Thursday, July 23, 2009

Small is Beautiful and Yummy is Yummy

One of my favorite places to go in the neighborhood is Foster & Dobbs Authentic Foods, on the corner of 15th & Brazee in NE Portland. The store celebrates artisanal foods and products from small producers, featuring European and American farmstead cheese, cured meats, craft beer, wine, and fine groceries. The store's Web site sums up their buying philosophy: "We seek out foods made by people with a passion for quality, integrity, and flavor. Many of our products are from family farms and small businesses dedicated to place and tradition."

Gotta love that! They're great at recommending specific foods and beverages, and they're happy to let you have a taste before you buy (at least of the meats and cheeses). They also offer delicious meals made from their yummy treats, and they offer their own version of happy hour, which they call Pause -- some nibblies and a glass of wine, perfect after a day of work or after a walk through our wonderful neighborhood. (In fact, while I was enjoying this year's Irvington Home Tour I took advantage of their location to stop, sit, and enjoy some sustenance. Yum!!!)

Here's a little background on the shop and it's owners, Tim Wilson and Luan Schooler, taken from their Web site:

"With a nod to our family history, the shop’s name is drawn from our mothers’ maiden names. The Fosters (Tim’s family) have been beekeepers for seven generations and in Oregon since 1910. On the Dobbs side of the family we are restaurateurs, ranchers, and coffee farmers.

"Foster & Dobbs opened the week before Thanksgiving 2005. The shop had long been a dream of ours. We love food! Our professional backgrounds are in the arts. Luan was a theatre artist for many years and most recently served as Literary Manager and Dramaturge at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Tim has 20 years in arts administration and currently serves as Executive Director of the Western Arts Alliance. We really see the shop as an extension of our artistic work—we think of our roles here as curators and storytellers."

I love that the shop's name comes from Tim and Luan's mother's maiden names. Back in my past life I worked for a publishing company, Prentice Hall, that was started by two guys named Gerstenberg and Ettinger, who had the good sense to also name their company after their mother's maiden names, Prentice and Hall.

Luan is the one who turned me on to comte cheese. I was going on a hike with a friend, to be followed by a picnic (the picnic being the carrot that would get me through the hike). We stopped at Foster & Dobb's on our way out to the gorge to pick up some nibblies for the picnic, and one of the items Luan recommended (all were exquisitely wonderful) was some comte cheese, and I've been hooked ever since.

In July Foster & Dobbs is doing a series of Friday wine tastings, from 4:30 to 6:30. The July 31st tasting features wines from Truchard Vineyards in the Carneros region of Napa Valley. I've always LOVED wines from the Carneros region. A few years ago a friend and I went on a jaunt down to California wine country to do a little shopping and tasting, and we discovered Truchard and boy were we happy we did! The wines were wonderful and the people were wonderful, and we came back to Oregon with a car filled with great wines. (I even have some left in my wine cellar but, sadly, not any of the Truchard.)

Here's some information about Truchard Vineyards, taken from their Web site:

Truchard Vineyards was established in 1974, when Tony and Jo Ann Truchard came to the Carneros region of the Napa Valley and purchased a 20 acre parcel of land. They transformed what was an abandoned prune orchard into a vineyard and began selling the fruit to a local winery. The Truchards now sell grapes to more than 20 premiere Napa Valley wineries.

The Truchard Estate Vineyard is a series of hills and valleys, which contain a variety of soils: clay, shale, sandstone, volcanic rock and ash. The various combinations of terrain, geology, and marine-moderated temperatures provide unique winegrowing conditions. Currently the vineyard grows 10 different grape varieties, making it one of the most diverse estate vineyards in California.

In 1989, the Truchards began making wine for themselves using only their estate-grown fruit. With the addition of a 10,500 square foot wine cave, the winery has become a beautiful, modern facility. The winery makes 11 different wines, producing a total of 16,000 cases per year.

Truchard wines are produced with the vineyard in mind. We always will consider ourselves “a big vineyard and a small winery”. The wines are hand-crafted using traditional winemaking techniques and exemplify the high quality fruit of the Truchard Estate Vineyard. They are truly: “wines with a sense of place”.

Unfortunately, I'm working at the store that evening, but there's no reason why YOU can't go taste some great Truchard wines in my stead. Or maybe I should just close the store a little early.....But if you can't hit the Truchard tasting, try for one of the others, or just head over there any old time for a little culinary delight. And tell them Sally says hi!

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