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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

Dinners in the Field Back for Fourth Year

The 2016 lineup for the Dinners in the Field series includes 25 events from spring through fall at vineyards, farms, ranches and barrel rooms in the greater Portland area and Willamette. The series is hosted by Chef Pascal Chureau of Field & Vine Events and Allium Bistro in West Linn, Oregon.

St. Josef's Estate Vineyards and Winery Field & Vine Event
St. Josef’s Estate Vineyards and Winery Field & Vine Event

The dinners are a chance to meet the farmers and vintners while having it transformed into a group feast. They are rain-or-shine events held under clear, starry skies or moved to tents or barns as needed. Tickets are $85 to $90 per person for a six- to seven-course meal and beverage pairing, with gratuity included. Only advance tickets are sold. Field & Vine Events Tickets

 New this year is a special Bastille Day celebration at WillaKenzie Estate in Yamhill, enjoying their top-rated pinot noirs and farmstead cheese from Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese. Diners can enjoy the hilltop views from Lange Estate Winery and cheese from Portland Creamery. And Tualatin’s Lee Farms joins with Methven Family Vineyards and Indio Spirits. In October there will be a late-harvest dinner at Douglas Farm paired with wines from Owen Roe. The Oct. 15th dinner will benefit Farmers Ending Hunger, with three farms and four wineries at the Sprout Factory event space in Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial Area. A live band, Boy and Bean, will perform during the evening’s event.
I joined in the June 11 dinner at St. Josef’s Estate Vineyards & Winery south of Canby, Oregon.  I had never visited this lovely family winery.
Lake at St. Josef's Estate Vineyards and Winery
Lake at St. Josef’s Estate Vineyards and Winery
The guests are seated at tables at the vineyard, and we had a perfect evening to enjoy outdoors. The tables are set in rustic elegance with menus, candles and silverware. Our vineyard hosts told us about their lovely venue and their family history of winemaking. The Lilli sparkling Riesling was so delightful I bought a couple of bottles.
Chef Pascal Chureau introduced the menu for the evening as we enjoyed a variety of wine and a tray of artisan cheese and charcuterie.
Field & Vine Events St. Josef's Estate
Field & Vine Events St. Josef’s Estate

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The dishes are served family-style and we enjoyed a local farm greens salad, seared Alaskan halibut, roasted marble potatoes, grilled broccolini, and braised wild boar. The dester was a lovely lemon cream tart. All featured local, seasonal products.
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“Dinners in the Field” 2016 Schedule

April 12: Southeast Wine Collective with Pitch Dark Chocolate, 2425 SE 35th Place, Portland, OR 97214

May 14: Kestrel Barn with Owen Roe, 990 SW Long Farm Road, West Linn, OR 97068

May 21: Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm & Vineyard with Portland Cider Company, 33814 S. Meridian Road, Woodburn, OR 97071

June 4: Alexeli Vineyards with Portland Creamery, 35803 Oregon 213, Molalla, OR 97038

June 11: St. Josef’s Estate Vineyards & Winery, 28836 S. Barlow Road, Canby, Oregon 97013

June 18: King’s Raven Winery, 11603 S. New Era Road, Oregon City, OR 97045

June 26: Pete’s Mountain Vineyard & Winery, 28101 SW Petes Mountain Road, West Linn, OR 97068

July 9: Stoller Family Estate with Chef Jaco Smith ofwill LeChon Restaurant, 16161 NE McDougall Road, Dayton, OR 97114

July 16: WillaKenzie Estate with Goldin Artisan Goat Cheese, 19143 NE Laughlin Road, Yamhill, OR 97148

July 23: Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards with Portland Creamery, 18380 NE Buena Vista Drive, Dundee, OR 97115

July 30: Lee Farms with Methven Family Vineyards and Indio Spirits, 21975 SW 65th Avenue, Tualatin, OR 97062

August 6: Christopher Bridge Wines, 12770 S. Casto Road, Oregon City, OR 97045

August 13: Fiala Farms with Erath Winery, 21231 SW Johnson Road, West Linn, OR 97068

August 20th: Beckham Estate Vineyard, 30790 SW Heater Road, Sherwood, OR 97140

August 28th: Rare Plant Research and Villa Catalana Cellars, 11900 S. Criteser Road, Oregon City, OR 97045

