The buzz about Portland’s diverse restaurant scene got us on the road Sunday morning with our California partners Andy and Tanya. Our first stop was lunch at Andina in the Pearl District (http://www.andinarestaurant.com). After sharing piquillo peppers stuffed with quinoa and jamon serrano, tender octopus kebabs, and fresh lime infused fish ceviche, we understand why it gets rave reviews. A few hours later we stopped at Toro Bravo (http://www.torobravopdx.com) for a pre-dinner sherry and couldn’t leave without trying the manchego cheese marinated in rose petal harissa and mint, sherry chicken liver mousse, and the oxtail croquettes. What astonishing flavor combinations! We would have stayed all night but we had dinner reservations at Le Pigeon (http://www.lepigeon.com), a tiny bistro with communal tables which is always full. The seasonal menu was loaded with meat-centric dishes that blew us away. My fried rabbit was more rabbit confit, ultra-tender with meat falling off the bone. We had duck breast and beef cheeks and an amazing finale of cornbread, maple syrup and bacon. Everything was fantastic! We’ll go back to these places very, very soon.
Instant Tapa: Start with a slice of Aegean Gourmet Golden Toast ($1.99/11.6 oz), add a layer of Greenland Buffalo Feta cheese ($3.99/500 grams) and top with Napoleon Grilled Artichoke Halves ($3.85/7.5 oz). Serve at room temperature.
Asturian Fabada Stew Kit ($23.99/appx 2 lbs): Our cold and rainy Easter weather got me hankering for stew. A comfort food fanatic, nothing warms me on a chilly night like a hearty serving of Fabada, the signature dish of Asturias. Traditionally made with a special bean called “fabe” grown in this region, this sausage and bean dish is absolutely satisfying. Our Asturian Fabada Stew Kit includes Chorizo Bilbao, Morcilla de Cebolla (blood sausage with onion), Tocino (bacon with rind) and Jamon Serrano (dry cured ham). We also have a limited supply of the authentic “Fabe” Fabada bean ($35.00/kg), which is prized for its ability to hold shape after a long simmer.
Basturma or Pastirma ($12.99/12 oz): Racks of hanging beef loin rubbed with a heavy marinade of paprika, fenugreek and chili line the market streets of Kayseri, Turkey. This popular spiced beef is sliced thin and eaten on bread, or it can be sauteed and eaten with everything from eggs or wrapped in phyllo dough and baked.
Filetes de Boqueron: ($8.99/appx 6 oz) Another item that is frequently asked for. These fresh white anchovies are marinated in oil and vinegar, with garlic and parsley. We had these one night at Txori on top of crostini with black olive tapenade. The briny fish and rich olive flavors were fantastic together! Also great on caesar salad.
2007 Mesta Tempranillo, Tierra de Castilla ($7.99): Named for gatherings of sheep herders organized to sort stray sheep (mestencos) from their flock, Mesta is 100% Tempranillo, the wine traditionally served with lamb. The grapes are grown at 2500 feet elevation, and it has great balance and food-pairing acidity. Aged in stainless steel, this is a young wine with a fruit driven nose full of enticing aromas of ripe red berries. On the palate, it has chewy and firm tannins with a hint of pepper and a persistent finish. Serve this at your next backyard barbeque!
2008 Famega Rose, Portugal ($7.99) Our first 2008 rose has arrived! With all the promise of a seedling poking up its first shoots, the new rose season brings hope of salad days to come. 2008 Famega is loaded with fresh strawberry flavor, a hint of effervescence and a feeling of summer. Sip it chilled on the deck on a sunny day!
2007 Carlos Bassos Dos Fincas Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot, Mendoza ($9.99) Aged lightly in oak for 4 months, Dos Fincas is a blend of two different vineyards and microclimates. Made of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot, its jammy berry aromas and plump black berry flavors shine through. Solid and flush throughout, it has surprising softness. Excellent with grilled pork chops.
2005 Conde de Vimioso, Ribatejano ($9.99) Winemaker Joao Portugal Ramos has been the most influential wine consultant in Southern Portugal over the last 15 years. His philosophy of low yields, preserving fruit flavors and occasional oak aging with modern winemaking techniques have made him a superstar. His 2005 Conde de Vimioso combines aromatic, dark fruit flavors of Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira blended beautifully with the bold spices of Tempranillo and well-integrated tannins of Cabernet. The palate is rich and youthful, showing raspberry and currant fruit with hints of white pepper, espresso bean and dark chocolate on the lingering finish.
NV Quinta de la Rosa’s Finest Reserve Port, Douro ($11.99/375 ml, $19.99/750 ml) “is a stunning example of what can be achieved and found in non-vintage port blends. This small port lodge has turned out a terrific, full-bodied, garnet/ruby-colored wine with a big, chocolatey, black-cherry, cedary nose, full-bodied, unctuously-textured flavors, and gobs of fruit and richness, as well as an off-dry, impressive finish. Drink it over the next decade or more.” 92 points Robert Parker
Sharon Baden and Steve Winston, owners
The Spanish Table Inc.