FAREWELL, OLD APARTMENT
(number 66. october.)
The first “official” Secret Restaurant Portland event happened in this apartment on Garfield Avenue in inner Northeast Portland in April of 2010. Lucas and I had just graduated college the year before, and were haphazardly, but with a really pure spirit, making food for our friends. We charged $10. My roommate Jenny got wine at cost from the winery where she worked, and Lucas took the loss.
This apartment is where the majority of Secret Restaurant Portland dinners have taken place. The tiny kitchen managed to produced food for 10-course meals for 10 and 5-course meals for 50. Long after midnight, a small group of us would be left cleaning, drinking the extra wine or cocktails or both, blasting dance music from the boombox on top of the fridge, and feeling with relief like all the stress of the days leading up was worth it. Someone would be washing, someone would be drying, someone would be packing up sauces that didn't get used (or sauces that had been forgotten entirely because they were sitting on top of the dehydrator), and slowly everyone would leave or go to bed.
In 2016 Sofie and Andrew bought a house in deep southeast Portland, and began work renovating it, knowing that soon the last Northeast SR was upon us and the project would transition into a whole new zone. For this "Farewell, Old Apartment" dinner, Andrew and Lucas cooked for a small group of 12 dear friends, many of whom have graced the SR table from the beginning or at least for several years. It was perfectly nostalgic, like a good autumnal folk song you might put on a mix for someone.
Autumnal stew of trout, mussels, and cabbages
Lucas made a beautiful stock from leeks, parsley along with the trout bones and pieces after filleting, which we gently cooked fall savoy and napa cabbages in, along with a “secret cabbage” – kimchi, extracted after cooking. Mussels were cooked with white wine and their liquor added to the broth, then the trout poached gently in the soup to finish.
Banchan style fall vegetables:
For some reason, as a continuation of the “secretly Korean” theme of the meal, we were compelled to create the “suddenly the whole table is filled with little dishes! What do I do? Which one do I eat first?” effect of our favorite Korean restaurants in the suburbs, but with our classic Northwest-Eurozone-whatever flavors.
Pickled SG squash and padron peppers
We grew great little pattypan squashes! We realized if we pickled them WITH the spicy, late season padron peppers, then the spice would add to the deliciousness of the squash pickles aaaand the pickling would add to the deliciousness of the spicy peppers. Win win!
Black garlic warm potato salad with sour cream sauce
Lucas loves buying me black garlic. It’s been a thing, for years now. We made an aioli in the large mortar with whole cloves of black garlic in with the raw ones. The potatoes were tossed in it, along with a touch of cider vinegar. We made a paprika-tinged sour cream sauce, to create a vaguely Eastern European end effect.
Slaw of celeriac and red carrots
We made a classic SR-slaw, using the “As seen on TV” spiralizer, blood orange vinegar, good olive oil.
Really roasted root vegetables
A technique for roasting vegetables nicked from the Fern Verrow cookbook, where you slow roast the fall or winter root vegetables with an onion for a long time, and when everything is 3/4 of the way done, you deglaze the whole thing with citrus vinegar (in this case, the same blood orange vinegar we used for the slaw).
Foraged mushroom risotto, salad for balance
Lucas and I headed out in possibly the worst rain storm of the fall to forage the mushrooms for this dinner. There was no not-doing-it. It was too sentimental, being the last dinner in the original space and all, to not succeed in getting these mushrooms.
A sidetone, providing extraneous atmosphere: The sky was ominous as we drove out of Portland. We listened to Conor Oberst’s new, ridiculously sad solo record, just to really drive the feeling home and throwback in a sentimental way for ourselves. In October of 2004, we memorably drove up to Portland together to see Bright Eyes, and spent the time driving around screaming our lungs out along with the songs.
After a slow start, we struck gold, and ended up bringing home about 6 pounds of chanterelles– both standard and little yellowfoot winter ones! I made the stock with dried porcini mushrooms, porcini powder, and extra chanterelles.
The servings of risotto were topped with fried lemon verbena leaves. An unusual but thrilling combination, we think.
A salad of several chicories, lots of black pepper, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Each salad was served with long strips of roasted chicken of the woods mushrooms on top.
Nothing Korean whatsoever about this dish, so the theme maybe only extended for two courses.
Chicken fried brussels sprouts
& Chicken fried chicken + Pleasing parsley sauce
This was a really fun dish I made up with my friend Asher (age 11. He was a special guest at this Myrtlewood dinner earlier in the year. I have another friend named Asher, who is my age, and has been featured before at SR events– #4 and #55). I do cooking lessons with Asher, and he really wanted to learn how to make fried chicken.
I was like “Okay, we can make fried chicken– but, we have to make a vegetable too. Choose a vegetable.” To my shock and awe, he casually chose Brussels sprouts.
The idea came to me immediately. “What if we did these, breaded just like the chicken, and called them ‘Chicken Fried Brussels Sprouts’?” He was super into the idea. We made fantastic fried chicken and then just repeated the process on brussels sprouts cut in half (really good spice mix, kefir, battered again). For this SR dish, we actually borrowed Asher’s tiny KitchenAid deep fryer.
We served it with our signature delicious parsley sauce– which is just the right combination of garlic, olive oil, tons of parsley, white wine vinegar, and black pepper.
Apple & quince cakes, remarkably fancy whipped cream
I made some classic wholemeal apple and quince cakes– inspired by the way nearly all of my fall cakes are by Nigel Slater’s “wholemeal apple and marmalade cake.” This one had bits of membrillo Lucas had brought back from Spain for me cut up into it. The glass-bottle double cream was whipped with calvados and pink peppercorns– just to be remarkably fancy.