Dear Friends of Nostrana,
Please join us for a special luncheon this Sunday, June 22,
at 12pm. We’re serving a five course tasting menu inspired
by our friends, the Tori family of Bologna. The menu below
showcases dishes from Emilia-Romagna that we served at
the James Beard House in April.
Normally we like to give you advance notice of when
we host these kinds of events, but this one is different.
100% of proceeds benefit the Tori family, who are urgently
raising funds to send 22 year-old Tommaso Tori, our friend
and pasta teacher, to Philadelphia for leukemia treatment.
He is accepted into the CAR T Cell therapy program at
Penn Medical, which shows dramatic results in acute
cases like his. However the hospital fees due in two weeks
are well beyond the family’s means.
Tommi and sister Francesca had scheduled a second pasta-making
visit to Nostrana in January but had to unexpectedly cancel
when he was diagnosed. The Tori’s have shared such generosity
and inspiration with Nostrana, please help us return the love
at this critical time.
The minimum suggested donation for the luncheon is $65. For
more information, please visit our website at www.nostrana.com
Act now and reserve your seats to help benefit Tommi. Please
call Nostrana at (503) 234-2427.
We hope to see you Sunday,
Cathy Whims and the Nostrana family
To contribute directly to the family, please visit
On April 24th, Cathy Whims and team will be bringing handcrafted Italian dishes and Pacific Northwest ingredients from our kitchen here in Portland cross-country to NYC. We are headed to NYC to cook at the James Beard House, which promises to be a memorable evening for our chefs—and of course the diners.
Chef Brian and Cathy started discussing the menu last Fall after Brian’s return from eating and cooking his way across Italy. Cathy and Brian both have a love for the refined cuisine of the Emilia-Romagna region. During Brian’s travels, he was captivated by the city of Bologna and its famed cuisine. We all agreed that would become the theme for our 8-course James Beard menu.
We know most of our Portland friends won’t be able to hop on the plane to NYC with us, but we still want you to be a part of the occasion. We’re perfecting the recipes in our kitchen in the coming days and we’d love to test them out on you! Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for the latest on what JBF dishes will be served in-house.
On the big day, while we’re in the Beard kitchen hard-at-work, you’ll be able to tune in to the brand new JBF kitchen cam. That’s right—watch all the action from the comfort of home—you might even pick up a few new culinary techniques. If only technology let us tele-zap the dishes to you!
We are thrilled and honored for the opportunity to cook at the James Beard House and want to especially thank the staff at the Beard Foundation for welcoming us into their kitchen next week.
Cathy, Brian and Anna practicing Strozzapreti rolling for the dinner…
Cathy selecting the wines for the evening…
Last Sunday I partook in a culinary event like no other, the Maialata, or the festival of the pig. The Maialata is an age-old Italian tradition that brings together locals for a day of butchering and a night of feasting. This particular Maialata took place in Willamette Valley, Oregon, instead of the mountains of Italy, but it was just as awe-inspiring and mouth-watering.
Cathy Whims of Nostrana and Rudy Marchesi of Montinore Estates, plus an impressive group of Portland chefs and artisan food producers hosted the festival, where we learned about butchering and pasta making, tasted wine and feasted. I was especially captivated by the butchering demo by Camas Davis of Portland Meat Collective and Rob Roy of Nostrana. Their entertaining demo gave me a newfound appreciation for the art and science of butchering. It was incredible to see how little waste there is when a pig is handled correctly and to learn how Portland chefs respect the animal and use every part of it. Here’s the short list of what you can get out of just one sweet hog:
- Pork ragu
- Pork stock or brodo
- Pork shoulder
- Pork roast
- Head cheese
- Spleen soup (umm?!)
- Porter chop
- Regular chop
- Spare ribs
- Baby back ribs
Oh and of course bacon!
Leave it to Portland to put on a food festival that begins with learning how to butcher a whole hog and ends with feasting on various creations of that hog at long tables in a candlelit wine cellar!
