I like Oregon. I’ve visited a few times and I am always very impressed by the food and drink there. Oregonians know how to take advantage of their regional bounty and create some extremely delicious fare.
Though I had not been to a Wildwood restaurant in Portland, I picked up their cookbook from the library because I saw that it had a chapter focusing solely on spring vegetables from the Willamette Valley, and I was in a spring vegetable type of mood. I’m glad I did, because the food I made was exceedingly delicious. The stuffed chard leaves achieve absolute flavor harmony with the garlic and shallot-kalamata olive vinaigrette. I am not even a great fan of olives, but they worked most excellently with this dish.
I had some leftover Arborio rice from the last time I made risotto, so we also made a rice pudding (my first!) with dried cranberries and topped with fresh blackberries. This recipe is not only delicious, it’s quite flexible. The o.g. recipe calls for dried blueberries, but I already had dried cranberries in my cabinet. It could be topped with a variety of fresh fruit, but the blackberries looked best at the market. This freedom made the recipe feel easy and adaptable, allowing you to constantly change up the flavors each time you make the pudding.
The thing that drew me to this cookbook, regional Oregonian cuisine, was also what limited it for me. I couldn’t make any of the awesome seafood recipes since they often called for shellfish from very specific places in Oregon. I could have substituted my own local seafood but was hesitant to do so. Other Oregonian specialties also evaded me: fresh hazelnuts, huckleberries, regional wines, apples, pears, and other produce. I certainly can substitute if I want to give those recipes a try in they future, and I might do that since the recipes I did make were so terrific. I’m also going to try out the Wildwood restaurant the next time I visit Portland.
If you like Oregonian cuisine, you might also like to try Mother’s Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again from the fantastic Mother’s Bistro on SW Stark Street. Our good friend Mary over at Cooking with the Junior League has reviewed two of PDX’s Junior League cookbooks: Cooked to Taste and Portland’s Palate.
Verdict: Check it out.
A real winner for regional cuisine, the Wildwood chefs know their flavors and how to best use their wonderful local foods.