Chef/Owners Zoe Hackett, Levi Hackett and Kat Liebman, Cocotte
Posts Tagged ‘portland’
It was a blustery autumnal night. The rain was coming down in sheets and the wind was blowing bright orange and red leaves like chaotic confetti all over the city. Wrapped in scarves and winter coats we stumble into Cocotte dripping with rain…and anticipation.
We have the whole place to ourselves. Twenty-three Portlanders hungry for some of the best food our fair city offers. Candles are lit. French music playing softly, the bartender working on cocktails, and Kat and Zoe in the kitchen bringing food together in what appears to be French inflected alchemy, but really, they are just bad ass cooks.
This was Wednesday night.
Cocotte (pronounced Co-cot…or co-coat…depending on your mood) means many things. Among the list Kat shared with us, my favorites are “feisty hen” and “lady of the night”. After Wednesday night, I may add one more definition to the list. Amazing. Delightful. Ambrosial. Ok that’s three, but I just can’t help myself.
Cocotte was my fifth Portland Food Adventures and like the four before her, I was surprised and captivated by the night. Levi, part owner, and our bartender extraordinaire for the night started us off with an aperitif called Mere – Doubonnet Rouge, Gin, Lemon. If we weren’t relaxed before that drink, we certainly were after.
For those of you not familiar with Portland Food Adventures, let me tell you a little about it. PFA is the brainchild of Chris Angeles and the idea is simple (and brilliant!). Take a peak at the PFA website and see what dinners are coming up, by the way, breakfast at Broder on New Years Day and dinner Aviary on 1/17 are on the agenda-not to be missed! You sign up, give Chris a bit of money (gratuity included), arrive the night of the dinner, be prepared to have your mind and palate blown, and walk away with a more than contented belly and a stack of gift certificates to some of the chef de la nuit favorite eateries (Yakuza, DOC, Grain & Gristle were among those on Wednesday) in Portland. Not a bad deal, eh?
Seven courses. That is what Kat and Zoe and their wonderful sous chef, Katherine, created for us on Tuesday night. Paired perfectly with French and Northwest wines and book ended with an aperitif and digestif. And let me tell you, these ladies went all out for us.
I don’t think these pictures do their dishes justice….so I think you should just visit Kat and Zoe at Cocotte and experience it for yourself :)
PS Thank you, Chris for inviting Adam! We can’t think of a nicer and more generous engagement gift!
For all its wonderfulness, Portland is everything but diverse. Named (somewhere) the whitest city in the United States, there still stands an ugly symbol of segregation in North Portland. I haven’t seen it, and, frankly, I don’t want to, but I’m told the old “white side, black side” sign continues to rear its ugly head as a reminder of how bad things used to be. Sometimes I wonder if that sign is still obeyed.
I grew up in the Bay Area and, although it’s been eleven years since I’ve lived there, I find I still long for a city where you pass all shades of brown while walking down the street. Don’t get me wrong, there are people of color here (and there), but in pockets. Head deep into north Portland, and you’ll come across black neighborhoods. Head deeper into southeast, and you’ll find the Latino community. I know there are Greek, Italian and Indian (native and country) neighborhoods in Portland, I just don’t know where they are. Yeah, it makes me a little sad.
Surprisingly, there is a culture in Portland that very much has a presence. And all you have to do is wander into any Whole Foods, take a look around and you’ll find the beautiful faces of Tibet. I won’t pretend to know that much about Tibetans. I probably know about as much as you. What I do know, that you may not, is that their traditions are very much alive in Portland and the community here is very tightly knit. I also know a little bit of what it took some of them to get here and away from Chinese violent oppression. Stories that will make your stomach cramp up and your heart weep. Stories that I wish I could share with you, and although I am privy to some of them, it would be wrong for me to share without proper consent. Know this however, it is as bad as you imagine it to be.
Then there’s our friend Lopsang. A beautiful Tibetan who grew up in India with a British education, and who is one interesting guy.
We’re just getting to know Lopsang and his stories air more on the side of naughty British schoolboy than trekking the Himalayas for 40 days without food or water, but interesting nonetheless. He recently dreaded his hair and it reminded me of a personal project I started about a year ago: portraits of people in their environment. I’ve been so deep into food photography that this project sort of fell by the wayside, you can see where I left off here. But what better way to pick it up again than with such and interesting face such as Lopsang’s?
If anyone else in Portland is interested in less traditional portraits, send me a note!
One of the cool things about Portland is that you just need to drive a little ways out of the city to find neighborhoods that all seem to have their own vibe. Be it hipster (Southeast), nouveau riche (Pearl), homey (Deep southeast), diverse (NoPo), or St. John’s, which is working class. When I drove through St. John’s on my way to meet a friend and his kids for some photo’s, there was something familiar and grounding about the neighborhoods. I grew up in a working class town surrounded by refineries that employed half the town. I hated it then, but I appreciate it now. St John’s is like that town. People working to make a living. No pretensions, not a lot of money, lot’s of family, and folks just being folks.
I met Ryan and his brood under the strikingly majestic St. John’s Bridge. Will, as Ryan puts it, never turns off adorable. I would agree. And Marilyn is just plain cool. She’s a seven-year old skateboarder who rides at the skate park with all the big boys. She runs, fishes and messes with her little brother just enough to keep him on his toes.
Here are some of my favorites from the shoot.