I went to Feast and I didn’t take a single food picture

I haven’t touched this site in about 18 months. So what would bring me out of food blogging retirement? There really should be air quotes around “food blogging.” What would be so fantastic, so mind blowing that I’d try three different passwords before I remembered how to log in?

The food at Feast was pretty great as usual. Jose Chesa made a fabulous duck escabeche with avocado, served in a waffle cone. Maya Lovelace’s fried chicken was incredible as always. But the real revelation . . . was a product that I never knew I needed, but have been missing since my first pint of Cherry Garcia in 1991.

Back then, I was sitting in the first floor of the commons room watching a movie, probably David Lynch, and sadly observing my half-eaten pint slowly melt. It wasn’t that I couldn’t finish it, it was just I wanted it to last at least part way through the movie.

Skip ahead another four years and a few hundred pints and I’m sitting on the couch watching TV with my now wife, passing a pint of Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche back and forth while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s a cold Portland evening. We have a blanket over us, are all cuddled up and maybe a fire in the fireplace, but our hands are freezing from the cold carton of ice cream.

A few, make that many years later, we’re at Feast, Portland’s premier food event. Some of the best chefs in the U.S. are here.

And so is Tillamook Ice Cream.

And they are giving away ice cream cozies.

Perfectly sized foam and fabric insulators shaped to nestle a pint of ice cream in their temperature neural embrace. They keep your ice cream cold and your hands warm. I may never eat ice cream the same way again.

 

Best Things I Ate in 2014

It’s difficult to come up with a list of the best things you ate if you haven’t been taking notes at every meal, but this is what I remember really enjoying in 2014 . . .

Pork Chops aren’t your typical Argentinian steakhouse fare, but the ones at Ox are perfectly brined, crisp around the edges and have just enough smokiness from the grill. Their clam chowder, and Argentinan steaks are delicious as well.

Bacon bleu cheese tots at Providence Park. Tater tots with bacon, bleu cheese, onions, tomatos are good, but eating them with a next to you, surrounded by the Timbers Army, all while watching your favorite team in their first home game of the season tastes pretty good.

On the tiny Island of Providencia off the coast of Colombia, are a couple of beach shacks serving fresh seafood. There are only a few restaurants on the island, so the locals come by motorbike, ATV and  horseback to grab their lunch along side the few dozen tourists visiting the island.  The restaurants open for service about 30 minutes after the fisherman drag their boats on to the beach with that day’s catch. After having the beach all to ourselves in the morning, we walked up to El Divino Nino, grabbed a wobbly table in the sand and proceeded to eat fresh lobster, conch, black crab and fried fish all for a few dollars.plato mixto

Lang Baan was not only the best Thai food I had all year, it was probably the best restaurant meal I ate. 12 beautifully structured dishes served over nine courses in the backroom of a Thai restaurant hidden behind a bookcase and a meat grinder. All this for half the price of Roe.

Lang Baan gave us intricately composed Thai food from 300-year-old royal palace recipes. On the more casual end of the Thai spectrum, Marc and Brook threw some rice in a bowl and  covered it in green curry and it was good. Our friends have been spending years perfecting their coconut-based chicken curry. They travel all over Portland to find the ingredients and then spend hours putting it together in what may be a perfect one-bowl dish.  It didn’t hurt that we were there to watch the Timbers play on TV and they won 5-0.

In late November, we flew to Budapest to meet up with friends that are traveling around the world. On our first night in Budapest we stumbled across a night market. There were picnic tables and booths selling beer, grog and food. A band was off to one side covering American pop hits. We grabbed a table and sit down to our first meal together since our friends left Portland in March. We each picked out a food booth we want to try. I went for a cart that’s grilling non-recognizable meat and onions over a charcoal grill and stuffing the meat into folded flatbread. The flat bread was baked in a cast iron oven next to the grill. After stumbling through my order in English (my Maygar is not very good), I chose a goose meat sandwich with cheese and something like sour cream. The goose was rich and moist, the bread warm and fluffy. It may have been one of the messiest sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, but it taste really good enjoyed with friends under the dark cold Hungarian sky.

 

Chocolate Roux – New Hot Chocolate Hack

I tried a new technique tonight for making hot chocolate. The best hot chocolate is done in a sauce pan with a stick blender, it comes out creamy, and frothy. However, most of the time breaking out a saucepan and waiting for the milk to heat up isn’t worth it, so we just stick a mug in the microwave. Microwaving  hot chocolate often  leaves bubbles of powder that never dissolve no matter how much you stir it.

When cooks are blending flour into a sauce, they always make a roux first or a slurry first. Roux and slurries blend flawlessly into hot liquids. So this inspired me to try making a slurry before heating the whole mixture up. It worked out great.

Place the powder mixture into a mug and add roughly  2/3s as much milk. So if you use three TB of cocoa, then use 2 TB of milk. Mix this into a thick paste, until it is evenly blended. Then fill up the rest of the mug and place it in the microwave. When its done, all you need is a quick stir and all the powder will dissolve evenly.