Brunch.bou.tique great locavore dishes at Vancouver Farmers Market


Strolling the Vancouver Farmers Market I spied Brunch.bou.tique by Herb N’ Roots Company. The menu promised creative locavore dishes, including a “hood” special sourced from the farmer’s market.

Everything on the menu looked worthy of grazing, but I had to make a choice. I went with the top two items.

Brunch.bou.tique quinoa salad and chicken and waffle taco
Brunch.bou.tique quinoa salad and chicken and waffle taco

The black quinoa salad with pickled fiddleheads, piquillo peppers, wild cress and blood orange vinaigrette was amazing. I saw fiddleheads at one of the other booths, but I’ve never been able to cook them as well as should be done. Pickling them preserved their adorableness while adding a burst of flavor. The quinoa was flavored by the vinaigrette and the entire dish was refreshing and delightful.

Brunch.bou.tique menu
Brunch.bou.tique menu

I ordered one chicken-waffle taco with smoked collard slaw. The buttermilk-cheddar waffle taco shell was crisp, while the cornflake-crusted chicken tender was exactly what I like in chicken. It was a fun taco, and only $3 I’m looking forward to stopping there every weekend when I visit the farmers market.

Zeek’s Cheese Grill – microrestaurants opening in the ‘burbs

Zeek's Cheese Grill - Oregon Sandwich
Zeek’s Cheese Grill – Oregon Sandwich

The Portland food cart craze is evolving as it spreads to suburbia and encounters a different set of zoning regulations and laws and a different local lifestyle. The Sunset Highway corridor is seeing a new breed – microrestaurants in new and existing malls. They offer the local/sustainable/creative/foodie cuisine we’ve come to expect from Portland food carts, but in a suburban setting.

Zeek’s Cheese Grill has a new outpost at Bethany Village, joining KOi Fusion, The Bowl & Berry and soon-to-open Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack. All are food cart successes spinning off into suburban microrestaurants.

Zeek's Cheese Grill - Soup
Zeek’s Cheese Grill – Soup

Zeek’s offers outstanding creative grilled cheese creations. I had the Oregon with pear, bacon jam, brie and gorgonzola, plus a tomato and gorgonzola soup.  They have a tiny counter for inside seating, but share lots of outdoor tables with the other establishments. I loved being able to get half sandwich (more diet friendly), and it comes with a dipping cup of tomato soup. They also have a cart in Hillsdale Food Park.

Now all of those hard-working Intel employees living in the nearby condos don’t have to hop MAX to get some great food cart food.

See also: Clutch Prime Sausagery Opens in Cedar Mill

Backwoods Brewing Company – great craft beer from Carson, WA

The Vancouver Brewfest always introduces us to local NW craft breweries we need to explore further.  Our discovery at the Spring Brewfest was Backwoods Brewing Company from Carson, Washington.

Backwoods Brewing Company
Backwoods Brewing Company

Their allotted two brews at the brewfest were their Logyard IPA (which they brew year-round and can be found in bottles and cans) and a special AshWoods IPA, a collaboration with Ashtown Brewing of Longview, WA.  One taste of the AshWoods had both me and my husband eager for more. It had that great Citra hops citrus punch with a sweet malty body. 7.5% alcohol, 55 IBU.

Backwoods Brewing Company Beer List
Backwoods Brewing Company Beer List

What better to do on a spring Saturday than zip down the Columbia Gorge to Carson to sample what Backwoods had to offer? This family-owned brewery got its start in 2012. They converted the back of the general store into a rustic brewpub, open Thursday – Monday from 3 pm (at least for the winter).

We arrived at 3:30 on Saturday and the tables were already full. They have 12 picnic tables inside and a bar, with more picnic tables outside overlooking a pasture and mountains. The chainlink fence topped with barbed wire serves to keep the cattle away from your picnic. It looked like a great place to lounge after a fun day in the Gorge.

Back patio - Backwoods Brewing Company, Carson, WA
Back patio – Backwoods Brewing Company, Carson, WA

The food menu includes pizza, salads, bar snacks and grilled sandwiches.  They offer a six-sample taster with generous 4+ ounce pours set into a slice of log. I went straight for a pint of AshWoods IPA while my husband sampled the taster.

He gave top ratings to the Double Cutt IPA and AshWoods, and we both enjoy the Logyard IPA. We got a growler fill of AshWoods to take home.

Pizza - Backwoods Brewing Company
Pizza – Backwoods Brewing Company

The pizza was very good, and available in three sizes. They have a list of combos that should please anyone.

It is a place for locals as well as the tourists – loggers who love lagers and sailboarders and cyclists who love suds. It’s definitely worth setting your Garmin for to end a day in the Gorge. They are one of 10 on the Breweries in the Gorge Passport Tour. Visit 8 to get a free pint glass.

Their beer can be found on tap throughout the Northwest as well as in cans and bottles at well-stocked Northwest markets.

1162 Wind River Rd # B
Carson, Washington



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Ben Bettinger – Kevin Ludwig – Patrick McKee – New Laurelhurst Market Team Dinner

The new team at Laurelhurst Market delivered a great Portland Food Adventure dinner on February 5, 2015. Executive Chef Ben Bettinger cut his teeth in the Portland culinary scene at Paley’s Place, then joined cocktail master Kevin Ludwig’s Beaker & Flask in 2009. Together they quickly earned the honor of Willamette Week’s Restaurant of the Year for their innovative cuisine and cocktails. It was there that I learned what a craft cocktail could be, and found myself eating pickled octopus and pork cheeks and loving it.

