Crain writes about Pacific Northwest food and drink for various print and online publications. She is also an editor at Hawthorne Books. We asked her a few questions.
Get out to Kruger Farms on Sauvie Island on any Thursday night in the summer to check out their outdoor concert series and drink a pint or two of Captured By Porches‘ Two Cats Kolsch from their mobile public house. The Two Kats is light, crisp and refreshing but still has impressive hops. Perfect summer session beer.
Grab some Jorinji Miso at New Seasons Market, Limbo or loads of other ethnic markets and shops around town that carry it and either prepare it in someone’s kitchen or take it home as a PDX edible souvenir. I do all sorts of things with Jorinji’s Miso but I think my favorite is a simple lime, miso, oil vinaigrette that I make. It’s really good on a summer salad with strong greens like chicories or arugula thrown in along with some chopped fresh herbs. It stands up to the flavor. I love all the different types of their miso too — white, red, dark red, chickpea and then some.
What do you think it is about Portland that makes it this nexus of local and organic and hipster? Location and a strong by-your-bootstraps ethic are really important. The Willamette Valley is so fertile and all of the surrounding growing regions in the state offer a ton of diversity — bison, horseradish, wasabi, crawfish, kiwi, wine grapes and so much more all thrive here. It also doesn’t hurt that Portland is affordable, artistic, and close to so many other great food/drink spots—Vancouver B.C, Seattle, Northern California, Washington and Oregon wine country. There’s some magic here too though that you just can’t put your finger on. I love Portland more and more every year.
Will you recommend a couple of books you read in researching your book? Katy Calcott’s The Food Lover’s Guide to Seattle and Patricia Wells’ The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris.
What are some of your favorite food memoirs? Delights and Prejudices by James Beard, The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher, Toast by Nigel Slater, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin, My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme, The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones.
How about some of your favorite cookbooks? The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich, Dungeness Crab and Blackberry Cobbler by Janie Hibler, The Silver Spoon by Phaidon Press, Vij’s by Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhawala, The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible by Dave DeWitt and Nancy Gerlach, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child et al, Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters to name just a few. It’s hard to pick favorites.
Can you introduce us to a book about food that we might not have heard of? Edible Wild Plants: Wild Food from Dirt to Plate by John Kallas. John lives a hop, skip and jump away from me in North Portland and I love his work and writing. The book just came out this summer.
What do you use more for recipes these days, cookbooks or laptop? Cookbooks. No competition there for me.
Do you prefer your cookbooks pristine or are they crusted and splattered? Cookbooks are the only type of book that I write in. At the back of most of my cookbooks — the ones that I care about — I write down my favorite recipes along with notes and page numbers. So I sort of make my own index with things to remember about the recipes. All of the cookbooks that I love get weathered and worn.