France and Spain

This past week, I prepared traditional French cuisine. This week includes traditional food from Spain. Over the next few weeks, I will be working on various traditional dishes from around the globe, and will consciously attempt to share them with you.

The French menu consisted of: Le Blanc de Poisson Belle Mouginoise (Fish Mouginoise), Poulet Sauté Marengo (Sauté Chicken Marengo). The Spanish menu includes: Croquetas de ]amon (Serrano Ham Fritters), Bacalad al Ajo Arriero (Bacalao Hash), Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp), and Paella Valencia.

Some interesting historical points behind the dishes…. The Marengo was created after Napoleon won the Battle of Marengo. In Italy, this dish is served over pasta. Secondly, the Paella produced these days isn’t true/traditional Paella, at least according to the authenticity gurus.

I don’t know if its just me, but I find traditional food fussy. Yet, I think back to the times when these dishes were created and the difference in time, the chefs then were true artists and could devote an entire day to a menu. Maybe that’s why these traditional dishes have a billion ingredients. Those billion ingredients make the difference where it counts, taste.

Next week takes us to North Africa, the Middle East and India.

Grub wisely


Yard House…. NO WAY

Simply put… piss poor management on your part… I’m getting ahead of myself… let me go back a few hours.

At sometime this morning, the city of Portland issued an E. Coli warning, as three reservoirs were found to high high concentrations of E. Coli. This of course created a sense of panic in the city. I was informed of the concern at approximately 11 am.

Tonight should have been the soft opening of Yard House @ Washington Square. When I arrived at their establishment at 3:15 pm to check out their menu, there was no notice of closing. My reservations weren’t until 5:30. Returning at 5:15, there was no sign of any closure. About three minutes of waiting outside the restaurant, a manager came out and apologized that the soft opening wasn’t taking place due to the City being out of water. His reason was “we waited to long before going to get bottled water.” He preceded to inform the crowd that they had to close due to an inability to maintain sanitation. He apologized again, and engaged me specifically in a conversation, that went a little something like this. “Why cant you boil water?” “We wouldn’t be able to maintain sanitation in the employee bathrooms.”

Needless to say, I left irritated. I am left with the following thought…. if they take such a lazy attitude with getting water, what does that say about their food?

Bee Pollen

A few weeks ago I was invited to a lecture by a Naturopathic Immunologist. There was a lot of interesting things discussed, two of the more important ones were: bee pollen and food as medicine.

Ever since I moved to Oregon almost a year ago now, I have suffered from allergies. I hate taking pills to make it through the day, etc. After listening to the ND talk about how bee pollen added to your diet would aid in overcoming that, I listened. I am more the type of person to prove a myth wrong, so that following Sunday, I went to Fred Meyers and purchased about a cups worth of bee pollen. The Immunologist made it very clear that it had to be LOCAL bee pollen, and once I thought about that it makes sense. So I started putting bee pollen into my morning smoothies. I am happy to say that a week later, Im not completely over the allergies but I don’t have nearly as many issues with sneezing/breathing. Its a relief. I am curious as to if other people have either tried this and found it true as well, or not.

The other concept that was discussed was utilizing food as medicine. Thinking just how crazy intelligent we as humans are in design. I thought that it was a concept that I would like to further pursue. In my brief existence, I have had two separate instances where I had to use food to heal. I wont go so far as to preach that all medicines are poisons, but I think there is some truth behind utilizing food as a prophylactic. I will be participating in various research studies over the next few years, and assisting with the End Childhood Obesity grant. I have also added more classes to my repertoire, as I need to finish off some prerequisites in order to participate in the programs.

If I thought that my first year in Portland was busy, my second is going to be even busier.

Grub wisely

Fogo de Chao

Untamed. Exotic. Vibrant. These are just a few of the words used to describe Brazilian cuisine. Is Fogo de Chao worthy of such strong language? I will let you decide.

I received an invitation to Fogo’s soft opening on Tuesday, April 29th. Our party of four arrived about 30 mins early, and were greeted by a wall of black. It was intimidating to walk into the restaurant to seven hosts standing like ducks in a row. We were immediately seated, in the back of the restaurant, with the host racing to the table. The saving grace of the serving staff was Alex. He greeted us promptly and made the dining experience completely enjoyable. With my critical mind and eye, Alex always maintained a professional, cordial and inviting attitude. My only issue at this point was with myself, I wish I would have spent more attention to “Rules to the Dining Experience.”

The first course of the night is a visit to a salad/side bar. It claims to have over 30 items including fresh cut vegetables, imported cheeses, cured meats and Brazilian side dishes. While I was fairly confident in identifying some of the items on the salad bar, it would have been an immense help to have some kind of identification cards in place. Additionally, there were a few sides, like the pasta, that was definitely from a box, which was disappointing.

Do you remember growing up playing “Red Light, Green Light?” If so, take the knowledge from the game and apply it to your dinner service. If not, here is a brief description of what to expect. At each table setting there is a red and green sided coaster. When you are ready for the gaucho chefs to begin table-side service, flip your card green side up. It took less than 45 seconds before I had six different proteins on my plate. By the end of that brief minute, I was entirely overwhelmed and felt as if I had become prey for vultures. Needless to say, the table turned the coasters back to red and spent the remainder of the night with Alex directing the meats to our table. A practice I would highly recommend.

The meats included sausage, different cuts of beef, pork tenderloin, chicken thighs, and drumsticks. The website claims “16 cuts of meat,” yet only 15 were made available table side. There was only one cut of meat that I wouldn’t finish as it had a bitter taste. There were a few cuts of meat that were lost due to the order in which they were consumed/served. One such example would be eating the parmesan pork chop after the garlic beef. It seemed haphazard and no thought was taken into the order of the meats presented.

Off the dessert menu, only four are made in house: the Papaya Cream, Flan, Creme brûlée, and pineapple. The only issue found was with the Creme Brûlée regarding consistency, it wasn’t light and airy, but thick and dense. It was flan in a ramekin. A pleasant conclusion to the meal would be the Papaya Cream with Raspberry liquor. The heavens literally opened and provide Fogo with one of the most delectable and light desserts to share with the World.

The restaurant is capable of sitting 220 people comfortably. After being at the restaurant almost three hours, I only noticed a handful of tables, leave before we did and I left wondering what would happen on a night with 600 covers.

The restaurant appeared to be broken up into sections, with a group of servers to attend. Alex seemed at ease and knowledgeable from the moment he approached the table. If you get a chance to visit Fogo, request his section. But hurry, he is only here for a few more weeks.

During the course of the meal, one of the gauchos stopped by the table and made the following statement, “when you have a premium product, you can charge a premium price.” For a table of four the cost of service was $265, which doesn’t include a tip or drinks. After reading this review, or perhaps visiting the restaurant yourself, you can decide if the food is worth the price.