The past two weeks have been spent travelling through the major hubs of food in the West: San Francisco, Sonoma, Napa, Vancouver and Portland. I have drunk more than my fair share of red wine. I have eaten seafood to die for. The weather has been chilly, but that has been ideal for a body overheating as it processes some of the best food it has been given the opportunity to incorporate.
This week: Portland, Oregon, a city that is full of contrasts between the rich and poor, the obsessed and the insane, the farm to table movement and shopping meccas. Hipster, foodie, grunge, homeless, mentally ill and traditional all have their place at the table here. For my own part, my days have been spent at a workshop, while my meals have been luxuriating at such fine restaurants as The Heathman or Pazzo. Lunches have been spent at the Rock Bottom Brewery where the burgers are sensational. My after course walk also led me to the den of inequity – Voodoo Donuts.
So what has been great about Portland? For me, it has been all about Pinot Noir wine from the area and local beef. I hate Pinot Noir wine, or at least I did until I began to taste the variety grown in Oregon. It is deeper and more profound in its complexity than many of the Cabernets we drank in California, and it matches perfectly with the local beef. Last night’s 16 oz ribeye at The Heathman, for instance, was heaven-like when paired with the Big Table Farm Pinot. It was everything that a steak is meant to be: fatty, soft, flavourful and medium-rare. As a contrast, the bavette at Pazzo was rich, meaty, crusted and intense with flavor but equally matched with a Pinot from The Four Graces. Photos will follow from my actual camera next week.
But what about those Voodoo Donuts? Yeah…those. Well, I had only half-heartedly looked for them, but while scouting for photograph options tonight, I came across them and had to buy a few for the walk. Unlike Anthony Bourdain, who raved over the maple bacon donut, I opted for three simple chocolate dips – a standard, a chocolate bar, and the voodoo doll. At only $4.15, these were yet another Portland bargain. Fluffy, with an old-fashioned dip, I could see how one could easily eat a dozen oven the course of a night. Worth the visit? Without a doubt, if only for the cute factor of the little voodoo donut.
With two more nights left in the city, I expect to expand my experiences dining out even though I would do well to eat at The Heathman every night if I had to. Portland is slowly winning me over.