Portland Monthly restaurant editor Karen Brooks drops her Portland-focused book, The Mighty Gastropolis (Chronicle), today, filing "dispatches from the renegade zone" of the local dining scene (also found in the danger zone: recipes from some of the city's best chefs). As to be expected from the 30-year restaurant veteran, the book's full of textual food porn; turns of phrase where flavors "wail," ingredients are "ennobled," and dishes elicit primal, emotional reactions. But in true Brooks style, the tome is also peppered with pop-culture references and metaphors that provide the icing on the cake. Here, Eater ranks the top 10:
10) On Naomi Pomeroy's onetime supper club Ripe: "Ripe dinners came with exclusive invites, a giddy taste of danger, and maybe even something meaningful. The curious converged like truth seekers drawn to the fading echoes of a remote Tibetan canyon."
9) On the "band member" mentality at Olympic Provisions: "It's old-school meets extreme meat craft, and dressed in shorts wherever possible."
8) On the ushering in of butchery at Simpatica Dining Hall: "It began with the sudden appearance of an outsized leg of prosciutto swinging from a ceiling pipe like a shout-out from a Francis Bacon painting."
7) On the 2011 James Beard Award nominations, held in Portland: "Inside the Oregon Culinary Institute, the air was tighter than the stock market floor during President Obama's 'let's get tough on Wall Street' speech."
6) On the design of Pok Pok: "While the shack hums along, [Andy Ricker worked] fifteen hours a day converting the home's daylight basement into an Asian food lounge that looks like a junior-high make-out party room circa 1965."
5) On ramen fanaticism in other cities: "New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, B.C. — cities where 'ramenatics' scour the streets like Will Smith seeking a postapocalyptic virus cure."
4) Guest metaphor! Courtesy an "eighty-nine-year-old diner" at Boke Bowl: "It's like Thanksgiving at a homeless table."
3) On the cuisine of now-NYC-based chef Matt Lightner: "Answers arrive at Castagna like a ritualistic Japanese kaiseki meal, unfolding in kaleidoscopic fashion on a procession of river rocks, bark, and bone-colored plates that cascade before you as if in a silent movie while colors ravish the eye."
2) On searching for inspiration at Xocolatl de David: "David Briggs hunts for chocolate ideas with the dogged intensity of Tom Hanks crawling through cinematic battlefields to find Private Ryan."
1) And finally, on epic transformations at Evoe: "Kevin Gibson hypnotically transforms homely zucchini into a vegetable you've never met before: tongue-shaped curls of glistening green, tasting not just moist but voluptuous. In a moment, he's turned Susan Boyle into Kim Kardashian."
· All Previous Karen Brooks Coverage [Eater PDX]