Thursday, December 04, 2008

Quick Bites PDX: Alba Osteria; Bunk Sandwich

Two recent eating experiences bear mention. Last Saturday night we met our friends Carlo and Francesca at Alba Osteria, chef/owner Kurt Spak's temple to all things Piedmontese and delicious. Once again we were knocked out by what is without question the best Italian....REAL in Portland. This is authentic, simple Piedmontese cooking which reflects Kurt's yearly trips to cook, eat, and learn. From start to finish it was almost without exception great execution. I didn't take pics, so highlights from our dinner include (in order, and it's only a partial list of the delights we sampled):
*CARNE CRUDA- why more restaurants in town don't do this classic Italian starter is beyond me. Kurt's beef is so clean and lean.
* POLPETTINI AL CARPIONE- I could eat, if it wouldn't create dismay among those I'm dining with, dozens of these perfect little veal meatballs.
*SPINACH SFORMATO WITH FONDUTA DI RASCHERA- How something so rich and creamy could still be so light can only be described as fighting the laws of physics.

*RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH HEDGEHOG MUSHROOMS, PECORINO, AND CREAM- Kurt's gnocchi define this dish locally. Perfectly light, pillowy, with a velvety smooth sauce. After the wretched versions I had at DOC recently, these were heavenly.
*TAJARIN WITH BUTTER AND SAGE- The classic pasta of Piedmont done, as always, exactly right!
*CANNELONI BARBAROUX-one word: WOW! His canneloni again shows his light touch. Super thin pasta tubes stuffed with a meat (I'm guessing pork based) stuffing that were out of this world.

*BOLLITO MISTO- a classic of Italian cooking, this is a rich, brothy beef stew that according to the menu contains all these delicious ingredients: "brisket, guinea hen, cotechino and tongue simmered with 27 seasonal vegetables. With fresh horseradish, salsa verde, and saosa'd avije"
*FRESH COD FILLET- the "Today's Fresh Fish Selection" was outstanding. I'd tell you more about it, but I honestly can't remember what it came with. Curse those three bottles of wine had at dinner!!

We had two desserts, a deliciously spicy ginger cake and to ease the memory of the DOC panna cotta disaster, the divine Alba plate of jiggly goodness. All in all we were all incredibly impressed, not just with the food but with Kurt's obvious dedication and passion for doing things right!
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I also stopped by Monday at Bunk Sandwich, Tommy Habetz's new joint on the inner east side approach to the Morrison Bridge. You walk in the front door, make your choices off the blackboard to your right, and give Tommy your order (that's TH in taking orders in the photo at left). Knowing that Habetz knows his way around a pig, I had his porchetta sandwich, which was fabulous. Seasoned just right, tender and moist, stuck inside a crusty Fleur des Lys Bakery roll. It didn't look that big sitting on the serving tray, but this was amazingly filling. For my side I ordered, because it has three of my favorite things in the world in it, the potato salad with bacon and egg. Kind of the lunch time version of breakfast, I guess. This was fucking awesome potato salad, and if you think I won't be finding a seat in Tommy's cozy little joint next Monday to sample another sandwich and more of that salad, you would be sorely mistaken. He's also doing a small brunch thing morning. TH has a great rep around town among those who know good food, and while I was there Gabe from Le Pigeon was sidling up to a table to get his fix. I really like the semi-gritty feel here, and the menu looks killer (click on the photo to enlarge the blackboard menu).
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: Fill your glasses full of cheer with these holiday cocktails!


josh? said...

We visited Alba Osteria Wednesday, what a beautiful dinner. This has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. Thanks for the recommendation.

bb said...

josh....glad you got hooked up....and enjoyed it! It's such a nice space where there aren't a lot of distractions and you can just concentrate on how good the good is.