Get a seat for the Phelp’s Creek wine dinner

Girl chef + Girl Winemaker = incredible night

Chef Kathy and French winemaker Alexandrine Roy of Phelp’s Creek Winery are teaming up for a wine dinner this coming Sunday night, March 10. Yes, there are still seats. Tickets are $75 for wine club members, $85 for non-wine club members. Please call Kathy at the restaurant at 541-387-4000 for reservations. Here is the menu:

Reception: Fleur de Roy Rose of Pinot Noir
Rustic brie and garlic confit tartlets, fig and rosemary jam

1st Course: 2010 Pinot Gris
Oregon Dungeness crab, meyer lemon sorbet, avocado, Asian pears, pea shoots

2nd Course: Coeur de Roy Blanc de Noir
Prawn fumet, grilled prawns, saffron spaetzle, romesco crouton “dunker”

3rd Course: 2010 Phelps Creek Cuvee Alexandrine Pinot Noir
Crisp pork belly, sweet potato gratin, pear and root vegetable relish

4th Course: 2010 Cuvee Alexandrine Gevrey- Chambertin Pinot Noir
Provencal lamb shank, olives, parsley, preserved lemon, roasted fingerling potatoes

5th Course: Vin Dore Gewurztraminer
Panna cotta, almond meringue, candied kumquat, pineapple and sage

Fabulous wines, fabulous food. Please join us.

It’s all Greek to you

Yes, this Wednesday we visit the white sand and blue sea of Greece for our three-course international dinner. And in planning this, our newest chef, Matt Patterson, learned a valuable lesson: be careful what you reveal to Chef Kathy. Last week, he asked what our international dinner would be this week.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Kathy said. “What’s your favorite cuisine?”

“I don’t really have one,” said Matt, “but I’ve been craving Greek food lately.”

“Really? What’s your favorite dish?”

“I love spanakopita,” he said.

“Great!” Kathy said. “You’ll be making it for 35 next Wednesday.”

So here’s the Greek menu, three courses for $15:

• Spanikopita, spinach and feta pie
• Souvlaki arnisious kima: Grilled ground pork and lamb skewers, tzatziki, house-made pita bread
• Ladi Tourta: olive oil, almond and citrus cake, Greek yogurt ice cream

Yes, please make reservations.

A beach in time saves nine

We are just taking a zen moment here to thank our fabulous staff, both in the kitchen and front of house, for giving us (Kathy and Stu and the doggies) an amazing gift we haven’t had for 7 years: a weekend off. We left on Friday night, and returned on Sunday afternoon, fresh from the marvelous Oregon coast. And you didn’t even know we were gone.

Mysterious cutting board, and this Wednesday’s (2/27) dinner

A cutting board that makes you go, “hmmm…?”

A few weeks ago, with no fanfare, a large, white, completely new, expensive cutting board showed up in our kitchen, racked nicely with the other cutting boards.

Justin noticed it first. “Seems like those cutting boards are multiplying back there.” Kathy thought he was joking. A day or so later, she went to retrieve a board to cut ling cod, and, whoa, “Where did this come from?” she asked around the kitchen. Blank stares.

“We thought you ordered it,” Sergio said.

Kathy looked closely at the board. “Nooo, I didn’t. Could it have come back accidentally from catering?”

“What catering?” asked Cuate. Oh right, we haven’t done any to speak of since December.

Kathy: “Justin, did you…?”
Justin: “Nope, sister.”

Kathy: “Sergio could you have …?”
Sergio: “Not me.”

Kathy: “Cuate, maybe you…”
Cuate: “Un uh”

It’s a really nice cutting board. If anyone knows how it got here, we would love to know. And if it’s yours, you can come get it. Although the board is starting to feel at home here.

It’s India on Wednesday

Super, super sad that not too many of you (OK, who are we kidding … hardly anyone) came in for our Irish dinner last week. We think two things led to our slow night: the previous week’s Valentine’s Day plus three-day weekend fatigue, and maybe, when you think Ireland, you just think potatoes, though we hardly had one in sight.

