Tara, my ham.

Tara, my ham.

or at least giving Brooklyn a run for the money

Beer nerds, coffee geeks, entrepreneurs. tattooers, ultra talented chefs, ‘mixoligists’ (and sassy bartenders) and generally stoking people fill this city! I suck at planning trips, but I made sure to have a decent list of spots to check out in Portland, and we actually made it to a few. 

This may not be the best list of pdx attractions, heck it might not even be good, but here are my...

11 things to do in Portland

brew bar at coava

brew bar at coava

3. Stay at The Ace Hotel 

In true Portland fashion, our room came with a turntable and a few choice records, a stumptown coffee in the lobby (with room service available), one of the best cocktail bars in the city, Clyde Common, and they had Malin + Goetz products in the room! We bought a bottle of the cilantro conditioner to bring home so we could smell like we did that one time in Oregon.

4. Take a couple hours to wander the Chinese Gardens 

Truly stunning. You’ll feel like you’ve been wisped away to a lost world of magic and wonder, but then you realize that's not the case so you go watch a blazers game at the coolest sports bar around, Spirit of ’77, just a short walk away.

5. Eat at POK POK!

There's usually a wait for a table, but thankfully you can post up at the bar and order up a tamarind sour. Treat yourself, you deserve it. We sat at the bar for dinner and it was great. Highlight was the catfish and curry prawns. We had a lot of fun making jokes and getting the insider scoop from the bartender.  

6. Bowling and beers, bowling and beers

After dinner at Pok Pok, on the bartenders suggestion, we walked through the neighbourhood just south of the restaurant, making our way to the bowling alley on Powell . A few strings and jugs of local beer - on point.



1. Have a chemex of single origin at the COAVA COFFEE  brew bar

Their wide open workshop / roastery / community gathering place is tucked in to the southeast on Grand Ave. Once you've been caffeinated and feel ready for the day start a distillery tour. There's five spots in short walking distance, I mean, you're already there, right?! It's five o'clock somewhere.

2. Get your pinball on at GROUND KONTROL

This place was top. They have a wicked good pinball selection and all the classics arcade games like turtles in time and the simpsons… and $3 beer. If you feel like snacks try the pretzel and hot mustard, just remember to wash your hands first!



7. Take a slow day, PNW style.

Coffee is HUGE in Portland and there's no shortage of welcoming shops for you to curl up with a new book, from Powell Books (one of the coolest book stores I've ever been in), and relax for a few hours. 

view of one of the many bridges over the Wilamette River

view of one of the many bridges over the Wilamette River

8. Escape from New York, worth the mission.

It's a bit of a walk up north west, but once you get a slice of pie (or two), from Escape from New York, you'll be glad you did. This was my favourite pizza we tried (sizzle pie was pretty dope too) and the place is a staple in the community. There's lots of timeless photos of the EFNY team and newspaper clippings covering the walls. On the way back stop at the Rogue Brewery pub and have a flight. Heck, you might as well go to Decheutes too, you’re already in the neighbourhood drinking beer!

on the taster tray: a sour made with beard yeast... human beard yeast. yum!

on the taster tray: a sour made with beard yeast... human beard yeast. yum!

9. Get a little healthy.

Have a stroll down Hawthorne and grab a mighty bowl and shanti juice at Harlow. Then go second hand shopping, obviously! Now that you have that stack of second hand records you better drop it off and listen to a couple in the room while you get yourself dolled up for dinner. 

10. Dinner, dinner, dinner.

We tried for two dinners a night while we were in Portland and still feel like we left something on the table, so to speak. Some standouts, in no particular order:

  • Little Bird - chicken fried trout, sauce gribiche, fried capers and lettuce for wrapping... unreal.
  • Grüner - polenta & potato crouquettes. We had a ton of food here. This was simple and memorable
  • Sateria - rice, bean and cheese burrito, and a pint glass of margarita... get loose.

11. Drink some cocktails!

Again, this city is crawling with awesome bars. Kask had a great vibe, tight shoulder to shoulder room with lots on the go: a great place to chat about life and drink a "BICYCLES & BASKETS" (Bulleit rye whiskey, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Aperol). Maltnomah Whiskey Library is just as it sounds - A room with bar to ceiling whisky bottles, dark brown leather chairs and high back sofas, and the rich smell of wood and cigar lingering in the air. Just to many to list, but here is a LIST of some other great spots!

bar at Maltnomah

bar at Maltnomah

There is so much more to this fabulous city. So many notable restaurants and fun trouble to get into. Share your favourites in the comments! Thanks for reading,


Gone Fishin

When I was a boy I loved fishing.

It was something I did with my family; something I did with my friends. We fished for mackerel or trout for the most part. Funny thing is, I don’t remember ever killing a fish, although I know I did. I remember catching them and eating them, but never killing any. For me fishing wasn’t really about catching fish. It was a time to go sit by the lake or river, or go out on a boat and just be there. I guess it didn’t matter what we were doing. Life was simple. I never had to think about it.

