When I moved to Portland in the mid-1990s, Portland was pretty much a backwater town. Property values were low, the farmers market had just barely gotten off the ground and there was not much in the way of good coffee to speak of. Contrast that sad state of affairs with today...now Portland is so trendy the New York Times can't stop talking about us. (Sorry, Seattle). So what happened? A lot of things, including the fact that many, many people from New York and the East Coast moved to Portland for its low property values and quality of life. But I digress. Things have changed considerably in 15+ years, and one of the many things that is putting Portland, Oregon on the map these days is its food scene. From restaurants like Castagna, Le Pigeon (don't pronounce it as if it's French) and Beast, to microbrewed beer to coffee, Portland is now known nationally and internationally as an epicenter of all things good food.
So along comes someone to put the various pieces together for all of us in on place, and - voila! - we have Food Lover's Guide to Portland. In this book, Liz Crain has compiled an astoundingly comprehensive guide to Portland food. And it's not just about restaurants, though they are certainly a core part of what she covers in this book. There's a 'cheese' category, a 'seafood' category, a 'tea' category and literally dozens of other things that I found myself totally engrossed in learning all about. Crain has unearthed numerous gems in the nooks and crannies of Portland and the surrounding area, cool things that I've never heard of and I thought I knew Portland. Like Lulu's Chocolates and Fiji Emporium.
So among its many virtues, what's great about this book is this: if you're new to Portland or curious about the scene, this is a fantastic resource. If you've lived here forever or are a Portland native, this book is for you too - because you're gonna find out about things you've never heard of. The bottom line is that this book reflects the comprehensive knowledge and curiosity of its author, a Portland food writer who dabbles in such diverse pursuits as fermentation, canning and cooking on sailboats. Let Liz Crain take you along on her Portland food adventure! (You can also follow Liz on her blog here).
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Food Lover's Guide to Portland Sasquatch Press 256 pages, $17.95, paperback
Liz Crain is selling autographed copies directly from her website: click here for details. Makes a great gift!