Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Portland (with a little bit of IACP)

Onward to Portland. Having arrived back at SFO around 6 p.m., I headed home for dinner with K before unpacking, doing laundry, soothing the semi-hysterical cat and repacking. The next morning it was off to the East Bay for our UC Press Road Trip to IACP. That's right, with about 12 hour turnaround it was off to Portland. Or, as I had been calling it, 10 hours in the backseat of a Prius.

The drive? Well, I will say this, Northern California and Oregon are beautiful. On the way up it snowed and on the way back Shasta was glorious on a bright and sunshiny day. That said, it is a very long drive. With a stop for lunch in Ashland both ways it was a 10-11 hour day in a car. Not that the company was not lovely, but did I mention that it was a very long day?

Although our trip was based around IACP, we actually spent very little time at the conference itself. We signed up late, so many of the sessions I had hoped to attend were fully booked. We made it to the opening session to hear Ruth Reichl talk about the demise of Gourmet and later Kim Severson in her Ellen Degeneres interviewer role. Both were everything one could hope for. We also attended the IACP Awards Ceremony, with Ruth and Kim as co-hosts, where we were delighted as Jeri Qunizio's Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making was awarded the first ever IACP Cookbook Award for Culinary History. Congrats to Jeri and for all of those who have not seen the book, let me know. A full list of winner's is available at: We also took advantage of the attendees in town to meet with two forthcoming authors: Anne Willan and Marilyn Tausend. Suffice it to say that I am very excited about both projects.

What was interesting to me about planning my food in Portland is that for the first time in a longtime, I did very little research. I tend to be a bit compulsive about my travel-food planning, but between our relatively last minute decision to attend and my trips to LA and Las Vegas, I did not have the opportunity for my usual research. Instead, twitter and my coworker Kate made most of my decisions for me, in some cases down to the menu item to order. So, thanks to Lisa, Anthony, Sarah, MaggieJane, and the numerous others who offered twitter and offline advice.

So where did we eat? Our first night at Le Pigeon was the trip highlight for me. I started with Sea Scallops with salsify, and oyster mushrooms followed by Beef Cheek Bourguignon to finish: profiteroles with foie gras ice cream and caramel sauce. For wine a glass of Tsinandali (Rkasiteli/Mtsvane) Vinoterra ‘07 Kakheti, Georgia to start followed by a bottle of Cerasuolo di Vittoria COS‘06 Sicily for the table to share. The service was impeccable, the food lovely and the foie gras ice cream one of those things one either loved or hated. I loved it.
The next morning we had an early breakfast at Bijou, Cafe, which Kate had tried and liked on an earlier trip. My eggs, toast and bacon were perfectly cooked and the tea refilled repeatedly. I liked the space a lot with its high ceilings and ceiling fans.
After that we head out to explore a bit with stops at Voodoo donuts-very good but a bit much frosting, Pearl Bakery--great salted caramel macaron and a few others. Strangely I had no appetite for lunch but revived enough for a very good cocktail with fries at Ten-01 followed by a glass of wine at Vino Paradiso before dinner at Clyde Commons. Clyde Commons had been suggested by several and had the added plus of being at our oh-so-hip hotel, the Ace. I liked the look of the menu quite a bit but was rather disappointed in my overly salty chicken pot pie.
After that, it was off to the Gastronomica party at Fenouil. To be truthful, I was rather sad to have eaten as the passed appetizers and sweets all looked great. Highlight for the party for me was asking Ruth Reichl about @ruthbourdain. Some pictures are available here:

Thursday morning we met for breakfast at Kenny & Zukes. I had the 222 :2 Eggs (scrambled), 2 Slices Pastrami & 2 Latkes. The latkes seemed more deep fried than I had experienced before, but the pastrami was excellent. Lunch that day was at the Heathman Hotel with Marilyn Tausend. For me? Gnocchi with spring vegetables including fiddle head ferns and peas. I was happy to have vegetables, and after salting a bit, found it light and enjoyable. Dinner was at Gruner, also highly recommended on twitter. By then some of my coworkers were jut about done with food, but I quite enjoyed both chicken liver canapes and the house made bratwurst and saucisson with sauerkraut and yukon gold potatoes. As I have said before, if I can survive the night of 30 courses with Mark Miller, I can handle several day of intensive eating.

The next morning it was a bagel from Kenny & Zukes for the ride home. Excellent bagel, long ride.

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