Rolling Hills and Wine

The other day I alerted my Facebook friends to the fact that there is no need to ever fear that we'll ever run out of land in this country. My drive from Ashland, Oregon to Bakersfield, California, as well as from Bakersfield to Peoria, Arizona proved my statement true. A myriad of rolling blond hills and flat, wide open spaces are what tend to greet me the most on my journey so far.

Coming from a land of amazing vineyards just outside of Portland, I found it funny, then, to spot random fields of vineyards along the way.
I was warned and most were right; the roads are flat and long, but I'm also joined by an enormous sense of freedom. I love freedom and it doesn't get more free than an open highway. 

But I definitely admit, big, familiar signs like TARGET, HOME DEPOT and even Starbucks are welcome sites for my tired eyes, and it's funny that those names translate into civilization for me. My road-trip buddy, Bart Roadie, and I try to limit stops, but from Bakersfield to Peoria, a stop at the Desert Palm Outlets was a must, and a pick-me-up was most definitely on the menu. 
Bart as we guessed he cold be a Bartlett pear. If I remember correctly, he was a gift from the Pear Bureau NW. He makes a fabulous travel companion. 

Thanks to Shelley and Tom at Hotel Hobbs for the most amazing homemade fish tacos at Hotel Hobbs last night. No, I didn't get any shots of them, my iPhone battery was dead upon arrival to my luxurious stay. 

More eastbound today as I head out of Arizona and deep into the heart of....



Adventures in Exploring...on the Road

Yesterday kicked off an entirely new adventure for me. After 30 years of calling myself and Oregonian, I've decided to take a huge leap and head east to Florida. I need more sun in my life, and maybe a little more Grouper too.

My first stop was in the quaint little town of Ashland, Ore. My only regret is that I arrived a bit later than I have planned. I descended upon the southern-Oregon town slightly after 6: 00 p.m. and was greeted by a bit of chaos; an enormous brush fire that consumed nearly both sides of the freeway and took with it 11 homes. What's more, it was happening right down the road from my hotel.

Quite the arrival, and it made the news this morning on the TODAY show. A dash of excitement as I head off on my journey, but I can't help but feel terrible for those who lost their homes. As of the time of this post, I hadn't heard of any lives lost. 

My day was broken up nicely. I was able to stop and have a great lunch with my dear friend, Kelli Matthews
We dined outside in the Eugene heat at Marché Restaurant at the 5th Street Market. One who adores a good burger, but who usually refrains, I decided to dive into the burger named after the venue. Served on a brioche bun with aïoli and awesome fries, I was set for my journey to continue on south.

Though so exhausted upon my arrival into Ashland, I couldn't miss out on exploring the sweet town so I headed away from the fire, across the freeway and back in time to the adorable spot that's home to the famed Shakespeare Festival. I didn't have much time, but quickly found a modern Thai joint that was situated directly across the street from Lithia Park. How perfect? The name was Sesame Asian Kitchen, and from the menu selection I read on the door plus a recent article they had hanging up written in the New York Times just in July, I decided this was a good bet. My choice? The Korean Ssäm. Quite a presentation -- the noodles were a bit much to eat around but I managed -- and quite delicious. 



Produce and Provence

I've been slow to emerge these last few weeks. Quiet honestly, these last few months. After too much time retracting a bit from the social scene, I decided to make an appearance out into the land of the living. But I won't lie, it wasn't hard to do with a few invitations that came across my inbox. And thank goodness for them, otherwise my endless nights of reliving the 'Sex and the City' series DVD collection, and watching reruns of 'Chelsea Lately' would never see the light of day. 

Fitting for my late state: something old is born again.

On a recent Friday evening, I had the pleasure of attending a media opening for Produce Row Café. The well-established watering hole in Portland's industrial district off of SE Water Avenue had just experienced a bit of a makeover, and this night was its coming out party. I'll admit, I had never been to the original. I've finally come to terms that I'll never hit every individual food and libation spot in this city, so onward and upward. 

When I entered the venue I was pleasantly surprised by its refreshed, yet cozy interior that still looks like it's been there for years. A large, solid-wood community table to the left, flanked with mismatched chairs and sweet, tiny vases of fresh flowers sits directly across the L-shaped bar that stares at patrons with its mirrored backdrop and row of brass beer spouts. The space is impressive in size, and intelligent in layout. From the bar, guests can flow to the community table or individual, two-person spots, then meander over to the comfortable sitting area with its vintage seating pieces that over look the majority of the space. And as the evening continues, and imbibers and eaters look for a more secluded area, they have the option of continuing on to high-backed, black leather U-shaped booths that lead the way to the cafe's amazing back patio -- which will, undoubtedly, be the place to hang if summer in Portland ever manages to make an appearance. 

