Portland Dumpling Week 2018 Picks

Next week from Sunday February 4 –  Saturday February 10 2018 is the fourth annual Dumpling Week, organized by the Oregonian. They have organized 30 restaurants who will all be offering dumpling specials just for this week and once you order your dumpling, you also collect a sticker from that restaurant as proof you had a dumpling there. Attach this to your sticker sheet, and turn in at the end of the week – each sticker is a chance for you to win a $25 gift card. All dumpling specials will only cost $10 or less.
Portland Dumpling Week 2018

The dumpling participants run the gamut, across variety of cuisines and veterans already known for their delectable dumplings like Kachka and XLB to new participants and new takes on dumplings like from Urdaneta and The Waiting Room. I have been participating in Dumpling Week since the initial one in 2015, and here are some of my favorites that I recommend, as well as ones I am curious about and are on my wishlist for this year.

You can view a map with all locations to better plan out your dumpling crawl at the official Dumpling Week website, which is where you can also print out the sticker sheet. You can read descriptions of the various dumpling specials at the Oregonian, if you want to pick the locations to dine out based on the dushes offered as dumpling specials.

Portland Dumpling Week 2016 Imperial offering: Beef and pork khinkali with melted butter, black pepper and dill served with a bit of yogurt
Chef Vitaly Paley first used Portland Dumpling Week 2015/2016 as a testing ground for the offering of khinkali you see here served with melted butter, black pepper and dill. Now these fantastic khinkali are a special treat that you can only get at the special Monday only Dumpling and Vodka Nights at Paley’s Place via Feastly tickets.

To get your mouth watering, I have included some dumpling pics from when I’ve enjoyed dumplings at some of those on my wishlist, though the dumpling special they are offering specifically for Portland Dumpling Week 2018 will be different then pictured. My list below is not ranked, though I did group some together based on location. UPDATE: I have updated some of the photos based on my 2018 visit to show what the dumpling offering looks like.

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Alto Bajo Brunch

We’re rounding the corner to the end of January, and as the dark winter days are now getting shorter, I thought I’d give you still a little more color for your breakfast or brunch. Alto Bajo is a restaurant in the new boutique Hi Lo Hotel (in fact, Alto Bajo is Spanish for High and Low) offering a blend of Northwest with Oaxacan cuisine for weekday breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a weekend brunch. All of the seatings take reservations, including brunch.

The hotel and restaurant are new, so still seem a bit under the radar on the Portland scene. I really like their twist on brunch, so wanted to highlight it here for you. Otherwise, I’ve been here for drinks a couple times – getting drinks in the Hi Lo very cool lobby area is a classy way to start a night out downtown. Alto Bajo does not have its own bar, and so the drinks are shared between this lobby bar and the restaurant.

Hi Lo Bar inside the Hi Lo hotel Hi Lo Bar inside the Hi Lo hotel Alto Bajo cocktail - margarita Alto Bajo cocktail

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National Pie Day, and other Food Holidays

Did you know that January 23 is National Pie Day, World Spay Day, and Community Manager Appreciation Day? Or damn, that January 21 was National Squirrel Appreciation Day? Do you go on social media and only just find out that way that it’s National Pizza Day, or National Pet Day, and then are on the fly searching for a photo of your favorite slice or kitty or your backyard squirrel to share to celebrate?
Annie Portlock of Annie Pies offered 3 mini pies at Feast PDX 2016 Go Get You Some Picnic: here are the Honey Lime Coconut (honey shortbread, honey lime coconut cream, whip, toasted coconut, lime zest Pacific Pie mini pies

Yeah, me too. I’m a little bitter about the squirrel one too, I totally would have if I knew it was a holiday on Sunday.
Squirrel, photo by Pechluck Laskey

Recently, I got introduced to this new site called National Today which allows you to browse by topic (say Food holidays, which I definitely care about as a rationalization to eat or throw a food themed meal), or by Cause, Health, Ethnic, etc.) if you have certain interests, or by month, or what holiday today or tomorrow may include. You can also just browse by the calendar in case you just want to pick a day and see if there’s a particular theme that comes up to celebrate that day. I appreciate all the kinds of flexibility the site provides. At National Today besides the main business of cluing me into each month’s holiday, they also give some fun holiday history, facts or helpful deals related to the holiday.
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Shrimp and Savory Oatmeal Recipe

Did you know that January is National Oatmeal Month? I am a huge Shrimp and Grits fan, but in a pinch making this Shrimp and Savory Oatmeal recipe still feeds that fix without all the time needed to cook grits. I also find that substituting a savory oatmeal for grits is more stick to your ribs filling, while also being slightly faster to cook, slightly lower in calories and carbs, and richer in fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein. I openly admit adding the butter and cheese and bacon and shrimp does not make it any healthier, just more delicious!
Shrimp and Savory Oatmeal Recipe, all the flavor of Shrimp and Grits but faster to prepare and healthier but still all the comforting flavors

When I made these for New Year’s Day, I had plain oatmeal in one pot which I cooked alongside another pot of the savory oatmeal. My version of savory oatmeal includes toasting it, cooking it in a mix of water and bit of cream, then stirring in parmesan and green onions.
Shrimp and Savory Oatmeal Recipe, all the flavor of Shrimp and Grits but faster to prepare and healthier but still all the comforting flavors
Then I set up my kitchen counter to have multiple toppings for an Oatmeal Buffet, from various flavored salts and hot sauces to smoked honey, crumbled bacon, and shrimp. Various fruits and a container of brown sugar can offer some sweetness. After a cold morning hike or shoveling snow or ice, this would be a perfect breakfast for a group that’s so easy to put together. But it’s also a great anytime meal! On an everyday basis, I tend to just toast the oatmeal, cook it in a milk water mix, and then add parmesan.

Savory Oatmeal Recipe, toast the oatmeal, cook with a milk water mixture, and add parmesan Savory Oatmeal Recipe, toast the oatmeal, cook with a milk water mixture, and add parmesan

You’ll notice for this savory Oatmeal I added an extra layer of flavor by toasting the Oatmeal with butter before cooking it in the milk and water mixture. This can work even if you don’t want to add the cheese as a special trick when making Oatmeal. This works both with steel cut or old-fashioned oats.

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Late Night Portland Eats: Crown PDX

I was sad to see Portland Penny Diner go, but the Crown PDX, the pizza place that opened in the same space, admittedly gets even more business from me then PPD (which I loved and still miss their breakfast sandwiches). I go probably once a month now, though that is partially because since it’s only a couple blocks from my favorite beer bar (Bailey’s Taproom) that allows you to bring your own food, and I am often going to grab a slice or a whole pie to go with my beer. It’s now 50% Santeria + Bailey’s beer and 50% Crown PDX + Bailey’s beer.
The Crown PDX, by Imperial The Crown PDX, by Imperial

Crown PDX is open late, which is a boon when you feel hungry a little later then the normal dinner hour after a beer share or a show. In fact, I think when it comes to late night / early morning Portland Eats, Crown PDX is among the best 3 in Portland. To be precise, last I checked they are open for lunch on weekdays (mid afternoon on the weekend) and then until 1 AM except Thursday Friday Saturday when they are open until 2:30 AM. 2:30 AM! So if you’re out late in downtown and looking for a bite, this is one of the best options to dine in or grab and go.
The Crown PDX, Imperial pizza with fried chicken, pickles, ranch, honey, hot sauce The Crown PDX, Imperial pizza with fried chicken, pickles, ranch, honey, hot sauce
My favorite pizza from The Crown is this, the Imperial
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