City Wine, Country Wine: Boedecker Cellars

August 29th, 2009
Athena Pappas of Boedecker Cellars in the barrel room.

Athena Pappas of Boedecker Cellars in the barrel room.

Since 2003 Athena Pappas and Stewart Boedecker have been making award winning, delicious wine at Boedecker Cellars. And even though their facility is smack dab in the middle of Oregon’s many wine growing regions it also happens to be in a forklift and train-tracked industrial part of Northwest Portland.

I got to visit with Athena for a couple hours in mid-July. I met her at the Boedecker Cellars tasting room where we talked about the history of Boedecker and the wine while sipping on a beautiful, sold out bottle of 2008 Pappas Wine Co. Pinot Blanc.

Pappas was working in the field of psychology when her husband’s winemaking interest was sparked in the mid-90s. After taking an Oregon Winemaking 101 class at PCC Boedecker worked for several years at various vineyards, often without pay, in between his regular full-time employment and during his vacations in order to learn the tools of the trade.

Boedecker loved making wine so much that one day he said to Pappas, “I’m going to drive a crappy car forever, save all my money and start a winery.” While Pappas and Boedecker worked together as tenants at The Carlton Winemakers Studio from 2003 to 2007 that’s just what they did.

I really like this cork chair in the tasting room.

I really like this cork chair in the Boedecker tasting room.

Boedecker Cellars specializes in pinot noir and chardonnay but also produces pinot blanc, pinot gris, rosé and grenache. Depending on the time of the year there are usually several different pinot noirs available ranging from the Athena Pinot Noir and Stewart Pinot Noir to various single vineyard pinot noirs. When Pappas and Boedecker first started blending pinot together they realized that they had two very different palates and styles so they decided to do two different blends.

Pappas says, “Stewart’s pinot noir is a very classic pinot noir. It’s a red fruit, pretty blend, with good acidity that’s going to sit in the cellar a long time. And I don’t know why I like this, maybe it’s because I grew up eating lamb and other big foods, but I like the bigger pinot noir. I like it structured too and we certainly have our winemaking style but I like a lot of spice and a little more umpf to it.”

The Athena is the red one in front and the Stewart is the green labeled bottle.

The Athena is the red one in front and the Stewart is the green labeled bottle.

I’m not telling which I like better.

Boedecker Cellars
2621 NW 30th Ave.
Tasting room hours Fri. 2pm-7pm; Sat.-Sun. 1pm-5pm but tours and tastings can be scheduled throughout the week as well.

It’s On — Portland Fermentation Festival THIS WEEK!!

August 23rd, 2009
You don't have to travel across the country to meet this man like I did. All you have to do is head to Portland Fermentation Festival this Thursday at Ecotrust to meet the one, the only Sandor Ellix Katz aka Sandorkraut.

You don't have to travel across the country to meet this man like I did. All you have to do is head to Portland Fermentation Festival this Thursday at Ecotrust to meet the one, the only Sandor Ellix Katz aka Sandorkraut.

I know I’ve written about this event already. I know that I’ve written A LOT about DIY fermented food and drink on this blog — about my hard cider adventures, cherry wine making, kimchi fermenting, kraut making and dandelion winemaking. I’m head over heels for fermented food.

If you are too then you’ll forgive me for shouting out loud and clear once again that this THURSDAY, AUGUST 27TH Ecotrust is hosting the first PORTLAND FERMENTATION FESTIVAL with special guest Sandor Ellix Katz author of Wild Fermentation and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved.

The event is open to whatever you want to bring — fermented food and drink to share, products to sell, recipes, cultures etc. Or don’t bring anything at all — just come and enjoy some late summer skill sharing, talking, eating and drinking of all sorts of tasty food and drink.

As of now there will be a room full of tables and people and fermented food and drink. Everything else is up to what we make of it. Should be great.

Here’s the press release:


Media Contact: Liz Crain

For all other event inquiries
Media Contact: Sandor Ellix Katz

Portland Fermentation Festival @ Ecotrust THURSDAY, AUGUST 27th 6-8PM
A free and open-to-the-public celebration of fermented food and drink. Bring kraut, try kraut. Bring miso, try miso. Come for fermented food and drink skill sharing, recipe sharing, tasting and more.

Portland Fermentation Festival
Thursday, August 27th 6-8pm
Ecotrust’s Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center
721 NW 9th Ave. Portland, OR
All ages, open to the public

Come celebrate pickling season at the very first Portland Fermentation Festival at Ecotrust with featured guest Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. Taste and share homemade live, fermented food and drinks such as sour pickles, miso, kefir, cheese, hard cider, mead and more. Talk to fellow fermenters, exchange cultures and recipes, and get advice from local food fermentation enthusiasts.

If you have a homemade fermented food or drink that you’d like to share please bring at least a gallon of it for samples and 100 copies of your recipe to hand out. If you have fermentation cultures you’d like to share please bring those as well. There will be no on site refrigeration.

