Pasta Dinner Giveaway!

linguineI’ll admit it, at about 8:30 this morning, I was craving pasta. On my walk to work, I was listening to chef Scott Conant on Marc Maron’s podcast talk about his infamous spaghetti with red sauce. He revealed how he first infuses oil with garlic and basil, only uses fresh tomatoes (!!), and that he finishes the sauce with a little butter. My compulsion for fresh pasta was definitely pretty strong once I got to Old Town. Then I remembered that Lardo chef Rick Gencarelli is opening his new pasta spot in Southwest Portland called Grassa on June 11th, and I felt a little better.

From what I’ve learned, Gencarelli’s vision for the restaurant is homemade pasta in a more casual and affordable setting than other Portland establishments. The menu I saw already has about 9,000 things I’d like to try, from bucatini zucchini with fried squash blossoms to ricotta gnocchi with San Marzano butter sauce and chives.

The restaurant officially opens June 11th, but this Thursday and Friday nights they will be holding *FREE* preview dinners for a handful of pasta lovers. Want a pair of tickets to one of these dinners? Tell me in the comments about your favorite homemade pasta dish. Is it your dad’s slow-cooked chicken cacciatore? Your boyfriend’s homemade ravioli? Be descriptive! I’ll choose and contact the winner tomorrow afternoon.

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Old Faithful Restaurant Of The Week: Clyde Common

downloadWhile it may be attached to Ace Hotel, Clyde Common is far from the chicken Caesar salad fare you might see at a hotel restaurant. It’s no secret that their infamous cocktail program is fantastic. But I will admit it’s their tender handmade pastas, ever- changing with seasonal vegetables like nettles and fiddlehead ferns, that keep me coming back.

Drink This: Barrel-Aged Negroni. Small and mighty, this fuschia-hued beverage may look Sex and the City but is bitter, smooth and and anything but sweet.

To Start: Order the Squid Ink Fideos for the table. The base of the dish is small pasta circles, sautéed risotto-style, which is then covered in a jet-black squid ink sauce studded with seafood and sausage. This dish is complex and decadent, yet completely cream-less. I’ve been told that one of the key ingredients to its complexity is a tomato pepper jam.

For Dinner: Any of the house-made pastas (get the bigger size). Recent menu options have been paparadelle with crab and roe and fettuccine with poached egg and pickled ramps. But you can’t really go wrong here.

Tip: If you happen to make it in for happy hour (daily 3-6 pm) grab the burger for a mere $6. It’s one of my favorites in town; always perfectly pink inside and incredibly juicy.

Find regular menu changes at their hours here.

Oven and Shaker Twists Traditions This Wednesday

Connoisseurs of cocktails often say that you must first master traditional drink recipes before you can move forward and alter them creatively. If this axiom

Photo by Jennifer Heigl

is true for pizza, Nostrana’s Cathy Whims can put whatever she wants on her pies.

Tomorrow night in the Pearl marks the opening of Oven and Shaker, a pizza and cocktail lovechild from Whims and Ryan Magarian, with help from ChefStable’s brilliant Kurt Huffman. While Whims stays true to Italian culture at her restaurant Nostrana, Oven and Shaker is more about sipping a great cocktail and eating dishes that aren’t always rigid with the traditionalism.

Last night at a preview event she told me, “This menu is more relaxed. We’re playing with our pizzas more, we’ve got things like Brussels Sprouts on them…we might even have one with pineapple at some point.” The menu’s pies are topped with combinations like chanterelle mushrooms, radicchio and fried sage and a cheese-less pie with white anchovies and fried capers. Sometimes, the menu even takes unexpected risks like adding a little wild honey to a Calabrese salami pizza. Other dishes take some inspiration from Sicilian street food (often in the fried variety) like three types of arancini (including one with a beef and pea ragu and saffron risotto) and fried cheeses like mozzarella in carozza with anchovy caper salsa. Perhaps the most impressive are the lamb lollipops (shockingly tender lamb chops lightly fried and squeezed with lemon).

And the “Shaker” part of Oven and Shaker is definitely something to be equally excited

Photo by Jennifer Heigl

about. Namely,a pineapple concoction titled the Pineapple Trainwreck with just enough spicy ginger to kick the usually cloying affect found in similar cocktails elsewhere. And like  Cathy’s food dishes, Magarian takes smart risks like his Pepper Smash- an Aquavit drink with bell pepper juice and mint leaves, and a Manhattan made with high-end tequila that’s not for quitters.

The restaurant will be open nightly for now, with plans for lunch in the future. And if you do go, please save me a seat—this is definitely the woodfire oven pizza spot I’ve been waiting for on the West side.

1134 NW Everett St 4pm-12 am, opens Wednesday November 30th

Week’s Eats-Because I Want To Talk Restaurants, Dammit.

I realize I read and talk about Portland’s food scene quite a bit and I thought I’d start sharing what I know. I’ve got plenty of reliable and talented sources, but I understand not everyone reads 6 food websites regularly to hear what’s opening, closing etc. So, I decided I’d start posting about new restaurants/chef changes/dishes I’ve tasted so you can read it all in one spot with a Kat twist. Any place you’re wondering about? Let me know in the comments.

