FEAST Week is Here: How to Take Care of Yourself Before, During, and After.

And Feast Week is upon us; the biggest weekend of food, beverage and super flossy afterparties of the year.

Sadly, I started Feast Week yesterday sick in bed with food poisoning and living on a diet of vegetable broth and ginger tea…which I guess you could call an inadvertent Pre-Feast cleanse of sorts. Because of that, you can imagine I’ll be taking EXTRA precautions with my health prior to Feast’s commencement on Thursday so that I could make the most out of these next few crazy days.


For those of you attending Feast, I’ve created three miniature guides below for how to help yourself feel stellar before, during and after the epic Munch and Guzzle Fest:


  1. Get at least eight hours of REM sleep. Both nights.
  2. Do not consume any alcohol because it interrupts your sleep patterns, dehydrates you and you already have plenty of it in your future this week so just say no and have some Pellegrino with lemon instead.
  3. Eat 5-8 mini meals per day. to prep your body and metabolism to be grazing on a lot of food over the course of a lot of hours. Don’t eat too much and don’t eat too little.
  4. Make those mini meals CLEAN. Try to avoid fried, fatty, greasy, overly saccharine meals and instead focus on broth-based soups, salads, lean proteins and all those cliches that health magazines are always telling you to eat.
  5. Get in some exercise. I’m a hypocrite on this one because the only exercise I’ll be getting is walking in high heels to and from meetings; but because I have your best interest at heart- it’s probably wise to do a Barre3 class, go to yoga or go on a pre-work jog tomorrow.
  6. Remember to wash your face and wipe off all your makeup before bed because obviously you want to look all luminescent and alive when you run into all your Celebrity Chef Crushes!

During Feast:

  1.  Take naps on the days you don’t have to go back to work between events. Naps will be your best friend; if you live far then find a friend who doesn’t and pay them with access to the after parties to let you nap on their couch between events.
  2. Avoid overdoing the day turn-up. Yes it is tempting to try ALL THE WINES at the Oregon Bounty Tastings but wine makes you sleepy and you don’t want to be sluggish at Night Market, Smoked or Lord forbid, the after parties. Keep it to a sample here and there and alternate each glass of wine with both 8oz of water and a few sips of Stumptown Coffee. Moderation is key.
  3. Remember that you don’t have to sample everything. Feast has more eating options than anyone can imagine and just because it is there it doesn’t mean you have to consume it. Be choosy and opt to splitting samples with a friend so that you still get to have a taste.
  4. Dress fashionably but comfortably and definitely DO NOT wear high heels to the Night Market or you will hate your life and try to pay other people for their shoes. High heels really only work at the after parties, so go ahead and wear your Birkenstocks for all the earlier events and save the #glamlife for the after after party. For clothes; stick to dark colors and think along the lines of leggings, A-line skirts, oversize sweaters and statement jewelry.
  5. Carry advil, water, your prescription medications, your phone charger, deodorant, chapstick, mouthwash and dental floss at all times.
  6. Utilize legal appetite stimulants in the privacy of your home…but only if they don’t have the potential to make you sleepy and a couch potato.

After Feast:

You should probably ask for Monday, the 21st off and spend the day Netflixing and Chilling with a six pack of Gatorade and low sodium soup.

See you there!

Top Five Feast Portland Events Under $99

Unless you have been living in a cave in the middle of the Siberian tundra, you have probably seen some sort of magazine ad, tweet, or flyer for the fourth annual Feast Portland which begins in just under three weeks.

Just a quick snippet on what Feast Portland is again: An annual celebration, or rather a “movement” that corrals chefs, artisans, brewers, journalists, distillers, mixologists and food & drink enthusiasts from around the world to Portland for four fantastic days. From Thursday, September 17th- September 20th Portland becomes host to a plethora of food & beverage events ranging from an oyster shucking class, a Margarita showcase and even an ode to sandwiches in the form of the “Sandwich Invitational”. In short, there is a lot of food and a lot of drink  and a lot of beautiful people who all share a love for eating, drinking and being merry.