A few photos to make you hungry…
And I’ll leave you with the recipe for my favorite dish from the feast, a melt-in-your-mouth pork ragu that is more than worth the hours of simmering.
Thanks Rick Gencarelli of Grassa and Lardo PDX for sharing the recipe!
Rick’s Sunday Pork Ragu
- 1 pound boneless pork shoulder
- 8 ounces pork belly
- 4 T olive oil
- 2 T tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 6 small Cipollini onions, halved
- 2 28 oz cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes with juices
- Salt and pepper
- Season the meat with the salt and refrigerate for a few hours.
- Sear the meat in a heavy bottomed pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
- Add the onions and let cook for a few minutes.
- Add tomato paste and let cook for a few minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine and simmer for a few more minutes.
- Add San Marzano tomatoes and break them up with a wooden spoon.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Let simmer very slowly for about 4 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
On Sunday, February 16th from 11:30 to 6pm you’re invited to join us for a timeless tradition, the second incarnation of the Maialata – the festival of the pig – at Montinore Estate.
The Maialata dates back to the time of the Roman emperors, survived through the Middle Ages and arrives to modern days in the rolling hillsides of Oregon wine country. Join Nostrana’s Cathy Whims, visiting pasta experts from Bologna, Italy, Francesca and Tommaso Tori, and a roster of notable Portland chefs for an unforgettable culinary event.
When: Sunday, February 16th, 2014 from 11:30 to 6pm. Guests are invited to participate in butchery and pasta making. Cooking begins at noon, dinner at 3:30.
Where: Montinore Estate, 3663 Southwest Dilley Road, Forest Grove, OR 97116.
Who: Cathy Whims, Rudy Marchesi, Rob Roy, Jason French, Linda Colwell, Piper Davis, Camas Davis, Rick Gencarelli, and more.
What: Cathy, Rudy and friends invite pork aficionados to participate in the learning process: butchering, sausage making and pasta making alongside some of Portland’s best chefs while enjoying Rudy’s hand-crafted cheese, charcuterie, and wine. Participants will then gather in the wine cellar to indulge in a feast – the product of the day lessons and labors – accompanied by Montinore’s wines.
Only 60 seats available.
Cost: $165.00 per person, all inclusive. Includes a full day of hands-on learning in butchering, pasta making, charcuterie, wine tasting & drinking, a seat at the grand feast, gratuity, a few special surprises and all things porcine.
How: For a place at the feast, contact Montinore Estate at (503) 359-5012 or visit http://www.montinore.com/Visit/Events.
“The pig was given by nature to feast’’ - Latin proverb
Indulge with us! #pigfestpdx or @nostranapdx
Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, we convinced Cathy Whims to share the meatball recipe that you’ve come to know and love since we opened our doors. “They’re small and elegant, yet hearty and will appeal to everyone, not just hungry guys. Meatballs are a delicious no-brainer for any party,” exclaims Cathy.
You can brown the meatballs ahead of time and then reheat them in Marcella’s easy tomato butter sauce. Speared with a toothpick or a sprig of rosemary, they make for the perfect fun-loving one-bite antipasti.
Nostrana Pork and Beef Meatballs
2/3 lb ground pork
1/3 lb ground beef
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs parsley, minced
zest of one lemon
¼ cup grated parmigiano
1 cup bread, soaked in milk
salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a medium sized skillet and sauté the onion and garlic. When it is translucent add the parsley and lemon zest. Stir for a minute or two.
In a mixing bowl add ground pork and ground beef, onion, garlic and parsley mix, lemon zest, grated parmigiano, the soaked bread and salt and pepper.
Form meat into balls 1” to 1 ½ “ in diameter. In a skillet with oil or butter, sauté until brown, but not cooked all the way through (they finish cooking in the sauce).
Marcella’s Tomato Butter Sauce
adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Marcella Hazan
1 28 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
pinch of sugar
Crush tomatoes with hands while adding to medium sauce pan, adding juice as well. Add butter, onion, salt and sugar. Cook at a slow but steady simmer, uncovered until fat separates from tomatoes, about 45 minutes. Discard onion and correct taste for salt.
