tasty n alder’s radicchio salad

If you live in Portland and like food, chances are you’ve dined at one of the restaurants in chef John Gorham’s portfolio of awesomeness. I first learned of Tasty n Sons in Bon Appetit magazine when I lived in the Bay Area. A few years ago when I was visiting in Portland from the Bay Area, I insisted that a group of my friends and I wait in the excruciatingly long weekend brunch line at Tasty n Sons. I really dislike waiting in line for food, and usually draw the line at an hour wait. However, my rule of no waiting for food seems to get thrown out the window when it comes to John Gorham’s restaurants. 

Last fall, two girlfriends were visiting me in my new life in Portland, and we ended up at Tasty n Alder on a Friday night. Tasty n Alder and Friday night is not a good combo. Now that I live in Portland and understand the popularity of this restaurant empire, I’d like to think I’ve got the system down. Put your name in with the hostess, go get a drink at one of the many bars within a block radius of the restaurant, enjoy your drink and company, wait for your phone to ring, when you receive the call saunter back to the restaurant, sit down at your table and enjoy. My two friends and I employed my above-mentioned Tasty n Alder plan, but after the promised 45-minute wait turned into 1.5 hours, we were cold, hungry and well on our way to getting drunk on our empty stomachs. Our hostess took pity on us and poured three glasses of sparkling wine to enjoy as we shivered on the sidewalk. When we finally sat down to dinner, she brought us a complimentary bowl of radicchio salad. The salad tasted like heaven, satiated our hunger, and was just the good will gesture we needed.

I don’t suggest you wait in ridiculous lines. However, if you find yourself at Tasty n Alder, Tasty n Sons, Toro Bravo or Mediterranean Exploration Company, trust me, the wait is worth it.

If you want to bypass the lines and create your own Tasty n Alder experience, try this radicchio salad at home. It’s great on its own or as a side salad, and doesn’t require a crazy long wait. Radicchio has a bitter and spicy taste, which pairs well with the Manchego cheese and vinegars in this recipe.

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My kitchen notes

Splurge on good quality sherry and balsamic vinegar.

This is a well dressed salad and tends to get a bit soggy on day two. Eat all in one sitting.

Tasty n Alder’s Radicchio Salad with Manchego Vinaigrette

Serves 4 as a side salad 

2 heads radicchio

1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup good quality sherry vinegar

1 small red onion

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups Manchego, thinly grated and divided

Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Remove the cores from the radicchio and discard. Chop into 1-inch pieces.

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2. Fill large bowl with water and add enough ice to make the water icy cold. Once cold, strain out the ice and add the chopped radicchio to the water. Let sit for 15 minutes to remove some of its bitterness.

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3. Strain and then spin in a salad spinner until dry. Fluff the dried radicchio

4. In a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar and chopped red onion. Break the onion up into pieces so that all of the oniony flavor absorbs into the vinegar. Let sit for 1 hour. Strain out the onions and reserve vinegar mixture for the dressing.

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5. Add the honey and olive oil to the strained vinegars, and whisk.

6. Using your hands, toss the radicchio with the olive oil and vinegar dressing until evenly coated. Add 1 1/2 cups of finely grated Manchego and salt, and toss again.

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7. To serve, top the salad in a serving bowl with the remaining 1/2 cup grated Manchego, or distribute salad and Manchego among individual bowls.

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