Looks like someone back East has finally heard the news that there's something going on here in Portland. And it's got nothing to do with flannel shirts and Birkenstocks and a whole lot of something to do with organic, seasonal and, dare we say, sensational food. But we knew that awhile ago with places like Higgins and Castagna and the (still-lamented) Zefiro and with people like Monique Siu, Kevin Gibson, Greg Higgins and Cathy Whims singing the praises of Northwest ingredients.
And credit is due to Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times and author of "Portland: Chefs flock to a city where food is the star, produce is stellar and real estate is cheap." He actually got over to the east side of the river (four out of his eight "emblematic restaurants" are in SE Portland), possibly a first for the Times. Though, oddly, in his wine picks he only names Brickhouse, Eyrie, Ponzi, Domaine Drouhin and some winery called Soter (that only just opened last year) as his favorite producers, most of them fairly standard, old-line picks with very expensive prices. What about Cameron, Sineann, Owen Roe, St. Innocent or J. Christopher, you might ask? Winemakers who are taking Oregon wine to the next (and often more affordable) level.
As for his restaurant picks mentioned above, they are Carafe, Clyde Common, Higgins, Ken's Artisan Pizza, Le Pigeon, Paley's Place, Pok Pok and Vindalho. While Asimov was ostensibly focusing on chefs who came to town from other places, and all could qualify as among the best in Portland, I would add Pho Van, Ciao Vito, Castagna (and Castagna Cafe), the Country Cat, Andina (talk about coming from someplace else!), Lolo and Toro Bravo, Nuestra Cocina, Three Doors Down and Alba Osteria.
Granted, the guy didn't have the whole dining section at his disposal and I know, as a writer, you have to stop at some point. And he obviously does "get it" and we should be thankful for the huge splash the article made. Plus he included the recipe for Le Pigeon's signature apricot bacon cornbread with maple ice cream. So fine. But hopefully he'll come back someday and write about the real revolution taking place here, the one that is centered around making eating locally and seasonally something that everyone knows about and can afford to do, not just foodies who eat in expensive restaurants. Now that would be worth reading about!