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Archive for the ‘Out of Town’ Category

Puppy Love in PDX

In Drink, Food, Out of Town on October 15, 2013 at 10:01 am

Brittany spaniel

For those of you over on Instagram, it’s been indulgently documented that our family brought home a new Brittany spaniel puppy a couple weeks ago. Meet Aengus, featured here with his favorite Orvis antler chew toy! I’m so in love with this little guy! Britts are a hunting breed and are more pointer than spaniel, which means they’re active and need a lot of exercise. They are also spectacular family pets, and very loving and gentle with children. Our boys could not be more smitten.

photo 5

We found Aengus through a breeder near Portland, Oregon. When the time came to bring him home, I packed a bag and boarded a flight that arrived in PDX in the evening, just in time to dump my bags at the Ace, and head out to dinner at Pok Pok.

pok pok pdx

When I was wine and spirits editor at Bon Appétit, I found myself in Portland and the Willamette Valley pretty regularly for work. Perhaps what I miss most about Portland are the bartenders. I was reminded of just how much when I cozied up to the bar at Pok Pok and ordered a Tennessee Stud cocktail with bergamot-infused bourbon, fresh lemon and Peychaud’s Bitters.

tennessee stud cocktail

It was a perfect companion to the plate of Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce fiery wings, one of Pok Pok’s signature dishes. My mom grew up in Buffalo, NY, and so when I see wings on the menu, I feel it’s my filial duty to order them. These were outstanding, tossed in Phu Quoc fish sauce,  dipped in a rice flour and tempura flour batter and fried in rice bran oil.

ike's vietnamese fish sauce wings

If you thought things couldn’t get better, think again. Enter a plate of Muu Paa Kham Waan, which was wild boar collar meat with garlic, coriander root and black pepper in a spicy chili lime sauce. It comes with a side of sticky rice, and you take a pinch of rice and then pick up the boar meet. There are no words…

muu paa kham waan

Not shockingly, I woke up the next morning in need of coffee. And even though Stumptown is in the lobby of the Ace, I knew that a superior cup could be found a short drive away at the newest location of Ristretto Roasters. I’m in love with Ristretto’s new café on NE Couch Street and loaded up with several pounds of El Paraíso beans from Colombia. For the drive, I also pocketed a fig buckwheat scone baked by former Spago and Campanile pastry chef Kim Boyce. (When I got home, I discovered that the figgy scone recipe is included in Boyce’s awesome cookbook, Good to the Grain. Yeehaw!)

ristretto roasters

The drive out to Wind Mountain Kennels from Portland, Oregon, to Carson, Washington, was pure beauty. We snaked along the Columbia River, crossing the steel truss cantilevered Bridge of the Gods as we approached state lines.

bridge of the gods

Looking over at our new sleeping puppy on the drive back to the airport, I thought how lucky we are to live on the West Coast. There is so much beauty in the world, much of it a short road trip away, and I for one need to remember that life is about finding the time to stop and smell the coffee, savor the Northern Thai street food, and cuddle up with a new friend.

brittany spaniel

Spring Break

In Baby Love, Out of Town on April 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

gulf stream beach


We’re back from a week in paradise, namely visiting my in-laws in Gulf Stream, Florida. There was lots of swimming in the ocean, lots of french fries by the beach.



But best of all was watching my sons play together, with their cousins, with their grandfather. There is no vacation quite as perfect as the one that reminds us how lucky we are to have each other.


Packing a Bag…

In Fashion, Out of Town on November 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Tonight my husband and I are escaping to a remote beach for just a few days. Just us. Our destination requires a passport. And a Jeep. I’m packing just one bag. In it will be this gorgeous ankle-length silk dress with a leather collar (above), designed by my friend Natalie Martin.

Perhaps a little Miles Davis on iTunes, and, synchronicity, some Deborah Lippmann Bitches Brew nail varnish to go with. Both just feel right.

I’ve packed a book.

And a bikini.

A Vanessa Bruno white cotton shirt…

…To wear at night to dinner with these black “Anna” shorts—also by Natalie Martin and named for our mutual friend, who is every bit as saucy as her namesake shorts.

And a favorite pair of Marni sandals.

See you on the other side.

Garlic Scape Potato Salad

In Food, Out of Town, Recipes on July 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

Each summer when we arrive at my in laws’ summer place in Vermont, I can’t wait to hit the farm stands to get my hands on some garlic scapes. These are the shoots that grow from a head of garlic, and they have a slightly more peppery flavor and are less pungent than garlic cloves. I love tossing them in salads, pestos and pastas for a quick hit of earthy flavor—easy summer cooking at its best. On these hot summer nights in Vermont, it’s all about throwing something on the grill with a couple of great sides and eating family style outdoors.

And why wouldn’t you?

Last week, I used garlic scapes in a salsa verde that I tossed with squash, shallots and gruyere to make a gratin in one of my mother-in-law’s well-seasoned skillets.

I also used garlic scapes to add some crunch and depth to a creamy dill potato salad that was tangy with buttermilk dressing. The first batch disappeared pretty quickly so I made another a few nights later, using creamy new potatoes from the Someday Farm Stand in Dorset, VT. Garlic scape season is pretty short, so if you see some this weekend at your green market, grab them!

Creamy Potato Salad with Garlic Scapes and Dill

3 lbs new potatoes, halved (or quartered, depending on size)

1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

2 tables whole grain mustard

3 tablespoons chopped garlic scapes

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste

Place potatoes in large pot of salted water. Bring to boil, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Drain, and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, buttermilk, mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When potatoes have cooled, toss with mustard mixture (you may not need all of it—depending how creamy you like your potato salad), dill and garlic scapes. Chill for a couple hours before serving.

