Kale is old news. Ramen? Totally uncool. Let’s not even broach the bagel conversation. Thankfully, 2014 has brought an upsurge of mini food trends growing inside Portland’s zeitgeisty food incubator. Below, some of 2014’s hot-button ingredients—and our favorite places to try them. Are we missing any? Let us know in the comments!
Yup. The supremely French, butter-delivery service is happening big-time in Portland. At Clyde Common, new chef Johnny Leach braises whole rabbit, stuffs it into agnolotti pillows with mascarpone, and cloaks the whole thing in a dark, aubergine sauce of earthy, acidic escargot. Soon, says Clyde’s co-owner Nate Tilden, they’ll be sourcing their escargot from a basil-fed snail rancher in California (no joke), coveted by top chefs around the country including Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.
- Escargot with egg noodles, chili marrow butter, and gremolata at Little Bird
- Escargot Sur Champ Vert with white bean, pistou cream, and fennel-garlic-leek fondu at Cocotte
2. House-Churned Butter
Churning butter isn’t just for homesteaders anymore. At his new bakery-watering hole, Trifecta Tavern, Ken Forkish cultures his cream for three days to give it a heady tang, before churning it to be spread over his expert boffo boules, levains, and baguettes.
- Brown butter at Castagna, reverse-engineered with golden, brown butter solids, emulsified into milk and re-churned, served alongside their addictive rye rolls.
- Park Kitchen’s house butter, churned with cream and funky buttermilk, and served with Ken’s Artisan Bread alongside house made butter crackers.
Sweet and distinctive, honey is no stranger to the restaurant pantry. In recent months though, honey has taken a prominent role in dishes in and around the city, like at Restaurant Beck in Depoe Bay, where chef Justin Wills cures his duck confit in bee pollen and wildflower honey from local hive, The Honey Pit. After slow-cooking the confit in duck fat, Wills pairs it with honey-pickled fennel branch, fennel fronds, and caramelized fennel bulbs— sweet, salty, and sour.
- The Hot Chick at Tiffin Asha: Pakora-fried chicken, wrapped in a dosa, rolled with pickled greens, creamy Nancy's Yogurt, and drizzled with black cardamom-infused honey.
- The open-faced Ataula Montadito at Ataula, with glistening slices of house-cured salmon over a slick of mascarpone yogurt, and coated in black truffle honey
This habit-forming Tunisian hot sauce first made a splash in Portland years ago, when John Gorham added it to his Spanish-inflected recipe book at Toro Bravo. Now it’s gone gangbusters, popping up in places like Smallwares, spicing up grilled beef tongue and crispy chickpea fritters laced with chrysanthemum.
- Kale salad with harissa vinaigrette, shaved grana padano, pepitas, and avocado at Trifecta Tavern
- Roasted Winter Vegetables, Hand Rolled Cous Cous, and Sour Cherry Harissa at Levant
5. Dolin Génépy
A sort of precursor to the popular Chartreuse, this pale green and yellow liquor has only recently become available in the United States. According to St. Jack chef Aaron Barnett, Génépy is already a hot ticket for local watering holes, including his own St. Jack Northwest. He showcases the pungent, herbaceous liquor in the Savoie Spritz, featuring Dolin Blanc infused with cucumber, Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau de Vie, sparkling wine, a dash of wormwood tincture, all garnished with thyme, grapes and cucumber (staples of the Savoie region, where Genepy is produced).