[Ben sez]: While wandering the streets of Portland trying to choose between the myriad of excellent restaurant choices it occurred to me that I really haven't been eating enough butter and fat. I also realized that my level of foie gras intake has been dangerously low as of late and I would be taking a major risk if I continued to live the life of brown rice, black beans, and other "healthy foods" which I have been recklessly engaged in since my return from the Orient. I needed a decadent meal, and fast!
For a taste of the fancy side of Portland I found "Le Pigeon" (American pronunciation of pigeon on that) where a culinary school drop-out is using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients to make amazing French-influenced food that is to die for (possibly from a pork fat or duck fat overdose). With a reservation, an empty stomach, and a goal of indulgence I sat down for dinner with Jenny, my guide to all things Portland food and wine.
Foie Gras PB&J
I had checked the menu online before arriving and couldn't decide on an appetizer. This was cured when the menu was placed on our table and I saw "Foie Gras PB&J" at the bottom of the list. I wasn't sure what it meant, but I was pretty sure we had to order it. What came out was two pieces of white bread filled with a foie gras paté, heavily buttered and tossed on a griddle. Lightly browned, this sandwich was placed a top a layer of strawberry-thyme jam and surrounded by crushed peanuts. The creamy pate definitely elevated this above the pb&j that mom used to make (no offense mom), and while the thyme-infusion of the jam was sadly imperceptible to me, I was deeply sad that this sandwich was gone so quickly.
Quail and Foie Gras Ravioli
For my entreé I ordered Quail with Foie Gras Ravioli. These two cute little birds came out stuffed with creamy spinach and currants atop a pair of ravioli filled with more foie gras paté. This dish featured a "deconstructed sauce," oil on the plate mixing with the fat from the foie gras and the cream portion of the spinach, combining their forces to create an excellent sauce for the lightly flavored quail meat.
Swine and Scallops
My partner in culinary crime ordered the "Swine and Scallops," pork jowl and scallops with pearl onions and asparagus in a smoked pork fat hollandaise. I'd never had jowl before, which I now think is a horrible oversight in my life to this point, it was like a cross between thick cut bacon and pork belly. The scallops were great, I'm normally not a huge fan of this particular item, but compared to the saltiness of the pork the scallops tasted sweet, lightening up this otherwise salty, smoky, porky dish. The real magic here however was the hollandaise sauce made with smoked pork fat - oh the glory! In every bite the smokiness and delicious pork fat flavor came through, it might sound excessive, and maybe it is, but a little excess never hurt anybody, right?
Profiteroles with Foie Gras Ice Cream
After having foie gras in the first two courses it seemed like it would be negligent of us to not order it for dessert when presented with the option. Glorious paté a choux puffs sliced open, filled with foie gras ice cream and drizzled with a rich caramel sauce. I don't know how to describe this besides rich, decadent, and delicious. Upon taking the first bite I think my friend temporarily transcended this plane of existence, living for a short while in a dimension of pure, foie gras-induced bliss.
[Nate sez]: Ben told me about this brilliant abomination over the phone. I kicked myself thrice for not having thought of it myself. Not that foie would have made it into a damned ice cream machine if it anywhere near my greedy hands...Speaking of which, I'm going to be late for my cardiology appointment.
Bacon and Apricot Cornbread with Homemade Maple Ice Cream
My dessert of choice combined two of my favorite flavors - bacon and maple. A thick piece of bacon, apricot cornbread topped with a big scoop of homemade maple ice cream with little chunks of bacon scattered around it, all in a pool of maple syrup and bacon fat. The sweet cornbread was balanced by the salty bacon, with an occasional burst of flavor from the chunks of apricot suspended within. It was so amazing that once we had consumed every morsel of cornbread and every drop of ice cream I couldn't keep from licking the plate. As I was dragging my tongue across the bacon-maple residue on the plate the chef stepped over to our table to thank me for my actions, apparently licking the plate is the biggest compliment there is. I don't know why he was thanking me though, I just showed up and ate the amazing food.