Never mind, you’re forgiven. Because this week, we are heading to India, a land we know and love well, with mysterious, incredible food that we could eat every single day and never grow tired of. Chef Kathy first tasted real Indian food in 1975, and has been on a quest ever since to understand this amazing cuisine. So we are preparing three savory dishes (no dessert) for you this Wednesday:

Cauliflower and spinach pekoras, mint cilantro chutney
Sambar green bean and potato stew with fresh coconut chutney
Pork vindaloo and rice

Yes, reservations are appreciated.

It’s three courses for $15 per person, plus beer and wine pairings for another $8 per person

Best + Best = BEST!

We were super stoked this past week that the readers of the Gorge Guide, in a reader poll called, “Best of the Gorge” selected us a “Best Restaurant” (two years in a row) and, five months after opening for breakfast, as “Best Brunch.” Kudos to our crew who all work so hard to make this happen. And if you voted for us, well, thanks!

Matt: He’s a Big Rainbow

Matt Patterson, Oregon native and culinary school grad, most recently of the Bay House in Lincoln City (in our opinion, the finest restaurant on the Oregon Coast) joined us in the kitchen this past Monday.

Everyone who comes in for deliveries says, “Are you the new Rainbow?” Matt’s taking it in stride, though at 6’1”, he’s a bit bigger than our last Rainbow. He’s thinking he should get a t-shirt that just says, “The New Rainbow.” But whatever you call him, we’re loving him, and if you come in, please give him a big Hood River Howdy. He’ll be cooking breakfast and doing our daytime prep, alongside Chef Kathy.

Take the magic flying shamrock to Ireland

…And now we wait

Nora’s Table lovers, who have slurped our soup, gobbled our duck, panted feverishly over our gnocchi, and run their tongues across our dessert plates in earnest, have come to collect the names of our staff like fourth graders collected Willie Mays baseball cards in 1964. (Uh, we know one former fourth grader with a deep and abiding love of the Say Hey Kid, and she still adores him.)

So when we say Rainbow Trosper, our beloved sous chef and pastry chef, is gone (for at least a while) to give birth to her little girl, due to make an appearance sometime in the next few days, we know you will share both our happiness for Rainbow and Wes, and a bit of apprehension about the fate of the finest dessert one can have in the Gorge, made by the incomparable Miss Bow.

But this is what makes a good restaurant kitchen a thrilling creative endeavor. In the weeks before Rainbow took her maternity leave, we all had a long list of dishes (from crackers to hamburger buns to yes, dessert) that we learned at Rainbow’s pregnant feet.  Good kitchens are like an excellent game of “Rumor.” You know how this parlor game is played, right? One whispers a secret in another player’s ear, who then whispers it in the next player’s ear, and so forth, until at the end of the line, the final player repeats out loud what he has just heard. “I have a new red hat,” has become, “I heard the cat caught a rat,” and everyone howls. So our job, in a kitchen, is to share our knowledge so that the red hat STAYS a red hat, even if it’s shared a hundred times.

And we are proud to report that we are muddling along pretty darn well (though Chef Kathy was a bit nervous turning out the Valentine’s Day desserts) in Rainbow’s absence. And now we wait for that precious, lucky little girl to arrive. Because who wouldn’t want to be the daughter of the finest cookie maker in two states? Consider us your official site for “Trosper Baby Watch.” We’ll keep you posted.

