Musings by Leah Jorgensen

Archive for April, 2010

Vindalho Easter

Easter Sunday means a lot of different things to different folks – for Christians, it’s about the Resurrection of Christ, for children it’s about hunting for hidden pastel-colored eggs, a fluffy bunny and easter baskets, for others it’s about renewal, rebirth and an opportunity for self-reflection.

To quote my dear friend Ali Guida’s Facebook post, “Today I remember this precious life, to resurrect parts of myself I’ve undernourished, and make a Renaissance of it.  In practice: nurturing Nalia (her daughter), relationships with family, husband, friends.  …In a nutshell: love; dancing; shining a light from the heart; yoga practice; meditation; art for illumination; emanating pure mind; traveling the path with courage.  Happy Renaissance beautiful beings!”

What a beautiful sentiment!

I had a moment of reflection today and decided, like Ali, to make a Renaissance of it.  I meditated and prayed, I went for a walk and meditated some more, I studied chemistry for my winemaking degree program, was fulfilled with learning, and then I was hungry.

And, when I was hungry, I considered where I’d enjoy my supper, as Easter dinner has always been a special tradition in my Italian-Catholic family upbringing.  Yet, all I could think about was lamb – something a little bit more east of Italy – and, well, French wine.

I headed over to Vindalho (pronounced vin-da-loo), known in Portland for its spice route cuisine.  The lights were low and enchanting far east music serenaded the restaurant, shifting from cool tunes like a Bollywood dance mix to an ethereal blend of traditional dosha, new agey beats.  I broke open my Science of Wine textbook and did some assigned reading while contemplating what I was going to eat for my Easter supper.

I ordered a glass of the 2007 Domaine St. Jean from the Languedoc.  The server brought me a plate of papadum, a crisp, thin cracker that was baked with cummin and caraway seed, and served with pear ginger chutney.

At first, I worried that I couldn’t eat the papadam, until I learned that it, along with most of the menu, is gluten-free, which delighted my appetite and spirit.  

I loved the papadam and especially the chutney, which I scraped clean and nearly licked the sacred little bowl.

I ordered the Madras Lamb Curry for my main dish, which was Oregon lamb braised in coconut milk, chiles and curry leaves, served with saffron basmati rice.  Pure dosha bliss.   Anything braised makes me wildly happy.  The lamb gently pulled apart as I gingerly made a cut with my knife and fork, and then it melted in my mouth.  This was seriously good.

The saffron basmati rice was deliciously bejeweled with golden raisins that blossomed with savory-sweet perfection, and, topped with almonds, soaked up the curry, offering all kinds of glorious textures and flavors.

I also ordered a side of spicy braised winter greens.  Again with the braising.  I’m an addict, I suppose.  This blend of beautiful chard, collards and kale were rich, tender and savory with subtle hint of spice and heat, topped with bright red peppers.  Pretty on the eyes.

Finally, I ordered a scoop of the blueberry ginger ice cream and a cup of decaf.  The ice cream glistened and sparkled in the bowl like a sugar plum.  It was so glittery lovely and the first taste…succulent, summer blueberries on a dark night, ripe and candy sweet, with the ginger coming on mid-palate and unexpectedly extending to a nice, sweet-tart finish.

Happy, happy flavorful Easter dinner – an unexpected journey along the spice route on this holy Sunday, a sacred engagement, a tantalizing treat…breaking the bread (or papadum), savoring flavors as old as ever, this was special.

Vindalho.  2038 SE Clinton Street, Portland, OR.
Phone ~ 503.467.4550
Web ~