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

Taste of the Nation Portland 2013 — Ticket Giveaway!

May 1st, 2013

Oven & Shaker's meatball sliders were super tasty at last year's Taste of the Nation Portland.

Share Our Strength’s 26th annual Taste of the Nation on Tuesday, May 7th at McMenamins Crystal Hotel and Ballroom is less than a week away and in an effort to help generate last minute ticket sales I’m offering a ticket giveaway here. The bighearted, hardworking folks at Taste of the Nation Portland have donated a pair of VIP tickets ($150 dollars EACH, gen. admission is $85) to me for this year’s event. (Actually, two pairs. I get to go as well.) VIP ticket holders head in to Taste of the Nation and sample select food and drink an hour before everyone else and they also get complimentary valet parking.

I love Taste of the Nation because 100% of ticket sales go toward working to end child hunger via Oregon Food Bank, Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul Food Recovery Program and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. Read about last year’s Taste of the Nation here.

This year’s TOTN will showcase food and drink from 30-plus restaurants, 17 wineries, 7 distilleries and 7 breweries. The list is growing daily.

So it’s a VERY worthwhile cause that I highly recommend buying tickets for. You can also try your luck for a pair of VIP tickets here on my blog. I’ve got a number in mind and I’ve written it down and taken a photo of it as proof. That numbered person to comment takes the cake — you get me your name and contact info. Please help me to spread the word about this ticket giveaway and Taste of the Nation on Twitter, Facebook etc. so that we can all help promote and support the event and generate ticket sales. I’m foodloverPDX on Twitter.

So what to comment about? Let me know what sort of food/drink business you’d love to see launch in Portland. It could be a food or drink product, a market, a non-profit, coffeeshop, brewery. It could be something that already exists and you’d like to see replicated in another neighborhood or it could be a business you’ve just always wished existed here that you’ve never seen. Leave a comment and let me know — I’m curious.

I’ll announce the lucky winner this weekend or early next week!

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
6:30-9pm
McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom
1332 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97205
Tickets $85 and up (order by phone 877.26TASTE or online)
www.strength.org/portland

Voodoo Vintners & Montinore Estate

November 7th, 2011

My friend Karen checking out the cow horn stuffed with *@#! at Montinore Estate.

In early September I was lucky enough to be invited to one of the Hardy Plant Society’s Kitchen Gardening Group outings. I’ve been to other events with this group and they’re great. You might remember this talk all about grapes that I went to last spring.

For September’s outing we met at Montinore Estate vineyard and winery just outside of Forest Grove. We waited in the vineyard parking lot — it was a beautiful day — until everyone arrived and then moved into the tasting room where we met Montinore owner and vintner Rudy Marchesi and his wife Susan Fichter. Lucky for us they took us on a tour of the 230+ acre vineyard that Rudy’s owned since 2005. (He owns 30+ additional acres at other area farms.) Here’s a great article in The Oregonian all about Rudy and Susan’s passion for food and drink.

Check out Katherine Cole’s book that came out this summer that features Montinore Estate — Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers — if you haven’t already. I wrote about Cole’s book and some of her upcoming book events and wine tastings in last week’s Willamette Week.

During the Montinore tour Rudy taught us all about biodynamic farming and it was inspiring. I worked on a biodynamic farm in Spain for several months in 1996 through WWOOF and it was a trip down memory lane for me listening to him describe and sometimes demonstrate various biodynamic practices.

On biodynamic farms cow horns, such as the one above, are packed every year with cow manure, buried and overwintered until the spring when they’re dug up and mixed with water in a vessel shaped like a pregnant woman’s belly. I got the job of stirring that shit so to speak and then applying it to the fields of the culinary herb farm that I worked on. Biodynamic practices are very unique and from my limited experience they seem to work.

Rudy Marchesi of Montinore Estate talking with the Hardy Plant Society's Kitchen Gardening Group about biodynamic farming.

The group taking in the scenery and learning the history of Montinore Estate.

Where water turns into wine at Montinore...

It wouldn't be a wine tour without a tasting in Montinore Estate's beautiful tasting room.

I learned a lot during this tour including:

The name Montinore comes from the original ranch owner who was from Montana before he moved to Oregon. Get it? Mont-in-Ore.

Because of all the moisture this growing season mold and mildew have been a constant struggle in vineyards. It’s been a challenging and expensive season.

Rudolf Steiner was a rad dude. He’s the grandfather of biodynamic agriculture as well as Waldorf education.

The reason Rudy got into biodynamic practices…phylloxera. An area of the vineyard was destroyed quickly by this pest so Rudy reevaluated growing practices and in 2001 (before he owned the vineyard) stopped all use of herbicides.

In 2003, Rudy took a biodynamic course in New York while still farming back east and in 2005 he bought Montinore Estate. In 2008 it was certified as biodynamic.

There are 25 or so biodynamic vineyards in Oregon but only seven are certified.

