Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Oregon

It was a blissful afternoon of shopping in Portland. Alder & Co., Canoe, Flora, Hive and Woonwinkel were a modern collection of stores with curated homeware, jewellery, artworks and furniture. The contemporary aesthetics and stylish designs were stimulating! We re-caffeinated at Caffe Allora and joined the queue at Ken’s Artisan Pizza for dinner.

We were seemingly banished to wait at the back of the restaurant in the Bermuda Triangle of the dishwashing nook, an iron rack of logs for the wood fire oven and the bathrooms. I was surprised by a sprig of eucalyptus flower, leaves and gumnut at our table. I admired the vibrant hue as we sipped wine and whiled away two hours.

The wood fire oven is at the front of the restaurant where all the pizzas were made.

Paola‘s family serendipitously arrived as we were seated. It was nearly nine o’clock on a Friday night and Ken’s was buzzing.

Myra recommended the wood oven roasted vegetable plate. We ordered quickly as we were hungry and two of us were returning to Seattle afterwards. Clockwise from top right: carrots, chard, porcini and Asiago Vecchio; white runner beans, artichokes and tomato sauce; and polenta, kale, red pepper, almonds and chilli sauce. Tender and mellow, it was a requisite serving of vegetables.

We shared three pizzas. Ken’s crust was puffed and charred, a chewy dough that was sturdy support for the pizza toppings. The fennel sausage, onion, tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and hot Calabrian chilli pizza was spicy and bold.

I’m ambivalent to bacon but the guanciale pizza was a crispy homage to cured meat.

Last was my beloved prosciutto with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Generous ruffles of prosciutto di San Daniele were unctuous and sweet.

A creamy chocolate custard concluded our day in Portland. Paired with a quenelle of cream and studded with hazelnut crunch, the terracotta bowl was emptied with the assistance of an adorable mademoiselle!

Portland, we will return!

My previous attempts to visit The Meadow in Portland and New York were cancelled by illness and foiled by Hurricane Irene. I was enchanted by the charismatic Mark Bitterman at a potluck last year and had imagined The Meadow as a quaint boutique. Located on the hip Mississippi Avenue in Portland, The Meadow is a purveyor of salts, chocolates, wines, bitters and flowers.

Painted teal with gold flower motif and lettering, The Meadow was a welcomed sight for our caffeinated threesome.

A chalkboard, pails of flowers and stacks of Himalayan salt blocks framed the mint window sill.

The view of The Meadow through the doorway.

A rustic wooden table was laden with mixed vases of vibrant flowers. Their floral fragrances scented the whole room.

A printed missive stated ‘throw away your table salt’. Mark is an advocate for artisan salts.

A wall of shelves was full of glass jars with azure labels. There were sections of curing salts, flake salts, fleur de sel, Hawaiian salts, Italian salts, Japanese salts, Korean salts, rock salts and sel gris.

The salt starter set, left to right: fleur de sel, sel gris Noirmoutier, Maldon, black diamond, Molokai red and Kauai guava smoked.

The Meadow salt set, left to right: Pangasinan star, sel gris, Marlborough flaky, amabito no moshio, haleakala ruby and Halen Môn gold.

Peppers, infused salts, smoked salts, and salt and pepper mills.

Salt accoutrements displayed on Himalayan salt blocks.

Neat rows of wine were at the back of the store.

Colourful bottles of bitters were behind the counter.

A curated collection of chocolates.

The Meadow stocked a variety of local and international chocolates and caramels.

I spotted this cute tin of sardine shaped chocolates.

Individual chocolate bars and salted caramels tempted patrons at the register.

My purchases, clockwise from top right: François Pralus Mini Tropical Pyramid, ceramic bowl and pewter spoon, Paris Caramels with Charentes-Poitou butter, Pineau des Charentes and fleur de sel, Sahagún Almond Bergamot, and Santander semi dark chocolate bar 53% cacao.

I only have six French salted caramels left!

I spent twelve hours in Portland last Friday. I had visited Vancouver three times in the past year but had not travelled south to Oregon. Crossing the Columbia River Bridge was a spectacular entrance into the state and city. Of Portlandia and tax-free shopping fame, Portlanders were friendly and I adored their boutiques. A stoic posy of daffodils defied the cool temperatures, sheltered by a flowering camellia tree.

Coffees and almond croissants at Barista fuelled our morning. A late lunch was at Pok Pok, the only restaurant I know of in Portland.

A curious structure of wooden beams, corrugated roofing and bamboo walls, the aesthetics were of Southeast Asian hawker stalls.

Festive lights twinkled and the heater glowed. Water was steeped in pandan leaves which tasted of toasted rice.

The dense menu detailed ingredients and cooking methods for each dish.

Although tempted by a Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk, I was already buzzing from two caffeinated beverages. I selected a glass of cha manao instead, a Thai iced tea with fresh lime juice. It was refreshing and its delicate sweetness tempered the bold flavours.

