An Idaho Foodie Feasting in Portland

Years ago, a former TV colleague of mine told me she and her husband planned their vacations around food events throughout the country.

I thought, ‘that sounds downright ridiculous!’

Fast-forward a decade or so and here I am. Sitting in an RV headed west to Feast Portland for what I call four days of delicious debauchery. Holy hell am I excited, and salivating, and prepping my belly and mind for the culinary overload that awaits.

(Feast Portland is the flagship food and drink festival in the Pacific Northwest, capturing the current energy and enthusiasm driving America’s food revolution. Feast showcases local culinary talent and Oregon ingredients, alongside nationally recognized chefs and influencers during a four-day celebration. At the heart of the festival is a mission to end childhood hunger in Oregon and in our country. A state where food is so plentiful should not also rank as one of the hungriest in the nation. This is part of the four-day dynamic exchange of ideas, inspiration and dialogue Feast Portland creates with food enthusiasts from Oregon, across the U.S. and around the globe.)

Granted, we’ve been building up to this point. Every road trip we embark on and extended weekend or flight somewhere new involves me seeking out hidden gems to dine and imbibe at and often, to digitally archive and share the bounty. From exploring the Snake River wine country* to hitting up foodie festivals in Sun Valley * to signing up for locavore excursions – we explore our backyard then take the culinary curiosity beyond. I’m a firm believer in food porn and foodgasms – and I’m sure this weekend will deliver.

So here’s what we are going to experience at Feast Portland:

Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting
Portland’s “living room,” Pioneer Courthouse Square, transforms into the city’s dining room for two days as dozens of the region’s most celebrated wineries, breweries, vendors, and artisans take over Downtown Portland’s most prime real estate for the festival’s premiere daytime event. Experience the scene, meet the chefs you’ve read about, discover the best Oregon wines and craft beers, and enjoy cooking demonstrations from celebrated chefs like Chris Cosentino, Jenn Louis, and Gabriel Rucker at the KitchenAid Main Demo Stage. (FULL lineup)

Night Market presented by Snake River Farms
Extra excited for this since it is presented by Idaho’s fantastic Snake River Farms
Join locally and nationally renowned chefs as they transform Portland’s historic Ecotrust building into the nation’s liveliest outdoor celebration of global street food. Called the nation’s best event of its kind by Food Republic, the Feast Portland Night Market is imbued with the spirit of the great bazaars of Southeast Asia and the Latin world. Enjoy a who’s who of Oregon craft beer, wine, and spirits to fuel an experience that embodies the sights, sounds, and smiles of a world culinary journey. (FULL lineup)

Class: Modern Sauces with Martha Holmberg
Mix Magazine founding editor and James Beard nominated author Martha Holmberg will teach you how to make five sauces that will change your life. No, really, they will. She’ll not only demonstrate the recipes, but will explain the underlying techniques so that you can have a better chance of success in your own kitchen. Sauces include classic vinaigrette, beurre blanc, dried red chile sauce, crème anglaise, and salted caramel sauce.

Tasting Panel: Baby Got Beer-Back
The whiskey-with-a-beer-back has a long and hallowed tradition in the watering holes of North America. Take your beer-back to the next level by discerning the best pairing for a bourbon (pilsner or pale?) or an Irish whiskey (the obvious stout). We’ve enlisted four discerning palates to share their favorite pairings and help you hone your beer-back knowledge. (FULL Lineup)

Trent Pierce and Sarah Simmons with Domaine Serene

Source: FeastPortland

Dinner: Trent Pierce and Sarah Simmons with Domaine Serene
Called “Oregon’s finest seafood restaurant” by The Oregonian, Trent Pierce has taken life aquatic to new heights at Roe, the 30-seat restaurant in the backroom of Wafu, his Japanese izakaya. Pierce joins the professional in guest chef pairing, Sarah Simmons of the New York culinary salon, City Grit for an exciting evening of innovation and collaboration, with wines by Domaine Serene.

Basic Pig Butchery with Camas Davis

Source: FeastPortland

Class: Basic Pig Butchery with Camas Davis
Without a doubt, the event I’m most looking forward to, due to my love of sausage-making, charcuterie, and cutting things up. AND – a Meat Collective? Think I have my next idea for a Boise business.
Learn the lost art of home butchery from French and American-trained Camas Davis, founder and owner of the Portland Meat Collective. Split sides of pork into primals using the techniques of seam butchery and then learn how to cut those primals into subprimals like ribs, tenderloins, hams, chops, and coppas. Students will also learn how to cook and cure every single part of the animal. At the end of this very hands-on class, students will gather together over locally made charcuterie and wine.

