GQ's restaurant man Alan Richman (a multiple James Beard Award-winner and apparent cheapskate) recently went on a bender in our fair city, and his experience — titled "Cloudy with a Chance of Stinging-Nettle Flan and Tomato Coulis" — gets major real estate in GQ's November 2012 issue. Here now, Richman's best quips from the piece, which aims to answer the question: "How did Portland... ascend to its status as the most fascinating gastronomic city in America, the all-around champion in the category of food and drink?" (Warning for the faint-of-heart: There are several mentions of hipsters, white people with tattoos, and the terrible fashion choices of Portland denizens.)
1) On how far Portland has come in a half-century (also, a lesson in great lede-writing with this article-opener): "I came here in the early '60s," recalls Roger Porter, food critic and professor of English. "I asked someone what Portland was like, and he said, 'It's the kind of town where if you ask for a bottle of wine by name, they think you're a homo.'"
2) On Portland's sartorial choices: "Portland has become an American archipelago of a unique species of humans: tattooed, brazen, and so uninterested in conventional appearance that almost nobody carries an umbrella, although it rains about 150 days a year."
3) On the breasts of Portland women, mention #1: "Apparently nobody in Portland can resist the lure of cured meats: At my communal table sat a young woman openly nursing her baby while eating lunch."
4) On the breasts of Portland women, mention #2 (cameo alert: hot chef Mika Paredes at Beast): "One of the cooks, not Pomeroy, was working with her shirt almost totally unbuttoned, yet another Portland innovation — open kitchen, open blouse."
5) On the metaphorical and literal staying power of a VooDoo Doughnut: "Here's some voodoo for you: I kept a box of these doughnuts in my hotel room for four days, and they remained scarily fresh."
6) On Pok Pok ambivalence and being force-fed by Karen Brooks: "I ate there twice, the first time with friends who ordered tamely, and I wasn't impressed. I mentioned this to Karen Brooks... and she was so incensed by my lack of awe she insisted we go back."
7) On how Portland service is just terrible: "Our waiter was a shuffling symbol of Portland service. He wore a lumberjack jacket and a black stocking cap and brought food and drink at the speed of an animated corpse. He poured nothing, removed nothing, and seemed confused by the concept of napkins."
8) On how Portland service is just terrible, take two: "The service was just awful, thanks to [Soup Annex's Roger] Konka, a charming and easily distracted waiter right out of Fawlty Towers."
Have a favorite line from the Richman piece? Add it to the comments.
· Cloudy with a Chance of Stinging-Nettle Flan and Tomato Coulis [GQ]
· All Previous Alan Richman Coverage [Eater National]
Image of Woodsman Tavern courtesy Peden + Munk / GQ