From a Cucumber Margarita to Nachos with Avocado Salad, Mozzarella Sticks and Pork Sliders (can we say, "pork confit?"), the introduction into the venue's menu was another pleasant surprise. Think bar food with some added thought from the kitchen to each dish. It's a location that's long-time, regular 'Norms' should welcome back with open arms, and newbies should check into real soon.

A perfect day for Provence.

What better way to catch up with an old friend than over one of the week's favorite meals: brunch? When my friend Joscelyn and I finally nailed down a day to reconnect she suggested brunch at Petite Provence off of Alberta. I was familiar with La Provence in Lake Oswego, but 
had yet to try any of the other locations. Yesterday had to be one of the most dreary yet in Portland, but my mind quickly lightened up when I stepped inside. It was a madhouse, but the action brought liveliness to the scene and to my soul. I was totally enamored by it all: the French-cafe feel, the coffee counter that lay straight ahead, and, of course, the amazing pastry case filled with enough goods to keep a sweet-lover swooning for hours. The wait? About twice as long as we were told. The food? A plate that was more than enough, but left our tummies so happy. I had the savory French toast; and what an interested twist from the usual sweet treat it was. 

Some other things I just loved this week...

  • An afternoon of education and tasting of olive oil out at Red Ridge Farms in Dayton. It was held at the Oregon Olive Mill and Portland Culinary Alliance members were given a special discounted invite. Who knew there was so much to learn about how good olive oil should taste? Admittedly, I learned I was a bit used to some varieties that, in truth, were known to be rancid. I guess the journey of educating and refining our palates never ends. 
  • Lunch with a good friend at Kinara Thai Bistro in Goose Hollow. I actually tried something aside from chicken pad Thai, and enjoyed the cashew chicken with brown rice -- the most gorgeous brown rice I've ever scene.
  • Cocktails and catch-up time with the girls out in McMinnville. It had been quite a while since I was able to hang out with my long-time friends Carrie and Sheila. Sheila was incredibly eager to show off her cocktail making skills to Carrie and myself, who quickly learned we were truly guinea pigs for her mad libation creations. They were awesome, and I think she could quickly be on her way to cocktail-book stardom any day now. 



If These Halls Could Talk

A little over a week ago, I had the absolute pleasure of going back to the halls I walked just two years ago at Western Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Portland) to speak to a reluctant group of chefs in training about the importance of having the skills to write. I say reluctant (and maybe they all weren't totally so) as this group was in its classroom rotation at school for their Associate Degree. Basically, it was my firm belief that these kids would have preferred to be playing with fire in the kitchens upstairs.

When their writing instructor, Laurie Watson, contacted me, I was a bit nervous at first. Me, get in front of a classroom full of students and talk about my life in food writing? My life that's still working on itself? I did think it would be good for me as I'd never really given a presentation before, so I didn't take too much time responding.

To my surprise, I actually enjoyed putting the preso together. More often than not, I tend to get pretty hard on myself for how slowly this food writing life is coming together. I'm learning to practice patience more and more each day, but I'm definitely the type who prefers things move along much more quickly than they usually do. Anyway, as I was putting my thoughts together I did feel pretty accomplished from what I've done so far, and was glad that I had some good clips to show to the class from outlets like Citysearch and Tasting Table. I also enjoyed going into a section I had reserved just for them, which focused more on possible reactions like 'so, I just want to be a chef, I don't really need to write well'. For those reactions I was able to throw in the need to market and promote their restaurants, and that they might find themselves writing up their own menus or even drafting press releases about their venue's upcoming events. Ever want to write a cookbook? You bet they've thought about it. Did they have issues in food that they were passionate about and wanted to voice their opinions on -- salmon fishing, sustainability, organics, etc.? There are so many different angles and reasons to hone in on good writing skills. I've always believed that, even before my journey into food writing. If you can write, those skills can take you anywhere. 

