2012 has arrived, my long Holiday vacation is over and I must work again. After a couple days in Chicago to kick off the years plans, I’m back in Portland to stuff food products into my face.
The visit begins with an invitation to have a home cooked meal made for me by the WillisSchwab’s. Check this out… if you don’t have enough space in your tiny kitchen for all kinds of cooking toys, then make more kitchen! Dinners ready and its time for some cous cous, snapper, and a tapenade-ey sort of salsa topping made of green olives, shallots, garlic, tomato, capers, almonds, parsley, and preserved lemon. Cheesy crostini tops it all off, Thanks doods!
Now I’m off to Beaker and Flask. After becoming friends with Chef Ben Bettinger, I was aware that the staff were just returning from their company retreat. If you have ever worked in a restaurant that has a company retreat, you would know how it feels to come back to work. The staff was on the top of their game… We started off with the special sandwich, I mean side of veg, I mean… I dunno where the hell the damn dish fits into a menu, but its good. Its their evening special of soft scrambled egg with grana padano broth, crostini, and just a bit ‘o truffles. Next we had the Fried Chicken Livers with Radicchio Salad, Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Squash. Mmmmmm, Thymus Gland! On to the Rabbit Roulade with Blood Sausage and a crepe filled with chantrelles. Thanks Beaker Gang, now go take a nap!
If for some reason you need some pizza really late at night, you can hit up Sizzle Pie, the new spot just appeared right on Burnside. Be prepared for some freaking ROCK music while you wait for your pie. “So you want some PIZZA??? You want your pizza with ROOOOOCCKK???”
After a fire shut the doors of Aviary, they have re-opened with an addition of a bar, and again sporting reclaimed wood and other decorative stuffs from the church that used to reside here. The menu is basically no-holds barred small plates and run by 3 co-chefs who’s focus is to use local, seasonal, and exciting combinations. We ordered greater than or equal to 85% of their menu. (I must apologize for not using some pictures, and the quality of some that are used because the photographer sucked at taking pictures=me) Our meal started with Kushi Oysters with a spicy horseradish ice. Next our table was covered with a ridiculously delicious Fried Chicken Skin Salad with Watermelon, Oxtail Croquettes, and a bowl of spiced Duck Leg in Broth with a slow poached egg. I would like to bathe in this bowl. Continue to stuff face with extremely tender Octopus Salad with Chickpea Fries. Oh my Gatos, this Pig Ear dish with coconut rice was SOOOOOO good!! Hidden under the salad, I was surprised by the Chinese sausage, Lap Cheong, which I grew up eating in my family’s fried rice in Hawaii. Then a beautifully braised Short-rib, with Farro, pickles, and pomegranate melts into my belly. Lastly, the Four Cup Chicken, which is apparently, chicken cooked in equal parts/one cup of each: soy, sesame oil, some sort of Asian wine, and something else that tastes good. We didn’t leave any food on any plates.
We have wanted to return to Country Cat to get our serious pig eating on and we finally are on our way. Let’s kick this meal off with a pile of crispy pig ears, piled atop a wedge of fried scrapple. These delicious little nuggets of piggy-listeners were so crunchy on the outside, and gelatinously tender on the inside, all on top of fried pig face-meat. We ate them. The Whole Hog is a plate of a massive Pork Chop, a slice of pancetta style rolled pork belly, pulled pork shoulder, head cheese, and I think I’m missing a piece of pork, but you get the picture. Country Cat Fried Chicken, fried in Pork Tallow is goldenly delicious. We also had a large side of Grits topped with a pool of butter, and a side of greens. We ate it all. Chef Adam Sappington hooked us up with a trio of desserts and cookies! Thanks Adam!
Fun Stuff Portland! Im going home!