This Week in the Mercury

<i>Legend</i> Is the Most Boring Movie Ever About Gangster Twins


Legend Is the Most Boring Movie Ever About Gangster Twins

Somehow a Movie Starring Two Tom Hardys Ends Up Being Dull

Monster Mashing with <i>Victor Frankenstein</i>


Monster Mashing with Victor Frankenstein

So Much Yelling! So Many Body Parts! So Little Fun!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dinner Time Splurge x2

Posted by MJ Skegg on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 1:16 PM

Portland is awash with special, one-off meals (some notable, others overreaching or just not offering true value) but there are two coming up that are worth seeking out. Tomorrow night, Aviary hosts another one of their vegetarian dinners—in the past chef Sarah Pliner has offered thoughtful dishes that are great value for money (seven courses for $45). This time round, the menu features chanterelle mushroom mousse with quince, a slow roasted onion flan with winter squash, quinoa and Asian pear tapenade, as well as their famed silken tofu.

Then, next week, Scott Snyder of Levant and Johanna Ware of Smallwares are joining forces to offer a fusion of their distinct culinary styles. The menu is a mash up of Snyder’s North African/Middle Eastern-influenced cooking with Ware’s miscellany of Asian-inspired dishes—the result intriguingly veers from a meze that includes hummus with Japanese seasoning and herbs, to a seafood dish of octopus terrine with lamb’s tongue salad, to a main of lamb ssam four ways (note: there’s a lot of lamb on the menu). Diners can also choose a wine pairing from either restaurant (or a bit from both)—I’m a big fan of Levant sommelier Brent Braun, who manages a wine list that is refreshingly off beat.

Aviary vegetarian dinner, 1733 NE Alberta, November 12, 5-10 pm, $45, reservations 287-2400
Synder/Ware dinner, Levant, 2448 E Burnside, November 17, 5-9 pm, $60 with $45 wine pairing option, reservations 954-2322

A dish from Aviarys summer vegetable dinner
  • Carly Diaz
  • A dish from Aviary's summer vegetable dinner

Monday, November 9, 2015

Meet Your New Chili Jamboree Champ!

Posted by Heather Arndt Anderson on Mon, Nov 9, 2015 at 10:29 AM

SHEEEE-IT! Yesterday's Chili Jamboree was a real hootenanny! As you know, at the Chili Jam, the real winners are the guests. But the votes have been tallied, and, by a hog's hair, the winner is Maya Lovelace of Mae! Her zippy five-pork chili with cornbread croutons and pimenna cheese was the crowd favorite. Gawn, gurl, and rock the shit outta that Chili Jam belt buckle. That bling looks good on you!


Lardo's Rick Gencarelli squeaked into second place with his tri-Lambda chili topped with a lil' ol' deep-fried lamb rib. He was behind by only ten votes! And boy, was it hard to choose a winner! Everyone brought serious game to this event. Even though it rained all day, the chili kept us snug as a tater in stew.

Big thanks to White Owl Social Club for putting on such a fun party, to Nicky USA for filling our bellies with top quality meat, and to Jim Beam and Widmer Bros for keeping us all lickered up. Be sure and check out all the photos on our Instagrams!

Friday, November 6, 2015

This Sunday: The Mercury's Chili Jamboree!

Posted by Heather Arndt Anderson on Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 3:29 PM


Well, slap my ass and call me Sally*, it's that time of year again: Chili Jamboree! This year we've got TEN chefs who'll be running all over hell's half acre slingin' their very best bowls of red—all made with locally-sourced meats from our good friends at Nicky USA. And they're gonna give you a taste of every single one? Shit, friend, that 'possom's on the stump!

Here's who we've got fixin' vittles:

Gregory Gourdet (Departure)
Han Hwang (Kim Jong Grillin’)
Jin Soo (Bamboo Sushi)
BJ Smith (Smokehouse 21)
Nick Zukin (Mi Mero Mole)
Anh Luu (Tapalaya)
Maya Lovelace (Mae)
Patrick McKee (Common Law)
Rick Gencarelli (Lardo)
Brian Spangler (Apizza Scholls)
White Owl Social Club

Where is this party, you ask? White Owl Social Club! (1305 SE 8th Ave)

When? THIS SUNDAY November 8th 1-7pm

How much will this set you back? A MERE $15 in advance ($25 at the door).

PLUS! Denver, Portland Country Underground and Tender Love & Care will be playing tunes sweeter than a sugar boat on a honey sea. So come on down, scoot those boots to some fine country music, wet your whistle on some tasty, tasty Jim Beam and Widmer Bros. beers, and eat until your eyes are bigger than your belly!

*please don't actually do that.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Chili Jam Is Coming up Quick, Y'all!

Posted by Heather Arndt Anderson on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 1:29 PM


Ever the masters of leaving what ain’t broke well enough alone, the Mercury is bringing you, YET AGAIN, another stellar event that is basically just an excuse to eat delicious foods prepared by the city’s best chefs, for a song, while we all day-drink and do-si-do our asses to victory. We’re bringing Chili Jamboree 3—this weekend! Our friends at Nicky USA, Widmer Brothers Brewing and Jim Beam are greasing the wheels for a good time, like they do. This year’s jam is gonna be hotter than ripe noon, so get your tickets now before they’re all gone!