And now, let me dispel a couple of myths: Not all Feast events are sold out and no, not all of them cost more than a 50ml Chanel eau de Parfum for a ticket. In fact, some of the best events still have tickets AND cost less than an oil change. Check out my picks below for Feast Events that still have tickets available and won’t cost you any more than $95 for a ticket:

1) Widmer Brothers Brewing Sandwich Invitational Presented by Dave’s Killer Bread


Price: $95

Feast’s already legendary kick-off party transforms Director’s Park into a Disneyland for sandwich lovers. Fifteen nationally acclaimed chefs will be there serving up their own innovative and delectable renditions of sandwiches. Expect everything from dessert sandos to gourmet gyros to waffles and forever change how you define a “sandwich”. Bring a humongous appetite, taste from all fifteen chefs, vote for your favorite and sip on Widmer Beer, Hendrick’s gin cocktails or some Northwest wines. And yes, this event is all you can eat (and drink…as long as you stay relatively well behaved and don’t spill aioli on your fellow patrons). The line-up this year includes Top Chef runner-up Gregory Gourdet (Departure), Aaron Barnett (St. Jack and La Moule), Alvin Cailan (Eggslut, Los Angeles) and Aaron Franklin (Franklin’s BBQ, Austin).

2) Tillamook Brunch Village Presented by Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card

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Price: $70

Brunch Village was so extraordinarily successful last year that of course the Feast team decided to bring back the most epic brunch in America. Why go spend the same amount of money at a subpar hotel buffet brunch when you could come to this and eat both sweet and savory brunch fare cooked by some of the best chefs in America such as Andrew Carmellini of Bar Primi in New York City and our very own Rick Gencarelli of Lardo and Grassa. In addition to more food than you could ever eat, there will be a Bloody Mary Bar, lots and lots of wine, and obviously excellent coffee. This is exactly how I’ll be doing my Sunday Funday on the 20th so I sure hope you decide to participate.

3) Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Presented by Alaska Airlines

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Price: $60 per day (occurs both Friday and Saturday)

Occurring on both Friday and Saturday (with different itineraries for each day), The Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting is an orchestra of Pacific Northwest bounty presented to you by their artisans. Expect local cheeses, chocolates, pastries, honey and tastings from over 20 wineries and several surprises yet to come. The ultimate weekend wine and cheese day party…and I may or may not be participating in one of those surprises. You’ll have to come on one or both afternoons to find out what that surprise may be. All I’ll say is that you’re more than welcome to wear sequins.

4) Bon Appétit: Shaken, Stirred and Buzzed: Why We Really Like Booze

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Price: $55 (also include one year free subscription of Bon Appétit Magazine)

Whoever said booze couldn’t be art obviously has never ventured past 7-11 for libations. Come and get educated by some of the most prominent players in the wine and spirits industry and learn exactly what vintage champagne has in common with overproof whiskey. Then go throw your own cocktail party in a month and impress your guests with your new knowledge.

5) Beer Bites with Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker

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Price: $75

This guided Beer Brunch combines beer connoisseur Christian DeBenedetti’s knowledge (Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery/author of The Great American Ale Trail) with the talents of cookbook author, Andrea Slonecker (The Picnic; Eggs on Top; Pretzel Making at Home). Expect a delicious educational experience to start off the final day of Feast.

I hope to see you all there! And remember, use the #FeastPDX so I can see all your tweets and instagrams!

PDX Pop-Up Profile: Mian at Racion

Chinese food in Portland. That’s quite the topic to spark conversation amongst local foodies. Most would argue that the best Chinese food in Portland can be found peripheral to 82nd Avenue in establishments that don’t have craft cocktails on the menu, chic cosmopolitan decor or a staff whose mother tongue is English.

“Chinese food” is also an extremely generic term as it attempts to encompass the cuisine of a geographically (and thus agriculturally) diverse country with over fifty ethnic groups and that’s not even taking account the most prevalent “Americanized” Chinese food.

David Sigal might just be the first friend I made when we were freshmen at Lewis and Clark College back in 2007. We sat at the same table during Orientation at the Dining Hall and somehow we ended up being very good friends ever since then. David is Jewish and was born and raised in San Francisco, but also speaks fluent Mandarin, studied abroad in China and most recently helped open a craft cocktail bar in Beijing. Post college he started out as a bar back at Kask then moved on to bartend at Fish Sauce and Produce Row Cafe and he now holds the coveted title of Bar Manager at Racion. Besides having an impeccable talent at creating craft cocktails, David’s dream has been to open a restaurant- one that brings regional Chinese flavors to Portland.