Saint Paddy’s Day comes early

Is it ever too early for the wearin’ of the green? We think not, so this Wednesday February 20, we take the magic flying shamrock to Ireland for our three-course international dinner, in which you can get three courses for $15.  Here’s the menu:

  • Mussles in Guinness and garlic, with soda bread, a favorite dish of The Brazen Head in Dublin, one of the oldest pubs in  Ireland
  • Mountain Shadow lamb stew with cabbage, carrots, potatoes and barley
  • Irish trifle

Save March 10 for us and Phelps Creek

On March 10, we’re bringing a little woman power to your palette. Alexandrine Roy, Phelps Creek’ French wine maker, and Chef Kathy will be joining forces for dinner.  The dinner will pair Phelps Creek wines, and some wines made in France by Alexandrine, together with early spring Gorge produce, Oregon Dungeness Crab and Jim Hanna’s incomparable Mountain Shadow lamb.  We sold this dinner out last year, and it was really one of the highlights of the year for us at Nora’s. Phelps Creek wine club buyers can purchase tickets for $75, and non-members pay $85. Call us to reserve now. We’ll reveal the menu and wines next week.






In the hours before we open

Morocco and Valentine’s Day

This Wednesday: Morocco

So far, you’ve been with us to Spain, Italy, Belgium, Lebanon, Brazil and Russia. If it’s Wednesday, February 6, it must be Morocco! Three courses, $15 per person. And here’s the menu:
• Cous cous salad with squash, feta, mint
• Chicken tagine with dates, preserved lemons, olives and carrots
• Winter fruits in ginger syrup with cardamom yogurt

How to celebrate Valentine’s Day

Our rules for a happy, romantic evening, if you happen to be over the age of 50:

1. Eat early. You know why.
2. Buy flowers, not a potted plant. Life is uncertain.
3. If one of you eats garlic, you BOTH eat garlic.

That’s pretty much it. And if you are younger than 50? No rules. How about that.

Here’s some of what you’ll find on our Valentine’s Day line-up. And yes, of course, you’ll want reservations. You can expect our regular menu, with a little fancy footwork:

Oysters on the half-shell, two ways:
• Raw, with fresh grated horseradish and mignonette
• Roasted, with preserved lemon hollandaise and buttered bread crumbs

Golden beet and kumquat salad, goat cheese crouton, lemon thyme vinaigrette

Pan-roasted duck breast, blackberry gastrique, duck fat potatoes, garlicky lacinato kale

Filet mignon, horseradish blue cheese mashed potatoes, oxtail jus, spring peas and carrots

House-made fettucini, bacon lardons, spring peas, leeks, cream, preserved lemon, grana cheese, Quercus Farm egg

And for dessert:

Chocolate mousse trifle, chocolate covered strawberries
Panna cotta, raspberry coulis, almond kisses
Lemon layer cake with cream cheese frosting and lemon curd filling

If Thursdays and romance don’t work for you, we will have these special dishes on our menu through the weekend.

Here’s what happens in May

• The swallows return to San Juan Capistrano*
• Our friends Doug and Darlene come home to the Hood from sailing around the southern end of God Knows Where
• The wind starts blowing in Earnest (and at the Event Site, Dougs, Rowena, Cheap Beach, etc.)
• Nora’s starts serving breakfast 7 days a week

See you around Nora’s Table.

*This would only be true if Capistrano were in the Gorge. The swallows actually return to Capistrano on March 19, but if they were coming HERE, it would probably take them until May. Got that?

We’re back this Wednesday

We’re back, and you’re hungry

We re-open this Wednesday, January 16 at 5:00. There, that should take the sting out of that sub-zero you’ve been enduring.

If you’ve been reading our blog here, you know that Stu and Kathy have been zipping around the greater LA area like bats at sunset, eating at one terrific place after another, although we would say in the final analysis: Portland beats LA by a nose. And a tail. Even though we had the most amazing pig’s tails last night at Night+Market.

So here’s what two weeks of sunshine and adventure have wrought: new ideas for your plates. Here’s some of what you’ll see on our menus this week:

·       Golden beet and kumquat salad on frisee, lemon thyme vinaigrette, goat cheese crouton

·       Seared rockfish, crispy rice bars, Burmese ginger pepper sauce

·       Shrimp samosas, red onion date chutney

·       Crispy wedge of pork belly, peanut butter pan perdu, blackberry red pepper jelly, pickled red cabbage

·       Grilled cuttlefish, golden raisins, pine nuts, parsley,  preserved lemon boquerones  vinaigrette

·       Ribeye, roasted sesame kale, togarashi frites, sirachi aioli

·       Seared scallops, roasted leeks and parsnips, walnut parsley vinaigrette

·       Porchetta, roasted potatoes, grilled lacinato kale, figs, fig vincotto

·       Roasted cauliflower and potatoes, carrot coconut curry, carrot chutney, rice and grilled naan

The Russians are coming!

