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Paiche – Peruvian Splendor from Chef Jose Luis de Cossio

Paiche chef Jose Luis de Cossio honed his skills as the Executive Chef of Gaston Acurio’s “La Mar” Restaurant in Lima, Peru. He and partner Casimira offer elevated Peruvian dishes on Corbett in SW Portland. Their restaurant is notable for being open for lunch Wednesday through Friday noon – 4 pm and then for dinner on Saturday 3 pm – 8:30 pm.

This schedule allows them to have time for their family, and leaves diners eager to catch a seat in their tiny spot nestled below Pill Hill. Chris Angelus brought 20 diners together to fill up the dining room for a Portland Food Adventures Peruvian feast.

Chef Jose Luis de Cassio and Casimira
Chef Jose Luis de Cossio and Casimira

You’ll have to keep your eyes open for their sign, so it’s best to navigate with the street address, 4237 SW Corbett Ave. Portland, OR 97239. Inside there are tables and counter/window counter seating.

I was not familiar with Peruvian food and on my first stop enjoyed the Pastel de Choclo – Peruvian corn pudding with mushrooms, olives, carrots, peas and cacao nib crumble. I wanted to come back to enjoy more.

Our 8-course meal began with a snack of toasted corn kernals and then the flavorful empanada de papa seca with aji amarillo spread.

Paiche - Empanada
Paiche – Empanada

Next, Tiradito de Pescado – California halibut with aji habanero leche de tigre. The offerings were all either fish or vegetarian, as Lima is an area with abundant seafood.

Tiradito de Pescado - California halibut
Tiradito de Pescado – California halibut

Now for Potato Causa – colorful potatoes with sauces and seasonal vegetables.

Potato Causa
Potato Causa – colorful potatoes with huancaina sauce, escabeche, veggies

The regular menu offers three cebiches – mixed, pescado blanco and vegan. We enjoyed the Cebiche Mixto with mixed seafood, aji rocato leche de tigre, purple sweet potato, onion, corn and cilantro.

Cebiche Mixto
Cebiche Mixto

The crab croquette, Croquetta de Cangrejo, included red quinoa, octopus and nectarines salsa criolia.

Crab Croquette
Crab Croquette

The Chupe de Camarones included bay shrimp with shrimp jus, trigo, peanuts, shallots and berries.

Chupo de Camarones
Chupo de Camarones

The final savory course was Sudado de Pescado – avocado and seaweek leche de tigre, corn cider poached fish, rocoto pepper, yuca rot, tomato and seafood salad.

Sudado de Pescado
Sudado de Pescado

We were quite full from the savory courses, but the dessert was worth saving room for. The alfajor cookie had house caramel with fruit.

Alfajor cookie and fruit
Alfajor cookie and fruit

The meal left us very much filled and tantalized to return to explore more.

See: Paiche

The Columbia Gorge Wine Trail Beckons You

If you need a little getaway from the Portland/Vancouver area or you are visiting and want to sample the best of the Northwest, a great choice is to follow the Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association’s Spring Trail. Don’t worry, it’s a great itinerary throughout the year. I enjoyed the two-day, one night excursion as they lay out featuring wineries at the east end of the Gorge, which I hadn’t tried before.

Columbia Gorge
Columbia Gorge

Start off with a drive down the Columbia River Gorge, either on I-84 or Washington 14. Our first stop was a viewpoint on the Washington side across from Hood River, on our way to our first winery stop. I’ve almost always frequented the Oregon side, so this vista was a lovely change.

We visited AniChe Cellars at their rustic winery on the Washington side. They also have a tasting room in downtown Hood River, Oregon.  Owner and winemaker Rachael Horn showed us her ceramic amphora vessels used for some of the wine. Her wines are European-styled and food-oriented. The pairings are done with nibbles to complement them. I was sorely tempted to join their wine club to enjoy their food and wine events. The vista from the winery was magnificent. The winery tasting room is open noon-6pm Wed-Sunday while their Hood River tasting room is open 12 pm Thursday through Monday, closing at 6 pm except for Friday and Saturday when they close at 8 pm.

Aniche Cellars
Aniche Cellars
Aniche Cellars
Aniche Cellars

The wine trail suggests a walk or hike to Mosier Creek Falls and up to the Mosier Plateau. We went up the trail past the pioneer cemetery to view the falls.