Several weeks back, David invited a group of us over to dinner to test out some potential recipes. The dinner was a great success and next thing I knew I got a text from David to stay open on the night of April 27th as he was holding his first pop-up at Racion named Mian.

David. Photo Credit: Will Ray
David. Photo Credit: Will Ray

While David conceptualized the recipes and cocktails, Chef Connor Martin of Boke Bowl was the chef of the night as David bartended.

Before we get into the food, let’s start with the cocktails David concocted:

All that can be said is how fantastic these two cocktails were. The Chinatown Fizz being incredibly refreshing and the Sichuan Lady having that tequila and spice essence.

On to the food:

I promise I’m not just saying this because David is my friend, but the food was absolutely splendid and unique from any other Chinese cuisine I have ever tried. The sweet water noodles were my favorite dish- deliciously chewy hand-pulled noodles in a tahini based sauce with some sliced chilis for spice. The small plates also included a fascinating melange of textures and flavors- the Uigur salad for instance having a tinge of Middle Eastern flair as its representative of an ethnic group in China who migrated from Turkey.

And of course the sous vide tea egg was necessary as Racion does after all belong to the PDX king of Sous Vide, Chef Anthony Cafiero.

Mian was held from 6-9PM and for the duration of the time the restaurant was packed with even a waiting list at some point- a fantastic success for David and Connor. David hopes to continue with more pop-ups in the near future, if you’re interested in staying up to date for when those might be then go ahead and like his Facebook page and follow him on Instagram!

Toro Bravo: Behind the Scenes at one of Portland’s Finest

Up until last week, I had somehow in my 4.5 years as a Portland food blogger not yet made it to Toro Bravo, one of Portland’s most notable dining establishments. In all fairness, I had made two prior attempts and with a two hour wait time, I had decided on other options so as not to risk getting my blood sugar too low and becoming a potentially unpleasant dining companion.

Several other bloggers/media folk and I had the fabulous opportunity last week to be taken on a tour by Chef Gorham of Toro Bravo behind the scenes, experience the new standing tapas bar and to be treated to an impeccable tasting menu and pairing. After that, yes, I just might wait two hours to come back…as long as I have a snack right before.

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Portland Gin & Tonic: Aria gin, house tonic, lime shrub, hibiscus berries

Upon arrival, we were greeted with this fresh and delicious Aria gin and tonic to compliment some unique tapas.

The first of the tapas were “Spanish Kisses” in which the olives undergo some molecular gastronomy to be turned into mini balloons that pop and burst with the briny olive flavour once they touch your tongue.

Manchego pillows with jamon, caviaroli piment d'espelette
Manchego pillows with jamon, caviaroli piment d’espelette

Absolutely delicious. Such unique and scrumptious tapas, perhaps even the best I’ve ever had. Yes, I said that.

After sampling the tapas, Chef John Gorham guided us downstairs to see where all the magic is made- not just for Toro Bravo but also for his other restaurants, Tasty n Sons, Tasty n Alder and Mediterranean Exploration Company. And as one would expect, there was a whole lotta meaty action down there.

I’ve gotta say, I definitely gain a further appreciation for the dining experiences I have when I get to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into it whether it be learning about the experiences the chef(s) had which inspired a certain dish or method of cooking or getting to watch all the cool kitchen gadgets they’ve got in action.

After the grand tour, it was time for dinner…little did any of us know just how much of a treat we were in for.

 So much deliciousness; everything was so impeccable that I can’t even designate which dishes were my favourites. The Charcuterie Board at Toro Bravo is impressive, not your typical couple slabs of meat and bread deal but a generous arrangement of specialties such as rich and creamy duck liver mousse terrine and dates stuffed with foie gras. Definitely cool to know that a lot of those meats were cured just downstairs!

Then there were the clams, I for one am admittedly not a huge fan of clams as the texture kind of irks me. However, if you ask any of my tablemates, I was practically licking this bowl clean thanks to its rich, tangy tomato sauce. Another big standout was the Canelone Catalan, perhaps due to the fact that it contained a bunch of my favourite ingredients (lots of cheese, black truffle and chicken). Definitely the creme de la creme of comfort foods.

