Friday, April 20, 2007

Oregon Trail

(This was written on my last day of the Oregon Trip. It is now 4 weeks later. C'est la vie.)

As I sit in the dining room of a perfectly maintained 1928 Craftsman, drinking wine from a yet to be labeled bottle of 2005 Domaine Drouhin Oregon “Laurene” Pinot Noir, cool sunlight streaming in over the Coastal Range, I finally have a few seconds to reflect back on a wonderfully fast-paced vacation.

We arrived on Wednesday at the Portland Airport and were picked up by Wynne’s mom, Judy. After driving back to her house in SW Portland and pruning her table grapevines (Andy Walker would be proud) and meeting Dot the Dalmatian and Sadie the Blue heeler/pitbull mix, we headed up to NW Portland to seek out lunch. We ended up at Saint Honore, a charming bakery/bistro on the meniscus of the gentrification of the industrial part of NW Portland.

Saint Honore

Provence Panini – Greg and Lisanne
Seasonal Mushroom Fritatta Croissant – Greg and Lisanne
Brie Bartlett Panini – Wynne and Mandy
Coffee for all

Upon arriving back at Judy’s house, we met Andy Wipple, a local writer photographer who is about to have a book released. I chatted with him about photography before dinner, about our favorite lenses (primes) and the exciting foray into Photoshop. Soon, dinner arrived.

Judy Nedry’s House

Minestrone Soup with Sausage
Green Salad with Hazelnuts
No-Knead Bread
Plum Tart
Pecorino Luciano
Neal’s Yard Berkswell
Mixed Cow/Sheep’s Milk Cheese from Italy.

2002 Pinot blanc “Rosenberg de Wettolsheim”, Domaine Barmes Buecher, Alsace, FR

Soon after dinner, it was time to head out to Chehalem, Wynne’s dad’s winery just outside of Newberg, OR. We were given the grand tour, picked rooms, then got to the fun part – picking some wines to drink.

2003 Syrah “Saleyards”, Murdoch James, Martinborough, NZ
2004 Pinot noir, Elk Cove Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR

After a couple of bottles of wine, we saw a comprehensive selections of spirits and Eaux de Vie. We decided to try a locally produced whiskey made by Steve McCarthy at Clear Creek Distillery in Portland. Touching this drink to our lips would change the course of our vacation.

McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Pot Distilled Whiskey, Clear Creek Distillery.

This whiskey to me tasted unexpectedly similar to Laphroig and Lagavulin Islay Scotches. I was so impressed that an American distillery could get so close to the smoky peatiness of an Islay Scotch.

Soon though, the fun had to come to an end and we went to sleep.

The next day we woke up and were reminded that Thursday was Wynne’s Haircut Day. We hopped in the car and headed to Downtown Portland to get some coffee at Stumptown. This is a coffeeshop/roaster that I had previously heard about while reading the food blog Slashfood. I ordered a pound of coffee from them about a year ago – an Ethiopian Sidamo that tasted just like strawberries and cream. As soon as I met Wynne and learned that she was from Portland, I told her about my experience with Stumptown. She informed me that she too was a big fan of their coffee, as were most residents of Portland. We found some parking and headed in to a den of caffeine-fueled coolness that Mishka’s in Davis can only dream about.

Stumptown Coffee, Downtown Portland

Honduras El Puente Coffee

I had some reservations about going in and getting a refill of coffee. I instinctively knew that I would be scorned and/or shunned by the bicycle messenger hipsters when I waited in line for 10 minutes to ask how I ordered a refill. I should have observed the locals and used a bit of inductive reasoning to figure out the formula for getting a refill, but instead I took the shortcut and asked. Big mistake. The man behind the counter looked at me, snickered, and stated that the first refill was free, and then it was $0.50 to get more coffee. A friendly local waiting in line for a refill witnessed the psychological torture that I had just been put through and allowed me to skip in front of him to get a refill. Portlanders are a funny bunch.

We moved on to the Pearl District where Wynne dropped us off to go shopping while she got her haircut. Mandy and Lisanne went shopping at Diesel and Antropoligie while I contemplated where to… put all the coffee that I had just drank. After a bit of clothes shopping, we headed to Powell’s Bookstore where I found a bathroom and a book by M.F.K. Fisher.

We then got the call from Wynne that she was done with the haircut. She picked us up and we headed to Southeast Portland for the featured activity of the day: Dim Sum at Wong’s King. I had never participated in a Dim Sum food orgy before, but Wynne, Mandy and Lissane had. I should have inferred from the mental exercises that they were doing that I was in for an ordeal.