Summer Variation: Substitute 2 lbs. fresh ripe plum tomatoes, peeled
Enough sauce for 1 lb. spaghetti or ¾ lb. fresh fettuccine
Nostrana Meatball Antipasti
Make the meatballs and the sauce in advance by following the above steps. Just before serving simmer the meatballs in the sauce in a covered pot over low heat until cooked through, 20-30 minutes.
Arrange the meatballs on a platter with the sauce. Spear each ball with a toothpick or sprig of rosemary.
Last week we bid farewell to Ben Grossmann, an energetic sous-chef and loyal member of the Nostrana family. We’re sad to see him go, but are thrilled for his exciting new opportunity as head chef at Dig A Pony. Thankfully Ben is not straying too far, as he heads down the street to one of our favorite neighborhood hangouts. In honor of his inspiring 3.5 years in Nostrana’s kitchen, we decided to share with you his story from biology student to chef-dom.
What was your path to the kitchen?
I was born in Portland and went to Lewis & Clark to study biology. I always thought I wanted to become a teacher. After graduating I started running an after school program for kids. The kids were going home and telling their parents that the food I was cooking for them was better than anything at home. Soon enough I found myself running a catering business for these families. I loved cooking and decided to save up for culinary school.
What was your first job in a restaurant?
Washing dishes of course! But I soon moved up to salads, then grilling.
What’s the best part about being a chef?
We’ll always be poor, but we’ll never be hungry!
What’s your favorite dish to make?
Truffle sausage ragu. I love making the sausage from scratch. It’s a special dish that we make at Nostrana for New Year’s Eve.
What’s the #1 lesson Cathy instilled in you during your time at Nostrana?
The value of treating everyone in the restaurant like family. You don’t have to be a stereotypical ‘yelling chef’ to be successful. There’s a lot of love in that kitchen. We mourn our troubles and celebrate our successes together, like one big family.
What’s the key to moving up the ranks quickly?
Be a jack of all trades and always show up. Before I started my career, I was really inspired by Jackie Chan’s bio. Instead of trying to be #1 in one area, try to be 2nd best at everything.
If you could only eat one dish at Nostrana for the rest of your life what would it be?
Any of the dishes with octopus like Octopie or our Spanish-inspired octopus salad. Or the oysters! I learned to shuck oysters when I was 5 year old.
Any crazy stories from the kitchen at Nostrana?
Ahh, too many! I once cut my finger on the meat slicer when I was cleaning it at the end of the night. I was standing on a milk crate and fell into the blade. Blood was shooting everywhere and the head chef at the time made me go to the emergency room. I sent a message to my girlfriend, “Left pinkie on the meat slicer, be home late.” She misinterpreted my message and thought I had literally left my pinkie sitting there. Haa! (Needless to say, we aren’t together anymore).
Is it true most chef’s don’t cook at home?
I used to cook at lot at home, all my past girlfriends would complain I was making them fat! I like to cook heavy foods. Lately I mostly live off of leftover bread from Nostrana (it’s the best bread in the city!) with salami and cheese.
What’s the best part about your culinary career?
I’m getting to teach after all. I love mentoring new hires in the kitchen. Teaching cooking is way more exciting than teaching math. I also love the camaraderie in the kitchen. There’s definitely a pirate-ship mentality…we live and die together.
What’s your lifelong goal?
I hope to open my own restaurant someday. I have ideas. It will definitely be Southern-inspired in honor of my Grandma who grew up in North Carolina and Arkansas and instilled in me a love for hearty dishes.
We heard the cast-iron skillet cornbread that Cathy served at her New Years day party was a recipe handed down to you from your Grandma. Umm, incredible! Will you let us share your family recipe?
Let me think about that and get back to you. (Please do!!)
Buona fortuna Ben! Come back and see us soon.