An Education in Food : ‘Google The Menu’ Edition

Remember that time a couple of years ago when I went to Seattle for a winemaker’s dinner? It was a delicious feast hosted by Hotel 1000, featuring a brilliant mix of wine-making and culinary talent.

studio 1000 at hotel 1000 I had been invited to attend as a media guest, and it was one of those experiences that opened my eyes to a next level of food and wine. I knew that if I was going to legitimately call myself a food blogger the way I wanted to be known as such, it was time to commit to a true education in food.

cinderella pumpkin soup I realized there were terms and techniques I was unfamiliar with, and rather than pretend I knew what sugo means, I decided to educate myself and then in turn, share that information with readers of this blog.

Braised Oxtail Sugo It was a commitment to being honest about what I don’t know (instead of pretending to know something I don’t), and a commitment to learning as much as I can about food all the time.

Fast-forward to today. While I’ve solidly continued to expand my food knowledge, it never really took on any focus or dedication, and this year I’ve decided to change that.

I’m ready to get academic about food and flavor.

As part of the inspiration for this new commitment to my education in food, I recently started working part-time in a beautiful, amazing restaurant here in downtown Portland. The chefs here hit the farmer’s market twice a week, carefully selecting locally-grown and in-season food that then shows up on each week’s menu. They play with traditional English and Irish food in a way that is distinctively Portland, and has provided me with the opportunity to taste and savor a wide variety of local flavors.

That being said, as I looked over last week’s menu, I realized there were a few terms I was either a little fuzzy on or just outright unfamiliar with. I made a list and was all set to Google everything, when one of the servers noticed and instead took a few minutes to explain each term.

I want to be honest about where I’m at and what I’m learning, and I want to in turn, educate other people about food, wine, cocktails, Portland, and the beautiful blend of all of those pieces. That being said, here’s the list of terms I wrote down, what I already knew about each of them and what I learned.

gravlax

  • What I knew: Something about salmon
  • What I learned: There’s Nova lox and then there’s gravlax. Nova lox is specifically from Nova Scotia, Canada, and it’s brined and cold-smoked. Gravlax, instead, is a traditional Nordic means of preparing salmon where salmon is cured in a spice mixture, including dill, sugars, salt, and spices.

harissa

  • What I knew: Red peppers
  • What I learned: Harissa is a sauce traditionally made with red peppers, and my restaurant’s approach is to instead use padróns, making it a green harissa instead of the traditional red.

rarebit

  • What I knew: Absolutely nothing; I kept thinking people were saying “rabbit” weird.
  • What I learned: It’s a beer cheese bread salad. More accurately, rarebit is a dish made with a beer-cheese sauce served over thick slices of grilled bread (think country toast). It’s like an open-faced fondue sandwich. Fondue deconstructed (constructed?). Carb + cheese heaven.

guanciale

  • What I knew: Meat
  • What I learned: Guanciale is an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. Basically, it’s bacon. And when you put it on a flatbread (or just about anything), it’s magic.

crepinette

  • What I knew: Nothing. I thought it had something to do with miniature crepes.
  • What I learned: A crépinette is a small, flattened sausage, sometimes referred to as a sausage parcel. It is similar in shape to a sausage patty, circular, and flatten with meat. So, basically, it’s nothing at all like what I thought.

Yorkshire pudding

  • What I knew: Nothing.
  • What I learned: The best way to describe this is that it’s a popover. It’s bread, basically, a little crusty on the outside, and eggy and doughy on the inside.

tagliatelle

  • What I knew: Pasta
  • What I learned: The wordtagliatelle’ actually translates to “hand-cut,” so tagliatelle is simply hand-cut pasta, and is typically a bit wider than a fettucine noodle.

minutina

  • What I knew: Nothing.
  • What I learned: It’s a mixture of greens and lettuce.

gremolata

  • What I knew: Nothing.
  • What I learned: Gremolata is a chopped herb condiment most commonly, or classically, made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley.

If you’ve got any insight on any of these or ideas for creative approaches, let me know! I’m gearing up to spend the fall in “test kitchen” mode, and will likely start with things I learn and explore here.

doniree

Doniree is based in Portland, Oregon, where she is pretty damn thrilled about the Pacific Northwest's focus on local and seasonal food and great wine. When she's not at home, she's on the hunt for the best brunch, the best happy hour, and the best whiskey bar a city has to offer.

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tiquebox july

Made in Portland | Tique Box [Review]

Real talk, guys.

