IT IS A TESTAMENT to this city’s status that when I started telling people I was relocating to Portland not one of them said, “You’re moving to Maine?” All due respect to the land of lobsters, but even east of the Mississippi the Portland that resonates seems to be this one. Portland is the kind of place people move to simply because they want to live here, which just cannot be said about most towns. (When’s the last time you heard, “If I don’t move to Des Moines soon, I’ll die”?)

Of everything I heard I’d love about Portland—the music, the art, the unpretentiousness, the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest—the food got just as much love. By now it’s no secret the city’s burgeoning restaurant reputation has captured a not insignificant place in the country’s culinary imagination (not to mention plenty of newsprint). Lucky for us, we can do more than simply read about it. World-class food is a walk or a pedal or a MAX ride away.

For starters, we can recommend the restaurants profiled in this, our annual Best Restaurants cover story. By the time I joined Portland Monthly, in late September, the issue was well under way. And it may be the best welcome a newcomer could want, starting a new job by reading about sautéed coho salmon in crawfish cream, chanterelles, and corn; lamb braised with apricots and coriander; and organic broccoli gratin in Gouda cream and a garlic-herb crust. Camas Davis, our managing editor and food doyenne, who reported and wrote the package, even made me want to taste fried duck feet. You’ll find such surprises throughout her feature, including meals that in Davis’s words make us want to “go home, turn on our ovens, and pull out our cookbooks”—an almost irresistible feeling this time of year.

Along with food we’ve got flimflam: a bizarre story about the largest financial scam ever prosecuted in Oregon. Nancy Rommelmann tells what may be the definitive tale of master swindler Gilbert Ziegler, aka Van Brink, formerly of Hillsboro—a story involving phony banks, false promises, the fictional Dominion of Melchizedek, and—wait for it—a 10,000-carat ruby carved in the shape of a boy riding a water buffalo. Now tell me you don’t want to read that.

You may never have heard of Ziegler, but surely you’ve heard of The Shack, that little best-selling phenomenon that’s got Christians worldwide in a frenzy. In The Gospel of Paul, contributing writer Zach Dundas profiles the book’s author, William P. Young of Gresham, whose path to literary fame began partly with notes jotted while taking the MAX line into downtown.

In a way, all of these pieces are about faith—in taste, in fortune, in redemption. Like my newly adopted city, they’ve got a little bit of everything.

Paige Williams
Editor in Chief