September 3rd: Fir Point Farms with Ecliptic Brewery & Ribera Vineyards, 14601 Arndt Road, Aurora, OR 97002

September 10: Terra Vina Wines, 33750 SW Ladd Hill Road, Wilsonville, OR 97070

September 18: Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch with Alexeli Vineyards, 35835 Oregon 213, Molalla, OR 97038

September 24: Ardiri Winery & Vineyards, 35040 SW Unger Road, Cornelius, OR 97113

October 1: Douglas Farm with Owen Roe, 15330 NW Sauvie Island Road, Portland, OR 97231

October 15: The Urban Farm Dinner at Sprout Factory, 931 SE 6th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214, Partner with Farmers Ending Hunger

October 22: Stoller Family Estate with Fresh & Wild, 16161 NE McDougall Road, Dayton, OR 97114

November 5: Rosse Posse Acres Elk Farm with Forest Edge Vineyard, 32690 S. Mathias Road, Molalla, OR 97038

December 3: Dobbes Family Estate, 240 SE 5th Street, Dundee, OR 97115

December 10: WillaKenzie Estate, 19143 NE Laughlin Road, Yamhill, OR 97148

Tickets are required: Field & Vine Events Tickets

Disclaimer: as is common in travel writing, the author was hosted to attend the dinner.

Marukin Ramen Graces Portland with its Presence

Marukin is an authentic Japanese ramen house, the first of the chain to open in the United States, right here in Portland, Oregon.  As they are open for lunch, I had to stop in to give it a try. It’s purported to be some of the best ramen on earth.  It’s a big, hairy deal according to Eater PDX, with these 10 Reasons Why Ramenheads are Excited About Marukin Ramen.

Marukin Ramen
Marukin Ramen

The location at 609 SE Ankeny St., next door to Nong’s Khao Man Gai is not a place to easily drive to and park. If you work or live in the area or take the streetcar, that’s another thing. But the two places next door to each other makes it a destination for people who want Asian comfort food.

Tokyo Shoyu Ramen
Tokyo Shoyu Ramen

I ordered the standard Tokyo Shoyu: Clear chicken and Carlton Farms pork bone broth base with shoyu. It had a nice bunch of veggies on top. I also got a side of their chicken karaage (4 pieces, small) Japanese-style fried chicken.

Chicken Karaage
Chicken Karaage

The noodles and broth are handmade with care. You get chopsticks and a spoon, but are encouraged to slurp away.  You order at the counter and they deliver to the table, with a minimal wait. The staff seemed friendly and helpful. Most of the tables are made for sharing, and there are long counters to eat at as well.

All of this would be great if I loved ramen.  As I’ve previously discovered with ramen and pho, I just don’t understand the attraction. I might like the spicy varieties I see they had on the weekend. But the Tokyo Shoyu would be a big, satisfying bowl of comfort noodles if you were a ramen fan.

The chicken karaage had a nice crisp coating that tasted mostly of garlic to me. I preferred what I’ve had at Noraneko and Boke Bowl. I have decided that it is verified that I am a ramen Philistine.  I’m a big-flavor gal. I’ve never been a fan of noodle soup in any cultural cuisine.  I am probably in the minority on this. All the better for true ramen fans as I won’t be blocking them from their nirvana.

I am not writing this as a bad review, more as an admission that I gave it a shot and I’m just not a fan of ramen, no matter how excellent. You should give it a try, they will also be opening in the new Pine Street Market in May.

Day 7 – Tickets Bar and Sagrada Familia

For the final day of the Barcelona international Portland Food Adventure, we had the day free until dinner at Tickets Bar, one of Albert Adrià’s restaurants, a mecca of modernist cuisine rated as one of the top restaurants in the world. Also, almost impossible to get a reservation for!

PFA leader Chris Angelus clued us in on the guided Sagrada Familia tour, enabling you to skip the long lines. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, photos just don’t do this amazing basilica any justice. It was well worth the time and a highlight of the trip.

Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

The medallions on the pillars remind me of Kosh in Babylon 5.

Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

OK, I just don’t get the parachuting Jesus over the altar. Really, it looks like a Victorian lampshade.

Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

I make fun, but really it is a tour de force and I love it.

