Friday, January 29, 2010

I got the February issue of Bon Appetit in the mail today, opened it to the masthead, and saw a little slash under the the Editor-in-Chief, where I used to see the name of someone I knew - Kristine Kidd, Food Editor. So, the rumors are true, she's gone.

Laid off, I heard.

So, I'm flipping through it, noticing one nit-picky flaw after another. And, noticing that a lot of the articles are being written by freelancers, which is great, for freelancers. It opens up more opportunity for other culinary expert contributors, like Bruce Aidells writing in this issue, for example.

Many other thoughts simultaneously flew through my head about the writing of recipes, their simplicity, whether they are actually obsolete at some degree thereof, and whether most mothers even cook anymore.

Anyway, I felt like the overall journalistic integrity of this issue was weak, and I really hope that this isn't a trend that persists. I was a loyal reader of Gourmet, and that might be what I'm comparing this to, but still...

A few things that rubbed me the wrong way:

P. 76 - A photo and recipe for "Piquillo Pepper and Sardine Tartines." First of all, these ingredients are clearly Spanish (a classic pinxo/tapa combination), and a tartine is French. They even go on to define tartines as "French open-face sandwiches." Since when is a slice of baguette enough to be considered a sandwich?

P.100 - I thought it was odd that the caption of the photo of an "artisanal tofu maker" in Japan didn't name the artisan, giving him credit.

P.102 - There is a description of various Japanese cooking ingredients in this article about tofu in Japan, but under the description for red and white miso, it just describes them as a "soybean paste." Nothing about them being fermented, which is an integral part of gives miso umami.

Also on that page, is a description of bonito flakes, "dried tuna...a garnish sprinkled over everything from plain white rice to complex dashi soups." Um, dashi is a broth that is a base for soups, pretty much made from steeping bonito flakes, not garnished with them. It seems to me that if they're trying to educate their readers, they might as well be thorough...lots of white space on that page.

Okay, I'm done, time to go to something more productive with myself.

Yes, this is what I do a Friday night.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Photo-Force/Oregon Food Bank Exhibition

On Thursday night, I dropped into this photo show and fundraiser, which turned out to be one of the most visually brilliant and moving art shows I've seen in Portland. I couldn't help but jot down my thoughts, which just bubbled as I took in image after image.

Farmers, who barely make enough to keep their farms going, donating a portion of their crops. Starting organizations, like Farmers Ending Hunger. Migrant workers, picking turnips on their knees to make a living. Hard work and sweat that goes into harvesting food that often goes to waste.

The Oregon Food Bank collects and redistributes discarded food. And the Blanchet House, taking in leftover deli items, turns them into mix-matched meals. Like shrimp salad on toast, which almost looked gourmet. I was moved by the image of this beautiful composition - food that was destined for the garbage, rescued and replated with care. Served to those in need. Dignifying them with a colorful, healthy meal. Respecting the people, but also respecting the food. The edible. A pile of carrots covered in dirt and dust is food. Bread on the verge of going stale is food. People who are helping, feeding, other people.

Four photographers collaborated on this project. These images (taken on my iphone, really doing them little justice) are by Steven Scardina. His photos especially (color, action) reminded me of the work of my favorite photographer, Andreas Gursky.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Last week I took a little lunchtime field trip with my coworkers to Olympic Provisions, Portland's new and only salumeria. You may remember when I got to sample some of their amazing chorizo at the Ace Hotel a few months ago. Well, I couldn't resist packing a link of sausage in my purse, and for $3, it's the perfect little gourmet snack-on-the-run.

