Mark Bittman at the James Beard Public Market Fundraiser in Portland January 22, 2015

January 23rd, 2015

Mr. Mark Bittman and me at the James Beard Public Market fundraiser dinner at Leftbank Annex.

I’m a very lucky lady. I got to be Mark Bittman’s date when he was in town for the James Beard Public Market fundraiser dinner at Leftbank Annex last night. Greg Higgins of Higgins Restaurant put together an incredible Pacific Northwest bounty meal comprised of recipes inspired by Mr. B’s latest book How to Cook Everything Fast which Higgins joked in his intro. to the event was probably “the longest book on fast cooking.” It’s a whopping 4+ pounds after all. (My favorite dishes that I’ve cooked from the book so far: miso glazed catfish with mushrooms, caramelized cod and Vietnamese-style fish sauce brussels. Mmmmm!)

The James Beard Public Market has been in the works now for nearly 15 years and it looks like we’ll finally have a market sooner than later. There have been all sorts of recent developments including the securing of the space at the west end of the Morrison bridge from the county for development, the partnership with the Norwegian design firm Snohetta to design it, the partnership with Bon Appetit Management Company to develop the teaching and demo. kitchens and on and on. In other words, things are moving right along now and gaining momentum. There are so many great local food folks involved including board secretary Janie Hibler, outreach and operations director Ann Forsthoefel, board members Lisa Sedlar and Greg Higgins and many, many more.

The dinner met the night’s fundraising goals and the highlight was Mr. Bittman’s inspiring speech which I uploaded here if you weren’t able to attend. The sound is pretty crappy but if you crank it up you can get most of it. There were a lot of bodies in the room and a lot of wine glasses if you know what I mean.

I’m really looking forward to one fine day when we have a large urban, indoor/outdoor year-round public market. I grew up in Cincinnati with Findlay Market and I really get how important these hubs can be to local culture. I want it! I want it now! Patience. It will soon be. Help make the James Beard Public Market dream a reality. Let’s do this thing.

Leftbank Annex all pretty for the event. Three Leg Torso playing on the stage just out of view of the photo to the right.

Mark and Bon Appetit Management Co. CEO and co-founder Fedele Bauccio before the dinner.

Super tasty menu from Greg Higgins.

EVERYONE left with a copy of Mark's How to Cook Everything Fast.

Mark giving his inspiring speech. Link to the audio is above.

Greg Higgins' yummy dessert.

Mark and James Beard Public Market executive director Ron Paul at the end of the night.

The happiest and luckiest person I know at the end of the night. Yep.

Learn more about the James Beard Public Market at www.jamesbeardmarket.com

Cooking the Toro Bravo Book Party Pt. 4

January 12th, 2015

Loly with one of the crunchy delicious Toro fried anchovies.

I finally got to host our Toro Bravo cook the book party last night (check out the first, second and third here) and it was really nice to do it in my newly remodeled kitchen. My kitchen has been pretty much done since early November but there were a couple final details and now it’s complete! It’s a beauty and I’m going to post about it here soon. I couldn’t be happier with it. My friends Brian McVay, Clarence Jacobs and Rude Graves of St. Johns Design Build are so incredibly talented. And you’ll know they’re good people when I tell you this — I was genuinely sad to see them go when my kitchen was complete. I truly enjoyed the entire remodel process and having those awesome fellows in my home. I miss having them see me in my pajamas. Wink.

It was really, really fun to have a whole bunch of friends packed into my kitchen last night for our fourth eat, drink and be merry cook from book party for Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull. We’ve now passed the halfway point having cooked 60-plus recipes from the book. I’m guessing we’ll complete the book after three more dinners. Quite the feat. We’ve even started talking about which book we’ll cook through next. Potentials discussed: Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, Jerusalem and the Pok Pok cookbook. I mentioned that I’d love to cook through a comprehensive Southeast Asian cookbook. Unfortunately I think Pok Pok requires a bit more pantry building than our group is up for.

Another sweet thing — Shane Welch founder of Brooklyn’s Six Point Brewery recently moved to Portland and he gifted us (he’s friends with my friend and contractor mentioned above — Brian McVay) some of his Bengali IPA for the party which is super tasty. Really sweet of him. We also poured a lot of cava, various Spanish wines and we drank some of my early plum wine that I pulled off over the weekend while racking it. So crisp and tasty.

