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Archive for the ‘wine’ Category

Dinner at home

I am guessing that most of you who read this blog might have gotten the impression that I do most of the cooking at our house.  If that’s the case, you’d be wrong.  S does at least as much cooking as I do.  He is the undisputed king of breakfast; famous for his waffles, pancakes and most delicious egg concoctions.  He also takes the lead on dinner quite often.

We do approach cooking differently.  I am an improviser.  I come home, look at what’s in the fridge, and throw something together.  Usually it is edible, and often it is quite good.

S, on the other hand, is a planner.  He likes to go to the grocery store with a cookbook (or review recipes before we head out and make a detailed list) and buy food for specific dishes.  As a result the food he cooks is a work of art.

He also likes to prep all of his ingredients in advance, setting up his mise en place carefully before beginning to cook anything.  I usually chop and saute and fumble in the refrigerator for the next ingredient as I cook.

Last weekend, S decided to make a seafood stew.  Oddly, he had not decided this before we went to the grocery store, but fortunately we had the ingredients he needed: Manila clams,

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Alaskan spot prawns, red and white onions, lots of garlic, hot pepper, fish stock, and canned tomatoes.

After a few hours in the kitchen, the smells were mouthwatering.  And as usual, the finished dish was both spectacular to look at and incredibly delicious.

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Along with the stew we had some of the last artichokes of the fall

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which we served with a balsamic vinaigrette.

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A perfect fall meal.  We ate it all

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and washed it down with a little local pinot noir.

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Showing friends around your new home town has to be one of the most intimidating, and potentially exciting, challenges one can face.  It can be a total disaster or an eye-opening adventure that lets you see things from a new perspective.

I was fortunate to have the second kind of experience as I took my old friend M and my new friend C around Portland over the last two days.

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The visit began somewhat crankily, with what should have been a simple three hour train trip from Tacoma, WA to Portland expanding through a cascade of difficulties into a nine hour journey that resulted in an eleven pm arrival.  Too late for a real dinner, we hurried to Clyde Common to take advantage of their late night bar menu.  Worn out, we headed home to sleep.

First Day

The next morning S sadly headed to work and M, C and I  made our way to breakfast at the Bijou Cafe.  There we feasted on, among other things, their renowned Oyster Hash, a plate full of cornmeal dusted oysters, potatoes and onions that provided a perfect base for the day.

Our next stop, inevitably, was Powell’s, where I managed to find a substantial stack of books to take home.  There is something magical about exploring the rooms and rooms filled with books and seeing all of the people there who want to read them; it casts a spell on me that always results in a big purchase.

After leaving my new books in the car, we walked through the Pearl stopping here and there to window shop or explore local stores. One of my favorites for wandering through is Cargo, always a feast for the eyes and imagination.

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As a next stop, we decided to head to the Lewis & Clark College campus where we found S and took a look around.

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A scenic drive through the Sellwood neighborhood and an expensive stop in Multnomah Village at Switch Shoes brought us home for a brief rest before our dinner reservation at Andina.  There we had a fantastic meal of shared small plates that ranged from a fresh citrus-drenched cebiche to the subtly flavored, delicately salted musciame de atun (cured tuna loin).

Second Day

The big plan for day two was a trip to taste some wine.  Before embarking, though, we headed to N. Mississippi Avenue for an amazing breakfast at Gravy and a quick stop for chocolates and salt at The Meadow.

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At about 12:30 we picked S up at work and headed for Willamette Valley wine country.

Our first two stops were at the Adelsheim and Penner-Ash vineyards, both of which specialize in pinot noirs made from grapes grown locally in the Willamette Valley AVA.

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We then headed a bit further west to Cana’s Feast where they specialize in Italian style wines from grapes grown in southern Washington state.

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Finally, we stopped in the town of Carlton and slid into the Tasting Room, a small shop that specializes in wines from smaller producers who don’t have their own vineyard tasting rooms.

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At last, with a car filled with bottles, and having tasted at least 20 different wines, we headed back to Portland and dinner at Ken’s Artisan Pizza, a perfect end to two days of eye-opening exploration, conversation, and laughs.

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