In our continuing effort to take you around the world on our Wednesday Cheap Date Night, this Wednesday, we reopen with a three-course dinner from Russia, for $15, and if you wish, you can pair the three courses with a Vodka tasting for an additional $9.

Here’s what’s on the menu:

·       Vesenny salad, with radishes, cucumbers, eggs, dill, sour cream, rye crouton with beet and horseradish caviar

·       Beef stroganoff with house-made egg noodles

·       Dobostorte, 7 layer cake with chocolate buttercream and caramel

Yes, our regular menu is available Wednesday. However, if you want the Russian meal, please make a reservation, and say, “I want the Russian dinner.”

Breakfast gets crabby

Apparently, chefs from around the world have discovered our Oregon Dungeness crabs, one wag calling them, “the new lobster.” So we don’t totally get them to ourselves anymore. But the sweet and delicious crustacean is making an appearance at breakfast beginning this week. To wit: Crab and spaetzle in brown butter, poached eggs, preserved lemon persillade.

Other new breakfast dishes to enjoy:

·       Swedish ham-stuffed potato dumplings in brown butter with huckleberry jam and eggs any way you like them

·       New Mexico-style open-faced enchilada, red chili mole, goat cheese, fried eggs, blue corn posole

And don’t forget our new breakfast hours:

Friday and Saturday, 8 am to noon

Sunday, 8 am to 1 pm

Gotta go. Plane to catch. See you around Nora’s Table.

Animal, vegetable and beer

Kathy and Stu are eating their way across LA. Here’s Kathy’s take on Animal

Our good friend and county administrator from Arkansas, Dave Meriwether, once told me, “A meal without meat is just a snack.”

With its one-word name, Los Angeles’s Animal may have you thinking when you walk in the door that you’ve entered a serious palace to meat. And everything about Animal is serious. There is no sign out front on the black facade. The walls inside are cream. And bare, save for a few paintings relegated to the four corners of the room. The restaurant is long and lean and clean and dimly lit. The bar at the back holds wine bottles set in neat rows. The menu is spare, and dishes are described without much fanfare: “marrow bone, chimichurri, caramelized onions.”

But is the focus here strictly on meat? Not even for a minute. The meat and vegetables prepared at Animal would die without each other. To separate them would be to wrench apart each dish’s DNA.

Take the marrow bone.  Here, co-chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo roast the marrow, remove it from the bone, slice a six-inch section of the roasted bone in half length-wise, and spoon the marrow back into its original home to serve, leaving no doubt about the marrow’s provenance. But it’s the delicate chimichurri  and caramelized onions spooned sparingly on top of the marrow that take this dish from its usual meat-on-toast presentation to something richer, deeper and far more satisfying. And yes, it does come with richly buttered bread that has been toasted on a flat top griddle, not grilled, so no charred notes detract from the sweet interplay of marrow and chimichurri.

A dish of veal tongue does nothing to disguise its origins either: the veal is sliced thin, long and tongue-shaped, perfectly tender. There is nothing better in the world than a tongue sandwich, when it’s done right. And a good one includes horseradish and mustard and pickles. Here, the tongue is homage to the perfect tongue sandwich: the slices are laid on a swish of mustard made from black mustard seeds, with a sliced and fried West Indian gherkin pickle, a scattering of croutons, and finally, a spoon of horseradish in crème fraiche with steelhead roe for the perfect salty smack.

Whelks, or sea snails, don’t make it on to menus much, and that’s a shame. Cooked right, they have all the flavor of scallops, with a firmer bite. Here they are mated to small, tender gnocchi and cream with pea tendrils, fennel and bacon.

