Portland Dining Month began to really blossom my first year in Stumptown. I remember scrolling through that original list of restaurants on my computer screen, only recognizing one or two from long line of participants. Everything was a new experience back then, yet I still frequent many of the restaurants I tried that year. Portland Dining Month was one of my first windows into the city’s expansive dining scene, actually offering a roadmap of where to eat, with their offer of three-course meals for $29. It was a great way to get to know a restaurant’s personality without breaking the bank.
When the list was released for this year’s dining month, I was excited to hit a few of my favorites– namely Accanto, Riffle NW, and Firehouse – but was also intrigued to try new places – and restaurants that I can’t usually afford. And in the light of trying new things, comes the subject of Ración, a relatively new, Spanish tapas spot utilizing molecular gastronomy techniques. The restaurant has a focused area of chef’s counter seating, so you are up close and personal with both chef Anthony Cafiero and his brilliant sous chef, Roscoe Roberson. Every small plate – the “ración”, or portion – is meticulously prepared using sous vide techniques (think of it as an intensely scientific version of poaching) and a flat top. The plates are at once shockingly beautiful and strange; eggs are no longer in just one form, foams are aplenty, and sauces are vibrant and artistic.
This style of cooking, made famous by chefs like Ferran AdriÃ , José Andrés, and Heston Blumenthal, always seems to drum up wildly strong opinions on both sides: some are fascinated by it, loving the meticulous, scientific quality of the dishes, while others prefer their food “without gimmicks”. What’s your take on the whole molecular gastronomy scene? Are you dying to try it – or done with the hype?
Here’s your chance to voice your opinion – and win yourself dinner for two at Portland’s Ración (a $60 value), thanks to the folks at Portland Dining Month. Why not start your summer with a little culinary exploration?
Leave a comment below – or send us a tweet – on why you think molecular gastronomy should stay or go! A winner will be picked this Friday, June 28!
**UPDATE (6/28): And the winner is…. Nico Galoppo! Thanks to all who commented/tweeted!**
*Photo credit: Racion