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Having a working culinary vocabulary is all but required for living in Portland. Many of us know the difference between burrata and mozzarella, tagliatelle and pappardelle, but, perhaps Dad takes it a bit further. Maybe there’s some home fermentation gear in your garage? Perhaps there are a few mushroom foraging guidebooks on the coffee table? If Dad gets the New York Times for the cooking section and has Resy, Tock, and Open Table accounts, this is the list for you.
Chefs love carbon steel knives for their performance, but they’re often too finicky for home kitchens. Steelport strives to bridge that gap: their knives want nothing to do with the dishwasher (no knife does), and will certainly rust if not thoroughly dried between uses, but if you’re up for a little extra attention, there’s nothing sharper. Their Portland-made chef knife will fly through prepping the family’s secret spaghetti sauce and effortlessly cut up after-school snacks—ants on a log never looked so “three-star.”
Marshall’s Haute Sauce Local
$10Gifting hot (or haute, since Marshall’s chefs things up a bit more than the Tobascos and Crystals of the world) sauce can be as tricky as gifting clothes: everyone has their unique taste and perspective. But a baseline hot sauce is an excellent addition to any spice cabinet. Start off Dad’s collection of locally produced sauce with Marshall’s most traditional offering, the heirloom habanero (a little goes a long way) and you’ll see their bottles pop up in your fridge and out by the grill in no time. What’s better than a gift that steers your beloved, barbeque tong-toting father-figure in a direction that benefits the whole family?
Josh Alsburg sources produce for Rubinette (they do the vegetables at Providore) with the tenacity of a vegetable-crazed chef. His selection rivals the walk-in of any restaurant in the city; specialty products like Charantais melons and Astiana tomatoes (a coveted Italian “sauce” varietal)—stuff that never makes it into grocery stores—abound in his treasure-trove corner of the market on Sandy. Rubinette’s “Discover Box” is a curated mix of what’s absolutely perfect at any given moment of the season—it’s the spoils of a day at the market with Josh.
Ayers Creek Bundle Local
Peruse the Instagrams of a few of your favorite Portland chefs and you’ll undoubtedly find praise for Ayers Creek Farm. They’ve achieved cult status, lauded for their most humble products like those aforementioned sauce tomatoes and unique varieties of winter squash, but their preserved products are what chefs really fight over. Wellspent Market picked a spread of their (and our!) favorite Ayers Creek dry goods for this gift set: Purgatorio beans—a versatile Italian white bean; Amish butter popcorn—that’s the name, you can still add butter; and Damson plum jam—bliss.
Dad probably already knows the difference between cooking and finishing olive oils: a more nuanced high-quality oil should be kept away from the heat to preserve its flavor and aroma, and used to finish dishes instead of during cooking. Everything from a green salad to avocado toast to cedar-planked salmon benefits from a kiss of the good stuff. Durant is an Oregon olive oil producer with too many awards to count, and Arbequina is the baseline for single-varietal olive oils. This all-purpose finisher is a go-to in any kitchen—it’s not to be confused with the wax-capped gift sets lurking in the back of your pantry.
$85Nobody has time to mess around with flimsy plastic cutting boards. A sturdy and reliable cutting board is a cornerstone of any kitchen—one that immediately takes some of the chaos out of throwing together dinner. Bengston’s Portland-made boards are crafted from Northwest hardwoods, and, at 11 by 16 inches, they give more than ample room for dicing an onion, julienning some peppers, or carving a chicken.
MADRE Linen Tea Towel Local
MADRE Linen is working towards the goal of sourcing exclusively Oregon-grown flax to produce their linen goods, and we’re working to collect as many of their towels as possible. An oft-overlooked workhorse in the kitchen, towels keep your hands safe when turning out the morning’s omelet; they tidy spills and dry your hands and dishes. Having a towel within easy grasp is essential.
True balsamic vinegar is a near-perfect food. Imported is usually the only way to go, but there is a local exception: with Italian barrels, Cooper Mountain Vineyards started producing aged balsamic with Willamette Valley grapes in 2000. Theirs is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, aged—in the Italian tradition—through a series of barrels, which, over time (a lot of time) lend a nuanced flavor to the slowly concentrating Oregon juice. Only 300, four-ounce bottles of the agrodolce syrup are produced annually, which makes this already special product even more covetable.
Tinned fish is a big deal. Usually, it’s a vehicle to savor the fruits of the Mediterranean, any time of year, anywhere on Earth. We’re not talking about Chicken of the Sea—think lavish sardines preserved in top-shelf olive oil. Top Chef finalist Sara Hauman’s new-ish Tiny Fish Co. applies the concept to the bounty of the Pacific. The “Buddy Pack” is a sampling of everything delicious they’ve tinned to date: rockfish in sweet soy sauce, octopus with lemon and dill, and mussels en escabeche (a vinegar-spiked marinade). Hauman regularly posts recipes on Instagram cooking with her sea-treats, but they’re also perfect as is—scooped with crackers or baguette.