We drank beer with our dishes, a solution we have gravitated to when restaurant wine lists and glass pours have prices way beyond what we think reasonable. Maybe wine glass pours starting at $11 and pushing right through $18 work in L.A., but I can’t see that trend coming to Hood River or Nora’s any time soon. Thankfully, the beer list was designed for food (no bitter hopped-up A-bombs), and included some Oregon favorites, though we still found it hard to believe that anyone would charge $6 for a bottle of Full Sail Session, good beer though it is.

One of the best dishes we had included almost no animal at all: a local burrata (mozzarella on the outside, cream and mozzarella on the inside), katsuobushi (a log of dried, fermented and smoked tuna that is shaved in a special box, a bit like a mandolin), green garlic, leeks and jalapeno.  The dish sounds like a confusion of the highest order, but Shook and Dotolo have tamed the disparate ingredients into behaving as if they grew up together. If an ancient Japanese tuna preparation wants to hang out with an Italian cheese, they say, “Why not?”

And we say, “Yes, please.”

Some general notes on dining in LA:

Who runs the kitchens? We have now been to several notable top-ten restaurants, and several purely ethnic restaurants, including one 83-year old Jewish deli, and it’s the same everywhere: The chefs and servers are men and women, young and old, of nearly every ethnicity found on the West coast. The dish pit and bus person jobs, however, belong exclusively to men from Central America and Mexico.  Which reinforces our belief that without them, every restaurant we know and love would implode.

Everyone has been to Portland. Yes, when we tell our servers we’ve come from Oregon for a dose of sun and food, they all say, “I love Portland! I have friends in Portland!”  And in most cases, if we didn’t know better, we’d say we were dining in Portland. Same vibe, same tattoos, same friendly 30-somethings. Better tans, though.

Want Thai, walk two blocks. You hungry? Consult a phone app or laptop, plug in your location, and food craving, and chances are, you are within 5 minutes walking distance of your heart’s desire. Drive down Santa Monica Blvd. and for miles on the north side of the boulevard, there is little else to see but restaurants. Miles and miles of restaurants.  Well, except for that one section of Beverly Hills mansions. I guess if you have to feed 10 million people (population of Los
Angeles County) you better have a few seats.

Two Koreas

Kathy and Stu are taking a winter break in Los Angeles. Kathy is writing about … what else … what they’re eating.

 Korea I: Thirty-five years ago, my friend Gary was working on an archaeological dig in Ashkelon, Israel. On the weekends, he and his co-diggers would make their way to the old city side of Jerusalem, and an Arabic place with an Arabic name and sign, augmented simply with one English word, “Restaurant.”

The food, Gary remembers, was abundant, cheap, and to a bunch of college boys from Oregon in cowboy hats and desert boots, it seemed exotic: “… a roast chicken quarter, rice pilaf, tomato-cucumber salad and a pile of pita for a couple of bucks at most. Maybe less. The kitchen was upstairs, and the food came down to the waiter via a dumbwaiter. We were almost always the only Anglos in the place.”

I thought of “Restaurant” as we drove through LA’s Korea town on Wednesday night, in search of Soban, one of Eater LA’s picks of top Korean restaurants. It’s a good thing we had the address, because the name was rendered in Korean Hangul alphabet, with only “Korean Restaurant” on the door for us Western travelers in search of real Korean food. As with that far-away Restaurant in old Jerusalem, we were the only non-Koreans in the place, strangers in a strange land.

After we were seated and served a barley and rice tea, I decided the perfect chilly January night dish would be a bowl of Bibimbap, a Korean rice bowl with pickled vegetables, tofu, chicken or pork and kochujang, a fermented soybean and chili paste. When I make Korean bbq-style ribs, I sometimes toast a four-inch square of seaweed nori, slather kochujang down the middle, and lay a few tablespoons of sticky rice on top, fold it over, and lay it on top of the ribs. Kochujang is salty, spicy and mouth filling, like a peppery miso.

