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Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong’s Khao Man Gai

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My final day-and-a-half in Portland centered on three memorable meals: our Paleo Pop-Up Brunch with my co-host (and Bravolebrity cheftestant with the biggest knife), Chef Gregory Gourdet; a gluten-free Asian-inspired pescatarian dinner at Departure; and a down-home meal of chicken and rice at one of my favorite casual joints in the world, Nong’s Khao Man Gai.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ready to hop in a time machine and travel back to last Saturday?

The cafeteria-style Paleo Pop-Up Brunch at Departure was the highlight of our trip to Portland. Despite being arranged only a week prior to my arrival (really: GG texted me just a week before our trip, and suggested that we host a brunch together), I knew that GG would deliver the goods. Part of the reason my money is on #TeamGG to win Top Chef Boston is because he can totally throw down when it comes to developing and executing a fantastic Paleo menu for a crowd—from scratch, and in no time at all. And he never seems to stress out; I’ve never seen him without a charmingly shy smile on his face.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Me? I was the total slacker in the equation—all I did was show up with a whole bunch of Mini Michelle action figures and an empty belly.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We arrived a few minutes before the brunch began, just as the spread of food was being loaded onto the tables. 

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The Double-Os were all too happy to be the official taste-testers at the front of the line.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The epic brunch menu included a choice of a Bloody Mary or mimosa from the bar…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and a lip-smacking green smoothie (with cocoa nib and goji berry)…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

… eggs baked in avocados topped with bacon vinaigrette…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…collard greens, caramelized onion, and squash quiches (with almond flour crusts!)…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…grilled hanger steak with radish kimchee…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…Thai chicken sausages seasoned with fish sauce…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…blueberry-banana pancakes with ginger, macadamia maple syrup…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and carrot, ginger, and zucchini muffins.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As if that wasn’t enough, there was also sweet potato and roasted chili hash, smoked salmon, copious amounts of bacon, and pickled shrimp. 

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Bananas, right?

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Paleo in Portland: Teote, Ox, Kyra’s Bake Shop, Cultured Caveman

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It’s true: Portland’s become my favorite city outside of San Francisco. That’s why Henry’s birthday gift to me was a getaway to Stumptown to eat and relax with the family. I’ve been to Portland several times before (and eaten my way through the city), but always for scheduled events and appearances. I never felt like I had enough time to soak in the city’s friendly, funky vibe. This trip would be different. My only agenda—other than co-hosting a Paleo Pop-Up brunch at Departure with our pal Chef Gregory Gourdet—was to chillax in PDX with my favorite people on the planet. 

Portland in Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

In just three and a half days’ time, we packed in a ton of dining, shopping, and exploring—and we caught up with some good friends, too. Want to see why Portland has my heart?

As soon as we landed in Portland on Thursday, we followed Terry Crews’s exuberant navigational instructions to Teote Restaurant for an early lunch. Our friend Kyra Bussanich (the award-winning gluten-free cupcake queen and cookbook author!) had texted me her recommendation of this Latin American street food restaurant, so I knew it’d be a home run.

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Famished, the four of us shared a La Cena Grilled Carne—a family-style platter featuring an assortment of grilled meats, cabbage salad, teote salad, fried plantains, bico, and buttered arepas (corn cakes). (Oh, and queso fresco, black beans, and rice, too. Everything was gluten-free, but not strictly Paleo. Vacation, remember?)

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

After filling our bellies and checking in to our hotel, we strolled over to Powell’s Books, where each of us got lost in our favorite color-coded zones. While I perused the endless aisles of cookbooks, Henry helped Lil-O search for word puzzle books, and Big-O read up on stop-motion animation.

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Of course, I had to run upstairs and check the Paleo cookbook section. Not surprisingly (for Powell’s), it’s insanely comprehensive. Name just about any Paleo book on the market, and you’ll find it here:

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

(By the way, I was armed with a Sharpie, so if you’re looking for a signed copy of our cookbook, there should be a few left at Powell’s!)

At dinnertime, we met up with GG to share an Argentine meal at Ox Restaurant. We started with a small cup of tomato bisque (a gift from Chef Greg Denton)…

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and followed it up with a chilled seafood sampler (Oregon Bay Shrimp Ceviche, Dungeness Crab Cocktail, Octopus Poke, Scallop Salad “Dynamite,” and Salmon Gravlax Tartare)…

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…before diving into platters of local meat, fish, and vegetables that were prepared in their signature wood-fired grill. Henry and I spent all of dinner grilling GG about his experiences on this season’s Top Chef (which premiered tonight!), but all he did was laugh at our questions. I’ll crack him yet.