Mosier Creek Falls
Mosier Creek Falls

Our next winery stop was Garnier Vineyards on the Oregon side, east of Hood River. They have over 300 acres of vineyards on the historic Mayerdale estate in a variety of microclimates.  This family-owned vineyard has a nice tasting room with views of the hillsides. Plus, if the cherries are on, you can enjoy them as well. They are open Saturday and Sunday, noon till 5 pm (ish) until October (closed October through mid-May).

Garnier Vineyards
Garnier Vineyards
Garnier Vineyards
Garnier Vineyards
Cherries
Cherries

We stopped at the Apple Valley Country Store in Hood River to sample the jams, mustards and other preserves.  I took home some mustard with sweet onion.

Apple Valley
Apple Valley Store
Apple Valley
Apple Valley Store

When you are planning your Columbia Gorge wine adventure, your first stop should be to make a reservation for dinner at Celilo Restaurant and Bar in Hood River. Chef Ben Stenn is passionate about local sourcing, sustainable practices, and honoring the ingredients. As a foodie, I was blown away by the quality of the dishes.  You can enjoy small plates or traditional entree-sized portions. I had the Pork Trio, with Payne Family Farm pork schnitzel, seared pork belly and house-made chorizo over purple cabbage and kale with mustard seeds and pork jus. Of course, you can have salmon. My fellow travel writer Elizabeth loved the wild mushroom bucatini. Celilo features Columbia Gorge wines by the glass.  After one visit, this will be my first choice for dining in the Gorge. In fact, I think I’ll plan to stay over after the Columbia Gorge Marathon this year simply to dine there! They are open for both lunch (11:30 – 3 pm) and dinner (5 pm – close).

Celilo Restaurant
Celilo Restaurant

We were hosted for a night at The Dalles Inn, located in the historic downtown area. I was impressed in walking around to see the architecture, coffee houses and even a brewery. The Dalles Inn has a nice breakfast room included in the price and features large, comfortable rooms.

The Dalles
The Dalles

Next, we drove the historic Columbia River Highway to Rowena Crest for the grand view. You can go for a hike here if you wish from the Tom McCall trailhead to McCall Point.

Rowena Viewpoint
Rowena Viewpoint

Our final winery stop was at Analemma, where owners Kris Fade and Steven Thompson use organic and integrative techniques to grow their grapes in the Mosier Valley. The tasting room was lovely, but we got a real treat of the Countryside Picnic. A picnic basket includes a bottle of still wine of your choosing, a carefully packaged charcuterie plate, sparkling water, and a few surprises. You are seated on a comfortable outdoor couch overlooking the valley, with binoculars to spot birds and wildlife. The cost is $65 per basket serving up to four guests, available Friday, Saturday and Sunday by reservation. They also do guided vineyard tours on Saturday and Sunday for $30 per person. The tasting room is open Friday-Sunday through October 31.

Analemma
Analemma
Analemma
Analemma

I encourage you to explore the wines of the eastern Columbia River Gorge. It’s a much more pleasant drive from the Portland area than the drive to Dundee or Carlton, much as I love the pinot noir in those areas.

As is standard in the travel industry, the writer was hosted for this itinerary.

Chesa Serves Paella from the Heart in NE Portland

Portland paella lovers can enjoy Chef José Chesa’s second restaurant, named Chesa for his father, on NE Broadway.  Chesa blends Catalonian tradition with modern techniques for tapas and paella from a Josper charcoal oven. Along with business partners Cristina Baéz and Emily Metivier, it’s a great place to enjoy Spanish tapas and paella with a modern twist.

Chesa dining room
Chesa dining room

The restaurant is larger than Chesa’s Ataula in NW Portland. The dining room has bench seating along the west wall, all the better to line up tables that can be combined or separated to allow for a variety of sizes of groups to dine together. The east side of the restaurant is a stand-up tapas bar, with bar stools and a bar program from bartender Tony Gurdian featuring sherry and vermut cocktails and sangrias, and a wine list from Metivier and Chesa Senior.

Josper Grill at Chesa
Josper Grill at Chesa

The open kitchen allows you to see the paella and tapas action if you decide to sit on the southern end of the large space. The noise level was boisterous but didn’t drown out conversation or force you to yell to your dining companions.

