Monday, November 1, 2010

Iron Foodie 2010

Foodie Blog Roll is sponsoring a Iron Foodie competition. The contestants will chosen by who has the best answers to the following questions-wish me luck!
Drum roll, and the questions are:
  1. Why do you want to compete in this challenge? I grew up playing sports and am very competitive. This foodie challenge appeals to my love of food and competition.
  2. Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef? All of the food celebrities above would be great to spend the day with, but if I had to choose one it would be Julia Child. Her late life introduction to cooking and French culture have inspired me to realize how much you can create in the second half of your life.
  3. What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking? Artisan bread
  4. Sum your childhood up in one meal. Meatloaf with Tomato Ketchup, Green Beans (canned) with Bacon and Mashed Potatoes (lumpy).
  5. The one mainstream food you can’t stand? If it were up to people like me to support McDonald's they would have a single store and a sign that said: "Thousands Served"- I hate fast food burgers.

Iron Foodie 2010 | Here's Why that will be me: -- Fine Bulk Foods The Foodie BlogRoll

Monday, October 25, 2010


This week the local alternative newspaper (Willamette Week) in Portland, Oregon came out with their 2010 restaurant guide where they named their restaurant of the year. The winner is a place called Tasty n Sons. What is remarkable isn't that the food is great. What makes this a wildcard choice is that this place is only open for Brunch.
In homage to the winner and their amazing chef John Gorham, I had to make their specialty egg dish called Shakshuka. This dish has its roots in Morocco and it is a spicy/savory /tomato/pepper/onion melange that gets a couple of eggs poached (soft & runny) just before service. This is quick, easy and it kicks serious flavor ass. The only thing that made this better was some toast and some fresh ground Stumptown Coffee.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bacon & Egg Bruschetta with Spring Greens

It seems like forever since I have posted. I have been grilling a ton lately and Now that Fall is here I am starting to dust off my LeCruset Casserole pots for some braising action.
Anyway, tonight I was craving something "fun", but just a bit lighter. I had some nice Spring Greens (from Fresh Express via Foodbuzz) and some Sourdough bread that needed attention so I thought I would do a quickie warm bacon dressing . I keep a homemade Balsamic vinaigrette around at all times so I tossed in a couple of spoonfuls of that into a sauce pan that I had crisped a single slice of minced bacon. An assortment of greens, some toasted bread (please note, I make the best garlic bread on the planet...really, just ask my son. Recipe: toasted bread, rubbed with a piece of raw garlic, butter a dash of olive oil plus some kosher salt...I think I am more than ready for a Bobby Flay Garlic Bread Throwdown!) and a couple of 3 minute poached eggs. This came together in the time it took to get the two eggs poached.
Not too shabby for a Wednesday, eh?
Bon Appetit

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wine is not Kryptonite

"Wine Guy" to the rescue!

I wrote this wine blurb over a year ago and since it seems like I am being asked the same basic questions about wine by friends and acquaintances alike, I decided to re-post it.

When I go out to a restaurant I often see people treating the
Wine List like it has been infected with the Ebola virus. I am sure many uncomfortable diners would love to be able to have a wine super hero "Wine Guy" fly in and make a wine selection . While there are more and more restaurants who have a Sommelier or a knowledgeable Wine Steward who can assist in making a selection, I get the feeling that many of you have a fear of asking for directions when choosing a wine (kind of like not asking for directions to the Freeway and spending an extra hour driving in the wrong direction).
Well, I am here to say that the wine list is not made out of
Kryptonite and if you want to think of me as a wine Super Hero (but without the cape and the tights) that is up to you.
The next time you are figuring out what to serve with dinner or are going to dinner and you are looking at the "Wine List", just keep in mind a couple of things when trying to pair your wine with your meal.

1. If it grows together, it goes together. Italian food goes well with Italian wines. Oregon Pinot Noir goes well with Salmon, mushrooms, truffles and game. When eating well prepared fresh local cuisine look for the wines of that region as well.

2. Forget the Red Wine w/Red Meat -White Wine w/Fish or Poultry Rule. While a Bordeaux or a California Cabernet go well with a steak you are absolutely allowed to drink whatever your palate says you should drink. If you want to drink a Sauvignon Blanc with a steak ..... do it! Personally anything that hits my grill is getting paired with a red wine that has the backbone to standup to some smoke and spice.

