Monday, June 30, 2008

Clyde Common and the Travel Channel Film Crew!

So Sunday night, the Travel Channel crew informed us, was their night off. They "fancied" a "night on the town," and ambassadors of Portland that we are, we obliged. We decided that Clyde Common was just the place for dinner, with its lively atmosphere, long communal tables, and gastropub-esque dining experience.

Michelle, Reatha, and I had a cocktail and a glass or two of rose and a few very nice English and Irish cheeses at the bar while we waited for everyone else.

Lo and behold! Brother Elias, Executive Chef at Castagna, happened by on his bike! We told him and his girlfriend Anella to come on in, the more the merrier. Clyde Common hostess Jen graciously moved a few things around and upped our reservation.

Everyone gathered around the table, and starters began arriving.

Ben had the fish,

Bob had the lamb,

And Brian (left, Portlandian) and Alistair (right, British) had the cheesy grins. Okay, Alistair's grin wasn't that cheesy, but Brian's is.

When we realized that SUNDAY NIGHT IS HALF PRICE ON SPARKLY NIGHT at Clyde Common, the festivities rose another notch.

And finally, it was dessert and off to bed. Or the Vault, possibly, it's all a little bubbly, er, fuzzy.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

TableTalkPortland at the Zoo

"Everyone is wearing Chacos and knee-length shorts," I hissed to Michelle as she blithely maneuvered her Gimpmobile through the Oregon Zoo clutching her ticket to the sold-out Indigo Girls concert in a hot sweaty hand.

"I know," she said with a stealthy smile. "I was going to tell you not to wear those sandals when I picked you up, but I decided it would be funnier this way."

"Can't we just scalp these and go to North 45 and drink beers on the patio?" I pleaded, trying to unstick my darling blue sundress from my back. "It has to be 110 degrees out here. I'm going to pass out."

"Can't you go any faster?" Michelle griped. "We're going to end up sitting in the monkey cages."

"Maybe if I didn't have to carry the picnic basket, this massive picnic blanket and the cooler," I yelled, "I could keep up with you, Hobble! And what did you pack in this basket, gold bars?"

"Hello? I am injured?" she said calmly as we cleared the Steller Cove and Pacific Shores exhibits. "And I packed plates and silverware and wineglasses so we could eat like civilized people."

"What?!" I screamed. "You made me carry full place settings a mile from the car to the concert in Saharan conditions?!"

By the time security had separated us and retrieved Michelle's scooter and picnic basket from the Cats of the Amur Region enclosure, we didn't exactly have to sit in the monkey cages, but our vision of the stage was limited to the top two floodlights and even that was largely obscured by a double-fisted wine-loving fan who swayed hypnotically in a voluminous skirt three sizes larger than our picnic blanket and mouthed the words to EVERY SINGLE SONG the entire concert to her boyfriend, who, after about the fourth song, looked like he might rather be in the Island Pigs of Asia cage.

Fortunately, my woes were forgotten when we unveiled our stunning picnic spread. Fra 'Mani Sopressata and Green Olives with Herbs from City Market, creamy Smoked Gouda from Willamette Valley Cheese Company, a loaf of Pearl Bakery bread, sweet Rainier cherries from Baird Family Farms, fresh market tomatoes and carrots, Scharffen Berger Bittersweet chocolate and Chocolove Cherry and Almond chocolate bars, and a bottle of whatever wine they were selling in the mile-long line at the zoo ($22/bottle, includes plastic cups if your sister didn't make you lug her best crystal stemware all the way through the zoo).

Michelle cooled off with a swig of chilled white wine.

I gratefully kicked off my hateful sandals and did some yoga.

We played "Count the Chacos!"

When it got too dark to even see the lip-synching skirt girl, we amused ourselves by taking aerial photographs of ourselves. Because that is what we do.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Travel Channel Comes to Portland Farmer's Market!

