Friday, June 15, 2012


Back from vacation with my batteries nice and re-charged.  I need to get out of Dodge a little more often I think.  Good timing though as Aspen is hosting the 30th annual Food and Wine festival this weekend and from here it remains busy all summer.

My nephew and I
While away I got some fodder for a few posts which I'll tap out here in the next week or so.  I want to start with some of my food experiences before they fade in my memory.  I'm not a food picture taker and probably never will be, so I'll just describe a few things and keep it short.  Also, when on vacation I don't order things on menus which obviously have gluten, but neither do I inquire as to specific ingredients in items.  I consider my diet at home very under my control and don't sweat it while 'away'. 

Here are the two meals that stuck out the most:

Cultured Caveman
     After picking my Mom up from the airport we headed to this cool little Paleo food cart for lunch.  It's located in Portland's Northeast section which appears to be a funky little enclave of, well, funk.  I had mapped it out so it was no problem finding, but it would be really hard to spot just driving by.  Despite that and despite some cool and rainy weather we had a very good lunch.  We ordered the chicken drumsticks, the egg frittata muffins, the sweet and russet potato fries and some bone broth with wild mushrooms.  And I would've had the beef cheeks but they were out (which I think is a good sign for things to come as we were there on only their 5th day of business).
     Before I get to my favorites I want to mention that Joe and Heather are super nice and obviously very excited to be starting this venture.  Joe even brought us out some extra fries which I happily devoured.  I wish them the best.
     Speaking of the fries, those were probably my fave.  Joe said they use purple sweet potatoes that they can only get from North Carolina right now and pressure fry them in organic grass fed beef tallow.  Yum indeed.
     The chicken drumsticks were also very good.  They were breaded with coconut flour, I believe, and fried to crispy goodness.  They also came with a delicious aioli dipping sauce accented with chili peppers.  It's been a long, long time since I've had chicken this way and I don't know that I would go out of my way to make it at home, but if it's good, quick, comfort food made with impeccable ingredients you're after, then this will hit the spot.
     The egg frittata muffins were made from coconut flour and eggs, and stuffed with spinach, red pepper and wild mushrooms.  They're little as far as what passes for conventional muffins these days, but they packed a punch with flavor and nutrition.
Joe from Cultured Caveman
     The bone broth with wild mushrooms was the only thing we tried that lacked a little in taste.  It wasn't bad, it just needed a little more salt or spice in my opinion.
     All in all, a great place with a bright future.  And if they're ever interested in expanding to a casual sit down Paleo joint I just might be interested in joining them.
     One final though here is that the coolest things about having a full on Paleo menu is the comfort level it puts you in while ordering.  You don't have to worry about gluten, or seed oils one little bit.  Absolutely everything on the menu is fair game.  Here's hoping that more and more establishments in the future follow Joe and Heathers lead.

     Sometimes fate just smacks you in the face.  Unlike seeking out Cultured Caveman, this Argentinian restaurant in Tacoma, WA just fell into our laps as my brother and I returned from a day trip up to Seattle.  I won't get into how we found it, instead I'll just put the summary up front and say it was the second best meal I've ever eaten in a restaurant. 
     Actually I'm not even going to get into detailed ingredients.  My brother had the Lomillo steak and I had some pork shoulder which was the special of the day.  They both came with purple mashed potatoes, and we started with the ceviche and plantain chips.
     We were just staring at each other in amazement the whole meal.  The meat was just absolutely melt in you mouth perfect.  I mean just perfect.  You might be able to go to a fancy dancy place and get similarly cooked meat for like $70 a plate.  Here it was under $25.  And the ceviche with guacamole was fresh and delicious ... and was awesome with fried plantain chips (like I said before, I'm sure they were fried in vegetable oil, but on this occasion it did not matter).
    Two things here.  First, sometimes the stars just align in your favor and the food gods give you a gift.  Most of the time you have to seek this stuff out or put the effort into making it yourself ... but every once in awhile :)  Second, why is meat so darn tough sometimes and melt in your mouth yummy others?  I know it's got to be about quality and cooking method, but to make a point - while here in Aspen my mother and I went to a restaurant and she ended up returning the steak she ordered because it was far to tough.  And at another place we dined my steak was somewhere in-between.  Obviously if you owned a restaurant that served steak you would want it to be good enough for people to keep coming back, so it must not be that easy to get perfect every time.  Something I'll have to look into further I suppose.
That's it for now.  I'll write again soon about more vacation stuff.


The Primalist said...

That's great that you got to try the Paleo food truck! I hear Portland has a great food scene, and it's on my shortlist of roadtrips to take.

I'm like you about the dining out - I don't sweat it as much as I would at the grocery store or at home. Though recently, I've gotten a little more inquisitive - especially about gluten. Mostly for 2 reasons - 1) I guess that's just where I am right now in terms of caring, I'd just like to know, and 2) since I do blog about the food I eat, I'd feel kind of bad if someone went to one of the places I recommended and, unbeknownst to me, it was all full of gluten. But generally, I'm way more relaxed about this kind of stuff when I eat out.

You totally lucked out with chancing upon Asado - I just looked it up on Urbanspoon - 90% like it, which is really high. It's on my radar for my Portland roadtrip, timing permitting.

Aaron said...

I count my lucky stars that I CAN be relaxed when I eat out on occasion or go on vacation. Imagine if you were constantly on the road, or worse, a celiac. No bueno.

Portland does seem to have a cool food scene, but I usually only get out to one, maybe two places when I'm there with the family and all. Asado is very close to the highway if you do end up roadtripping.

It sounds like you had a great time in Arizona. I think we traded weather ... it was relatively cold and rainy in Portland almost the whole time. I'm glad to be back in the sunshine.

The Primalist said...

Arizona was sunny to the extreme - it is the desert after all... But 42 degrees day in and day out can get to be a bit much. Hasn't really stopped raining since I got back to Vancouver though. My tan's fading :P

Aaron said...

I was in Scottsdale back in March of 06. The early spring there was perfect. I do hear horror stories of summer tho ... like getting burned from your car seats and stuff.

Send some of that rain this way, we're in high fire danger here.

Btw, do you supplement with Vit. D most of the year up there? I use it here for about 4 or 5 months in the winter.

The Primalist said...

I've been on the fence about Vit D for a long time. Although in sure i
need it, I don't take it - just seems like there are so many other
things that Vit D comes pre-packaged with via sunshine.

I take fermented cod liver oil and war some fatty fish. I "stock up"
on sunshine in the summer, and try to get away to somewhere sunny on
vacation. And other than that pretty much just hope for the best.

PS - your commenting system hates my iphone, i pretty much can't leave comments, it just boots me out or makes me re-type everything

Aaron said...

I totally agree that there is so much more happening when the sun hits our skin than just Vit D being made. For this reason I've tried a Vit D cream in the hopes that absorbing through the skin would be 'better'. But, of course, being a cream it had a bunch of other questionable ingredients also. I have though about popping open a regular Vit D pill and just rubbing it into my forearm.

Anyway, this is the last supplement I'm down to and I'll likely quit it too at some point. I do wonder how long serum Vit D levels stay up in the absence of direct sunshine though. Not that one needs to keep it at the same level all year.

There were only a couple of things to tweak in google's blogger regarding comments (I took of the word verification and made the comments a separate page) Hopefully that does the trick cause if it doesn't I'm not quite sure what else to try.