Jose Chesa Senior at the tapas bar at Chesa
Jose Chesa Senior at the tapas bar at Chesa

Chesa’s tapas are works of culinary art, each with a story and legacy of a childhood spent creating and appreciating authentic Catalonian food and the freshest, purest ingredients.  Try Almejas Chesa – dad’s Sunday clams, and savory Nuestra Croqueta with porcini mushrooms and a sage and porcini dipping aioli.

Chesa clams
Chesa clams
Chesa Croquettes
Chesa Croquettes

The paellas are the heart and soul of the menu, with six featured on the preview menu. The size was perfect to fill one person, especially after a few tapas. Costs for the paellas were in the $22-29 range. It is hard to choose between paellas featuring local Carlton farms pork shoulder, sherry marinated rabbit, seafood, braised oxtail, or vegetarian options. The flavors are deep and intricate, to be savored with each bite.

Mallorca paella with Carlton Farms pork shoulder
Mallorca paella with Carlton Farms pork shoulder
Montana i mar paella
Montana i mar paella with braised oxtail, bomba rice, prawns, sofrito, scallions

For iberico ham buffs, you can get slices from the carving station next to the open kitchen, inspired by Chesa’s grandmother’s kitchen.

Chesa jamon
Chesa jamon

Chesa offers dinner service Tuesday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Address 2218 NE Broadway St.,Portland Ore. 97232.

It is next door to their 180 xurros bistro, where you can enjoy the Spanish pastry, dipping sauces, drinking chocolate and coffee for breakfast and lunch hours.

ACME Farms + Kitchen Locavore Boxes

ACME Farms + Kitchen is a new source for Portland home cooks to get local, seasonal ingredients they can use to create home-cooked meals. If you need meal preparation inspiration beyond a trip to the farmer’s market or a CSA, it is a good choice.

The company has been serving the Seattle and Bellingham areas and began the Portland service area in February. Unlike national meal kit companies such as Blue Apron or Plated, what arrives in an ACME Farms + Kitchen box is sourced from the surrounding area. Fresh local and seasonal vegetables, meat, seafood, artisan cheese, fresh pasta, baked goods and other ingredients come small farms and producers from just down the road. They arrive via a local driver at your doorstep within the service area.

The boxes come in two sizes and a couple of choices. You can buy a one-time purchase or sign up for a subscription to receive a box every 7, 14, or 28 days, which can be canceled or modified at any time.

  • The large locavore box has ingredients and recipes for five meals. You have a choice of regular, dairy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and gluten-free, and double protein.
  • The small locavore box has ingredients and recipes for three or more meals. You have a choice of Surf (with one selection of fish or shellfish), Turf (with one selection of meat), small gluten free with one protein of either meat or fish, vegetarian, or vegetarian gluten free.
  • The paleo box is more expensive as it contains a roast, fish or shellfish, and three cuts of meat in addition to seasonal produce.

When you get the box, the recipe sheet notes what other pantry items will be needed to make the recipes. These are things such as milk, broth, spices, oil and butter.

Each meal will feed a family of three to four people, so a small box provides enough leftovers for most of the meals for a week for a couple. A small box every-other-week would be suitable for a single person. Often there is a soup recipe or an entree that could be portioned and frozen for later lunches, etc.

An Example of a Small Locavore Turf Box

The box arrives with the meat usually frozen and on a cold pack. It is a delight to unbox it and see the vegetables and artisanal products included.

A small locavore turf box back in February contained the makings for these meals:

  • Winter squash carbonara with sage: fettuccine pasta from Pasta del Sol, butternut squash, shallot, garlic, sage. You could add on local bacon to the order or provide your own from your pantry. You provided parmesan cheese, broth, and oil as well. The preparation required a skillet, pasta cooking pot, and blender. The resulting pasta would easily feed four people, and was colorful enough to be served to guests.
  • Shepherd’s Pie: Deck Family Farms ground beef, yukon potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and organic kale. You provide dried thyme, olive oil, butter, cornstarch, milk. You needed a pot to boil the potatoes, skillet, pie plate to bake in oven. The dish was hearty and very satisfying.
  • Quiche Lorraine with Green Salad: Pie dough from Sweetheart Bake Shop, pasture-raised eggs from Deck Family Farms, Ancient Heritage Willow cheese, onion, leek, lettuce. You provide olive oil, milk, sour cream, bacon (which could be added on), and salad dressing. You needed a skillet and pie pan to prepare it.