Now for the final Portland Food Adventures dinner in Barcelona. Famed modernist cuisine master Albert Adrià opened Tickets to be kind of a neighborhood elBulli. It’s a fun place, they have fun with the food. We got a signed copy of Albert Adrià’s Tapas Ticket Cuisine cookbook.

It also made the list of the Top 50 Restaurants in the world this year, with Albert Adrià celebrated as the Top Pastry Chef in the world.

You don’t get more as a foodie than this, and reservations are booked up for months. It was only through the connections of Chef Jose and Portland Food Adventures that we scored this coup.

Wendy at Tickets Bar
Wendy at Tickets Bar

I still fit into the skinny dress, that’s a good sign we did lots of walking. I bought the scarf in Barcelona at a shop.

Tickets Bar
Tickets Bar

Time for tickets.

Tickets' Olive-S
Tickets’ Olive-S

The famous olives that aren’t in their original formulation.

Ham and Coppa
Ham and Coppa

Some typical tapas to lure us in.

Tickets Snacks
Tickets Snacks

And then it gets weird, but tasty. Summer tree with cherry, solid cocktail with watermelon, blackcurrant churros with railfort cream, etc. Nothing in its original form. That’s why Albert Adrià is the best in the world.

Mini Airbags filled with Manchego Cheese Espuma
Mini Airbags filled with Manchego Cheese Espuma
Foie in pickled sauce
Foie in pickled sauce
Smoked mackerel with mini shiitake sauce
Smoked mackerel with mini shiitake sauce
Sausages and baby squid
Sausages and baby squid
King oyster mushroom with funghi porcini pil pil
King oyster mushroom with funghi porcini pil pil

They wouldn’t tell us what this was until after we ate it. I was afraid it was elvers (baby eels), but instead it was noodles made from mushrooms, and quite good.

Mushrooms
Mushrooms

And then you have mushrooms made of mushrooms, but not in their original form.

Steak
Steak

Back to real food, maybe, for all I know this was actually chicken.

Steak
Steak

I believe this really is steak, from the Rubia Gallega breed, with airbaguettes.

Making pineapple ice cream
Making pineapple ice cream
Pineapple ice cream
Pineapple ice cream

Really, really good.

Overall, excellent dinner although we had so many fantastic dinners that I can’t rate it as better than two or three others. The crowded dining room didn’t help for ambiance. Too Portland, LOL!

That was it for the planned adventure, we had gotten in early to Tickets and so we had time to make it to the Dry Martini Bar and get what should be the perfect dry martini. It’s ranked among the World’s Best Bars.

Dry Martini Bar
Dry Martini Bar

This establishment is by star bartender Javier de las Muelas. The staff are tuxedoed and it is a very posh club atmosphere. See that LED number above the bartender? That’s the number of certified dry martinis they have served. It is about to go up by one.

Dry Martini Bar
Dry Martini Bar

Bombay Sapphire is always my gin of choice for a martini. The Dry Martini Bar agrees.

Dry Martini Bar
Dry Martini Bar
Dry Martini Bar
Dry Martini Bar

And here it is. It’s good, very good. But I still like my husband’s better. He makes it a little dirty with olive brine.

Dry Martini Bar
Dry Martini Bar

And so I get a certificate!

Bottom line on Portland Food Adventure Barcelona:

Worth every penny. Chef Jose Chesa was always wonderful, helpful, and awesomely in love with Barcelona, its food, its traditions. His access to the chefs made this unique, something you just can’t buy separately. If you haven’t eaten at his restaurant in Portland, Ataula, you need to go. I went twice more after returning from Barcelona and I’d say he matches anything we had in his native city!

Chris Angelus did a great job with this first international outing. There were very few bobbles, just as many (or fewer) than I’ve encountered on group trips with seasoned tour operators. That’s part of travel.

The other participants were a fun and welcoming group of varied ages and interests. It was great to meet them and they were excellent dining companions. The common denominator is that we all loved food. We were a very easy group to serve – no allergies, no restrictions, just bring it on and we’ll skip things if want to.

I thought the hotel was great for amenities and service and being centrally located, but I wish it had been in a more scenic area.

We had a good mix of free time and programmed time. This was only a culinary tour, any sightseeing was done on our own. I found there was enough time for that and our location made it easy to get to where I wanted to go. Not only on foot, but also taxis were immediately available, as was the metro.

I would definitely travel with Portland Food Adventures again, anywhere in the world!