We really didn't think we were planning one, our only intention was to entertain our much anticipated guests, J's sister and her partner K from the Bay Area. So instead of our usual one or two outings on the weekend fit around adult chores, it was one giant field trip to some of our favorite places in Portland including our kitchen. The trainer was not going to see us this weekend. Starting off at Park Kitchen, we were treated to a masterful meal. Their plates are well conceived and deliver, even when some ingredients seem a bit disparate, they bring it home. Several small plates were shared before our entrees between the four of us, showing off the range of the kitchen's aptitude. The whole staff seems to wait on you, from the bartender to the waiters floating about the rooms delivering and whisking away plates, filling glasses and all with a completely professional- yet hip, vibe. Regretably, I did not eat the last of the sauce on the calamari plate and forgot my camera at home.
A quick breakfast in, and then a trip to Vino in Sellwood. Owner Bruce Bauer's wicked amusing blog is much enjoyed by our California family so Vino has become a Mecca-like trip for visiting kin. Bottles were purchased and we enjoyed sipping Saturday's free tasting while admiring good label design.
Though tempted by the arancini at Garden State and the nearby taco cart, we headed off to lunch in Hawthorne at Evoe. Guided by chef Kevin Gibson, we took the liberty of ordering for our table and the leisurely feast began- starting off with a lively dish of pickled fresh sardines with lightly braised celery and marcona almonds, then sashaying through courses of crunchy pork belly, delicately cooked octopus and a sausage sandwich called the Navarre, with the bread and sausage surprisingly (and deceptively?) light. Wow.
Fresh Pot next door fortified us for a few hours at Powells, where I found my latest vintage cookbook for my collection, "Experiences With Food," a 1956 home economics text book which despite it's hilarious pictures is really pretty common sense. One of the captions reads that "sodas and sundaes are delicious between meal snacks, but they are to be let alone by overweight persons of all ages, and they are also to be denied if they destroy the appetite for the next wholesome meal." Denied!
After buying more than intended at Powells, we went to Uwajimaya, my first choice on the west side for buying fresh seafood. Since finding a couple of nice bottles of Patricia Green pinot noir at Vino, we decided to make one of "my" dishes: crispy seared salmon on a bed of black rice with mango chutney which I enjoy just as much for the color as the flavor.
My guests seemed a bit dubious about oatmeal for breakfast, but K had chosen some beautiful figs at PastaWorks next to Evoe, and I poached these in a simple syrup until they were just warned through as well as some cinnamon apples for any possible fig haters. I ladled these over creamy oatmeal, toasted some walnuts for depth and texture, and as a fool proof measure poured on a little half and half. No one complained about the oatmeal.
We did have to watch a movie afterwards....before starting dinner.
A few friends came over to meet our guests of honor, and keeping the menu simple we sauteed some lovely in season (and reasonably priced) chanterelles and served them with toast. J made his famous "chicken under a brick" which delivers a caramelized exterior and moist interior- we served it with a hearty bread salad and plenty of wine.
On Monday I took a long nap and contemplated getting back into shape- for the next staycation.