And, don’t think Chef John Gorham let us leave his establishment without dessert. Funny enough, while on the tour downstairs, pastry chef extraordinaire Carrie Merrill (formerly of Urban Farmer and Departure) and I mutually recognised each other from Instagram. Sure enough, she is now the Pastry Chef for the Brave Bulls and was debuting her first dessert at Toro Bravo to us.

Carrie's blood orange olive oil cake with spiced chocolate cremeaux and olive oil ice cream
Carrie’s blood orange olive oil cake with spiced chocolate cremeaux and olive oil ice cream

As was expected, Carrie’s dessert was impeccable and an appropriate finale to such a splendid supper. If you’ve ever tried a dessert at Departure or Urban Farmer in the past couple of years, chances are Carrie concocted it and that it was beyond delicious. This olive oil cake was light and sumptious and beautifully complimented with some hidden blood orange, a dollop of olive oil ice cream and an accent of chocolate. So stoked to see what else Carrie is going to be bringing to the table in the coming months!

Alright folks, well if the above food porn hasn’t tempted you to try Toro Bravo then I’m not sure I could trust your taste buds. Check out their mouthwatering tapas menu and head on over to this NE Portland gastronomical landmark for your next date, birthday, girl’s night or supper out on the town.

A humongous thank you to Chef John Gorham, the fantastic staff at Toro Bravo, and the lovely ladies of Little Green Pickle for hosting such a wonderful Wednesday night at one of PDX’s finest.

TOAST 2015 Giveaway Winner

As promised, folks, a winner for a $45 General Admission ticket to Toast 2015 has been selected from last week’s post I put up announcing the contest.


Since I’m still learning how to do cool stuff like plugins for contests and such, I simply used a random number generator that I found on the internet to select a winner for the giveaway. I numbered the seven comments left on my prior post as 1-7, the two tweets as 8-9 and the three Instagram comments as 10-12.

And…the winner is…

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Which means that Melissa wins the ticket to TOAST 2015 at Leftbank Annex on March 7th!

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Congratulations, Melissa! If I may say so myself, you do have impeccable taste choosing the Crazy 88 at Departure as one of your favourite Portland cocktails. Please e-mail me at saltwatercoffee@hotmail.com your e-mail address and full name so that I can e-mail you your ticket :)

As for everyone else, I still HIGHLY encourage you pack your lunch a few days next week and use that money towards a ticket to TOAST so that you also can have the opportunity to taste 120 different spirits from 40 distilleries and munch on bites from Smallwares, Olympic Provisions, The Bent Brick, Stella Taco and the up and coming Ringside Grill.

For ticket and event information, click here!

TOAST 2015 Ticket Giveaway: 40 Distillers and 5 of PDX’s Best Chefs

Do you like any of the following?

Rum, Brandy, Tequila, Absinthe, Aquavit, Whiskey, Vodka, Gin, Tacos, Charcuterie, or Asian fusion food?

Now, let me ask you this: Are you free on March 7th between the hours of 4 and 10pm and have the means to get to the beautiful Leftbank Annex event venue in Portland? If you answered yes to both questions, then I’ve got a helluva surprise for you.


The Oregon Distiller’s Guild will be putting on the 5th Annual TOAST, a celebration featuring forty distillers from Oregon, the rest of the Northwest region and around the globe. There will be the opportunity to taste 120 different spirits with no limit on how many you can taste and delectable bits from   renown local Chefs Elias Cairo (Olympic Provisions), Scott Dolich (The Bent Brick), Matthew Fields (Stella Taco PDX),  Johanna Ware (Smallwares/Barwares) and Kevin Schantz (Ringside Grill) to soak up the booze.

The Leftbank Annex venue is perfectly accessible by public transportation with the Convention Center MAX stop and Portland Streetcar within a couple of blocks.

Now, do you sound tempted yet? Yes? Ok, fabulous. So, here it is, I have a General Admission ticket valued at $45 that I will give away to a lucky winner on Tuesday, February 24th. How can you enter to win?

1) Leave a comment telling me what your favorite cocktail in Portland is (or if you don’t have one, your favorite cocktail in general).