The Olympic Provisions space conjures up recollections of tapas bars in Spain, as well as markets in Italy. A wall of wine, cold cases full of meats (see photo above), white tile, a stand-up bar and a long row of banquets. They cure all the meats on site, and their kielbasa, served with sauteed greens, was perfect in taste and texture. They also do fun things with vegetables, like making a salad with brussels sprout leaves and sunchokes. I'm heading back tonight for a seat at the supper club, Table for Twelve, which I had always wanted to check out but was on hiatus for a while. At this relaunch, the twelve turned into thirty, so all of us obnoxious foodies are going to take over Olympic Provisions at about 7pm. I'm looking forward to sharing a meal with Jen Stevenson, one of the ladies behind the dining club, who writes one of my favorite blogs, Under the Table with Jen.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I met my fellow foodie friend Joe when I first moved to Portland. We shared a few meals, and he often talked about wanting to live in Asia. Not long after, he moved to Japan to teach English, and has been there ever since. In those 3 years, he's traveled all over and taken INCREDIBLE photos of food and culture in many different countries. Take a look for yourself:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Inspired by Saveur’s Top 100 list for the year going forward, I made my own of the one left behind. My most consistent cravings, distinct discoveries and memorable tastes of 2009:
1. The Fatty Crab
2. Beaker & Flask
3. Papaya
4. The Hoki Poke box at Bamboo Sushi
5. Wasabi poke at Tamura’s in Honolulu
6. Dulcet Cuisine's Madras Curry Mustard
7. Biwa
8. New Cascadia Traditionals bakery
9. Breakfast at the Portland Farmers Market
10. Bequet's caramels with sea salt
11. Miso Mayo
12. Antica Formula vermouth
13. Kir wine bar
14. Powell’s Home and Garden bookstore
15. Evoe
16. The way Matt Lightner cooks vegetables at Castagna
17. The Slowburger
18. Noble Rot
19. The Country Cat
20. Green smoothies
21. Marionberry preserves
22. Brandy cocktails
23. German riesling
24. Real carrots (from the farmer's market or N.S.)
25. Edible Hawaiian Islands
26. The Diner Journal
27. Gourmet (long live the queen…)
28. Cork wine shop
29. Anzen
30. Dinosaur kale
31. Grass-fed beef
32. Ethical butchery
33. Por Que No? taqueria
34. Hot chocoalate from Cacao
35. Alu
36. Wild Alaskan smoked salmon
37. Coconut oil
38. House-made charcuterie plates
39. House-made pickles
40. Thai basil
41. Lamb from Sudan Farms
42. Pamela’s gluten-free pancake mix
43. Larabars
44. The Secret Society Lounge
45. Tea blends from the Herb Shoppe
46. Yogi Teas
47. Fresh ground almond butter
48. Kleen Kanteen
49. Salads with pineapple in them
50. Prost!
51. Eggs from a farm
52. Exotic sprouts
53. Bryant Terry
54. David Chang and Momofuku
55. Kombu
56. Roasted bone marrow
57. Burgerville’s pumpkin milkshake
58. Pimenton de la Vera
59. Cultured butter
60. Salt, Fire & Time
61. Meriwether’s bar menu filled with vegetables from their farm
62. Pork Belly
63. Flat leaf parsley as a salad green
64. Ethical butchers
65. Kombucha
66. Homemade kimchi
67. Organic Greek-style yogurt
68. Bunk Sandwiches
69. Double Mountain Brewery's India Red Ale
70. The Natural Gourmet Institute’s Consumer Classes
71. Clyde Common
72. Big Table Farm
73. Dungeness Crab
74. Local Ocean Seafood
75. Lucky Strike
76. Gilt Club
77. Twitter
78. Lone Pine Coffee Roasters
79. Breakfast at the Victorian Café
80. Pono Market
81. Classes with the International Sommelier Guild
82. People’s Food Coop
83. New Seasons market
84. Coconut water
85. House Spirits
86. Nettles
87. Haagen-Daz Lehua Honey ice cream
88. Auntie Lilikoi
89. River’s Edge Chevre
90. Fromage blanc
91. Rosemary-cashew brittle
92. The Ferry Building
93. Greens (the restaurant)
94. Brunch at Toast
95. Minetta Tavern
96. Ping
97. Sip
98. Cremant de Loire
99. The food culture of Portland, Oregon
100. Hawaiian wedding food

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Happy new year! After weeks of consuming many delicious meals, drinks and far more sugar than I'm used to, all I want to eat are vegetables. This can be challenging in a cold place like Portland, where the produce section can be a little bit depressing in the winter months - just when I'm craving color.

My happy solution to this was inspired by a suggestion from my Naturopath, the lovely Dr. Rose Paisley. On Sunday night, roast a large sheet pan of veggies, then keep them in the refrigerator to toss in salads all week long. With just the right combination, you get so much flavor that all you need are some mixed greens, balsamic vinegar, good olive oil and sea salt and pepper for a filling lunch. Yesterday, I added a large hunk of smoked salmon, and it was heaven.

Here's my tasty preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut into chunks of equal thickness:
1 Beet
1 Yam
1 Small fennel bulb
1 Large Carrot
2 Parsnips
3. Slice half of a red onion into quarter-inch strips.
4. Toss all of the veggies, and a couple of peeled garlic cloves with enough olive oil to coat (but not too much - no pools of oil), fresh cracked pepper, and sea salt.
5. Spread the veggies out on a sheet pan with edges (make sure they're not on top of eachother), and bake until cooked but still firm (as they will continue to roast after you pull them out of the oven to cool). Toss once or twice during roasting, after they have started to brown/carmelize a bit.