Tag Archives: portland food

Taste Unique

Taste Unique

When you have a chance, I highly recommend a visit to Taste Unique. You’ll meet Chef Stefania Toscano and her husband Lawrence Mc Cormick– both gracious and charming.  They serve up delicious Italian comfort food, neatly-packaged to take out for lunch or home for dinner. And although it’s a small space, you’re welcome to eat there,  if you can snag a table.

A month or so ago, I received a message from another blogger in town, Josh of PDXploration. It was an invitation for dinner– a private party at Taste Unique.  Not only was the guest list made up of bloggers and chefs that I’d been wanting to meet, but the menu sounded amazing.

We were to enjoy  a five course Taste of Sicily:

Sfincione Palermitano. Focaccia made with Onions, Pecorino, breadcrumbs and tomatoes. .
Pasta ‘Ncatenata Rigatoni with broccoli, crushed peppers and anchovies. Spicy and delicious.
Sarde Beccafico This is a dish of baked stuffed sardines. Long preparation for one of Sicily’s most famous traditions.
Bastaddu Affucatu Cauliflower cooked ‘drowned’ in red wine with olives, anchovies and pecorino.
Cannoli Siciliana with pistachio and chocolate.

The menu intrigued me. Having not been to Sicily (yet!), I was not used to a menu of pecorino, anchovies, sardines, olives, anchovies, pecorino. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of all the above, but I could tell that the flavors were going to be bold and perhaps a bit brackish. I was correct, and I ate until I was stuffed and had to take leftovers home.

Chef Stefania took time to describe each dish.

My favorite dish: The sardines. I wasn’t expecting that this would be my favorite, but they were so silvery and beautiful to look at– a feast for the eyes.  Their sweet breadcrumb stuffing was delicious– a perfect compliment to the  assertive fish.

Great hosts. Great wine. Great food. Great conversation. Great night.

Taste Unique offers classes and private dinners like ours. I’ve also heard rumors that the tiramisu is not to be missed. I’m going to have that next time.

My iPhone pictures do not hold up to the pictures taken by my fellow bloggers, so check these sites out:

Eating is Art http://www.eatingisart.com/2010/04/taste-unique.html#comment-237

PDXploration  http://www.pdxploration.com/search/label/TasteUnique

Good Stuff NW  http://goodstuffnw.blogspot.com/2010/04/night-in-sicily.html

Taste Unique
2134 SE Division
Portland, OR 97202   (503) 206-7059

Favorite Portland Snack of The Day

Char siu bao

Steamed Pork Bao from Jade Tea House

I am in LOVE with the Char Siu Bao at Jade Teahouse in Sellwood.  You’ll find these hum bao on the Small Plates section of the menu, however they are anything but small. I love the fact that they are full with delicious chunks of saucy pork and onions and not just overly-doughy puffs with a scant amount of filling. I have found myself disappointed by the latter more than I should admit.

I would rank these as good as those at Yank Sing in San Francisco. Yeah. They’re that good.

They are a steal at $3 and one of my favorite snacks in Portland.

Yummy Filling

Jade Teahouse & Patisserie
7912 S.E. 13th Avenue
Portland, OR 97203

Tues – Saturday: 11am-9pm
Sunday: 12pm-6pm
Monday: CLOSED

Labor Day Picnic? Try a Slow Food USA Eat-In in Your Neighborhood.


Looking for something to do on Labor Day? Do something yummy and important. Attend a local Eat-In supporting The Time for Lunch Campaign.  Slow Food USA’s campaign to get healthy, nutritious local foods on the trays of our schoolkids  is asking you to join (or organize!) a local Eat-In to spread the word.

A SAn Francisco Eat-In 2008

A San Francisco Eat-In 2008

Several are taking place in the Portland Metro Area. Click on the map here to find one closest to you. Make your favorite healthy and delicious potluck dish, and join other slowfoodies in your neighborhood to support this important cause.

It’s time to provide our children with real food at school

This year, we have an opportunity we cannot pass up. In the fall, Congress will decide whether to update the Child Nutrition Act, which is the law that determines what 30 million children eat at school every day.

By giving schools the resources to serve real food, we can build a strong foundation for our children’s health. We can teach them healthy habits that will last them through life. We can make a down payment on health care reform. We can do all of this, but only if we help our legislators connect the dots.

If you can’t make it to one, still help out by signing  the online petition here.

You KNOW our school lunches can improve if even MY kids balk at them. They’d eat something out of the gutter, if it was shrink-wrapped and had a Kraft label on it. Let’s give kids the fresh delicious meals they need and deserve. And thanks Slow Food USA for continuing to fight the good fight.

Portland’s Best Tacos: Por Que No vs. Chilango’s for Tinga

Best Tacos Tinga in Portland? The Food Bloggers Weigh In.

