Weekend Finds 3:19:17

Weekend Finds 3:19:17 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Weekend Finds 3:19:17 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Weekend Finds 3:19:17 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Weekend Finds 3:19:17 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Weekend Finds 3:19:17 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
  • It’s Portland Dining Month and WHOA are there a lot of good options. I hit up Urdaneta last night and it was DELICIOUS. I’ll definitely be returning.
  • Spring is starting to creep up, and it is getting me in the mood for a crunchy, refreshing bowl of vegetables. This is my favorite right now.
  • Brooke is back and I couldn’t be happier. I am loving following her adventures as she launches into her boat life, and I can’t wait to read more.
  • I just made this baked pasta from Smitten Kitchen to take to a friend with a new baby (because new babies mean no sleep means how do you even have the energy to feed yourself), and now I would like to make it for myself all the time please.
  • Now that I’m back, I’m hitting up all my favorite places and all the new places that have opened since we’ve been gone. Wares falls into both of those categories, and we went for brunch this morning. I was not mad about it. (GET THE FRIED KALE.)
Weekend Finds 3:19:17 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Weekend Finds 3:19:17 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Deeper ‘n Ever Pie

Deeper 'n Ever Pie | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Deeper 'n Ever Pie | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Deeper 'n Ever Pie | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Deeper 'n Ever Pie | Serious Crust by Annie FasslerDeeper 'n Ever Pie | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

We are back. Back in the U.S. Back on the west coast. Back in gray and rainy Portland. This past weekend we had a taste of spring, but otherwise it has been wet. And between the weather and having a bit more time on my hands and a fully functional kitchen again, I have been cooking some of my favorite warming meals. (Big shout out to friends Mac and Carmelle who are letting us room with them while we look for a place to live!) This recipe is one of those dishes. You may have heard of this pie, or at least the book series it is inspired by, Redwall. When I was younger, my older sister Emily was obsessed with the series, which focuses on a series of woodland creatures who live in mostly an abbey. If I recall correctly, there are castles and ghosts, banquets and wizards. I think of it as Camelot meets the Borrowers. My mother, being the amazing woman she is, somehow found a recipe for this pie, Deeper ‘n Ever Turnip ‘n Tater ‘n Beetroot Pie, and would make it for us, making us feel as if we were at the table during those banquets, eating alongside otters, squirrels, and birds.

This pie screams cozy to me. You start with a buttery, savory pie dough, layer the filling with cheese, mashed vegetables, beets, caramelized onions, and more cheese, and bake until the crust is golden. As an adult, I realize the amount of work that goes into this, and how long my mom must have spent in the kitchen making it: caramelizing onions, mashing potatoes and turnips, boiling beets, shredding cheese. It also is a great base for something that is easy to riff on – you could add squash, greens, mushrooms, peppers.

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Portugal Restaurant Review: Esporão Restaurant

Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Esporão Restaurant | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

When we were talking to my mother about our travels in Portugal, how we were planning on driving around the Algarve, she said there was a town Évora, we had to go to, and a winery about 45 minutes from there where we had to have lunch. She took it upon herself to email them and make a reservation for us. And then, as we continued traveling around and talking to people, the name of this winery kept popping up. “Oh, you have to go to Esporão for lunch!” “You like food? If you feel like splurging, go to Esporão.” I was glad that we already had it on the books!

The drive to Esporão was beautiful, even if it was blanketed with soft, gray clouds. We passed fields of sheep, cows, and horses, trees dotted with huge storks, and orange grove after orange grove. We arrived at the winery about thirty minutes early (they recommended we arrive 10 minutes early and had warned of construction on the roads), and spent some time exploring the gift shop full of wines and olive oils, looking out at the view over the vineyards and lake, and relaxing in the sitting room which was warmed by a wood fire and decorated like the hippest hotel: leather seats, beautifully woven carpets, modern industrial lamps. We were then escorted into the dining area, which continued the beautiful decor. Our table was on a wall of windows that looked over the terrace and the view we had been admiring earlier, but the room had more great rugs and brightly colored art decorating the back wall.

Our server explained the concept of the restaurant, the importance of focusing on local Portuguese ingredients, and how much they make in house. After settling on the six course tasting menu and one wine pairing to share (one of us *cough Jonah cough* had to make the 45 minute drive back), we sat back, ready to start our meal. We started with three small amuse bouches, which were accompanied by a deep pink rosé that tasted of strawberries. The first was a mushroom tartlet with cheese and nasturtium; Second, a spiced cookie topped with crab and celery root; And third, a cracker with foie gras, oxalis, and black cardamom. I could have made a meal out of those bites. I wished each one lasted longer, that I got more chances to tasted the playful, unique flavor combinations. It boded well for the rest of the meal.

