Right at the Fork
A second restaurant, maybe a third, and then a cookbook. That seems to be the recipe for growth among some of Portland’s best chefs these days. ‘Tis the season to bring the recipes from the restaurants you love to visit into the home of someone you love. And hey, they just may prepare a delight or two for you.
Toro Bravo by John Gorham and Liz Crain, Mc Sweeney’s Press. Go behind the scenes and find out about how one of Portland’s best restaurants came to be and what John Gorham does to keep it so lively. The recipes are approachable, and you’ll find out that Toro serves a drink named for one of their employee’s penises. You can decide whether that works for you. What more could you want? A whole section on fundamentals will inspire you to ride the bull yourself.
Le Pigeon, by Gabriel Rucker and Merident Brickson, Ten Speed Press. Again, some of the stories behind Le Pigeon make for interesting reading, and then we also get to go inside the awesome eclectic mind of Gabriel Rucker, including his Love Letter to Plymouth Valiants. Regarding the recipes, if you want to test your significant other’s culinary mettle a la the “Diner” Baltimore Colts’ test, see if they can master the Tête de Veau, and then plan the wedding.
The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home by Nick Zukin and Michael C. Zusman, Andrews McMeel Publishing. The outspoken restaurateur Nick Zukin, co-founder of Kenny and Zuke’s and now with two Mi Mero Moles under his belt (fairly literally), teamed with prolific food writer Michael Zusman to bless us with a history of Jewish delicatessen food in the United States. The recipes are easy to follow, and include rare roast beef to the two-day preparation for authentic Jewish bagels. It’s a great read with The New York Times on a Sunday morning.
Pok Pok, by Andy Ricker with JJ Goode, Ten Speed Press. If you can’t get to Thailand, this may be the next best thing. Read about Andy Ricker’s discoveries and perspectives during his travels through culinary heaven. What he learned he brought back and honed to gain accolades as the nation’s foremost Thai chef. Starting with eight dishes in a shack on Division Street, his growing stable of street food dining includes two outposts in NYC. More than a 100 recipes, including his famous Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, take you from mortar and pestle to table.
The Paley’s Place Cookbook by Vitaly and Kimberly Paley, Ten Speed Press. No list of Portland chef cookbooks would be complete without mentioning this one, even though it’s been around for a few years. Fitting to say, because Paley’s Place is one of the milestone restaurants that began to change the scene in Portland and it still thrives. Chef Paley focuses on what he does best–the bounty of the Northwest. You’ll read about it and then have access to some of the most prized dishes in Portland–at home.
Other Portland-centric books I highly recommend that would make fantastic gifts: The Happy Hour Guidebook by Cindy Anderson; Crackers and Dips by Ivy Manning; The Mighty Gastropolis: Portland: A Journey Through the Center of America’s New Food Revolution by Karen Brooks; and The Sugar Cube by Kir Jensen.