Is Portland Posh?

March 12th, 2010 by Daniel Leave a reply »


My girlfriend and I had dinner in Las Vegas Monday night at Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s French restaurant in the wine cellar of the Venetian Hotel/Casino (  Named one of the best restaurants on the Las Vegas strip, indeed even one of the best restaurants in America, Bouchon has apparently captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of people.

We started with a sparkling Vouvray and salmon tartare, then a  crisp Suave Blanc with goat cheese and greens with red wine  vinaigrette:  two sips of white wine remained when the Sommelier came over and assisted me in choosing a Cote du Rhone…and then the entrees arrived.

She had the beef burgundy on a bed of root vegetables with chitarra noodles.

“I don’t like that they have their name on it,” she commented.

“Bouchon” was emblazoned in robin’s egg blue  across the large, thick lip of the ivory plate.  The flatware was Sysco number five or something, and the red wine glasses were delicate, but not crystal.  The nice French bistro ambiance filled the air, and the starched waiters bustled.  More than a few were fueled on cocaine and white wine.  I could sense it by their movement, but that’s the restaurant biz.

My plate held a thick stripe of collard greens, risottoed barley and braised lamb neck, and upon that was the scalloped leg of lamb, perfectly medium rare.  The Cote du Rhone had a big fruit start, brite  blackberry  soaked in cinnamon, then a soft spicy, oaked  roll down the back of the throat.  Perfect bed partners for both the lamb and the beef.

The lamb came from Pennsylvania, the beef from Newport, California (that’s what our waiter said, but it didn’t sound right to me).  They were quality products, though, good to the taste.

We do better up here in Portland.

The Country Cat ( receives its beef and hogs from Sweet Briar Farms (, and lamb from Cat Tail Creek farm ( all about two hours away down south a bit.  Our vegetables and fuits and herbs come from farms no farther than the crow can fly in thirty minutes.  Sure we get trout from Idaho and Steal Head from Tacoma and grits from South Carolina: they’re the best.

Is it possible to  quantify  integerity?  That elusive sprite that beckons every human differently; the act of doing what’s right for the sake of right; performing the same task, with zeal and ardour, whether your boss is present or not.

Taste the flesh of a grass fed steer (except for the last twelve days of its life when fat needs to be added via barley, corn and rye) next to what is coming out of the industrial slaughter factories.  Are McDonald’s burger patties real beef? Or merely cow patties that have been sold to the public as beef?

Sure one can trace the carbon path from petroleum to corn to cattle (The Omnivore’s Dillema, Michael Pollan,, but  I am not talking about petroleum based power or even a sustainable agricultural model: I am exploring the treatment of animals within the light of our food production. If we don’t treat with diginity that which we consume, then how can we hope to live our lifes with dignity?

We have something special here in Portland and we need to foster this little spark of food integrity and blow gently upon it until the nation blazes with food integrity, and obesity does not afflict the poor and ignorant within our beautiful  country.


Leave a Reply