Wong’s King Dim Sum

BBQ Pork Buns, steamed
Rice Noodles with Shrimp
Rice Noodles with Beef
Friend bean Curd
Shrimp Balls
Water Chestnut and Pork Balls
Crab and Shrimp Balls
BBQ Pork Buns, baked
Fried Shrimp, Pork and Mushroom Balls
Fried Bean Paste Balls

After 13 dishes delivered to our plates, we met up with JP, Dan and Lauren, who had just landed. We were a little bit behind schedule and had to rush back down to the Newberg area to get to Beaux Freres, the first winery visit of our vacation.

Beaux Freres

2005 Pinot noir, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot noir “Beaux Freres Vineyard”, Willamette Valley, OR

We met the winemaker Mike Etzel at Beaux Freres who gave us a comprehensive tour of his vineyards. During our walk through the vineyards, he gave us a history of Pinot growing in Oregon and a history of the winery and vineyards, explaining along the way his move over to biodynamics. We learned that he considers himself more a soil farmer than a grape grower or a winemaker.

After leaving the winery with a supremely satisfied feeling in our cheeks, but not our stomachs, we headed to Fred Meyer, the Portland supermarket that sells everything from food to electronics to clothing. For dinner, we decided on a menu of two types of ribs.

While cooking and prepping dinner, we opened a bottle of Pinot gris to get us through the “hardship” of cooking dinner.
2005 Pinot gris, Martinborough Vineyards, Martinborough, NZ

My assigned job was dessert, an assignment that I undertook with tired efficiency.

Dinner @ Chehalem House

Barbeque Baby Back Pork Ribs
Cross Cut Beef Ribs, Asian Style
Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Paprika
Roasted Asparagus
Vanilla and Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

NV Domaine Chandon “Riche” Sparkling Wine
2003 Pinot noir “De Lancellotti Vineyard”, Bergrstom, Willamette Valley, OR
2002 Merlot, Pepper Bridge, Walla Walla, WA
1997 Pinot noir “Ridgecrest”, Willamette Valley, OR
2002 Pinot noir, Ribbon Ridge Winery, Willamette Valley, OR

After dinner we were treated by Harry Peterson-Nedry, Wynne’s dad, to a selection of Eaux de Vie from Clear Creek Distillery.

Pear Brandy
Blue Plum Brandy

After dinner and cleanup, we headed to sleep. Wynne and I had an early wake up at 6:00am in order to pick up Antonia from the airport at 7:50am the next morning.

Finally everyone was present: Wynne, Antonia, Mandy, Lisanne, Dan, Lauren, JP and myself. We started the morning off with a little bit of coffee and then headed to our first appointment of the day – Domaine Drouhin Oregon, or as the locals call it, “DDO”. Joseph Drouhin came to Oregon in the 80’s and bought the property up in the Red Hills of Dundee. The vineyards are planted 1mx1.3m, which yields… a lot of vines per acre (something around 2000). The facility is beautiful – all gravity flow, all French equipment, very elegant and simple on the inside. I do think they may have taken the Frenchiness of the place a little bit too far – the imported French doors and French windows for the winery. We were given a tour of the facilities and even saw a little bit of bottling action. They were bottling their premier Pinot noir – Called “Louise”, a wine which they only produce 350-400 cases per year, regardless of the yield of the vintage. We then went up to the tasting room and were treated to wines from both Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy and Domaine Drouhin Oregon.

Domaine Drouhin Oregon

2005 Chabilis Premier Cru, Maison Joseph Drouhin, FR
2001 Chambolle-Misigny Villages, Maison Joseph Drouhin, FR
2004 Pinot noir, Domaine Joesph Drouhin Oregon, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir “Laurene” (yet to be released), Domaine Joseph Drouhin Oregon, Willamette Valley, OR
2003 Pinot noir “Laurene”, Domaine Joseph Drouhin, Willamette Valley, OR

After tasting those wonderful wines, we had a little bit of time to fill before our next appointment at Carlton Winemakers’ Studio. The plan was to get a bit of lunch, but we decided that because we were so close to Stoller Vineyards, we would stop by and say hello. Wynne and her family have a relationship with the Stollers, so it was nice to drop by and be so welcomed. We said hello to everyone and got a tour of their facilities. Another gravity flow operation, but seemed to be smaller than DDO. The winery was fairly new and was solar and on its way to being green. After reaching the nadir of the winery, we wound back up the stairs to the tasting room, a modernist foray into winery furnishings.