3. Don't be afraid of asking for directions. If the restaurant has a Sommelier use his/her expertise. These people have spent years training their palate (like a runner training for a marathon) and they can be a wonderful resource. Also, don't be anxious about ordering something less expensive on the list. The restaurant doesn't care if you order the most expensive bottle or the least expensive bottle, they want you to have a great dining experience and they want you to come back.

4. Take your own wine- My group of friends are very wine savvy and we all take wine to restaurants. Keep in mind that the restaurant will charge you to open the bottle. The standard term is called a "Corkage Fee". These fees will range between $10-25/bottle. The reason to bring wine is not to save money, it is to enjoy wines that are not on the restaurants wine list. Older wines, limited production wines, wines from mailing lists, etc.

5. Upgrade your stemware- As geeky as it sounds, different wines taste and smell better in different style glassware. If you want to maximize your drinking pleasure use a proper glass. While you can have an almost infinite variety of stemware if you are just starting out, purchase Cabernet/Bordeaux style glasses. These glasses are the most versatile for both red and white wines and by the time you get around to really enjoying Burgundy or new world Pinot Noir you will already have notched up your glass collection a stem or two just by osmosis.

6. EEE-Experiment, Expand your palate, Enjoy!-The more wine you taste, the better your palate will become and the more you will enjoy what you drink. Not to go all Forrest Gump on you, but the wine world is like a 1000 piece box of chocolates-try them all!
Wine can and should be first and foremost a fun experience.

7. Watch a couple of episodes of Wine Library TV- Trust me, Gary Vaynerchuk is doing more to take the "snob" out of wine than anyone I know. Follow the Three-E's and remember as Gary says: "You, and a tiny bit of me, is changing the wine world".

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hobby or Obsession?

I can remember vividly when the "light" was switched on in my head (the wine light that is). Or maybe since I still have "Exhibit A" I can refer to the date on the spine of the Wine Spectator magazine that shoved me into the deep end of the wine pool (March 31, 2003).
I had been a wine drinker for more than 20 years and though I love the taste of wine I never really thought about what I was tasting. Looking back it surprises me just a bit. I am a very accomplished chef and I was good at matching food to wine, but after reading that issue of Spectator I had a revelation. That revelation was simple: "I need to buy 2000!".
For the next several weeks I poured over as many sources of information as I could get my hands on. Wine Spectator, Wally's of L.A. newsletter, Wine Advocate, Zachy's online and countless online sources I can't even remember. The result was that I ordered about 15 cases of Bordeaux. Most of this was Petite Chateau and Bordeaux Superior, but I did also snag some Cru Classe wines. My goal with my selections was to get as much high quality wine as I could for what I had to spend. This also meant that I needed to get a place to store the incoming wine since suddenly my 5 case under counter cooler was now woefully undersized.
I discovered a new wine storage facility on the Eastside of Portland called
Portland Wine Storage. I rented a 18 case locker and the rest is history. Today my locker has turned into a 30+ case room and the owners Tom Harvey and Joe Padulo have become good friends of mine. Tom, his wife Andria and my buddy Sam Sundeleaf and I are on the verge of making wine commercially. The funny thing about wine is that once you start amping up your collection you would be surprised how often I can walk into that 30 case cellar and still not feel like I have anything to drink.
Here is the list of the wines I purchased (listed alphabetically).Chateau D' Agassac
Chateau Batailley
Chateau Beaumont
Chateau Bellefont Belcier
Chateau Cambon La Pelouse
Chateau Cantemerle
Chateau Cantenac
Chateau Clos L'Eglise
Chateau Fombrage
Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva
Chateau Haut Batailley
Chateau Lynch Bages
Chateau Lynch Moussas
Chateau Martinens
Chateau Petit-Village
Chateau Pibran
Chateau Reignac
Chateau Rollan De By
Chateau Rouillac
Chateau Sociando Mallet
Chateau Les Trois Croix

I have sampled all of these wines with the exception of the Sociando Mallet and the Lynch Bages. The find of the bunch I think is the Reignac. Wally's wine shop was out of one of the wines I was ordering and they recommended this wine in its place (Parker gave this 92 pts. and I think I paid $19.99/btl.). The nice thing about purchasing wine that you intend to drink versus collect, is that any of them can be broken out for a party whether it be formal or just a couple of friends. Wine is meant to be shared and I hope I can share some of these with those of you who are my friends reading this.
The top bottles I purchased were the Lynch Bages and I tell my 15 year old son that someday we will open those when he gets married. This makes me wish my Dad had set down some 1961 Lynch Bages for my wedding.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Crunchy Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

