For the past 13 years, Paley's Place restaurant in Portland has helped set the standard for Pacific Northwest cuisine. Fresh, local, and seasonal are hallmarks of chef Vitaly Paley's cooking. Now he and Kimberly, his wife and partner, have written a book called The Paley's Place Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the Pacific Northwest, for sale beginning in October. Find dates for signings and events at paleysplace.net.
Q What sets the region's cuisine apart?
A Our ingredients. Mushrooms like morels, porcini, and chanterelles. Seafood like black cod, razor clams, salmon, and Dungeness crab, and proteins like elk, lamb, and rabbit. Strawberries are incredible; pears and apples are great too. There's white asparagus, heirloom squash, and 12 types of tomatoes.
Q You only shop locally?
A We're so militant about seasonal ingredients, I forget what tomatoes taste like until tomatoes come back. If you stay seasonal, you're likely to stay local.
Q And that's the menu?
A The day the farmers bring their stuff in, we walk around and say, "OK, which vegetables are we going to use today? Look at these porcinis—they're beautiful, let's grill them whole!" One farm grows 35 varieties of amazing peppers, from Spanish pimientos de padron to paprika-style peppers to gypsy peppers. A stew with some of those just sings with different flavors.
Q A quick local recipe for fall?
A Peel and cut up a butternut squash, saute it with onions and butter, add curry powder and pear cider, then peeled and chopped pears and water. Cook until soft, puree, and serve with a little creme fraiche on top.
Photography by Susan Seubert
This article was first published in September 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.