Spend $25 or more on any produce that can be fermented or pickled at the Thursday Ecotrust Farmers Market during the month of August and qualify for a prize drawing at the market on August 27th at 6pm. Pick up your Pickle Punch Card at the Ecotrust Farmers Market throughout the month of August.

Portland Fermentation Festival
Thursday, August 27th 6-8pm
Ecotrust’s Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center
721 NW 9th Ave. Portland, OR
All ages, open to the public

Check out these two awesome stories by Kelly Clarke arts and culture editor at Willamette Week:
pre-Portland Fermentation Festival
post-Portland Fermentation Festival with photos from the event

Ristretto Style: Spella Caffe

August 19th, 2009
Andrea Spella is holding my key to happiness -- a Spella Caffe cappuccino.

Andrea Spella is holding my key to happiness -- a Spella Caffe cappuccino.

There are a lot of great Portland food and drink carts and Spella Caffé, open since fall of 2006, is one of the best. The reason: Andrea Spella. Andrea is part Italian and part Polish and drinks about 10 to 15 shots of espresso a day. He claims it helps him sleep and adds with a smile, “I guess I’m just wired differently.”

I guess so. In the past few weeks I’ve been so nervous about my impending book due date that I’ve sadly had to cut out my afternoon cup of coffee. In the past couple years I’ve looked forward to my afternoon cup almost as much as my morning cup but when your heart is aflutter with nerves too much coffee just adds to the stress. Anyway, 10-to-15-shots-a-day Andrea obviously doesn’t feel my pain. I met with him in late April and learned all about why he loves coffee and why we Portlanders love his coffee.

Spella Caffe’s signature classic Italian roast coffee is roasted in small 11 pound batches and pulled ristretto style with an old school piston machine as opposed to a modern pressurized pump espresso machine. There’s no walking away from the machine or even talking much with customers while a Spella espresso is in full swing. The end result is a nicely extracted cup of coffee with a beautiful crema.

In addition to expertly prepared coffee the cart serves from-scratch chai, hand shaken iced drinks (Andrea doesn’t like blenders), small batch Stella Gelato made in Eugene, and all sorts of tasty baked goods — authentic biscotti, quickbreads and cookies — prepared by a loyal customer and librarian at downtown’s Central Library.

Over the years Spella Caffe has acquired quite a following so it’s rare to step up to the window without at least a short wait. Two of Andrea’s favorite regulars are Little Red Bike Café owners Evan Dohrmann and Ali Jepson who rode their tandem bike to the cart for a celebratory shot of espresso minutes after they were married (for the third time) at the Multnomah County Circuit Court in 2008.

Spella Cafe
901 SW Alder St.
Mon.-Fri. 9am-4pm.

Because they’re pink AND they make pork: Tails & Trotters

August 15th, 2009
Tails & Trotters proscuitto getting better with age.

Tails & Trotters proscuitto getting better with age.

Last winter I went to a tattoo/chef event at my boyfriend’s tattoo shop by day and Acadia by night. During the day I interviewed eight chefs and eight tattooists. One of the funniest things I heard that day was a story Matt Reed of Tiger Lily Tattoo told me. When his daughter was three she said, “Do you know why I like pigs?” Reed asked why she answered, “Because they’re pink and they make pork.”


When I interviewed Morgan Brownlow, former chef of Clarklewis, briefly chef/co-owner of the RIP Cafe 401 and co-owner of Portland’s Tails & Trotters, several months later for Willamette Week he had his own porcine logic. According to Brownlow, “Some people don’t like fatty pork, but in my opinion, pork is fat.”

Brownlow and Aaron Silverman, former owner of Greener Pastures Poultry and Creative Growers Farm, have been working for the past few years on a line of hazelnut-finished pork that launched this June as Tails & Trotters.

T&T pork is ribboned and capped with a rich, nutty fat — all the better to sear, grill and roast with. The pigs are raised at Food Alliance-certified Pure Country Pork in Ephrata, Wash., and fed hazelnuts for the last six to eight weeks before slaughter. Prior to that the feed consists of whole foods such as lentils, peas and flax. Most pigs eat eight pounds of feed a day and gain about two to three pounds a day according to Brownlow.

On a hazelnut diet pigs eat less but gain more — from five to six pounds of feed a day they gain about four pounds daily. Once the animals are slaughtered and cleaned on Monday and Tuesday the meat is trucked to Portland on Wednesday and processed by Brownlow and Silverman at Nicky USA. Most restaurants throughout the state get their T&T meat between Wednesday and Friday.

In the future Brownlow and Silverman plan to produce a full line of cured meats from their nutty hogs (some of which are shown here — photos by Silverman), but for now they’re busy enough butchering, packaging and distributing an average of five animals a week (with or without the head — your choice) to restaurants and markets mainly in Portland, Eugene and Seattle.