Clearly recognizing hams when they see them, Portland Farmer's Market staffers Anna and Amber asked Michelle and I if we'd like to deviate from our usual Taste the Place duties for a week and undertake a Special Project last Saturday: create a "cornucopia" of a display table, showcasing all the finest bounty the Portland Farmer's Market has to offer. Why? Because the Travel Channel was coming to film a Travel Oregon segment, which meant some great exposure for the Market! Naturally, we agreed. If there's anything we like better than a)promoting Farmer's Market and b)taking pictures of ourselves, it's promoting Farmer's Market while television crews take pictures of us! It was a special mission made in TableTalkPortland heaven.

Michelle, Mom, our friend Andrea and I spent a frantic hour and a half before the Farmer's Market bell rang at 8:30 am gathering generous donations from Market vendors and arranging them artfully to create a stunning visual display. I can toot the horn here because I was the designated Intrepid Gatherer, seeing as socializing is my second favorite activity next to eating and drinking Vinho Verde, while Michelle and Andrea and Mom comprised our brilliant design team.
Andrea carefully places a piece of Viande pate on the display. See that unnaturally large piece of blurry lettuce in the lower right hand corner of this picture? Yep, that's exactly what you think it is. Michelle is pitching lettuce leaves at me as I try to chronicle this great moment in history. Whatever. 

We are finished, just in time. We see the crew walking through the market, so we quickly take 400 pictures of ourselves in front of our masterpiece.

Brother Elias dropped by to survey our work. He pronounced it superb, or something like that.

Mom's dog, Molly the Dolly, Designated Guardian of Michelle's Gimpmobile, was also a fan.

We tried to appear unimpressed when the Travel Channel crew showed up and started filming. It was hard, they were all super cute and had gorgeous English and Scottish accents, which we find sort of irresistible. Andrea crept close to "check out the camera angle." Huh.  

Dashing producer Simon Kane takes still shots of the display.

Beautiful Sis Michelle takes still shots of me taking still shots of her.

The crew moves into the center of the market and show host Alistair delivers his lines smoothly while the market buzzes around him.
Danielle, Jen and Annie drop by for a peek at the table.
The Farmer's Market crew, who are always racing around doing 1000 things at once, took a break for a moment and came together around the table! Hey, anybody know who has the voucher book?! Just kidding!

Michelle took a break for a moment too, from her busy day of hobnobbing and throwing manky cherries in my apron pockets.

The crew took a coffee break, and although we pushed them towards Cafe Velo and their divine single press Stumptown, the boys opted for Starbucks. We gave cameraman Ben Bishop a little lesson on making good shopping choices: support a massive cookie-cutter corporation or Buy Local at our amazing Portland Farmer's Market, which is filled with scrumptious, sustainable, and freshly-made products, such as this fresh loaf of delicious Pearl Bakery bread. Sound man Bob looks on, clearly wondering why these crazy American girls are making Ben eat a whole loaf of bread with his coffee.

Over at the Chef Demo stage, Beast Chef Naomi Pomeroy made a chilled pea soup with mint.

We let Molly try some, but she was not a big fan.

It was hot, so we headed over and got a few Sol Pops. We love the innovative flavors, like Apple Cider Strawberry and Mango Lime.

As the market wound down, we sadly dismantled the display table. It was an amazing day. We can't wait to see the Travel Channel show. Stay tuned to to find out when it airs!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

TableTalkPortland Emcees the Ecotrust Chef Demo TONIGHT!!

OMG WHAT NOW indeed...we've got exciting news here at TableTalkPortland!

The regular MC couldn’t make it to the Chef Demo Thursday at the Ecotrust Building, so Amber asked us if we’d take his place! Oh my! We are going to go shopping with Chef Alfred Popp of Popp and Company Catering and Events to get fresh market ingredients for his recipe, and then we will be emceeing his demonstration! Michelle gets the mike, I get a headset and a bottle of gin. Just kidding! We intend to be fully sober for this landmark event. I must admit, I have been watching the Farmer’s Market demos faithfully for three years now, and I have always wanted to be the emcee. We are so excited we are drinking Hendricks straight from the bottle right now. I mean, we are watching Iron Chef reruns and making small delighted noises everytime show host Alton Brown says anything, because basically, we’re like, peers now.

