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.

 

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JELD-WEN Field Food Guide #RCTID

Last night I got a sneak peek at JELD-WEN field. There were a few hundred guests invited to watch a highschool exhibition game and “dress rehearse” the stadium before tonight’s MLS home opener.


The stadium looks great the original main concourse hasn’t changed significantly but the new East and South ends are well designed, close to the field and add some modern aesthetic that blends well with the 100-year-old original architecture.
JELD-WEN Field

The East stands at JELD-WEN field the night before the first game.

First the Beer:
Winder is a sponsor of the Timbers, so most beer stalls focus on Widmer beers and Coors products. The standards (Hefeweizen, Droptop, W, etc) are present at the main kiosks as well as a handful of carts spread around the stadium.  Brewed specifically for the home opener is a 414 IPA — April 14.  Its a pretty mild IPA and won’t quite be bitter enough for hopheads, but it will work wonders as a session beer, that has a lot more character than your average session beer.

The standard stadium food:
Throughout the main concourse are the usual kiosks. Two new kiosks adorn the East walkway, past the Timber’s merchandise store. These restaurants serve the usual grill fair, burgers, hotdogs, chicken fingers, etc. I also saw curly fries available at a few. The burgers are your standard, patty, thicker than some, but fairly dry. The chicken fingers are well seasoned white meat, not too dry, but come with pretty good think-cut fries. The bratwursts are from Zenner’s and are true brats, pale in color and well spiced with ginger, cardamom and some cinnamon.

Specialty Carts
Scattered throughout the stadium are BBQ, bento, taco and grill carts. Last night they were located beneath the luxury boxes and on the deck on the East side. The BBQ was a little sweet, but better than the options at the Rose Garden. My favorite was the chile verde tacos. I tried the chicken, served with rice and beans. The soft corn tortillas were a little dry. They were  made with yellow corn and warmed to order. The chicken was moist and tender , while the verde sauce had a nice citrus  and vegetable flavor and much spicier than I expected.  The grill cart had the usual sausages and burgers. There was also a carved meat cart. I don’t know if this will be a regular feature, but they were carving us  fresh looking looking whole roast turkey.

I didn’t get to try the sit-down restaurant in the Key Bank area in the East stands.

Expect to see a number of mobile food trucks in the JELD_WEN Field neighborhood tonight. I know Koi Fusion will be setting up shop across the street from the main plaza, as will 2-3 other trucks.

GO TIMBERS!
note: I work for CMD which is owned by JELD-WEN.