Rachel Smith: Editorial Assistant Extraordinaire 2nd edition Food Lover’s Guide to Portland

June 25th, 2014

Oh, just hanging out in the Swiss Alps. Rachel Smith, world traveler and on her DOWN TIME editorial assistant for Food Lover's Guide to Portland 2.0.

I just want to quickly introduce the lovely lady pictured above. I first met Rachel when she interviewed for the fall 2012 internship at Hawthorne Books — the publisher of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland and where I’ve been publicity director and an editor since 2009. Right away, Hawthorne publisher, Rhonda, and I knew that Rachel was in. She’s bright, passionate, always curious, has a great sense of humor and is just a genuine pleasure to be around.

Rachel kicked ass during the 10-week internship and we were sad to see her go. When we decided to do a second edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland I was in the thick of completing Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. and felt a little overwhelmed but knew that the time was ripe and that the book needed an update. I thought about how to best manage my time, how to lessen the stress of another book project as much as possible and then I had the bright idea to hire an editorial assistant. Rachel was my number one choice and she said YES!

During the insanity of updating Rachel did everything from fine-tooth combing all of the contact info. throughout the book and making sure addresses, hours etc. were up to date to interviewing new subjects and writing the respective listings. I couldn’t have done the second edition without her. She was on top of every project every step of the way, and most importantly, she was really fun to work with. Love you Rachel! Without further ado…

Sweet, sweet Rachel Smith on food, travel and working on the second edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland:

When I was 6 years old, I used to pretend I was allergic to pizza and spaghetti sauce—not tomatoes—just pizza and spaghetti sauce. I disliked mushrooms, melted cheese, and loathed mustard. Strange textures and peculiar flavors were a no-no. I could barely choke down cooked vegetables. Sausage, meat on the bone, and meat cooked rare made me gag.

Eventually, as it happens for most of us, my taste buds and I began to grow up. Traveling became a priority in my life, and being a picky eater doesn’t go along well with it. I came to learn that one of the best parts of going abroad is experiencing the food. I also realize, when I travel, I desperately miss the food at home, and when I’m home, I crave the food from abroad.

Portland is a food-obsessed city. We know it, we love it, we partake in it. My head could explode thinking of the incredible variety of restaurants we have, the locally sourced vegetables and meats, the microbreweries and markets. As Portlanders, it’s in our veins. Outside of Portland, this isn’t as common—no news flash here. Yet every time I travel, I notice I have forgotten this. What, your bar doesn’t serve food? Your grocery store closes at 6? You don’t have any Mexican restaurants, because I could kill for a burrito right now.

I don’t mean this out of ignorance; I mean it is as a fantastic appreciation of what we have at home. It wasn’t until assisting Liz that I came to understand this even more.

As I write this, I’m on the brink of my third month visiting Switzerland. I’ve been eating melted cheese on the regular, devouring pizzas the size of my face, and obsessively ordering sausage. I recently tried horsemeat (and though it’s a horrendous thought to many people, and I vowed I would only try it once, it was quite good). But my stomach is rumbling at the thought of eating chorizo tacos from Uno Más or fresh sashimi from Bamboo Sushi. The idea of a Painted Hills burger with blue cheese and applewood-smoked bacon is enough to make me weak in the knees. Whining is not part of my intention here—I’m thoroughly enjoying the food and the experience, yet I do miss the access to variety.

Eating well in Switzerland...

Sweet Rachel in France...

Working on the second edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland was a reminder of our access and diversity. We have the ability to go straight to the source and pick fruit on Sauvie Island, go crabbing at the coast, or take a drive into wine country. We can feast on Vietnamese, Thai, Cuban, African, or Japanese food any day of the week. And we’re really lucky to have that—not only in restaurants, but in our grocery stores too. Did you know how many ethnic grocery stores we have? Or that Cheese Bar sells raclette so I can get my fix when I’m missing Switzerland?

My point is: the delicious world of food is at our fingertips right here in Portland. We can find just about anything we’re after. And when I’m home in 3 weeks, the first thing I will be doing is hunting down and demolishing the tortilla-wrapped goodness of a marinated pork burrito.

Pre-order the 2nd edition of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland
from Powell’s
Pub. date September 1, 2014
$17.95

Cooking the Toro Bravo Book Party Pt. 3

June 19th, 2014

Alec serving up the Toro Moorish Meatballs that he and Sarah made.

We’ve now officially cooked through half of Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull and we’ve only had three dinners so far — the first one at Loly’s, the second at Tom’s and this last one at Dana and Oliver’s. The dinners have all been a lot of fun and I’m really grateful that my friend Chris Damcke came up with idea. Thank you Chris!

Last weekend’s dinner at Dana and Oliver’s was the lightest of them all in terms of what we ate/drank but that’s pretty absurd because we all consumed so much that we felt super sleepy at 9pm on a Saturday night. So much good food.