*Disclosure: My agency Red Sky works with the Idaho Wine Commission and has previously worked with the Sun Valley Harvest Festival. FULL disclosure, had we not worked with them – I still would have happily dined, imbibed and mangia’ed)

Favorite Mangia Moments: Idaho Foodie in Argentina

Two weeks back from a 6-week trip of a lifetime in Argentina, and my stomach is still in recovery. From eating two large meals a day, from spending a minimum of two hours at lunch and three at dinner, from courses that were meals in themselves, from meat and cheese and pasta…oh my!

I have a slew of foodie photos and memories in my tummy and soul – here is a somewhat random collection of favorite plates and mangia  moments and mangia.

First course: First things first, the lovely tradition of pre-eating as I fondly referred to it – the antipasto platters that rivaled what my NYC Italian relatives served. Cured and raw and smoked meats of every shape and size – from both carne & cerdo (favorites included chorizo, chorizo colorado, morcilla and cheese of course




Empanadas: And the half-moon morsels of awesomeness (aka empanadas) So common in every part of Argentina where we visited, but so memorable. Until I return to Argentina, I’ll have to get my fill at Tango’s Empanadas in Boise


Pasta: What many people who haven’t been to Argentina may find surprising is the large Italian influence on the culture – particularly the food. It was my favorite surprise of the trip as I indulged (ahem, binged) on every piece of pasta put before me. The majority of it fresh. And there is nothing like fresh pasta. I had the wonderful opportunity to visit one of the Fabrica de Pastas that are prevalent in every town. A simple, but spectacular, plate of homemade spaghetti at the lovely Gringo Viejo was my favorite pasta moment. Other favorites were raviolis, their bigger cousins sorrentinos, cannelonis and of course – gnocchis. Heck, there is even a Gnocchi day EVERY MONTH in Argentina -  Dia de Ñoquis . << cue sigh of happiness>>





Carrots: Have to admit, we didn’t consume a lot of vegetables while in Argentina. Though by far the most popular vegetables we were served were Argula salad and carrots – shredded carrots to be specific ( Ensalada de Zanahoria) with hard-boiled eggs, with vinegar, with beets, or just plain. I’m now a fan.



Milanesa: Definitely my new obsession. Argentina kick’s America’s butt in the breaded steak category. These baked breadedcuts of meat (veal & otherwise) are the Italianized version of our chicken fried steak. But oh so much more delicious. Most homes we stayed in served it up at lunch at least once, then leftovers in sandwiches were equally mouthwatering. Slathered in cheese, with jamon and tomatoes. Delish





Dulce: The sweets, oh my the sweets. While ‘dulce de leche’ is the official mascot of Argentina – my heart belongs to their helado. Best. Damn. Ice Cream. In. The. World. Creamy and full of flavor, and offering of course 15 different types of dulce-flavored goodness. Every town had helado shops on nearly every block. AND you could get kilos delivered to your house by moto. Heaven. Of course, pastries filled with membrillo (quince paste) and alfajores were amazing as well. Dulce addictions galore.




The Gringo Viejo: Idaho Foodie in Argentina


While we have had fantastic lunches and dinners at restaurants across Argentina, one of my favorite out-of-home dining experiences was at the enchanting El Gringo Viejo, Restaurante Rural in Coronel Suarez.

Now, in Argentina gringo means something a bit different. It is a colloquialism for Italians and that large population that makes up a portion of the population and culture here are referred to as gringos/gringas – at least out in the campo(country).

The Gringo Viejo was an amazing down home Italian family meal in a house at the end of a dirt road. The chef, his wife and daughter prepared us handcrafted pastas and cheese and delicious home-cured salami and chorizo.

In other words – heaven on a plate.

Fiesta in the Bakery: Idaho Foodie in Argentina


I’ve been drooling over all of the quaint panaderias (bakeries) that are prevalent on every block across Argentina.

During our brief stay in the coastal town of General Madariaga (The Gaucho City) we got to experience a family birthday party in the back of one of the shops. Of course I had to snap some shots of the brick pastry oven, wooden tools and all-around-bakery-yumminess

We ate birthday lunch at the amusingly high bakery table, enjoyed birthday cake with layers of light merengue, and of course – I had to pose with a jug of my new addiction – dulce de leche :-)

Bring On The Pasta: Idaho Foodie in Argentina


On of the great friends we met in Coronel Suarez, Argentina was Eliana Alebuena. She is the youngest member of the Rotary club there, the President-elect AND runs her family’s pasta factory. You can probably guess why I thought she was so great :-)

Now, the word factory makes it sound automated and cold – and La Bolognesa Fabrica de Pastas Frescas was anything but. Friendly wonderful pasta craftsman creating empanada wrappers, spaghetti, sorrentinos and gnocchi … Ah gnocchi!