The opportunity to speak to those kids felt really nice, and I wasn't even nervous during the presentation. I guess it helps as it was one part about my experience and one part about a passion I have. From what I've heard that seems to be the secret to a good presentation. At the end of class, Laurie put out a newsletter of the school's Food Writers' Club for which I'd contributed articles to while I was a student there. The best part? As the students were leaving, one of them approached me and asked me for my autograph. He said, "You just seem like you're really going somewhere." Does it get any better than that? 

Some other things I just loved this week...

  •  A food writers' dinner at The Original. I'll never deny that the perks of being involved in the food scene are second to none. And, I'll never get tired of being invited to attend food events happening around the city. The dinner at The Original was to celebrate the venue's year-plus time in Portland as well as a redesigned menu. It was fun to see some familiar faces (very typical in Portland; a small town with a LOT of foodies running around in similar circles). Our menu included a three-course dinner that kicked off with welcome cocktails. The stand-outs bites for me?: Chicken & Ham Fritters with romesco sauce, Cattail Creek Lamb Meatballs with sofrito, olives, & a grilled baguette, and Fried Apple Pie with cinnamon ice cream, caramel and thyme. Delish.

  •  Home   Coffee at the new Public Domain. The coffee shop, located at SW Alder at Broadway, just opened at the end of April. I was invited there to meet up with Amy Brown of Seed Public Relations to finally introduce ourselves in person and just chit chat about the funny world we live in. Amy also does the PR for the spot. Cute place. Incredibly fresh, airy interior that doesn't set the stage for a coffeehouse full of laptops--kind of a nice change. Public Domain is the flagship brand for Coffee Bean International. The new spot prides itself on being a resource for educating patrons about brewing, cupping and just plain enjoying great coffee. Public Domain hosts some unique special events like public cuppings daily at 1 p.m., home brewing classes (first Saturday of every month beginning on June 5) and even happy hour espresso tastings every Thursday from 4 - 6 p.m. What's more? The staff there are an absolute delight and weren't shy in telling me how much they absolutely adore working there. Now that's something you don't hear everyday. 
  • Getting the "ok" to move forward on my first write-up for the national foodie online site, Culinate.com. Clips continue to add up, and I like it. 


Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time in the land of food, wine, all things artisan-made, all things handcrafted and all things delectable and grown in its glorious and bountiful backyard, the city dubbed the one of roses opened its arms and invited in those from all walks of life with one common goal: to listen, mingle and explore endless possibilities with like-minded individuals all in the name of food. The city was Portland, Oregon. And those gathered from the walks off life made up a group appropriately named the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). 

The New Culinary Order

This enchanted story of once upon a time, actually didn't happen that long ago. Last week from April 21 to April 24, The New Culinary Order descended upon Portland and created what many heavily involved in the world of food and drink may look back on as a fairytale. What began its first night with an unforgettable host city reception at Portland's The Nines hotel transcended itself into four days of seminars focusing on all aspects of the culinary world; which began in the wee hours of the morning, and led to late-night rendezvous that included intimate sessions with food industry stars and hush, hush dinner parties throughout the entire city. 

Our Days and Nights

Daytime workshops held throughout the Oregon Convention Center, The Portland Art Museum, The Art Institute and many more delicious Portland venues took hungry attendees through sessions and workshops on topics such as: Hands-On Digital Food Photography with famed food photographer and blogger Matt Armendariz; Oregon Truffles with author and founder of Oregon White Truffle Oil Jack Czarnecki; Guerilla Marketing for Culinary Professionals with Virginia Willis; and Recipe Development with blogger and recipe developer Amy Sherman. Those wanting to learn lessons and sit in with experts partook in Night Owl sessions held nightly including: Reinventing Your Food Writing Career with Dianne Jacobs; Self-Publishing: A Story from the Front Lines with Jean Duane; A Culinary Conversation with Anne Willan and Virginia Willis; and Culinary Hustling with culinary entrepreneur  and mogul Andrew Schloss

Warning: Star Sightings Ahead

Like any lover of the food world, or one who is looking to find their spot within this incredible industry, I was, of course, star-struck throughout the entire week. There is something magical about meeting those whose books you've read and adored or have given you inspiration, or those whose recipes have delivered to you unforgettable eats, or thoughts have caused you to view food in a different way. The stars at this show proved no different. A list of A-listers who set foot in Portland last week (Off the top of my head. It's entirely possible that I'm missing a few): Ruth Reichl, Judith Jones, Madhur Jaffrey, Michael Ruhlman, Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Virginia Willis, Anne Willan, Andrew Schloss, Kim Severson, Dianne Jacob, Jaden Hair, Brad Farmerie, and many more. I remember attempting to take about a million pictures of Ruth, or which none came out. The iPhone cannot be depended upon for everything.