This year, we’ve got fresh meat and seasoned Chili Jam veterans in nearly equal numbers! They’re all going head to head to see whose chili is worthy of the Chili Jamboree Belt. You taste ‘em and vote for your favorite!

Returning this year, we have last year’s champ, Ryan Day of Podnah’s Pit, is bringing us another taste of his ass-whuppin’ Texas street chili. Smokehouse Tavern’s BJ Smith will also bring back the chili he perfected last year: smoked hog’s head pozole with crispy pig’s ear and lime. Kim Jong Grillin’s Han Ly Hwang is bestowing upon us “Black Chili of doom water, party extravaganza good time, not safe for kid or work.” Mastermind Rick Gencarelli is throwing us a curveball, deviating from Lardo’s typically porcine fare, and winning major nerd points with his Lambda Lambda Lambda chili (guess what the protein is). Patrick McKee of spankin’-new Common Law will serve up beer-braised beef cheek chili. Greg Gourdet of Departure was mum when pressed for details, but that’s cool.

In the newcomer’s corner, we’ve got Tapalaya’s Anh Luu, bringing a pho-scented chili with beef brisket and jiggly bits. Maya Lovelace, chef-owner of Mae, is slinging a five-pork chili with heirloom beans. Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, we’ve also got the Mi Mero Mole’s Nick Zukin, making Texas-style smoked brisket with mole negro on a tostada. Brian Spangler of Apizza Scholls will be going in a similarly south-of-the-border direction, with dark mole-like spices in his beef short rib chili with beans. On the docket for Bamboo Sushi’s Jin Soo Yang is a beef and pork chili with fermented chile pepper dashi. And our event host’s chef, Allen Sands of White Owl Social Club, will be busting out a wild boar and lamb heart chili!

Finally, we’ve got real-live country music provided by Denver and Portland Country Underground, plus Tender Love & Care is spinning records. So come on down to Chili Jamboree 3. You’ll be happy as a June bug that you did!

Chili Jamboree 3 is Sunday, Nov 8 at the White Owl, 1-7 pm, $15 advance and $25 day-of. Tickets here!


Would You Trust Bradley Cooper with a Knife?

Posted by Andrea Damewood on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 10:14 AM

BURNT I could take you more seriously if you werent using an itty-bitty pot made for teeny-tiny babies.
  • BURNT "I could take you more seriously if you weren't using an itty-bitty pot made for teeny-tiny babies."

There's a scene in Burnt where star chef who lost everything but is making a comeback Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is sitting in a London Burger King, presumptively blowing the mind of up-and-coming lady chef Helene (Sienna Miller) by telling her the problem with fast food: consistency.

It's not that it’s cheaply made crap—as Helene correctly points out—but rather that a customer comes to know what to expect, and thus loses interest. Great cooking, Jones mansplains, leaves people wanting to know more. Too bad the filmmakers didn’t take this advice when it came to Burnt, a frozen, pre-packaged, totally forgettable dramedy.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chili Jamboree Veterans Will Bring the Hurt!

Posted by Heather Arndt Anderson on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 1:29 PM


OOOH-WEE! Have we got some goodness coming your way! Six Chili Jam veterans are returning to settle the score, and this is one grudge match that’s gonna make you squeal like a pig! You taste ‘em all and decide who takes home that purdy brass belt buckle. Get drunk as a mop on cold Widmer Brothers beer and fine Jim Beam whiskey. This puppy is coming up fast (Sunday Nov 8, 1-7pm at White Owl Social Club), so get your tickets now before they run out!

Will it be our returning champion, Ryan “Hold My Beer” Day from Podnah’s Pit? He’s bringing his winning Texas Street Chili back for another go. This beefy bowl of pork chili verde has been passed down by the Chili Queens of San Antone, garnished with cheese and golden Fritos.

Lardo’s Rick “the Gentleman” Gencarelli is serving up Arabian Nights with a side of Revenge of the Nerds, with his Lambda Lambda Lambda chili. Little ol’ lamb ribs are getting stewed up all juicy-like with Merguez sausage, beet harissa, smoked labneh and mint.

“Honky Tonk” Patrick McKee of the newfangled Common Law will be giving us a beer-braised beef cheek chili, and frybread to sop up all that sweet, sweet gravy. Then afterwards we’ll go out back and shoot them cans off a fence.

“Beefcake” BJ Smith from Smokehouse 21 is gonna be busier than a mongoose in a snakepit making us a big ol’ pot of smoked hog head pozole with crispy pig ears and tangy lime. Our only question is, how’n the hell he find a pipe that big?

