Portland + Hood River in 72 Hours - Part 2

Newman's Fish Market, NW Portland  |  10am

Nothing beats the true fishmonger experience. Newmans in NW Portland's City Market is just that. The fish here is super fresh. I'm looking for arctic char for our Hood River friend’s dinner party tomorrow night. So, I call all around to numerous fish markets but no luck. I end up finding Newmans and grab 4 whole branzini (european seabass). I had seen branzini on menus at market prices. Here they're $11/lb, bright and shiny and as my fishmonger tells me, they're ocean/brackish (briny river) water fish, a good cross between trout and seabass. Split them down the middle and bake with nuts, herbs and butter, serve with latkes (that's what I have in mind) and you’re golden. I grab some local hazelnuts, a mix of fresh herbs, new potatoes, pack the fish on ice and we head east!

 

Multnomah to Wahkeena Loop  |  2pm

Driving east from Portland to Hood River on Hwy 80/US 30, along the Columbia Gorge, we hit Multnomah and Wahkeena Falls. If you're in the area, this is a good spot to see. Our friend Shannon, another NYC transplant, moved out to Hood River and meets up with us for the hike. This is a waterfall junkie’s paradise. 

There are 8 waterfalls just short of the 5 mile loop where every step is rewarding as the elevation changes through mossy wet green trees and the creek tumbles past. Start at the Wahkeena trailhead [#420] just up the road from the parking lot, then go up and around to end at Multnomah Falls. On your way out, reward yourself with fish and chips and wash it down with a Deschutes river ale at the pretty stone lodge. Visit in the offseason, as it can get pretty touristy mid summer.

 

Thunder Island Brewing, Cascade Locks |  7pm

 

Shannon, our beer and wine ambassador, explained how almost every brewery in town spawned from workers at Full Sail Brewing Co. gaining the knowledge and starting their own brew. Kind of cool that it isn't a competition, but much more of a larger family. This is Thunder Island's 2nd week in business, operating on a 2 barrel system and making only 4 types of beers, about as craft as you can get. It's a small drive back down to the town of Cascade Locks. You might be lucky enough to catch old men selling their fresh caught salmon and trout out of ice chests from the beds of their trucks.

Late Night Snack  |  11pm 


Mushroom Poutine with Beefy Pho Broth 

My mates and I went camping upstate last month and for the food run, I grabbed vegetable oil and a bag of Russett Potatoes, which are the most dense and least water soluble potato, making them the best for frying. After the whiskey began it's pass around the campfire, crispy fat steak frites with sea salt dipped in a quick stir of mayo, sriracha, and mashed up garlic were the perfect “throw-together” late night filler. Back at Shannon’s we had some potatoes and mushrooms laying around and Shannon's boyfriend Bill (who was off fighting forest fires in Washington) made Pho for their weekly Hood River Supper Club and had some leftover beef broth in the fridge. Boiling makes the potatoes tender and then frying them twice makes them insanely crispy.

Ingredients

4 large potatoes
Kosher salt
Coarse black pepper
Vegetable oil (for frying)
1 box pho broth (32 oz Pacific Organic is good)
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 lb mushrooms (roughly chopped)
2 tbsp butter
1 cup onion, finely diced
2 handfuls cheese curds or torn buffalo mozzarella
Handful minced fresh chives

Method

1. Cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch thick steak fries and transfer to an ice bath. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drain the potatoes; add them to the pot and boil until just fork tender, about 5 minutes. With a fry skimmer, drain the potatoes and transfer them to a paper towel lined rack to cool. Refrigerate until cool, about an hour (the drier, the crisper).

2. While you wait for them to cool, make your gravy. In a deep-sided skillet, add the broth and cook on high, whisking occasionally. Once it thickens and reduces to about 1/3 of its size, turn off the heat. After 5 minutes, slowly add the cornstarch while whisking. This is your gravy, set aside.

3. In a skillet, on high heat, add butter and onions until translucent. Mix in the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes until coated and shiny. Toss a few spoonfuls of the gravy, season with salt and pepper, stir, and set aside.

4. In a large deep-sided skillet, heat 2 inches of oil to 325 F (See *). Set a rack over a baking sheet. Working in batches, fry the potatoes until they just begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool. When all the potatoes have been fried once, heat the oil again (and working in batches), fry the potatoes until golden crisp, drain the potatoes on a paper towel lined baking sheet, season with salt.

5. Warm the gravy and prep 4 wide bowls. Lay a handful of fries in each, spoon over a generous amount of the mushrooms, add cheese curds, top with gravy and sprinkle with chives and enjoy!

* If you don't have a thermometer insert a wooden spoon into the oil. It will bubble around the stick when ready for frying. Otherwise, a corn kernel will pop or a grain of rice will pop right back up.