Something about this summer made me anxious for fall. Maybe it was the way winter never really arrived, and then seemed to slide unceremoniously into spring, which then quietly melted into a hazy blur. Maybe it was a barbecue season that stretched from February to October, without reprieve. Or the wildfires that engulfed more than a million acres in Oregon and Washington and cast a tragic pall over our cherished summer weekends. Or, perhaps, September’s sequence of festivals both heady and gluttonous, from the Portland Film Festival to XOXO to TBA to Oktoberfest to Feast. We Portlanders, accustomed to our distinctive seasons and plentiful opportunity for hibernation, have been overexposed. The call of autumn is strong this year.
What a fortuitous moment for our November issue to arrive! After a summer spent wrestling mightily with our weekly CSA box—buckling under a bounty of watermelon, squash, and corn—I, for one, am ready to hunker down and eat some meals not cooked at my own house. I’m ready for some serious dining experiences. And as you’ll find in our annual Best Restaurants feature, we’ve got plenty of those. Because as our tireless critic Karen Brooks therein illuminates, it’s been quite the interesting year for dining in Portland—low on splashy openings and big-buzz destinations but full of surprising discoveries. This year, many of Portland’s best meals flew beneath the radar, often served in tiny or dingy dining rooms, with limited menus and hours, yet with boundless passion. One restaurant serves only ham—but really great ham. Another anoints worldly wheels of cheese with the ritual and aesthetic of a Japanese sushi house. Others sweep you into discrete realms of cuisine, fashion, literature, culture, and experimentation. This was no year for ordinary dining—2015 was a year to discard preconceptions at the door and bravely enter strange new worlds of eating.
So if you’re game for a bit of autumnal indulgence, this issue can certainly provide inspiration. It’ll also provide plenty of entertainment: we’ve got an engaging gallery of local nonprofit work, a dive into the state of sustainable seafood, and (get ready!) a glimpse of the approaching army of Californian “tech bros”. So come, join me on the couch, and let’s pray for rain.