2) Follow me on Twitter (@Sara_Korhonen) and tweet the link to this giveaway and use the hashtag #TOASTWITHSLIM

3) Follow me on Instagram (@lilslimlady) and comment on THIS POST which distillery you are most excited to taste from.

If you do all three of the above then yes that does qualify you for three entries, if you do two then two and if you do one then one. Best of luck my comrades…and hey even if you don’t win still get a ticket before they run out! General Admission ones are $45 and include event entry, a commemorative tasting glass, food from popular local chefs, samples from 40+ distilleries and the Oregon Distillery Trail Scout book. The VIP ones are for $60 and come with everything the GA tix do PLUS two specialty cocktails, access to the VIP area and access to the after party with the distillers.

Portland Dumpling Week: So Far So Fab

In case you have been living under a rock (or I suppose just don’t religiously follow Portland food news), the first annual Dumpling Week is well underway here with only two more days left (well technically a day and a half).

There are nineteen restaurants participating with their own take on the dumpling and if you print out your Dumpling Passport from The Oregonian’s website you can collect stickers from the various participating businesses and qualify to win a prize! Check out the full directions and info HERE

Anyhow, I got quite a late start to Dumpling Week since I’m not normally a big dumpling muncher but then the Instagram FOMO set in and I decided to hit up my ever so reliable foodie partner, Anne and create a master plan to conquer as many dumpling destinations over the course of four days. I still have five restaurants to hit tonight and another three I’m planning on for tomorrow, but I thought I would share with you all the dumplings I’ve already indulged in so that you can also get some dumpling FOMO and hit these spots while you still have the time.

BOLLYWOOD THEATER: Minced chicken and pork Momos (vegetarian version available too) $8


These plump bundles of meat are momos, a delectable comfort food prevalent in Nepal and Northeastern India around the Himalayas. Having spent a week in Darjeeling in the past, I am an adorer of momos and was thrilled to see that there was a place in Portland to offer them. While these momos were delicious and full of mincemeat I found the dumpling skin to be a tad too thick for my liking.

IMPERIAL: Georgian spiced beef and pork Khinkali with herbed yogurt $8

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Plump, juicy and filled with brothy goodness, these dumplings were definitely one of my favourites so far. Essentially you’re supposed to hold the nub, take a big ol bite and suck in the juices while holding the bowl underneath your chin for any broth spillage, then dip and douse in the herbed yogurt. Quite the savoury treat these dumplings are.

LITTLE BIRD BISTRO: Goat Cheese Gnocchi  with mashed English peas, lamb tongue, pea tendrils and fresh Oregon truffles $17

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Little Bird’s contribution to Dumpling Week just may have been the most photogenic of them all. And yes, it was also spectacular in taste whether it be the fresh pea puree, umami-ness from the truffles or the pickled lamb tongue complimenting the chewy gnocchi morsels. While certainly on the pricey side, I’d advise splitting with a friend because this is one dish that should not be missed.

GRASSA: Crispy semolina dumplings with Dungeness crab, porcini, mint and house pancetta $12

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Oh dear Lord, this rendition of a dumpling dish is in the same vein as Little Bird’s offering; a melange of flavours and textures that form a beautiful piece of culinary art. The large crispy dumplings are stuffed solid with Dungeness crab and sit in a decadently buttery porcini and caramelized onion strewn sauce. So damn good.

BOXER RAMEN: Potstickers filled with pork, ginger and chives served with pickled carrots and a garlic ponzu sauce. $5 (NOW SOLD OUT)

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Perhaps one of the most dumpling-esque of all the dumplings, Boxer’s extremely affordable potstickers make an awesome appetizer. Plus their pickled carrots are fantastically spicy. I’ll admit I’m quite forlorn for all of you that didn’t get to try these since they sold out today; however fear not, I believe the potstickers reside on Boxer’s regular menu.

DEPARTURE: Shrimp Dumplings made with palm sugar, ginger and crispy shallots $11

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Top Chef finalist, Gregory Gourdet’s winning shrimp dumplings encompass everything that a dumpling should be. Three chubby pouches of goodness show up in an appropriate dumpling basket (I don’t know if that’s what its actually called but you get what I mean). They are meaty and fabulous and the dumpling skin is super sheer allowing maximum flavor potential. So bomb. You have to get them.