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Paleo Eats: 3/1/14

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The kids spent the night at their grandparents’ last night, but we didn’t have the luxury of sleeping in. At the crack of dawn, Henry and I rolled out of bed, made a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs with furikake (I use Urashima All Natural) and homemade sriracha

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and headed out to San Francisco to meet up with Chef Pete Evans at the Ferry Building Farmers Market.

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Pete’s visiting from Down Under, where—as my Aussie readers know—he’s an acclaimed mega-celebrity chef, having launched the hugely popular and award-winning Hugos restaurants before becoming a cookbook author and television heartthrob. For the last few years, Pete’s been a judge on the TV cooking competition show My Kitchen Rules—a ratings monster for Channel Seven. Americans may recognize Pete as the host of his PBS series, Moveable Feast.

Best of all? Pete cooks and eats Paleo.

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Pete’s newest book, Healthy Every Day—which makes its debut next month in Australia—is filled with delicious and nutrient-dense real-food dishes. Yes, quinoa makes an appearance here and there, but even the most fanatical orthodox Paleo eaters will heartily agree that the pages of Pete’s cookbook offer brilliant, creative takes on the healthy, nourishing foods we all enjoy.

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

And let’s face it: his dishes are pure eye candy.

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Pete and I have corresponded via email for months, but we hadn’t met in person until today. In town to shoot footage for his new “Recipes for Life” series, Pete asked me to accompany him on a trip to the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market. Our plan was to pick out some fresh, local ingredients (with a small camera crew in tow), and then head back to our house to film our cook-a-thon for his show.

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We got to the Ferry Building early to avoid the crush of the Saturday morning crowd. As I chatted with Pete, his producers and camera-wielding geniuses, Rob Tate and Gustavo Monroy, circled and swooped around us…

Paleo Eats: 3/1/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…while I did my best to avoid looking awkward.

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Paleo Eats: 2/5/14

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It feels like it’s been eons since I wrote up my daily eats. (I have no excuses; I’ve just been juggling other stuff and trying to spend more quality time with the kids.) Let’s hope I haven’t gotten too rusty!

My first meal of the day? A couple of over-easy eggs seasoned with furikake and bacon. 

Paleo Eats: 2/5/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I know: it often feels like there’s not enough time in the morning to make a proper breakfast. As a full-time working parent, I feel your pain. The convenience of boxed cereal and toaster waffles is undeniably alluring. But it really doesn’t take much effort to throw together a healthier morning meal. And besides: it tastes better!

Paleo Eats: 2/5/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

This morning, as soon as I trudged out of my bedroom and into the kitchen, I popped a tray of bacon into my countertop toaster oven. While the porky slices sizzled unattended, I prepared the kids’ school lunches and fried up plates of over-easy eggs. By the time Henry got home from his morning CrossFit sweat-fest, the eggs were done and the bacon was crisp. I sliced up some fresh fruit, and presto! Breakfast was ready for the entire bed-headed clan.

For those of you demanding to know “WHAT IN THE SAM HILL IS FURIKAKE?” (and too captivated by this oh-so-riveting blog post to tear yourself away to do a Google search), let me explain. Furikake’s an umami-packed traditional Japanese seasoning blend made with dried seaweed and often featuring other ingredients like toasted sesame seeds and dried bonito.

Paleo Eats: 2/5/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Paleo Eats: 9/24/13

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Paleo Eats: 9/24/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

After working 6 graveyard shifts in a row, cooking was the last thing on my mind when I got home from the hospital yesterday morning. Henry’s still in New York City, so I couldn’t count on him to make dinner. And because I’m not exactly a great meal planner, I had no leftovers to repurpose.

So did I give in to the evil Mini-Me perched on my shoulder, egging me on to throw in the towel and JUST ORDER SOME TAKEOUT ALREADY?

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you already know that I managed not to cave.  

Paleo Eats: 9/24/13 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

It helped that my in-laws were here to watch the kids while I was at work. By the time my car screeched into the driveway, they’d already gotten the Double-Os fed, dressed, and packed for school. After accompanying the spawn to their classroom doors, I checked the defrost bowl in my fridge for thawed meat, and found two packs of chicken thighs.  Now, all I needed was a simple way to cook ‘em.

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