Things I learned from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse!

Banana, Almond and Spinach Smoothie = YUM!

Banana, Almond and Spinach Smoothie = YUM!

I’m officially done with the Food Lover’s Cleanse. It was two weeks of post-holiday diet detox and it did my body good. And hey, I even learned a few things about myself:

1. I really do like quinoa. Sometimes I forget how much I like it so I never buy it. But then I eat it and remember it’s delicious. I now have a five-pound bag of red quinoa in my cupboard.

2. That my cravings for Mexican food actually rivaled my cravings for Italian food. As a lifelong pasta addict, this totally surprised me. My first post-cleanse meal involved tacos, a tamale and queso fundido. And soooo many tortillas. And a few margaritas. It was fabulous.

Smoked Brisket Tamale at La Taq

Smoked Brisket Tamale at La Taq

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Eating well in the Emerald City

Party favor: Pumpkin & Bourbon Chocolate Bar

Party favor: Pumpkin & Bourbon Chocolate Bar, Canlis Restaurant

My husband and I had big plans for Nov. 18th. We had heard about a pretty amazing dinner involving some big names in the culinary world. René Redzepi (of Noma fame) was headed to the Pacific Northwest to do a dinner with local talents Matt Dillon and Blaine Wetzel.

Sadly we called an hour after the ticket sales opened to find the dinner had long since sold out. And, to add insult to injury, the wait list was twice as long as the number of reserved seats. *Sigh*

To make ourselves feel better we decided to go up to Seattle anyways. I cashed in my last vacation day and we spent 36 blissful hours in the big city to the north.

Our first stop was in West Seattle to meet up with one of my friends and his girlfriend. We hit up Ma’ono Fried Chicken and Whisky and indulged in their brunch claim-to-fame: endless mimosas for $12. Since I wasn’t the one driving, let me tell you — I got my money’s worth! Also the fried chicken was amazing. Seriously.

Fried chicken, biscuits and endless mimosas at Ma'ono

Fried chicken, biscuits and sausage gravy at Ma’ono

The next day we set out for one of the newest darlings of the Seattle food scene: The Whale Wins, run by Chef Renee Erickson. The vibe of the restaurant was an interesting juxtaposition — minimal but somehow still homey and warm with a touch of feminine charm. If I lived in the city, it would probably be one of my favorite spots to go. The service was great and the food was fantastic.

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Feasting in the Forest

Nothing like a delicious meal in the most beautiful of settings!

View from Skamania Lodge

View from Skamania Lodge

Back in June my husband was asked to partake in a dinner series at Skamania Lodge, a luxurious hotel in the Columbia Gorge about an hour outside of Portland. When we heard that a room was included for the evening, he we accepted immediately. I am not in the habit of turning down a complimentary night away from home!

The event, called Feast in the Forest, brought two chefs out from Portland each month, from June to September, to do a sit-down, multi-coursed dinner. After the four dinners had taken place, a final dinner was planned where each guest chef would return to the lodge to cook a dish for the Grand Feast.

My husband’s first dinner was in July and he prepared this dish as his contribution:

Wild Boar Trio: homemade sausage, braised belly and rack

Wild boar sausage, braised boar belly and rack, with whipped cornbread and pickled cherries.

It was a wonderful meal and the view only got better as the night progressed:

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Feasting in Portland: Another epic food weekend

Fried baloney sandwich, by Chef Sean Brock. Rocked my world.

Fried baloney sandwich, by Chef Sean Brock. Rocked my world.

So for the second in year in a row, Portland has hosted Feast, an extravagant food festival that lasts for four days and bring in chefs of international fame. Last year I attended a few events (primarily the Night Market and the Oregon Bounty), this year I attended a few new ones, including the rather exclusive High Comfort dinner.

Here’s a peek into my time at Feast…

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IPNC 2013: A luscious crab salad makes me happy!

Crab Salad, brioche, cucumbers, pickled cherry tomatoes and tarragon aioli, courtesy of Renee Erickson

Dungeness crab, toasted brioche, cucumbers, pickled cherry tomatoes and tarragon aioli, courtesy of Chef Renee Erickson of Seattle, WA.

I’ve mentioned before that my job as a meat distributor has some serious benefits, but in case you doubted me, here’s proof. I was lucky enough to spend Friday afternoon and evening at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, OR. My company had a tasting table set up during the day event and we sampled out specialties like a boudin blanc & foie gras sausage and Oregon water buffalo sirloin. And, to show some love to the foie-deprived attendees visiting from California, we also sampled out almost three pounds of foie torchon. We’re people pleasers like that!

In a word - yum!

In a word – yum!

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Vacation Cooking: Why I Married a Chef

The main reason we rented the place we did in St. Martin is because it has a fully equipped kitchen. One trip to the Grand Marche and we were all set to make a few meals “at home” instead of eating out. Luckily I got to sit out on the balcony while my husband did the cooking!

Soft Boiled Egg, Mache, Lemon Zest Salad...with some Foie Gras and Proscuitto thrown in for fun...

Soft Boiled Egg, Mache, Lemon Zest Salad…with some Foie Gras and Proscuitto thrown in for fun…

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