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Our Portland trip


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Ken's artisan demi levain with leonforte olive oil, sweet cream butter, and sea salt.

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The bread was very good. The crust was a little chewier than I expected to be, but it was still crisp. It could've softened a bit because of the humidity in the kitchen, though.

Second Wave:

House made buffalo mozzeralla on grilled ken's bread, with salt and olive oil.

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Jason made the mozzarella that day. It was really creamy and delicious. I've had some less than tasty housemade fresh cheeses in the past, and I'm happy to say this was very good.

Third Wave:

Asparagus and ricotta ravioli with toasted pinenuts, black truffle butter, and parmesian.

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My favourite as well. The ravioli skin was thinner than anything I've had in the past.

Risotto with house made fennel sausage, onions, sage, english peas, and pecorino romano.

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Jason asked us the next morning about all the things we DIDN'T enjoy about the meal. This was one of the dishes I mentioned. I said I was expecting the Milanese-style risotto (the creamy style?) and Jason agreed that they should've made that distinction on the menu so rubes like us don't get confused about why the risotto is so dry. :wink:

Braised Buffalo short ribs

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The ribs themselves were my least favourite of the night. We asked Jason how long they braise them for, and he said 4-5 hours, which surprised me because they were still quite tough and chewy.

Fifth Wave:

Desserts. I'll let Lorna write about these. I was a bit too full and still reminiscing about the oyster mushrooms.

I liked the lemon cake. I think it was like a lemon steamed pudding. It was very moist and light, and topped with lemon curd and whipped cream. There's candied lemon peel on the side. Simple and tasty.

I didn't care for the chocolate ganache cake. On top is fresh mint ice-cream. I didn't like the chocolate they used in the cake.

All in all, I say the meal at Clarklewis was pretty good. The room is really industrial-looking. Loved it. Portlanders seem to dine out quite early. The restaurant was packed when we arrived for our 8:30pm reservation, and almost deserted by 10pm. (We finished dinner around 11-ish).

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Wonderful trip report! that pizza sure looks fantastic.

(BTW, I apologize for all the cheesy pics of me. We were on vacation, and didn't really think to take pics of restaurant signs without one of us popping up in them.)

no need to apologize. The smile on your face whenever you're next to the word 'chocolate'or 'bakery' is a lovely thing to see :biggrin:

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Ken's artisan demi levain with leonforte olive oil, sweet cream butter, and sea salt.

441610134_535bd2b24d.jpg

The bread was very good. The crust was a little chewier than I expected to be, but it was still crisp. It could've softened a bit because of the humidity in the kitchen, though.

[

If they're getting the big boules from Ken's then the crust does tend to soften a lot faster then the smaller loaves. My guess is that the bigger loaves hold more moisture internally. The crusts are shatteringly crispy for about 6 - 8 hrs in my kitchen (depending on humidity). They're always pretty chewy though...and thick. I've never felt that the bread in restaurants was as good as buying it directly from the bakery. I'm not sure why, but I suspect that a few times it's been because the bread was from the day before. It's still good (and better for cooking/grilling/toasting) but texturally not as pleasing.

Leonforte is oil that Jim Dixon imports from Sicily. It's nice and mellow and rich, and would let the bread taste really come through. I tend to eat it with a stronger oil though.

Did you guys get contraband butter with your radishes, or was it just plain old butter?

regards,

trillium

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At lunch on Saturdays, Ken's Place in Portland (a beloved upscale diner in its own right) becomes home to Kenny and Zuke's, a NY-style deli famous for their pastrami.

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They've just signed their lease for a new space opening up in the Ace Hotel in Portland, and from then on, you'll get Kenny and Zuke's pastrami, corned beef, pickled tongue, chopped liver, and a bunch of other goodies all the time.

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We got there after an after-brunch nap (I digest while I sleep) around 1:30pm and they were slammed.

There's Nick working the floor.

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I checked out the menu and decided on the Ken's Special, which is pastrami and chopped liver. I love chopped liver. I told Nick what I wanted and he said to get the Reuben instead. So we got the Reuben. :laugh: (With a lovely side of chopped liver!)

