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Cook the Book: 'Portland, Oregon Chef's Table'

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The IFC show Portlandia may depict Portland, Oregon's food scene as painfully locavore and brunch-obsessed, and the city's food cart pods may rival the rainy weather as its most famous feature, but restaurants in Portland are much more diverse than pop culture may make them seem.

I went to college in Portland in the mid-aughts and was fortunate to experience the first rumblings of the city's food explosion. My friends and I ate everything from hole-in-the-wall burritos and platters of Ethiopian food to biscuits, fried chicken, and bacon-hollandaise (sometimes all at once).

Laurie Wolf's new cookbook, Portland, Oregon Chef's Table had me yearning for another taste of the city. The book recipes from popular restaurants across the city, from tapas at Andina to drinks and dessert at the Screen Door. To anyone familiar with these restaurants, the recipes and stories are enough to send you straight into the kitchen to recreate these flavors. To those who've never traveled to the Rose City, the book offers an opportunity to escape to Oregon by simply pulling out a frying pan.

Yes, many of the recipes seem transcribed directly from the chefs themselves and are therefore not the most straightforward, but the ethos behind the book is clear. As Wolf says in her introduction, "[In Portland], there is a driving movement to keep the food simple, relying on the freshest and highest quality products... allow[ing] the ingredients to shine."

This week, we'll be embracing the diversity of the Portland food scene. We'll start with brunch and whip up Toast's 'Go Home Thomas' Egg and Sausage Sandwich. Then we'll sample an appetizer from the venerable Andy Ricker: the surprisingly carrot-less Carrot Cake served at his restaurant Ping. Next we'll have a lunchtime Porchetta Sandwich from Olympic Provisions, followed by the simple yet elegant Seared Panzanella Chicken from Roost. Finally, we'll go out with a down-to-earth stunner by roasting Ned Ludd's Stuffed Ruby Trout.

Win 'Portland, Oregon Chef's Table'

Thanks to the kind folks at Lyons Press, we have five (5) copies of Portland, Oregon Chef's Table to give away this week. All you need to do is tell us about the most local meal you've eaten recently in the comments below.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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