Hardy Plant Society Oregon
www.hardyplantsociety.org

Montinore Estate
3663 SW Dilley Road
Forest Grove, Oregon
503.359.5012 ext 3
Open daily 11am-5pm
www.montinore.com

Buy Katherine Cole’s book Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers
Read my review of Voodoo Vintners in Willamette Week

Homemade Fermented Food and Drink

July 25th, 2011

Hard cider bottling of the Newton pippin cider that I pressed with Nat West last winter. Really good this year -- much better than last's. The dandelion wine is bottled on the left...

Ever since I bought a copy of Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation shortly after moving to Portland I’ve been a food fermentation freak.

I love everything about home food fermentation. I love the DIY aspect of crafting foods that I love such as sauerkraut, wine, and miso. I love the time and patience involved in creating these foods and drinks — most ferments I make take anywhere from a few days to a year. I love the full flavor of food ferments — from pungent and sour to salty and spicy to sweet and effervescent. I love that fermented foods and drinks are inherently good for me because of the live micro-nutrients they contain. I love that I’m carrying on food traditions born well before refrigeration, artificial preservatives, and pasteurization. The list goes on and on.

In January 2009, I got to travel to Nashville to meet one of my heroes — Sandor Ellix Katz — and interview him for The Sun Magazine. In October of 2009, we got him to come out for the inaugural Portland Fermentation Festival that David Barber, George Winborn and I organized and continue to organize every year. The date is still TBD for this year’s and I’ll let you know soon when/where it will be.

For now, I’ve got a bunch of home food and drink ferments that I’ve been checking on, bottling and eating up lately to share with you here. This weekend I started a sour cherry wine with fruit collected from a neighbor’s tree. I’ll post about that soon.

I’ve got two batches of miso going right now that I started in November — soybean miso and red bean miso. Here’s what they’re looking like now after several months of fermenting…

I scraped the salt off the top of this red bean miso and it's looking pretty and already tasting DELICIOUS. Going to be patient though and let it ferment until fall. At least.

The soybean miso is looking and tasting great too. Did the same and scraped off the salt and mold, repacked with a nice layer of sea salt, covered and put back in the utility room till fall.

Yes, you have to be very generous with the salt so you don't get too much mold.

This year's three gallons of Brooks plum wine has finished fermenting and is now bottled. It's so good. It's tart and off-dry and tastes like a perfect plum. The alcoholic kind.

These petals and more went into this year's gallon of dandelion wine. We bottled last year's and it's delicious as always, a little more flowery this year too which is nice.

If you’ve never done any home food/drink fermentation I recommend starting with saurkraut or kimchi. They’re both quick and easy ferments that pack a lot of flavor. I can’t recommend Sandor Ellix Katz’s book Wild Fermentation enough. I use it all the time. Happy fermenting! Let me know what you make.

Taste of the Nation 2011

May 9th, 2011

Celilo Restaurant's (in Hood River) morel and fromage blanc topped crackers were super tasty.

Taste of the Nation truly gets bigger and better every year. We had a fantastic time eating and drinking all sorts of amazing things from Portland area chefs and food/drink folks at this year’s Taste of the Nation at Luxe Autohaus. (Always made much better by the fact that 100% of the proceeds go toward local child hunger relief.) If you don’t know about the event you can read more about it here and here. We paced ourselves a lot better this year so that by the end (and we stayed until the very end — as in tables being folded) we felt full but not roll-out-the-door full.

It’s hard to pick favorites but I think it’s good to give credit where credit is due. SO here are my top five favorite things that I ate at this year’s Taste of the Nation (not to mention all the delicious wine, beer and bubbly) followed by photos…

Top five bites at this year’s Taste of the Nation in no particular order…
La Calaca Comelona’s rainbow chard wrapped masa with pork in a red sauce
Biwa’s braised pork and house pickled vegetable lettuce wraps
Bamboo Sushi’s Oregon albacore carpaccio
Fifty Lick’s coconut lemon saffron sorbet
Davis Street Tavern’s cold carrot fennel soup with sorrel salsa verde

Screen Door's mini chocolate and peanut butter pies were really good. Especially when eaten right after their...

Smoked meatloaf and whipped potato bites topped with crispy shallots. Yeah, pretty genius side-by-side.

Biwa kicked ass as usual with their braised pork lettuce wraps with pickled veggies.

Fratelli was set up right next to Biwa with some yummy rockfish crudo that got topped with yuzu foam seconds after I took this photo.

No, he did not get stuck in the ice cream cooler. 50 Licks' coconut lemon saffron sorbet is incredible.

Andina had a lovely spread of marinated fish in a aji colorado al batan sauce, fava bean salad and okra rellena stuffed with braised oxtail. Top that why don't you.

We hung out with friends until the lights-out end. Another fantastic Taste of the Nation with 100 percent of proceeds going to local child hunger relief organizations. Cheers Portland!

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation
Monday, May 2nd, 2011
5-9pm
LUXE Autohaus
410 NE 17th Ave.
Portland, OR 97232
Stay tuned for next year’s Taste of the Nation
www.portlandtaste.org