You simply MUST COME and see Chef Alfred Popp and TableTalkPortland at the Ecotrust Farmer’s Market, TONIGHT, Thursday, June 26, at 6 pm. Need further incentive? It’s “Berry Days,” and Chef Popp will be making Berry Meringues for the crowd to sample. Who can resist Berry Meringues? And really, who can resist watching Michelle hobble around with the Chef Demo microphone?!

Be sure to mark your calendars this Saturday as well, when the Travel Channel comes to PSU Farmer's Market! They will be filming a special Travel Oregon segment highlighting our BELOVED FARMER’S MARKET!! And we will be there at the crack of dawn on special assignment--creating a display highlighting the best that the Market has to offer! Michelle, myself, Mom, and our friend Andrea will be gathering items graciously donated by market vendors and tapping our inner food stylists to build the display before the market bell rings at 8:30 am, then the Travel Channel will be filming the display and interviewing people in front of come on down for your shot at being immortalized on the Travel Channel! 

Hope to see you tonight and Saturday!!

Portland Farmer's Market Berry Days at Ecotrust!

It was all about berries at the Thursday's Portland Farmer's Market Berry Days! Sticky little berry-stained fingers reached delightedly into pints of just-picked strawberries and fat red raspberries, lines of berry-feverish shoppers waited for free samples of strawberry shortcake, and strawberry lemonade Sol Pops left trails of bright pink drips leading the way from stall to stall like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs.

TableTalkPortland was thrilled to be in the middle of it all, literally, emceeing the Chef in the Market demonstration set up in the center of the market. Michelle and I assisted Chef Alfred Popp, owner of Popp and Company Catering and Events, as he demonstrated how to create crunchy-luscious little Strawberry Meringues in minutes.

Chef Popp and his partner and wife Dorcas Popp were kind enough to provide us with the recipe for this tantalizing little dessert, which is the perfect dinner party finale--simple, elegant, impressive, and of course, delicious.

Popp and Company Catering * * 2420 SE Belmont * 503.233.8121

Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and marionberries may be substituted for the strawberries in this airy dessert.

4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 1/2 teaspoons orange juice
2 cups strawberries

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Spread unglazed paper on a baking sheet.

Begin beating the egg whites. Add the vinegar and vanilla as the mixture becomes frothy. When the egg whites become foamy, gradually add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in the oats lightly.

Make 8 mounds on meringue on the paper-covered baking sheet, using a spoon to hollow out the centers and build up the sides in the form of shells. Bake for 45 minutes, or until done (they will be dry and very lightly browned) Let cool briefly and then turn onto a serving tray. Cool thoroughly before filling.

Combine the whipped cream and orange juice, then fold in berries.

Divide equally among the cooked meringues, mounding the filling attractively.

--Makes 8 large tarts or 20 small ones.

Just before the demo, to fortify ourselves against a potential attack of stage fright, Michelle, Leigh and I sat down with Hot Lips wine guy Ryan to taste a few Pinot Gris' and my personal favorite, Vinho Verde, a light, slightly sparkly Portuguese white wine that is the very essence of summer. We had no idea up until now that Hot Lips features a selection of complementary wines every Thursday market for sampling. How nice. And Ryan is great company.

I stubbornly clung to my love for the Broadbent Vinho Verde, but everyone else preferred the admittedly stunningly labeled Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris, 2007. Bottled by Willamette Valley's Van Duzer Vineyards, this lovely wine is processed in stainless steel barrels and has a clean, mineral quality with notes of pineapple, stone fruit, and star fruit.

Michelle and I had a fantabulous time at Berry Days, and Leigh captured THIS BIT OF VIDEO so you can see Michelle manhandling the Chef in the Market demo microphone like a future Food Network Star.

