Best Bites from Portland - IACP's New Culinary Order Reigns On in Fond Memories

Yes, it's been a few weeks since I've returned from Portland (AKA PDX). The IACP annual conference (my second) was terrific and I think many of us are still suffering withdrawal.

Life happens. The eternal struggle between doing and writing about doing. Then there’s chasing delinquent clients, trouble-shooting the DSL gateway, and the myriad other things that keep a writer’s life...interesting.

As so many new things pile onto my desk and calendar, I’m dying to get down to work telling you all about Portland. I thought if I begin with food, I’d get the ball rolling.

Side-trip to Eugene

I was delighted to start my time in Portland with a little girlfriend time that included a magical dinner at Andina. Quick detour to Eugene to check out her gorgeous new kitchen, play time with the husband and daughter, picnicking in the rhododendrum park and, of course, Saturday market.

It was so green.

Legendary Street Food

I got to Portland early hoping I might get to meet up with one of the farmers or butchers I’d been emailing with prior to the conference. Since that didn’t happen, I had a day to wander, explore. I found a block of food carts parked just down the street from my hotel. After walking around downtown Portland, finding my favorite Powell’s Books, Whole Foods, I decided on a brunch of Bulgogi in the park. I picked up book plates at Powell's in case I ran into authors whose books I have or are planning to buy. I hoped they wouldn’t mind my asking for signatures.

One of the things I like to do when traveling is to mix up active searching, observation with more passive, restful, noticing. Exploring I found interesting architectural details, several old signs that Portland seems to love and preserve. Sitting quietly with my lunch, the next observations came to me. A group of girls with cameras came by. A nearby high school released the budding photographers to go shoot.

Best Bites in PDX

Andina - This Peruvian gem is that rare place that welcomes you like you're the long-lost friend, and also feeds you well without fussing too much, just enough. Through small plate orders we got to try many of the peppers without which "our food is not our food" according to the charming owner who stopped by our table. They were so intriguing that you kept going back for another forkful to see "how was it I'm tasting a little sweet, a little hot and something else..."

Clyde Common - Recently called out in a good way by Tasting Table, Clyde Common was the place I had one of my favorite meals. TT notes the cured cocktails trend and credits Portland, Oregon-based bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler as the originator of the trend. "He tasted a Manhattan that had been aged five years in a glass vessel by noted London bartender Tony Conigliaro. Back at home in his bar, Clyde Common, he began aging cocktails in barrels instead of bottles to cut down the wait time."

At Clyde Common for my last night before returning home I was greeted with a pork-themed coaster:

Then given some wonderful advice about the menu from the bartender. The broccoli rabe was inspired - pistachios offered a perfect foil to the bitter greens. A chicken pot pie with local seasonal wild mushrooms and leeks was comfort food at its elegant best. Dessert was a lemon meringue tart with huckleberry, buttermilk sorbet. I wanted something to offset the tart lemon. An off-the-menu thyme-scented digestif was perfect. Lemon and thyme are natural companions.