Stoller Vineyards

2006 Pinot noir rosé “ Junior Vines (JV) Estate”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Chardonnay “JV Estate Stainless”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Chardonnay “Senior Vines (SV) Estate”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot noir “JV Estate”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR

We left Stoller with less time than expected for lunch. In the back and forth of “Where should we eat, No you decide” that precipitated in the next few minutes, we finally ended up at a little Mexican restaurant that I had noticed in Newberg the day before.

Lunch @ Panederia and Taqueria Gonzalez

Tacos al Pastor – Greg
Burrito al Pollo – Antonia
Tacos al Pastor and Sope – Wynne

Various other combinations of plate and meat, including but not limited to tacos, burritos, enchiladas, sopes, tamales with carnitas, pollo, pastor, lengua, asada and pollo al pastor.

It was phenomenal Mexican food – the type that cannot possibly be made by anyone except an abuelita or one of her progeny. I think that it comes close, but does not match the flavor Tacos el Jalisciense in Woodland, CA, except maybe the tortillas, which appeared to be handmade and were exceptional. We all ate so fast while waiting for each other’s food that the other patrons suggested that we just take a seat at the booths, but we declined; we had more wine to drink taste.

We hurried back to the car and headed of to Carlton, OR to find the Carlton Winemakers’ Studio, a building set up a few years ago as a place for up-and-coming winemakers to use state-of-the-art equipment to make wine without financial concerns of starting a winery. When we arrived the gentleman who was supposed to give us a tour was not around, so instead we sat down at the bar and tasted a few wines before one of the men from the tasting room started an impromptu tour of the facilities.

2005 Riesling “Private Lumpkin”, Lazy River Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Early Muscat, Ribbon Ridge Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR

While we were inside we ran into the assistant winemaker, Grant, who worked for the man who owned the facilities. He is a graduate of the Fresno program, and understanding what we were doing in terms of our education, proceeded to give us an awesome tour of his wines. We tasted some Pinots in tank and in barrel. We also learned that he was in his last week on the job as he had just been hired as the assistant winemaker at Beaux Freres. For such a nice guy, it is going to be a well-deserved promotion in responsibility.

Finally our tour guide showed up and gave us the official tour, espousing the advantages that the Studio offers to its winemakers. The most interesting thing that I learned on the tour was that instead of acting as one bonded winery, there were actually ten different TTB bonds in the facility, one for each winemaker. Ten (!!!). The manager of the Studio has to reevaluate each year who is in residence and how much wine they expect to make and renew each of the bonds. It seems like a financial and administrative nightmare.

Our day was not yet over, however. We made our way back to Chehalem where Harry was waiting to give us a tour of the winery and taste through all of the whites just before they are bottled, which are being bottled as I write.

Chehalem White Wines

2006 Pinot blanc, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Chardonnay “INOX”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Pinot gris, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Pinot gris “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Riesling “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2006 Riesling “Corral Creek Vineyards”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR

After tasting though the whites, we moved back to the barrel room, where all of the reds were soaking up some oak. Harry wanted us to understand the differences between the three vineyards from which he grows fruit. He gets fruit from Stoller Vineyard, Corral Creek Vineyard and Ridgecrest Vineyard.

The Ridgecrest Vineyard produced my favorite wine, but I will just have to wait until it is in the bottle to see how it turned out.

Chehalem Red Wines (Barrel Samples)

2x Corral Creek Vineyard
1x Stoller Vineyard
3x Ridgecrest Vineyard
1x 5 Acres
1x Wind Ridge

After tasting out of the barrels, we moved back into the tasting room, where we were treated to wines from near and far. We started off with Chehalem wines that had made it into the bottle, then we moved on to more… exotic fare.

Chehalem Tasting Room

2005 Riesling “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot blanc, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot gris “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2003 Chardonnay “Ian’s Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot noir “3 Vineyards”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir “Ridgecrest”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR
2003 Pinot noir, Ribbon Ridge, Ribbon Ridge, OR
2005 Chardonnay “SV Estate”, Stoller Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR
NV Chardonnay “Ragapple”, Apple Lassie Vineyards, NC
2005 Chardonnay, Byington, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA

The wine tasting portion of the day had come to and end, but eating had not yet commenced.

