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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 26, 2007 8:10 AM. The previous post in this blog was Hellhounds on my tail. The next post in this blog is Killing Woody. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Eat it up

Big splash in the Times this morning about Portland restaurants. It's making me hungry!

Comments (20)

ahh, another drive-by tourist review:

Portland also has what anybody in the restaurant business will tell you is most important of all: affordable real estate.

nope--one of the least affordable markets in the entire nation, according to at least two different standard measures.

He also bought two houses and sold them, taking advantage of a rising real estate market so he could finance his vision of a southeast Asian restaurant without having to satisfy financial backers.

ahh, the real reason he was able to start a restaurant (not "affordable housing".)

“We sold our 500-square-foot New York apartment, and with the money, we bought a house with a swimming pool, two cars, and had enough left to open a restaurant,” Mr. Paley said.

the real reason another couple were able to relocate to "affordable" Portland and open a "local" business.

Chefs around the country pay lip service to the philosophy of seasonal cooking, but in Portland they seem to take this idea especially seriously

you mean i can't get a salad most of the winter in the fine establishments? no fruit? even small, "progressive" restaurants in PDX depend on produce and meats shipped from far away to keep the doors open in winter and spring.

He found Portland tough going at first. Even standard fare — rustic fruit tarts and croissants — was not that familiar here six years ago, Mr. Forkish said

we had an authentic french bakery downtown starting in the early 80s. at least two French restaurants. et cetera. and, it's just silly to say Portlanders "weren't that familiar with croissants" until six years ago.

all constructed according to the gospel of locally grown ingredients.

fewer than 3% of Portland restaurants regularly use locally grown produce. in winter, it averages 1%. that number is not growing (as of early 2007).

“Portland may be over-hyped in some ways,” said Dave Machado

no kidding?

“I think Portland innately will make sure that people always have opportunities,” he said. “Portland is a free spirit.”

wow. just--wow.

The real estate was a lot cheaper in '94, and the end of the main article notes that prices have gone way up.

This is how Portland looks to people in New York.

Portlanders "weren't that familiar with croissants" until six years ago.

Ken Forkish is talking here about his own, blackened, over-baked goods.

Still, a whole article and not a peep about Bruce Carey, Kenny Giambalvo or even Natalie Pomeroy.

Its all like the hype afforded to the "3rd Wave" expressed by the boutique coffee roasters. They talk about "sustainability", "fair market", "a hint of gooseberry, raspberry finishing taste". All a sales job.

The most popular newspaper in the world highlights Portland on the front page of its Food section and all ecohuman.com does is moan and whine with facts pulled out of her hat.

I'm guessing her beloved bran muffin went down the wrong way.

Thoughts?

In the meantime, I'm heading to that Le Pigeon place, eastside, of course, for some tasty bird!

Strangely, the article made me lose my appetite.

The most telling part of that article was the description of the excellent Dave Machado, with 16 years' experience, as one of the city's "old guard."

16 years.

Portland's restaurant scene is very young, and overwhelmingly staffed by young, enthusiastic people...which means you're gonna get a lot of experimentation and rule-breaking and invention. Some of it's going to be innovative, some of it's not going to work, and some of it is going to be just plain silly, if not pretentious.

The New York Times story focused on what works, for the most part (with a sidelong glance to concoctions like "apricot cornbread with bacon, topped with maple ice cream").

I think a better take would've been on the ongoing evolution of the culinary world here, with all its successes and missteps, but Eric Asimov focused on Portland as a "dining destination," which is what highly paid New York Times writers are paid to do - find something and frame it as a trend. It said more about the nature of journalism than the Portland food scene.

AMD: Strangely, the article made me lose my appetite for both food and journalism.

The most popular newspaper in the world highlights Portland on the front page of its Food section and all ecohuman.com does is moan and whine with facts pulled out of her hat.

my post had nothing to do with whether Portland restaurants are good or bad.

i think characterizing Portland as a local food paradise and backwater that needed a "cosmopolitan" injection to be competent does a real disservice to the city.

and, bluntly, the article was a lazy and superficial piece.

now, it's time for lunch.

I think it's interesting that a puff article about our town’s restaurants could morph into fodder for a distasteful response.

Two points:

1) Despite much-touted "affordable housing statistics," Portland still IS relatively cheap, from the perspective of people in New York, D.C., Boston, Seattle, Europe, or anywhere in California.

2) The vast majority of Portlanders will probably never set foot in any of those restaurants. People who talk about "dining destinations" occupy a very different world; most of us just want decent food at a fair price, and really don't care about the chef's résumé.

a puff article about our town’s restaurants

about only a few of our restaurants.

and, the article basically said: the reason Portland has good restaurants is some people moved here and started them, using local produce. to me, that seems silly and innacurate and worth a response.

I'm with Daphne. One of the world's most respected print publications sent a reporter across the country to check out a rumor it had heard--namely, that some second-rate West Coast city had some tasty food. The reporter discovered that the rumor was more than true, and that Portland had actually changed a lot in positive ways (according the reporter) into the bargain. So the NYT ran a nice fluff piece designed to attract its high-powered readership to Portland's fine dining scene.

If you step away from the personal biographies of the profiled chefs, I think you'll see that the article highlighted many of the things we like about Portland's food scene, regardless of whether we dine at Le Pigeon or Genie's: local produce, good wine, commitment to experimentation and trying things in new ways. I think we'd be better off focusing on that, instead of complaining that some bright kid from Napa got more column inches than a native Oregonian.

This article will do more for the convention traffic than 10's of millions in wasted Metro dollars.

Ecohuman......stick a fork in it. (Pun intended).

"I think it's interesting that a puff article about our town’s restaurants could morph into fodder for a distasteful response."

Maybe some of us don't like puff, unless it's in a well done pastry.

Now, can anyone tell me where, in Portland, I can find a good ham and cheese croissant, that's dripping in flavorful oil from the ham and cheese... that's just so satisfying that it makes my day? I can find these all over Paris, but not in any "French" bakery in Portland.

I'm sure it's because I don't know where to look.

Now, can anyone tell me where, in Portland, I can find a good ham and cheese croissant, that's dripping in flavorful oil from the ham and cheese...

If you're talking about a croque monsieur...Carafe does a great one.

And, yeah, ecohuman, Le Panier brought croissants here long ago...but to deny how much --and how well-- our food scene has grown really does seem to miss the point. (Full disclosure: I was the wine steward back when the Canlis was at the top of the Hilton, and Lancers Rose was on the wine list, along with Mouton-Rothschild.)

Do we really regret when you used to be offered "a Chablis or Burgundy" out of the box at most happy hours?

Pok pok --within walking distance of me, and mentioned in the Times article-- is awesome and cheap. Burned bread from Ken Forkish? Give me a break...

Whoever wrote that the Times article will bring more visitors than some dumb convention center hotel...now THAT'S a great observation.

Le Pigeon is great if you don't mind the chef talking s*** about every customer after they leave the building. Not to mention that he **** every 5 minutes or so. Great food though.

Genie's... Genie's... Genie's.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

"If you're talking about a croque monsieur...Carafe does a great one."

No, I'm not talking about croque monsieur. I think it is "pain au jambon." Whatever they are, they use croissant-like pastry, but rolled in a rectangular shape, not crescent-shaped, and there is ham and cheese inside, cooked inside (not a sandwich). They are very flavorful and always dripping in oil. I find the savory pastries in Portland to be very dry. But I would like to be proven wrong and find a place that makes these well.


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