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amuse bouche (apricot rugelach, their most popular flavour)

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Egg cream made with Dagoba chocolate sauce. This was our first egg cream ever!

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Water in mason jars. These guys thought of everything!

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The main event...we loved the Reuben. Henry said it was the best Reuben he's ever had. I don't eat Reubens often enough to make that sort of statement, so I'll just say that was a damn tasty sandwich. I wish the pastrami had more fat, but Nick said we got slices off the last pastrami, which was the leanest piece. The potato salad on the side was very good too. They definitely put some effort into their sides, which was awesome to see.

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Yum yum chopped liver...

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Full sour and half sour

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What a fantastic lunch. I'm sure they'll do really well in their new location, which I believe opens in late summer/early fall.

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Leonforte is oil that Jim Dixon imports from Sicily.

Thanks for the plug, trillium. I just got the 2006 harvest oils from Sicily (both Leonforte, which is form the interior, and Madre Terra from the sw coastal town of Sciacca), and I'll have them both at the opening of the Portland Farmers Market this Sat (4/7). clarklewis also uses the Portuguese flor de sal from Necton, and I'll have it for sale, too.

The Leonforte currently served is from 2005, and it shows how a well-made oil can hold its flavor for much longer than the one year than many cite as the shelf life of extra virgin oil.

Ling,

I'm glad you made it to clarklewis before Jason heads off to Alaska. Next time you'll have to visit Nostrana (I'm sure Jason has told you about it, too, since he worked there as well).

Jim

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I've never felt that the bread in restaurants was as good as buying it directly from the bakery. I'm not sure why, but I suspect that a few times it's been because the bread was from the day before. It's still good (and better for cooking/grilling/toasting) but texturally not as pleasing.

That's really interesting. Jason said that the bread they get at the restaurant is inconsistent (sometimes burnt) although I have read online that Ken's breads are much darker than most bakeries, and this is a plus in my eyes! I'll have to get bread directly from the bakery next time.

Did you guys get contraband butter with your radishes, or was it just plain old butter?

What is this contraband butter that you speak of...? :wink: I have no idea... I don't think the server said anything special about the butter.

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After lunch, we wandered over to one of the Pix Patisserie locations. Pix is another one of those places that have been high on my Portland list forever. I've heard that sometimes their pastries aren't quite fresh, but this was not the case on Saturday.

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I thought this was pretty unique...you can get one of their pastries with a slice of triple cream brie on top.

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Henry got the strawberry sorbet with Moscato d'Asti. What a great idea for an adult float!

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I got the Amelié, a winner at the Patis France chocolate competition. Orange vanilla creme brulee on top of chocolate mousse, candied hazelnuts, praline crisp, and Cointreau genoise. The cake was very fresh and moist. This was very good. (My only minor quibble would be that the candied hazelnuts were really sticky from the moisture in the mousse, and were kind of hard to eat.)

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Edited by Ling (log)
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I know what you mean about Pok Pok, I think your expectations were a little high. We live a few blocks away, and have been once, right when they first opened (and within a year of a 3 week visit to Thailand). I think it's a great place for people to go who have only been exposed to Thai food through typical American Thai restaurants. And Andy has the good taste to love our favorite bahn mi sandwich shop in Portland. But we tend to do a better job for our tastes at home, which isn't surprising (we like more chillies, more sour, more fishy, more herby, more street, basically... ).

In once sense, I think this is trivial. I think most people could say the same thing about most of the non-haute restaurants they visit. Anytime you're dealing with a relatively simple dish, say like som tum or a hamburger, you should be able to make it to your specific tastes better than a restaurant if you have decent cooking skills. (Of course, most people don't have decent cooking skills.) So really, it's not a question of whether you can make something for yourself that fits your tastes better than a restaurant can, but whether what is in the restaurant is especially good compared to other restaurants.

That rant on expectations aside....

I just returned from Thailand and ate at Pok Pok right before and right after. I had hoy tod, eg, several times in Thailand and Pok Pok's version was better than every version I had there. I had kanom jiin about every day because it's one of my favorite dishs (and I was eating like 8 meals a day) and Pok Pok's was better than all but maybe one version I had in Thailand. (Granted, I was in Bangkok, not Chiang Mai where I generally have gotten better kanom jiin, but still...)

