This morning Wifey and I went to the World Forestry Center in southwest Portland for a benefit for p:ear, an organization focusing on mentoring transitional and homeless youth (basically they teach job skills to those who need the education and turn them into contributing members of society while helping them stand on their own two feet).
That's a great cause, but the real honest reason we bought tickets was for the food. Sponsored by Portland Monthly magazine, the Country Breakfast brought together four top chefs to produce dishes in that theme. (There were also five bartenders doing a bloody mary challenge which we did not buy tickets for because neither of us can stand them.)
There was also a country band, plenty of picnic tables and tables to stand at, sponsorship from Google Places, coffee from Three Sisters Coffee (check them out in Sisters, OR - good stuff), and yogurt from Sunshine Dairy.
For those wondering, yes, this is an odd way to spend a Sunday morning considering my previous post, but in my defense the tickets were bought before the epiphany. If I hadn't already bought them we probably wouldn't have gone, because for damn sure this was not healthy and not on my diet. I consumed way too many calories, but if we take Misaki for a long walk this afternoon maybe I will be allowed to eat dinner. Maybe.
Our first stop was to check out Chef Chris Carriker of The Gilt Club, a restaurant we haven't been to yet.
Sounds nice, doesn't it? Check out the spread:
Here's the catch: you only get to choose one of those four things. Lame. I chose the cherry strudel (stuffed with cherries as well as cherry sauce on top) with a small scoop of creamy foie gras on top.
The pastry was very well done and the cherry sauce was excellent. Wifey thought it was a tad sweet because she prefers savory flavors for breakfast, but I thought it worked. But the foie? It literally tasted like nothing but butter and didn't fit the rest of the dish. It was just there to be foie, not to add anything.
Wifey chose morcilla sausage benedict.
Did you know that's a Latin American version of blood sausage? We had no idea until we Googled it later and neither of us had ever had blood sausage. Guess what? It was damn tasty (tastes nothing like blood). The egg was the consistency of jelly and unfortunately none of the rest of the dish stood up to the sausage.
Both plates were good eating, but it almost seemed like there was too much going on and perhaps too many dishes. Or maybe we watch way too much Top Chef...
Next up was Chef Jenn Louis of Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern.
Here was the biscuit and gravy.
Louis' biscuit and gravy is fantastic, but it looks a little sad on the plate, doesn't it? We loved the flavors, but there just wasn't anything special here. Perhaps we think that because we've eaten twice at Sunshine Tavern (and will recommend it to anyone who asks). Or, maybe we watch too much Top Chef.
Next up was Chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana and Oven & Shaker (two of our favorites, long-time blog readers will recognize).
This dish had a ton of potential and looked very pretty.
Under the polenta is the egg and a layer of parmagiano, but surprisingly the overall dish was just a tad bland, as if the flavors fought rather than complementing each other. Neither of us would order this dish were it on the menu though. (It's worth noting neither Nostrana or O&S have a breakfast or brunch menu.)
Last up was Chef Gregory Gourdet of Departure. Gourdet was recently named Portland's hottest chef (not in a rising star kind of way, though he is, but actually hot). I think the fact that exists is kind of odd and even odder is the fact I know about it. Whatever. (By the way, the pic in that link is on the patio of Departure, which has one of the best happy hour views in the city.)
That sounds pretty tasty, doesn't it?
It was - very. The biscuit was excellent, the chicken fried up just right while not being greasy, and the kimchee mayo and slaw were excellent. Loved this. The smoothie was pretty tasty as well and matched it nicely. It is apparently time for us to go to Departure for dinner.
At the end of the meal we were both pretty full (okay, I was stuffed). And yes, my completely ballpark estimate on calories is "a shitload," but it was a good time. Our vote that is completely meaningless for the best dish goes to Gourdet.
What did we learn?
1 - We need to go to Departure.
2 - p:ear is a good program.
3 - We watch too much Top Chef. (shrug)