One of the great things about eating in Portland is there are so many blogs and forums that opine on every morsel on every menu at every eatery in town. And although it can be a bit overkill at times, it is comforting to know that those dedicated bloggers have pretty much sussed out what’s good and what’s not.

Portland Food Dude’s motto: Throwing ourselves on the grenade of bad food to save you.


One of my favorite strolls is through the Historic Mississippi District. There is much wonderful shopping, sipping and good food. ¿Por qué No? is no exception. On Food Dude’s recommendation, I ordered two tacos tinga and one carnitas for good measure. Delish! The tinga was really a stand out.

Tinga is a dish from Puebla, Mexico. Often with pork, it can be made with chicken or beef (as is PQN’s). Shredded meat is soaked in a sauce of tomatoes, onions and chipotles en adobado, served in tacos, gorditas, and tostadasand generally topped simply with crema and cheese or fresh chopped onion.

A few weeks ago after wiping tinga sauce from my face, hands and shirt, I Twittered my appreciation for these tasty tacos. Not long after, I received a reply from another local food blogger, writer and restaurateur Extramsg who suggested I try Chilango’s –the sauce has a more complex and smoky flavor.

Off to Chilango’s for Tacos Tinga

Sounded like a perfect Mother’s Day plan to me: after my obligatory (and lovely) breakfast in bed and opening of the gifts, I load my crew into the car and  off to Chilango’s. I wanted to start there with my fresh palate, then head over to Mississippi (with the hidden agenda of finishing off the taco comparo with a dutch taco for dessert at Flavour Spot).


Extramsg had mentioned about it being a little “divey” — Chilango’s that is.  I was prepared for the worst but was pleasantly surprised.  It was very clean. It wasn’t a restaurant or a dive per se. It’s a sparsely-stocked Mexican grocery store with a taco counter and indoor tables, but definitely lacking ambience.

Dining area.

Dining area.

Joe and I ordered one tinga and one carnitas taco. They were each amazing.

Tinga taco (left) and Carnitas Taco

Tinga taco (left) and Carnitas Taco

Extramsg was right– the tinga was smokier and more complex. It was definitely more on the chipotle end of the spectrum as opposed to the tomato end and with that came a lot of heat. I’m embarrassingly a spice wimp, so I immediately began to turn red, sweat and cry.

Spice wimp,

Spice wimp,

Those endorphins were flying and my mouth was burning, but the taco was so good. It was simply garnished with cilantro and fresh white onion, and I couldn’t put it down. It was at about this time that I was wishing I had something a little stronger to wash it down with than my Mexican Coke, but alas, no alcohol. ¡Que lastima!

The carnitas did not disappoint either. The perfectly-spiced pork was crispy from braising in its own fat, just the way I like it. Lightly adorned with salsa roja, onion, cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime, it was fantastic. Cradled in freshly made corn tortillas, these were the best soft tacos that I’ve had north of East L.A. I was happy.

Next stop: ¿Por qué No?

Por Que No

Por Que No

At first, I was feeling annoyed – long line, hungry people, small space, fussy seating situation, impatient children (mine). I was even contemplating leaving. But the line moved quickly and once I sat down and took that first cold, strong sip of my margarita the annoyance magically dissipated. I surrendered to the kitschy decor and reggae music, leaned back in my chair and enjoyed the moment.

Or two.

Or two.

Not long after, the tacos arrived. The first thing I noticed was the abundance of queso fresco. Chilango’s did not add cheese, and suddenly the cheese seemed out of place here.

Tinga and Carnitas

Tinga and Carnitas

It’s funny how it had not even noticed it before.  I ate every bite, and the creamy saltiness of the cheese was a delicious counterpart to the hot filling. The meats were considerably saucier than Chilango’s,  but delicious. Although my tear ducts did not miss the spiciness of Chilango’s tinga, I found myself pining for the drier crispiness of their carnitas.

In the end we decided that they are both delicious. Chilango’s edged out PQN in authenticity, but we agreed that dining experience was much better as a whole where we were. We lingered there for awhile, enjoying our drinks and taco comas.

Girls enjoying taquitos in the window.

Girls enjoying taquitos in the window.

Maybe too long, though.



By the time we strolled down the street, Flavour Spot had closed. We stood there disappointed, with our faces pushed up against the locked chain link gate. The kids were mad. I was bummed.

There would be no Dutch Taco for us on this almost perfect Mother’s Day.

We’ll have to save it for another blog.

Chilangos Taqueria Y Tienda Mexicana, 1473 NE Prescott St  (866) 224-8815

Por Que No, 3524 N Mississippi Av (503) 467-4149‎  –and–  4635 SE Hawthorne (503) 954-3138