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Best bets in Lake O/Wilsonville/Tualatin/ area?

Wilsonville is, with one lone exception, a culinary wasteland of 2nd-tier chains and drive-throughs. Tualatin is much the same. Think Red Robin, Olive Garden and Outback. And those are the high points.

The single exception is Dar Essalam, a relatively new family-run Moroccan restaurant specializing mostly in tajines and kabobs. They also do two bastillas (see website for description), a savory one for an entree, big enough for two, and a sweet, fruit-filled one for dessert, also for sharing. These are a wonder to behold, and as delicious as they look. If you would like to try the dessert bastilla (trust me, you would), order early, as it takes time to bake.

Service is very good and friendly, the food is unfailingly excellent, the prices surprisingly reasonable.

Dar Essalam is a shining star in WIlsonville, certainly, but would be a bright spot even in more sophisticated surroundings. All in all, highly recommended, and worth going out of your way for. Do give them a try if you're anywhere near.

The website seems to have changed recently, and seems a bit muddled. They're much better at making food, believe me.

Dar Essalam
29585 SW Park Place Suite A, Wilsonville, OR

Oct 03, 2008
PDXpat in Pacific Northwest

In Search Of....The Utimate Gyro (in Portland)

Still hungry for Gyros?
The best in town are at the annual Greek Festival, happening this weekend. At a mere 4 talents, they're quite a bargain too.

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral
3131 NE Glisan
10am to 10 pm, Fri, Sat, Sun, Oct 3, 4, 5, 2008

Oct 01, 2008
PDXpat in Metro Portland

In Search Of....The Utimate Gyro (in Portland)

I think Foti's on E Burnside has been the gyro gold standard for many years, hasn't it?
It's not a place you go for atmosphere, but the gyro and baklava are about as good as it gets in Portland. IIRC, there'a a small table in the back, but mostly it's take-out.

1740 E Burnside St
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 232-0274

Sep 17, 2008
PDXpat in Metro Portland

Classy Meat and Potatoes in PDX

I don't think I'd drive all the way from Woodburn just to end up at Sayler's Old Country Kitchen. You can find an unspectacular steak a lot closer to home. And this is the first time I've seen anyone accuse them of being either "classy" or "romantic". They're more in the "family dining" and "value" categories.

On the other hand, Ringside fits the bill very nicely on all counts. The Westside location is preferred.
Gaucho is great, but might be slightly outside the brother's comfort zone .

Sep 14, 2008
PDXpat in Pacific Northwest

Solo in portland

There's good information to be had there, Just be aware that extramsg has a "significant financial interest" in at least one of the restaurants mentioned here, and mentioned frequently and prominently on those websites.

Sep 13, 2008
PDXpat in Pacific Northwest

Dining at Oregon Culinary Institute In Portland

As you would expect, the restaurant is staffed and managed by students at the Culinary Institute, under supervision of their instructors.

You might expect that this results in a dining experience that varies considerably with the experience and ability of the students on staff at any particular time, and you'd be right about that. Some students get A's, a few flunk out, most get C's and B's. Your experience on any given night will reflect this.

That said, if you're feeling adventurous, and are willing to risk inconsistency and the occasional deep disappointment, you can have some good meals here on the cheap.

Sep 13, 2008
PDXpat in Pacific Northwest

Which of these won't work (Portland with children)

Dinner with a 5 year old and babe-in-arms?

Kenny and Zuke's - definitely OK
Fenouil - maybe not
Pok Pok - maybe not
Higgins - probably no
Paley's - no
Bijou Cafe - OK
Noble Rot - probably not
Ken's Artisan Pizza - OK
Le Pigeon - I think the restaurant would be OK with this,
but your children might not be. It's very small and close-packed
Clyde Common - OK
Wildwood - maybe
Ten01 - no
OCI (only for lunch) - sure, but why bother? This is hardly a culinary destination.

Sep 13, 2008
PDXpat in Pacific Northwest

PDX: Lucky Corner chinese restaurant

The Lucky Corner Chinese restaurant occupies an unlikely location: a former SCUBA shop and diving school on the corner of 136th and S.E. Powell Blvd. Unpreposessing though it may be on the exterior, the interior is brightly colorful, shiny new, and sparkling clean. The tiny staff is friendly, efficient, and genuinely grateful for your business. And there's a good chance you'll be grateful you dropped by as well.