Current Flame: Dahlias

In Design, Out of Town on September 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

My mother always has fresh flowers in the house, a goal to which I aspire but often fall short. When we were up visiting for her birthday over Labor Day Weekend, she had vases of flame orange and pink dahlias everywhere. I can’t stop thinking about them.

She gets hers from a local grower, Aztec Dahlias, at the St. Helena Farmers Market on Friday mornings. While visiting, I also spotted him at the Oxbow Farmers Market in Napa on a Saturday morning. The good news for the rest of us is that we can order bulbs for the 2012 season now online. Or zip up to Napa for the weekend…

Hurricane Irene in Quechee, Vermont

In Design, Food, Out of Town on September 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

It was with total devastation that I read about and watched the footage of the Quechee Covered Bridge—and so many other treasured bridges in Vermont—being pounded away by Hurricane Irene. The above photo was taken a couple months ago from the Simon Pearce glassblowing factory in Quechee when we were visiting my inlaws at their summer place in Manchester, VT. Tiny G went absolutely nuts for the bridge…

Which now looks like this:

And with it, Irene flooded the glassblowing turbine at Simon Pearce, where visitors—like Tiny G—watched in awe as artisans created impossibly beautiful vases, bowls, barware and stemware out of molten glass.

Two of my favorite Simon Pearce vases (tall Woodbury vase & Woodbury pitcher), filled with French tulips from Lily Lodge:

And muddling strawberries for summer Champagne cocktails in our Simon Pearce Windsor Tankards:

Sadly, the Simon Pearce restaurant was also flooded so while they rebuild the Quechee glassblowing and kitchen facilities, I’ll leave you with a taste of our lunch at the Simon Pearce restaurant overlooking the river and bridge, complete with a burger comprised of Northeast Family Farms grass fed beef, Grafton cheddar cheese, basil aïoli and fries with house made spiced tomato ketchup; wonderfully chewy house made bread and local butter; and Vermont sparkling cider for me and fresh local apple juice for Tiny G—all served on Simon Pearce pottery and in their handblown glasses. My heart goes out to all Vermonters in the wake of this heartbreaking disaster. xx

Someday Farm Stand

In Food, Out of Town on July 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Don’t you wish this was your local farm stand? The Someday Farm Stand sets up shop in East Dorset, Vermont, every Wednesday and Saturday during summer. The Proft family farms 100 acres of organic produce, which they sell at their farm stand as well as local markets. Sometimes there are wee chicks on hand, like this day-old little fella that Tiny G got to pet:

There were also baskets of herbs and lettuces, berries and carrots, fresh eggs and roasting chickens on hand. For one drizzly Sunday lunch, we roasted a small chicken and some of these carrots with a little salt and olive oil. They were the sweetest carrots I can remember.


Garlic Scape Chimichurri

In Food, Out of Town, Recipes on July 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Garlic scapes! They’re pretty, they’re delicious, they’re here for a limited time only! If you see these mild-tasting stalks at the farmers’ market this weekend, pounce. These past few years the garlic scape window has coincided with a visit to my in-laws’ in Vermont. If you have favorite recipes, please share! Last year I tried garlic scape pesto.

Really, REALLY delish, especially over a simple caprese salad or tossed with pasta. Last week I experimented with a Garlic Scape Chimichurri. Chimichurri is a green sauce from Argentina to accompany grilled meats, and we spooned ours over Mr. Foodinista’s expertly grilled New York strip steaks.

To make, I threw a couple scapes in a Cuisinart with some parsley, cilantro and mint from my mother-in-law’s garden, and then added olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, some chopped shallots, salt and pepper and few red pepper flakes. Total prep time: 5 minutes. And leftovers were great on steak sammies the next day…


1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 garlic scapes, chopped

1 shallot, peeled, halved

1/2  teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

2 cups (packed) stemmed fresh parsley

1 cup (packed) stemmed fresh cilantro

2/3 cup (packed) stemmed fresh mint

Place ingredients in blender or food processor and purée until well-blended. Spoon over grilled steaks.


Yosemite: First Taste of Summer

In Food, Out of Town on June 14, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Each year my father’s family heads to Yosemite—a kick-off to summer that has happened in our family since 1949. Over the years we’ve fallen into a routine that starts with a Thursday Night “Social” in my parents’ cabin, to which we all contribute wine and nibbles and drink a little bit too much. We kind of do it up that first night, since the food situation in the park is pretty miserable. This year I was in charge of salads, and grabbed my three favorites from Joans on Third before leaving town to bring with: Brussels sprouts with dates, manchego and toasted almonds (and heavy on the dijon); braised butter beans with pecorino; and curried chicken salad.

My dad brought up an array of local cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, as well as these Fra’ Mani salumi.

There was also smoked trout, prosciutto and cakes—and a glass or three of Hirsch Gaisberg Riesling. It was a totally delicious start to summer—but do we really have to wait another year to do it again?

Red is the Color of My True Love, Rioja

In Design, Drink, Food, Out of Town on May 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Back from a week in Rioja, Spain. I went for the wine—and more on that later—but fell in love with the place. And if there is one color that defines the region, it’s red. Everywhere you look. Painted flower pots, doors, windows, rooftops.

There were poppies sprinkled throughout the vineyards and barley fields.

And red pequillo peppers in tapas and tossed with morcilla blood sausage…

But yes. Best of all, the very heart of the region is its red wine. Like this pretty glass of 1942 Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia—still so very vibrant and seductive after 69 years, and seduction after all is what Rioja does best.