Many people in the Chicago area will remember my father Réal well. He was the longtime director of the Alliance Française. A wonderful gregarious man, very gifted at public speaking who absolutely loved food. There are two things I did not inherit from his set of genes. The first is the gift of public speaking. To speak publicly at my father’s level is an art form. He was brilliant. He could say one thing and literally mean another. I can remember one speech he gave while mad at me. He wove in some fatherly advice and a healthy dose of discipline. Not a single person in the crowd realized it. People were clapping and cheering. I was getting scolded publicly. The second was his cooking gene. Very sad about the first one. Positively giddy about the second. Quite frankly, the man could not cook at all. Or for those who knew my father well, his cooking was ‘god awful’ as he was fond of saying. I think my sister Anne inherited that gene. Thankfully my cooking gene came directly from Provence via my mother….
The sheep farmer showed up at work with a lamb head wrapped in plastic and questioned whether there was a call among the Chef community for it. It brought me back to my short stage in Joel Robuchon’s Paris kitchen in 1996. I remember a dish I was drawn to like a moth to a flame. Chef Robuchon slow braised a pig’s head and served the meat stacked artistically on a plate with baby vegetables in a mustard and tarragon sauce. Every part was utilized: the cheeks, the tongue, the ears and the brain. It encapsulated Chef Robuchon’s approach to Michelin three star cooking. Use simple, humble ingredients and elevate their stature on the plate with seemingly simple presentations. Cuisine Actuelle is what he termed his approach….
WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart, nor any vegans who may not have fully understood the title of my blog page and it’s full implications. Good Ramen is serious porky business.
I start my blog with a confession. I have been a confirmed ramen addict for several decades now. The disease shows no signs of slowing even though, for the most part, I have stopped eating gluten and pork. The addiction began in earnest as a small child left to fend for himself and forage the near empty cupboards of 1970’s America. Instant ramen noodles seemed the perfect cost effective solution for parents of constantly hungry adolescents. Any child with half a brain could boil a cup of water, open the tin foil flavor packet, drop the waxed noodles in and eat. It progressed, or degressed depending on your point of view, to high school where I put the high in high school and had the munchies that needed constant tending. Ramen was the perfect solution….
Two eggs, side by each, both facing the sun with an orange glass of juice
A Cautionary Fairy Tale of a Life Dedicated to Overindulgence and Excess
There comes a time in all our lives where we need to come to grips and embrace who we are and what we’ve become. Some are forged out of experiencing life changing traumatic events while others reluctantly accept the path they were born into. A bird is a bird and eventually it must fly, to deny the bird flight is is to deny it’s very existence. After 50 years of life on this planet I finally am coming to grips with whom I was born….
OK, it’s about time I wrote a little about the fabulous food mecca that Portland is. I haven’t lived in a city where my three main food groups, beer, coffee and pork belly, are so revered and celebrated. Scan the guide books and prepare to be amazed by the sheer number of breweries and coffee shops listed. If you look further you will soon notice how many restaurants prominently feature sexy shots of pork belly in action. You could spend your days driving down countless streets and numerous neighborhoods and still never fully see everything this amazing city has to offer. Whether you want traditional brick and mortar restaurants or the most imaginative food carts and street offerings… Food is everywhere!
Here is a partial list of where we’ve been in our quest to live life to the fullest, Bacchus Style!