When we asked Han “Yee-Haw” Hwang from Kim Jong Grillin what he was giving us, he spun a yarn about “a Tiger and Black Bear met in the hills of Manchuria. They fought a vicious battle to no avail and no winner. As they stood there, exhausted, they decided to join forces and take over the world. After a violent and lustful night, the tiger was pregnant with the first Korean to walk the earth. Our chili is based on this tale of epic-ness. We call it ‘Black Chili of doom water, party extravaganza good time, not safe for kid or work.’” All we can say is, if that’d been Estacada, both those varmints woulda ended up on the mantle.

Gregory “the Gourmet” Gourdet from Departure (and TOP CHEF fame, y’all!) straight laughed his ass off at the Mercury’s request for info on his chili. Will it be a spin on his turkey redang chili that secured his victory in 2013? Or will it riff on last year’s pork chili with red mole? You’ll have to come find out!

Sunday November 8th 1-7pm at White Owl Social Club. Be there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

First Taste of Red Sauce Pizza (Spoiler: It's Fucking Awesome)

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 9:59 AM

NE 42nd Ave is on its way to becoming a pizza destination. While Tommy Habetz's (of Bunk) Pizza Jerk is still in the weeds with its build out of the former Magoo's bar (truly, pour some out), Red Sauce Pizza—just across the way in the former Rocket Pizza space—opened for business on Friday.

I got the rundown earlier from owner Shardell Dues. Formerly the manager of the famously long-lined Apizza Scholls, Dues brings the skills honed from a lifetime of pizzeria expertise to play here in a major, major way. I mean that. I was obviously expecting this place to be good but I wasn't thinking about it that hard when I went in on Sunday evening. Other than the big and adorably upside down "PIZZA" sign outside (I'm convinced it happened on accident and they just decided to run with it), there's nothing weird or "experience" about the joint, which is clean and basic, down to its "heyyyy, I'm a pizzeria joint!" red and white check tablecloths. It's a small space, and they're geared at servicing the neighborhood with some much-needed (sorry but Rocket was awful) quality to-go pies as much if not more so than for eat-in diners (though they'll be serving beer soon).

But HOLY SHIT. It is so good. It completely exceeded expectations. Between three of us, my party sampled three types of pie: the vegetarian Fernandez (Mama Lil's peppers, spinach, red onion, and goat cheese), the Jack Dekovich (with pepperoni and housemade chorizo), and the Parcel (salami and arugula) plus a large, lemony, and excellent Caesar salad that mixed the standard romaine with some much-welcome tender kale. We happily burned our mouths, impatient to try each excellent variety as it arrived. My husband downright blubbered to the server about how if anyone told him he'd be living down the street from pizza of this quality in Portland, Oregon after moving back here from NYC a decade ago, he'd never have believed it, etc etc.

Parcel on the left, Jack Dekovich on the right, and Fernandez on the bottom.
  • Jesse Champlin
  • Parcel on the left, Jack Dekovich on the right, and Fernandez on the bottom.

Dues seemed modest in her goals for Red Sauce when we corresponded, telling me she just wanted to focus on good customer service and being a "neighborhood spot." Well... I guess my neighborhood just got more awesome. Like a lot more awesome.

Your move, Pizza Jerk. Your move.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Chili Jam 2015 is Bringing Fresh Meat

Posted by Heather Arndt Anderson on Fri, Oct 23, 2015 at 11:29 AM


Chili Jam 2015 is fixin’ to be more fun than a bag of kittens in a tub of puddin’! This year, we’ve got a bunch of Chili Jam virgins, champing at the bit for a chance to take home that sweet, brass belt buckle. YOU BEST GET YO TICKETS, SON.

You may recognize Tapalaya’s Anh Luu from such nationally broadcast television programs as CHOPPED. She’ll be serving up her “Famous” Pho Chili: pho-scented chili with a side of Vietnamese Realness: star anise and charred ginger will scent her fatty beef brisket, tripe, and tendon, all stewed up tender-like with tomatoes and green chiles. Scallions, cilantro, and Thai basil will purdy things up real nice. Pussies to the left, cuz’ this’ll be one wild ride!

Bamboo Sushi’s Jin Soo Yang is another Chili Jam newb, bringing his own Southeast Asian flair. His is beef and pork chili with fermented chile pepper dashi, infused with binchotan charcoal (them’s those fancy white briquettes they use in Japan, y’all!).

Maya Lovelace, the bubbly chef-owner of Mae, is stewing up Quintuple Pork & Sea Island Red Pea Chili! This means Anson Mills’ Sea Island red peas straight from South Carolina, cooked low and slow in Benton's country ham stock with salt pork, bacon, braised pork cheeks, ground pork, chiles & sorghum molasses. This is all topped with cornbread croutons, and she might just have another little trick up her sleeve to gussy it up even more.


We’ve also got Mi Mero Mole’s Mago de Mole, Nick Zukin. He’ll be working his sorcery with beef brisket smoked Texas-style, served up on a crispy homemade tostada. It'll be all slickered with his mole negro: black mole from the coast of Oaxaca made with blackened chiles and chile seeds, nuts, tomatillos, and chocolate. Lip-smackin' good!

