucker, Andy Ricker, Kristen Murray, Nong Poonsukwattana and John Gorham, to name a few. A portion of the proceeds from each calendar goes to the Oregon Food Bank, which is a very nice perk, especially this time of year.
PS: If you want to meet a few of the Tastemakers in person, get your ticket to this Monday’s StarChefs 2011 Rising Stars Awards Gala at the Nines Hotel. Not only will you get to meet them, but Naomi Pomeroy, Gabe Rucker, Kristen Murray and a whole host of other local chefs are going to cook for you too. Now that’s a good date.
December 2, 2011
December is not just National Shop Til You Drop Month and National Drink Too Much Punch Month and National Scramble Around Like a Madperson Month, it’s also National Pear Month. And in honor of National Pear Month, the Pear Bureau Northwest (yes, there’s a pear bureau, and you’ll want stay on its good side, hmm?) held an exquisite four-course pear lunch at Castagna today, complete with interesting pear facts, pear tips, and a delicious and ridiculously easy-to-make pear cocktail recipe from Castagna sommelier Jack Hott.
A meal at Castagna is always interesting, and today’s lunch was no exception. The first course was interactive–we were first presented with a jet black bowl cradling an arresting salad consisting of a creamy dollop of yogurt beneath cubes of Comice pear, sprigs of fresh tarragon and dill, and fennel seeds. We were then handed a translucent pouch of housemade granola enveloped in dehydrated pear, and told to tear open the packet and crumble the whole affair over the salad. So we did.