Lucky Corner does Chinese Food of the old school, classic Chinese-Restaurant style: BBQ pork, fried rice, egg foo yung, sweet-and-sour get the picture. There are no surprises on the menu, just all your well-known favorites, including the classic combination dinners, 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The big surprise is that they do this cuisine with exceptional skill and care. The entree's are cooked to order and arrive swiftly, piping hot from a seriously hot wok. The vegetables are crisp, the flavors fresh. The BBQ pork is juicy and tender, the fried rice fluffy and flavorful. Fried Won Ton are shatteringly crisp, with no trace of oil detectable. And the portions here are quite large; an order of cashew chicken chow mein, for example, will easily feed two hungry people.

On each of my multiple visits, egg flower soup has arrived at the table automatically, before ordering, along with the water and hot tea. If there's anything at all to complain about, it would be that this soup is not always as piping hot as the other dishes. However, the rich, thick and deeply flavorful broth, generously populated with chicken, peas and other veggies, along with the namesake egg flowers, more than makes up for this small shortcoming.

A signature dish is the Kung Pao Trio, with chicken, beef and shrimp. This is not a single dish with the three meats mingled, but a platter divided in thirds, with Kung Pao chicken, Kung Pao shrimp and Kung Pao beef, each seperately cooked and individually seasoned. Highly Recommended.

Most entree's and the combination dinners are under $10. A family-style dinner is available for 12.50 a person, and will more than feed a family. Beer, wine and soda are available. Iced tea, if requested, is cheerfully made by pouring hot tea into a glass of ice.

If this style of cuisine appeals to you, and you're anywhere near the location, Don't miss Lucky Corner. It's a classic case of the Mom & Pop hole-in-the-wall that's a hidden gem.

13604 SE Powell Blvd
Portland, OR 97236
(503) 760-3811

Sep 07, 2008
PDXpat in Pacific Northwest

bbq or soul food in Portland

I stopped by Texas Pit BBQ for lunch yesterday to try 'em out. I ordered a 3-way combo plate ($12), with brisket, pork ribs and rope sausage. Beans and macaroni salad on the side.

The macaroni salad is the kind you get at the Safeway deli counter. Beans were straight from a can, though it was a can of Texas chilli beans rather than the more common pork & beans. BBQ sauce is likewise straight out of a bottle, a sweet, sticky red sauce with artificial smoke flavor added. Ask for it on the side, or they drizzle it over all your meats.

Though I'd ordered brisket, what I got was tri-tip. Dunno if they got the order wrong, or just silently substituted. I *LOVE* grilled tri-tip, but don't think it fares as well in BBQ; it's a bit too lean, and thus often dry, and can be tough. This wasn't fully tough or dry, but was in the middle of the range, still fairly moist and with a fair bit of chew. It had a deep smoke ring and great smoky flavor, though not as intensely beefy as brisket is.

The ribs were very good, and the way I like them, cooked "dry". They're from a fairly large slab, meaty and smoky. Not falling off the bone, but still with a bit of chew to them. These are easily among the best ribs in town right now.

The sausage seemed like a store-bought brand, smoky and very juicy by virtue of being very fatty. The flavor was good, but I couldn't eat more than a few bites because of all the fat. I'll skip the sausage next time.

Our party also ordered a pulled pork sandwich. At first glance, $10 seems like a lot for a sandwich, but we wanted to try the pulled pork. Good thing we did. The sandwich comes on either a very large roll or a small loaf of Italian bread; don't know which. There's about a pound and a half of pulled pork on it --and, except for a drizzle of the sauce, nothing else. Hope you're hungry!! This pulled pork is, as the sign says, Texas style rather than Carolina style; no vinegar-based sauce or baste, this was dry-rubbed and heavily smoked. Huge smoke ring, lots of smoky flavor, moist, tasty pork with a ton of flavor. This might just be the best I've had, certainly the best in PDX these days. The sandwich is relatively expensive, but it will easily feed two, especially if you order a couple of sides to go with it.

Apr 06, 2008
PDXpat in Pacific Northwest

Any local Charcuteries in Oregon or Washington?

