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Pictures of India don't compare to the recipes

Weekend!Food: Taste
by: DENISE FARWELL, Chef David Anderson’s travels are the inspiration for a series of Sunday dinners at Vindalho. The restaurant’s Goan-style mussels follow a preparation from India’s west coast.

Traveling abroad can be incredibly interesting and fun, but most of the time I find hearing about another person's journey or looking at their photos boring.

It doesn't matter how enlightening the trip was for the traveler; I can't enjoy it vicariously.

Fortunately David Anderson brought more than stories and photos back from his recent stay in India. Anderson is the chef de cuisine at the Indian restaurant Vindalho (2038 S.E. Clinton St., 503-467-4550).

Inspired by his experiences knocking around the west coast of the enormous country, he's preparing four special Sunday night dinners at Vindalho starting this Sunday, April 15.

The remaining family supper-style feasts will be April 29 (which benefits the Ecotrust Food and Farms program; visit www.ecotrust.org for information), May 20 and June 10. (Normally Vindalho is closed Sundays.)

According to Vindalho owner David Machado, Anderson already was enthusiastic about cooking Indian food. But since his travels in that country, 'he's so excited about the cuisine, he's bursting,' Machado says. 'The trip gave him firsthand knowledge and helped him put it all in perspective.'

The dinners will start with an appetizer reception, followed by a sit-down supper of shared main dishes including duck braised with vinegar and chilies and spicy red fish curry.

Each dinner is $65 per person (the Ecotrust dinner costs $60), which includes food, beverage and tip. Reservations are required; call 503-467-4550. Vindalho's regular hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Visit www.vindalho.com for information.

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Another four-part dinner series, this one with a twist, begins tonight (Friday, April 13) across the river at the Heathman Restaurant (1001 S.W. Broadway, 503-790-7752).

The Dueling Sommelier Dinner Series pits some of Portland's premiere sommeliers against one another. Ken Collura from Andina, Erica Landon from Ten 01, Jamie Garrett from Bluehour, and Jeff Groh from the Heathman will compete against one another in pairing wines with menus created by Heathman executive chef Philippe Boulot.

Each of the meal's four courses will include four tastes of wines recommended by the sommeliers.

Diners will vote on which of the mystery wines goes best with the food. After the preliminary competition, votes will be tallied and the two top-scoring sommeliers will compete in the final dinner in October.

Tonight's menu sounds amazing - cauliflower vichyssoise with sea urchin roe, Japanese-style sweetbreads, Kobe beef and Sichuan chocolate pots au crème. Boulot clearly has decided to make this competition a challenge for the sommeliers.

The dinner tonight - which still has spaces available - is $125 per person and includes food and 16 tastes (1.5-ounce pours) of wine.

To make a reservation, call 503-790-7752. For information on future dinners, visit www.heathmanrestaurantandbar.com.

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If French food and wine is too rich for your blood, how about beer and sandwiches instead?

Belmont Station (4500 S.E. Stark St., 503-232-8538) has been selling beer to Portland's ale aficionados for 10 years. With more than 700 bottles of local, national and international beers to choose from, Belmont Station is the place to search for interesting and unusual brews.

And now you don't have to wait to get home to quaff that bottle.

On April 3, Belmont Station's Biercafe debuted. Currently the cafe serves from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but the hours will expand soon.

When the cafe is open, you can pick a bottle of beer from the store and drink it there. The Biercafe menu includes basic cold sandwiches like turkey and corned beef, and hot sandwiches including a Reuben and a tuna melt.

There's also a hummus plate and a cheese and fruit plate, a soup of the day and a weekly salad special.

Four rotating drafts on tap also are available in the Biercafe.

Belmont Station is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Visit www.belmont-station.com for information.

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One sure sign that spring finally is here is that the Portland Farmers Market opened Saturday.

Another is that Marge Braker and Harriet Fasenfest of Preserve (3033 N.E. Alberta St., 503-542-4338) have announced their 2007 class schedule. Preserve is a business whose mission, according to the Web site, is 'to educate and build skills in the art and science of food preservation.'

If you want to learn what to do with all the extra fruits and vegetables you get at the market, check out Preserve's new classes at www.portlandpreserve.com.

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