Reykjavik, Day 2: A little culture and a lot of hot dogs

Sólfar, Reykjavik, Iceland

Sólfar, Reykjavik, Iceland

We started our second afternoon in Iceland with brunch at the KEX hostel, a popular place to stay as well as to eat and drink. It’s a quirky little spot – I can imagine young international backpackers feel right at home here. For us, the food was decent, but the service was a little lacking. We did find out that the trout on the sourdough toast is smoked locally with a combination of moss and lamb “poo.”

The smoked trout was quite tasty but being used to applewood and cherrywood, we couldn't place the flavor profile. Upon asking, we learned it was smoked over lamb dung and moss.

The smoked trout was quite tasty but being used to applewood and cherrywood, we couldn’t place the flavor profile. Upon asking, we learned it was smoked over lamb dung and moss.

KEX hostel

KEX hostel

From the hostel, it was a short walk to the Sólfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture on the Reykjavík waterfront. While some understandably mistake this for an homage to a Viking ship it’s actually an ode to the sun. Regardless of its meaning, it’s a stunning art piece, perfectly fitting for the stark landscape.

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Gluttony in Portland: The Best Bites of FEAST 2014

Awesome after party ice cube

Awesome after party ice cube

A few posts ago I talked about Feast, a huge culinary celebration held here in Portland. Every year it brings big names in the food industry (the likes of Chris Cosentino, Paul Qui, Edward Lee, Brad Farmerie) to our town for four days of non-stop chaos. There are seminars, special dinners and tastings being held all over the city, followed by after-parties and after hours after-parties.

Since the company I work for is a sponsor, we get in to a lot of the events for free. Which meant food, food and more tasty, fabulous food, all washed down with local brews, wine and liquor. Let the good times roll!

First up, Friday Night: Night Market. I love the Night Market. The setting is gorgeous and the food is crazy good.

Night Market 2014, Zidell Yards, FEAST

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My apologies for being absent, I was busy eating foie gras…

Foie gras

A chunk off of a 3-pound foie gras terrine…Just a little WAG party snack.

To many people the word wag is a verb, often referring to the movement of a dog’s tail. For me (and my co-workers), WAG means Wild About Game, a huge meat-fest that our company hosts every fall on Mt. Hood in Oregon.

We invite a bunch of chefs from the Pacific Northwest, head to the mountain and basically eat and drink for an entire weekend. Though the event itself is hard to organize, it is amazingly fun and a great opportunity to actually hang out with many of our customers in a non-work environment, something that’s pretty hard to come by in the food industry!

WAG has become so infamous in the PNW that it’s one of the events that everyone in the culinary field wants to attend. It could be due to the high-end snacking (foie gras, Iberico ham, freshly shucked oysters) or to the booze (free beer, gin, whiskey and wine). And that’s just the day event — the afterparty is where people really let loose.

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Day 1 in Seattle and Vashon: Doing what we do best…eating!

Brunch at Joule, Coulotte with eggs

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my husband and I drove up to Vashon Island from Portland to spend Labor Day weekend away from the city. On our way up, we made a side trip to Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood for brunch at Joule. We had both heard rave reviews about their food but had never been in before. In all honesty, I went in with fairly low expectations simply because of the hype but was totally blown away.

First of all, I loved the concept of their brunch menu. You can pay $17 for a walk through their buffet and you get to order an additional entrée as well. For $12 you can do one or the other, but it was well worth the money to try both. The bonus is that you get the best of both worlds — you get to eat something immediately (and we were SO hungry after the three-hour drive) but you also get a hot dish made to order, which can’t be beat.

The buffet isn’t the basic cafeteria-style line up of eggs, pancakes and toast. Instead it’s a small table of fabulously prepared items, all based on a theme. While we were there, the dishes were southwestern inspired: peaches in habanero syrup with cilantro, jalapeño pimento cheese with homemade crackers, green tomato jam, corn salad, corn bread, pickles and more.

I filled my plate and cleared it in record time. Everything was so good, but the peaches were the winner, perfectly ripe, sweet and spicy.

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An IPNC Interlude — please pause for wine

Grand Dames Dinner IPNC 2014

Iberico de Bellota pork cheeks, served with polenta, thyme and blackberries. Chef Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita. IPNC 2014. Grand Dames Dinner.

If it’s seemed a little quiet over here recently, there’s good reason. I spent Friday night at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon for the International Pinot Noir Conference. Yes, I stayed on campus — in the dorms even — with three co-workers.

It always seems like one night shouldn’t be so exhausting, but somehow, every year, IPNC knocks me out of commission for a while.

Maybe it’s due to eating super rich food all day (foie gras, Iberico pork, veal sausage and more foie gras) or because we drink wine from 3pm till 3am 8am. (Yes, we partied like true college freshmen this year. I saw the sun rise and everything.)

Here are a few pictures from this year’s Grand Dames Dinner, which is set in the middle of the Linfield College campus. Four chefs (all women this year which I thought was awesome) put out an amazing dinner for around 500 people. There’s a reason this is one of my favorite events to “work.”

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Business trips are better when your business is meat!

Beef Tartare, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

Beef Tartare, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

I posted a teaser last week about my business trip to Seattle in which I promised more pictures would be coming. I have finally gotten my act together so here’s how I spent my 5 days “working” in the Emerald City! (As a side note — working in the meat industry really has its perks — we ate constantly.)

On the drive to Seattle from Portland, we stopped in Olympia to get dinner at the Water Street Cafe. The food was pretty fabulous and the pasta special was super good. I’m going to ignore the sprinkling of dried parsley on the rim.

Stinging Nettle Raviolis with Fiddlehead Ferns

The next day, my friend and co-worker Breezy and I embarked on day-long trip around Seattle doing sales calls.

We started in Ballard:

Watching our lunch cook

Watching our lunch cook at Stoneburner

Roasted cauliflower with agro dolce sauce, and an incredible pizza with sausage, olives and mozzarella.

Roasted cauliflower with agro dolce and an incredible pizza with sausage, olives and mozzarella. Oh yeah, and a bottle of rosé.

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