Anyway, I’ll let the photos tell the tale as usual. Happy 2015! I hope you’ve been cooking and eating well. I bet you have.

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

Toro Martini and Fried Anchovies, Fennel and Lemon with Romesco
Gazpacho
Charred Bread with Chanterelles in Sherry Cream
Chard and Eggs
Chicken and Clams Cataplana
Lamb Ragu with Eggplant
French Kisses and Pickled Beets and cheeses
Sherry Chicken Liver Mousse
Apple and Pear Clafoutis

NO ONE in Portland is carrying fresh anchovies at the moment so the super sweet John Gorham gave me a pound from Toro for the Fried Anchovies, Fennel and Lemon dish from the book.

They were deeeeelcious with Toro's romesco.

We started the night off right with my piping hot anchovies and chilled Toro Martinis. Not too shabby.

Next up was Nancy's super yummy Toro gazpacho.

Really nice to have so many friends around the kitchen table.

Alec charring the bread for...

Toro's Charred Bread with Chanterelles in Sherry Cream.

Dana cooking up Toro's...

Chard and Eggs.

Sara and I in our animal shirt finery -- giraffes and stags.

Loly and Faulkner cooking up Toro's Chicken and Clams Cataplana.

Soooooo good! With Olympic Provisions cured meats.

Left to right: Loly, Nancy, Faulkner and Jim. The best.

Super Tasty Six Point Bengali IPA. YUM!

Tom and Heather's (just engaged!!) deeeelicious Lamb Ragu with Eggplant.

Chris assembling Toro's French Kisses -- foei gras torchon stuffed brandy-soaked prunes. Perfect.

Tom overseeing. He approves.

Dana and Oliver's apple and pear clafoutis. Mmmmm.

Aaaand the final dessert plate -- Sara's sherry chicken liver mousse, Chris's French Kisses and Spanish cheeses. We are so lucky.

Cheers to 2015! I hope you are in good company and having a fine time of it.

Pre-order Food Lover’s Guide to Portland Tique Box

December 5th, 2014

Food Lover's Guide to Portland TIQUE BOX! Available for pre-order!

I had so much fun putting together this Food Lover’s Guide to Portland Tique Box with Tique founders Inger McDowell and Paige Buckner when they reached out to me several weeks ago. The mission of their business is very similar to the mission of my book — celebrate talented and passionate local artisans, oftentimes lesser known ones.

There are all sorts of fantastic Portland foods/drinks/crafts/art that these ladies have put together into pretty boxes for subscriptions (I have a year-long subscription and just got my first box!) or for individual purchase. For my Food Lover’s Guide to Portland box I wanted to include treats made by folks who I love and admire that just about anyone will use and enjoy (in other words — accessible) which is why I included easy to love salt, hot sauce, peanut butter, honey, chocolate, candy and cheese. That said, these are all elevated, unique and, of course, delicious renditions of these classics. Go Portland!

This box makes a fantastic gift for locals and folks afar and you can pre-order it now for $45 here to ship by Priority Mail on Dec. 15th — just in time for the holidays. Here’s what you get:

So many tasty treats in this Tique Box!

Meeting of the minds -- Paige (left) and Inger at our initial Food Lover's PDX Tique Box meeting at Breken Kitchen.

Inger (left) and Paige with their Tique Boxes.

My November Tique Box -- delivered to my doorstep! Love it.

Purchase the Food Lover’s Guide to Portland Tique Box at
www.tiquebox.com
$45, ships via Priority Mail on Dec. 15th

Katrina Blair author of The Wild Wisdom of Weeds at Reed College for free & open-to-the-public event this Thursday

November 10th, 2014

I'm really looking forward to the years to come with this book. Great wild edible reference by Katrina Blair with an intro. by my friend and food hero Sandor Ellix Katz.

A fine fellow in my life called me a hedonist in a sweet and loving way this weekend — it was my birthday weekend after all — and I agreed wholeheartedly before adding that I do well by my happiness-above-all-else and pleasure-seeking ways because I genuinely love the natural, wild side of life in addition to my less wholesome proclivities.

