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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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Forky Friday: 10/3/14

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Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Loyal Nomsters: your weekly dose of Friday forkiness is here! Today, I’m announcing a fast-approaching appearance in Portlandia, previewing our long-awaited iPad app update, crushing on Paleo on TV, and offering other tempting goodies! Let’s hop to it, shall we?

See You In Portland!

Want to join me and Chef Gregory Gourdet at Departure Restaurant + Lounge for our special Nom Nom Paleo Pop-Up Brunch next Saturday, October 11th? Yeah, I know this is super-short notice, but GG and I just came up with this plan last night, and finalized the details in the past few hours! 

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I can’t tell you how much I love GG—he’s humble, crazy-talented, and generous both in spirit and time. The guy works around-the-clock, and still manages to hang with us and the kids every time we pop into town. I was not at all surprised that he’s going to be on the upcoming season of Top Chef Boston. Our entire family is 100% pushing for #TeamGG for the win.

I swear: we’re probably going to make T-shirts and host viewing parties.

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Earlier this year, GG hosted a one-of-a-kind Paleo dinner at Departure to celebrate the launch of my cookbook. It was over-the-top incredible—check out the video and photos below if you don’t believe me—and I know this brunch will be no different.

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

So here’s the deal: If you’re in PDX on Saturday, October 11th (JUST ONE WEEK AWAY!) and want to meet up with us to chow on award-winning Paleo-friendly fare prepared by Top Chef Boston’s butt-kickingest contestant at one of the swankiest rooftop restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, you better RSVP! (We won’t be selling our book at the event, but please feel free to bring your copy if you want it signed by me, Henry, and the kids!)

The Nom Nom Paleo Pop-Up Brunch is happening from 10 am to noon, and the menu ($50 a head) will include:

  • Carrot,Ginger, Zucchini Muffin
  • Smoked Salmon, Citrus, Japanese Chili
  • Egg Baked in Avocado, Bacon Vinaigrette
  • Sweet Potato & Roasted Chili Hash
  • Collard Greens, Caramelized Onion & Squash Quiche
  • Grilled Hanger Steak, Radish Kimchee
  • Fish Sauce Chicken Sausage Patties
  • Blueberry-Banana Pancakes, Ginger, Macadamia, Maple Syrup
  • Green Smoothie, Cocoa Nib and Gogi Berry
  • A Mimosa or drink from the Bloody Mary bar

Plus, everyone who attends gets a free limited edition Mini Michelle vinyl action figure, complete with teeny-tiny cooking accessories!

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

What are you waiting for? Call (503) 802-5370 and reserve a seat! (Note: to secure your spot, please make sure you’re making your reservation by phone and not online.) Seats are limited, and believe me: you don’t want to miss this!

Android Users: Avert Your Eyes

Psst…Nom Nom Paleo iPad app users! When Apple rolled out iOS 8 a week ago, our Webby award-winning app kind of crapped out. It didn’t play nicely with iOS 8, and crashed every time the “Home” or ”Back” buttons were pressed.

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Not good.

But now, I’m thrilled (mostly relieved, actually) to announce that our developers have fixed all the glitches and bugs, and a new iOS 8-friendly update is now available in the App Store! Download or update the app by visiting the App Store. And if you enjoy it, please rate and review it—your feedback makes a tremendous impact! 

Also, keep your eyes peeled for a super groovy design update later this year. Here’s a sneak peek at the new layout:

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Forky Friday: 10/3/14 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We’re in love with the new user interface and can’t wait to release it to you guys in a few months—along with new recipes and functionality!

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Dining Out: Pok Pok Noi (Portland, OR)

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I love filling my head with information about food writing, the business of blogging, and the intricacies of e-publishing as much as the next blogger…

…but being confined in a stuffy conference room for two days straight is making me downright batty.

A small pack of us happily broke away at lunchtime to chow at Pok Pok Noi (the smaller, abridged version of the original Pok Pok), located in a tree-lined nabe in Northeast Portland. Okay, who am I kidding? Every neighborhood here resembles a forest.

But when the five of us arrived at the restaurant, it turned out that only three of us were itching to eat at Pok Pok Noi; the other two wanted to dine at Grain & Gristle next door instead. Since food trumps friendship, we opted to split up and regroup post-meal. (Kidding — but not about spitting up to hit two different restaurants.)

Pok Pok Noi serves a dozen or so of the greatest hits from the regular Pok Pok menu, which was just fine by us. (As much as we love to eat, we weren’t likely to order more than 12 dishes.) By the way, Pok Pok is not Paleo AT ALL — the menu clearly states, “we use peanuts, shrimp, meat, eggs, sugar, salt, wheat & dairy products in our preparations” and makes clear that no substitutions are allowed. But this was one of those rare meals where I figured the indulgence would be worth any gastrointestinal consequences.

The three of us unanimously agreed that we wouldn’t be satisfied unless we ordered half the menu. While I sipped on a can of coconut water, the dishes came out in quick succession.

We shared Papaya Pok Pok — spicy green papaya salad with tomatoes, long beans, Thai chili, tamarind, fish sauce, and peanuts (and yes, Paleo Police, I left the peanuts on the plate)…

…Muu Paa Kham Waan (grilled boar collar with a spicy chili lime garlic sauce), Neua Naam Tok (spicy flank steak “salad”)…

…and a platter of Ike’s Vietnamese Spicy Fish Sauce Wings.