Brian Spangler, the funky scientist and mastermind of Apizza Scholls will also be looking down Mexico way, with dark mole-like spices (a chilmole, perhaps?) spanking his beef short rib chili with beans. If he pays a fraction of the mind to this that he does to his pizza dough, we’re all in for something special.
Stay tuned for more, coming soon!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How the Sausage Gets Made: For Kids!

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 1:39 PM

I love this picture more than life itself.
  • I love this picture more than life itself.

Kids these days! They eat you out of house and home, and yet? They have NO idea how the sausage gets made-literally! Well, concerned parents can now change all that with Proletariat Butchery's "Sausage Making Class for Kids."

Proletariat's owner and head butcher Zeph Shepherd will lead eight lucky kids (ages 5-10) in a hands-on sausage making demonstration, in which they'll make and take home their very own sausage! (It's like Willy Wonka—except with pig guts!) Even better, kids will be given the following choices of sausages they can make: Sweet Italian, Campagne, Kielbasa, and Breakfast style. Here are the deets!

Date: Saturday November 7th, 2015

Time: 2-4pm

Cost: $50

Ages: 5-10

Max: 8 kids

To reserve your child’s spot e-mail or call/text us at (206) 579-8606

As noted above, space is limited—so get your grind on and sign up quick. Also of very important note:

If you’re interested in a private event I’m available for birthday parties or any other fun events.



Related: "Meat School"
"Old Salt's Pork Butchery Intensive"
"The Decadence and Horror of Butchering a Pig's Head"


Get Your Tickets Now for the Mercury's Chili Jamboree!

Posted by Heather Arndt Anderson on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 11:29 AM


Well, slap my ass and call me Sally*, it's that time of year again: Chili Jamboree! This year we've got TWELVE chefs who'll be running all over hell's half acre slingin' their very best bowls of red—all made with locally-sourced meats from our good friends at Nicky USA. And they're gonna give you a taste of every single one? Shit, friend, that 'possom's on the stump!

Here's who we've got fixin' vittles:

Gregory Gourdet (Departure)
Han Hwang (Kim Jong Grillin’)
Jin Soo (Bamboo Sushi)
BJ Smith (Smokehouse 21)
Nick Zukin (Mi Mero Mole)
Anh Luu (Tapalaya)
Maya Lovelace (Mae)
Patrick McKee (Common Law)
Rick Gencarelli (Lardo)
Brian Spangler (Apizza Scholls)
Ryan Day (Podnah’s Pit)
Jamie Otto (White Owl Social Club)

Where is this party, you ask? White Owl Social Club! (1305 SE 8th Ave)

When? Sunday November 8th 1-7pm

How much will this set you back? A MERE $15 in advance ($25 at the door).

PLUS! Denver, Portland Country Underground and Tender Love & Care will be playing tunes sweeter than a sugar boat on a honey sea. So come on down, scoot those boots to some fine country music, wet your whistle on some tasty, tasty Jim Beam and Widmer Bros. beers, and eat until your eyes are bigger than your belly!

*please don't actually do that.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Taming the Inner Beast at Wild About Game

Posted by Andrea Damewood on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 at 11:59 AM

If you drop money on one annual food Portland event—and you’re not worried about developing gout—I seriously recommend that you consider Wild About Game.

Put on by gourmet meat purveyors Nicky Farms, the all-day industry-heavy event is a meat-a-palooza featuring game meat cook-offs between top-tier Portland and Seattle chefs, wrapped around an amazing array of other bites and samples of wine. Let’s put it this way: For $65, you too could be sipping Division Wine Company’s latest pinot release and eating seared foie gras straight out of the Hudson Valley before noon.

This Sunday was the 15th annual WAG, held at the Resort on the Mountain in Welches, and while the chefs cooked for battle, I buzzed around like a crazy fat lady, chucking down Snake River farms short rib, smoked duck breast, foie gras sausage, and the surprisingly good Salt & Straw rabbit liver ice cream.

Here’s a recap of the battle:

First was Nicky Farm’s Water Buffalo, a Bolognese with liver, gochujang, rice cakes and fish sauce slaw from Johanna Ware of Smallwares. I liked the spice of the dish and the firm rice cakes, but she went down hard to the Seattle competition: Poncharee Kounpungchart & Wiley Frank of Little Uncle. They made a pho-like Water Buffalo Noodle Soup, with Wai Wai noodles, Lu Chin water buffalo meatballs, fried garlic oil, celery, chile vinegar and shredded water buffalo jerky. This was the closest call of the four rounds.

The needlessly scenic backdrop to 2015 Wild About Game

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chili Jamboree 2015 Is Coming!

Posted by Heather Arndt Anderson on Thu, Oct 15, 2015 at 11:44 AM


Well, slap my ass and call me Sally*, it's that time of year again: Chili Jamboree! This year we've got TEN chefs who'll be running all over hell's half acre slingin' their very best bowls of red—all made with locally-sourced meats from our good friends at Nicky USA. And they're gonna give you a taste of every single one? Shit, friend, that 'possom's on the stump!

