Portland(ia) “Is it Fruity?”

by Anne Maxfield on September 15, 2014

Accidental Locavore Douglas FirIt’s been an awfully long time since the Accidental Locavore found herself in Portland. Back then, it certainly wasn’t a hip and cool place, just a small Northwestern city with no direct flights from New York. How things have changed!

While it may just look like the gathering spot for everything tattooed, pierced and enrobed in snarky black tees (or the ubiquitous plaid shirt) Portland is doing its best to live up to the hype. It may be that after you live there for a while, you grow immune to the things that struck me as quirky.

If you’ve watched the first episode of Portlandia, you may or may not be surprised to listen to an earnest discussion about the provenance of any ingredient put in front of you. What does surprise is an intense conversation about the flavor profile of that day’s “pour-over” (coffee made in a Chemex to the rest of us). The question posed to the barista was about the fruitiness of that particular type of African coffee. “It’s fruity, but not like a citrus fruit. More like a stone fruit – say black cherry or even nectarine.” If you weren’t into that particular coffee, or the pour-over method, you had your choice of at least three other coffees and an equal variety of preparations.

Provenance aside, there’s a lot of good food to be had in Portland. Sadly, I had only a couple of days to try to cram in as many meals as possible, but we made the most of it and managed to try a variety of places in many different neighborhoods. Highlights included Smallwares, billed as “inauthentic Asian” tapas style with lots of interesting and delicious small plates, and Louisiana crab hash, a great version of eggs Benedict served over a pair of crab cakes at City State Diner.

Accidental Locavore Fifty LicksFor me, the highlight of the trip was an ice cream shop called Fifty Licks. Their peach ice cream was nothing to sneer at, perfectly creamy and loaded with chunks of local peaches, but the chocolate brown butter was simply incredible! Without a doubt, the absolute best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had! As a matter of fact, it was so good that I Googled it the next morning hoping it might be open for breakfast, but sadly it wasn’t. They pack pints, but don’t ship, which is probably a blessing for both my waistline and wallet.

We never made it to any of the famed food trucks, which are permanently moored in “pods” scattered around the city. And not enough time to try Gabriel Rucker’s Le Pigeon, or Little Bird. A shame because I became a huge fan after a class he did at DeGustibus. Ditto Pok Pok Wings, and Beast. But hopefully there will be more trips to Portland in the future and I can explore further.

 

 

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Chipotles in Adobo

by Anne Maxfield on September 11, 2014

Accidental Locavore Chipotles in AdoboWhen the Accidental Locavore was picking peppers the other day, Jes, one of the farmers at the PFP, suggested I take a bunch of jalapenos and make chipotles. If you’re not familiar, chipotles are smoked jalapenos. Before long we had a lot of jalapenos and I took them home and tossed them on the smoker for an afternoon, along with some tomatoes I was experimenting with. Because I use chipotles in adobo more than straight-up chipotles, I looked online and put together a couple of recipes for making your own. This made two 1 pint jars:Accidental Locavore Jalapenos for Smoking

  • 7-10 chipotle peppers, stemmed and slit lengthwise
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 3 cups water

Put all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered, on low heat until all the liquid is reduced to about a cup. This took me a little over two hours. Cool, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locaovre My ChipotlesMy verdict: Tastes great and can’t wait to use them! If I had used a broader, shallower pan, it would have reduced in a lot less time. The whole process, from smoking the jalapenos to making the adobo is a lot more time-consuming than jumping in the car and buying a couple of cans at the supermarket, but it’s not at all hard and doesn’t require much more that an occasional check on its progress. To store them, put in jars and refrigerate, or you could put in ice cube trays, freeze it and put the cubes in a freezer bag. This recipe for albondigas is one of our favorites and chipotles play a big part in it.

To make the chipotles, cut the stems off cleaned jalapenos, and cut them in half lengthwise. Place on a rack and smoke for at least 6 hours. You can then dry them out further by putting them on a rack in a low oven, 200° for a few hours until they are totally dried out.

Be careful handling jalapenos, even dried, they pack plenty of heat. Wear rubber gloves, or wash your hands thoroughly or you’ll do something stupid, like rub your eyes and regret it!

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Pig Island 2014

by Anne Maxfield on September 8, 2014

Accidental Locavore Pig Island PigThe Accidental Locavore reluctantly turned down my invitation to attend this weekend’s Pig Island festivities. This shocking lack of priorities did not go unnoticed by the nation’s food bloggers; they have her in a secure location and she is currently being reprogrammed. She’ll be back with you soon, but until then, you have Zhu Zhu, which is Chinese for “Piggy Piggy” and thanks for asking!