Nowadays I make the odd trip out to a lake or to the ocean, but I haven’t caught a fish in years. To be honest I forgot that was even part of it. My friend Jimmy the Fish (such a perfect nickname) used to take me out salmon fishing. We always dropped crab traps on the way out of Pedder Bay, and a good thing too because we never even caught a snag. At least it was relaxing to get out on the water, and we felt like a thrifty's bag full of crab was a pretty solid consolation prize.

My career as a chef took me all the way to the east coast and back, and when I finally got home I couldn't find my rod! I tore my mum's garage apart hunting for it, but came out empty handed. Thankfully my birthday was right around the corner and Ma Dukes hooked me up with a stylin new fishin pole. Zang! I went out a few times and tried it out. I felt rusty. I couldn’t cast. I didn’t know what “power balls” were, or what gear I was using, but I knew instinctively how to do it. I could fish, I just hadn’t for a long time. 


view from Jimmy's boat 

view from Jimmy's boat 

Last week Rob and I cut work early and went fishing at Prospect Lake. I went in with the same kind of zeal I try to bring to every fishing mission. Gotta catch something. Positive thoughts. Sending out all the good vibes. By the time I had my tackle all tied up Rob had already caught two trout! They were jumpin'. Today might just be the day. I sent out a couple laughable casts, then managed to drop my hook close to the spot Rob had all that action. It didn't take long for me to get a bite... “FISH ON!” I'd been waiting a long time to say those words. All I had to do now was get it up on the rocks. I pulled him in quickly without much of a fight - just a wee rainbow trout.  For the first time that I could remember, I whacked a fish over the head with a little club. It was a new experience. It was a challenge. I felt a bit like Gollum. "To catch a fish, so juicy sweet!"  

I eat mostly plants, but I do eat fish from time to time. And while I didn’t feel like I had something to prove, I guess I kinda did. If you're gonna eat it you better be able to catch it type thing. This was personal for me. One on one. No fisherman. No grocery store. No chef. Just me and the trout. I appreciate that, 

I spent a good portion of my cooking life working with seafood and there's a certain respect that carries over to the finished dish when you respect the fish. Take your hockey mitts off and be gentile. After catching this little guy I was the most gentile. I took my time cleaning it: watching the rainbow colours fall flat as I scraped off the scales - feeling my knife slice ever so delicately along the flesh. It’s  the same feeling as cutting fresh lettuce from your garden, or cracking an egg form the chicken coup in your backyard (I don’t actually know what that feels like, but I can imagine!) It's the feeling of respect and understanding what you're eating.

Fishing for food is an exercise in embracing the fact that we humans need to develop better relationships with the things we eat. We need to better understand the process and where our food is coming from. I'm in no position to preach, but I can't un-know facts about food and that's going to effect my choices. I can drive twenty minutes away from Victoria and sit on the side of a sunny lake with a pal, a couple lawn chairs and a few dad-pops, and fish for our dinner. That's a real relationship. That's understanding where your food comes from. Luckily, this time, we came home with fish.


my uncle, Scott, showing off a catch

my uncle, Scott, showing off a catch

When I think of fishing experiences I always remember steelhead fishing with my pal Sam on the Stamp River. We hiked down the edge casting up stream and reelin’ er in. Over and over and over again. Alas! No fish were caught, yet still it was cathartic without searching for that. The air was the freshest. We got a chance to catch up. We don't get to see each other very often. We didn't even have to talk, it was great to share the river and the trees and the sunshine. We saw a deer munching on some greens right on the path. She paused and looked at us with the greens hangin out of her mouth. That's my go to deer impersonation now. It was an inspiring experience!

I’ve always had this romantic relationship with fishing. It holds so much mystery out there, under the water. For a moment you taste a self reliant life. For a moment you get to forget it all. 

"Luckily, this time, we came  home with fish."

pan roasted trout with 6 minute egg, green tomato chow chow and chili cheddar braised young lettuce

pan roasted trout with 6 minute egg, green tomato chow chow and chili cheddar braised young lettuce

I wanted to make something interesting with the trout and was inspired by my memories of friends and family, and feelings of a simple life. Two summers ago my mum and I found a recipe for green tomato chow chow that was hand written by my great aunt Gretta. It was a cool summer and we had a bumper crop of green tomatoes so we made a batch. It was fun to make an old east coast recipe with my mum, and it was gonna go great with the trout. I love eating greens, but sometimes you need to braise them in cheese sauce, and chili oil. I’m usually against cheese with fish, but trust me, this one works. The 6 minute egg helps to balance the acidity of the chow chow and the richness of the cheese sauce, and who doesn’t love a farm fresh egg! 

It took me half my life, but I finally caught a fish. Cooking inspired is when the best dishes come around. This time I got to make something with a lifetime of history and inpiration, stirring up some feelings I needed to sort out and proving to myself that I could close the 'fish-to-table' loop, so to speak. I'm looking forward to the next time, and the next time, and the next time... FISH ON!