Job Well Done

And I'm definitely not speaking about a filet. Congratulations to Portland's host committee, led by Mike Thelin. The conference was one that's conversations was off the charts on Twitter chatter (check out conversations at hashtag #iacp), and one that had many who could not attend in complete envy. It was one that raised the bar for future IACP conferences. I was happy to be here, happy to be involved with coordinating some of the events and as a volunteer, and so proud that it was in my home city. Honestly, there was no better place to be. 

For my 'Some other things I just loved this week' section, I've picked out top highlights for me from IACP:
  • Some one-on-one time with the woman whose book, Will Write for Food, was the first guide I picked up on food writing, Dianne Jacob. I chauffeured Dianne to an event she needed to attend after one of her Night Owl Sessions. When I first picked up her book a few years ago, I can honestly say I didn't think I would ever be giving her a lift in the Jetta. Life is so fascinating that way. 
  • Finally seeing Ruth. Murmurs began at the host city reception that 'someone just saw Ruth', but my eyes didn't make that a reality until Friday at the conference. I attended an intimate session where Ruth discussed her PBS series "Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth." It was so fantastic to listen to her discuss details of an episode we watched in the room with her, the trials and tribulations of filming, and her thoughts on bringing the series back post-Gourmet. One thing that stuck with me - aside from what a fantastic writer and editor Ruth is - is a) she has great hair, and b) she has a unmistakeable, deep voice. I loved listening to her talk. The series is still available and can be streamed online at www.gourment.com/adventureswithruth
  • After four days of hearing about sightings of Michael Ruhlman sipping on cups of Starbucks, learning that the amazingly intelligent IACP host committee sent Ruhlman home with a bag of Stumptown. THANK the Lord for that one.
  • Being face-to-face with Judith Jones as she signed a bookplate for my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Judith Jones. Being so close to that kind of history caused my eyes to well up a bit. Wow, what a figure of culinary food writing history. 
IACP 2011 will be held in Austin, Texas June 1-4. will you be part of the memories?

Some pictures from the week:
My best shot of Ruth 

I left of Thomas Keller. Keller at the Awards Gala accepting an award for 
best cookbook by a chef/restaurant: Ad Hoc

Ruhlman, Page and Dornenberg discussing the "Death of Recipes"

I'm a sucker for getting books signed



Worth the Wait

It's always a blast having friends who enjoy heading out to try new places (or at least new to us) around town. I have a couple of groups of friends who love to venture out for Sunday brunch. Last Sunday, a handful of us took a trip over to the eastside to try what I've heard to be a brunch hotspot, Toast.

Now one thing about me and dining is this: I hate waiting more than 30 minutes to be seated. And when I called to make a reservation for our party of seven at Toast, I learned that the tiny venue did not take reservations - something that I hate. But I bit my tongue and decided to hang in there - warning the group ahead of time.

I arrived at 10:30 a.m. as the group decided on an 11:00 a.m. meeting time - thought I'd get there and begin the wait for everyone. The tagline of Toast is ...A neighborhood restaurant. And that it most certainly is. As I slid into my parking spot directly in front of the door at SE 52nd and Steele, I was greeted by neighborhood patrons sipping coffee and chatting at the outside tables in the dreary Portland weather. I entered the incredibly quaint, yet bustling, restaurant and put my name on the list with our party's headcount. 

As I grabbed a menu and a tiny, vacant chair by the door, I couldn't help but take in the ambiance of the place. Toast is the epitome of a cozy, neighborhood haunt complete with one room of, I'd say, enough chairs to seat about 40 eaters, a counter that surrounds the kitchen and resembles the classic neighborhood diner, and a restaurant owner who ensures everything is running smoothly - from what's hopping in the kitchen, to making certain that those waiting at the outside tables continued to have fresh, hot coffee in their mugs. 

As, one by one, our party began to arrive, I was visibly concerned about our wait time, and Donald, the owner, could see it. He was quick to put me at ease that we'd be seated as soon as possible, and that they do accommodate groups from six to ten people on a regular basis. Basically, they make it work. He also offered to get drinks started (and by drinks I mean Toast's famed Bloody Mary's) for those who were eying them from the get-go. 