The next Toro book dinner will be at my house later in the summer once my kitchen is remodeled. I’m really looking forward to having a fire in the backyard for that one and putting my new gas Dynasty range to good use for it. Yes! I’m also looking forward to doing this cook the book thing with the next book when the time comes too — the Tasty Brunch Book that John and I are working on now. I see a lot of day drinking in our future.

Here’s what we cooked and ate from the book this time around. Really tasty as always.

Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. dinner party menu

Casa Rita
White Wine Sangria (with plum wine)
Halibut Cheeks
Grilled Corn with Cilantro Pesto
Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins
Hazelnut Ice Cream (with strawberry rhubarb compote)
Olive Oil Cake (with balsamic vinegar reduction)
Hand-Cut Noodles with Pimenton Dulce
Moorish Meatballs

Future Toro grilled corn and sauteed halibut cheeks...

Sara has nice cheeks! Toro's Halibut Cheeks with oil-cured Calabrian chiles and marinated olives.

My Toro Grilled Corn with Cilantro Pesto.

Loly and Faulkner's Hand-cut Noodles with Pimenton Dulce.

They also made this gluten-free version.

Alec and Sarah's Moorish Meatballs.

So much good food...

Dana and Oliver's Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins and mugolio that they bought at Pastaworks.

Chris's Toro Olive Oil Cake.

Loly, Sarah and Emily dishing it up.

Sarah and Alec's Hazelnut Ice Cream with a balsamic reduction.

Strawberry Rhubarb compote.

Chris and Boscoe mid-meal stretching.

All together now.

Every dog has its day. Thank you Boscoe for the great dinner party.

Yard Fresh Pt. 30

May 15th, 2014

My kitchen is being remodeled by my friends at St. Johns Design Build. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

I haven’t done one of these since last summer! Holy shit time flies. Lately I’ve been wishing that there were a way to expand time to fit more of the best of life in. I don’t necessarily want the days to be longer I just want to be writing, sailing, cooking, loving, swimming, travelling and on and on and on contemporaneously somehow/someway. So that each would be enjoyed fully but a different part of me would be present for each. I’ll go do some more drugs now. Sorry.

So, I’m getting my kitchen remodeled! Finally. My super talented friends at St. Johns Design Build (they don’t have a website yet but once they do I’ll shout it out here) — Brian McVay, Clarence Jacobs and Rude Graves — are kicking ass doing a complete overhaul. Things that I’m really looking forward to: the original fir floor being sanded and finished, my new-to-me kick-ass professional-style Dynasty gas stove, sweet-ass tiling by Rude, old bleachers made into beautiful new cabinets and drawers and shelves by Clarence, a bar, maple chopping block peninsula, paperstone counters and all sorts of other magic by Brian and crew. Life is sweet. I’ll put up some photos of the progress in the next several weeks.

In the meantime, near and dear friends in the neighborhood are happy because I’ve been using their kitchens more and I also have a funky little interim kitchen in the back of my house in the utility room with a hotpot, rice steamer and toaster. It works and it’s actually been fun to have some cooking restraints. It’s like camp cooking, boat cooking etc. — pushes you to be creative and work in new ways with what you’ve got.

It’s been a really fun spring so far and I hope you’ve been doing well too. I just finished writing the Tasty Brunch Book proposal with John (now it’s with our agent, next to the designer), I’m working on all sorts of food-plus projects at Hawthorne Books, working on a still secret book project, little here and there on my novel and Food Lover’s Guide to Portland 2.0 review copies go out NEXT WEEK and it publishes in three short months. Madness. In the very best sense of the word.

Here’s what I’ve been eating. What have you been cooking and eating?

Miso, bacon, fish sauce, broccolini spaghetti. Really good.

Mission Street Food's Braised Sausage with my friend Kalera's kraut, Reverend Nat's Hard Cider and house German sausage from Western Meat Market on Lombard.

Miso rice with homemade kimchi.

Rice cooker steamed Dover sole in homemade miso/ginger/lemon sauce with asparagus.

Nettle'ing with Jess. Made all kinds of dishes with them. Morel nettle risotto, sauces, tea yada yada. Love nettles.

My haul.

Found this huuuuuge morel in my backyard. Was too waterlogged and gone to eat but still had...

The last of the dehydrated/foraged ones from last spring. Have been making a lot of risottos with them. My friend Jess, different Jess, took these from the Mother's Day risotto I made for her and Rich with red-veined sorrel from the yard and my homemade plum wine. Tasty.

Racked and then...

Bottled the plum wine. 100 bottles this year from the Brooks plum tree in my front yard.

Also bottled last year's dandelion wine and started this year's. Make it every year with my friend Michelle and her daughter...

These guys!

Dinner becomes breakfast. Spag and eggs. One of my favorites.

Still cooking from the Toro cookbook. Forever and always. Toro's piperade and boquerones over pan-fried polenta.

For our first kitchen remodel meeting/party made a big batch of kimchi fried rice and it, of course, became breakfast the next day. So good.

Cook and eat something good tonight!