The Darkness and the Garden

A couple of weeks ago my lady and I went to a winter solstice party. Given the time of year we just sort of assumed it was a Christmas party, not really taking into account the part where we were going to a ‘solstice’ party. When we arrived there were people in every room gluing tissue paper on glass jars, making their lanterns for the solstice ceremony. Okay, I thought to myself, you can make a lantern, no sweat. It ended up a red and white striped pilar with a green fringe, I couldn’t get the Christmas party idea out of my head. Alas! I had a dang santa-esque candle for welcoming the light and saying fair well to the darkness. I won’t make the same mistake next year.

Once everyone had their lanterns styled out we all gathered in the living room. slowly went around the room with a BBQ lighter and set all of them a glow. Our host, Chantal got all of our attention, even the kids settled down for her, to share a few words about The Darkness; these December months. I'll admit I didn't expect all this, but here we were. We went around the circle one by one sharing something we learned during this darkness or something that we always find in the darkness, and then blowing out our candles. The room grew darker as we went around and I even found myself closing my eyes and really listening to everyone. Not the Christmas party I was planning on. After each candle was blown out we shared some resolutions, some things we were going to bring into the light. Giving some attention to something we may have forgotten in the light or holding some lesson about patients we learned during the quiet months and taking it with us into the warm spring and summer. 

My feelings were of balance and acceptance of both times. Ups and downs, challenges, and balancing my personal light and dark. While everyone shared their thoughts and feelings I listened. I felt a disconnect between myself and my garden. I knew it was something I neglected when the days grew shorter. Sunchokes still in the ground, no garlic in, weeds taking over and some carrots thought to small to pick before still holding on, growing sweeter in the cold soil. I went to the garden as soon as I could. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I needed some fresh air and some time with my hands covered in earth. I wanted to sweep up all the darkness that had gathered on my little bit of land and say goodbye. That time is healing. Thoughtless but intentional. Intrinsic. 

After harvesting all of my jerusalem artichokes and carrots, I couldn’t wait to get home. My garden is a ten minute bike ride away and I was excited to cook them for dinner. My all time favourite; food from my own garden. 

I made a buttermilk braised sunchoke puree, honey and toasted dill glazed carrots and fried quail eggs from my friends backyard birds. I happened to have a little smoked salmon in the fridge too. The salmon complimented the vegetables so well, a little smoky umami. 

home cooked goodness

home cooked goodness

lost in the dark

lost in the dark

after a little love

after a little love

The darkness is a necessary balance to the light, this much I’m sure of, I mean, I’ve seen batman. I get it. I’m happy we ended up at that cool lantern solstice ceremony party, it reminded me how much I love being outside and working in the garden. Thanks Chantal, Temperance and anyone else who is inspired and shares it with everyone. I’ll be more prepared for the next one. 




derek powell

In the late weeks of October I had the chance to sit down with my good friend, and operator of Barefoot Organics, Derek Powell. I’ve known Derek since we were a couple punk kids growing up in Gordon Head, and although both of us have come a long way from wandering around the townhouses and hangin in front of Mr. Dee’s, we have managed to remain good pals. I first found out about Derek’s involvement in farming while I was living in Calgary and have been excited to work with him ever since. As a chef, having people you know, and trust, growing organic produce for you is the dream.

As part of the Haliburton Farm, Barefoot Organics has been up and running for 4 years. With growing market support and a community that seems to truly want local, sustainable, and above all else healthy food, Derek sees a bright future for the Victoria farm to table scene. “My focus is on growing, growing, growing. Both on the farm and the support from the local food fans. Getting food from my farm to the people who want it, who need it, that’s one of my goals.” There has been a huge response from both Oaklands Night Market, whose growth after the first year was from proverbial tumble weeds to a vibrant community gathering, and the Moss Street Market. The markets, coupled with a weekly food box program, are helping Derek's objective of getting food from A to B pick up steam. “Closing the loop is one of the keys to our food security here on the island,” and Derek has been finding ways to do that through seed saving, education, and even contributing plants to local schools for fundraising plant sales. 


Like any entrepreneur, Derek has met challenges while running a small business, and shares some struggles with all of us who try and grow our own food. Slugs, bugs, bad crops, and early spring frosts, too much rain, not enough rain - they’re all parts of what make a farmers work so challenging, but equally rewarding. “It’s all about developing a personal relationship with food; being included in the process. Getting excited when it’s apple season, picking herbs from your backyard or balcony. You know, enjoying local, seasonal food.” Derek’s got that right. Nothing tastes better than the food you grow in your own garden and he suggests, “growing something that you like to eat a lot of, because you’ll have a lot. We have a perfect climate for growing on the island so grow something you like!” His favourite crop, his many varieties of garlic. “The garlic is my year marker on the farm, planting it is the start of my season,” and if you’re a garlic lover and missed the fresh season he dries each variety separate and sell them in powder form at the markets.

Into the winter months now, the produce is slowing down, but that doesn't mean it’s over! This week, for my Monday Lunch,  I’ll be featuring some roasted squash and chard from Barefoot Organics.

I'm always stocking up on fresh veggies from Derek, but my favourite is the green garlic in the spring. I make a charred green garlic spread that you can put on just about anything. Supporting local business builds our community and invests in our economy. Eat local, think local, because hey, we are local.