Friday, October 14, 2011


My longtime friend Sonya and I went out to eat Wednesday night at Portofino in the Sellwood neighborhood. It's a lovely little place, cozy and charming, with friendly staffers. I had the Wild Mushroom Fettucine, a deliciously creamy dish with more mushroom than cream flavors, and the taste of the pasta came through. My plate was left clean. Sonya had the Seafood Risotto, a varied, luscious blend of shrimp, scallops, and a nicely-herbed, creamy risotto. I had the Montepulciano, a red wine that went very well with the pasta. The petite basket of bland bread was nothing to rave about. Our server, who appeared to be alone to serve the entire room full of customers, was surprisingly attentive -- perhaps too much so, which I suppose is better than being ignored.
For dessert I had a Special that night, a peach and blueberry cobbler with cinnamon gelato. It tasted as good as it sounds. The flavors complemented each other well in a dessert that wasn't overly sweet; a comforting finish to a fine dinner.
Portofino is a very pleasant stop in my quest to try the Italian restaurants in the Portland area. It rates high with me because of our food and the welcoming attitude of the staff. Also, I must admit to a touch of nostalgia: the atmosphere reminded me a little of the late, great Piccolo Mondo, an Italian restaurant at the Johns Landing Water Tower.
Buon appetito,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alder bakery

I went to a new bakery the other day called Alder. I had a cinnamon roll the size of a hamburger -- and ate the entire thing. It was so rich and delicious, a tight spiral of tender, flaky pastry as in a croissant, plenty of chopped walnuts, and drizzled with a nice white icing. I would have been satisfied with just a half, but I was hungry and this worked well for my sweet craving of the morning. Actually that was quite the understatement. I was sated for the rest of the day in terms of desiring any more sweets whatsoever.
Alder is a spacious area with beautiful two-tone varnished wood tables, and benches available at the wall. The building is next to The Matador restaurant, and across the street from Pet Samaritan Clinic at E. Burnside at 24th. Good Sam's a place I've been to hundreds of times over the past 20 years, so of course I'm immediately going to notice a new bakery in proximity.
Other choices were perfect macarons, flawless square and round chocolate layered desserts with various garnishes; gelato with an assortment of flavors; and three large, thick types of cookies of the standards: Chocolate chip; peanut butter; and oatmeal/raisin, all looking decidedly nonstandard and delicious; and other sweets to delight the eye and palate. Well worth a stop with their excellent drip coffee alongside.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Humdrum existence?

Feed starter. Make apple pie with whole wheat crust. Adapt pumpkin tartlets recipe. Clean kitchen floor. This is my life now, after my "temp" job as a cook. I suppose industrial-size soup-making is not my thing. Time to ramp up my catering biz sideline, make all things sweet or Italian. Classes, anyone? I love to teach people how to cook and bake. Come on over! Comment on this post!
Autumn, the time of change. Absolutely everything changes in fall: the leaves, obviously, but also my nose, allergies be damned; then there's the actual food season change, turning to examining pear and pumpkin possibilities, then tangerines and turkey in November, and, well, we won't even mention December yet. Here in the Northwest, with the decline of summer and the beginning of the fall rains (rainfall?), the dreariness sets in; or rather, the delectability! The trad foods, the modern spins on the trads, the mind set in motion to create a new dish, a new dessert, but still embrace the traditional. Therein lies the creative challenge. For instance, I've got a Charlie Trotter/Michelle Gayer date tart recipe that I will magically turn into a pumpkin tartlets recipe. Who ever said I wasn't creative! Um, well, no one, actually; not to my face, anyway. Heh. far it's going well. The samples turned out fine, even if a bit too rich. Back to the kitchen. BTW, my dearest one and only husband said to me: "Don't ever let anyone tell you you're not a good cook." Isn't he a keeper? Absolutely.