Eidelweiss Sausage Co. and Deli, Portland, OR
Specializes in German style cured and/or smoked meats, liverkase, and the like, most made in-house. There's a huge variety of stuff available. House-made sauerkraut and potato salads as well. Also has a lot of packaged foods and mixes, wines, beers, sweets and other items from Germany and nearby regions. Wide variety and good quality, but limited hours. Very crowded Saturday mornings; be absolutely sure you take a number.

Next door to Eidelweiss is the Berlin Inn, a wonderful German restaurant. No relation, just neighbors, though they do serve some of Eidelweiss's sausage. DO NOT miss the desserts.

Otto's Sausage Kitchen, Portland, OR
A small neighborhood meat market and deli that also makes their own sausages, salami, bacon, jerky, smoked salmon and similar products. Tends toward German style, but has a wider focus and smaller selection then Eidelweiss; I like Otto's products even better. Otto's will also process and/or smoke game for local hunters.
Famous for hot dogs (named one of the 10 best dogs in the nation by Jane & Michael Stern, among others). Definitely do try a hot dog; you can get one hot off the charcoal grill out front, or buy 'em by the pound at the meat counter. Either way, they are not to be missed.

A number of restaurants in Portland make their own charcuterie (sp?); for example, Beast is well known for its cured meats plate. Dunno if it's available to take away though.

Otto's Sausage Kitchen
4138 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland, OR 97202

Edelweiss Sausage Co & Delicatessen
3119 SE 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97202

Berlin Inn Restaurant & Bakery
3131 SE 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97202

Mar 04, 2008
PDXpat in Pacific Northwest

PDX: Cava restaurant

Cava is more or less in the neighborhood where I grew up and where I lived for many years as an adult, presumably after growing up. Foster-Powell is a working-class neighborhood, just slightly down-at-the-heels, so I was pleased, if a bit surprised, to see a restaurant with some aspirations open up there. Good on 'em; they earned a spot at the top of my list of places to try. After reading an orgasmic write-up in Willamette Week, I decided it was high time to check the place out.

On entering the restaurant the floor staff was very welcoming and made me feel sincerely appreciated and very much at home. The space is cozy and comfortable, with a small, porch-like waiting area at the front, and a medium sized dining area behind that. The dining area is windowless, so tends toward dark, is tastefully though sparsely decorated, and filled with vintage-style wooden booths and dining tables. Tables are a little close together, but not uncomfortably so. The overall feel is very "Portland"; slightly funky, slightly quirky, but very friendly and warmly welcoming. It's a very pleasant place to have a drink and a meal.

About that drink and a meal: I'd have to say my experience was different than WW's writer. On my first visit, having noticed Irish whiskey prominently mentioned on the drink menu, I asked for an Irish coffee to wash away the cold of a damp, blustery evening. Neither my server, nor the person tending the small, minimalist bar --who later turned out to be the owner-- knew what that was. I was a little surprised at this, but let it go.

Beside the small bar is the near-ubiquitous chalkboard with daily specials. From this I ordered Manila clams steamed in a tomato based broth, with chorizo and strands of thin pasta. The broth and Spanish-style dried chorizo were delicious, the clams fresh and tender, but about one third of the clams in the bowl had not opened. The next time my server came by I pointed this out to her. Since there were so many I suspected this was not because they were spoiled, but rather because they hadn't been steamed long enough, so I suggested she might mention this to the cook, and suggested that, next time, they might benefit from another half-minute or so on the fire. My server, though, decided to gather up the unopened bivalves and take them into the kitchen to show the cook. Shortly after, she brought them back with this message from the kitchen: "they should be OK".

I agree they "should" be, the question is whether they are. No-one who's eaten a bad clam will ever forget the experience, nor be anxious to repeat it. Apart from the matter of just how one goes about eating a clam that's shut tight (assuming one is brave or foolhardy enough to want to), there's the question of food safety. Unopened clams should never have left the kitchen the first time, much less come back to the table a SECOND time after the customer had called out the problem. There are two issues here: (1) failure to respond appropriately to a customer concern and, much more importantly (2) the kitchen's lack of awareness of basic food safety.