And this is the century of the pig! Pig Island, in its fourth year (second at Red Hook, Brooklyn), provides ample evidence that we’ve learned to appreciate this amazing and delicious creature. $80 gives you access to all the pig, ginger ale and beer you can consume. The free water taxi
and a 30 minute wait in line will leave you in hog-heaven with 80 locally-sourced pigs and 30 chefs.

I noticed plenty of amateur eaters at this event.  Pro-eating Tips: avoid salad on principal. Eating corn bread, rice and noodles is not going to get you to the finish line.  But there were plenty of
seasoned pros who sailed straight through. I’m never able to resist pork-saturated carbs, so I steered a middle course. A short nap on the grassy knoll helped me make it to the end.

Accidental Locavore Pig Island PrepTop of my list (in order of eating):

Butter (love the name): served the most amazing chorizo tacos, seasoned with watermelon and serrano chile sauce. There was also fantastic banana bread with pralines topped with candied bacon.

Joe & Misses Doe: really great sliders, mouth-wateringly tender and perfectly flavored pork.

Randall’s Barbecue: more sliders, with definitely the best barbecue sauce at the event.

Waterfront Ale House: head cheese and garnishes on black bread. Really great. I tried, but failed, to eat a million of these.

Neuman’s Kitchen: Roasted pig, caramelized corn, bacon, pig’s ears and razor clams. Awesomely delicious and a nice change from the endless sliders.

Pacifico’s Fine Foods: crispy fried bits of pork marinated in fruit and lime juice, really great. They were also serving a peanut dessert dish, with a sauce made from salted pork and caramel. They were already out of the dessert when I found them, but they let me ‘scrape
the bowl’ and I managed to get two complete spoonfuls. Wow!

Accidental Locavore Pig Island SnacksGood but with some reservations:

Pizza Loves Emily: really delicious “mini-pizzas,” and I was excited to see them garnished with deep-fried slices of pig’s ear. I could live on deep-fried pig ear, but I nearly broke a tooth on Emily’s. But the rest of the pizza was delicious.  In fact, I ate several, carefully
removing the ear each time. I will definitely be giving them another chance.

The Merpig, perhaps because it was so greatly hyped, was a disappointment. This is an entire hog, wrapped in seaweed and pit-roasted. It was good, but not as amazing as it sounded.

Tavern on the Green’s dishes get marks for creativity, but not for flavor. Pork belly on ramen noodles and candied pork belly with garnishes. Disappointing. Pork belly needs no help. If you add something, it needs to be an improvement, guys.

Worst of Show:

Revolving Dansk wants to bring Danish street food (basically a hot dog) to America. Good luck on that. The “Polser” poses no threat to any hotdog truck in NYC. They also served a crackling pork and Scandinavian pickles on a toasted baguette​. That was modestly better.

Egg produced the only thing I couldn’t eat. An inedible piece of pork presented on a completely raw piece of dough. It was disgusting.

Pig Island is already on my calendar for next year.

 

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Ottolenghi’s Tomato Salad

by Anne Maxfield on September 4, 2014

Accidental Locavore Ottlenghi Tomato SaladSometimes, looking at the availability of good ingredients, you wonder about the timing of cookbooks. The Accidental Locavore tried to get a reviewer’s copy of the upcoming Plenty More (due out in October) and was turned down. Luckily, Bon Appetit ran a few recipes from the book and this tomato salad caught my eye. I roasted the lemons ahead of time (on a cool evening), so they were ready to go and this came together quickly:

  • 1 lemon, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ pound mixed cherry tomatoes, or small heirlooms quartered
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large

Preheat oven to 325°. Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water 2 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain and pat dry.

Accidental Locavore Sliced LemonsToss lemon slices with sage, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium bowl. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lemons are dry and starting to brown about 15–20 minutes. Let cool.

Whisk pomegranate molasses, allspice, and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add lemons, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and mint. Toss gently; season with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: A great change from tomatoes and mozzarella, it’s light and refreshing, with a nice tang from the lemons and pomegranate molasses and it might be the easiest salad dressing on the planet! My pomegranate molasses will be getting a lot more use from now on – it was great with the tomatoes and mint. I also really liked the roasted lemon slices and saved some to toss in with my usual lunch salad. Next time, I’ll roast a couple of lemons at the same time and keep them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge for future use – they’d be good with a chicken too. Mint would also go well if you didn’t have any sage. My husband thought the lemon slices would be better cut in half, but I liked them as is.

And I’d still love to see a reviewer’s copy of the book…

 

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