Ben Bettinger and Kevin Ludwig of Laurelhurst Market
Ben Bettinger and Kevin Ludwig of Laurelhurst Market

Alas, that partnership came to an end when Bettinger was lured away by Vitaly Paley to open Imperial. Meanwhile, Patrick McKee also honed his craft at Paley’s Place and served as Executive Chef there since 2012. Both Bettinger and McKee were Paley’s sous chefs during his Iron Chef America victory in Battle Radish in 2011.

But now all three are back together at Laurelhurst Market. Our Portland Food Adventure meal featured some classics from Beaker & Flask plus a tour de force of beef prepared multiple ways to showcase what Laurelhurst Market can provide.

Portland Food Adventures is a type of pop-up that invites chefs to design an exciting menu paired with beverages and booked at an all-inclusive price. I’ve been attending them faithfully for the past four years and I’m never disappointed. The next dinner will be at Paley’s Place with their new Chef de Cuisine Luis Cabanas and a new French/Russian focused menu.

We assembled at Simpatica dining hall, which is owned by Laurelhurst Market. The starter was a “Grounded for Life” cocktail poured by Kevin Ludwig. It was a refreshing and complex mix of pepper vodka, cointreau, fresh celery juice, lime and a salted rim. A smoked salmon rillette with fennel on crostini was the passed appetizer.

Kevin Ludwig crafts the cocktails
Kevin Ludwig crafts the cocktails

We sat down for a pleasant evening with our individually printed menus. The first course of coffee rubbed beef carpaccio, Oregon truffles, grana padano and pickled onions was superb. The 2013 Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner went well. It was followed by a classic Beaker and Flask dish of pan-seared veal sweetbreads, creamed kale, pickled yellow foot chanterelles and sweet onion agrodolce. I knew my friend Krista would be green with envy as she loved their sweetbreads. This was paired with a Norwegian Negroni cocktail with Krogstad aquavit, cynar, sweet vermouth and orange oil.

The third dish was the classic grilled pork cheeks, pickled octopus, braised peppers and onions on grilled bread with aioli. Weird and wonderful as usual!

Now for the beef. Smoked ribeye, grilled spinella, braised rib tip marmalade and roasted bone marrow. How’s that for different preps? We also passed around grilled romaine with salsa verde and feta. Everything was great, served with a Rioja.

The dessert was also too delicious to pass up, an olive oil pound cake with orange marmalade, creme fraiche and toasted almonds.

Bravo for Ben, Kevin and Patrick! I stopped in at Laurelhurst Market on Sunday for a Meetup historic walking tour. All three were deep into dinner prep. I enjoyed a sandwich (great bahn mi!) and hope to return soon for dinner.

Adorn Opens New Division Store

adorn-7Portland’s Fashion Week featured many bright lights of the design scene. I attended a preview of Adorn‘s new second location at 3366 SE Division, which opens on October 3rd. They will have a Grand Opening Party on October 16 from 6-9 pm. featuring giveaways throughout the event, cocktails by RAFT Syrups and Northwest Distillery, bites from some of Division’s hottest restaurants, a trunk show with exclusive Henry and Belle and Fidelity Denim styles and exciting raffle prizes from its Division St. neighbors.

Adorn focuses on brands that source and produce responsibly and sustainably. The Division Street store includes the largest denim collection in Portland and tempting displays of jewelry and accessories. Browsing the styles from Prairie Underground, Nikita, ecoSkin and more I was happy to see sizing up to 16 or XL.

Adorn offers personal styling. “This beautiful new space allows us to focus on what sets Adorn apart,” says owner Nicole Whitesell. “We’re all about style for real life. We love working with our customers one-on-one to help them find the pieces that work for their lifestyle and their body. Now we’ll be able to work with customers in advance by phone and email and style selections for them before they even walk in the door. I’m thrilled to be able to offer this amazing shopping experience for our clients.”

Whitesell opened Adorn on Fremont in 2008, and her online store tempts customers nationwide with sales tax-free shopping. Her husband Ethan handcrafted many of the fixtures in both boutiques.

The space was comfortable to browse and the fitting rooms were spacious with a beefy curtain for privacy. Customers enjoyed posing in their new fashions against photo-ready backdrops.

I was tempted by several designs, but realized I could use the personal styling services to choose the best. I loved the accessories and took home a great lulu Fierce necklace, which is handcrafted in Portland by Lacey Arnett.

Adorn’s two locations are at 4120 NE Fremont St., and at 3366 SE Division St. in Portland. For more information, please visit and follow them on Twitter @shopadorn, Facebook at Adorn and Instagram @ShopAdorn.

Feast Portland 2014 – A Memorable Dinner

Gregory Gourdet, Anita Lo, Pichet Ong
Gregory Gourdet, Anita Lo, Pichet Ong

I’ve attended Feast Portland each year and this year I chose just one dinner to enjoy. I was hoping for a blogger pass to one of the showcases, but alas, I didn’t make the cut. I was very happy with the dinner I purchased, the Thursday dinner with Chefs Gregory Gourdet, Anita Lo and Pichet Ong. I love lots of flavor and I’m not shy about loving salt. Every morsel they served seemed designed for my taste buds.

It also helped that wine came from one of the wineries of which I am a member, Sokol Blosser, as well as a very good McMinnville winery, R. Stuart & Co. Plus, we had a very convivial table of interesting people.

I will definitely be cheering for Chef Gregory Gourdet on this season of Top Chef. That wasn’t the case for one local chef whose food did not wow me.

Full Review: Feast Portland Dinner with Chefs Gourdet, Lo and Ong