Like many Portlanders I have a list. A very long list of restaurants and eateries around town that I’d like to visit. We’ve all had the conversation, “Have you been to so and so?” and you respond emphatically, and perhaps a tiny bit embarrassed, but definitely triumphantly, “No, but it’s on the list!”. I say it, and I hear folks say it all of the time. Especially here in Portland where restaurants, really good restaurants, open up weekly.
Olympic Provisions was on my list, however, I’m more than a little bit embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t been there before Tuesday night’s Portland Food Adventures. House made salamis and cured meats, a pastry chef who is light handed when it comes to sugar and sweet, rustic cozy atmosphere, an amazing wine selection (a master sommelier is an understatement). What was I thinking? It’s everything I love and more! On the other hand, I honestly cannot think of a better way to explore a new (new to me) restaurant than with Portland Food Adventures.
There is something special about these dinners that I haven’t quite put my finger on. The energy at the table is always warm and electric and filled with anticipation. The folks that attend these events are simply lovers of food and good conversation. No snobbery here.
I was lucky enough to be seated next to the owner of Olympic Provisions, Michelle Cairo. What a treat! She was charming and gracious and shared hilarious stories of growing up in a Greek family in Utah. If you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, then you have an idea of what Michelle’s world was like. Greek columns, goats on a spit, and the obligatory drunk priest passed out in the front yard. Michelle, if you’re reading this, I still think you should write a memoir ;)
Olympic Provisions is a family affair. Michelle is one of the owners and her brother, Elias, is the master salumist. Their mom and cousins help out on the business end, and their father’s influence (he made everything from scratch including salami) helped inspire them. If you need more enticement to visit Olympic Provisions, Alex Yoder is the chef. Shy, humble and exceptionally talented. He cut his teeth in kitchens like Castagna and Clyde Common and brings a very simple and focused palate to Olympic Provisions. As Michelle put it, Alex cooks what he wants to eat. No pretense, just simple and straightforward food.
And because of Chris Angelus and Portland Food Adventures I got to experience six courses of, exquisitely paired, Olympic Provisions perfection.
If you haven’t read my previous PFA experiences then here’s the gist:You sign up for the PFA mailing list (I’d suggest it, because tickets go fast), you get excited about what’s up and coming (next month is Cocotte!) you shuffle a little money towards Chris, you eat an amazing multi-course meal, and you get a stack of gift certificates to local joints favored by the chef. It’s a hard life isn’t it?
Hope to see you at Cocotte!