Thursday, October 28, 2010

Harvest Moon

(late september. number 9)

This Secret Restaurant was a simple celebration of the beginning of Fall– the days had been unusually hot again, but the afternoon turned blustery as we started to cook. The moon loomed high, the Neil Young album was slapped into the tape deck, and we all toasted to the harvest time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Pastoral Brunch

(labor day weekend. number 8.)


Cher Mikkola Cream Scones

A famous recipe from the mother of Secret Restaurant close-associate and often ice cream maker/auxilary baker/shopping helper Aria, adapted to perfection over the years. Recreated here and topped with fresh blackberry compote. Served with local and organic watermelon, pears, strawberries. English Stilton cheese.

Roasted Potatoes De Provence

Pink-centered red fingerling potatoes, roasted with whole cloves of fresh garlic and chopped golden beets. Tossed with mexican rock sea salt, hydrated red rose and hibiscus flowers. Topped with a pureed spinach sauce, made with white onion, shallots, garlic, basil, and lavender. Served on rainbow chard leaves.

Home-made brioche with home-made sweet cream butter and a slice of yellow heirloom tomato.

Fluffy Egg Tartlets

Golden Oregon Wild Chanterelle Mushroom Soufflé (from farm fresh, market eggs) in a rosemary whole wheat pie crust, topped with a Stilton-infused Irish butter hollandaise sauce. Dusted with grated Italian black truffle and lavender flowers. Garnished with Ficoîde Glaciele– "an unusual French green. Delicate texture & lemony, salty taste."

Fried green heirloom tomatoes with a French Batard breading.


Bloody Mary's

Fresh heirloom tomato juice, hot peppers, organic bottled tomato juice, house-pickled pickles, rainbow chard stocks, Russian potato vodka, and plenty o' secrets. Sel gris rim.

Two Featured Coffees:

from Olympia Coffee Roasting Co., Olympia, WA

Guatemala Huehuetenange CODECH Cooperative. The rather accurate description from Olympia Coffee Roasing Co.'s website: "Aromas of ripe fruit and brown sugar perfume the sweet tangy acidity and well- structured body. Heady flavors of honey, strawberry, and orange are reminiscent of baked summer pastries."

from Espresso Roma Café, Eugene, OR

A mysterious bean known to many friends and acquaintances who have spent much time in Eugene, Oregon. My best answer to the often-asked question "how the hell do they make this midnight mind-slam coffee?" is that it is probably Mexican beans, done in a vienna roast and brewed very strongly. We decided to serve this coffee as a distinct contrast to the Guatemalan, and tried to recreate the intensity of the Roma experience with each cup.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Roman Holiday

(mid august. number 7.)

This Secret Restaurant was a "return to our roots." These dinners began, quite simply, as much smaller gatherings where Andrew and Lucas practiced their cooking. We decided to go back to that mode of operation and celebrate the height of summer with southern Italian food!


Baguettes from: Fressen (soft and dense) and Grand Central (crusty and airy), broiled with a brushing of olive oil

Wild lobster mushrooms sauteed in butter with fresh garlic

Pesto, made with almonds and an absence of cheese.

Blanched, then marinated broccolini and purple carrots.

Chopped dark heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil in a balsamic dressing

Insalata L'Estate

Red butter leaf lettuce, arugula, and massaged rainbow chard. Raw oregon filberts, heirloom tomatoes, summer bell peppers of various colors, and lemon cucumbers. A vinaigrette made using purple carrot juice, chopped basil, garlic, balsamic, and olive oil.


Purple potato gnocchi

Yellow heirloom tomato sauce with saffron.

A slice of fresh mozzarella

Calamari, breaded with red quinoa and fried in coconut oil

Grilled summer squash


Home-made, fresh peach gelato served with peaches prepared in brown sugar, topped with a crumble made from toasted almond cookies.

The Wine

Also "back to basics," we simply served our 'House Wine'– Evolution (white) and Meditrina (red) from Sokol Blosser of Dundee, Oregon.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nostalgia Tripping

(the last day of july. number 6.)

The idea for 'Secret Restaurant Nostalgia Trip' was to take our favorite foods from childhood and update them in the style of our recent dinners.

