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Make 2014 the year of culinary adventure

White Moustache Urban Adventure Co. offers food tours of Portland area


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: WHITE MUSTACHE URBAN ADVENTURE CO. - White Mustache Urban Adventure Co. held its inaugural tour in Portland last month.

If your New Year’s resolution was to add more fun and adventure to your dinner table, I have a great suggestion: take a tour with White Moustache Urban Adventure Co. Founded by Bryce Lathrop in Seattle in 2009, the WMUAC is the Northwest’s first private, chauffeured eating tour.

Lathrop said the seeds of the business sprouted years ago when on a cross-country road trip his car broke down somewhere in Alabama. The repair would take the better part of a week to complete, so in the meantime he was stuck all alone in an unfamiliar town.

“I was feeling really sorry for myself,” he said. He plopped down onto a bench to figure out what he’d do, and as fate would have it, a woman sat down beside him and asked what the trouble was. The tears of frustration became tears of laughter as the woman coaxed him out of his slump. She invited him to join her family for a home-cooked meal and showed him what the little town had to offer.

When finally he could drive down the road, Lathrop kept thinking he wanted to be like that woman — to be the most hospitable of hosts.

Originally from Oregon City, Lathrop settled in the Seattle area, where many of his wife’s relatives live. If you know anything about Seattle, you can appreciate that the traffic can be pretty hairy. Lathrop’s relatives don’t enjoy driving in it much, so he often gets calls to shuttle them in for family gatherings.

As a special treat one Christmas he loaded 43 relatives ranging in age from 3 to 88 into a rented bus and drove them around for a sort of progressive dinner at favorite restaurants. It was a hit with everyone in the crowd.

“Why couldn’t I do this as a business?” he thought. So he began doing research that entailed eating at his targeted restaurants four or five times to judge consistency and building relationships with the chefs and owners. And so White Moustache Urban Adventure Co. was launched in Seattle. Lathrop expanded the operation to Vancouver, B.C., and just last month brought the adventure to Portland.

Here’s how it works:

Guests have the option of building a fully customized tour of their choice of restaurants or selecting from more than 40 themed tours. Some of the themed tours include a progressive breakfast titled Sunny Side Up, the Glorious Gastro, a tour featuring the finest cuisine paired with handmade cocktails; and the Four Quadrant with stops in all four corners of Portland. There are vegetarian and vegan tours available, too.

A White Moustache Gastro Guide picks up the guests in a Ford Flex Limited at the time and location of the guests’ choice — even from your home, leaving the driving to the capable chauffeur. At each stop, full-size portions and drinks are served. And White Moustache picks up the tab.

Following the tour, Lathrop or his team member sends a recap via email of what they ate where, complete with pictures. The inaugural Portland tour featured stops at these restaurants:

Stop 1: Bollywood Theater, Alberta neighborhood. They were served the kitchen’s choice tasting buffet of a Thali plate with pork, pav bhaji and bhel puri paired with Big Dom, made by Burnside Bourbon and Pimm’s cup.

Stop 2: Grain & Gristle, Sabin neighborhood. Here they were served charred Brussels sprouts, summer squash, hamburger with egg and mussels in curry paired with Finn River Black Currant Cider and drafts of Upright 6 beer.

Stop 3: Smallwares, Beaumont neighborhood. Served were chef’s choice of fried kale with candied bacon and fish sauce, six-minute fried eggs and shigoku oysters on the half shell paired with a handful of custom-made cocktails.

Stop 4: Salt & Straw ice cream, Alberta neighborhood. Each person had their choice.

The beauty of being on a White Mustache Urban Adventure is that you get to eat at restaurants you may not have tried before but Lathrop has personally vetted before including on the tour. You leave the driving to him, and you can even leave your wallet at home. He takes care of the tab and the tip.

Tours start at $250 for three hours of eating for two people and usually include three stops. You can learn more about White Mustache Urban Adventure Co. online at whitemustache.com.

Oh, you might be interested to know the origin of the White Mustache name — it refers to the white mustache of milky foam you might get drinking a latte.

Whether you choose to book with White Moustache, create your own culinary tour or cook at home, make 2014 the year of culinary adventure. Today’s recipes will get you started.

Bon Appétit! Make eating an adventure!

Quick Kale With Bacon

Though not the version served at Smallwares, this kale recipe is delicious and healthy. Rather than toss the kale stems, cut them thinly and cook them along with the leaves.

Makes 4 servings

6 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

2 shallots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 bunches kale, leaves torn into 1-inch pieces, stems chopped

2 cups canned, low-sodium chicken broth

Sauté bacon in large pot over medium heat until crisp and brown. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot. Add shallots and garlic to drippings. Sauté over medium-high heat until tender, about 2 minutes. Add kale and broth. Cover and cook until kale wilts and is almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Uncover and cook until kale is tender and most of the broth has cooked away, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer kale to bowl. Sprinkle with bacon and serve.

Adapted from Bon Appétit, October 2000.

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 100, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow her on Twitter at @Barbrandallfood.




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