Archives for posts with tag: foie gras

My weekend: homemade cinnamon rolls, shooting off rockets, salmon, clams, risotto, Powells, chocolate chip cookies, foie gras. All these good things, all with beloved folk. Joy and sweetness and over-eating-ness. My M and D and I converged upon the Redmonds in Portland for the weekend, where we ate and laughed and ate some more. We love the Redmonds and they love us and we all love to eat and when we’re all together it’s pretty dang joyful. The first night we were there we had pasta with clams and about eight chocolate bars between the seven of us. The next day we “hiked” Mt. Tabor and did the requisite Powells Pilgrimage, where I got a bunch of food-lit books.

Then Pearl Bakery for sandwiches and cookies, before another beautiful dinner of asparagus risotto and salmon and roasted cauliflower. Kate knows how to do a dinner. Plus Craig and Dad’s “bad things I did with/to my brothers when I was little” stories and Dawson’s film ideas and Gabey’s cleverness. Good times around the Redmond table. Then Sunday. Began the day with a Reed campus walkabout, in preparation for the brunchy feast to come. Homemade cinnamon rolls, the dough made the night before to maximize both goodness and anticipation. Salmon scrambled eggs, the real reason you make salmon for dinner. And sweet spicy bacon. I ate three cinnamon rolls, I am proud/ashamed to say.

Then a walk to the park for the most thrilling hobby ever that I really am desperate to take up (and have lots of friends who excitedly take it up with me): model rockets. You go to the park, and you shoot off a rocket. And it flies a bazillion feet up into the sky and you frantically run around underneath to catch it. So thrilling! I want to have rocket launching picnics! Then after all that excitement died down, more excitement right away, with a dinner at Little Bird, the new restaurant by the Le Pigeon crew. the chef just crowned by the James Beard Foundation as Rising Star Chef, the beautiful bistro lived up to the expectations.

We started off with oysters… (“nietard” oysters? We couldn’t hear our shockingly hip waitress so well in the bustly restaurant… we made a lot of borderline jokes and laughed real, real hard.) Then we ate the most perfect little oysters ever, the sea-blessed goodness nestled into tiny little shells, just the right size. After the oysters, the charcuterie. Which involved: pickled fennel, something kind of spam-colored and textured, but incredibly un-spam like in all other ways. Deep-fried duck. Clearly awesome. Some other little tidbits that I can’t remember because included in this particular charcuterie plate was: foie gras brulee. Goodness on top of goodness. I… I don’t know what to say about it. Just think about it. Caramelized sugar crust (best thing ever) on top of creamy foie gras. Spread on toast-lets with a bright little daub of apricot jam. If foie gras ever gets banned nation-wide, I will have to move because I will die of sadness otherwise.

Moving on. (Gabriel has awesome hair.) After the charcuterie: crab and celery root remoulade, a tangy cilantro-tinged heap of crunchy celeriac and carrot with salty crab. Butter lettuce with more carrots and “saffron-infused garlic.” This was the one thing that was an eensy bit of a letdown. The menu said “carrot dressing” so I was imagining the roots made liquid, a light orange dressing for the best lettuce ever. Instead, carrots and lettuce, both still in their regular ol’ solid form. But still good (and now I have an idea for dressing and all the carrots I’ve been hoarding in the crisper.) Then on to the main courses. Get excited. Hanger steaks for Kate and Dad (with perky watercress perched in the plates), salty pork shoulder for Craig, the famous square Le Pigeon burgers (with killer fries and perhaps-maybe-housemade ketchup, the origin of which called for much taste-testing and speculation) for Dawson and Gabriel, lamb navarin with goat cheese gnocci for Mama (I need goat cheese gnocci in my life, stat), and beef tongue for moi.

