Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Castagna is Portland's answer to fine dining. Sure, they don't disperse cups with handles in the 4 o'clock position or show gender bias during plate placement (as they do with bill placement), but the casual staff is friendly as they serve up some of the area's finest chow.
We went with the 10 course tasting menu and wine pairings ($95 each for the menu, $55 each for the wines).
"Snacks" start off with green almond husks:
... masquerading as olives. We were nutty about these brined rinds that were a swell seasonal seedsation.
Buttermilk puffs filled with an herb emulsion and grapefruit pearls:
... melted in our mouths as this lactic lozenge dissolved into a citrus-spiked, grassy groove.
... were dusted with vinegar powder with a flourish of rosemary to these light, crunchy, tangy, divine bovine chips.
Frozen discs of hazelnut granola:
... buttered up our bouches as they melted in our mouths with a crunchy conclusion.
Transparent potato chips:
... came with an BBQ aioli to dip these brittle panes of glassy starch sheets.
... wound around yogurt in crisp, light, fresh, gogurt tubes washed down with Prosecco.
Tender pine needles sewed together bay shrimp, green almonds, lime ice with little blue borage flowers:
... with a swirl of greenery served with a 2010 Ciu Ciu Offida.
... sat on a custard spiked with soy in this crab-crusted, Asian-influenced dish further influenced by a 2010 Lucien Albrecht Pinot Blanc.
We spread hot rye rolls with butter topped with browned butter solids and their lovely lardo.
Frozen buttermilk and asparagus:
... were engulfed with a foamed asparagus soup with herbed croutons with waves of 2010 Marotti-Campi Verdicchio.
... was cured like pastrami in a bitable bit orchestrated with seared fiddlehead ferns and pickled mustard seeds served with a saliney 2010 Clotilde Davenne Sauvignon.
Rock fish with garlic granules, New Zealand spinach and clam jus:
... rocked with a 2010 Pablo Padin Albarino.
Creme fraiche encased chicken:
... with intensely flavored duck chips had an onion and kelp pour to this pea shoots and Meyer lemon-emulsioned fabulous fowl fixin. The first new world wine of the meal appeared - a 2009 J Christopher Pinot Noir which we had enjoyed during a visit to their Café.
Blue cheese and rare ribeye:
... with roasted beets, chive bud and onions was a more flavorful than tender tuft of protein with a 2005 Terra d'Arcoiris Rosso Tuscano.
Frozen juniper meringue and toasted marshmallow accented a tangy Meyer lemon curd:
... in the first of our three desserts.
Dried cream and frozen buttermilk shards:
... had a tangled tuille topper on a tangy goat milk and caramel ice cream served with an Andrew Rich 2008 Gewurtztraminer ice wine.
We prodded our pucks of chocolate with praline ice cream:
... with dried coffee and cream powder with date sugar fruitifying this rich ration served with a 1997 Kopke tawny port.
Mignardises of grapefruit pate de fruits:
... and hazelnut pralines wrapped up another notable meal at this swell 'stablishment.
Chef Justin Woodward is producing some of the most exciting cuisine in Portland.
1752 SE Hawthorne Blvd.