A recent trip to Portland was inspired so I could meet up with blacksmith/custom cutlery guru Adam Sigal. Station Knives, is Portland’s hidden little gem, tucked away in a long retired gas station’s snack shop.
The plan was to investigate, discover, and educate myself in the world of a blacksmith. And the end goal, all going as planned, we would collaborate on a new line of Chef knives for our One True Vine Journal. How did things go, well that is a story for a later date.
It is what happened during this visit with the Sigal brother’s that is today’s story – FOOD!!!
As I quickly learned Portland is no doubt is a very “hip” place to be. So much so that depending on your location and the crowd it is also known amongst the hipsters as Portlandia or PDX. Secondly, there is a veracious appetite here for food. The food truck scene alone has numbers hovering around 600+ individual vendors scattered about the city.
The first stop in my culinary “Food Crawl” would be Olympia Provisions”, Oregon’s first USDA-approved salumeria, established in 2009. Soon as we walked through the front doors, Goosebumps immediately ran down my arms, a smile from ear to ear appeared on my face – Charcuterie heaven!
With no hesitation we quickly jumped in empty bar seats at the chef’s counter and with menus in hand, immediately knew this was not going to be a quick lunch. We started with French, Italian and Spanish charcuterie boards along with the chef’s cheese selection of the day. And as if that wasn’t enough, who with any common sense would turn down Pork Rillettes ‘hand pies’ which were crazy good. Last but not least to finish our first stop, ‘Choucroute Garnie’ a dish filled with sauerkraut, potatoes, various sausages and just enough pork belly.
As we ventured out heading for our next location, BIWA, we happen to walk past Hamlet, Portland’s ‘Ham Bar’ that draws praise from all that worship pork. This is a ‘tasting room’ approach that delivers the best of the best Italian, Spanish and American cured hams. And it doesn’t stop there, the offerings of Sherry and Madeira wines provide the perfect surprise encounter along our journey.
BIWA is a Japanese gastro pub that delivers on many levels. A lively and vibrant atmosphere that is for sure at the top of their game. From the impressive sake list, small dishes and sashimi, I was on cloud nine. When you make the trip, the must have dishes are ‘Yukke’ – Korean beef tartare, Sardines, and the “Karaage’ – Japanese fired chicken.
Day has turned into night and before calling it quits on this first day, we decide Spanish Tapas and Paella would be the ideal way to bring this day to a close. So were off.
CHESA, delivers an old-world Spanish feel. From the first step inside, you immediately notice the kitchen as the centerpiece. A Spanish-made Josper charcoal oven provides the authentic flavor to the mussels and paella dishes. The one dish by all means is a must have, ‘Mar I Montana’ – braised oxtail, bomba rice, prawns and sofrito paella. The combination of flavors, richness of the oxtail and sweetness of the shrimp by all means delivered a very memorable dish.
Not a bad first day on the Portland “Food Crawl”. Remember one should embrace life, live each and everyday to the fullest! Cheers!