The Restaurant's signature dish is Cassoulet if WW's writer and the restaurant's menu are to be believed. This turned out to be a Goldilocks affair: some of the beans were overcooked, mushy and exploded, some were underdone, mealy and gritty, while some were juuust right. There was a nice hunk of garlicy sausage patty hiding among the beans, and a duck leg (drum and thigh) resting prettily atop. The chunks of duck confit were excellent, the sausage succulent, and the leg a promising golden brown. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to the promise. The skin was tough and leathery, and the meat just under the skin dried out and hardened from exposure to heat. Beneath this, the rest of the meat was still moist, but severely overcooked. The entire leg had the distinctive flavor of poultry that has been warmed over once too often, and I suspected my cassoulet was a backup that had been pulled out of storage and reheated for service. If this is a signature dish, I'd suggest remedial handwriting lessons.

The butternut squash soup, by contrast, was well executed; a thick puree of squash served piping hot and drizzled with brown butter, garnished with a leaf of fried sage. It was well made, but a bit ho-hum. The squash flavor didn't come through strongly, and no other flavors stepped in to take up the slack. There's nothing wrong with this dish, but there's no particular reason to waste time on it either.

The Morrocan Chicken fared much better, and raised Cava's kitchen considerably in my esteem. Half a chicken, rubbed in spices and oven roasted, arrives on a bed of delicately textured cous cous. The deeply perfumed chicken was flavorful and tender, the cous cous perfectly cooked, and dotted with olives and tender onions.

Desserts at Cava are similarly inconsistent. An apple crostata (a type of rustic tart) was overcooked, with scorched pastry and dried out apple slices. The angel food cake, on the other hand, was indeed angelic and topped with a blood orange compote which had a perfect balance of sweet/tart flavors, a lovely texture, and a deep, rich red color.

Cava's best asset, and the reason I'll return, is the floor staff. Service at this restaurant is exemplary, and a model for Portland's casual fine dining scene. The wait staff at Cava are genuinely welcoming, warm, charming, swift and efficient without being obtrusive. Their teamwork is a pleasure to watch, the staff are cheerful and obviously truly happy to provide their patrons with a pleasurable experience. The owner is likely to introduce himself to repeat visitors, and strike up a conversation. Randy, as he introduces himself, is also sincerely interested in making sure patrons are enjoying themselves, and is a great part of the reason they do. If the kitchen seems enthusiastic but inexperienced and inconsistent, the rest of the staff is equally enthusiastic, but much more polished and capable.

5339 SE Foster Rd, Portland, Oregon

Feb 16, 2008
PDXpat in Pacific Northwest

What to serve with chili?

Another thread about what to serve with chili; some good ideas there too:

Jan 23, 2008
PDXpat in Home Cooking

Sourdough pancake inquiry.

Also, the sourdough bacteria will continue to work, and the batter will get ever more sour. You won't like the taste. Further, the bacteria will continue to break down the gluten in the batter, and the pancakes won't have the proper texture or rise correctly, regardless of leavening.

Jan 21, 2008
PDXpat in Home Cooking

Frying in a Cast Iron Skillet

What a lovely story, thanks for telling us. It's nice to have such memories associated with your pans. Glad my comments were helpful for you.

Jan 19, 2008
PDXpat in Home Cooking

Frying in a Cast Iron Skillet

Well, you won't be *deep* frying in a skillet, unless you have a very unusual skillet. But shallow frying in an inch or so of oil will certainly not hurt the pan. In fact, you're spot-on about hot fat being just what it needs to maintain its seasoning.

Cast iron has a reputation for even heating, but that's even across time, not necessarily across space. It does not conduct heat very well, but does hold heat well; it takes a long time to heat up, and to cool down. Among other things, this makes it good for frying, with and without oil.

You may find you need to adjust your technique, compared with other cookware. You may find you need to preheat longer, and use slightly lower burner settings than you're used to, once the pan is hot. Or maybe not, depends.

Jan 18, 2008
PDXpat in Home Cooking

Leftover beef stew

Pot pies, pasties, shepherd's pie?

Jan 11, 2008
PDXpat in Home Cooking

Question: Is pressing garlic an acceptable substitute for mincing garlic?

I'm inclined to ask "Why Not?", but really, no-one else can answer this question for you.
If pressed garlic tastes OK _to_you_ as a substitute for minced, then it's OK. Simple as that. You're the cook, it's your call.