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North to Porto: Portugal #5

North to Porto | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
North to Porto | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
North to Porto | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
North to Porto | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
North to Porto | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
North to Porto | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
North to Porto | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

From Lisbon we went north to Porto. It rained during most of our time there, but we still made the best of it. The ten days we spent in Porto was our time to relax a bit. We knew there wasn’t necessarily ten days of stuff to do in Porto, especially without a car. But we made sure to do most of the things in the town that we had read about.

The first was to eat francescinha, a regional sandwich made with 3 kinds of meat: steak, ham, and smoked sausage. The meat sandwich is then covered in cheese, heated (so the cheese gets melty) and then drenched in a beer, tomato, and piri-piri sauce. We knew we needed to try this dish, but I must admit I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. I’m not big into sandwiches, and we had been eating so much meat that I kind of wanted a break. But try it we did, and I actually really liked it! My friend Caitlyn sometimes describes things as “gut bombs” when they’re particularly heavy or fatty and you know you’re going to be feeling it the next day. That’s exactly what this francescinha was. But it also kind of reminded me of the classic combination of a grilled cheese with tomato soup. It was warming and super flavorful. I’m just glad Jonah and I split one.

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Last Lisbon Food Adventures: Portugal #4

Last Lisbon Adventures | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Last Lisbon Adventures | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Last Lisbon Adventures | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Last Lisbon Adventures | Serious Crust by Annie FasslerLast Lisbon Adventures | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Last Lisbon Adventures | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Last Lisbon Adventures | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Our last week and a half in Lisbon was spent doing two things: crossing adventures off of our to-do list before we ventured to other parts of Portugal, and working. We adopted a simple approach of spending a day working, then a day adventuring, a day working, and a day adventuring. These adventures included things as simple as going to new neighborhoods and walking around, as daring as trying new foods, as long as taking a train to Sintra to explore castles, and as fun as renting bikes to ride along the coast.

The neighborhoods of Intendente and Mouraria were recommended to us by our Lazy Flavors tour guide Mariana, so we took the subway out there a couple of days after our tour. We poked around the beautiful A Vida Portuguesa store and, when our stomachs started grumbling decided to find lunch. Our timing and location worked out perfectly, as we were just a block away from Cervejaria Ramiro, a seafood restaurant that I had read about and had been recommended to us. We sat down just a few minutes after they opened and after we ordered, the flood of people came rushing in. We were, however, some of the more adventurous ones in the dining room, as we ordered a plate of goose barnacles, which Mariana had also told us we needed to try. Our waiter showed us how to peel off the scaly skin to reveal a tender, pinkish purple flesh, which you could easily pluck off of the barnacle end. They were tender and light, and reminiscent of the sea without being overly fishy. Definitely a new favorite for me.

On our walk back from Intendente to our neighborhood, Santos, we passed through many parts of Lisbon, and as we passed a shop filled with bacalhau I realized that I hadn’t yet written here about it. Bacalhau is dried, salted cod. It is a weird phenomenon, and I can’t quite figure out why perhaps the most iconic Portuguese ingredient is from Norway when the country of Portugal is known for its incredible range of fresh seafood. To cook with it, it is soaked in water and rehydrated for 24 hours, but even then it’s still kind of chewy and weird. There are lots of variations of bacalhau you’ll find here: croquetas, seared with peppers and onions, and maybe the strangest is a kind of fish salad with shredded bacalhau, raw onion, olives, parsley, and little crispy noodles. I’ll admit, I have yet to enjoy a bacalhau dish.

Our bike ride was really an excuse to get to Belém without sitting on a train or bus for upwards of thirty minutes. We rode along the bike path on the river, soaking in the ocean air. We had four orders of important business in Belém: see the momument to the maritime explorers, go up the Tower of Belém, visit the Jerónimos Monastery, and eat the best pastel de nata in the greater Lisbon area. Only one of them was food related! Aren’t you proud, dear reader? Let’s get to the part you’re interested in, the pastry. Pastel de nata is an egg custard tartlet, usually infused with vanilla and sometimes cinnamon, and baked in such a way that the top gets speckled with little darkly caramelized bits. We had tried a few in Lisbon, and while I like them, custard pastries are not really my thing. In all of my research for Lisbon, everyone said you had to go to Pastéis de Belém for the best pastéis de nata, but I thought to myself, could they really be that much better than the ones I had already tried? The answer? Oh yes they could. These pastéis were served warm, already a huge advantage over the others I’d tasted. What else made it better? The smoothest custard ever, more cinnamon, and a cracklier, slightly saltier, and much butterier crust. If you are questioning if the trip to Belém is worth it for these sweets, stop it. Just go. (Also a tip if you’re going: There are two doors. The one on the right with the crazy line out the door is for takeaway. Go in the door on the left and enter their cavernous restaurant area – it goes on and on, room after room, forever. We only waited about 3 minutes for a table.)

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