The technical cooking skill level for these dishes is beginner to intermediate. You need a kitchen well-stocked with pans, skillets, knives, and often a food processor or blender is needed. The instructions give tips on getting a head start for recipes that will need the beans soaked, etc.

By serving time, a home cook will feel they have made a great from-scratch meal they can be proud of from local and seasonal ingredients. For those who have family members with off-beat food allergies, you are able to modify the recipes to suit and season them as you prefer, or use the ingredients in your own recipes.

The meals generally seem to include a dinner or two and a breakfast or brunch item. The ACME Farms + Kitchen service can be a great way to be inspired in creating home-cooked meals from local, seasonal ingredients.

Hunnymilk Brunch for Fun and Flavor

One of the best brunches in Portland has a new pop-up home. HunnyMilk is a pop-up brunch by Chef Brandon Weeks held on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm. It has moved to the La Buca restaurant space at 40 NE 28th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.

IMG_8006

Both the food and the vibe are playful. The La Buca space is much larger than their former pop-up space at Hogan’s Goat. You are greeted by Alex Franzen and ushered to your table where you have coloring sheets, crayons and pencils and games like a Rubik’s Cube. There are no reservations, so the larger space is welcome for those who want less of a wait.

Hunnymilk coloring sheet and cocoa
Hunnymilk coloring sheet and cocoa

Now comes the hard part – choosing your brunch. The $20 meal includes one drink, one sweet and one savory. You can add on booze to your juice, coffee, or cocoa or enjoy one of their three extra sides. That said, the meal itself is going to fill you up and smaller appetites may be taking some home. The caramel hot chocolate with toasted milk marshmallows is likely the best cocoa you’ve ever had.

Crispy pork ribs and grits savory with poppyseed French toast sweet
Crispy pork ribs and grits savory with poppyseed French toast sweet

The savory choices include Weeks’ succulent crispy pork ribs, served with cheesy garlic grits, poached egg, avocado, and chimichurri. Once you’ve had them, it’s hard to make another savory choice for your next trip. The quiche with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and miso is served with a green salad. Another recent choice is a cronut sandwich with egg, bacon, cheddar and spicy maple. All of the savories are interesting, intricate and reveal the chef’s pedigree from Charlie Trotter’s (Chicago), Bouchon (Napa Valley), Urban Farmer, The Painted Lady, and Renata (Portland).

IMG_7997
Magical sausage egg savory with carrot cake waffle sweet.

The sweet choices are also creative and delicious. Recent visits included the poppy seed French toast with cabernet cherries, almond streusel and creme brulee ice cream and a carrot cake waffle with cream cheese mousse and black walnut toffee.

IMG_7999
Brown butter oat cake toast sweet with pork brisket hash savory.

If you have a lighter appetite, you might want to share a tray with a friend and add on a side such as the chocolate chunk monkey bread with peanut butter custard.

IMG_8001
Buttermilk biscuits with honey butter and jam.

On the first Saturday of the month, you can stop by and enjoy the Letters and Brunch. You’ll get the same great menu but also envelopes, cards, pens, sticker and postage stamps so you can compose missives to the people in your life who need to hear from you non-electronically.

For more fun, HunnyMilk hosts a Wake and Bake in coordination with High 5 Tours and Pure Green. It includes picking up a bag full of cannabis goodies from the partner dispensary in advance, enjoying them on the High 5 bus, and then enjoying the HunnyMilk brunch, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, coloring sheets, games, and classic cartoons on an 8-foot projector screen at a private loft location. Non-imbibers are welcome to join in. Pajamas and loungewear are encouraged, with a brunch gift card to the best ensemble.

The picnic fried chicken and bananas foster churro
The picnic fried chicken and bananas foster churro

On our most-recent visit, they offered the picnic savory – fried chicken that had first been slowly cooked sous vide to capture maximum flavor, then quickly fried for a crispy skin. I’m very picky about my fried chicken, and this chicken leg was nothing less than awesome. It came with egg salad, corn bread and watermelon. Then the bananas foster churro sweet would satisfy any sweet tooth.

