(early april. number 29)
I plant the photograph
of our sun-smeared faces,
to live in the ferns
- JaNeill Weseloh
April is one of the most exciting times to cook in Portland. The variety of cultivated and wild foods available at this time makes for complex, refreshing, and elegant dishes. This dinner was the first to feature fresh pasta created with aid of my new stand mixer pasta attachments, and the rest of the menu sort of wrote itself.
Photography by Nolan Calisch
Onion, blanched stinging nettles (wildcrafted by us near the Sandy River the previous morning), galangal root, stock, zest & juice of limes, cayenne, black pepper. Bright, deep, earthy, nourishing.
Curious Spring Salad
Wild gathered minor's lettuce (sold by one of the mushroom vendors at farmer's market), chickweed (same situation, vegetable vendor), and more-like-embryo-than-baby bok choy (totally farmed by someone. Also of note: wilted, then cooled). Tossed with black sesame seeds and a sesame/tahini/etc sort of dressing. We roasted white elf mushroom with butter and garlic, then tossed the torn bits like pieces of chicken around with the greens.
Nettle Fettuccine with Dungeness Crab Sauce, Broiled Raab + Blood Orange Gastrique
The same batch of wildcrafted nettles (only for this Lucas painstakingly removed the stems), made into a simple green pasta dough similar to spinach fettuccine. The noodles were topped with pieces of freshly cooked crab meat from Newman's Fish Co. We made a classic béchamel sauce to pour over, which we incorporated "crab mustard" (often unused parts dug out of crab claws, etc) into. We made a medley of different spring raab/rapini from Persephone Farm, blanched them, dressed them with salt & pepper and a little oil, then broiled them to get a little crispy. Served with a blood orange gastrique (sauce made by reducing a pint glass of freshly juiced fruit to a near-caramel, then deglazing with white wine vinegar). The brightness of this sauce was absolute magic contrasting the heavy main dish.
Special grandiose statement: The cooks found this main dish to be one of the best plates we've ever created.
Shortcake, Rhubarb Ice Cream, Strawberry Sandwich
All credit here due to Hannah McDevitt. Shortcake made with a hint of lemon, split open to create a sort of biscuit sandwich. The fluffiest. most luscious textured ice cream you can imagine– tangy but sweet and utterly astounding. Topped with some shockingly good organic strawberries from California that we found and took a chance on.
Served with a bottle of deep rosé.