We each contributed ideas for individual dishes, and then followed through with creating them. Lucas grew up eating a lot of tuna salad wrapped in lettuce leaves– so, sushi grade ahi and fresh mayonnaise and endive. There is no denying that nearly every child loves macaroni and cheese– so, conchiglie shells and macaroni shells with extra sharp vermont cheddar, gouda, mustard, garlic and a kiss of saffron. Andrew's favorite dish growing up was "hamburger gravy and creamed potatoes," which his grandmother made for him every time he spent the evening at her house– and she made 'world famous' (in the way all midwestern women make 'world famous' dishes) hamburger buns, so– veggie sloppy joes on made-from-scratch garlic/whole wheat hamburger buns with a side of country cream potatoes. One of Jenny's favorites (and, really, all of us) was the ol' peanut butter and jelly– so, grilled tea sandwich triangles with almond butter and homemade plum jam. Casey love's cookies and ice cream, and who doesn't have fond memories of absurd bowls of ice cream concoctions– so, banana split with 3 ice creams and a shortbread animal shaped cookie.
The whole thing also turned into a bit of a 1950s tribute, with the colors, the nostalgic music in the background...

Monday, August 9, 2010

'axis & allies'

(early july. number 5.)

This Secret Restaurant was inspired by our very own cultural heritages, which just so happen to be, at their most simplified: German, Polish, English. It was a "wear it loud and proud" honoring of our European immigrant forefathers. And what would a WWII dinner be without Italian and French thrown in there too?

course 1:

• Vichyssoise- Chilled Potato and Leek Soup

With lots of extra fennel

• Pierogi– 3 [Kale/Kraut, Artichoke/Adele. Buttermilk Mashed Potato/Garlic]

Half circular dumplings of unleavened dough, stuffed with above fillings, boiled then pan fried until golden brown. Adele is a sheep and cow milk cheese made near Portland.

• Rettichsalat– Shaved radish salad w/cider vinegar, walnut oil, chives, and dill.

course 2:

• Pie– Porcini/Morel Mushroom 'Black Pudding' with grilled 'Game Sausage' and Zucchini. Shortcrust pastry bottom + Bubble & Squeak top.

The creation of this pie was to share and celebrate the flavors of classic English entrees, most of which get a bad rap in the food world, and virtually non of which are commonly made vegetarian.

Pie crust: accented with fresh sage.
Bottom layer: Pseudo "black" or "blood" pudding, created with mushrooms, rye bread crumbs, yellow onions, fresh garlic, red wine, mustard, herbs, and 'game sausage.'
Second layer: Lightly sauteed summer zucchini
Third layer: Morel mushrooms in mushroom gravy
Forth layer: Porcini mushroom slices sauteed in butter
Top crust: "Bubble & Squeak" a cabbage/potato fritter seasoned with sea salt & black pepper.
Topping: Orange and black figs, Neil's Yard raw milk cheddar, and pickled green tomato.

• Mussolini's Trousers– Fresh sardine, roasted elephant garlic cloves, and fresh bing cherries

The fish was salted with large mexican sea salt crystals, broiled, then crisped in flames, on a skewer.

• Kale Kraut fermented marriage of cabbage and dino kale.

• German Jewelbox– Selection of pickled curiosities (peppercorns and red grapes, carrots, snow peas), wholegrain mustard, herb and flower salad.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

'an obscure country off the coast of south africa'

(mid june. number 4.)

from our guest cook, Asher Woodworth:

Mauritius is a small (2040 km2) island nation off the east coast of Madagascar. It was colonized several times throughout its relatively short history as an island populated by humans. First came the Dutch, who abandoned it, and then the French. Finally the British took control and ruled until the island's independence in 1968. The various colonial powers that ruled over the island brought with them slaves, or indentured workers from different occupied territories. So-called "Coolies" were brought from India as indentured workers, slaves from Africa were imported at various points, and a large number of Chinese workers were brought to the island as well. The result, many years later, is an island culture that is incredibly rich, diverse and tolerant. Ethnically, the majority of the estimated 1,300,00 people are Indian, but there are also many people of African descent on the island, and there are also European and Chinese minorities.
The food is something of a mix of all of these cultures. There are significant Indian and European influences, but there are many things found in Mauritius that cannot be found anywhere else in the world and can't really be easily traced back to one cultural heritage in particular. Then there are also the African and Chinese dishes and influences. It is quite common for a mixture of culturally distinct foods to appear next to each other on the same plate. There are various pickles, relishes and spice combinations that are endemic to Mauritius, often preferred by the Western tongue to their Indian counterparts because of their distinctive flavor without being overwhelmingly spicy hot. We did our best to include things on this Secret Restaurant menu that represent the unique flavor of Mauritian cuisine well.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

'the thai airways flight attendant'

(mid/late may. number three)

the menu

• summer rolls

rice paper, thai basil, bean sprouts, mint, wheat noodles

served with peanut sauce

• bean noodle soup

bean noodles, shallots, green onion, garlic whistles, shitake mushrooms, and maitake mushrooms in broth and over jasmine rice.

