Posts Categorized: News

Chefs at Home Series: Taco Tuesday with Jason French & Viola

Chef, consultant (and all-around great dude) Jason French has been a bastion of the Portland restaurant world for nearly twenty years. He ran the kitchen at Paley’s Place and helped open Clark Lewis before heading out on his own to open Ned Ludd and then Elder Hall. Thirteen years later, he can still be found where he is most comfortable…in his kitchen.

When Jason cooks at home, he often employs the help of his daughter Viola. Nearly thirteen herself, she has definitely followed in her father’s footsteps, honing her own kitchen skills. We asked Jason if we could hang out and get a (literal) taste of what kind of cooking he and his daughter collaborate on. He immediately suggested Taco Tuesday, a great way to spice up an otherwise bland day.

Jason chose to make Roasted Chicken, Squash, and Tomatillo Tacos with Refried Beans and Viola’s signature Guacamole.

For the tacos:
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup whole tomatillos, husked
1 medium summer squash, trimmed and cubed (seasonally, acorn or butternut squash may be substituted)
1 C chicken stock
1 T cumin seed, ground
2 T chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Peel the husks from your tomatillos.

Cut your squash into large chunks.

Cut the chicken thighs in half, place all the ingredients into a large bowl, and season well.

Separate out in a single layer of a sheet pan and put into the oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked and the squash is golden brown.

Cut up the chicken and half of the squash. Put into a heavy-bottomed pot.

Put the roasted tomatillos, remaining squash, and the chicken stock into a large blender. Pulse until chunky and add to the pot.

Keep warm on the stove while you prepare the rest of the food.

While her dad is taking care of all that, Viola is in charge of the guacamole.

For the Guacamole:
1 large ripe avocado
1 T fresh lime juice
2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop all the flesh into a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Adjust seasoning as needed.

And of course, get the chefs final approval…

Set the guacamole aside and make the refried beans. In a pinch, there is no shame in using canned refried beans, but if you have the time, and an extra set of hands to help, homemade is always best.

For the Refried Beans:
1 T olive oil or lard + 3 T more for frying
1 small onion, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 T fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 C cooked pinto, black or red kidney beans, drained
1 C chicken stock
Salt and pepper

To make the beans, heat 1 T of oil and slowly cook the onions and garlic until just starting to color. Add the beans, oregano, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the chicken stock. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Put everything in a food processor and blend until smooth.

In a heavy-bottomed pan, add the remaining oil until hot, add the beans and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the beans achieve the desired consistency, continually scraping all the “crusty goodness” off the bottom as it cooks. Adjust seasoning and set aside.

Once everything is ready, finish up your Fixins.

Fixins:
(Feel free to add/subtract whatever makes you happy)
corn tortillas, hard or soft, served warm with dinner
fresh limes, quartered
grated cheddar or Mexican style cheeses like Cotija
scallions, thinly sliced
French radishes, thinly sliced
pickled jalapenos, canned are supreme
fresh cilantro leaves

Finally, heat your tortillas over an open flame (or on an electric burner) and keep warm.

With perfect timing, Jason’s girlfriend Carrie happened to come home just as the last tortillas were being cooked. A bottle of Underwood Pinot Gris was opened and the French Family dinner was a complete success.

We want to thank Jason and his family for sharing their Taco Tuesday with us. If you are somehow unacquainted with Jason’s work, you can check out his restaurant, Ned Ludd, and his event space Elder Hall. In his spare time, Jason also works as a personal coach and consultant.

Finally, from everyone here in the Union Family, we hope you are staying safe. And please get out there and VOTE!

Photography and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
Recipes by Jason French. (@jasonffrench)
Guacamole by Viola.

Records & Rosé Cocktails: Adding a little Summer to your Autumn

Now that the weather (at least in the Portland area) has officially packed away all of its tank tops and cut-off shorts in favor of some corduroys and light flannels, I think we can all agree, if not rejoice, that the summer is finally over and autumn has arrived. That, of course, is no reason for distress—fall in the Pacific Northwest can be beautiful, calm, and mild. But it can also get really nasty, really quick, so keep those raincoats at the ready.
At this time of year, it is very common to slip your remaining bottles of Rosé to the bottom of the wine rack and forget all about them for several months. But here at Union, we say a hearty and heartfelt “Nay!” to such thoughts. Rosé can definitely be enjoyed all year round, and especially in the lighter days of early Autumn. You just need the right situation and the right cocktail to highlight not just the wine, but the weather as well. Obviously, while the sun is still shining, “gather ye Rosebuds while ye may…”  but if the clouds roll in and it seems like a day to enjoy the great indoors, we have a plan ready for you.  (Hint, hint…)

Nothing goes better with a tasty Rosé cocktail than digging deep into the ol’ vinyl stacks and finding a few records that still keep the summertime vibe rolling. We’ll be suggesting a few records before this post is complete (we’re sure you have your personal favorites too), but for now, let’s get to the cocktail.
The Great Indoors
1.5 oz Gin (dealer’s choice, tho we prefer Beefeater)
1 oz Lillet Blanc
2 oz fresh-squeezed ruby-red grapefruit juice
Ice
Rosemary sprigs for garnish and a touch of the Autumnal
*Makes 1 cocktail

Fill a glass with ice. Juice the grapefruit. Measure all ingredients into the glass. Stir well and garnish with a sprig of Rosemary.

Pick a few choice records and enjoy. We know that everyone has their favorite tunes when playing DJ, but we wanted to suggest a few that inspired us while we were creating this cocktail.
First up, the sentinel Andrew Bird Album, The Mysterious Production of Eggs, which although it is currently celebrating its 15 year anniversary, is as fresh and upbeat as ever.

Originating in Dallas Texas, the Old 97s have been going strong for nearly 30 years. Their newest albums are as melodic and clever as anything they have ever put out, but this classic, Hitchhike to Rhome definitely put them on the map, so to speak.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight Portland’s very own Blitzen Trapper, and their 2008 classic, Furr.

So, from everyone here in the Union Family, we hope you are socializing safely and washing those hands!
And please, please, please
GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!
And, of course, keep those #pinkiesdown.

Photography, Cocktail & Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)

Plan B Birthday Celebration: Getting Creative with Plans in 2020

2020 has been a strange year for birthdays, weddings, and graduations. We’ve all had to adapt and get extra creative with how we celebrate. It’s been challenging just figuring out what a party can look like during a global pandemic. Can we throw one while still socially distancing? How many friends and family can safely gather?

40th birthdays feel like a pretty big deal. It’s a day I’ve gently held in the back of my mind for years. My original plan to throw a big party for myself and two of my best friends (whose birthdays coincide with mine) quickly went out the door when I realized how serious and long-lasting the pandemic was going to be. So I tucked away my disappointment and decided to take off in my van and drive from Oregon to Colorado instead. There, I met up with my dear friend, Abi, who’s 29th birthday happens to fall on the day after mine.

We determined that a backpacking trip into the mountains was the perfect solution to our birthday woes. Since we both love spending time outdoors, it seemed like the most fitting way to celebrate. In order to make our backcountry adventure even more special, we packed in 2 cans of Underwood Bubbles and a vegan chocolate cake. Always worth the extra weight.

Once we landed on doing the beautiful Missouri Lakes trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness, we loaded up and drove the three hours to the trailhead where we camped overnight in our vehicles.

To beat the crowds, we aimed for an alpine start the next morning. Our hiking entourage consisted of me and my dog, Huxley, and Abi and her two dogs, Kodi and Kuma; each of us carrying our own fully loaded backpack into the wilderness.

Abi and I chose a relatively easy trail for this particular overnighter because we both wanted the trip to feel fun and easy. So the 4 miles in with 1500 ft of elevation gain was mostly a breeze, and by the time we reached the lake and our destination for the night, we still had plenty of energy to explore the area.

So we set up our tents and dropped our Union Wine cans in the creek to chill for later. We grabbed our cameras, quickly tied on our raincoats, and headed up the trail to explore a wildflower-covered ridgeline. There were some dark clouds preemptively accumulating in the distance, and Colorado is known for its summer afternoon thunderstorms, so we knew our time to explore was limited.

We wound our way past some smaller lakes, the shores dotted with eager fishermen. We heard the recognizable whistle of marmots and the chirps of pika echoing from the fields of talus, teasing our dog companions into a frenzy. But patches of snow covered the steep hillside, creating small playgrounds for our rambunctious dogs, where they slid and chased each other, bearing their teeth and digging them deep into the snowbank.

Mountain peaks popped into view as we zig-zagged our way up the trail another 1000 ft., finally topping out over the ridge. The views on the other side made the extra effort well worth it and we paused to snack and take it all in. However, it wasn’t long before we heard thunderclap and immediately started the trek back down to camp, quickening our steps as we walked. Back lakeside, Abi and I eagerly pulled our wine out of the creek just as heavy drops started to fall, each of us retreating to our respective tents to hide away from the thunderstorm.

The hours passed inside our tents, dogs snuggling up close, trembling lightly from the sounds of the storm. We each made dinner while cheers-ing one other from afar. It wasn’t exactly the “party atmosphere” I had hoped it would be, but we made the absolute most of the moment, knowing it would pass.

When the rain finally subsided, night was already beginning to fall. As darkness descended upon us, we excitedly emerged from our tents ready to make up for lost time. I cracked open the bubbles and sliced deeply into the chocolate cake. We cheerfully sang the “happy birthday song” to each other, guzzled our crisp and refreshing beverages, indulged in giant bites of chewy cake, and danced and talked until we could no longer see one another through the black. Finally giving in, we tucked ourselves in for the night, tired and satisfied.

The next morning as the sun lit up the peaks, we brewed ourselves some coffee and finished off the rest of the chocolate cake, a perfect breakfast to fuel the hike out. We hung around just long enough to enjoy the morning views and soak in the mountain air before slowly packing up and retreating back to civilization.

Some of the best lessons I’ve learned from this wild and unpredictable year include the ability to embrace flexibility and a willingness to adjust. Even though I had to seriously alter my birthday expectations (along with so much more) many times over, it still magically came together. And guess what? It ended up being one of my most memorable birthdays ever. Remember to always strive for adaptability, because sometimes plan B, C or even D might be better than plan A could have ever been.

Words and Photography by Brooke Weeber.

Summer Round-up: Our favorite Field Note’s from Summer 2020

It’s been a wild summer and we’ve been trying to keep up with all that is going on around us, while still hoping to provide some great recipes and ideas you’ll enjoy! This week we wanted to do a Summer Round-up of yours—and our—favorites from the last several months.

This recipe, our Radler brined rack of ribs, was a huge hit! I hope some of you tried it or will try it soon!

Underwood Riesling Radler Spareribs

 

Who doesn’t enjoy a homemade popsicle during the hot summer months? We were particularly proud of these beautiful and tasty pops made with Underwood Rosé and fresh berries—our Pink & Polka Dot Ice Pops.

Underwood Rosé Popsicles

 

The times have certainly changed of late and we want to protect as many people as possible, starting with our employees. This post on how to get creative and make your own mask was educational and inspirational. Joanna is a pro at making fun and stylish masks and we were so happy she shared her sewing secrets with us.

 

And finally, who doesn’t love to follow along on other people’s adventures when they are as amazing as a day in the life of Cheney?! Cheney is a winemaker at Union and an active guy —it can be hard to keep up with him when he’s having fun. This post helps us enjoy the ride without going to too much trouble!

 

Those are our favorites. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Take good care out there! Be careful and keep safe.

#pinkiesdown

GET OUT AND VOTE!

VOTING HISTORY 101

DID YOU KNOW

Oregon was the first state to offer mail-in ballots for the presidential election back in 1998

Oregon had a 79% turn out rate that year.

DID YOU KNOW

Oregon mail-in ballots have an accuracy rate of 99.8%?

In a University of Oregon survey, 30% of respondents said they voted more often since vote-by-mail was enacted.

IT’S YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE!

And it’s EASY!

You can do it from your living room, your back yard, or even your bathroom!

Here are some resources to help you:

1. Everything you need to know including how to register to vote BY STATE!

2. Request an absentee ballot before your state deadline!

3. Ways to vote in YOUR STATE during COVID.

 

SO SIMPLE AND EASY AND SAFE!

DM us on our Instagram channel and let us know how you plan to vote.

Will you celebrate somehow? We suggest you pop open a can of wine!

 

Cheers to you! Thanks for voting!