Monday, June 14, 2010


Here are the first French Breakfast Radishes from my garden. I like them because of their pleasing shape and two-tone colors. I'm told they are eaten with a bit of salt and with bread and butter. I got a small crop, but now that I know how they grow, I'll pack the next batch in tighter. They are delicious, softer than their round American cousins and not as peppery.

Last Tuesday, my old friend Jean-Francoise took me to lunch to celebrate my upcoming 60th birthday because he is in France for five weeks. He selected Wildwood in the Northwest section of the city. Wildwood has been open for something like sixteen years and its arrival signalled Portland's entry as a foodie town. Though the original chef, Cory Schreiber has been gone some five plus years, the restaurant still is highly esteemed for its outstanding Pacific Northwest cooking. The ingredients of its fine menu are local, and the menu is both familiar and eclectic. The day we dined there, the weather was balmy and we decided to sit outside. The only thing I didn't love about the meal was the waiter. He had that supercilious, know-it-all attitude as though he were serving rubes. He simply had to tell us how intelligent our wine choice was, and then tell me my entree was very, very special, when the description on the menu was detailed and clear. It was condescending--the kind of service that gives good restaurants a snobby reputation.

Indeed my entree was very good, and seemed to me to be highly original. It was written out in some detail: Creamed Morels with Outback Farms Asparagus, Crispy Groundwork Organic Potatoes and Arugula. What arrived was a shallow bowl of morels in a cream sauce with sliced cooked asparagus and topped by these tiny slices of very small potatoes that weren't exactly crispy. Perhaps they had been roasted. Then the whole dish had a layer of baby arugula, which seemed to be very lightly dressed with oil and vinegar. There was a dollop or two of, what I later learned was, arugula pesto. The dish had a wonderful fragrance, and tasted rich. The morels had just a bit of resistance with slight crunch and faint bitterness of the asparagus to offset the richness of the sauce (a reduced cream with butter and vegetable stock?). The potatoes provided another layer of depth to this delightful dish with the peppery arugula adding some zing, along with the pleasing flavor of the pesto. I had a glass of what I thought was an Adelsheim Pinot Noir Rose. Excellent.

The last time I was at Wildwood was also for lunch and I remember I had the excellent beer batter fish and chips. This was an altogether different experience. I look forward to eating there again soon.

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