Crunchy Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

Since the weather actually got nice here in Portland I have been doing a lot of entertaining and also have been getting invited to cookouts. Lately I have been focusing more on side dishes and salads. While growing up I have to admit that I wasn't a big potato salad or cole slaw guy. As of late I realized that both of these dishes have a broad flavor and taste profile.
I now understand what I didn't like about cole slaw was the mayonnaise/sugar based dressing.
Once I found you could dress cabbage with an oil and vinegar dressing I have broken out of the box and been playing with all of the tastes humans can discern: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and that late addition to the taste game, umami .

For this dish I use thin sliced Red and Green Cabbage along with some Napa Cabbage for fun. A thin sliced red onion with scallions to taste. The dressing is a 3:1 mix of canola oil and sherry wine vinegar, salt, pepper, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a few minced garlic cloves. Dress the salad then add a scant cup of crumbled gorgonzola and toss again and refrigerate until ready to serve (this is best cold). This dish looks great and is a simple to make, looks tremendous and it is a great foil for anything you can

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grilled Potato Salad with Red Pepper-Smoked Paprika Aioli

Roasted potato dressed with Red Pepper/Smoked Paprika Aioli

Summer is finally here in Portland, Oregon. We had the worst Spring this year since I moved here in 1993 ( 3 clear days.........yeah, it sucked to be us), but the Summer we have been having is almost on the verge of making up for it.
As anyone who has read my blog knows, I am a huge fan of Bobby Flay. The above is my adaptation of his recipe for: Grilled Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Red Pepper-Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise

I have been going to a ton of barbecue's and this has been a crowd pleaser. My recipe bumps up the amount of smoked paprika (maybe even double it) and I like to use a mix of potatoes (red, russets, fingerlings, etc.). I also substitute jarred Piquillo Peppers and lemon juice for the acid instead of the vinegar. If you don't want to break out the grill go ahead and just cut and toss the potatoes with olive oil and roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes once and roast for another 2o minutes then remove from the oven and toss with the Aioli while they are still warm. The word Aioli sound way sexier than Mayonnaise, don't you think?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cochon 555

Good, good, good, good, good, REAL GOOD!

Wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW! What a way to spend a Sunday evening. I have been to a ton of foodie events in Portland and around the United States, but the Cochon 555 event held at the Governor Hotel far exceeded my expectations......and with tickets at $125-175 a pop the bar was set pretty damn high. The food quality at these kind of events can be spotty, but in this case this group of decorated chefs (and crews) upped the ante. felt like the set of Iron Chef, too bad I don't look like Alton Brown. The crowd was also packed with industry people and nobody wanted to not put their best food forward. In a single word: "Outstanding"!

The venue was the Historic Governor Hotel and the celebrity chef list included:

JASON BARWIKOWSKI – Olympic Provisions
CATHY WHIMS – Nostrana
Butcher: RYAN FARR - 4505 Meats

Special Guest Chefs:
GREG DENTON - Metrovino
DAVID ANDERSON - Genoa Restaurant

Hog Butchering Demonstration.............Check!

Great wine........Check!

Ass Kicking Food........Check!

The food as one might imagine pretty much too advantage of the theme ingredient (Pig) from snout to tail. Charcuterie, blood sausage, pate as well as a host of Asian and Mexican influenced stews.

Olympic Provisions "Meat" sign

To be honest as much as I love bbq and whole hog roasts, the single item that stood out for me was the Posole, Cilantro Puree & Cabbage Cotija. It may have been the reason that when the final tally was done by the judges and the eating public the winning chef was Jason Barwikowski. When his name was announced his sous chef's rushed the stage and hoisted him like he was Tom Brady and had just tossed the winning Super Bowl pass! It is great to see that Portland has so much talent and passion when it comes to pushing the locavore you gotta love kitchen geeks getting star treatment!

I had a friend who just got back from three weeks in Italy and she spent time in and around Rome. Her thoughts were that Portland has a much stronger food scene than what she encountered in Rome.

The highlights for me were the offerings form Jason Barwikowski at Olympic Provisions and Andy Ricker of Pok-Pok (and their respective and sizable crews)..