Argentina’s Amazing Asado: Idaho Foodie in Argentina


Of all the foodie experiences I was salivating over when prepping for Argentina, asado was at the top of the list.

In America, people debate over whether Kansas City, Texas or Carolina BBQ is best. In Argentina – they know their barbecue is the best in the world (sorry US :-) Their pride is palpable with most homes having their own Asado setup in the back of the house and the cooking of Asado being a celebration of family & friends coming together for hours of socializing.

The ultimate breaking bread.

We had some Asado at a roadside restaurant – Choripaso – on our way from Buenos Aires to Santa Rosa. But true Asado is had in the homes of Argentines – and I was giddy when my hosts in Trenque Lauquen treated me to a night I won’t forget.

Luis Armando and his wife Silvina Tressilo were the epitome of warmth and hospitality and showed me every step of the process.

Photos are pretty self explanatory – but the essence of what I learned:
- Tranquilo, Tranquilo, Tranquilo – you must relax, be patient and chill out to make Asado. It’s a lesson Luis repeated often as I frantically danced around the grill. Great meals take time (in this case – about two hours)
- Meat doesn’t need much more than steady heat and a dose of salt to showcase its true flavors. I have yet to see frozen meat in any of the homes here and I believe the quality, freshness and origin of the beef is key to the great asados we’ve had. (I’m kicking myself for not getting a photo of the beef truck I saw parked in front of a carneceria with sides of cows hanging from hooks)
- Variety is the spice of life. Like many meals – there is a pre-meal of antipasti (cheese and chorizo and morcilla and bread) and various cuts of meat from the grill – sausage, ribs, loin, along with various salads and red wine of course. I need to find a good link to an article a out the various cuts of meat featured in Asado.
- You’ve got to have good wood. Seriously. You need dry, dense wood to create the crucial coals needed for the slow cooking of the Asado.
- Pace yourself. Deciding to enjoy Asado is a time commitment. And with our often-obnoxious pace of life in the US, embracing time commitments with friends and family is something we could do a bit more of.

I asked my friend Luis for his thoughts on why Asado is so important in Argentina. In summary, he shared:
‘It is traditional because it became from the gauchos who ate it while they were traveling long distances. To have Asado is one of Argentina’s traditions and the meat is so fantastic because of the open pastures the cows feed on. Asado is more than meat though, because you drink mate while preparing it and it is a time to get together with friends and family. ‘

- Jess

An Idaho Foodie In Argentina


For six weeks, I’ve taken my foodie urges south, way south, to the land of carne y vino – Argentina.

I’m here as part of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange, where a team of Idaho professionals travels for four weeks to multiple cities in a country on a vocational and cultural exchange. We are traveling across the La Pampa & Buenos Aires provinces, hitting 7 cities in 4 weeks. Then I will extend my stay for 14 days to spend time in Buenos Aires, Colonia, Uruguay and Iguazu Falls.

And my stomach has come along for the ride :-)

For the past week+ I’ve been the crazy American taking photos of everything she is eating and drinking. I plan to post individual blogs about my favorite experiences, but just to highlight a few foodie things I already love about Argentina:

- Dulce de leche (need I say more?)
- Vino at dinner AND lunch
- Love of pasta, there is even a ‘Day of the Gnocchi’ every month on the 29th
- The art of the asado (a blog to come, but a photo below of my awesome hosts in Trenque Lauquen teaching me asado)
- Helado (aka ice cream) that is beyond delicious. AND, they deliver it to your door via moto. Hells yes.
- Pre-feasting. A term I’ve coined for the spread of chorizo and cheese and bread that comes before lunch and dinner
- Carne is king. Heck, Argentina is the #1 country for the amount of meat consumed per capita :-)
- Meals as the social center of the day. I love how people come together over food here. Meals last for hours and young and old alike truly ‘break bread’ and spend time with each other.

More to come – but a few photos to share.
- Jess

Foodie Finds in Utah

A long-delayed post about the foodie finds we stumbled across on our Tour d’ Utah at the end of November. And by stumble, I mean found thanks to Foursquare, Yelp, and recommendations from friends on Twitter, Facebook & by a good old fashioned, "You MUST go there!"

