ashley's vista

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

Eating, living and breathing in beautiful Portland.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My foodie experiences lately

Well, it has once again been an embarrassingly long time since I wrote a post last. Wanted to give an update. Over the past couple of years, I have been able to enjoy and indulge in some amazing food made by some of the best chefs in the world. For that, I am grateful. It's amazing how much your palate can change just from a couple of years of refinement. Most recently, I attended the 2010 Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival, where I tasted samples of 50 of world's the best chefs' cuisine. There were plenty of stand-out dishes, but I would have to say my favorite was Iron Chef Morimoto's shredded pork in endive salad cups. So yummy!

Anyways, being a Portland native, I'm loving the fact that I can discover new things each day. The never-ending culinary scene (in which chefs are following the trend of growing their own produce) happens to be my shit right now. This last weekend, I would venture to say that I overindulged a little too much, eating out three nights in a row. But it was well worth it. Thursday night, my boyfriend and I (BTW, he's a veg, but is a total foodie as well, which I'm so happy about) made our second visit to Vindhalho, which serves food that I would say is a fuse between American and Indian food. I wasn't too impressed with the food (which was also my impression when I walked away the first time we ate there), it just wasn't traditional enough for me. The veggie pakoras were pretty good, and so was the chutney trio that we ordered to go with our poppadoms. One of the main dishes was the Sang Paneer, which was a mixture of tomato, spinach, tofu and fresh cheese on a bed of yellow rice. The sauce was good, but not seasoned enough, and not spicy enough. The other dish we shared was the vegetable korma, which was ok, but different. A sauce that consists of ground up nuts is not what I would traditionally order at and Indian joint, so I'm glad that it was the dish that by boyfriend ended up ordering because he had to eat it. In my opinion, Vindalho is definitely worth trying if you're looking for Indian food with a twist (not to mention paying a shit ton of money), but doesn't make me want to come back for more. If I want good, cracky Indian food, I'll go to my trusty Swagat's in NW.

Friday night we went to Ken's Artisan Pizza. We were able to walk right up and sit at the bar, in which we were waited on by Ken himself. Very nice guy, you can tell he loves his job and the restaurant industry. The bf ordered the margherita pizza, that came with a bed of arugula on top. It was so delicious and the arugula wasn't overbearing on the basil. I ordered the olive pizza, which had mozzarella, whole black olives and rosemary- I added red onion for some more flavor. Both pizzas had a perfectly cooked crust, and the dough was thin and crispy on the outside and fluffy/chewy on the inside. Also, both pizzas were delicious, and we'll definitely be going back. It's just a hop, skip and a jump from my place.

On Saturday night we had a triple date night, and went to Toro Bravo. This place serves amazing tapas, and is definitely good for groups. The wait was two hours (they unfortunately don't take reservations on the weekend) but that was fine because we wandered down to the White Eagle and sat on the patio and a had a couple of drinkypoos while we were waiting. Anyways, Toro Bravo recently changed its menu (another thing that I love: the menu is changed on a seasonal basis), and was probably the best that I've had there so far. We ordered the braised leeks with salbitxada, which were awesome, but I felt like it should have been on a piece of toasted bread or something. After that, we ordered singing pig greens with grapefruit, blue cheese, pickled red onion & almonds, radicchio salad with green olive toast & manchego vinaigrette, potatoes bravas, and the tortilla espanola with nettles. Both salads were fresh and delicious, I liked the second salad more because I like the bitterness of radicchio. Potato bravas were cubed potatoes with what seemed like a red pepper cream sauce, or some kind of harissa- nonetheless the dish was simple and well-seasoned. The tortilla espanola with nettles was like a potato and nettle quiche, without the crust. My first encounter with cooked nettles was a couple of visits ago, and this dish is always one that we order whenever we go to Toro Bravo. Next we ordered the grilled flat bread with black truffle cheese & arugula, harissa stewed butternut squash with crumbled sheep's cheese, sauteed chard with sunny side up egg, seared scallops with romesco, and the cubano sandwich. The grilled flatbread was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and the truffle cheese was amazing-definitely the hero of the dish. The butternut squash stew is so god damn good! To put it this way, if you don't really like butternut squash or have never had it before, try Toro Bravo's version and you will love it. The sauteed chard with an egg was also one of my favs of the evening, cutting into the yolk and watching it spread all over the chard is so satisfying for some reason. By the time I could get a bite of the scallops and the cubano sandwich, I was so full, that's all I had of each dish, just a taste. The scallops were seared perfectly, and is something that I would order again. Dessert was the churros and chocolate, almond ice cream with a shot of espresso, and the molten lava cake. Yeah, molten lava cake is overdone, bla bla bla, but it's still good. The churros and chocolate was by far my favorite, think of a chewy cinnamon and sugar pastry dipped in melted dark, bitter chocolate. The damage at the end wasn't that bad either. Along with all of the food, each person had two drinks, and the ticket was under $200. Out of the three restaurants, I would definitely go back to Ken's and Toro Bravo anytime.

Until next foodie time.