Silverman likes to slow roast T&T pork. He recently took a seven pound coppa roast, rubbed it with brown sugar, salt and a little spice and took it to a barbecue. They made it very plain so that the kids would eat it and the adults could add spice and sauce. They roasted it in a slow cooker with onions, garlic and tomatoes for about 12 hours. It was tasty and fell apart beautifully. Brownlow’s favorite recent at-home T&T preparation: tender pork shoulder carnitas roasted with onions, garlic and sage. “It was so good,” he says, “I ate it right out of the pot.”

In Portland, Tails & Trotters pork is available at the Thursday Eastbank Farmers Market, Laurelhurst Market (in the butcher shop and in the restaurant), Chop, Pastaworks, Nicky USA and regularly at restaurants such as Toro Bravo, Nostrana and Paley’s Place. Various cuts are priced from $5 a pound and up retail.

This just in about a Tails & Trotters class at Foster & Dobbs on September 16th. Here’s some info. from the press release:

PORTLAND, Oregon (August 19, 2009) – Foster & Dobbs is mostly all about cheese, but owner Luan Schooler also features a wide range of artisan charcuterie in her cheese case. The newest local producer is Morgan Brownlow and Aaron Silverman of Tails & Trotters. Inspired by the regional charcuterie of Europe, Tails & Trotters is dedicated to developing a truly Northwest prosciutto from quality pigs finished on hazelnuts, rather than acorns. Foster & Dobbs will feature a class led by Brownlow and Silverman to discuss this new venture and the European style of butchering. They will also explain the best ways to use various cuts of pork in the home kitchen and share their experiences raising the pigs. The “Going Whole Hog” class will take place on September 16th at 7:15 p.m. for $20 per person. For reservations, please call Foster & Dobbs at 503-284-1157.

Counting the days till cured T&T coppa.

Counting the days till cured T&T coppa.

And pork belly

And Tails & Trotters pork belly

Tails & Trotters

Pie Time: Portland Pie-Off Sunday, Aug. 16th

August 10th, 2009
Strawberry rhubarb pear pie

Strawberry rhubarb pear pie

Because I’m feeling a wee bit overwhelmed by the fact that I have 30 days until my book is due I’m just going to post this press release pretty much as I got it. I remember hearing about this last year and wishing I could go. Sounds awesome…

Second Annual Portland Pie Baking Contest and Community Celebration

The Portland Pie Commission is pleased to announce the second annual Portland Pie-Off on Sunday, August 16th, 1pm at Peninsula Park, Site B (corners of N. Ainsworth, N. Albina and Rosa Parks Way). Part contest, part community celebration of all things pie, the Portland Pie-Off is a chance to meet other pie lovers, win fun prizes with your pie-making prowess, swap recipes and eat pie!

Why pie? Pie is egalitarian. Pie stands for sharing. Pie is humble and Pie is versatile. Pie is community!

Following on the heels of last summer’s wildly successful first Portland Pie-Off when over a hundred people and 50+ pies came together to celebrate community and pie, the second annual Portland Pie-Off is sure to be a hit with pie novices and sophisticates alike. The rules are simple: make a homemade pie (or several pies), bring it, your friends and family, and enjoy an afternoon at the park. Participants are strongly encouraged to register online but in the spirit of pie, it’s all very simple. Step up to enter your pie, $5 donation per pie appreciated.

Categories for pies are: Savory (e.g. meat, cheese, tomato), Stone Fruit (e.g. peach, plum), Berry, Fruit, Cream, Custard, Mash-Up (rock your own weird combo), Nut, C.P.R. (ingredients beginning with C, P and R and as judged by American Red Cross). CPR pie? Of course!

Or just bring a pie for eating. In fact, we don’t even care if you bring a pie as long as you come with a stellar high-on-pie attitude. This is a grass-roots effort and it’s a first come first serve basis: don’t be late! After the judging, the pies will be available for eating. The more pies you bring, the more chance everyone has of eating some. Bring your own chairs or picnic blanket, pie serving utensils and beverages, and any toppings to your pie you may demand. There will be a 2-hour judging time so we encourage participants to bring yard games or a picnic and enjoy one of Portland’s most beautiful and historic parks.

Judges for the Portland Pie-Off include prolific blogger Jack Bogdanski, Greg Abbot (Whiffies Fried Pie Cart), Tricia Butler of Sassafras Catering (Grand Winner of Portland Pie-Off ’08), Joe of Stone Pie Joe’s, Byron Beck (journalist), County Commissioner Jeff Cogen, Kaie Wellman (Eat.Shop.Portland), Gary Walter, Stephanie Stricklen (KGW) and Rudy Speerschneider (Junior Ambassadors) as of August 4, 2009.

For more information, categories and pie-off contest rules, please go here. We are on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Photos from last year’s event.

The Portland Pie-Off is the brainchild of the Portland Pie Commission; Gretchen, Karol, LeAnn, and Lizzy all connected through their love of Pie and Twitter. We are community driven and appreciate the support of County Commissioner Cogen, The Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, New Seasons and others in helping make this classic summer event happen.