We headed out en masse to Tina’s, Harry’s and Wynne’s favorite restaurant in Dundee, OR. Harry is a regular there, a fact corroborated by “Harry’s Wine List”, a wine list that restaurant keeps just for him, mostly of Alsatian Rieslings. It was hard to select an entrée from the menu at Tina’s. It took me until the last possible second, when the waiter was about to walk away from me, that I finally decided on the Short Ribs. This makes the second night in a row eating ribs. Mmmm……


Fried Walapa Bay Oysters with sorrel mayonnaise
Tempura Vegetables
Salmon Spring Rolls with spicy hazelnut sauce
Scallops wrapped in Bacon with lentils

Carrot-Ginger Soup
Salad with Hazelnuts

Cypress Grove Chevre Souffle
Braised Strawberry Mountain Beef Short Ribs
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Medallions
Pan Fried Skate Wing
Grilled Su Dan Farms Lamb Loin Chops

2005 Riesling, J. Christopher, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Riesling “Schlossberg Cuvee St Catherine”, Domaine Weinbach, Alsace Grand Cru, FR
2004 Pinot noir “Antoinette”, J.K. Carriere, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir, Thomas, Willamette Valley, OR

Buttermilk & Lemon Tart
Chocolate Hazelnut Souffle
Quince & Apple Cobbler
Crème Brulee

Peppermint Tea

With fat stomachs, we moved to the parking lot. Karoake at Lumpy’s (the local dive bar) was considered, but in the end we decided to go back to the house and go to sleep.

The next morning we woke up early to make a 9am appointment at Argyle to taste some sparking wines. We also packed some pillows and blankets in the car to keep us warm at Wynne’s old apartment, where we were going to stay the night with her friend and old roommate, Eliza. The winemaker there, Rollin Stoles, was a classmate of Hildegarde Heymann, a professor in our department, when they were in our program. He showed us around his facilities, including his insulated fermentation tanks – they are housed in an insulated housing that requires minimal heating and cooling. He said that he could have a tank going through cold stabilization next to a tank going through ML and not worry about heating issues.

Argyle Winery

3x base wines (Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Riesling)
3x Chardonnay barrel samples
2000 Chardonnay, Argyle, Willamette Valley, OR
1999 Blanc de blancs, Argyle, Willamette Valley, OR
2004 Pinot noir, Argyle, Willamette Valley, OR
2005 Pinot noir, Argyle, Willamette Valley, OR

Rollin was a really nice guy and had myriad opinions on the industry and his colleagues in California. His main message was “question the crap that wineries and winemakers feed you”.

We were running a little late for our next appointment, an adventure which I alluded to earlier. After tasting the Eaux de Vie from Clear Creek Distillery, Wynne got the number of the owner, Steve McCarthy, and called him up and made us an appointment to look around. After a quick trip from Dundee to NW Portland, we arrived back where we first stepped on to Portland soil, 4 blocks form Saint Honore.

Steve gave us a history and a tour of his distillery. Not having been to a distillery before, it was so interesting to see how other alcoholic products are made. He works with fruit that ferment to 5% alcohol, a situation which yeast are not so happy about, we learned. He showed us the fermentation tanks, German stills and barrel room. After the tour, it was time to taste.

Clear Creek Distillery

Pear Brandy
8 year Apple Brandy
Steve McCarthy Whiskey
Douglas Fir Eau de Vie

That’s right, Steve makes an Eux de Vie out of Douglas Fir buds. It is a drink unlike anything that I have had before. So strong and so fragrant. He manages to perfectly capture the fruits that he uses in his spirits. The aromas are not at all artificial-smelling. It is quite a feet. I think Roger Boulton should take his distillation class up to Clear Creek on a field trip next year (hint, hint).

After quite a few sips of spirits, we needed a good soak. Not wanting to go very far as it was now starting to rain a little bit, we headed back to Saint Honore.

Lunch @ Saint Honore

Croque Monsieur
Chicken Crudite Baguette
Brie Bartlett Panini
Chocolate Brioche
Apple pastry w/ Custard

This Croque Monsieur was the best I have had outside of France. The one from Champagne Bakery in Irvine is very good, but this one was better.

After lunch we walked around for a bit in NW Portland and split up. Some of us took a trip to the airport to drop off Mandy, who had to get back to California to entertain some family friends and/or family. Antonia, Lisanne, Wynne and I, upon returning back from the airport, headed to downtown Portland to do some shopping. Wynne and Antonia bought some clothes; Lisanne got a pair of shoes, as did I. I really needed some new shoes. My dock shoes would leak in water when it was raining and soak my socks, leaving me with wet feet all day. Wynne went to pick up the car – it was pouring rain at this point – and we headed of to dinner at Park Kitchen in Portland. Wynne originally booked a table for 8, but when the quickly expanded to 17, we were moved to the back room which we had to ourselves. It was set up as a tasting menu. I was expecting a few dishes. Not quite.