Yard Fresh Pt. 29
Yard Fresh Pt. 28
Yard Fresh Pt. 27
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Yard Fresh Pt. 1

Long Live Jorinji Miso

April 5th, 2014

Planning committee.

My friend Earnest Migaki, pictured above, needs your help. It’s not just the residential rental market in Portland that’s tight — the commercial rental market is as well and Earnest has been without a production facility for his Jorinji Miso company for several months now. In a month he will run out of all of his already produced miso currently available throughout Portland in markets such as Uwajimaya and Anzen. Portland, we cannot let that happen.

I first met Earnest and his late wife Sumiko when I was researching the first issue of my book Food Lover’s Guide to Portland — they were the first interview that I conducted for it. And every year following they participated in the Portland Fermentation Festival. Earnest’s miso is some of the very best that I’ve ever had (I really love miso) and if you haven’t tried it you better help Earnest find a new commercial kitchen otherwise you won’t get to! Miso takes a loooong time to make. The youngest miso that Earnest makes takes four months of fermentation.

Why should you care? My friend Earnest is an amazing human being and he has endured so much hardship in the past year — more hardship than I’ve endured my entire life. Earnest has been to hell and back again and now he needs Portland’s help. Step one: help Earnest find a commercial kitchen for Jorinji Miso. Please email me at liz crain at gmail dot com with any leads and I will pass them along tout suite to Earnest.

Please SHARE THE FUCK out of this — word of mouth, Facebook, Twitter, bulletin boards, forums, get it tattooed on your FACE. Thank you. Don’t actually get anything tattooed on your face. Your face is beautiful just the way it is.

Earnest is looking to lease:

A standard commercial kitchen space that is 1,000 to 2,000 square feet that is $2,000 or less a month in Portland, ideally Southeast Portland.
The kitchen can be shared but he can’t work with anyone working with yeast because the koji for the miso doesn’t work when yeast is present.
Ideally the space will have plenty of storage space, a 3 basin sink, an 8-10 gas burner, room for a large industrial mixer and AC.

The day I met Earnest and Sumiko five years ago.

From Earnest's Jorinji scrapbook.

www.jorinjisoybeam.com

Cooking the Toro Bravo Book Party Pt. 2

February 27th, 2014

Faulkner with Chris's Toro Oxtail Croquettes.

I didn’t think we could surpass the amount of food and drink cooked and consumed during our first Toro cook the book potluck last month but holy shit I was wrong. This past Sunday the original gang — minus and plus a few — gathered at my friend Tom’s house in Southeast Portland for part two and we put in a full EIGHT hours of cook/eat/drink. We cooked 16 recipes from the book (at the first one we made 11) and It was so much fun that I think everyone hurt at least a little the next day. I know I did. So worth it.

For this round Rebecca and Fred Gerendasy of Cooking Up A Story and Food. Farmer. Earth. came and filmed. It’ll be awhile before that airs — most likely early summer. They left after a few courses and there were six courses so I’m fairly certain we were all at our finest while they were there. Guess we’ll find out!

We’re going to keep having these parties until we cook through the entire book — Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. Here’s the menu from our second Toro Bravo cookbook party followed by photos from it. I can’t recommend this sort of dinner party enough. Leave any questions about it in the comments below and please, please let me know if you’ve done something similar yourself. I’d love to hear about it. Eat, drink and be merry!

Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. dinner party menu

Jerez Negroni
Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Tortilla Espanola
Fennel Salad
Romesco
Butter Lettuce Salad
Pork Rillettes
Squash Dumplings
Braised Lamb with Apricots and Coriander
Squid Ink Pasta
Drunken Pork
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Sherry Cream
Oxtail Croquettes
Potatoes Bravas
Panna Cotta
Limoncello

Tom wet our whistles with Toro's Jerez Negroni.

And then he pan-fried up Toro's Bacon-Wrapped Dates.

Dana and Oliver's tasty Tortilla Espanolla with kale.

Sarah and Alec's Toro Fennel Salad went with.

Oliver prepping his Toro Drunken Pork.

Five hours later. Just kidding. He did lose some arm hair while grilling them though.

Rebecca and Fred filming Chris and Sarah forming the Oxtail Croquettes.

Alec frying them up.

Chris's Toro Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Sherry Cream. So good.

My Toro Squid Ink Pasta.

Lolybite.

Active kitchen.

Taking it all in. Literally.

Loly and Faulkner's Braised Lamb with Apricots and Coriander and Squash Dumplings

Focus!

Soooo much eating.

Oliver got the lucky cinnamon stick in the lamb braise!

Sara and Zo's Butter Lettuce Salad.

And their Toro Potatoes Bravas. Their Pork Rillettes were awesome too but didn't get a good photo.

Endless rounds of Toro food and drink.

The gnome got so drunk and full he pulled down his pants and fell asleep face down in the backyard.

If you decide to host a dinner party like this please, please let me know and send me photos! I’ll post them here. So fun. Eat, drink and be merry AND hairy!