But our server had other ideas. She quickly reached down and turned the page of my menu. “You like fish?”  She pointed out the fish dishes, simply described as grilled mackerel, grilled salmon, or grilled cutlassfish. With rice. I had been eyeing the wide array of banchan, or small savory plates, arriving at other tables. My only Korean dining experience has been at a few Korean bbq joints in Portland, but I thought the banchan might be coming our way … IF we ordered the fish dishes. Stu ordered the mackerel, and I picked the cutlassfish, with only some way-back memory of what it might be, thinking perhaps it was a typo for cuttlefish.

And then the banchan arrived, 16 small plates, mostly vegetables: pickled celery, soybean leaf in sesame oil, kimchi (two kinds), sesame spinach, seaweed, pickled eggplant, scrambled egg and fish, broccoli with kochujang, bean sprouts, tofu, kosari (a bit like fern fiddleheads in a red chili sauce), pickled parsley, pickled peppers. They had me at banchan.

Banchan at Soban

Banchan at Soban

Ordering the fish dinner also entitled us to a soup with enoki mushrooms, peppers, squash, soybeans and tofu. It should have been bright and sharply spicy, but I suspect it had spent a good part of the day in a soup pot, held hot for far too long, until the vegetables had lost any sense of resistance, and the soybeans had grown mealy.

The fish, when it arrived, made me push the disappointing soup aside. The full side of mackerel fillet was brushed with a coppery glaze of sugar and soy turning the skin into a crisp jacket, putting the lie to everyone who calls mackerel “oily.” Here, the fat of the fish was a perfect foil for the salty, tangy glaze and crispy skin.

And the cutlassfish? If I hadn’t had to coax the flesh off the very bony fillets of this eel-like fish with slippery stainless steel chopsticks, I could have been in heaven. But I didn’t let that stop me, tossing chunks of the glistening fish into my rice bowl with some tidbit or other from the banchan array.

Eating slowly, plunking those annoying stainless steel chopsticks into one little dish of banchan after another, I had time to eavesdrop. Here, a table away, was a stylish Korean woman and her two teenage daughters, nimbly weaving their way through fish and rice. One girl waved a chopstick at her mother, “See, that’s why I’ll never marry a Korean man.”

A Korean TV channel played over our shoulders, a teenage game show involving jump rope. It seemed so innocent, the faces of the host and kids creased in laughter as one team bested the other in jump roping skills.

“I can hardly imagine American teenagers being happy to play, or watch, jump roping for 30 minutes,” I told Stu. But then, a child trained to dine slowly by eating one small plate after another might well have the patience to jump, over and over again.

Korea II: By now most West Coast food truck lovers have heard the story of the Kogi Korean BBQ fusion taco trucks that tweeted their locations to local LA fans. Now the trucks’ chef, Roy Choi, has grounded himself at two restaurants. One, The A-Frame, is a reclaimed IHOP, located about five miles, and 500 years, from Soban.

With “Group Love” pumping from six massive speakers on the a-frame’s cross beams, the communal tables are filled on a Friday night.  No Koreans here. The wait staff and diners are a blur of colors, like the food.

