I loved Nostrana in Portland… thanks to everyone in Oregon who made my trip there so special.

cathy-whims-chef-cook-bookWhat a thrill for me to discover the amazing Nostrana, chef and owner Cathy Whims’ Portland restaurant and expression of her passion for Italian cookery!

Those are Cathy’s Hawaiian blue prawn-filled ravioli, just one of the dishes she served as part of a Franciacorta-inspired tasting menu on Monday night after I led a Franciacorta Real Story tasting there.

Her pesce in carpione (sole) and herbed raschera sformato — two of the other choices on the menu — came close but nothing topped the stuffed pasta paired with the selection of five Franciacorta wines poured by-the-glass that night.

nostrana-best-italian-restaurant-portlandMy heartfelt thanks go out to the lovely Cathy and her managers and wine buyers, Nicholas Suhor and Michael Doherty, who put together such a great evening and event for me. I had a blast and it was — by far — the best tasting of my campaign (and there have been some good ones). Warm thanks as well to the suppliers who helped make the walk-around tasting an A+ experience and to wine writer Michael Alberty who also came out and tasted with us.

Another thing that impressed me about Portland was how nice everyone is there. Not one — NOT ONE — person greeted me with a “you’re from Houston? I’m so sorry.”

Well, one person did. But she was from Houston. Joking aside, Portland has such a great and friendly vibe to it. What an enchanting city!

I also need to send out a big hug and thanks to my cousins who live in Eugene. They hosted me on Tuesday night for a dinner of vegetables grown on their ambitious urban farm (below) and beef raised by another nearby farm.

Between my time in Portland and Eugene, I got a taste of what it’s like to live in a place where it seems everyone wants to make the world a better and more sustainable place. We spent a lot of time talking about that on Tuesday evening. And I’ve come back to Texas inspired — on so many levels — by what I saw, tasted, and learned.

Thanks to everyone who made it such a memorable trip for me…


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