First up, the Italian joint, Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli in Salt Lake. 
They had me at??? cheese cave. It’s one of just a few in the whole country and replicates the perfect environment for aging cheese. (Puts my thoughts of using my tiny wine fridge for aging homemade cheese to shame.) Needless to say ??? 200+ farmstead cheeses from around the world. Pure cheesy heaven.
And what’s a slew of cheese without charcuterie. They have their own Salume Maker, "With over 14 types of proscuitti and dozens of salami, including those made by the house salame maker, Cristiano Creminelli, Caputo’s can claim the best cured meat selection in Utah and, possibly, in America. Cristiano’s family has been hand making salame for over 400 years and their salumificio (salame shop) was named best in the entire region of Piedmont in 2006. In 2007, he came to Caputo’s to make all natural salame with all natural Utah pork. Already, he has garnered many local and national awards for his "babies," which you can watch during the curing process through the glass doors of the curing cell."
While the deli was fantastic (I had a killer meatball sub with sublime provolone) the market was what was truly breathtaking. Pastas and sauces and breads of every variety.
And, stacks of flavored, smoked and wonderful salts. We brought home some truffle salt that has been amazing on everything.

Next up, the Mexican joint. One of those ‘You HAVE TO go there!’ places that we almost skipped. It would have been a foodie miss of a lifetime if we hadn’t decided to snag dinner at Salt Lake’s Red Iguana (described as Pre-Hispanic Food Imperial Aztec Cuisine and Moctezuma’s Table) 
The New York Times did a great story on the Salt Lake institution’s decision to open a second location just blocks from its original site.
With an overwhelming number of moles to choose from, we tried their ‘mole sampler’ to decide. While they all converted the ‘I hate mole’ Kevin to a huge mole fan ??? I wound up going with Mole Poblano while Kevin tried one of their signature dishes, the Puntes de Filete a la Nortena.

Our other great find in Salt Lake was a wine & tapas joint Meditrina
Great selection of wines by the glass, cool atmosphere and yummy small plates like crab-stuffed piquillo peppers, beef tenderloin carpaccio and bulgogi pork belly ??? but the real star of the show was dessert.
Hello Drunken Oreo! Red wine soaked Oreos in a port reduction topped with vanilla bean ice cream. #Nom-worthy

And finally, one of those side of the road finds that make you smile. Moab’s Ye Ol Geezer Meat Shop. Literally, one of those places we whizzed by on the way to Canyonlands National Park that we just had to stop at to snag some dinner for the cabin grill
Two delightful ladies (one hiding behind the meat case below :-) had a wealth of knowledge and directed us to an awesome aged New York strip. Heavenly. 
Along with the homemade jerky, cured bacon and a bonus of fresh pork sausage??? we left with a stash of protein goodness. Of course, made all the better by finding people who relish in their craft and delight in sharing their foodie knowledge and passion.

8 of the Best American Small Towns for Foodies


Love when foodies get press – especially the artisans making sure fantastic food-gasms are experienced in towns large AND small. For Idahoans – at least one of these ‘best american small towns’ is just a short drive away..

AND a familiar face is getting some recognition for putting it on the small town foodie map…

“Andrae Bopp is a French Culinary Institute-trained chef who did stints in New York City and Boise before moving to Walla Walla and starting an upscale food truck called Andrae’s Kitchen. You can call, email, text or tweet to trace his curbside creations. On weekends, his mobile kitchen can be found in one of the wineries in town, of which the valley has over a hundred. If you are into those hush-hush dinners (read underground dinners), where everything from the venue to the menu is kept secret till the final hour, you may want to check out Andrae’s la porte brune but keep in mind, you didn’t hear it from me.”

Besides Walla Walla - 7 more small town foodie havens made the list.

(I miss you Andrae!)

My Enduring Queso Obsession

I recently journeyed back to the Hill Country of Texas for work, and satisfied my 12+year craving for that cheesy-deliciousness known as queso with a foodie pilgrimage to one of my all-time favorite 24-hour pit stops – Austin’s Magnolia Cafe.


And then I proceeded to shun all table manners by inhaling my first Mag Mud queso since I had the awesome ‘Jennifer Friend’s haircut’ in the late 90′s.


While the successful foodie pilgrimage satisfied me for about – oh, 3 hours – the new online search began for a way to satisfy my ongoing queso urge back here in Boise. Despite my searching & craving, I haven’t been able to find any good queso in Idaho. And heck, it’s football season! Football + Fall = Queso.

And Velveeta will not cut it.

Found some hope and inspiration courtesy HomesickTexan Lisa with her post A More Natural Chile con Queso Of course – roux is the answer to anything! (and also is the base to my family’s mac n’ cheese). So that’s on the list for Sunday game day.

And I have hope for the work & hunger leading up to this year’s Thanksgiving meal, thanks to Melissa Clark’s Good Appetite post ‘Dips to Sustain the Holiday Cook till Thanksgiving Dinner.’ It even has a bit of an Idaho angle – with inclusion of delicious chorizo as a key ingredient to this soon-to-be holiday staple Queso Fundido with chorizo, jalapeno & cilantro.