Fusion cooking got a bad rap in the 70’s and 80’s when practitioners tossed opposites on the plate and hoped for attraction, if not détente. Chefs at the A-Frame and so many other A-list restaurants in New York, LA and Portland are fusing food from a deep understanding of flavor and cuisine. In a world where the great cuisines all serve some sort of grain product (tortilla, flat bread, rice paper wrapper, wonton sheet, steamed bun, hamburger bun, ciabatta roll) wrapped around protein (pork meatballs, chicken strips, hamburger patties, pulled pork, tofu, eggs, shrimp) slathered with fruit and vegetables (lettuce, cabbage, basil, carrots, kale, radishes, pears, tomatoes, mango, avocado) and finished with a sauce (mayonnaise, yogurt, pepper sauce, salsa, chimichuri, raita, bbq sauce) and cheese (you get the idea) it only takes an adventuresome hand with a knowledge born and bred in one cuisine to draw in the flavors of another. A Korean taco is an obvious result. At Nora’s we do this so much that I find it difficult to answer the question, “What kind of food do you serve?” How can I describe Peking duck wings? We apply a French techniques and Chinese flavors, rubbing the wings in an Asian spice mix of coriander, cinnamon and star anise. We air dry them, then confit them in duck fat. We make a traditional Chinese Peking duck sauce, and when the wings are ordered, we pull them from the fat, drop them in the fryer to crisp them, toss them on the radiant grill and brush them with sauce until it is caramelized. Then we serve them with thinly sliced Asian pears that we pickle. The combination? Chinese and American Midwest pickling styles. And that’s just one dish. What about the Mexican dishes? Last week I made a deep red mole, and instead of sesame seeds (one of 12 ingredients) I used a middle-Eastern sesame tahini, bringing a velvety nuttiness to the dish.

A-Frame’s dishes aren’t staid arranged marriages. These are passionate, forbidden Romeo and Juliet love affairs. The grilled lamb meatballs are bathed in a toasted sesame shoyu marinade (Japanese) drizzled with a garlic yogurt (Middle Eastern) and salsa verde (Mexico) served alongside a citrus gremolata salad (Italian).  It works: the lamb is right at home with the garlic and citrus of the salad, craves the salt in the shoyu, the acid in the yogurt and the herbs and peppers in the salsa verde.  Bada yin, bada yang. And there is something inherently Korean about the dish, where at any moment, you might bring a different flavor to fish or chicken by dipping into yet another completely different dish of banchan. Is the pickled parsley right with the chicken, or is it better with a smidge of pickled eggplant or kosari?

In his Octopi LA, Choi digs deep into the Korean play book. Baby octopus are charred, and served with carrot kochujang puree, bok choy, pickled vegetables and nori. The banchan notion is at play here.  But he can’t leave the kochujang alone, bringing a sweet carrot to the party.

Does this always work? The warm cornbread and chicken salad with Italian sausage ragout, salsa verde and pickled red onion left me at the altar. My tongue couldn’t find a toe-hold here. I wanted something less sweet or spicier. But some romances aren’t meant to last forever.

A-Frame's cornbread and chicken salad

A-Frame’s cornbread and chicken salad

Which of the two Koreas was the more satisfying? Soban is the root. A-frame is the branch. Both will keep Korean food alive, and I’m glad that in America, I don’t have to choose.

New Breakfast Hours, New Year’s Menu and our Jan. 1-15 Closure

New research provides hope for sleepyheads

After much yawning and consideration, we have decided to open for breakfast one hour later and stay open one hour later. Empirical evidence for our scientifically-sound conclusion? We were pretty empty from 7 to 8, but people kept coming to the door after we’d closed begging for pancakes.

Here are the NEW breakfast hours:
• Friday and Saturday: 8 am to noon
• Sunday: 8 am to 1 pm

New Year’s Eve: get in on the ground floor

Wish we had a nice two-level restaurant with seats as far as the eye can see, but we’ve just got our little place, one level, slightly below grade, and 49 seats.

So if you want to put you and yours into a couple of them, here’s what you need to know about New Year’s Eve. We’re open 6:00 to 11:00, and it’s open seating, open reservations so just call us up and request a time. Here’s the menu:

Small plates:
• Soup: Creamy Brussels sprouts, with crispy Brussels sprouts, bacon, and blue cheese croutons $6
• Oysters on the half shell, on ice with mignonette and fresh-grated horseradish, or roasted with preserved lemon hollandaise and buttered bread crumbs, $8 for half dozen; $14 for a dozen
• Salad of frissee, chiogga beets, kumquats, goat cheese crouton, lemon thyme vinaigrette $8
• Grilled romaine, gorgonzola cream dressing, pine nuts $8
• Oregon Dungeness Crab and ricotta ravioli, chanterelle mushroom tomato cream $12