 

November 14th-18th

Over the weekend:

Last Saturday Portland’s second Dick’s Kitchen opened in the NW 21st  area. DK is a health-inspired (?) burger joint with dishes like grass-fed burgers and kale chop salads.

Last Saturday also brought in a drinking abode for fans of effervescence: Ambonnay had its grand opening in the same SE building that houses the first Olympic Provisions. The spot serves sparkling sips from around the world as well as vegetarian small plates (do I detect a little drinker stereotyping? Okay, they might be right….)

And lastly, the weekend also delivered  BJ Smith (formerly chef at The Original)’s Smokehouse 21 in NW 21st (no site that I could find, but here’s Eater’s preview.) The menu will be available for takeout and bike delivery as well as eating in. And it looks like it has the usual suspects, nice and smoke-ified: pork, brisket, and sausage, with some unexpected, like smoked trout and bacon molasses cornbread. An added bonus— there’s an abundance of housemade sauces (and a mustard one with my name on it).

Tuesday, November 14th:

The much talked about, much sought-after beginning of the West Side Pizza Revolution has arrived (more on that in the coming weeks with Oven & Shaker, Sizzle Pie, etc.). Via Tribunali is a PDX version of a Seattle pizza hub (thanks to restaurateur bad-ass Bruce Carey) and I anticipate great things. Wood fire oven pies with calzones and cocktails open late for downtowners? I’m in, I’m in, I’m in.

And since this is my first restaurant post, I’ll direct you to the new spots I’ve liked recently:

Woodsman Tavern: Brought to us from the owners of Stumptown, this place has just as much Swank as Portland will allow. With a seafood-heavy menu (Someone! Finally!) and cocktail superstar Evan Zimmerman at the bar, this is definitely the place you’ll want to spend any extra money you might have.

Luce: Opened with not nearly enough fanfare, this is an intimate (and yes, small) Italian restaurant recently opened on East Burnside. The menu is shockingly well-priced and the dishes are what Italian food should be: simple and unfussy. I’d suggest the rich Bolognese to shake off any of that winter chill we’ve been having.

Well, that’s all for now, but don’t worry, there are plenty more openings in the Portland food forecast. Let me know if this was helpful or if you have any suggestions in the comments!

Mary’s Salad

In my hometown of Santa Rosa, California there are few people who don’t have a childhood memory involving Mary’s Pizza Shack. At Mary’s, there were a few things you could always count on. You knew you could get breadsticks to nibble while you waited for your meal. You also knew that in order to retrieve said breadsticks, you had to make a journey up to the counter where teenage guys were tossing dough rounds into the air (oh what a shame when that plastic breadstick bin was empty!). It was a given that you’d  run into someone you knew, and that there was always some sporting event on the televisions. And even though your Dad told you not to, you’d always fill up on the warm sourdough they’d bring to your table with the butter strategically placed under the loaf to soften it. And while the good pizza (great even) was also a part of the Mary’s equation, it’s the Mary’s House Salad I still go back for to this day while visiting.

The salad is a standard Italian American antipasti plate when I think about it: salami, mushrooms, beans, vegetables and a tiny mound of grated cheese to top it off. While some of my friends swore by ranch or raspberry vinaigrette, my heart always belonged to their tangy Italian dressing. I set out to find a recipe (I don’t buy the bottled stuff) for that dressing, and ended up creating my own. The salad recipe below is slightly tweaked from Mary’s original, but it still captures the same spirit.

Italian Dressing, My Way

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons of kosher salt

1 tablespoon dried parsley

2 tablespoons of fresh basil (cut in a chiffonade style)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup of canola oil

1 tablespoon of water

Method

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a closeable ziplock bag. Take two tablespoons of the herb mix and place it in a bowl with the basil. Whisk in vinegar, oil and water. Put away herb mixture for later use.

My Mary’s Salad

3 cups of red leaf lettuce

1/2 cup of kidney beans

1/2 cup of canned beets

1/2 cup of canned green beans

2 very fresh tomatoes (I like Early Girls), sliced

3 large carrots, shredded

5 slices of salami, thinly sliced

1/4 cup shredded provolone or mozzarella

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

Mix together the vegetables and legumes in a large bowl, toss with  1/4 cup of dressing. Stir in the salami and top with shredded cheese, season to taste. Serves 2-3 people (with plenty extra salad dressing).

Très Affordable

Find my published version of this article in the Vanguard  here

In the past year, Portland’s French scene has grown significantly, with three new spots

Photo by Saria Dy

popping up in various corners of town: there’s downtown’s Little Bird, North Portland’s Cocotte and St. Jack on Southeast Clinton. It’s hard not to feel left out when your slightly slim wallet won’t allow you to try them all in the same month—not to mention keeping up with old favorites like Paley’s Place. Yet, it’s important to remember that while some parts of France are stereotyped (or known for) their big attitudes, good French food is not actually about ego or even about being expensive. Simplicity and quality ingredients are all you need to enjoy a fabulous French meal, in your home or at a restaurant. Here are three ways to consume French excellence without having to pay a Paris-sized bill.

