I’m all for Christmas gifts that you can pluck from under the tree, shake, sniff, squeeze, painstakingly open and then reseal, etc., but experience gifts are great too, and you’ll never catch anybody opening them a week early at 2am, ostensibly under the influence of boozy eggnog. So here’s one for the Experience Gift list—Departure’s December-only holiday Peking duck extravaganza.
Michelle and I had an extra hour or so last night before our reservation (definitely make a reservation, and specifically request the duck because there are a limited amount and they sell out), so we plopped down at the bar at always-festive Oregon Wines On Broadway and did what we do best.
At 7, we made our way into a very bustling Departure, ordered more sparkly because ‘tis the season, and waited for our duck to arrive. Just like the theater, except way tastier and nobody locks you out until intermission if you have to go to the bathroom mid-show, this dinner has several gripping acts.
For the first act, they bring the whole duck to the table in all its glossy mahogany glory, so you can oooh and aaah, and they’re very nice about it when you need to schlep the duck to a table across the room with better light to take pictures of it to post on Instagram.
In case you’re wondering what it takes to make a duck this dazzling, here’s the official explanation:
“[Awesome] Chef [Gregory] Gourdet begins by curing the duck overnight in 7 spice (cinnamon, star anise, allspice, coriander, clove, nutmeg, fennel and chili), salt and sugar. The duck is then dipped in a blanching liquid of rice wine, honey, salt and more 7 spice. Each duck is then hung for 24 hours to dry the skin and concentrate the flavor. Finally, the duck is roasted for an hour and flash fried to order achieving a perfect balance of plump, savory, tender meat and crispy skin.” So you know, just like you make duck at home, or maybe not.
Post whole-duck-ogling, they whisk your beautiful bird away and the next time you see it, about 10 minutes later, it looks like this—neatly carved, sprinkled with cilantro, and dotted with candied kumquats, which I would order by the bowl if I could, because they are amazing. The duck’s accompanied by housemade plum and hoisin sauce, cucumber spears and scallions, and a bamboo steamer full of Mandarin pancakes.
And like you weren’t boggled enough, a few minutes later, this arrives. The kitchen takes the delicious bits left on your duck post-carving, and makes them into a duck fat fried rice. Gah!
All of this is $85, and the duck would comfortably feed three, but there were only two of us, so we had to be rolled into the elevator afterwards, clutching little doggie bags containing just enough leftover duck for breakfast. But even before we left the table, Michelle had made another reservation for razzle dazzle duck round two, because when you find a really great experience gift, sometimes you want to give it to yourself twice.
Departure * 525 SW Morrison * 503-802-5370 * Reservations