First dinner in Portland. Bratwurst with mustard, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, onion and chives in a mustard vinaigrette, topped off with a Portland local farmhouse ale. The brats come from Otto’s Sausage Kitchen on Woodstock, a meat market that’s been making hand crafted German sausage since 1922. Two large glass displays hold every type of sausage, cured meat, and processed animal part known to man. Liverwurst, made from pig liver, fat, onions, and spices. Pounds of ground pork that looks so good I could eat a handful raw from the tray. And a healthy beer case in the back sporting local Portland brews. This must be the holy land.
Portland’s food and beer culture has reached a new peak of maturity. Every corner has a brew pub, a food truck (of which total over 500), a gastropub with local brews on tap. Every market in the city is trying to outdo the other with beer selections that stretch ceiling to floor. The grocery store has more beers I’ve never heard of than there are taps at most bars in Miami. This is an apex beer society that does not stand for beer mediocrity. A beacon on a hill every serious beer driven city should strive for.
The classic German wurst we take home pairs perfectly with Commons’ Urban Farmhouse Ale. A floral Belgian Saison that compliments the herbal meat favors in the pork sausage, holding onto and lifting each. Aromas of pepper and anise are perfectly woven through the bite of sausage and the sip of beer. They mingle, meld, and melt onto the palate together. It’s as if these two had shared a past on a field that neither had forgotten. Heavy carbonation crackles citrus on the tongue clearing the palate for the next perfect bite. Even the acidity from the vinaigrette plays to these flavors and pulls them all together with fresh vegetable crunch and tomato juiciness.
This is how food should always taste. Perfect ingredients under expert care in the kitchen. This home cooked meal is worlds ahead of anything I have ever, or will ever see at any restaurant. I truly wish you could have been there because this was the only one of its kind. Never read nor written, the meal remains a perfect memory of a perfect evening around a family table.