A Night with the Semi-secret Cellar Door Supper Club

This is food porn. If you’re into that kind of thing, read on.

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

Lately I’ve been waking up on Thursday mornings thinking, “Did that really happen last night?!” And then I realize that that thing did happen, and the kids get frozen waffles while I search for some caffeinated tea since we don’t drink coffee.

Last Wednesday it was the Portland Hash House run. That’s a story involving expletives and nudity that I’ll tell you later.

Last night it was the San Diego supper club Cellar Door’s Portland stop on its now infamous West Coast tour (there should totally be a shirt for this foodie nerd-dom).

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

The Cellar Door dinner club is not a restaurant. It is a donation-based private dinner party hosted by chef Logan and mixologist Gary, a dazzlingly warm couple with other full-time jobs. And you or you-and-a-guest may attend if your heart strings (and stomach) are tugged; and if you can find the special notch in the Hobbit door that tells you you’re in the right place.

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

Logan and Gary were only in Portland for one night. I found out about their dinner through my friend Lauren… a few weeks ago I got this email from her: Cellar Door is my favorite dining experience in San Diego. They’re coming to Portland. You have to go.

I will eat my way to oblivion/Nirvana/Heaven with Lauren. If I can’t be with her, then I can at least jump on her recommendations.

So that’s how my husband and I followed Google Maps to Tom’s house. Tom was our Bilbo Baggins and we were the trolls arriving to eat him out of house and home.

This is Tom explaining how Extracto is the most wonderful coffeehouse in Portland, because they are both low-brow and high-brow at the same time.

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

Tom–thanks to a friend who had connected him with Cellar Door–arrived home from work with Logan and Gary cooking and mixing things in his kitchen.

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

Our hosts for the evening and the shepherds of Cellar Door had prepared for us a beautiful dinner table that was waiting like a cozy, wonderful hug from the pages of Bon Appetit.

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

And then we each received half a bottle of house-vintage Gamay wine in a round-bottom flask. The wine was super bright and fruity, With hints of nectarine, the table said.

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

Which was foretelling of what was to come in the stone-fruit salad. And what wine isn’t enhanced by first meetings with delightful, down-to-earth company and the surprise of four love-filled courses? (That’s Tracie, above, who preserves her own Meyer lemons. She was perhaps hoping to convince us to preserve our own, but we more-likely left convinced we should raid her kitchen.)

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The first course was scalded Padron peppers. You’ve seen these lovely green peppers at the farmers market. Padron is a city in Galicia in norther Spain. I lived near there for a few months, and there’s a Padron peppers festival each year where you can buy the peppers, roasted with sea salt. There’s a saying in Spain, “Peppers from Padron, some are spicy, others not.” (It sounds pretty much just as boring in Spanish…)

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

Then came mixed greens with Baird Orchards peaches (out of Hood River) and hazelnuts and chèvre. I hadn’t thought to put peaches with greens. Delightful!

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

The main course of braised pork shoulder was operatic. You know how you appreciate when other people do really well the things that are so challenging for you? This. Meat for me is like a prayer that it will all go right.

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

Sometimes my prayers are answered, and sometimes they are not. And rarely does a pork shoulder come out so tender and succulent… and then to eat it served over polenta and roasted delicata squash with celery root and scalded red peppers? It makes you fall in love with a rainy night.
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Then fig and frangipane tart. I don’t really know how marzipan and frangipane are different. Jordan, one of our partners-in-crime, suggested frangipane is more cake-like. Whatever the case, I fall for anything that has the consistency of play dough and the taste of romance.

When the lovely slice of tart came out, I thought, where is the cream? There was no need for cream, especially with the toasted-almond crust.

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

I spend a lot of time feeding other people, and we have a lot of family commitments. So when someone else cooks for me and treats me like family, but with no other demands, it’s pure magic.

Cellar Door in Portland. MomsicleBlog

And I leave sighing and with a sweet glow to everything I see.

Everyone gets burnt-out, everyone suffers; but to go with the lows there are some really satisfying and soul-quenching highs. They don’t have to be lengthy or long-anticipated, just given with love.

Thank you Cellar Door! And thank you Tom, for opening up your beautiful home!

***

Isn’t this a great idea, Portlanders? Who’s going to start one up?

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9 responses to “A Night with the Semi-secret Cellar Door Supper Club

  1. Yum! You are a lucky duck. Did you save any tart for me (or at least steal the recipe like a good friend)?

    • It’s possible I was a little too high on food endorphins to do anything practical during the dessert course. I think this means we should experiment over the holidays, don’t you think!? You and I can test various recipes and hold tastings!

  2. When is the Cellar Door Supper Club coming to the Bronx? Could a feast like that be prepared in an apartment-sized kitchen?

    Sandra

    • Great question! And I feel like there wouldn’t be any problem with an apartment-sized kitchen, because I got the impression that Logan and Gary lived in an apartment or condo. Let them know they have a host in NYC!
      Or… why don’t you road-trip to San Diego on your next West Coast tour? Logan said that they like to make sure out-of-town guests get a spot. 🙂

  3. OMG, you went!! I am so pleased you were able to snag a table! Here in San Diego places fill up within minutes of sending out the email. Aren’t Gary and Logan fab?

  4. Sorry for the delay, here’s the recipe, as promised!

    Frangipane Tart with Fig (or any other yummy fruit, I’ve used stone fruit, berries, etc)

    Crust (makes two, I like to freeze one portion for another time):
    3/4 cup toasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans..etc), chopped coarse
    3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
    2 Cups AP flour
    12 tablespoons cold butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
    1 egg yolk

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Combine the flour, nuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.

    Freeze half for later in a container or ziplock bag if only making one tart. Press the rest into a tart pan with a removeable bottom. Top with filling:

    Frangipane Filling:

    2 tablespoons sugar
    4 ounces (one stick) butter
    8 ounces almond paste (not marzipan; this product has less sugar)
    2 eggs
    3 tablespoons flour (cake is best, but all-purpose will do)

    Cream butter and sugar in a mixer, as if for cake.
    Break up almond paste into 1-inch chunks and add to butter and sugar, mixing until not quite fully incorporated (a few BB-sized bits are OK).
    Add eggs one at a time.
    Add flour all at once and continue mixing until just incorporated. It should be very soft and spreadable, like the creamed butter and sugar. Store in the fridge or freezer, where it will last for weeks.

    Then top with fruit and bake until puffed and golden around the fruit, about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven. Rotate the pan once or twice to ensure even browning. You can also bake it without fruit and top the cooled tart with chocolate ganache and (gasp!) flaky sea salt.

    • HOORAY, HOORAY, HOORAY! Thanks so much, Logan! And you’ll be happy to know that some of our dinner crew, that you assembled through your good taste and goodwill, are starting our own fancy potluck dinner club in PDX. 🙂

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