Here's who we've got fixin' vittles:

Gregory Gourdet (Departure)
Han Hwang (Kim Jong Grillin’)
Jin Soo (Bamboo Sushi)
BJ Smith (Smokehouse 21)
Nick Zukin (Mi Mero Mole)
Anh Luu (Tapalaya)
Maya Lovelace (Mae)
Patrick McKee (Common Law)
Rick Gencarelli (Lardo)
Brian Spangler (Apizza Scholls)
White Owl Social Club

Where is this party, you ask? White Owl Social Club! (1305 SE 8th Ave)

When? Sunday November 8th 1-7pm

How much will this set you back? A MERE $15 in advance ($25 at the door).

PLUS! Denver, Portland Country Underground and Tender Love & Care will be playing tunes sweeter than a sugar boat on a honey sea. So come on down, scoot those boots to some fine country music, wet your whistle on some tasty, tasty Jim Beam and Widmer Bros. beers, and eat until your eyes are bigger than your belly!

*please don't actually do that.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Paydirt, Finger Bang, and More at the Zipper's Grand Opening Party

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 1:14 PM

The Zipper's opening! That sounded weird.

If you've driven down Sandy, you've seen it—the Zipper building at the intersection of NE Sandy and 28th. It might not be clear from the Sandy side of the building (the striking design of which has received polarized reviews), but there's a terrific patio behind the building, potentially one of the most hospitable in the city, complete with fire pits and plenty of seating. And there are some cool things going on inside the Zipper building as well, all of which you can check out tomorrow evening at the Zipper's grand opening celebration, starting at 6 pm with food/drink specials and live music.

For booze, there's Paydirt, the brand new bar from the folks at the Old Gold (and former Mercury music editor Ezra Caraeff, full disclosure). There was a lot to talk about back when the bar's opening was announced in June, and there's even more now that the bar is open and fully functioning. It still has that new bar smell. (Mmm. Whiskey. It smells like delicious whiskey—which makes sense, as they've got a huge list of whiskeys, easily one of the finest selections in town. No price-gouging either. Hear that, Librarians?) There's an old-timey phone booth that you can use to order champagne, and they've got Fernet Branca on tap along with 11 beers. There's also a secret bathroom (for secret bathroom doings!) that boasts a magnificent photo of Dolly Parton. You kind of have to see it.

There's no food at Paydirt, but there are four micro-restaurants inside the Zipper (it's the same developer who did the Ocean cluster of micro-restaurants, nearby on Glisan). I've heard great things about the falafel from ChickPeaDX and the Vietnamese food from Rua, and you can also get pizza from Slice and po' boys from Bywater Grocery. There's a coffee roaster in there, too. But perhaps most famously, the Zipper is also home to Finger Bang, the "Bishops of nail salons," as I've heard it described. Their business is already off the charts, with appointments booked weeks in advance.

Nails? Whiskey? Food? Outdoor patio? You can check all this stuff out at the Zipper's long-awaited grand opening bash tomorrow at 6 pm. It's bound to become not only a citywide destination but a hub of the developing neighborhood, as NE Sandy evolves in step with the rest of Portland.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Passion for Tomatoes

Posted by Jackie Varriano on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 1:43 PM

Evan Gregoire: He REALLY likes tomatoes.
  • Evan Gregoire: He REALLY likes tomatoes.

Last October, Beavercreek farmer Evan Gregoire traveled to Italy as one of 10 Oregon delegates to attend Terra Madre, a bi-annual gathering created by Slow Food in part to celebrate the Slow Food ideals of eating food that is good, clean and fair. (Full disclosure: I was also sent as a delegate, and met Gregoire at his farm Boondockers before we departed.)

While in Italy, he spent time both before and after the festival meeting farmers, touring seed banks and visiting farms, gathering as much seed as he could to bring back to Oregon. One growing season later and Gregoire’s got a ton of gorgeous tomatoes, melons, basil, squash and more, grown at his farm from Italian seeds.

What happened Monday afternoon, September 21 at Ravenna was the first in a series that he’s calling “Pomodori: A Celebration and Preservation of Heirloom Vegetable Varieties From Italy.”

Also on the calendar is a tasting brunch at Pream on Sunday, October 4 and a series of dinners: one at the farm with Nomad PDX on October 18, a second at Red Ridge Winery with Let Um Eat on October 30 and a third at Din Din with Seedhouse in the City on November 14. (Get the details for all these events HERE.)

However, this event at Ravenna was more of a tasting to give Gregoire an idea of what’s working and what’s not in terms of all these varieties. Tables were organized with dozens of tomatoes in different preparations; passata, paste, fresh, roasted, dried and thick sauces all portioned out into tiny tasting cups.

A taste of tomatoes.
  • A taste of tomatoes.