An hour-and-a-half after my arrival, we were seated. And we were so excited! The menu looked amazing, and even though we had all that time to look over it and decide, we were all still undecided on what to order. Our server, Tiffany's, explanation of a special brioche roll with homemade caramel sauce was enough to get us started, then we each did our own heads or tails and got a move on with ordering our chosen dishes. 
 Toast Bellinis for...toasting

Housemade Brioche roll w/housemade caramel sauce

 Benny and the Mets; Toast's version of Eggs Benedict w/homemade English muffins

Housemade Brioche rolls w/ground sausage and scrambled eggs

Dismal Times - though I think not

The Occasional Hedonist - that's a sweet onion tart under there

Honestly, I forget the name but believe it was a pork special for the day

When the group finished devouring the unforgettable eats, I did have to ask them all one questions: Was it worth the wait? I received a resounding, "Yes" from the entire crew. Yes...it was worth the wait. 

Some other things I just loved this week...
  • Happy Hour with the girls at Departure atop The Nines hotel. Departure is decidedly so not what people expect in Portland, but I look at it as a breath of fresh air. And I can't wait until the sun decides to make an appearance again along with it's most complementary friend - warmer weather. This place delivers an amazing view of the city and a prime location to sip cocktails and dine on artistically presented Asian cuisine while seated on top of the world. Ok, on top of the Rose City.
  • The receipt of my April issue of MIX magazine: Portland's magazine of food + drink. I opened up the April issue to find inside three articles from three of my most favorite Portland food writing Dames: Lizzy Caston, Ashley Gartland, and Andrea Slonecker. All totally original and inventive stories. Nice work, Dames. 


Food For Celebration

Making food for a means to celebrate is always guaranteed fun. This past week, myself and my family received some stellar news: my brother was appointed Principal of an Oregon school district, a position he's been working toward for quite some time. And a bonus, today was his birthday. We all got together in celebration tonight for dinner.

What better celebration food is there than pizza? I really am a pizza freak, as it's one of few foods I actually get distinct cravings for on occasion, regular occasion. And making it homemade really is so simple.

Pizza dough is actually quite easy to make, and you can find varieties that allow you to make it and use within a few hours, vs. having to allow it to sit overnight to rise. See this recipe here for a dough that will be ready to roll out in just over an hour. Otherwise, it can't get any easier than purchasing pizza dough from your local grocery store (like I did, shhhh), and even sometimes, your favorite pizzeria might sell you some.

If you're the indecisive type, making your own pizza might be a nightmare. Why? Because what you can top it with is just so limitless. Just let your imagination go. Making homemade pizza might be the best thing to make given the items in your fridge or pantry that you might need to use up. For tonight's, my two inspirations were simple for me to decide upon: A pizza Margherita (with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, proscuitto and basil) and a Greek-inspired pizza (olive oil, feta cheese, caramelized onions, roasted garlic and kalamata olives).

I won't lie, rolling out the dough did require a bit of muscle, but it was worth it. And the pies were a hit.
Pizza Margherita pre-baked

Pizza Margherita baked 

Greek-inspired pre-baked 

Greek baked 

Some other things I just loved this week...
    • A chicken ramen noodle bowl at BIWA. I took the menu's advice and ordered it with the egg. The best ramen I've ever had. I can still taste it and can't wait to venture back for more.

    Biwa's Chicken Ramen bowl

    • Spiced cashew nuts at the Veritable Quandry on Friday night before seeing comedian Chelsea Handler at the Keller Auditorium. I was sharing them with a friend and am certain I ate the entire bowl myself. 
    • Two firsts: my first Peruvian brunch ever during my first visit to Limo. What a treat? I went with Breakfast in Bridgetown author, Paul Gerald, and some of his breakfast-eating posse. Great people, excellent food, and with great service. The waiter divided up our tabs (10 of them) individually, without having to be asked. Ok, that's rare in this town. Bravo, Don. 




    And look at that. Just a few weeks in and I missed a weekly bloggy column update. Ok, by one day, but still.

    Last week was a bit of a whirlwind as I was busy gearing up for a tradeshow for a new PR client I recently obtained. But, traveling to the tradeshow did spark some culinary interest. Mainly it was that of appreciation.

    I was wise enough to refrain from snacking on the packaged, bland carbs given to us on the plane down to Anaheim, but upon arrival to my hotel room at roughly 7:00 p.m., I was left little choice but to order in room service for dinner. In a location surrounded by an insane amount of food chain establishments, I spent less than five minutes searching and brainstorming for alternative dining options that didn't involve calling 4115 on my hotel room phone. I surrendered quickly and just ordered a cobb salad off the menu. Really, how terrible could a cobb salad really be. Well...