Evoe

This appendage to specialty food shop Pastaworks doesn’t primarily serve French dishes, but their food holds the true spirit of the cuisine. The chefs at Evoe build sandwiches from the fresh produce, carefully crafted charcuterie and array of cheeses from the next-door shop in an uncomplicated yet careful way. Sitting belly up to the counter or at the few sparse tables in the room, you’ll sip rosé while the sun pours in through the window that you will use to spy on Hawthorne shoppers. Each sandwich is elegant and intelligently built; rarely do you leave feeling uncomfortably stuffed.

What to mange: The Parisienne sandwich (thinly sliced ham on a light-as-air baguette) or croque madame (open-faced sandwich with a fried egg and a dab of creamy Mornay sauce).

Price: $7–10

3731 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

Open Wednesday–Sunday, noon–7 p.m.

503-232-1010

Chez You

While it’s always fun to go out and let others cook for you, sometimes the best way to eat French is to cook French. I’m not saying you need to pull out every recipe in Julia Childs’ “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking,” but you’d be surprised what a quick jaunt to the market will do for even the shyest of home cooks. Head to Whole Foods, grab a Ken’s Artisan Bakery baguette, some good cheeses and perhaps a hard cider and take them home to enjoy. If you have some extra cash, asking the deli to thinly slice you a little ham wouldn’t hurt either.

What to mange: Ken’s Artisan Bakery Baguette, Le carrer d’affnois (ridiculously creamy double brie) and some Gruyere for good measure.

Price:$7–12

Whole Foods Market

1250 NW Couch St.

Open 7 a.m.–10 p.m., seven days a week

503-525-4343

St. Jack

Amongst the new French garçons in town, St. Jack stands out. With lovely mood lighting and a classy bar seating area complete with photos of stunning French actresses from the past, happy hour feels a whole lot more elegant than PBR and onion rings. The happy hour menu at St. Jack carries dishes for seafood enthusiasts and carnivores alike. To start, try the butter-lettuce salad, carefully dressed with Dijon vinaigrette and tossed with hunks of avocado and thinly sliced radishes. Later, you can get a decently sized bowl of light broth, creamy clams—each stuffed with garlic—that’s served with French bread for dipping. The burger is over-the-top-memorable with a juicy patty, lardons (for $1 extra) and Gruyere, dabbed with a slightly spicy mustard sauce to balance the richness. On the side are parsley-sprinkled frites with a generous amount of aioli for dunking.

What to mange:Le Hamburger with

Gruyere & bacon

Price:$13-15

2039 SE Clinton St.

Happy Hour: Monday–Saturday 4–5:30 p.m.

503-360-1281

Good Morning, Accanto

Find my published version of this article in the Vanguard here

Portland breakfast restaurants are a bummer. I’m not talking about the food, or even the

Photo by Saria Dy

service when I say that. What I mean is, if it’s the weekend and you and your friends want any kind of breakfast—from plates of potatoes washed down with Bloody Marys or a special three-course experience with house-made bacon and champagne, you’re out of luck unless you’re ready to sit and wait.

But, don’t give up just yet.

Comune Accanto, also known as Accanto to most of its diners, has a brunch that hasn’t quite been tapped yet. Saturdays are slower than Sundays, though it is possible to come in on either weekend day and fully enjoy your breakfast without a huge side of standing in the rain.

The lack of line is certainly not the only reason to brunch at Accanto. The food served is elegant and uncomplicated, yet it’s completely affordable at the same time. For example, on a recent menu you can find an asparagus frittata with morels, leeks and truffled mascarpone for $9, compared to other spots in Portland where you’ll get a big plate of eggs, potatoes, and toast for the same price. Accanto delivers—without the gut bomb, and once again, without the line.

Perhaps you do want a hangover-fighting brunch on your plate. Not a problem. You can still get rich dishes like panatone French toast or croque madame and wash it down with the Belmont Bloody Mary—which is made with tomato thyme juice.

It’s just that all of these dishes are made with a little more restraint. Your brunch will still be filling, but in that satisfying “I just had some really well-prepared food” kind of way.

Other standout dishes include the bucatini carbonara, which happens to capture the exact definition of al dente with just enough guanciale (that’s Italian for fatty perfect pork). Also try the breakfast strata, stuffed with greens and creamy chevre, served atop a swirl of marinara. And make sure to get your hands on any breads—whether it be sage biscuits or brioche—they’re all house-made and light.

On the lighter side, start with the apricot mimosa, which is made with the apricot purée that many Italians start their day with, then finished with prosecco and amaretto. For your meal, try the creamy polenta with sautéed greens and a poached egg, made special with just a drizzle of chili oil.

So, for a lineless, well thought-out meal, Accanto could be your new brunch spot. Just don’t tell anyone else.