As others have pointed out (notably, McGee), as more of the garlic is exposed to air, the taste gets stronger. Whether pressing exposes more garlic than mincing is tough to say offhand; let your tastebuds be your guide.

Jan 08, 2008
PDXpat in Home Cooking

Keeping Cheese

The vacuum gadget alone does a pretty good job of preserving most hard or firm cheeses. I've kept cheddars and the like for a couple of months that way. You might want to keep a wedge or two in the fridge --as opposed to the freezer-- for a quick nosh when the mood strikes.

Dec 30, 2007
PDXpat in Cheese

Steak Dinner!!! No Idea what I'm doing!!!!

I don't have much to add, the other posters have pretty well covered the basics of how to cook a steak. But I have a few thoughts.

(1) Agree that George Foreman is Really Great for burgers, not so good for steak. A Really Great burger can be much sexier than a rather ordinary steak, by the way, but that's another thread. So given we're doing steak, use the cast iron or the broiler. Be aware cast iron takes *forever* to come up to temp evenly. Be patient, and let the pan preheat at a lower temp for a while. It's ready when a small splash of oil just begins to form rings or shimmer, and emits a *little* smoke. The Alton Brown instructions posted in the thread will see you through.

(1a) Pan-broiling a steak, which is what the hounds here are proposing, makes a great steak, and it's hard to go too far wrong, but it makes *HUGE* amounts of smoke. Open the windows and turn off the smoke alarm. It also splatters a bit, so don't wear your best silk shirt without an apron.

(2) flatiron is a great steak, and relatively cheap, but gets really tough and dry if not cooked perfectly. Not good for a n00b. Stick with a rib(eye) steak or filet. You've got more room for errors.

(3) As a person whose most (only?) successful dating strategy is cooking a meal, I have this to say: it really isn't about the food per se'. It's about you putting out the effort and care to prepare a meal and serve it to your date. If your culinary skills aren't strong, and you don't customarily cook for your dates, let her know that; it'll only work in your favor that you're making a very special effort for her. If the steak is a little overcooked, or the potato a bit raw, laugh it off and keep going. That's what wine is for. Uh...You've got wine, right?

(4) See 3. Get your date involved in the process. You want her in the kitchen with you, pitching in and working together with you.

(5) Keep it simple; don't overreach. Steak, spud, salad, some really good bread. Uh...You've got wine, right?

(6) what's for breakfast?

Dec 23, 2007
PDXpat in Home Cooking

He's a total pig - What should I have done?

The point is this:

(1) you mentioned that this place has a bar side and a restaurant side. That alcohol is being served (apparently in some quantity) in the restaurant side as well defines this as an adult venue. A reasonable person expects this means there may be "adult" language and mature subject matter. No surprise there, this is pretty normal anywhere drinks are served, especially if a lot of them are served. Children welcome, *if* accompanied by a responsible adult, right? That means that by entering the place, you have accepted whatever risks are involved in exposing your child, and yourself, to an adult environment, and have taken upon yourself the responsibility for that choice, and for dealing with the risk in a responsible manner. After all, nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to sit, or to bring your child; you're there solely by your own choice.

(2) Just as you have the right and duty to define rules of behavior in your home, and I have the right and duty to do so in my home, management of any bar and/or restaurant has the right and duty to define what is and is not appropriate behavior in their establishment. Management, Not You. If management doesn't think it's a problem, it ISN'T a problem, in that place. If you disagree with their standards and practices, you have the right to vote with your feet, and go somewhere else. You do NOT have the right to define what is "civility" in a public place which isn't yours. Deal with local policy or go somewhere else.

Hypothetical Example: Would you walk into a biker bar --with or without your daughter-- and then try to tell all 20 half-drunk, coked-up Hell's Angels to shut up because you don't like their potty mouths? I'll send flowers to your memorial. Clearly, if you don't like rough talk and greasy leathers, you went to the wrong place. Your mistake, not theirs. Nobody in their right mind is going to try to Disney-fy that place, no matter how much they hate the F-word. Deal With It or go somewhere else. Seems clear enough, right? Well then, except by degree, in what way is the situation you described any different?