 ST. JACK: Quennelle de Brochet (poached and baked pike dumpling with a mushroom, crayfish and cognac sauce)

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Perhaps my favourite of all the dumplings so far. While the description might sound adventurous, this classic Lyonnaise dish is the epitome of comfort food for a cold day. The dumpling reminded me of mashed potatoes and the sauce, an incredibly rich tomato and mushroom strewn accompaniment. Delectable beyond belief.

So, what are you waiting for? Go get your dumpling on ASAP! On that note, I’m off to try the ones at Son of A Biscuit, Kachka, Ox and Lincoln!

Café Castagna: A Family Style Mediterranean Menu Tour

Café Castagna may be the first “nice” restaurant I ate at in Portland. Several years back when I was a junior in college, a couple of friends and I ventured over to this splendid SE Hawthorne establishment in order to try their famous burger. It was of course, splendid yet for some silly reason I never ventured back up until a couple of weeks back when Irene of Watershed Communications invited me to join herself and other Portland Bloggers with trying the newly revamped menu.

Last July, Chef Wesley Johnson was hired by Café Castagna and he took the reins on reformulating the menu to a nouveau Middle Eastern cuisine abundant in fresh vegetables and herbaceous accents. Chef Wesley, formerly worked under Chef Michael Solomonov at the famous Middle Eastern restaurant, Zahav in Philadelphia and also spent a significant chunk of time in Israel/Palestine studying the cuisine of the region.

Being half Saudi/Palestinian and raised part of my life in Dubai, I was extremely excited to try out Chef Wesley’s concoctions and see how he was meshing middle eastern flavors and cooking techniques with seasonal Pacific Northwest ingredients.

Kicking a Beehive: Mezcal, Drambuie, Grapefruit, Honey, Salt & Honey Crystal Rim
Kicking a Beehive: Mezcal, Drambuie, Grapefruit, Honey, Salt & Honey Crystal Rim

Upon arriving for the family style dinner, I ordered the “Kicking A Beehive,” a delicious and beautifully concocted craft cocktail blending the smokiness of mezcal with a hint of citrus from the grapefruit and a tinge of sweet from the honey. Café Castagna also now features a $45 bottle wine list which provides an affordable way to try a quality red or white alongside your meal. Even better is that the bottles drop to $40 if you and your dining companions opt to choose one of the tasting menus for your dinner (there is a $30 and a $40 option in which the Chef selects your dishes for the evening).

As you can see above, it goes without saying that we had an extremely generous selection of items from the menu to try including nearly all of the vegetable/salad dishes. The flatbread with dips is an excellent sharing starter at only $10 with a hot and chewy zaatar dusted flatbread and a choice of creamy labneh, herby Turkish hummus and smooth and succulent chicken liver mousse to dip it in. The fried panissa was also excellent, a super fluffy and healthier alternative to French fries (panissa is chickpea flour). As for the salads/veggie dishes, everything was excellent whether it be the summery and light citrus/ginger salad or the excellent roasted carrots topped with some feta, mint and zhoug. There was also an impeccable roasted brussels sprouts dish that I forgot to picture which featured chickpeas, preserved citrus, black olive, aleppo chile.

And if you thought the starter dishes were a treat, then just take another glance at the main dishes we got the pleasure of indulging in. The celery root and parmesan agnolotti may be on of the best pasta dishes I have had in recent memory and in fact would be one of my top three dishes of the evening. It was perfectly al dente and a theme park of the finest grade of umami flavors. Irene (who is Italian) was swooning about it all night so you KNOW it is legit. There was also the Cipaille; essentially a massive Middle Eastern meatfest of a pot pie that reminded me somewhat of the Moroccan dish Pastille which also features a mix of meat, puff pastry and cinnamon/semi sweet flavours. Chef Wesley was also so kind as to serve us a sneak peek of a dish not yet on the menu- a Persian wedding rice rendition mixed in spices such as saffron and dried fruit/nuts topped with a housemaid rabbit roulade and rabbit chunks. If I wasn’t already so full I could’ve gone to town on that delectable pistachio and plum infused roulade.