I’m a sucker for a subscription box. I signed up for Birchbox* just about immediately after discovering its existence, and I’ve been a loyal StitchFix subscriber for over a year now. I recently also subscribed to Plated, Organics to You, and I get a monthly wine insert shipment from Vinocopia Barrel**.

All that being said, when I found out Tique Box was launching in Portland, I got super excited. Not only is it a subscription box (or not, you can buy one-off gifts, too), but it’s Portland-centric, showing off our local makers with a heavy focus on food and art. I connected with co-founder, Paige, and was gifted the July box to sample, taste, peruse, and then share with you fine folks.

So, check this out, and then consider signing up or gifting someone you love a whole lot the delicious, unique, creative, and maybe a little bit weird gift of Portlandia.

Tique Box | July

Fat Dog Mustard with Horseradish & jalapeño

I generally like mustard and sauces and condiments and the like, and this? Not only was this no exception, it was incredible. It’s slightly sweet, slightly spicy thanks to the addition of horseradish (love!) and jalapeno, and it’s completely addictive.

I packed this with my patio grilling supplies for an impromptu outdoor dinner of burgers and veggies, and the flavor of this mustard absolutely killed it. Perfection.

fat dog mustard Also, because this could and should go beyond simply topping your summertime grilled goodness, check out the recipe section on the Fat Dog Inc. website for more ways to integrate these flavors into your everyday cooking.

Bonus! Fat Dog Mustard uses local (to Portland) ingredients and is naturally gluten-free.

ZenShine Pouty Lip Vegan Natural Lip Balm in Coconut Lime

Hello, summer on my lips! This is so smoothing, so rich and nourishing, and smells so fresh and summery. Perfect for those hot summer evenings spent stealing kisses on beaches and in the woods.

coco lime balm The lip balm is handmade and includes deliciously fresh ingredients such as coconut oil, organic bees wax, organic honey, rosehip oil, and other essential oils.

Vance Family Soy Candles in Portland Rose

vancefam_candles You guys. Someone figured out how to bottle up the amazing, intoxicating nature smells of the Pacific Northwest.

That “someone” is Vance Family Soy Candles, and the Portland Rose candle in my July Tique Box is incredible. It actually smells like walking through the International Rose Test Gardens. It would make sense that this smells like actual roses since Vance Family Soy Candles never use any synthetic fragrance, but rather use pure essential oils and organic (natural, GMO-free, and edible grade) flavor oils.

There’s a whole bunch of other scents (lemongrass! autumn spice!), but the two on my radar for when this one runs out? Hiking Trail (fir and cedar!) and Pacific NW Rain.

The Noble Spice in YELLOW JACKet

the noble spice yellow jacket I’ll be honest. I haven’t tried this one yet. I’m so excited, yet also, maybe a little intimidated. Ghost Chili! That shit’s legit, and by “legit,” I mean “the hottest pepper in the world.”

Now, I love spice, but I’d like to figure out how to use this well. Since I couldn’t easily find recipes featuring this blend on The Noble Spice’s website or blog, I reached out directly for some ideas and inspiration and will definitely post something here once I’ve done some experimenting!

YoshiniG Creative Greeting Cards

I might be a tiny bit biased, because Yosh is a friend of mine, but just check out these cards. She is incredibly creative and talented, and I’m so delighted to see her illustration work featured in Tique Box! I got this adorable squirrel card which I can’t wait to send to a faraway friend as part of my never-ending come-visit-me-in-Portland petition.

yosh squirrel yoshinig creative All of these cards are printed on heavyweight paper (16pt stock) that is FSC certified. It has a light satin finish, left un-coated on the inside for easier writing. For more designs, check out the Etsy shop.

Wooly Beast Designs Shea Butter Soap in Magical forest

Magical forest? Sign me up!

wooly beast magical_forest Wooly Beast Shea Butter Soaps are handmade with shea butter, essential oils, coconut oil, safflower oil and other natural ingredients. Also, it smells like moss and pine and rain and clean air. And according to the official product description, also like fairies and woodland creatures.

And you guys. I’m into that.

Ready to check it out for yourself? I’ve got a couple of offers for you!

Subscribe and save $5 per month ($60 per year!) on a Tique Box subscription and get a little Portland love delivered straight to you every single month.

Not ready to commit, but want to try a box? Get the August box for $10 off by using the code AUG$10OFF now through August 13. Purchase your box today!

*Duh, these are referral links because when you buy, I get credits, and when I get credits, I do a happy dance. You all want that, right? Right.