You certainly have every right in the world to decide that a loud drunk's swearing is unacceptable *to you*, you do not have the privilege of deciding it's unacceptable *in this restaurant*. There's a difference that many posters here seem to be missing. In the specific situation you described, I think most reasonable people would simply get up and find a quieter table. Maybe say something to the waiter/manager, maybe not.

That's what you should have done also, instead of stooping to the same level as the loud drunk, and starting a verbal altercation. Starting a fight with a drunk is a poor example to set for your child.
If it were my restaurant, I'd probably have tossed both of you.

Dec 11, 2007
PDXpat in Not About Food

He's a total pig - What should I have done?

It's the privilege of management to define what is "appropriate" atmosphere in their establishment, and the responsibility of management to maintain whatever *they* consider appropriate behavioral standards. If management didn't object to this person's language, there's little you can do, except sit somewhere else. Perhaps in another restaurant, if you feel that's necessary.

Bearing children, while a great and wonderful experience, does not provide you with either the privilege or the responsibility of controlling the behavior of other adults in public places. You are not that other patron's parent, nor are you the manager of the restaurant. If you feel the local conditions are unsuitable for your child, your role as a parent is to move your child to an atmosphere you feel is more suitable, not to attempt to change the rest of the adult world to suit your standards.

Get up and find another table. Let management know, politely, why you did that. Let them deal with it, if they feel it's an issue. To do otherwise is to be just as childish as the patron you complain about. Since you asked, what you should do, in short, is MYOB and Get Over It.

Dec 10, 2007
PDXpat in Not About Food

Richmond - Pit Boss Carolina cue redux

Brother and I visited Pit Boss for lunch on Saturday, and had a very enjoyable time.

As others have noted, there is a large full-service bar that dominates the space. There's no beer on draught right now, just bottles, but the bartender --"Mrs. Pit Boss", on our visit-- tells us that will be corrected before too long. With the big bar and small circular tables scattered throughout, the first impression is more cocktail lounge than 'cue shack, but the menu immediately clears up any misgivings. This is obviously a full-service BBQ place, with a nice selection of smoked meats and an interesting choice of sides.

Brother and I each ordered a 3-way, which comes with choice of two sides and sliced wheat or corn bread. Brother had the ribs, pulled pork and hot link, with coleslaw and deviled eggs. I chose the brisket, catfish, and tri-tip, with greens and beans for sides. We both opted for cornbread. Sauce, of course, on the side.

While waiting for our much-anticipated 'cue to arrive, we had a chance to talk with "Mrs. Boss", who told us that turkey is no longer on the menu because there wasn't enough demand to turn it fast enough to keep it fresh. It may return as a special at some point, if the bosses can come up with some promotional idea to ensure rapid turnover. She also mentioned that city restrictions prevent Pit Boss from running the smoker during business hours, so all smoking is done in the early morning before the restaurant opens. This, of course, means that all the BBQ meats must be reheated for service; more about this later.

When our orders arrived in their styrofoam clamshells, it was immediately clear that Pit Boss is not stingy with food. The portions of meats and sides were quite generous. The (dense, not sweet) southern style cornbread arrived on a small plate of its own, and was dressed with a sauce of melted butter with chopped, cooked red and green chiles. More than ample servings of the wet sides each came in their own tupperware-like bowls. Collards were well cooked and tender, but still retained some texture. They incorporated large chunks of smoked turkey, which is made especially for the greens. The flavor was good and tasty, but not as vinegary, concentrated or viscous as some expressions of this BBQ standard. Cole slaw was fairly typical of the mayo-based variety, though crisper and less sweet and gloppy than the usual. I'm not a fan of eggs, but Brother said the deviled eggs were good though not outstanding. Beans seemed like they were taken from a can and doctored up with a few additions, including a dollop or two of BBQ sauce. On the whole, the sides were above average but by no means a revelation.

Brother had asked for hot BBQ sauce, so I'd opted for mild; neither of us could tell any difference between them. The sauce is typical of many thick, slightly sweet, medium spicy ketchup-based sauces; perfectly fine, but like the other sides, not the star of the show.

The ribs were large, tender, lean, meaty and smoky. Not falling off the bone, but with just enough bite left to retain a good meaty texture and flavor. Not the remotest suspicion that these had ever been parboiled or anything of the sort; these had done their time in a real smoker, with a pitmaster who knows his trade. Unfortunately, they were also cold. As were the brisket, tri-tip and hot link.