Usually tongue is all chopped up beyond recognition, looking more like pulled pork than ex-taster. Not here. a generous hunk of tongue, with crispy roast broccoli and topped with teensy potato chips. I had a big pang of hanger steak order envy when they brought the plates, but that vanished instantaneously with my first bite. Tongue rocks. I’d love to learn to cook intimidating things like tongue and liver and sweetbreads…partly because I love them and partly because I’d feel so incredibly cool buying them at the butcher. After all this deliciousness, dessert. Of course. Coconut cake with passion fruit sorbet (I remembered having my first actual passion fruit in the Redmond’s Jakarta kitchen after years of having passion fruit flavored things and being shocked by the weird shell-like fruit, filled with seeds and slime), creme caramel with raspberry sorbet, and a butterschotch pot de creme, shockingly ordered at the last minute by non-dessert-Dad and shockingly my favorite one of the desserts. All beautiful and delicious, followed up with the good bitter ao a tiny cup of coffee in a beautiful little cup. And with the bill: tiny (teensy tiny) darling little oatmeal macarons.

Love to Little Bird, love to family, love to Redmonds, love to Portland!

Wedged between a cabaret club and a tango bar, Le Pigeon is loud, their own light indie music blend supplemented by the competing base beats as well as the sounds emitting from the open kitchen at the center of the small space. Waitresses with tall hair and red lips, their forearms tattooed, marking them as Portlanders, weave between the three long tables, delivering foie gras in multiple forms. Decorated with funky found bits like porcelain owls and old chalkboards, Le Pigeon appears to be a casual neighborhood restaurant, the wood tables left uncovered and the bread plates a mismatched assortment of old saucers. But a look at the menu hints otherwise, and the food itself tells an entirely different story.

Met with the options of duck meatballs, sweetbreads, crab sausage, and foie gras in just the first half of the menu, it’s clear that Le Pigeon is more than just a hip neighborhood spot flinging out bowls of pasta. Unable to resist the slightly politically incorrect delicacy, we ordered the foie gras and the duck meatballs. The foie was beyond perfection, the strange piece of meat atop a tiny crumpet, crowned with orange mushroom marmalade. Done exactly right, the foie had the slightest crust that held up as the rest of the bite dissipated into fatty bliss, countered by the tangy marmalade. The duck meatballs were also good, though felt inevitably lackluster next to the foie despite their wreath of sliced black truffles.

After a completely one-sided discussion of how good the foie was, and a debate as to whether or not to just go ahead and get another, our entrees thankfully arrived, resolving the issue. The two men at the table got hanger steaks; described by the waitress as the cut that the butcher traditionally saved for himself. Hanging from the end of the ribs near the kidney, it gleans some of the rich flavor of the kidney, making it a more complex piece of meat than most. Marinated in soy and fish sauce, the steak had the surprising quality of sushi or carpaccio, the rare meat in the center delightfully flavored and delicately textured within the char of the outside.

Two of us got the lamb, prepared two ways on each plate; two chops cooked sous vide and a cube of lamb shoulder terrine. Cooked in a sealed package in temperature-controlled water, the sous vide method allows the chef to get meat to an exact temperature all the way through. Usually chefs sear sous vide prepared meat to give it the same look and variation of cookedness of traditionally prepared meat, but the men of Le Pigeon left them char-less, something I loved, relishing the intact flavor of the meat, and my mother hated, missing the diversity in texture. The terrine was excellent, less overwhelmingly rich than my previous terrine experiences, and paired with a mint pesto and tiny heirloom carrots in a delicate yogurt sauce. The last dish was a pan-seared snapper sitting atop a butternut puree, pleasing although perhaps less exciting than the other dishes.

The first part of dessert was a cheese plate: a soft simple goat cheese, a bit of Ossau Iraty, a sheep cheese, and a wedge of Bethmale, a delectable sheep and goat combination cheese, alongside persimmon ginger chutney and sesame crackers, devoured with delightful fingers. The second part was a goat’s milk panna cotta (If panna cotta is ever on a menu, I have to get it. Clearly.) aside a pomegranate granita and bee pollen shortbread, topped with a few glittering pomegranate seeds. The panna cotta was just the lightest bit goaty, tangy enough to make it interesting but still simple and milky, as panna cotta should be, perfect with the icy granita and crunchy cookies.

Le Pigeon is a special place. The chefs clearly love food, love their food, making its preparation the centerpiece of the intimate space. The atmosphere is at once cozy and enlivening, as the food is simultaneously un-intimidating and impressive.

(Written for Independent Study Project at NCF, p.s.)