**Disclosure: Vinocopia Barrel is a client (super cool, huh?). If you want your own barrel, grab one and use the promo code ‘DONIREE’ to save 20%.

doniree

Doniree is based in Portland, Oregon, where she is pretty damn thrilled about the Pacific Northwest's focus on local and seasonal food and great wine. When she's not at home, she's on the hunt for the best brunch, the best happy hour, and the best whiskey bar a city has to offer.

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On Your PDX Radar : Portland Burger Week

You like burgers? I like burgers. I like burgers a LOT. Especially in the summer. Especially off a grill. And especially here in Portland where great burgers range from the basics at Bar Bar* to the insanely flavor-packed burger at Yakuza to the towering layers of house-made sauces and toppings at TILT. Portland can handle a fucking burger, that’s for sure.

So, that’s why you should probably check out Portland Burger Week, which is next week, Monday through Friday, August 11-17. Over 20 restaurants are participating, crafting unique burgers especially for this week. I guess it’s sort of A Thing that the restaurants try to outdo each other, so it should probably be A Thing that you hit up at least a few.

All the burgers are $5. FIVE BONES. So, make your lists, make room in your bellies, and map your routes. Oh, and check out the Portland Mercury’s guide on how to not be a dick the Five Commandments of Burger Week. In a nutshell: tip well, realize there will be waits, etc. This is a big, busy week, you guys. Put your big kid stretchy pants on and get after it.

The Facebook page is here, and you can tag your tweets and Instagrams #portlandburgerweek to play along. Oh! And those restaurants I mentioned earlier? See below for their Burger Week offerings. Sadly, Yakuza is not participating, however, make it a point to get in there sooner than later because their regular old dinner menu burger is on point.

*Bar Bar‘s Burger Week Burger: State Fair Burger
Tender Alessio bun, griddled onions, beef patty, thick cheddar, ketchup. Boom. The stone classic archetype. // @MississippiStud

**TILT‘s Burger Week Burger: Eastern Block
Locally sourced natural chuck patty, American cheese, hand-carved pork belly, fried onions/peppers and a tasty house recipe sweet pepper & dill yogurt sauce, all perfectly nestled on one of Tilt’s giant, house recipe fresh baked biscuits. Burger Available after 8am. // @tiltitup

doniree

Doniree is based in Portland, Oregon, where she is pretty damn thrilled about the Pacific Northwest's focus on local and seasonal food and great wine. When she's not at home, she's on the hunt for the best brunch, the best happy hour, and the best whiskey bar a city has to offer.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Pinterest - Flickr

How to Roast Garlic

The Mediterranean Restaurant in Boulder, Colorado is one of my favorite places for small plates and tapas-style eating. There’s always something for everyone, and the menu changes just enough to be interesting, but not so often that it’s not a familiar favorite each time I go back.

I’ve always gone back for the polenta (which is fried, drizzled in honey, and then topped with Bleu Cheese crumbles), but ventured out on a previous visit into some new items. This time, I discovered their roasted garlic dip, which honestly, I don’t think I’d have ever, ever ordered this myself (so much garlic!), but roasted garlic is much milder and much sweeter than raw garlic, and when you throw in the jam that comes with this dip, it is the perfect crostini-topper.

As it turns out, roasting garlic is really, really easy, and it’s a great addition to recipes that call for garlic but might need to be toned down a little.

Anyway, here’s the super easy how-to on roasted garlic, and then a couple of ideas on what to do with it.

How to Roast Garlic

What you’ll need

  • at least 1 head of garlic
  • olive oil

That’s it!

Preheat the oven to 400 [degrees Fahrenheit]. Peel away the excess skin from the garlic, leaving the skin immediately around the cloves in tact.

Using a knife, cut about a half inch off the top of the garlic head, exposing the cloves.

Place the cloves in a baking pan (muffin pans are awesome since the heads fit right in there and don’t move around too much) and loosely cover the heads with aluminum foil. If you don’t have a muffin pan, just wrap the garlic heads in aluminum foil and place a baking sheet on the rack below them in the oven (so if any oil drips out, the pan will catch it).

Roast at 400 for about 35 minutes, until the garlic cloves are soft.

roasted garlic Once they’ve cooled a bit, cut small slits in the sides of the cloves and gently squeeze each of the cloves out.

From here, you can just eat this straight or you can spread it on bread, add it to soups, sauces, dressings, or other vegetable and pasta dishes.

doniree

Doniree is based in Portland, Oregon, where she is pretty damn thrilled about the Pacific Northwest's focus on local and seasonal food and great wine. When she's not at home, she's on the hunt for the best brunch, the best happy hour, and the best whiskey bar a city has to offer.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Pinterest - Flickr