In the wine category, when you have both Domaine Drouhin and Domaine Serene show up for a tasting event like this the competition usually feels like they brought a knife to a gunfight. Actually, while DDO and DS were great, I was impressed by the offerings from Elk Cove (the dry Reisling was fantastic). Soter was right in there and made an impression with their Mineral Springs Ranch (MSR) Pinot………..but, for my money

Ben & Mimi Casteel-Cute enough to be the King and Queen of this Pig Prom

Bethel Heights Winery brought some serious thunder and having the second generaton winemaker & vinticulturist (Cousins Ben & Mimi Casteel) sharing the love with four single vineyard Pinot Noir offerings was a special treat. This is a 30 + year old winery in the Central Willamette Valley. I love these family owned and operated wineries (note to self, get on the mailing list).

Nostrana Menu


What is not to love about Naomi Pomeroy's Beast Restaurant?

The Posole, Cilantro Puree & Cabbage Cotija was the best dish I have eaten all year (scouts honor)

Whole Hog.......are you freakin kidding me?

Okay, the event is over, the wine has flowed and we have all had pig from snout to tail and what do they then wheel in on a rolling table? Answer: A whole roasted hog that Adam Sappington of Country Cat carved and served BBQ style. I got some pulled pork and some potato chip crisp skin.....I told the server "I love you".......and I meant it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

1 1/2 Men BBQ

The only guy at my house that enjoys real BBQ more than I do is my son Connor.
I am going to venture a guess and say he has been exposed to more grilled protein than just about any other budding carnivore in Portland. My son has a very adventurous palate and with the exception of a vegetable aversion he will eat almost any you can grill (including liver) I have been traveling a bit lately (actually I had spent 1 day in my own bed in the last 10 days) and this past weekend I offered to recreate some of the authentic Texas BBQ I had the opportunity to sample in Central Texas. With that offer, lets just say I got no argument from my son.

Connor (future Master Sommelier?) - helping me bottle my 2007 Pinot Noir
*Note: These ribs would beat Pinot Noir like a rented mule....think Zinfandel (Turley if you can get it)

While I wish I could say that I sourced the ribs from heritage bred hogs or acorn finished swine, the reality was that I went to Cash & Carry and picked up a commercial sized pack of back ribs.

I have the Steve Raichlen BBQ Bible Cookbook and I did a variation on his basic dry rub......Chile powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes and some celery seed. I added the rub and let the ribs sit overnight. The next day I smoked the ribs in a a Weber grill that I added a full chimney of mesquite coals and a log of apple wood. I piled the coals on one side of the grill, added a pan of water (moisture) under the meat and set the ribs to one side. I also nearly close the vents (top and bottom) and then tried to leave everything alone for about 5 hours.

Ribs, Slaw & Beans

While I didn't get a chance to sample the ribs at Louis Mueller BBQ (they ran out), I will say that these ribs at least matched the product at 2 Bros. BBQ Market-nice bark,decent smoke ring, good tenderness, but not mushy. The cole slaw and beans were both a step up on either venue. Next time we go after the Holy Grail of Texas BBQ and try smoking a whole brisket.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Two Bros. BBQ Market

This past week I was in San Antonio for a conference. I was fortunate enough to be staying downtown near the Alamo and the Riverwalk, so there was plenty of activity.
I made a point of contacting my blog friend Daniel at Full Custom Gospel BBQ to ask his advice about BBQ in the area. My intention was to rent a car and head out to either Luling to City Market or up to Lockhart to Kruez Market. Unfortunately due to timing both of those options were out of the picture. Plan "B" ended up being a local BBQ joint called Two Bros. BBQ Market. Two Brothers is about 12 miles from downtown and with the help of my handy Blackberry we were able to navigate from the hotel to this out of the way BBQ joint without a hitch (thank god for technology).

Pork Ribs, Beef Brisket, Sausage & Fixins
Okay, so how often do I get to have "real" Texas BBQ? Not that often (actually until this last month, never!). I made a point of skipping lunch because I knew that moderation in ordering multiple smoked meat options was not on my dinner horizon.
I ordered up a 1/2 lb. of the brisket, a couple of ribs and a sausage.........oh yeah, and Shiner Bock too (don't you love that a whole bunch of Germans decided to settle in Texas). The brisket had a tremendous smoke ring and the bark was great. With just a dab of the House BBQ sauce this was really good. I would make a point of ordering the moist brisket next time (personal preference). The ribs were very good as well with great smoke flavor and good tenderness. I think that many people misunderstand what a great rib is.
A perfect rib is tender enough that if you take a two rib section, you should be able to pull the two rib sections apart without pulling the meat off the bone (really fine line).
The sausage reminded me of the Portuguese Linguisa I cook at home. This was smokey and succulent. All in all this was a great night out and the guys who operate this place were awesome hosts! If you are in San Antonio in the future make the trek out to see Two Bros.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Louie Mueller BBQ