Hunnymilk

Chick-fil-A vs. Portland Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Chick-fil-A is causing traffic jams around its new location at 185th in Hillsboro. But are there better choices in Portlandia, and even not so far from it in suburbia? The Atlanta chain last had outlets in Oregon in 2003, and much has changed in the interim for Portland and the rest of the country. Here’s how it stacks up to some local fried chicken sandwiches. They are presented in alphabetic order.

Basilisk Fried Chicken Sandwich
Basilisk Fried Chicken SandwichBasilisk

Basilisk

Basilisk is one of the micro-restaurants at The Zipper at 27th and NE Sandy Blvd. This is what a fried chicken sandwich should be – juicy thigh meat coated with crunchy, savory, salty-enough coating, with slaw and pickles to add a sweet/sour component.  I detected a bit of spice, but I think next time I’ll give it a sprinkle of the sriracha sauce they provide.  If you don’t want chicken, they do the same thing with tofu. This $8 sandwich will fill you up and satisfy you.  I wouldn’t have had room for their Kool-Aid soft-serve of the day.  The Pearl Bakery bun tastes buttery and holds together despite all of the crunchy fried chicken. You can sit inside at Basilisk or the dining court, or outside. Beer and cider are available as well as soft drinks.  They are open for lunch and dinner and I had no problem finding parking a couple of blocks away.

Cackalack Hot Chicken Shack - The Blazer
Cackalack Hot Chicken Shack – The Blazer

Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack

If you’re on Hwy 26 west, take a short detour over to Bethany Village to Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack micro-restaurant. Their fried chicken sandwiches come in three versions. The Blazer has homemade pickles, smoky slaw, and garlic herb aioli and comes with a side. It stacks up as superior to Chick-fil-A, but seating is only available at picnic tables on the sidewalk. Worth the additional mile off the highway.

Chick-fil-A Sandwich
Chick-fil-A Sandwich

Chick-fil-A

The basic Chick-fil-A is prepared and breaded fresh on site, a step up from the frozen, pre-breaded filets and processed chicken burgers you will find at other fast food. The store is large and nicely appointed and the staff is astonishingly friendly and helpful. However, if you want more than a good fried chicken filet on a standard hamburger bun with only lettuce and tomato and packets of condiments, look elsewhere.

CHKCHK Fried Chicken Sandwich
CHKCHK Fried Chicken Sandwich

CHKCHK

CHKCHK on NW 23rd takes direct aim at fast food. It has an impressive chicken sandwich that is make with natural hormone-free chicken, housemade buns, and comes with romaine lettuce and truffled pickle. Housemade sauces are available for 25 cents each. Seating is at picnic tables inside and service was speedy. They also have rotating taps of local beer, plus boozy soda pop creations.

Lardo Fried Chicken Sandwich
Lardo Fried Chicken Sandwich

Lardo Fried Chicken Sandwich

With east side and west side locations, Lardo serves up a bacon-strong fried chicken sandwich.  It features bacon, pickles, ranch, and Crystal hot sauce. They give you a real knife to slice through the custom bun.  For $10, it’s a deal, and you can match it with those great Lardo fries.

Laurelhurst Market Fried Chicken Sandwich (Tuesday only!)
Laurelhurst Market Fried Chicken Sandwich (Tuesday only!)

Laurelhurst Market

On any list of great fried chicken in Portland,Laurelhurst Market is mentioned. You can only get their fried chicken sandwich on Tuesdays. It is delightful and the wait is minor, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. It’s not fast food, but it is great food just as fast.

The People's Pig Smoked Fried Chicken Sandwich
The People’s Pig Smoked Fried Chicken Sandwich with Collard Greens

People’s Pig Smoked Fried Chicken

The winner for “close your eyes and savor each bite” is the smoked fried chicken sandwich at People’s Pig. Deep smoky flavor, delicious breading, spicy mayo, jalapeno jelly and greens on a fantastic housemade sourdough roll. It comes with a hearty side such as collard greens. It’s big enough for 2 meals at $10. The wait is pretty short. The drawback is that the restaurant is very much a bbq shack, nothing even slightly fancy. You won’t care. If you’re tempted by Chick-fil-A, stay on the freeway, cross the Fremont Bridge and head to this N. Williams bbq shack.