We were invited to sip and rate our favorites, calling out any tasting notes we adored or simply didn’t like. There might have been a little eye rolling at this point—tomato, tomahto right? But I’m not shitting you when I say that every.single.tomato tasted different. Some were sweet, some were meaty, some were earthy or fruity, some were watery or mealy—but each one was unique.

And isn’t this what we want from our food? Not to be over the top sentimental, but life is so much more than hot pink tomatoes in January, trucked in from Mexico.

It’s clear Gregoire is passionate—even a little goofy when it comes to these tomatoes, and that’s cool. Because if some of these varieties can continue to be grown and get into the capable hands of Portland-area chefs (Nostrana’s Cathy Whims was spotted sipping a few cups) we’ll all benefit. To steal half a line from that turd of a pizza mogul Papa John; better ingredients, better everything.

True, price tags on the dinners can be a bit steep ($100-$125), but the brunch is a mere $30, and who hasn’t spent that on sub-par eggs at some point in this city? If you can’t make it at all, check out Boondockers at one of the numerous farmers markets they attend or visit the farm—there’s more than enough tomatoes to go around.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Feast Recap: Night Market

Posted by Jackie Varriano on Sun, Sep 20, 2015 at 8:22 AM

After a long day of sipping wine and nibbling on mostly chocolate at the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, Feast’s Night Market event kicked off under the glow of Tilikum Crossing. The unofficial theme of the evening was “early bird gets the snack” as lines quickly began to snake in and around the booths as people scrambled to get treats from some of country’s buzziest chefs.

One spot that surprisingly didn’t have a long line for most of the evening was Seattle’s Rachel Yang. She was repping Joule (she also owns Revel and Trove) and serving a spicy blood sausage with salted shrimp sauce and garlic chive kimchi. It was a bite so nice I ate it twice, and had to restrain myself from going back for thirds.

Predictably, the buzz around LA’s Top Chef darling Mei Lin’s booth—situated in sort of a female power corner that included Smallwares’ Johanna Ware and Kachka’s Bonnie Morales—created a line that wove in and out and around, causing some good conversation as people found out they suddenly weren’t in the line they thought at first. Of course, there was no wrong line; Lin had pork belly pate egg rolls, Ware served up a Sichuan cumin lamb salad and Morales had pillowy lamb pelmini.

Mei Lins pork belly pate egg rolls
  • Mei Lin's pork belly pate egg rolls

Despite that trio of goodness, not everything worked 100 percent. At some booths it seemed they took on the idea “more was better,” when it most definitely wasn’t. Fine, give me beef tongue—but it doesn’t necessarily need roasted bone marrow aioli, crisped rice, pickled onion and tomato.

The setup of things on things on things made running into the tomato su at from Ryan Roadhouse at Nodoguro, and the octopus and tomato consommé from Toro Bravo’s John Gorham especially refreshing.

Overall, the thumping music, bonhomie in the lines and free flowing booze made even the most confusing bites worth it.

John Gorhams tomato consommé
  • John Gorham's tomato consommé

Ryan Roadhouse tomato su
  • Ryan Roadhouse' tomato su

Friday, September 18, 2015

Last Night at FEAST: The Sandwich Invitational

Posted by MJ Skegg on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 12:59 PM

St. Jacks Club Sandwich
  • St. Jack's Club Sandwich

There was a loose definition of ‘sandwich’ at the Feast opening event last night, the Sandwich Invitational. Most of the chefs were non-conformist and many opted for open sandwiches. In some cases this meant a bit of bread with a heap of stuff dumped on top. For example, with Aaron Franklin’s offering which involved spit roasted cow’s head, the BBQ was fantastic... but in no way could it be called a sandwich. Justin Wills of Restaurant Beck deconstructed the format to the point where it became weird: smoked lamb belly with butternut squash, tzatiziki, mizithra cheese and salsa verde. It seemed more at home on a plate than a piece of bread. Tim Heala at Little T Baker opted for a dessert: A delicious, light sfogliatella pastry with cream and fruit.

Vitaly Paley won the Peoples’ Choice Award with a soy braised pork belly on a fried bread taco, while Gregory Gourdet of Departure took the judges award for his Chinese BBQ pork crepe. For my money, though, Aaron Barnett (St. Jack) had the most outstanding offering—a club sandwich that actually used two bits of bread, with a filling of whole Peking quail and smokey bacon. It was bold and delicious.


Little Ts dessert
  • Little T's dessert

Aaron Franklins barbecue
  • Aaron Franklin's barbecue

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

MOAR Pizza for NE 42nd: Former Apizza Scholls Manager to Open Red Sauce Pizza

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 9:59 AM

There's been a rush of new food establishments on NE 42nd avenue in the past few years, kicked off with the arrival of Old Salt, and continuing with the in-progress Pizza Jerk from Bunk's Tommy Habetz.