Louis Mueller BBQ
Last week I was in Central Texas on business. Before I left town I did some research as I knew this area was a "hot bed" for Texas BBQ. I came across a great BBQ blog called Full Custom Gospel BBQ. I wrote the site owner and he was kind enough to recommend a handful of great places to hit. On Tuesday last week I was 30 minutes from a Texas Landmark and I convinced my travel companions to head to Taylor, Texas and Louis Mueller BBQ. This place has been doing BBQ since 1949 (the year my Dad graduated from High School). Taylor is small (pop. 14,000) and without doing some research I would have never suspected what I was going to find.

To be honest I had never been to an authentic Texas BBQ joint and had no idea what to expect (other than what I had read). Walking in the front door you are greeted by this amazing smoke smell. Remember when you were a kid and you got to roast hot dogs and marshmallows on a stick and hang out telling ghost stories by the campfire. Remember how your clothes smelled the next morning.......that is what Louis Mueller's smelled like (amazing!).
Yeah, that's a James Beard Citation Award
Menu......gotta love it.
Check out the business cards on this wall. The brown cards are that way because of the smoke they have seen. The smell makes me want to build a smokehouse, but I am not sure my condo board would approve of that.

Wayne Mueller (3rd generation owner) & Me
While I didn't get to the restaurant that late (5:00pm), they were out of all but the Pork Loin, Chopped Beef and Brisket. I was going to go with a mixed plate, but thought better after I saw the Brisket. I ordered 1 lb. of Moist Brisket (the end with the fat) and Wayne told me if I was in the area again to call ahead and they would either hold food or cook a bit more.
Moist Brisket
The Brisket was served with a couple of slices of white bread, a dipping sauce, some raw onion slices and dill pickle chips. I got a side of beans and a Shiner Bock (these guys have been making German style beer in Texas since 1914), served in a Mason Jar...........Yum!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pâté de Canard en Croûte

Pâté de Canard en Croûte

Last week a group of my friends and I were out for dinner. As is ofter the case, our table talk turned to wine. The discussion ended up with us deciding to taste a vertical of Le Cigare Volant, a wine my friend Andria had a 7 bottle vertical of.
What to have for dinner? Since we had recently seen the movie Julie/Julia my buddy Sam said lets have " Pâté de Canard en Croûte".
I thought about it for a second and decided what the heck. All in this recipe took 3-4 solid hours of focused prep time and that doesn't include cooking or shopping.
Was this the most amazing thing I have ever eaten (nah), was it one of the most spectacular things I have presented on a set table (hell, yes!).
Monseiur Duck
Boned.........45 minutes!
Stuffed and TrussedBrowned
Wrapped with Pastry Dough and Oven Ready

Would I make this again.......Hmmm, maybe. This is a big fat show-off of a dinner entree and you really need a group of wine and foodie geeks (my friends in Spades) to appreciate it. Trust me, if you make this for dinner, even just once, no one who was at the table will ever forget that night. Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 1, 2010


Normally any drink concoction with that contained both a fifth of vodka and a fifth of straight grain alcohol (190 proof.......yike) would have a quaint name like: Rocket Fuel, Jungle Juice or Spode (my fraternity neighbors used to make this).
Well, a couple of bottles of spirits plus the rind of 15-20 lemons (I used Meyer Lemons) and you have the makings of Limoncello. Limoncello is is an Italian lemon liqueur most often produced in Southern Italy, mainly in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi and islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri, but also in Sicily, Sardinia, Menton in France and the Maltese island of Gozo.


To the lemon peels you add the spirits and let this mixture sit in a cool, dark spot for 45 days. After that you take 4 cups of sugar added to 5 cups of boiling water to make a simple syrup. Add the syrup to the lemon/spirit mixture and let is sit for another 45 days. Strain the mixture with a mesh strainer to remove the peels and then strain the remaining mixture through a coffee filer two times. Now it is ready to bottle.
Serve ice cold (go ahead and keep the bottle in the freezer........since this is about 150 proof you don't have to worry about it freezing) in small glass (take care, this stuff is strong)