It's the Portland summer curse: we all get so stoked about the sunshine that we tend to burn ourselves out on music festivals, hikes, and big backyard parties. The best antidote to warm-weather overachieving? A simple meal outside that reminds you that it's not about how much you cram into these few precious months, it's about slowing down and soaking it all in.
Local author Liz Crain knows first hand how hard it is to keep from overextending herself in the summer—in a week, she'll be embarking on the book tour for the second edition of the Food Lover's Guide to Portland, her handy pocket-sized intro to local artisan foods, markets, and eateries (out September 1 from Hawthorne Books; 204 pages; $17.95). Her approach to the summertime madness? "I went camping on Memorial Day weekend this year and during that trip I made a pact with myself that I would be outdoors as much as possible this summer."
To celebrate the release of the second edition of her indispensable guide to local food, here are five of her favorite outdoor food, drink, and foraging options for Portlanders when the days are long, the nights are warm, and the clams are ready for chowder:
1. Wild Food Adventures with John Kallas
"Every wild edibles outing that I've been on with John Kallas has been super fun and memorable. Some of my favorites: clamming for cockles in Tillamook Bay, foraging for sea vegetables at Hug Point, collecting wild greens and herbs at Oxbow and my most recent foraging trip for wild greens, herbs and flowers on Sauvie Island." More info here!
2. Crabbing on the coast
"I've been going crabbing with a fellow and his daughters and other friends of mine a lot this summer and here's what I've learned—crack of dawn is generally best for catching keepers, fall is way better than summer for crabbing in Oregon bays, and crab noodle soup with corn, ginger and lime juice is very, very good. Most of the good crabbing bays have dock cook stations, where you rent your boat and/or your crab pots, and they'll cook and clean your crab for you. I usually like to do it myself but it's pretty fun to eat them freshly caught bay-side too."
3. BEACH PICNICS
"I live out of my beach bag in the summer and just trade out magazines and towels for day trips and overnights to rivers, lakes, and the coast. Now that I'm working on the Tasty Brunch Book day drinking has become integral to most beach picnics! In my summer cooler you'll usually find bottles of chilled cava and my homemade plum wine (3/4 cava, 1/4 plum wine is really tasty) or a big jug of limey, gingery homemade Bloody Marys. Oh, and, canning jars with reusable lids are super sweet for shake and drink cocktails. Shaker plus glass all in one!"
4. Cooking by fire
"This summer some of my favorite cooking has been done over a fire. I cooked a lot of oysters over fire when I spent a week at a friend's place on the coast. After they pop open I like to spoon a little fermented black bean chili sauce over them, give them a squeeze of lemon juice and down the hatch! So simple and good. Two of my other favorite fire foods this summer? Grilled corn with lime, butter, and cotija cheese, and whole fish drizzled in olive oil, stuffed with lemon and grated ginger. Lucky."
5. Outdoor PDX restaurants and bars
"Some of my favorite Portland spots for outdoor dining and drinking in no particular order: Liberty Glass, Ned Ludd, The Hop & Vine, The Old Gold, Toro Bravo, Por Que No, Bar Bar, White Owl Social Club, Captured by Porches beer buses, Valentines, Portland farmers markets, Moon and Sixpence, EaT Oyster Bar, Saraveza, and Himalayan Food."
Want to find out more about Liz Crain's new book projects (or pick her brain about her favorite crabbing spots)? Head to her book release party at 6 pm on Labor Day (September 1) at Reverend Nat’s Cidery and Public Taproom, or catch a panel discussion of her new book at Powell's on September 11 at 7:30.