I just wanted to STRONGLY express my dissent on that subject and recommend that if Ling returns that she give the WSL another shot, perhaps with a group so she can try more dishes. And I'd suggest that Trillium you should get back and try more off the expanded menu and remember that you have the nam/prik tray to make things spicier, fishier, and more sour to your liking, just like in Thailand.

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Next time we're down there, ExtraMSG, I hope we can go to Pok Pok with you. It sounds like you know just what to order.

Thanks for the Pix pix. It's been on my list forever too, and it looks beautiful. I love the look of that one that's like a bundle of tied cinnamon sticks, except I think it must be chocolate curls. It's very enticing, as are lots of the others. I wanna go there with Lorna, who is the best person I've ever known to taste pastry with. You can order 10 things, eat a couple of bites of each, and never have to worry about anything going to waste since Lorna can polish off all the rest.

I'm 90% there with you guys on execution. The exception being that with an unfamiliar cuisine I'll give the execution a pass the first time around, like the one time I've had Lao food. I didn't care a rat's ass about the execution then, just wanted to navigate successfully through the menu. Another time, though, and I'd be a lot pickier. And I definitely won't order that chicken next time we're at Andina!

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Obviously you guys need to purchase one of these:

http://www.gearfuse.com/tabletop-photo-stu...aves-your-sale/

for your CL low-light encounter.

I tend to agree, Abra. I usually only order items that I can't make at home, or sounds interesting to me (hence the quinoa breaded chicken.) We got the fried yuca because Nick said it was one of his favourites on the menu. No, it's not adventurous, but it tasted good, and I'm glad we ordered it.

Yeah, I still am not sure about your palates and what exactly you were looking for. It seems like the stuff you were happiest with ultimately were the unique comfort/traditional foods -- pizza, bbq, pastrami -- that you can't really get at that level in Seattle. I probably would have probed you more if you hadn't started out with an itinerary to find out what you might really like. I might suggest Pambiche, eg, on a return visit after seeing what you guys enjoyed. I would have directed you towards Andina's more interesting ceviches, I think. I'd make sure you ordered less common dishes at Pok Pok. Etc.

There's Nick working the floor.

Hey, no fair. You're gorgeous. Everyone wants to see pictures of you. The chubby, scruffy white dude? Not so much. Glad you liked the food. It must have liked you, because there was none left on the plate.

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In once sense, I think this is trivial.  I think most people could say the same thing about most of the non-haute restaurants they visit.  Anytime you're dealing with a relatively simple dish, say like som tum or a hamburger, you should be able to make it to your specific tastes better than a restaurant if you have decent cooking skills.  (Of course, most people don't have decent cooking skills.)  So really, it's not a question of whether you can make something for yourself that fits your tastes better than a restaurant can, but whether what is in the restaurant is especially good compared to other restaurants. 

That rant on expectations aside....

I just returned from Thailand and ate at Pok Pok right before and right after.  I had hoy tod, eg, several times in Thailand and Pok Pok's version was better than every version I had there.  I had kanom jiin about every day because it's one of my favorite dishs (and I was eating like 8 meals a day) and Pok Pok's was better than all but maybe one version I had in Thailand.  (Granted, I was in Bangkok, not Chiang Mai where I generally have gotten better kanom jiin, but still...) 

I just wanted to STRONGLY express my dissent on that subject and recommend that if Ling returns that she give the WSL another shot, perhaps with a group so she can try more dishes.  And I'd suggest that Trillium you should get back and try more off the expanded menu and remember that you have the nam/prik tray to make things spicier, fishier, and more sour to your liking, just like in Thailand.

Nick, since we're making suggestions, I suggest you learn some Thai or go with a Thai speaker so you eat better in Thailand if you think Pok Pok has better food then what you ate there. Seriously. I find it unbelievable that you had such bad food on your trip. I think I had one meal that was your basic bad Thai food for European tourists and everything else we ate was out of this world. I suspect having a Thai, Cantonese, Mandarin and Fukien speaker in the group helped or maybe we were very, very, very lucky?

