Back from vacation to the Bay Area. A word to the wise; if you are driving down alone, the gas will cost 3x more than a plane ticket. I expected that, but still – $350, and my car is not a gas guzzler.
While there, I enjoyed the food at many places, Chez Panisse downstairs being the highlight. I’ve been thinking about the meal and its differences from Portland food ever since. A post is forthcoming.
Not surprisingly for this time of year, not much of interest has happened on the Portland food scene. Here’s a roundup of the items that jumped out at me.
I’m tired of the James Beard Awards; it seems like a month can’t go by without some sort of breathless promo material from them. Anyway, three Portland chefs made the finalist list: Naomi Pomeroy of Beast, Christopher Israel of Gruner, and Cathy Whims of Nostrana. Winners will be announced on May 4th and 7th.
Remember Marilyn Hagerty, the 85-year-old Grand Forks Herald food reviewer who became famous after an Olive Garden reeview? Anderson Cooper flew her to NYC for a chance to review Crown Restaurant. Cameras followed, and her experience is pretty entertaining.
Huge amounts of red meat and fats can damage your body(!) Frank Bruni who stepped down from the New York Times restaurant review position in 2001, has announced that he has gout. When I heard this, I had to look it up, as I thought it was an old disease that was beaten years ago. It wasn’t, and sounds pretty awful, especially for a man who loves food as much as Mr. Bruni. From the Times,
As it happens I dined there with the man who would succeed me in the critic’s job, Sam Sifton. And what we shared, once we had finished our martinis and white wine and had moved on to a bottle of red, was a côte de boeuf that easily weighed more than two pounds, had been basted in butter and was sliced in a fashion that allowed the interlacing of broad, glassy ribbons of seared foie gras between the thick, glistening dominoes of beef. To some of you, this may sound revolting in its bloat; to me, it was pure heaven. I remember thinking, “If I could get away with eating like this every night, I would.”
I can no longer get away with eating like that even a few times a month, and in fact haven’t eaten like that in a while. It’s unclear whether I’ll ever eat like that again. About four and a half months ago I was given a diagnosis of gout, whose triggers are believed to include a surfeit of alcohol, a plenitude of red meat and any and all organ meat, the category into which foie gras, which is liver, most definitely falls. My Ducasse meal amounts to a perfect storm of dietary no-no’s, a long swim in the Bermuda Triangle of gout, and a replica of it might land me in excruciating pain — and put me out of commission, in terms of my ability to walk — for 48 hours.
It is a pretty fascinating accounting of his experience – you can read the entire story here.
The Oregonian ran a piece today on the never-ending idea of a year round “Pike Place-style public market” as the west end of the Morrison bridge.
Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen announced a tentative deal with Melvin Mark Development Co. Friday to launch a Pike Place-style market at the west end of the Morrison Bridge.
Envisioned as an “iconic gateway” to downtown, the market would host 110 local vendors of food and food-related products and sit next to a new office tower on Southwest First Avenue. Together, the projects are expected to bring $10.4 million to the county’s fragile general fund, transforming an empty county-owned lot into a bustling tourist destination that would complement nearby Portland Saturday Market.
You all know that I am a shrinking violet when it comes to any sort of political comments or snarky opinion, but, in this rare instance, I have to speak out. Take a look at the above paragraph. Do you really believe this PR spin that says that it will bring $10.4 million to the county? What about it’s effect on the Portland Farmers Market; an institution that brings a TON of tourists to the park blocks. Are people likely to trudge to both the PFM and this new market? I doubt it. As I’ve said before, I also think it is a stupid location. The waterfront is doing just fun as a respite from city chaos. This market should be on the other side of the river – it needs a hell of a lot more of a boost. Put it where Tazo tea is vacating, right in the middle of all the produce suppliers. We’ve got a few restaurants down there now, but otherwise it is in major need of a boost, and I would hazard a guess, is cheaper real-estate. Speaking of cheap, where are all of these vendors and visitors going to park? It is already a nightmare during the day, and again any time the PFM is open. Everyone I talk to says that the parking meters drive them away from the downtown core. As I said, this is a stupid idea. You heard it here first. You can read more history about the PM here.
*It is possible the PFM is to be included in this plan, but even if this is the case, I stand by my opinion.
Seattle is planting the nation’s first edible forest. According to TakePart.com, the new park will be filled with edible plants and everything from pears to herbs will be free for the taking.
I love the idea; seven acres of land(!) for people to wander through. This is a great idea for the educational benefits alone. However…
So just who gets to harvest all that low-hanging fruit when the time comes?
“Anyone and everyone,” says Harrison. “There was major discussion about it. People worried, ‘What if someone comes and takes all the blueberries?’ That could very well happen, but maybe someone needed those blueberries. We look at it this way—if we have none at the end of blueberry season, then it means we’re successful.”
Sigh. Something tells me there will be a lot more fruit sellers on freeway entrances in Seattle, but I still like the idea. If it works in Seattle it would be fun to try in Portland, except that we don’t have any available acres of land. Maybe at the foot of the Morrison Bridge!
By the way, have you voted on the “Bartender” or “Mixologist” poll? Interestingly, when I ran the same poll a few years back, Mixologist won. This year it is a landslide in the other direction. I don’t know a single bartender in favor of a name dreamed up by a PR firm to pump sales.
That’s it! Nothing else has grabbed my attention. PS. That “nothing but positive reviews” thing was just a come on. Some people have no sense of humor.