Brisket and tri-tip were all but indistinguishable from one another, except by the shape of the 1/2-inch thick slices. Each was very tender but with enough texture to hold its shape, and well smoked with a deep ring and rich smoky flavor that didn't overwhelm the taste of beef. They were also slightly dry, probably from having to be reheated.

The hot link was exactly as advertised; a lean, smoky beef link with a definite but not overwhelming kick. It had been split lengthwise and grilled, then cut into 2" chunks. A good, worthy representative of the hot-link breed.

The pulled pork shoulder was Brother's favorite, though he cautions that this could be because, unlike the ribs and link, it was still hot when served. Heaven knows there was plenty of it. It was tender and moist, nicely smoked and lightly sauced, with rich sweetly porky flavor and "Mr. Brown" plainly in evidence. With perfect texture, well balanced and deep flavors, this pulled pork takes its place among the best in the area.

The large chunks of catfish were very fresh, beautifully deep-fried, moist and meltingly tender. The breading was typical of southern fried catfish, and was a beautiful light golden brown and nicely crispy. This was the star of the show on my platter, as good as I've had anywhere, and a real delight.

Overall, we found Pit Boss Barbecue to be a friendly, welcoming place with good food which would have been excellent had it been served warm, and even better if it could have been served fresh from the smoker.

Dec 09, 2007
PDXpat in San Francisco Bay Area

Potentially embarassing question: Kosher salt versus sea salt?

You'd have to ask the supplier/manufacturer that question. Sea salts from different parts of the world have different compositions and different production processes, so there's really no other practical way for a consumer to know.

Dec 06, 2007
PDXpat in Home Cooking

Potentially embarassing question: Kosher salt versus sea salt?

Dec 05, 2007
PDXpat in Home Cooking

Potentially embarassing question: Kosher salt versus sea salt?

As Ruth points out, kosher salt takes up more space than an equal weight of table salt. Roughly twice as much, depending on brand of kosher. So if your brine recipe calls for 1 cup of kosher salt, you'd use 1/2 cup of table (sea) salt in its place.

Kosher salt is recommended for brining because of its purity. Iodized salt can cause discoloration of the meat being brined, or so I'm told. I have no personal experience of this, I've never tried it. If you haven't noticed this with sea salt, I'd say go ahead and use it.

Dec 05, 2007
PDXpat in Home Cooking

Best food of the best in Portland

Well, since you seem to be up in the air about what to do for your fourth dinner, I'll make a rec from off the menu, so to speak. This is definitely a splurge, and one that doesn't seem to draw much discussion on Chowhound for some reason.

Genoa occupies a place in the Portland fine dining universe somewhat like that Chez Panisse occupies in Berkeley's: Not only is she the Doyenne of local high-end restaurants, with a glorious and decades-long history, but she is also the Mother of many local chefs, celebrity and otherwise.

Genoa is like CP also in cost, in being Prix Fixe, and in offering only a pre-set menu. You do have some choices: you can select the 4- or 7-course meal, if memory serves, and you can choose between two entree's on offer. Expect to spend a long, leisurely evening at Genoa. This meal is intended to be the focus of your evening, not a prelude to something else. Well, maybe *something* else...

Genoa has an impact and influence on the Portland dining scene that belies her modest external appearance. If you only get to do Portland once, and time and budget permit, this is not to be missed.

Dec 04, 2007
PDXpat in Metro Portland

Best food of the best in Portland

As others have noted, you've really done your homework. Congratulations, I think you'll be happy with any of the restaurants you've got on your list.

However, McMennamin's would not be my choice for beer (or food, but you seem to grasp that already). Even though they have a number of enthusiastic --and often dreadlocked and tie-dyed-- fans, I suggest you reconsider. Portland has a great many microbreweries and brewpubs, any of which would be a better choice for a knowledgeable and appreciative beer drinker. Although McM's taverns tend to be cheerful, happy, fun places to go, and I always enjoy myself at them, the beers are wildly inconsistent, and no better than mediocre even at their best. They're typically cloudy and unfinished. McM's make a virtue of this by saying they serve their beer while it's "still alive" which means, in many cases, still fermenting and still full of active yeast. Plus on occasion, other microorganisms; I've had many mildly infected beers at McM's pubs over the years.

