Posted by: Lindsay Eng
“Life Expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”
For those meat lovers out there, you should make your way at some point to the Portland-based restaurant, Beast. This past week the design team attended the Industrial Designers Society of America conference in Portland, Ore. It is something we attend one week out of the year where we are able to meet, greet and talk with other designers from all over the world about current trends in the design world.
The theme this year was “DIY (Do-It-Yourself): Threat or Opportunity.” One speaker I went to hear was Naomi Pomeroy (owner and chef at Beast), who discussed building a food community. Naomi is not a technically trained chef, but someone who loves food and has turned her passion into a professional opportunity.
I am not going to write about Naomi’s impressive past (you can Google it for yourself — she has been written and photographed about many times, including a controversial picture by Newsweek), but I will tell you about the experience I had eating her amazing six-course dinner on my last night in Portland.
Chilled Cream of Celery Soup w/ Whipped Lobster Creme Fraiche
Foie-Gras Bon-Bon, Sauternes Gelee
Steak Tartare + Quail Egg Toast
Chicken Liver Mousse + Pickled Shallot
Blood Sausage with Summer Chantrelles
Pork Shoulder Rilettes w/ Plum Mostarda
Cattail Creek Lamb Loin Chop
Corn, Zucchini + Onion Panade w/ Lamb Demi-Glace
Creative Growers Little Gem Lettuces
Toy-Box Cherry Tomatoes w/ Anchovy Lemon and Parmesan Vinaigrette
Cracked Black Pepper + Fleur de Sel Shortbread
Oregon Wildflower Honey w/ Poached Apricots and Marcona Almonds
Shortcakes w/ Peaches and Local Berries
Rose Geranium Whipped Cream
Beast, as the name implies, specializes in meats such as their charcuterie plate*, which has become the nationally renowned dish it’s recognized for. It was by far the best thing on the menu, and featured small, delicate bites designed with textures that you’ve never tasted before, in which you try and savor each bite so it will last a little bit longer. My favorite was the foie-gras bon bon that was served on a shortbread cracker topped with sauternes gelee. The server suggested we save the bon bon for last. This was the part I was most impressed about. Every time the waiter would bring out a new dish they would explain first what we were eating and then the best way to go about eating it. For me this relates very much to design, because many times we design something for a particular reason but people may not interpret it in the way it was supposed to be. You should use a product in the way it was meant to be designed and you should eat a dish in the way it was meant to be eaten. Food and design are very methodical and everything has a certain purpose.
Not only does Naomi’s food have a purpose, so does her dining room. It is a very small and intimate area that focuses on an open kitchen platform where diners sit at two family style tables. You can watch Naomi and her sous chef prepare the dishes of each course from where you sit. There is a row of candle lights at each table with different glass carafes of communal water. The restaurant has a fixed menu where substitutions are not welcomed, kind of like my house at dinner time growing up.
The restaurant is very detail-oriented, but comfortable. It has a relaxed atmosphere of diners who you know are there because they want to experience food at a new level. Naomi is inspirational to all food lovers who try to endlessly expand their expertise on their own. For me it is to now learn the art of making a charcuterie plate. Any cooking tips are welcomed…stay tuned.
*Just in case you were curious on the exact definition of Charcuterie:
(as taken from the Epicurious Food Dictionary) [shahr-KOO-tuhr-ee, shar-koo-tuhr-EE]
Taken from the term cuiseur de chair, meaning ‘cooker of meat’, charcuterie has been considered a French Culinary art at least since the 15th century. It refers to the products, particularly (but not limited to) pork specialties such as pate, rilettes, galantines, crepinettes, etc., which are made and sold in a delicatessen-style shop, also called a charcuterie.