Monday, February 28, 2011


(new year's eve. number 12.)

This dinner was the 1 year anniversary for Secret Restaurant Portland.

We spent the first part of last year holding practice dinners that were smaller and more frequent than they are today, and we didn't officially "open" until spring (the first dinner documented on this blog). But the first time that Lucas and I ever cooked together for guests was new year's eve 2009/2010.
We made a dinner very close to the one you'll see below. It was a sort of Italian-inspired Northwest winter meal. We had an antipasto with roasted garbanzo beans and chard. We had bread with roasted garlic. We had salmon. We had gnocci with this nutty olive sauce, we had biscotti and coffee for dessert. Some of the guests for the anniversary were there for the original, and it was really fun to hear their reactions to our progress.
Lucas once joked "maybe someday we'll get to the point where you start doing ridiculous shit like letterpress menus." So I took that as a cue and I hand set type and letterpress printed the menus.

course 1.

Garbanzo dollop.

Chickpeas marinated in olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper– slow roasted, and then blended with garlic powder, herbamare, and more olive oil. Topped with a sliced rustic baguette, brushed with butter.

Rocket salad.
Arugula dressed in a citrus vinegrette with chopped almonds. Topped with grated gruyere cheese.

Beet super soup.
A lightly-creamed, slow-cooked golden-beet-based vegetable broth, with pan-fried golden beets and chard dropped in. Is that enough hyphens for you?
Plate garnished with a caper berry.

course 2.

Gnocchi made with simple oregon russett potatoes, cooked up in butter.

Sundried tomato sauce with dried oregano from a friend's back yard, balsamic,
black pepper, and old bay seasoning.
Olive sauce, made with kalamata olives and filberts.
Cream sauce with sauteed local White Elm mushrooms, topped with grated reggiano.
Green beans.

Marinated with with sesame oil, tahini, and mustard seeds. Then grilled.

Salmon on garlic bread beds.

Placed on rosemary sprigs and cedar plank broiled, skin up.
Roasted local red garlic smear spread on individual stone-baked breads.

course 3.


Ludicrous as their name may be, tangelos are extremely fragrent citrus fuits. And so, our biscotti was made with tangelo zest and tangelo juice, ground cloves, and local walnuts.

Coffee ice cream.

We cold-press brewed, for one day, a Vienna-roast bean from Eugene, OR- (the same coffee served at our Secret Brunch back in September) with the milk and cream required for our basic ice cream recipe. The result was a coffee flavor with pretty much no acidity. It tasted like chocolate, but there wasn't any chocolate present. The majority of the grounds were filtered out, but the finest made it through, giving it a very pleasing texture.

Espresso pour

We slow brewed a mokka pot of Stumptown's Kenya Gichtha-ini. It's new as of December 2010. The description they wrote for it: "Raspberry is the principal flavor, cloaked with notes of kiwi, cocoa, pineapple, and raw sugar redolent of dried flowers."


We drank an assortment of red and white wines from Italy and California, as well as a very bulbous bottle of champagne from France, what with the holiday we were celebrating and its tradition of champagne consumption.

May it be noted that this dinner was also the debut of our new feasting table and benches, hand-crafted from recycled furniture– as well as a welcome return of our treasure guest duo of Al Pomper and our original photographer, Loewyn Young, who now live in Olympia.

A photo from our humble '09/'10 gathering:

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