Portland Farmers Market

First of all I’d like to start with a sincere apology for being quiet for so long.  It has been an eventful year between starting a new job and experiencing a sports related neck injury which prevents me from sitting or typing for too long.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to try snowboarding after skiing for so many years.  But since I brought it on myself, time to stop whining and get to talking about food.

I have been collecting so much material to write about and there are so many great stories to tell but I was recently in Portland Oregon again for two weeks and I had to write about one of my adventures.  While I would have loved to come back home for the weekend in between and see my son, it’s just not realistic and so I stuck around to explore.  Besides, Portland’s kind of a fun and relaxing city on the weekends.

I woke up feeling great that Saturday morning after a Valium free, good night’s rest.  It had been a while since I had one of those.  My pain level was low and I was feeling energized.  I started my day with a walk over to Mother’s Bistro on Stark St. for some breakfast.  Trying to be healthy I ordered the Chanterelle scramble with roasted potatoes instead of their famous biscuits and gravy.  And instead of my usual cup of tea, I ordered the small pot of Stumptown Roasters Honduras Finca El Puente coffee.  The scramble was ok, a bit dry but the coffee was amazing.  All fueled up, I decided to walk to the weekly Portland farmers’ market on the campus of Portland State University.  I had heard a lot about it but never gone so I decided to check it out on this trip.  I didn’t realize what a wonderful treat I was in for.


I go to my local town market in New Jersey almost weekly to help support the local growers and other purveyors, but this market was something else.  I’ll even go as far as to say it is better than the Union Square market in New York City.  As soon as I walked in I felt like a kid in a candy store.  Unfortunately, I realized very quickly, I couldn’t buy anything but fruit since I was staying in a hotel room with no kitchen at my disposal.  The cook in me was thoroughly disappointed.  Then I walked into a stall devoted to mushrooms.  I don’t think I’ve seen so many varieties of mushrooms in one location; varieties such as lobster, chanterelle, matsutake, shiitake, hen of the woods, abalone and even black truffles.  If you don’t like mushrooms, you may not understand but the scent in that stall was heavenly!!  Now I was really disappointed but decided to keep exploring.  Along the way, I passed stalls selling fresh pasta, amazing breads, homemade chocolates, giant peaches, apples, flowers and lots of vegetables. 

 

I bought some fruit and a few stems of flowers to cheer up my hotel room and continued my journey through this massive food wonderland.  When I came upon a vegetable vendor who was selling shishito and padron peppers, I could stand it no longer.  I was now

determined to buy and cook for the evening.  I text my friend D who lives in Portland, and asked if he would let me borrow his kitchen in exchange for a meal.  I suppose not many would turn that offer down but it’s always polite to ask.  He agreed and we also invited another mutual colleague (J) who was flying in that evening.


That’s when I went wild and started planning and shopping.  I wished I had a few extra arms and also didn’t want to exacerbate my injury by carrying too much weight.  But I managed to get almost everything I needed for a meal including some beautiful black kale, chanterelle mushrooms, beer sourdough bread, and just couldn’t resist the shishito & padron peppers.  I also bought some fruit for my hotel room for the week and coconut water for the walk back to the hotel.  I wished I hadn’t eaten such a heavy breakfast so that I could tried some things from the food stalls but that will have to wait for the next trip. 

I used my stroll back to the hotel to plan my menu and made a mental list of additional items to buy at the store later.  After catching up to some emails and bills, D & I went for a short hike before heading to the airport.  On the drive we decided that if we just picked up a few cheeses, no protein was necessary and our meal menu wound up as follows:

o   Sauteed Chanterelle mushrooms with olive oil & garlic
o   Three wonderful local cheeses from Zupan’s – Roquefort, goat, & a nutty cow’s milk aged variety
o   Massaged Kale Salad with a honey-lime vinaigrette, mangoes & toasted pepitas (recipe can be found on Food Network).  I prefer to use lime instead of lemon.
o   Charred shishito & padron peppers with sea salt
o   All served up with some fresh, warm beer bread and a bottle of Van Duzer Pinot Noir


The meal was delicious and I was happy to have had the opportunity to cook with such wonderful produce.  J & I decided to have another glass of wine at the hotel bar before calling it a night and as I went to sleep I realized that I was relaxed enough to not need a valium again.  I slept great and woke up late on Sunday to spend the entire day relaxing, walking & watching a lot of football at the bar.  Another great weekend in Portland had come to an end.


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