Three of us shared four main courses and one dessert. The Pok Pok special was a plate of game hen (kai yaang) and papaya salad. Roasted on a rotisserie over charcoal, the portions of chicken were smoky and tender. The spicy sweet and sour, and tamarind dipping sauces were appetizing, so much so that I emptied the remainder onto coconut rice and sticky rice. Julienne green papaya, halved cherry tomatoes, batons of snake beans and crunchy peanuts were mixed with Thai chilli, lime juice, tamarind, fish sauce, garlic and palm sugar.

Next was gulf prawns grilled over charcoal (kung phao). The charred shell peeled easily and the succulent crustacean was swirled in the shallow bowl of lime, garlic, coriander root and chilli sauce.

Ike’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings are a Pok Pok signature. Marinated in fish sauce and palm sugar, deep fried, and tossed in caramelised Phú Quốc fish sauce (nước mắm) and garlic, the poultry was served with pickles, lettuce and slices of cucumber. The chicken wings were an ominous crimson and each bite numbed our mouths. Our lips tingled and our fingers sticky, they were a fiery highlight.

A classic Thai stir-fried rice noodles, the phat si ew was silky and peppery. A dark soy tan, and flecked with Carlton Farms pork, Chinese broccoli and egg, I would have been happy eating only this as my meal.

We ignored the durian dessert and ordered the coconut ice cream sandwich. Wedged in a brioche bun on a bed of sticky rice were four scoops of coconut jackfruit ice cream sprinkled with peanuts and drizzled with condensed milk. We requested no chocolate syrup and also abandoned the bread. Coconut, sticky rice, peanuts and condensed milk were a pleasing combination.

Pok Pok readied us for an afternoon of shopping!

We have been foiled in several attempts to dine at Sitka & Spruce in the past year. The first was a walk-in rejection with nearly an hour wait. The second was an abruptly terminated phone call when I requested a table for eight during the festive season. The third was a hasty retreat due to a forgotten AmazonFresh scheduled delivery. Determined to have a meal at Sitka and Spruce I suggested dinner there after the Cheese 101 at The Calf & Kid but alas, the restaurant is closed on Sundays.

I adore Melrose Market and every neighbourhood should have one! The Calf & Kid is an artisan cheese purveyor with personalised service and a genuine passion for quality cheeses.

The cheese counter at The Calf & Kid. A handwritten sign is spiked into each cheese with unique descriptions and flavour profiles.

Dry-aged beef at Rain Shadow Meats.

Cooking wood piled outside Sitka & Spruce.

Jars of herbs and spices at the Sitka & Spruce Pantry.

We peeked through the window panes into the Sitka & Spruce kitchen where cheeses were plated.

Bar Ferd’nand recommended Spätburgunder, a German Pinot Noir. A fruity bouquet, it was a light wine pairing for the cheeses.

Cheese 101 is an introduction to cheese with the founder and owner of The Calf & Kid, Sheri LaVigne.

We chose a table in the corner. Wine glasses were promptly dispensed. We sipped the red and flipped through the booklet on cheese vocabulary and types of cheese as we waited for others. An earthenware bowl of crackers and seeded bread were plenty for the cheeses.

A generous dollop of fig jam.

Sheri briefed us on the history of cheese, her background and why she opened The Calf & Kid. Her love for cheese originated from living in New York where cheese was an ‘affordable luxury’. In 2001 there were four cheesemakers in the Pacific Northwest, today there are more than seventy. The samples selected were European and local for comparison.

Like wine, cheese has terroirs. The characteristics of a cheese are impacted by the environment, the animal’s diet, the cheesemaker’s recipe and method, and the seasons. Every batch of cheese will taste different.

Sheri mentioned that the strength of the cheese has to match the beverage. She likes pairing cheese with beer. Bourbon and whisky add another dimension of flavour. Sheri recalled that goat cheese and coffee are the ‘worst combination ever’!

Sheri commented that drinking raw milk is ‘more dangerous’ than eating raw milk cheese. ‘The concern is listeria which is harmful to the immuno-compromised and can be fatal.’

Clockwise from top:
* Leonora – various producers, Spain, pasteurised goat milk
* Humboldt FogCypress Grove Chèvre, California, pasteurised goat milk
* Fougerus – Robert Rouzaire, France, pasteurised cow milk
* Moses SleeperCellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont, pasteurised cow milk
* Manchego – Pasamontes Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Spain, raw sheep milk, aged one year
* Tin Willow TommeBlack Sheep Creamery, Washington State, raw sheep milk, aged five plus months
* Gruyère de Savoie – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, France, raw cow milk, aged two plus  years
* Snow Canyon EdamRockhill Creamery, Utah, raw cow milk, aged two plus years
* Tallegio – Guffanti Brothers Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Italy, pasteurised cow milk
* Red HawkCowgirl Creamery, California, pasteurised cow milk
* Colston Bassett StiltonNeal’s Yard Dairy, England, pasteurised cow milk
* OregonzolaRogue Creamery, Oregon, raw cow milk

Sheri explained each cheese in detail as we nibbled and I took copious notes. Earthy, buttery, nutty, caramel, mushroom, funky and grassy were all words scribbled on the page!

I was enamoured by these pastel tassels accented by gold and silver tones.

Wine and cheese are joie de vivre!


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