Saturday, December 18, 2010

Classic Holiday Cocktails: Booze and Brunch at Irving Street Kitchen

What: Booze and Brunch: Classic Holiday Cocktails
Where: Irving Street Kitchen's Extra-long bar at 701 NW 13th Street (at Irving Street) in the Pearl District
Who: Irving Street Kitchen's own Brandon Wise (Eater PDX's Shaker of the Year 2010) and Jacob Grier (of Metrovino) - Complete with tacky Christmas sweaters and Santa hats!

I had the amazing priveledge to sit with some of Portland's favorite booze enthusiasts this morning for the first of these fun events with Brandon and Jacob, two of the best shakers in town. We were treated to four holiday drinks along with some tricks of the trade, like the precise definition of a "ropey" drink texture or fact that egg whites are, in fact, located INSIDE of eggshells... All kidding aside, these were great cocktails, including a classic New Orleans Fizz, a Bols Genever Hot Cocoa, traditional holiday Wassail, and a Dutch 75 with Bols Genever, champagne, and lemon It was very fun to get tips for holiday mixing and watch our fellow diners wear out their arms trying their hand at shaking.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Medlar? What's a Medlar?

A few weeks ago I was at Park Kitchen chatting with Chef Scott Dolich about the sources of his produce and the reliability of local Portland farmers coming through year after year. Scott's a regular customer of Sheldon and Carol Laeity of Your Kitchen Garden in Canby, because they supply their "beyond organic" produce to the Portland restaurant scene almost year-round (all but January) and they provide some unique varieties of greens, veggies, and fruits that you just can't get anywhere else. Another favorite farmer of Scott's is Tremaine Arkley who owns land in Independance, Oregon (just north of Keizer). Tremaine is the source of some of Park Kitchen's more interesting menu items, including these homely little guys. These, my friends, are medlars. When Scott pulled out a canister of these wrinkly things from under his counter, he had this big grin on his face because he knew he was introducing me to something I had never heard of, much less seen.

New Year's Eve Specials in Portland: Ring in 2011 with a Full Stomach

If you're still searching for your New Year's Eve plans, let Eater PDX help you out. I've done the legwork for you with an overview of the best New Years Eve Parties for Foodies in Portland. I've listed restaurant specials, late-night dancing and DJ's, and stellar tasting menus all around Portland. Some of my favorite places, including Accanto, Gilt Club, Nostrana, Roost, and Bar Avignon (pictured above), are pulling out all the stops to end your year right. Many places have early seatings if you have somewhere better to be for the ball dropping. They say the way you spend New Year's foreshadows the year to come, so what better way to guarantee a good 2011 than by making sure the evening of December 31 is spent stuffing your face? Eat on, good friends. Eat on.

P.S. If you've got family in town for the holidays and need some recommendations for places it eat in Portland, let me know. Got a vegetarian niece? Parents that want to splurge on something fancy? An adventurous foodie brother? I've got tips for any family sitch. My parents are coming up next week, and I'm going to try my best to convince my dad to try somewhere other than the Screen Door. What can I say, the man knows what he likes, but three SD trips in a week gets a bit intense. If you'd like Portland holiday restaurant tips, email me at or leave a comment below!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Portland Photos: House Spirits and Integrity Spirits Distillery Tour

What: Tour of local Portland Distilleries, House Spirits (makers of Aviation Gin, Krogstad Aquavit, and White Dog Whiskey) and Integrity Spirits (makers of Lovejoy Vodka, Trillium Absinthe, and 12 Bridges Gin)
Where: House Spirits, 2025 Southeast 7th Avenue, and Integrity Spirits, 909 Southeast Yamhill Street
Who: Matt Mount of House Spirits and Doug Reynolds of Integrity Spirits, Chef Jason French of  Ned Ludd, Chris Angelus of Portland Food Adventures.
Why: A bonus jaunt for diners from the Ned Ludd Portland Food Adventure


Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Photo Tour of Costa Rica: Pura Vida - The Best of the Flora and Fauna

I didn't have a chance to catch photos of some of our more exotic sightings - the six-foot-long iguanas were either too high in their favorite trees or too quick for my reflexes (I feel a bit better having learned that the spiny-tailed iguana is the world's fastest running lizard), the hummingbirds the size of crows moved unpredictably through the flowers, and the monkeys dashed across the road and into the bush before I could get my camera out the window of our truck. What's more, most of the time I was happy to leave my camera in my room, close my eyes, and listen. There is very little silence in Costa Rica. Everywhere, the sounds of birds, rain, cars, frogs, monkeys, thunder, and dogs keep you from feeling alone. Even high on a hill, overlooking a foggy valley bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the air was thick with the noises of life and movement.

Costa Rica is a country of micro-climates, where you can drive an hour from rain forest trees dripping with thick jungle vines to cowboy country in the north, with welcome dry air and African Savannah-like trees. There had been a hurricane a few weeks prior to our visit, so the rivers and ocean were ruddy with mud and debris, and several towns were battered by floods, but the country buzzed with the knowledge that the dry season was rushing in, cutting down on the rainy days and aiding the rapid growth of every green thing. To look at a hedge or bush was to find hundreds of tiny leaves, shooting out so quickly you could almost see them move on their own. Animals seemed to be thriving as well. Dogs were everywhere, loved by everyone but with a wild side. As we ate lunch one afternoon in a small open-air cafe by the ocean, no less than four dogs roamed under our table before wandering back out into the neighborhood. In fact, we saw more cows than dogs on leashes, though there were plenty of cows and horses wandering free on the side of the highway and in towns. Chickens could be found in many yards, or helping out as part-time staff at road-side fruit stands - when we stopped for some watermelon, the sweet old man paused while showing off his mangoes and melons to throw some birds a few scraps of rind, sending them flapping up a hill to chase after their good fortune.

Around 25% of the country is officially protected as national parks or nature refuges - more than any other country in the world. This appreciation of the environment seems less a conscious effort of the population than a tacit acknowledgment of the sheer density and power of nature in the country. The animals will ignore your fences, the vines will creep into your trees, and the winds and rains will blow through your home, so costarriqueños build and inhabit their spaces accordingly. You hear and see the phrase "pura vida" - literally pure life - everywhere; it's a frequent response to the question "how are you?" I loved being able to soak in a bit of that laid-back energy, and I'm happy to be able to show you some glimpses of the natural world that inspires it. Enjoy!