Then there was dessert…

Profiteroles with a tahini/pistachio ice cream
Profiteroles with a tahini/pistachio ice cream

The IDEAL light dessert to end an incredibly abundant and diverse meal. These profiteroles were like mini ice cream sandwiches stuffed with a tahini and pistachio ice cream which reminded me of the tahini “halawa” my mom used to buy my sister and I as kids.

If you haven’t checked out Café Castagna yet, then add it to the top of your “To Eat” list ASAP! There is no better place to take a vegetarian or vegan dining companion as the selection is plentiful as well as anyone who loves a good dose of quality meat. If you’re a fan of the fare available at Levant and Mediterranean Exploration Company, then you will adore what Chef Wesley Johnson has up his sleeve. Café Castagna is also open for brunch on weekends as well as Happy Hour and yes, that burger is still indeed on the menu and still just as fantastic (if not better).

A huge thank you to Chef Wesley Johnson, the staff at Café Castagna and Watershed Communications for hosting such a fantastic dinner*. I will most definitely be back soon!

*This dinner was free of charge, however all my reviews and statements are true to my personal experience and opinion. 

Sh%t Food Bloggers Do.

Blogger Lunch at Ringside Fish House

Last month, I (internally) celebrated the four year anniversary of Salt Water Coffee. FOUR YEARS. While the earlier posts tended to range from Fashion Week recaps to videos of me in my closet talking nonsense and picking my split ends to spaghetti squash recipes; I did manage to eventually find a niche and not stray too far from it. The past three years, Portland’s Food Blogger community has become significantly more prominent with its own Facebook group and countless dinners/cocktail parties/tastings hosted by local PR firms and restaurants/bars/artisans in the industry. In the past couple of years over the course of the 100+ events I’ve attended, I’ve collected a list of tidbits that signify Food Blogger Culture. Enjoy.

Blogger Lunch at Ringside Fish House
Blogger Lunch at Ringside Fish House

It is not rude to be on your phone 95% of the time; in fact it would be rude to not touch your phone because then how the hell would you be tweeting/instagramming/taking notes about how that duck was prepared or what sort of barrels that wine was aged in?

Favoriting tweets and liking pics from someone sitting right next to you that you’ve never spoken to before is so not awkward. 

You only know people by their Instagram or Twitter handle. But you know all about their opinion of Bon Appetit Magazine’s picks for Portland’s Best Restaurants or what they ate for lunch yesterday and the day before that…and the day before that…

“I can’t, I have an event.”- When your friends ask you if you want to go to Happy Hour.

You’re collectively confused when an event doesn’t have a designated hashtag, so you end up collectively creating one.

If you’re dining in a dimly lit environment, you show solidarity to other bloggers by shining your iphone flashlight/holding a candle near whatever they’re trying to photograph so that they can get a decent shot.

Nobody EVER starts eating until everyone has gotten a picture. 

Awkward silences are no longer awkward because you could just go instagram or tweet to occupy the time.

You can always bring up a controversy from Eater or Twitter to have something to talk about with other bloggers.

Chefs, notable bartenders, food writers for magazines/newspapers and PR Firm owners are your version of celebrities.

Exchanging phone numbers never seems necessary when you can just make plans on Twitter or Instagram. 

But then you will exchange numbers during Feast Portland because you’d rather keep it private when you’re giving one another the pros and cons of the opposing afterparties you’re at and which one you should attempt to venture to. 

Of course you care about what bay those oysters came from.

If you didn’t Instagram it, then you never ate it. 

You’ve developed an algorithm for how to choose your +1’s to events.

Not getting an invite to a brunch/holiday party/tasting/media preview that other bloggers you know did makes you feel like that kid that did’t get picked on the kickball team.

You’re probably married or engaged or living with your boyfriend and spend your excess income on Pop-up dinners, artisanal salts, a DSLR, and kitchen remodels. 

You have the utmost respect for PR Firms that make sure there is impeccable lighting at the events they invite you to and pre-send you all necessary guestlists, hashtags, social media accounts and menus to expect. 

Being retweeted by Carrie Welch, Mike Thelin or Gregory Gourdet is just like REALLY REALLY COOL. 

Feast Portland is the most turning up you will do in a given year. 

Your phone battery dying or your iPhone storage becoming full at the wrong time is an actual catastrophe. 

Anything to add? Let me know!