And so it continues to continue... with even more pizza! Owner Shardell Dues confirms that Red Sauce Pizza plans to open October 9 in the former Bob's Rocket Pizza, and Dues comes to the table with four years' experience as manager for Apizza Scholls as well as two years at New Seasons. Says Dues, "The food is influenced [by Apizza Scholls], however I'm not trying to sell out of dough or have people wait extremely long times for food. I grew up working in pizzerias all my life and really want this to be a neighborhood spot." And of those pizza jerks across the way: "I think the two pizzerias, while perhaps being similar in style of pizza, [will] actually be quite different in a lot of ways. I really focus on customer service."

Dues has also applied for a license to serve beer and wine, and plans to offer outdoor seating beginning next summer.

With Bob Cassidey, original owner of Bobs Rocket Pizza.
  • Red Sauce via Instagram
  • With Bob Cassidey, original owner of Bob's Rocket Pizza.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Feast: There's Still Some Feast Tickets Left!

Posted by MJ Skegg on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 12:59 PM

There’s a week to go before the Feast Portland food festival kicks off and there are still tickets available for a number of the events. Tickets are all inclusive of food and drink—highlights include:

Sandwich Invitational – This is Feast’s opening party, which brings together top chefs from Portland and around the country (it’s a good-looking lineup) and pits them against each over to create the most imaginative and best-tasting sandwich. Drinks are supplied by five regional wineries, Widmer’s and Hendrick’s gin. Director Park, Sept 19th, 6-9 pm, $95

Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting – During the day on Friday and Saturday Pioneer Courthouse Square becomes a showcase for Oregon’s food-craft culture with cheese, chocolates, pies and much more to explore. There’s also a great selection of wineries (over 30) and breweries to try out. Pioneer Courthouse Square, Sept 18, 1-5 pm; Sept 19, 12-5 pm, $60

A-Game Coffee – A hands-on class with Stumptown’s Liam Kenna who shares the secret of how to make the perfect cup of coffee. Stumptown Annex, Sept 19, 10-11.30 am, $75

Drink Tank is a series of panels and tastings that takes place at the Portland Museum of Art:
Bon Appetit: Shaken, Stirred and Buzzed – A panel of industry experts shares wisdom and beverages. Includes a year’s subscription to Bon Appetit. Sept 18, 12-1 pm, $55

I'm in a Cult – An introduction to rare and collectible beers, with a panel that includes Saraveza’s Sarah Pederson. Sept 18, 2-3 pm, $45

Old MacDonald Had a Brewery – Find out about and taste farmhouse ales with Logsdon and Wolves & People breweries. Sept 19, 2-3 pm

For full details and tickets visit


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Beered Moonstruck Chocolates

Posted by Brian Yaeger on Thu, Sep 3, 2015 at 11:59 AM


As if chocolate needed any extra marketing to entice people to indulge, now local chocolatier Moonstruck Chocolates is giving it the beer treatment. Suck it, milk.

The Oregon Craft Brewers Collection, a package of a dozen crown- and bottle-top shaped pieces with four beer-infused truffles, will be available beginning September 9 online and at select retailers—including, naturally, the five Moonstruck Chocolate Cafés in the Portland metro area.

Some lucky winners will get to attend a private event hosted at the World of Speed Museum down in Wilsonville. At the what?? When asked why this venue (which certainly required some out-of-the-box-of-chocolates thinking) would be hosting, publicist Rachael Ka’apu said, “We needed a venue large enough, it was also important to find a fun venue where all four breweries would be equally represented, and finally who doesn’t love chocolate, beer and cars?”

As for which breweries and beers were selected to represent Oregon Craft Brewers, here’s a rundown of the salivating specifics.

Continue reading »


Tonight: Cooking From the Country Cat's Heart

Posted by MJ Skegg on Thu, Sep 3, 2015 at 10:29 AM

Adam and Jackie Sappington of the Country Cat have just published their first cookbook. It's called Heartlandia it’s a resource for anyone wanting to recreate the kind of classy rustic cooking they’ve established at the restaurant over the past eight years (or as they put it, “Glorified gramma cuisine”). Stuffed full of tempting comfort dishes such as buttermilk biscuits, autumn squash soup, wild mushroom steak sauce and bourbon peach crumble pie, there are also chapters on pickles and preserves.

To celebrate the book’s release, the Country Cat are hosting a special Heartlandia-themed dinner tomorrow with three recipes from the book: melon salad with arugula, fennel, and marjoram; bread pudding stuffed lamb shoulder with creamed corn and braised pole beans; and free-form apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Signed copies of the book will be available to purchase.

The Country Cat, 9737 SE Starck, September 3, $28 for three courses. Heartlandia cookbook, $30


Friday, August 28, 2015

Grilled Cheese Throwdown

Posted by MJ Skegg on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 12:29 PM

Bread, butter, cheese and heat—the grilled cheese sandwich has to be one of the simplest meals around. It’s been a staple of the American diet since Mr Kraft first invented processed cheese back in 1915—millions were served by the armed forces during both world wars and it was a cheap way to feed a family during the Depression (and probably the Great Recession as well). But there’s a world of difference between your run-of-the-mill grilled cheese and a truly great one, especially these days with gourmet and even international versions. Thankfully, the Eastburn Grilled Cheese Invitational is here to find the best example in Portland—nine restaurants will battle it out with the public deciding on the winner (taste, originality and presentation all count). It’s an all-ages event and half the proceeds go to the Portland Women's Crisis Line. And it's tomorrow! Don't miss it.