I don't expect a restaurant to make something as suited for my tastes as I can. I was explaining why we don't make it a habit to go there for food that we like eating better at home and giving a disclaimer that I'd only been there once. I happen to make it a habit of going to restaurants that do something I don't do well at home, I don't really care if they're "especially good compared to other restaurants". I hardly think that this approach is the culinary crime you're making it out to be.

I think Pok Pok is a perfectly good place to have a meal that as I said, is much better your typical American Thai place. It's unreasonable to expect them to be better then food in Thailand and I don't. It isn't physically possible since there are things that are just not available here or are available only seasonally and taste different from different growing conditions or ways of raising animals.

I happen to like my khanom jeen southern style (like for instance with kaeng tai plaa) and I think Pok Pok is doing a more Chiang Mai style and when I checked they were just using behoon, not the fermented actual khanom jeen. Has this changed? As for the condiment tray, while I expect you were trying to be snarky, let me just say that something tastes a lot different when it's been pounded into papaya pieces vs. just sprinkled on top and mixed in. I want a different baseline of flavor before I tinker.

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Thanks for the Pix pix.  It's been on my list forever too, and it looks beautiful.  I love the look of that one that's like a bundle of tied cinnamon sticks, except I think it must be chocolate curls.  It's very enticing, as are lots of the others.

The cylinders are actually piped chocolate meringue. Pierre Herme has a Concorde cake in his chocolate desserts book, and Ganache Patisserie in Vancouver (BC) also does a version with raspberry, IIRC.

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Obviously you guys need to purchase one of these:

http://www.gearfuse.com/tabletop-photo-stu...aves-your-sale/

for your CL low-light encounter.

Don't you think photographing your food is dorky enough as it is?!! :laugh:

Yeah, I still am not sure about your palates and what exactly you were looking for.  It seems like the stuff you were happiest with ultimately were the unique comfort/traditional foods -- pizza, bbq, pastrami -- that you can't really get at that level in Seattle.  I probably would have probed you more if you hadn't started out with an itinerary to find out what you might really like.  I might suggest Pambiche, eg, on a return visit after seeing what you guys enjoyed.  I would have directed you towards Andina's more interesting ceviches, I think.  I'd make sure you ordered less common dishes at Pok Pok.  Etc.

We're not writing off Pok Pok based on three items we had at lunch. We'd be happy to get the less common dishes with a group of Portlanders next time we're down!

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Anytime, Abra.
I thought this was pretty unique...you can get one of their pastries with a slice of triple cream brie on top.

They sell a truffle with a slab of blue cheese, too.

Argh...I totally was going to get that, but I forgot when I started taking pictures. Have you had it? Do you like it?

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Argh...I totally was going to get that, but I forgot when I started taking pictures. Have you had it? Do you like it?

Eh. I don't like their hand-formed truffles. The shell is too thick and cocoa-ey for me. I like their molded chocolates a lot better. It works conceptually, though. The flavors match.

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Sounds like a nice time! We were in Portland this past Fri. and enjoyed a very nice lunch at Park Kitchen and "lovely" dinner at Lovely Hula Hands on N. Mississippi, I had wanted to try this place for a long time, glad we finally made it there and we were very pleased with our meal. :)

Looks like we will have get over to Pix when we're back in Portland later this week. We're considering Ten 01 for lunch.

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I suggest you learn some Thai

It's getting better. It's not as easy as bahasa, but I have more experience with it.

I think you know me better than to think I was hanging out at The Oriental munching on over-priced "Thai" food for elderly British couples on holiday. 90% of my meals were on the street. (Though some of the best things I ate were not on either of my trips.)

I hardly think that this approach is the culinary crime you're making it out to be.

No crime. But when you're making recommendations for people...

It's unreasonable to expect them to be better then food in Thailand and I don't.

I think it's unreasonable to expect them to have better food than the best places in Thailand, but it's reasonable to expect them to be as good as good places in Thailand, which I think they are. I think people overly glamorize cuisines in their native countries. Think about what kind of expectations people should have for American food in America. If someone chose a random diner and had a burger, how good could they really expect it to be. I certainly know this happens with Mexican food and based on more limited experience, I've seen this happen with Thai food as well.