Maybe try the Horse Brass pub instead; they have, last time I counted, 102 beers on tap from around the world, including a well-chosen selection of local and regional micros, and a rotating selection of cask-conditioned ales on hand pumps. Those guys know beer. Easy public transit access as well, with a bus stop right at the door.

One other thought: I kind of think Pambiche fits all your selection criteria very well, and is a long-time PDX favorite. It's really a good example of a characteristically "Portland" type of restaurant, in addition to being quite good, and is well worth considering if you have a suitable opportunity. I've found Mother's to be definitively ho-hum; Wild Abandon is not what it once was: it's a nice neighborhood spot, but not a destination. Zell's is my favorite spot for brekky, but is also a favorite of many others. There can be quite a wait on weekends, but weekdays should be OK.

Dec 04, 2007
PDXpat in Metro Portland

Gumbah's Italian Beef, Vallejo, why it is worth a trip

They're open again, under yet another new owner.
See my post for details:

Nov 27, 2007
PDXpat in San Francisco Bay Area

Gumbah's is Back!

Brother, on an inspired whim, called Gumbah's number today. And to his great surprise and delight, as well as mine, they answered. They're open again, under yet another new owner. Needless to say, we had to hot-foot it right on over there for lunch.

Here's what we've learned so far:

The place has been open again for a little over a week now, since Nov 17. The new owner, who is a former customer from the neighborhood, made certain before buying that he could retain the old recipes, previous provisioners (Hudson's in Petaluma, I'm told), and the same cook. The idea, once again, is to leave the food unchanged, since that's been the basis of the business for 23+ years.

Some minor remodeling has been undertaken, and the eating area is a little less cluttered than before. The kitchen has been spruced up a bit, with new stainless steel panels on the walls. The kitchen seems less crowded than before, and appears to be a bit more organized. And sparkling, shiny bright.

But you want to know about the food, and especially the Italian Beef, right?

Brother had the Italian beef combo, so I tried the cheesesteak. We shared an order of fries and one of onion rings. It's early days yet, but the combo was back in all its delicious, drippy glory, just as before. Even the old familiar, house-made giardiniera was there. Yes folks, Gumbah's is well and truly back.

The cheesesteak was very like its prior second incarnation, though if anything, cheesier. Fries were immediately recognizable as the same crispy shoestrings that Gumbah's has long served. Onion rings were the only disappointment, being somewhat underdone and a bit doughy. To be perfectly frank, though, these were never Gumbah's strong suit.

There are a few items on the menu that aren't available just yet --the pizza and the meatball sandwich notable among them-- but I understand that plans are in place to restore those when the dust settles a bit.

For financial reasons, the name of the business has changed to West Side Cafe, but the new owner plans to leave the old signage in place until all the previous customers have returned. He's very aware he needs all of Gumbah's old fans to be successful in his new enterprise.

Again, they've only been open for just over a week, so there's still a bit of fine tuning to be done, but fans of Gumbah's who demonstrate their support and/or indulge their cravings will not be disappointed.

138 Tennessee St. Vallejo, CA
(707) 648-1100

Hours shown as: Mon-Sat 11:00am to 5:30pm

Nov 27, 2007
PDXpat in San Francisco Bay Area

Narrowing it down...

Seriously, before spending that kind of dough, read this article on eGullet about stovetop cookware materials and design:

also the Q&A forum that follows the article:

If you're mostly using the pan for searing on the stovetop and finishing in the oven, copper is a complete waste. None of copper's advantages come into play in this type of cooking and some of its weaknesses may bite you. The article discusses what qualities are important in each of several different applications, including the one you mention. In the Q&A there are some very specific recommendations about what's needed in a good, high performance frypan and some recommended brands and models.

According to the article, if you have an electric stovetop, for example, copper is a waste of money, as the stovetop is *much* less responsive than the pan. Second, few of the things one does in a frypan need such responsiveness. As other posters have mentioned, heat retention is more important in this application.

Copper is more sensibly deployed in pans you'll use for making sauces and other items where extremely responsive heat control is important (read: making hollandaise).

As far as keeping copper clean, the easiest option is to decide you like the dark-bronze patina of a well-loved copper pan.

Nov 19, 2007
PDXpat in Cookware