Nom Nom Paleo

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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Chiang Mai’s Friday Morning Market & Khao Soi Islam

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A quick photo-heavy recap of our day before I stumble into bed and pass out:

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We got off to a slow start this morning…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…but after downing some coffee…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and a hearty breakfast of hot khai jiao (Thai omelets)…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…we were ready to venture out to the Friday morning market.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We’re incredible fortunate to have Mark Ritchie—founder of Chiang Mai’s International Sustainable Development Studies Institute and CrossFit Chiang Mai (and the guy who persuaded us to come halfway across the globe to northern Thailand!)—as our guide. 

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Henry and I love picking Mark’s brain. With his deep knowledge of Thai culture and language—and decades of experience living here in Chiang Mai—we have a rare opportunity to get a close look at the city around us, starting with the Friday morning market near the Night Bazaar.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Located near a prominent mosque, this open-air market is crammed with farmers and vendors offering everything from fresh produce and exotic fruits…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…to whole birds and wild honey.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

(Yes, those are bees still in the honey. It’s that wild.)

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The bustling, vibrant market was a feast for all the senses. Everywhere we turned, we spotted something new, interesting, and delicious.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV)

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My co-pharmacist (a.k.a. Work Husband) is on vacation in Spain, so I had to deal drugs all by my lonesome last night after 2 am. I’m exhausted and hungry and sleepy, so rather than blathering on and on, I’m just going to post a bunch of photographs from our meal at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon when we were in Las Vegas last week for the 2013 Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. Geez. Was that really less than a week ago?

LAtelier de Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves (mostly because I desperately need to pass out), but I’ll say two quick things about the experience:

Not surprisingly, the food and service were exceptional. This shouldn’t be a surprise; Chef Robuchon was named Chef of the Century by Gault Millau for good reason. Even though the kitchen is run by his Vegas team in his absence (I’m assuming the chef doesn’t spend much time out in the desert), the restaurant here (located in the MGM Grand) must make him proud.

It was a surprise, however, to see that the restaurant is situated right off the casino floor. The floor-to-ceiling windows at the front of the restaurant reveal row after row of flashing slot machines, and the wafting odor of cigarette smoke seeps into the restaurant unless the host is diligent about sliding the glass door shut. As a diner, if you happen to sit facing the back of the restaurant, your view is of a sleek, dark, high-end eatery punctuated with vibrant bursts of color. If, on the other hand, you’re seated near the front of the restaurant and facing the gaming floor, your view is of people losing their money at slot machines and shuffling past the restaurant in search of the restrooms.

We ordered the Seasonal Discovery Menu, nine small tastes of L’Atelier’s signature dishes. You’ll see 10 dishes below, but that’s because you have a choice of quail or steak and we got one of each. Almost everything was gluten-free, except for the desserts and the soy sauce in the quail dish. It was definitely a splurge meal and we savored every bite.

Okay, I’ve written enough. Here are the pics:

LAtelier de Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Dining Out: Bluestem (Kansas City, Missouri)

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Two weekends ago, Henry and I took a last-minute, 42-hour trip to Kansas City on clandestine Nom Nom Paleo business. (Don’t worry, all will be revealed in due course.) The few meals we had in KC were already planned, with the exception of Sunday brunch. I’m a firm believer that no meal should ever be wasted, especially in a new-to-me city.

Although we’d hoped to try the legendary barbecue at Oklahoma Joe’s, it’s not open on Sundays, so I polled my pals on Facebook and tweeted my favorite Kansas City homie for recs on the best brunch in town. After scrolling through the different options and checking out Zagat scores, Yelp reviews, and restaurant websites, I chose Bluestem.

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Bluestem is located in the historic Westport neighborhood, where the streets are dotted with bustling restaurants and funky boutiques. Chef Colby Garrelts has been nominated seven times for the Best Chef of the Midwest by the James Beard Foundation, and this year he won the coveted prize. (In your face, Susan Lucci!) His food has been described as “progressive American cuisine with seasonal selections and a bounty of local farmers and producers to showcase the best of Kansas City and the Midwest.”

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Admittedly, I’m a bicoastal food snob who was wary about Midwestern cuisine (outside of Chicago). Bluestem might be good for Missouri, but it can’t be better than what I’ve eaten in San Fracisco or New York, right?

Wrong! Our meal at Bluestem may have been one of my favorite brunches of all time.

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