Main Courses
• Italian Porchetta: Pork-belly wrapped pork loin with oranges, fennel seed and herbs, pork sugo, Yukon Gold potatoes in butter and parsley; grilled Italian lacinato kale and figs, fig vin cotto $23
• Butternut squash and fennel risotto with sage and hazelnuts, seared scallops, grape must mustard $21 (vegetarian available upon request, $18)
• Spanish bouillabaisse, with scallops, mussels, prawns, Dungeness crab, Spanish chorizo sausage, roasted red potatoes, saffron smokey paprika broth, grilled bread with romesco $25
• Filet mignon, gnocchi and crimini mushrooms in horseradish crème fraiche, roast Brussels sprouts with bacon $27
• 12 layer cake, crisp hazelnut meringue, chocolate soufflé and mocha buttercream $6
• Clementine crème brulee with chocolate dipped ambrosia macaroons and candied blood orange $6

CLOSED January 1-15

We will be closed just two weeks this year, from January 1-15. We re-open Wednesday, January 16 with a three-course dinner from Russia.

See you soon around Nora’s Table.

Spain, Mexico, and Desserts for New Years Eve

We are so glad you are enjoying our Wednesday three-course international dinners. We have been getting rave reviews. The $15 price tag doesn’t hurt either, does it?

And we are really sorry, but we sold out for our Italian dinner this past Wednesday before we opened the doors. We’re aiming a bit higher this time, and we’ll have dinners available for the first 40 people who reserve. And by the way, we have reservations already, so don’t dawdle Amaryllis.

Here is the menu for the dinner from Spain for this Wednesday, December 19:
• Espinacas Empanadillas: Little half-moon pies with spinach, white anchovies, pine nuts and figs
• Sopa de Mariscos: Hearty Spanish-style seafood stew with prawns, Oregon butter clams, mussels, cuttlefish, with grilled bread and romesco sauce
• Helado con ron y passas y guirlache: Rum and raisin ice cream, with almond hazelnut brittle
And if you want to think ahead, about how pooped you’ll be the day after Christmas, let us treat you on Wednesday, December 26 to a delightful three-course dinner from Mexico:

• Queso fundito with house-made chorizo, fresh flour and corn tortilla chips
• Rockfish in escabeche, sweet potato tamale
• Churos and hot chocolate

Give the gift that moans

How many presents can you give the ones you love that make them moan with pleasure? Uh, well, don’t answer that.

Here’s one though: our gift card. Load it up with any amount you want. We have nice cards and envelopes to give with, and if you’re reading this e-mail from afar, call us and we can mail a card to anyone you wish. And since we’re open 7 nights a week for dinner, and Fri-Sat-Sun for breakfast, your friends and family get lots of opportunities to use it.

When’s the best time to come in and buy cards? Probably better if you wait until 4:00 in the afternoon, any day of the week, but heck, try the side door any time during the day, and if we’re there, we’ll help you. Just remember that we are closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So your last chance to purchase is Sunday, December 23.

Last piece of the New Year’s puzzle falls into place

OK, put on your New Year’s Eve thinking cap for a minute. If you’re reasonably sure you’ll still be alive after December 21, you really should be making dinner reservations NOW. You can go check out our dinner menu here.

We promised you recently that we’d have our New Year’s dessert menu for you this week. And our lovely and talented and ever so pregnant Sous and Pastry Chef Rainbow Trosper has a fabulous one-two punch for you: Here’s how she described them:

One: “I think the 12 layer cake is the best dessert to enjoy before wishing 2012 goodbye. Twelve months of the year, 12 delicious layers of cake, crisp hazelnut meringue, chocolate souffle and mocha buttercream.”
Two: “Clementine creme brulee with chocolate dipped ambrosia macaroons and candied blood orange.”

Those desserts are the things you want to be thinking about while you’re missing us for two weeks. Because we will be closed January 1-15, reopening Wednesday, January 16, when we’ll have another fabulous three-course international dinner from Russia, to celebrate the 1895 premier of Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake” in St Petersburg.