Sara’s 2015 Portland Holiday Gift Guide For Foodies

Since the holidays are in full session, I figured I’d join the plethora of Portland bloggers making holiday gift guides and curate one myself. All five gifts I selected are from Portland based purveyors and are guaranteed to be a unique present to that special foodie in your life. So nix the Sur La Table gift card and instead order one of these online (or better yet head to one of the retailers yourself).


1. Jacobsen Salt Co. Tasting Vials Gift Set 

Jacobsen Salt is no doubt a staple ingredient amongst Portland’s finest restaurants and has gained fame for it’s delicious and unique infused versions so that you can add a tinge of salt to just about any dish whether it be a beverage, dessert, or a grass-fed filet. This gift set even made the Smithsonian’s Gift Guide this year! For $29.95 you’ll get the signature Pure Flake Salt, Lemon Zest Salt, Vanilla Bean Salt, Stumptown Coffee Salt, Smoked Salt, and Smoked Cherrywood Salt.

Price: $29.95

Where to Buy: Jacobsen Salt Co Website, Old Faithful Shop (Photo Credit)

2. Station Knives “The Byron” Chef’s Knife

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Otherwise known as The Bachelor, or The Chicken Eater, this small 6 inch knife with a wide blade is designed to be an all around kitchen knife for people that find larger knives unwieldily, or just too much of a commitment to clean. Station Knives are all handcrafted out of the finest materials right here in Portland, Oregon by Adam Sigal in his knife shop located across the street from White Owl Social Club. Join the legions of notable Portland chefs and bartenders such as Angel Teta (of Ataula), Jeff Seymour (of Interurban), and Anthony Cafiero (of Racion) who use Adam’s beautifully made knives. 

Price: E-mail stationknives@gmail.com for pricing details/customizations 

Where to Buy: Boys Fort, Workshop Vintage, Town Cutler (San Francisco), Hawthorne Cutlery & Gifts, Bamboo Revolution, Knives Ship Free (Hillsboro, OR), Mirador Kitchen & Home, Station Knives Website

3. Fossil & Fawn 2013 Pinot Noir

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What sets Fossil & Fawn apart from your typical wine label? Jim Fischer and Jenny Mosbacher, self-proclaimed “itinerant winemakers,” set up shop wherever they can around Portland make their delicious wines from grapes grown at Crowley Station Vineyards. In fact, their most recent batch was made in the broom closet at SE Wine Collective and Enso Winery. Their 2013 Pinot is described as ‘A tightrope-walk balance of intense fruit and floral tones with nervy acidity, spicy herbal notes that evoke flavors of Italian amari, and what we think of as site-specific wet gravel earthiness. In short, it’s a kickass wine that is delicious now but will reward anyone who wants to age it for a few years.’ Plus, at an affordable $24 you can both enjoy the fruits of labor from a distinctly Portland label.

Price: $24

Where to Buy: Barbur World Foods & Everett World Foods and SE Wine Collective. All locations in the Portland Metro Area where Fossil & Fawn is sold are listed here.  

 4. Nuvrei Mac Bar 12-Piece Macaron Set

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Looking for a chic, delicious and gorgeous edible treat for the hostess with the mostest? Just because Portland doesn’t have a Laduree outpost, it doesn’t mean you still can’t get an equally delectable and beautifully crafted set of macarons. With flavors such as hazelnut, passionfruit, chai and salted caramel you might as well add one of each for a colorful and sure to please 12-piece set.

Price: $34 for 12-Piece Macaron Set, $18 for 6-Piece

Where to Buy: Nuvrei Patisserie & Cafe

5. Tickets to Chef’s Week PDX 2015 Dinner Series

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About to embark on it’s second year running, Chef’s Week PDX is a weeklong ode to community, collaboration and creativity. This ‘Dinner and party series pairs the talents of local culinary stars with peers from up and down the west coast. Chefs and makers collaborate on various themes highlighting their creativity and camaraderie while exploring the purveyors and artisans that showcase the best of Oregon.” Tickets to one (or all) of the dinners is the perfect gift for that special someone in your life who has an appreciation for innovative dining, supporting local talent and bounty and all in all loves a beautiful soiree.

Price: $125-$250 depending on event (for more information on events, check out this link)

Where to Buy: Chef’s Week Website