True Portland

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©dinaavila (12 of 12)

Hello friends!

Last fall I had the honor of shooting a Portland guidebook – True Portland – for Japanese tourist. We photographed restaurants and food and interesting folk all over our fair city. I thought I’d share a few pages from the book. It was a whirlwind shoot and these bad ass Japanese publishers (Bridgelab) and writers, wrote, designed, published and launched the book within 7 months. No joke. And I hear it’s been the #1 selling guidebook on Amazon Japan since it hit the shelves. If ever you find yourself in a Japanese market – or in Japan, for that matter – take a peak at the bookshelves. You may see our book.

The next month or two will be extremely busy for me with shoots for another Japanese publication – Popeye Magazine – as well as a spread for Travel + Leisure (!!!). Looking forward to sharing those images with you in the coming months!


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Choclate Hazlenut Honey Pavlova © Dina Avila

All photos © Dina Avila 2014

I decided that since it’s been MONTHS since I posted a recipe here on Leek Soup that I would make up for lost time and make something epic for you. And by epic I mean a visually stunning dessert that has the potential for an epic fail. Who doesn’t like a challenge in the kitchen? It’s been snowing for three days here in Portland and today we are in the middle of an ice storm. Perfect weather for attempting a stacked pavlova. It’s really not a difficult dessert to make, but SO many things can go wrong. For example, fishing out an egg shell from the egg whites with your oily fingers? Bad. Any amount of residual oil or butter clinging to the side of the mixing bowl? Recipe for disaster. A high humidity day? Forget about it. No really, don’t do it. But freezing temperatures outside and cozy warmth in? Perfection.

I’ve been doing mostly editorial and restaurant work for the past few months or so and this is first food shoot I’ve done in our new home. Our old apartment was directly across a narrow alley from a warehouse that was painted a putrid shade of pale peach. That color would bounce into our kitchen around mid-day giving me approximately 4 hours of good daylight to shoot with. Even in cloudy weather. I now have multiple windows to shoot near (no ugly warehouse anywhere in sight), plus a basement that is slowly being transformed into a studio (and hopefully darkroom at some point). I expect this new arrangement will afford me some creative flexibility that the old place didn’t and I’m excited to see what lays ahead. I hope you are, too :)


Chocolate Hazelnut Pavlova Drizzled with Honey

The recipe is simple enough, but give yourself enough time to make it. At least 3 hours from start to finish.
Feel free to use whipped cream or marscapone instead of crème fraîche.



For the meringue:

9 egg whites

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons dutch cocoa powder

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar, plus more for cleaning

For the topping:

3-4 cups crème fraîche, whipped until fluffy

1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Dark chocolate, grated

Honey for drizzling


Warm your oven to 375

Line the bottom of two baking sheets with parchment paper and, using an inverted 8 inch bowl draw three circles.

Wipe down your beaters, bowl and large spoon with white vinegar to remove any potential grease. Do not skip this step as oil, even from your hands, is the arch-enemy of meringue.

Beat your egg whites at medium speed until frothy.

Increase the speed to medium-high and add the powdered sugar, one large spoonful at a time.

Add the brown sugar one large spoonful at a time.

Continue to beat the eggs until stiff peaks form. About 10 minutes.

Beat in the vinegar for a few seconds.

Sift the cocoa powder over the egg whites and using your large spoon, fold in. No need for it to be completely blended. Streaks are fine.

Spoon the meringue into the your parchment circles and use an offset spatula to spread evenly.

Bake for 5 minutes at 375 and then lower the temperature to 250 for an hour and a half. Until the meringues are dry to the touch.

If you’re using both oven racks, rotate the meringues half way through the baking time.

Remove the meringues from the oven and let cool completely on wire racks.

To assemble the meringues, spread whipped crème fraîche on top of each layer, sprinkle with grated chocolate and chopped hazelnuts. Drizzle with honey and gently stack the layers.

Dina Avila for the Wall Street Journal

I have FINALLY unpacked and organized my props since Adam and I moved last November and hope to get around to cooking something up for you soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a recent shoot I did of macrame art at the Ace Hotel for the Design section of the Wall Street Journal. This is my second assignment with them and I hope there’s more to come as I absolutely love working with the WSJ. And besides, Photo by Dina Avila for the Wall Street Journal sure has a nice ring to it, no?


I hope all is well with you and 2014 has been off to a great start!


Art Culinaire, Part 3

Castagna © Dina Avila (1 of 4)

Castagna © Dina Avila (4 of 4)

Castagna © Dina Avila (2 of 4)

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Castagna © Dina Avila (3 of 4)

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As promised, here’s my third spread in Art Culinaire Magazine’s 108th volume. Eating Justin Woodward’s food at Castagna is a must for any Portland visit. Fresh vegetable heavy – as in grown the restaurants garden out back – Justin’s food is precise, modern, delicious and, lest we forget, absolutely gorgeous.

I hope everyone has had a lovely holiday season and I will see you all in the New Year!


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christamas © Dina Avila

Wishing you all a very warm and cuddly holiday season and a fantastically Happy New Year!

PS Art Culinaire Part 3 coming soon…


Art Culinaire, Part Two

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila-9

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila-5

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila-8

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila-10

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila-11

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila-2

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila-12

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila-13

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila

Le Pigeon © Dina Avila-4

All images © Dina Avila

As promised, here’s the second installment from my spread, including a few outtakes, in Art Culinaire. Meet Gabriel Rucker, Chef of Le Pigeon.


Beast © Dina Avila (2 of 6)

Beast © Dina Avila

Beast © Dina Avila (5 of 6)

Beast © Dina Avila

Beast © Dina Avila-4

Beast © Dina Avila

Beast © Dina Avila-5

Beast © Dina Avila (1 of 3)

Beast © Dina Avila (2 of 3)

All Photos © Dina Avila 2013

I cannot express how honored I am to have my work included in such a phenomenally beautiful magazine. If you’re not familiar with Art Culinaire, it’s an oversized, hard-bound magazine packed with gorgeous food photos, talented chefs and exquisitely written articles. Hit your local specialty bookshop and you should find it on the magazine shelf. My spread includes three of Portland’s most talented (and well-known) chefs and their wares: Naomi Pomeroy of Beast, Justin Woodward of Castagna and Gabe Rucker of Le Pigeon.

I hope to have a recipe post for you very soon. Adam and I just moved (as in I unpacked my computer about 30 minutes ago) to a larger space with lots of beautiful light. Looking forward to getting my props organized and making some photos for you. In the meantime, enjoy the first batch of some of my favorites, as well as a few outtakes, from Art Culinaire, Volume 108. Part two and three will be posted in the next day or two.



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