Archive for February, 2013

Paa Dee©dinaavila

Paa Dee @ Dina Avila

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee 03

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee © Dina Avila

Paa Dee Menu

I have a confession to make: I am 100% biased towards this restaurant. When you walk into PaaDee, you step into a memory of Thailand. Above you, the bird-cage lamp shades share the story of the old man sitting in a Bangkok alley with his birds in wooden cages. At PaaDee, they hold captive the warm inviting light of Edison bulbs. Nestled on the corner of E Burnside and 28th in what I call an “Ikea Building” (because they look assembled), Earl has created a world that has become the perfect marriage of Portland industrial, vintage warmth and the welcoming heart of what is Thai. Adam and I have been frequenting PaaDee since they opened just over a year ago November. Owned by the ever modest, incredibly kind Akkapong “Earl” Ninsom, PaaDee is Thai like you’ve never had it. There’s this noodle bowl that causes cravings in me that stop me in my tracks. House made egg noodles in a bright and spicy lime & pork broth, ground pork, roasted red pork, crispy pork belly. Ba Mhee. We’ve tried many, many foods on the menu, but the Ba Mhee is something we always, always come back for. We have t-shirts that will forever be broth-stained due to haphazardly, and enthusiastically slurped noodles. It is our crack and somehow we often show amazing restraint and save half for breakfast the next day. You should try it.

Last night, I had the honor of photographing Portland Food Adventures at PaaDee. Selfishly, I offered to shoot it because I knew it would be an opportunity to try new foods and recipes that I may otherwise never would. Earl was being given an opportunity to flex his creative cooking muscles and I wanted to be there to reap the rewards. And boy did he. Earl invited three Thai chefs (who should be famous) from the Portland area to cook for us last night and they lavished us with foods that you may only ever eat if you’re in Thailand and are lucky enough to find where the locals eat. Earl wanted our dinner to be a true Portland Food Adventure and he did not disappoint. There were these dumplings that you may only ever eat on a very special Thai occasion. Intricately shaped flowers stuffed with pork, radish, shallots and peanuts. Delicately colored with with the broth of purple cabbage. I could have easily eaten a whole plate of them.

Each dish at last night’s intimate gathering of food enthusiasts was perfectly and distinctly paired by bartending great, Alan Akwai. Alan was so precise with his pairings that he even called a sake expert friend, who is currently in Japan learning how to make sake, for pairing advice for our Dungeness crab soup. And, yes, it was phenomenal. Did I mention we had mango mimosas? Oh, yes.

The next Portland Food Adventures will be at Gabriel Rucker’s Le Pigeon. If you haven’t been to Le Pigeon before then you must partake in this Adventure. Chris is offering two sittings as Le Pigeon is a cozy and intimate space and, trust me, this dinner will sell out fast.

In the meantime, I leave you with photos and our menu from last night and hope to see you at PaaDee next time we’re there…which will likely be in a week.



Read Full Post »


All images © Dina Avila 2013

DinaFlourish (1)22

A quiet start to the new year had segued into back-to-back magazine shoots, portrait shoots and bidding on big juicy projects. This means early to bed, early to rise, no drinking and not much in the way of home cooking. Adam and I are lucky, as we are literally surrounded by amazing and affordable restaurants…but the urge to wield my Wusthof or to stir a steaming pot of something or other in my Dutch oven is always gently tapping her delicate finger on the back of my mind. A quiet night led me to pick up the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living where I found inspiration for this dish. Rustic and nutty red quinoa, chickpeas and lemon. A perfect meal to help to regroup and rebalance and make a bit of a mess in the kitchen. Martha’s recipe calls for Napa cabbage but I am not a fan of cabbage so decided to swap it out for the bold and flavorful Brussels sprout. Roasted to a caramelized perfection, this becomes the perfect winter side…or main if you’re in the mood. This is my favorite sort of recipe where, with each bite, I’m chewing over the possibilities and variations. A dusting of sumac or paprika, perhaps? A sprinkling of the ubiquitous chunks of bacon? Oh, yes! Preserved lemons, shallots, slivers of shaved Reggiano? It goes on and on.

Take this recipe and find inspiration in it. Spring is right around the corner and with it bright cheerful veggies will begin to find their way on to our plates. I can only imagine the possibilities.



Red Quinoa with Roasted Brussel’s Sprouts

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living


1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup red quinoa, well rinsed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into thirds

1 15oz can chickpeas

Handful of black oil-cured Moroccan olives

Zest and juice from one lemon

1/2 cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped


Warm you oven to 400

Place the Brussels on a cookie sheet and toss with olive oil.

Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring periodically, until the leaves begin to crisp and brown.

In the meantime, bring water to a boil and stir in quinoa and salt.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes.

Remove cover, raise heat to high and cook the quinoa, stirring frequently, until all the water has evaporated and the quinoa is dry.

When you are about 20 minutes into roasting the Brussels, use tongs or a wooden spoon to shift the sprouts to the side of the baking sheet and spread the quinoa out on the other half.

Roast for 10 minutes, remove from oven and scrape the sprouts and quinoa in to a bowl.

Stir in the lemon juice and zest, chickpeas, olives and dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: