In Le Pigeon

Editor’s Note: Our Chef Cuisinternship Winner, Steve Loh, recently completed his week long adventure with Chef Gabe Rucker at Le Pigeon. Steve has graciously agreed to let us peek behind the scenes of his week in Portland. This is his final post. Read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.  Enjoy!

DAY 6

Day off. After sleeping in a bit, we decided to hit the Saturday Market on what must’ve been the coldest day of the year. A good scene, nonetheless. We both bought hats. For the girlfriend: a warm, wool cap. For me: a hipster fedora (that’s too hipster for me), and a straw cowboy hat (that’s too hipster for me). But she liked ‘em, and she has yet to steer me wrong with new clothes.

I don’t plan on wearing either, however, for the big day of wine tasting we have set up tomorrow.

DAY 7

The last day of my cuisinternship…my last day in Oregon. After a week watching Chef Gabriel Rucker and the Le Pigeon crew, my education was taken out of the kitchen and into the vineyards of the Willamette Valley wine country. Gabe and his wife Hana took my girlfriend Leah and me on a VIP winetasting tour set up by Le Pigeon’s Andrew Fortgang.

Early in the morning, we hopped into Gabe’s ’83 Caddy and rolled out in style. We picked up coffee and breakfast burritos (wise to get something in the stomach before a day of vino) from Meat Cheese Bread. I’m a fan of just about any breakfast burrito, but these had a green chile salsa that put ‘em over the top. Good grub.

We stopped at a few different vineyards. At Belle Pente, we tried some white wines which changed my mind about whites. Unlike a public tasting room experience, we were right in the winery with the kind owner, sampling all sorts of his fine drink. We bought a couple bottles of his complex Gewürztraminer to enjoy later.

Gabe and Hana treated us to lunch at Jory Restaurant at the Allison Inn & Spa. As with all things culinary this week, the meal was top notch. Having opened not long ago, the place was pristine. A fine destination for all you spa type people out there. We sat at the counter around the large open-air kitchen, and I enjoyed the roasted cauliflower soup, the rotisserie lamb sandwich, and more wine chosen for us by Gabe.

In the afternoon, we hit Sokol Blosser, and then finished the day at Cameron Winery, where Jean Paul led us around the barrel room with his glass wine thief, giving us samples straight out of the casks. He and Gabe have a good relationship, so this was definitely an insider’s tasting. We sampled a few barrels that were “in-progress,” which gave us a good example of how wines change over time.

All in all, an educational, fun day. With wine. It was the perfect way to cap off my week in Portland. Having spent these days behind the scenes with Gabriel Rucker at a world-class restaurant like Le Pigeon, I feel like my culinary voodoo has been pushed up a few levels. My eyes have been opened to all kinds of new wonderments in the food world, and I can’t wait to return.

Thanks to the Oregon Bounty folks and especially Chef Rucker. Oregon is chock-full of culinary adventures, and I look forward to hearing about the other cuisinternships.

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