    Ok, I'm probably being a bit of a food snob here, but the salad was lackluster. The grilled chicken sandwich the night following was a bit better, but not by too much of a long shot. Lesson learned? My appreciation for Portland, it's restaurants and the food they dish up grew even deeper. Yes, from just two nights away. I love traveling, but my tummy is happy that I'm back home.

    Some other things I loved this week...

    • Getting back to some good gastronomical lit. I've had M.F.K. Fisher's The Art of Eating sitting on my nightstand for a while now, and finally cracked it open. This is the 50th Anniversary Edition and includes her famed essays: Serve it Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me and An Alphabet for Gourmets. In a world of reading lots of online news blasts and choppy food writing, it's refreshing to be reminded of some true gastronomical lit. 

    • "The Storm Over Salt" section in the Feb. 22 - Mar. 1 issue of New York magazine. I love all the different types of salt that's out there, am still very much a student of all the varieties and remain fascinated by them all. 
    • Portland's March issue of MIX magazine; "Our French Issue." Really, is there any more to say? I read it from cover to cover on the plane, and cannot wait to make Editor Martha Holmberg's soufflé. 


    The Main Ingredient

    One thing that's fun, always interesting and almost a must when exploring the culinary world is utilizing an ingredient in a way that you wouldn't normally think to. I had the opportunity to experience this a couple of times this week. 

    On Tuesday I was invited (yes, writing about food does have it's perks) to a 'Pear Luncheon' at Lauro Kitchen. The luncheon was in celebration of chef Jennifer Buehler's winning recipe in the USA Pears Pear Panache contest. Each year, the Pear Bureau reaches out to national chefs in the fall (or the beginning of the pear season) and asks them to create their own unique recipes featuring...you guessed it...pears. Of the entries, seven recipes are selected and are featured each month through March. Chef Buehler won for her Braised Oregon Lamb Shank with Caramelized Bosc Pears and Shallots with Pistachio Cous Cous (pictured right). I got to taste the incredible dish as well as four other dishes featuring different varieties of pears. And, we even started off with a pear cocktail called "The Local": Aviation Gin, Clear Creek Pear Brandy, Rosemary Syrup and a slice of a fresh green Anjou pear as a garnish. A surprise that wasn't on the menu, but that was clearly a favorite of mine was a pizza with slices of red Anjou pears, mozzarella and proscuitto. I would have been happy with that alone! 

    Wednesday brought a similar idea, but with a sweet twist. The Portland Culinary Alliance (P.S. an organization I sit on the board for) held a dinner of chocolate indulgence and education at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Portland. The dinner featured doctor and author of the cookbook Good Food, Great Medicine, Dr. Miles Hassell, who took attendees through the benefits of chocolate in a healthy diet. Of course we were all ears to hear that we could have chocolate in our daily diets - in moderation and watching the calorie count of course. Our guest chef for the evening was David Briggs, chocolatier and owner of Xocolatl de David

    The dinner consisted of five courses where the main ingredient in each dish was chocolate. Think you'd pass out in a sweet, sugar high after such an evening? It didn't happen. The chocolate was so perfectly matched in each dish and paired so well with the savory elements in all. It was so interesting to see chocolate used in such a unique way. Chocolate vinaigrette with cocoa nibs in the salad? Crab bisque emulsified with chocolate? It was a delightful combo. 

    The moral of the story - the next time you go to utilize your favorite ingredient, think of what it might taste like in a dish that may be just the opposite of how you prepare it. Do you usually use something as a sweet treat? What would it be like as a main ingredient paired with meat?
    Raleigh Cake with salted caramel sauce                        
    Some other things I just loved this week...
    • Wine country...yes, again. It's going to be a heck of a season tasting Oregon wines and I'm happy to be kicking it off with our early days of sunshine we've been having. This weekend we ventured out to Carlton to some new spots I haven't been to before. Seven of Hearts winery won for its hospitality, and selection of artisan chocolates made right there in the store. Anne Amie winery won for the best wine and probably what is one of the most incredible views in all of Oregon wineland. 
    • Brunch on Sunday at Meriwether's. I don't think there's much more to say. Meriwether's is always a Sunday brunch staple to me. And the weather was nice enough today to take in the scene on the covered, and heated, back patio. Perfection.

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