When it comes to food and drink that means that I favor whole foods and quality ingredients, homegrown fruits and veggies, homemade ferments and most importantly here — wildcrafted foods. (I especially love wildcrafted Munchos. I forage these in this region primarily from Plaid Pantries.) I started foraging when I moved to Portland in 2002 and every year I seem to add a couple more foraging favorites.

Some things that I look forward to harvesting from the wild annually in the Pacific Northwest include morels and chanterelles, stinging nettles, dandelions, miner’s lettuce, sorrel, blackberries +++

I’m so lucky to have received an advanced copy of Katrina Blair’s book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds just out from Chelsea Green. My friend and food hero Sandor Ellix Katz wrote the intro. and I agree with him when he writes: “In our contemporary society, most people grow up with minimal connection to the natural world around us. Most of us can identify many more corporate logos than plants. Yet plants are incredibly important and without them we could not exist.”

Katrina’s book is a very personal, dig deep look at 13 of the world’s most common wild edible plants that includes all sorts of DIY projects and recipes (100+) for the plants including info. on fermenting, dehydrating, making oils from and sprouting these wild edibles: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambsquarter and knotweed. Half of these wild edibles are already my friends and the other half I want to become more acquainted with. I’m looking forward to using this book as my guide.

Katrina is in town this week for a fun, free and open to the public event at Reed College. Maybe I’ll see you there?

When: Thursday, November 13 from 4-6pm
Where: Meet at Eliot Hall Room 314 Reed College
What: Go for a wild plant walk with Katrina Blair, wild-foods advocate and author of the new book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival. Return to the Aspen Utility Room for a presentation and wild green juice sampling.
This event is hosted by the Reed Outing Club

Dana Cowin, Mark Bittman and Liz Crain Walk into a Bar errrr Powell’s

October 31st, 2014

Me and the very charming Mr. Bittman after the Powell's event.

I’ve been very lucky lately. So lucky, in fact, that I recently got to be “in conversation” with two of my food heroes at my favorite bookseller — Mark Bittman AND Dana Cowin at Powell’s Books. Dream come true. They both have new cookbooks out and we talked all about their books and then some in front of very happy audiences — Dana’s Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen and Mark’s How to Cook Everything Fast. I’ve cooked from them both already and love them so much. Get ‘em!

I may or may not have called Mark Bittman a prostitute (tune in to the audio recording below at 12 minutes 30 seconds) and I may or may not have called Dana Cowin a lush (ditto at 7 minutes). We drank rye from lucky flasks that my friend Loly made at both events and laughed a lot. Intimate, engaging, inspiring and a wee bit revealing — as all great book events should be.

For those who couldn’t make one or both I uploaded the audio so you can get an earful. The Mark Bittman conversation can be played here and the Dana Cowin conversation here. And here are some local media bits for both events: Oregonian Cowin, KATU Cowin, Oregonian Bittman, KATU Bittman.

Below is a show and tell of photos from both October Powell’s events starting with Mark Bittman’s followed by Dana Cowin’s. Dream a little dream. There aren’t any photos from the meals I got to have with Mark or Dana while they were in town but we managed to go to Tasty n Sons, Olympic Provisions and Du Kuh Bee. Not too shabby.

Picking up my advanced copy of Bittman's book from the Wonkaland of books -- Powell's.

Almost as importantly picking up the lucky flask for the event that I filled with Bulleit Rye.

Bittman's and my view. Cute crowd.

Mark signing my books after he'd signed everyone's in the loooooong line after our conversation -- including my filthy aka well-loved copy of How to Cook Everything.

A sight for sore eyes.

Gifted flour sack towels can be turned into skirts!

Getting cozy with my advance copy of Dana Cowin's Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen before the Powell's event.

Day of the event lucky hot dog flask shed pick-up! This one is now MINE. Thank you Loly!

Dana and I telling Lena to lay off our lucky flask. Bulleit Rye. Again.

We obviously got our flask back.

After Dana talked with folks and signed allllll the audience copies Renee from Powell's asked her to sign a bunch of store copies. Finger cramps!

Yet another sight for sore eyes.

Thank you so very much Mark, Dana & Powell’s! I am the luckiest.

Purchase How to Cook Everything Fast
Purchase Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen