Recently, Portland, Oregon, has been in the news for the mysterious DHS militias. Without joining local police, these armed groups patrol wearing camouflage, without identification, and shove protesters into unmarked vans. One Navy vet was beaten with a baton, his hand broken, just for asking a question. The federal government plans to do more of this. Who knows who could imitate these tactics?
But, before this, Portland was known for food truck parks. Guy Fieri featured many of these.
I miss restaurants. I miss the opportunity to absorb the atmosphere – décor, music, people. Carry-outs aren’t the same.
For some of us, then, it was a delight to find Fieri in town, visiting local restaurants. I’m sure he can find several to feature on his show "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," famed for its delicious, affordable food with a twist; from pizza with kimchi, to shepherd’s pie served with sour cream. I’m sure the show wouldn’t work as well without its exuberant host sporting a punk nimbus of spiky bleach - blonde hair. His recent visit to Fargo-Moorhead provided a pleasant distraction –food served up with a celebrity smile. Hallelujah!
Fieri inspires. Based on his show, we visited several places in the Twin Cities:, like The Nook, where we burnt our lips as fiery cheddar spilled out from the interior of a Juicy Lucy burger, or Broder’s, with its homemade pastas, an intimate space with colanders for wall sconces. We sampled fresh oysters at a Smack Shack visit and cole slaw, spiked with the tart, crispness of Granny Smiths. I started adding apples to my German potato salad. Delightful!
So, here he was in the flesh, in Fargo-Moorhead to visit local gems, which have sprouted up like mushrooms, especially in the last 10 years or so. He visited places I have either tried or wanted to try.
I have to agree with choosing Nicole’s. There’s no finer place for pastries, rivaling those from any major town. The lemon and fruit tarts, for instance. And it’s even a good place to grab a lunch.
Blackbird Woodfire Grill is another favorite. The atmosphere is wonderful, with its brick walls and the pizza oven itself, an ironic igloo of fire, covered with large, colorful tiles. I like the bison meatballs as an appetizer, but the feature is the pizza, with a perfect thin crust, with a variety of possible toppings. So fresh.
For future reference, I noted his visits to Sol Ave. and Rustica in Moorhead.
But I wish he’d tried the banh mih sandwich with porketta at Wurst Bier Hall, or tasted the chicken, burgers or walleye at Spitfire Grill.
I wish he’d visited the curiosity of BernBaum’s, with its mix of Israeli and Icelandic dishes – like blintzes with lingonberries.
Or perhaps he could try molcajetes at Mango’s or visit the East African restaurants, like Madina, or… Sorry. I’m having quarantine dreams. A touch of delirium.
Hopefully, Fieri will come back. And, as I say grace over a meal, may I remember Portland, hoping it finds its food fame again, in peace.