These wings are legendary — and with good reason: crunchy, juicy, sweet, savory, and tangy. Again, not Paleo whatsoever, but sooooo worth it.

I had a terrific time sharing plates with my lunch companions, Lia (of Nourish Network fame) and Kat (author of the terrific and essential The Kitchen Counter Cooking School). When not immersed in conversation, we fed ourselves with our hands, murmuring about the amazing food. As Lia dumped her cleaned bones on the platter, she declared that the food at Pok Pok must be Paleo because we were all grunting like cavemen.

We were so caught up in licking our fingers and picking every last morsel of the platters that Kat was almost late for the writing workshop she was leading at IFBC.

The rest of my day was spent cooped up indoors as I absorbed as much as possible about improving the quality of my writing. My mission is to maximize the pithiness of my blog ramblings, yo. By the way, for a shining example of kickass food writing, check out my pal Cheryl’s prose on her award-winning blog. She’s my hero.

Me write pretty someday…hopefully!

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop (8/24/12)

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With limited time in Portland, I knew I had to start working my way through my gastronomic to-do list before the International Food Bloggers Conference began in earnest. 

First thing in the morning, Cheryl and I made a pilgrimage to Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the coffee mecca of the Pacific Northwest. Sadly, my inability to read a map properly made our path to java nirvana more circuitous than anticipated. “SE” and “SW”? Greek to me. Maps confuse me with all their wiggly lines. I’d never flinch at eating scorpions or beef testicles, but I’m the kind of gal who’d finish last in The Amazing Race ’cause I can’t navigate worth a damn.

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Lynne was already waiting for us when we arrived. The smell of coffee at Stumptown was intoxicating — I perked up even before I spied the impressive array of coffee drinks and magazines available to all the hipster caffeine junkies who wander in.

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I ordered an espresso con panna, not realizing that the “panna” — cream — came in the form of canned whipped cream rather than as a splash of heavy cream. My bad. But it was still a fantastic cup of coffee.

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

After properly caffeinating ourselves, we strolled around the neighborhood and quickly spotted a long line of people jonesin’ for fried sugary gluten at Voodoo Doughnut.

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I swear: if I’d been here just a couple of years ago, I would’ve totally camped out in line for a chance to munch on a few (dozen) doughnuts. Now? Not so much.

Lynne and Cheryl had to return to the hotel for their book signings, so I picked up my new friend Shaun to accompany me to the Cultured Caveman food cart. This was to be Shaun’s first foray into Paleo eating, and I had a feeling I’d picked the perfect spot.

In fact, I’d been eager to visit Joe and Heather, the owners of Cultured Caveman, for months — ever since I got wind of their Kickstarter campaign to fund the launch of their business. Their video was charming and funny, and I was thrilled to participate in their fundraising efforts and spread the word about Portland’s very first Paleo food cart. I couldn’t wait to come to Portland so I could drop by for a meal. 

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Joe and Heather didn’t disappoint. The dynamic duo behind Cultured Caveman are exactly who I’d imagined them to be: warm, genuine, charismatic, smart, intrepid entrepreneurs. (Besides, they mentioned that a few of their menu items are actually based on my recipes, so how could I not love them? With me, flattery’ll get you everywhere!)

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Waiting at the food cart to join us for lunch was Kyra Bussanich, the beautiful and talented Paleo-eating, CrossFitting, gluten-free baker from Crave Bake Shop — and winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars! How awesome was it that she hand-delivered a box of award-winning gluten-free treats for me to take home? (Honestly, I hope I can resist the urge to eat all the goodies before I return to the Bay Area.)

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

And, of course, when my good buddy Diane Sanfilippo showed up, it was a super-Paleo party in Portland! (I think Oregon marks the fourth or fifth state in which I’ve hung out with Diane. Only forty-five left to go!)

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I was delighted to meet a number Joe’s and Heather’s fans, too. Clearly, the Cultured Caveman food cart is THE place to be if you’re a Paleo eater.

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

And with good reason. The eats are superb.

I sampled as much food as I could cram into my mouth. I started with the crisp, flavorful coconut flour crusted chicken tenders fried in tallow…

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…the hearty bone broth…

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…the sweet and savory bacon wrapped dates and almonds…

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…(which, by the way, make perfect Paleo “croutons” for the colorful kale salad)…

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and a side of rainbow fries served with homemade ketchup.

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

For dessert, I inhaled a hot chocolate cupcake from Kyra. When I bit into this beauty, I’m pretty sure my eyes rolled into the back of my head.

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Even after two solid hours of food, laughter, and conversation, I didn’t want to leave. 

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

But alas, it was time for me to head back to the conference, so we said our reluctant goodbyes.

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I really ought to have taken more photos of the remainder of my day. I should’ve taken snapshots at the presentations I attended, or at dinner with my new IFBC buddies. But I was tired, the lighting was dim, and our dinner was at Ned Ludd, where I’d just eaten and snapped a whole bunch of images the night before. So I decided to put the camera away for once, and just soaked it all in.

I did manage to take one more photo, though. To cap off a day of super Paleo power, here’s a shot of me and Chef Gregory Goudret at the Taste of Oregon and Gourmet Fair at IFBC: 

Portland Eats: Stumptown, Cultured Caveman, Crave Bake Shop by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

He’s not just an award-winning chef. Chef Gourdet also happens to be a Paleo-eating, ultra-marathoning CrossFitter.

AND he’s been named Portland’s Hottest Chef of 2012.

Whoa.


Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).