• green curry

ginger, onion, shitake mushrooms, thai eggplant, thai basil, garlic whistles, and coconut cream. topped with crushed cashews.

• large shrimp

broiled with sesame oil, lemon and chamomile, sea salt, and black pepper

• jasmine rice

with lime zest and tossed lightly with sweetened condensed milk

• papaya salad

traditional street food. a fresh slaw of unripe green papaya and mango incorporating the four classic taste of thailand: sour, salty, spicy, and sweet.

• sea bean salad

sea bean (a salty, juicy, curious vegetable), dandelion greens, purple lettuce, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, chili peppers, lime juice, rice vinegar

• thai iced tea

assam black tea with loads of orange zest, a touch of natural sugar, and sweetened condensed milk

• coconut cassava cake

coconut pandan pudding and cassava/coconut cake flavored with pandan leaf between two meringues, made with cashew and hazelnut meal, coconut, and crystalized ginger. served with coconut cream, mangosteen segments, and more crystalized ginger.

the beverages:

NV Sokol Blosser, "Evolution, Lucky Edition" White Blend, USA

Complex but fun, and eminently drinkable, Evolution has become the house white wine of Secret Restaurant. It was the obvious choice, as the fruity and aromatic mix of nine varietals is light enough to let more delicate ingredients shine but with that touch of residual sugar that tames the heat of Thai bird's-eye chilies. Oh, did I mention it's really, really drinkable? At the end of the night, the rule is pretty much "glasses optional."

The Thai Airways Flight Attendant

A flirty mix of house-infused lychee vodka and muddled Thai basil with palm sugar. Topped off with soda and just a splash of Saké One Moonstone plum saké. A little sweet, a little herbaceous, a little bubbly.

'the real northwest'

(early may. number two)

the menu

• asparagus and cream soup

topped with a long slice of dill havarti and deep fried asparagus heads.

• wild coho salmon

flash fried then broiled, speckled with wild rice and drizzled with a maple/mustard/wine/herb reduction sauce.

• wild rice

with butter, sea salt, and cracked pepper

• tartlets

fresh rosemary and almond pie crust. stuffed with fresh fennel and spring onion, garlic, shitake mushrooms, bok choi, and a local semihard goat cheese

• pecan chocolate cake

layered with a pecan/brown sugar/butter goo in the middle, dressed in whipped cream, nuts, and pungently delicious cinnamon.


2007 Sokol Blosser, "Dundee Hills," Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills AVA Oregon

A return to a very classic Oregon style, this was a must for any dinner featuring salmon. 90% estate farmed certified-Organic Pinot Noir, and all of it grown on the volcanic Jory soil of the AVA that lends the distinctive dusty, earthy character to the wine. Elegant red fruit and floral notes into funky forest-floor and truffle.

2006 St. Innocent Winery, "White Rose Vineyard", Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills AVA Oregon

Grenadine and dried rose petals lead to juicy, fresh cherries and raspberries, mixed in with warm soil and pink peppercorns. Mark Vlossak contracts the fruit from White Rose Vineyard, a high-elevation planting with 25-year-old own-rooted Pommard vines-- a rare treat.

Loweyn's camera was not in attendance at Secret Restaurant Portland #2, so we leave you with these two mysterious film noir-ish images.

Monday, May 24, 2010

'rustic euro'

(mid april 2010. number one)

the menu

• dark walnut baguette/sourdough baguette/rustic potato round

served with :

roasted garlic, melted cambozola cheese, and sautéed morel mushrooms

braised dino kale and northwest smoked salmon

oil and vinegar

• russian sorrel soup

slow-roasted vegetable broth with sorrel, spring turnips, purple carrots and gold potatoes

• fresh egg pasta

baked (in butter and fresh sage) then flaked rainbow trout, topped with lavender/arugula pesto

side of marinated grilled eggplant

• ukranian almond poppy seed cake

topped with fresh vanilla bean/ lavender water ice cream, tossed with lavender flowers and topped with a slice of spring turnip


2004 Giuliano Tiberi Azienda Agricola, "Le Vespe", Sangiovese, Toscana IGT

Coming from just outside of the designated Chianti zone, and with 20% other indigenous blending grapes, the Le Vespe was a easy choice. Ruby red in color, the wine was full of classic Sangiovese flavors like red currant and sour cherries, with a little hint of coffee bean from it's French oak treatment.

2008 La Grange Tiphaine, "Les Cassiers," Gamay, Touraine-Amboise

Made as they would in Beaujolais, this Gamay from the Loire was given the carbonic maceration treatment with all stainless steel aging. Lots of juicy red fruit tempered by the mineral earthiness imparted from 50 year old vines grown in chalk and Silex soils.