Strawberry meringues, Vinho Verde, and Chef demo stardom...could summer get any better than this? We think not. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

The TableTalkPortland SHARE DIET

It all started last Monday night at the Living Room Theatre. All movies are $5 on Monday nights, and we headed in to see The Band's Visit, which was a beautiful and moving film with a very tasty violinist character. Also very tasty was the crab panini, thick slices of brioche held a mixture of fresh Dungeness crab mixed with red peppers and briny olives and capers, and escorted by a cluster of lightly dressed organic spring lettuce mix. Michelle and I shared the panini as part of our revolutionary new TABLETALKPORTLAND SHARE DIET! See, we love to eat, and we are fiercely anti-deprivation. But we also love to look smashing in our matching zebra print string bikinis, so some sort of dietary compromise had to be struck. Thus we consulted with a crack team of dieticians, nutritionists and fitness experts to develop the TABLETALKPORTLAND SHARE DIET! Actually we came up with the idea whilst watching The Barefoot Contessa and trying to throw Godiva truffles into each other's mouths from across the living room, but whatever. The TABLETALKPORTLAND SHARE DIET is excruciatingly simple: We share everything we eat, and that way, we can eat whatever we want. So simple!

We can drink whatever we want too! We just share it! So, we shared a bottle of the house sparkling wine ($23), which the Living Room Theaters staff will bring right into the theatre for you. It is better than home, because at home I have to pause the movie every 20 minutes to get my own bubbly.

The theatre bubbly was lovely, a crisp fresh sparkling wine from California, I guess I would have written the name down had Michelle not chucked the bottle at someone in the front row when their cell phone rang during one of the emotionally tense skating rink scenes.

I guess the Living Room Theatre wanted to support us wholeheartedly in our SHARE DIET endeavors, because they only brought us one napkin, so we ripped it in half and shared that too.

When the movie concluded, we were reluctant to go home, so we went across the street to Clyde Common. It was a beautiful night, the clouds almost unrealistically white and ripply soft in the summer sky. Michelle was moved to throw her arms out and say a little prayer. Me too, and mine was: Dear God, Please let Michelle behave herself in Clyde Common because we are still on probation from my birthday party night, when someone lit a boa on fire and someone else became a little ill in the bathroom. Eeek! Amen.

Inside Clyde Common, we claimed our favorite perch, the row of stools by the front window, and surveyed the bustling dining room and bar. Our favorite bartender Charlie came over and we ordered a bottle of the House sparkling wine ($22) to SHARE, as part of the TABLETALKPORTLAND SHARE DIET. Charlie kindly agreed to go outside and take our picture through the window. I am sure that everyone will find it as amusing as I did that the black print on the window makes Michelle look like she's missing a few teeth. Michelle was peevish about this and threatened to erase the picture, so I promised to Photoshop it out. I don't actually know how to Photoshop stuff out, so I will just hope she doesn't read this posting.

Michelle took off her boot to let her broken foot relax, but to preserve its gimpy privacy, we covered it with a Clyde Common drink menu.

Our wine came and we got down to official business, conducting our Monday night TableTalkPortland editorial meeting. Here is a copy of our agenda:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Did someone take minutes? I sure didn’t. What are minutes anyway? They sound boring!

a) Success: When we managed between the two of us, to SHARE three Queen of Sheba chocolate cakes at Pix the other night.
b) Failure: When Michelle went to the restroom at Bar Mingo Saturday night and the lock got stuck and in the ensuing delay of her reappearance Jen accidentally drank the whole bottle (NOT SHARING) of Vernaccia, a light, crisp, slightly effervescent Italian white. I was just so worried and stressed by the situation, okay?


a) Belly Timber b) Little T American Baker c) Le Pigeon


It was a productive meeting. We didn't actually address anything on our agenda, we never do, but we DID spot wonderful Ken Forkish of Ken's Artisan Bakery eating a salad at the bar (shouldn't he have been eating pizza up at Ken's Artisan Bakery? Monday is Pizza Night!)

THEN we found out that our blog hits had once again taken a significant jump, which we were incredibly excited about. THEN I looked in the mirror and saw my hair, which looked terrible. Michelle didn't even bother to tell me I had pea shoot tendrils poking out all over the place. What a sister!

She thought it was funny.

I became despondent.

So, we called it a night.