I happen to like my khanom jeen southern style (like for instance with kaeng tai plaa) and I think Pok Pok is doing a more Chiang Mai style and when I checked they were just using behoon, not the fermented actual khanom jeen.

No, there's nowhere in the US to get the fermented rice noodles. But still, the primary thing is the quality of the gravy, imo. The one thing I wish about WSL's kj is that I could have a bit more of the accompaniments and add them in the proportions I prefer. But their curry is really nice and the noodles are pretty close. The first time I had it, though, I made the mistake of eating their fiery beef salad first. Totally killed my palate for tasting the complexity and subtlety of the sauce.

Pok Pok does some things better than others, of course, but some of their dishes are spot on for a good version in Thailand, imo. These include their som tum, kai yang, khao soi, kanom jiin, neua nam tok, hoy tod, larb pla (not served anymore, I don't think), and larb ped. I haven't had the soups enough to be sure, but a couple of those were quite good, too. These are all dishes I've had in Thailand. (Though I haven't had the Issan dishes in NE Thailand.) Doesn't mean I think all of these dishes are equally good. And there are dishes I've been unimpressed with.

I didn't want to hijack Ling's thread. But I imagine a lot of PDX visitors from eG will count on this. So I'll leave it here.

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Anyway, I had more Stumpton coffee from...

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Stumpton coffee is everywhere! Not that that's a bad thing. I like the coffee quite a bit.

like the sign says, stumptoWn. which we are getting shortly near cafe presse. and, i guess, is being served at Liberty on 15th ave on the hill. how does it compare to seattle's local stuff?

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It's unreasonable to expect them to be better then food in Thailand and I don't.

I think it's unreasonable to expect them to have better food than the best places in Thailand, but it's reasonable to expect them to be as good as good places in Thailand, which I think they are. I think people overly glamorize cuisines in their native countries.

I don't think that Pok Pok was as good as good/average places in Thailand (but is good for an American restaurant) so we'll have to agree to disagree, especially when it comes to some of the dishes you listed. I've had shitty food in every country I've travelled or lived in, and am happy to acknowledge that, but it doesn't have much to do with our discussion. Opinions that aren't the same as yours are hardly = native glamorization.

regards,

trillium

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Our final meal in Portland was not really in Portland. We could not leave the city without making a stop at Podnah's. I didn't know what kind of reputation Portland has for BBQ, but since Seattle is such a BBQ wasteland, just the hint of decent BBQ had both of us drooling.

Considering our Saturday consisted of nonstop eating; 10am Le Pigeon, 1pm Kenny and Zuke's, 3pm Pix; we had no appetite for BBQ at 5pm when we arrived at Podnah's.

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We decided to order a few things and try a bite of everything while it was hot, before packing it all up and driving 3 hours to Seattle for a wonderful dinner of smoked meat!

We got an order of brisket

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and Prime Rib

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With sides of greens

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and iceberg wedge with blue cheese

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Even though I wasn't hungry in the least, the smell of the meat permeated the car. I made the 3 hour drive in 2 hours and 20 minutes so I could tear into the meat. It was really amazing! The brisket was some of the best BBQ I've ever had. The smoke flavor was very intense throughout. The prime rib was juicy and smoky as well, but I think I got more smoky flavor from the brisket. We definately like the brisket the best of the two.

We shared some with our neighbor from Texas. He said it reminded him of home! :smile:

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^Actually, our native-born Texan neighbour emailed me the next day. He's been living in Seattle for 2 years and has searched around the city for Texan BBQ, to no avail. This is what he had to say about Podnah's:

"THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!! For the BBQ!!!! And YES!!! I APPROVE of

that place you went to!!! That was some real Texas BBQ!!!! Did they have

cornbread or fried okra? Just wondering if they have the whole Texas dinner

plate down?"

:laugh:

I believe they have cornbread at Podnah's. The brisket was amazing. The smoked prime rib was super tasty too, but the brisket was unreal!

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