2nd Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational, Eastburn, 1800 E Burnside, August 29, 5-10 pm, $20 (further information available here)


A Chocolate and Coffee Dinner This Weekend

Posted by MJ Skegg on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 10:14 AM

Armadapdx, the pop up series that focus on a specific ingredient for each meal, is setting sail for Cup & Bar this Saturday for a ‘coffea & cacao’ dinner. Cup & Bar is home to Trailhead Coffee and Ranger Chocolate (hence the dinner theme) and Armada will be taking over the spacious café space. Co-chefs Kristin Arychuk and Megan Denton are have put together an intriguing menu, including a chilled blue Guatemalan squash soup shooter with cocao hulls and chocolate and beet cured lox. The five-course dinner includes a welcoming cocktail and two paired wines from Tartan Cellars. With a reasonable $50-a-head tax, it looks like being one of the more interesting dinners this weekend.

Cup & Bar, 118 NE MLK, August 29, 7pm, tickets available here


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Restaurant Hype Alert: Is Renata Worth All the Fuss?

Posted by Andrea Damewood on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 1:39 PM

Here's the deal with Renata, in case you've been living under a Himalayan pink salt rock: On June 17, at the ripe old age of two weeks, The Oregonian named this Pacific-Northwest-ingredients-meets-high-end-Italian hotspot its 2015 Restaurant of the Year.

For this baby restaurant to get the nod sent shockwaves through the food community—anonymous chefs griped about politics while local food writers were positively apoplectic. To name it the best new outing of the year, after a short soft opening and two weeks of actual service, was... well, too soon.

However, I also think The O's critic, Michael Russell, had few choices in what has been a dismal year for high-end ambitious openings (although he could have easily picked Doug Adams' turn as exec chef at Imperial, or the new NW 21st location for St. Jack).

The hullaballoo puts me, a fellow critic, in a tough place—it's now impossible to review this Inner Eastside venture on its own merits. When the biggest print game in town swoops in and names Renata the "it" spot, proprietors Sandra and Nick Arnerich and chef Matthew Sigler have more than a lot to live up to—especially taking into account their backgrounds at Northern California icons The French Laundry (the Arneriches) and Flour + Water (Sigler), and the expansive remodel of a former creamery. In short, Renata is marked.

I visited once on June 16, the night before Renata earned its title, and again on August 6, to see how things were settling for Portland's new darling. It's clear that Renata is still evolving and tweaking menu flaws—as it should, because even today it's just over three months old.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Point/Counterpoint: The Mercury Argues About Dog Food

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 11:59 AM

Point: Why aren't there more dog menus at Portland's dog-friendly establishments?

My husband and I are new parents—dog parents, that is. Much like the parents of human babies who increasingly surround us (seriously, back off), it's a job that requires a tiresome amount of baggage. Our rapidly multiplying friends are stuck toting diapers and breast pumps and wet wipes and toys. We're toting shit bags, water bowls, dehydrated pieces of lamb lung, and toys. For extended excursions, like a day spent hiking in the Gorge or romping by the sea, we've also got to include a Tupperware of dog kibble or—god forbid—a heavy can of wet food.

After our outings, we generally head to a bar or restaurant with a dog-friendly patio to refuel, where we humans have an array of menu options. Meanwhile, the dog usually eats next to our car's tire in the parking lot before we head in, because it's rude to eat in front of her when she's hungry, too. We could fill up a bowl of dog food tableside, I guess, but that just feels... wrong.

But you know what we would totally do? We would order food for our dog off a dog menu, if only you had such a thing.



Friday, August 14, 2015

On the Food Horizon: Wild About Game

Posted by MJ Skegg on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 10:29 AM

Here’s one for the diary: Nicky USA’s Wild About Game. It’s not for another couple of months, but tickets are on sale now. This year is the 15th anniversary of the food event that features specialty game and a cooking competition (and, it has to be said, a fair amount of booze, too). Chefs from Portland and Seattle compete in a cook off that has four meat-based categories, with dishes voted on by attendees. Portland lost last year, but are fielding a strong team this time round: Johanna Ware (Smallwares), Doug Adams, (Imperial), Andrew Mace, (Le Pigeon), and Carlo Lamagna (Clyde Common).

The artisanal marketplace, this year sponsored by Jacobson Salt, features a range of small-batch producers, with everything from meat and cheese to chocolate and ice cream. There are also a bunch of breweries, distilleries and wine makers present, so—being blunt—it’s not hard to get wasted. This year the event has returned to its roots and is hosted by Resort at the Mountain (which is a shorter commute than last year’s venue, Timberline Lodge).

Nicky USA’s Wild About Game, Resort at the Mountain, October 11, 11.30 am-4 pm, $65 advance available here [updated]


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