Dinner @ Park Kitchen

Appetizer Tasting Menu

Roasted beet with oranges, local fresh cheese and toasted almonds
Chickpea fries with pumpkin ketchup
House cured anchovies with preserved lemons and fennel
Braised lamb neck with chickpea ragout and sunchoke chips
Red kale ratini
Celery root remoulade with red lentils and duck ham
Poached razor clams “ceviche” with blood oranges
Gin and vermouth steamed mussels with leaks cooked in saffron and potato cream
Frito misto of salt cod, rabbit confit and duck leg
Braised pork belly with sauerkraut and pears
Duck confit ravioli with sauerkraut
Artichoke salad with sunchoke chips, salami and new potatoes
Sweetbreads with carrot sauce, butter and sauerkraut

Entrée Tasting Menu

Steak and eggs – Braised beef short ribs with acorn squash and Yorkshire pudding with a poached egg
Skate wing with spinach cream, lentils, carrots, leaks, fried cauliflower and mint vinaigrette
Rabbit loin and belly confit with salsify and escarole
Roasted artichoke
Pork two ways – pork loin roast and pork “dolmas” – pork shoulder, duck liver puree and cipollini onions wrapped in savoy cabbage

2003 Riesling “Beblenheim”, Marcel Deiss, Alsace, FR
1996 Buzet “Hommage a Nick Spanopolous”, Les Vignerons de Buzet, FR
1999 Toscana IGT “Maestro Raro”, Fattoria di Felsina Berardenga, Toscana, IT
1998 Barbresco “Bric Turot”, Prunotto, Langhe, IT

Dessert Tasting Menu

Chocolate sorbet with molasses cookies
Lemon pudding with macaroons
Caramel hazelnut tart with grapefruit and Camapri sauce

What a gastronomic orgy we had that night. I tasted so many new things (sunchokes, rabbit and sweetbreads) as well as beef ribs for the third night in a row (I’m definitely not complaining). After dinner we all headed to Apotheke, a club nearby where someone we had dinner with knew the DJ.

When we got to the second floor of the building where Apotheke was located, we were greeted with some electronic music and white. A lot of white. The whole bar was white –the walls, the tables, the floor, the chairs, the bar. It was like being in a Stanely Kubrik film. The bar was also themed – did not serve mixed drinks, only whiskey, aperitifs and digestifs. I saw a lot of pastis imbibed, as well as Chartreuse and an interesting spirit made from molasses. A few Clear Creek Eaux de Vie may also have been ordered. I did not have anything – I needed a break from putting anything else in my body.

After the club I drove us back to Eliza’s apartment, where we all promptly fell asleep.

After sleeping in until 11:30am, the latest I have slept in over 2 years, we headed out to breakfast. JP and Lauren woke up early, so they headed out on their own. The rest of us – Antonia, Lisanne, Wynne, Dan, Eliza and I found our way to Utopia Café after stopping in at the SE Portland Stumptown for some early afernoon coffee.

Stumptown, Southeast Portland

Rwanda Karaba Coffee
Espresso Macchiato
Espresso with hazelnut syrup
Izze Soda

Breakfast @ Utopia Café

Jo Jo’s Breakfast Burrito
Oatmeal, Fruit
Baja Scramble
Blue Corn Pancakes
Blueberry Pancakes
Tomato, Spinach and Feta Scramble

Orange Juice

After brunch, more shopping ensued, then we made our way back to the vineyard. We got back and a few of my compatriots passed out from lack of sleep, while the rest of us showered and did crossword puzzles. At around 7:30pm, we decided we should have something to eat, so JP and Lauren headed to Fred Meyer in Newberg to buy some groceries. Once again, cooking and drinking commenced.

Dinner @ Chehalem House

Angel hair pasta with basil, chicken, tomatoes, grilled vegetables, pinenuts and Romano cheese
Leftover beef and pork ribs

Ice cream sandwiches

1983 Riesling “Scharzhofberger”, Auslese, Bauer & Co., Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, GR
2000 Riesling “Smaragd”, Nikolaihof, Mawtern-Wachau, GR
2003 Pinot noir “Reserve”, Chehalem, Willamette Valley, OR

After dinner we read for a bit, then went to sleep. Antonia and I said goodbye to everyone, including Harry and Bala and Dimitri (the dogs).

When we woke up the next morning, we went to the airport and came home. The rest of the crew was going to Penner-Ash and to the beach (cold!).

That is the end of my Oregon Trail. I hope to make it back there soon. The winemakers in Oregon were wonderful people who really opened themselves up to Davis students. I thank all of them for taking us in to their wineries and vineyards and telling us about what the do and why they love wine.

1 comment:

Jonas said...

WOW, that sounds like a week-long culinary orgy!