Bethlyn’s Global Fusion

1075 NW Newport Ave., Bend

541-617-0513

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Bethlyn’s Global Fusion is one of the places to go in Bend when your taste buds want to do some culinary travel. The menu includes food inspired by cultures from around the world. Each month, different cuisine is highlighted in a special prix fixe dinner. The October dinner, for example, was Native American inspired.

Chef and owner Bethlyn Rider starts with a recipe from another country or culture. Thinking outside the box of how a dish is usually prepared, Rider then adds her own unique touch — a different preparation or unique ingredient. On the daily menu, portobello mushrooms are added to the Phó (Vietnamese soup). The falafels are made with black beans instead of garbanzo. The hummus comes with eggplant chips instead of naan. The truffle fries don’t use truffle oil or truffle salt that can be overpowering; instead, they are served with truffle aioli so diners can choose how much truffle flavoring they want.

The October four-course dinner didn’t travel to a foreign country, instead focusing on Native American cuisine. Rider was inspired by living in New Mexico for 10 years, and by her partner and co-owner, Jackie McLean, who is First Nations from Canada.

Rider focused on corn (maize), beans and squash for the meal. Often referred to as the Three Sisters, these are the three shelf staples of Native American food. The meal began with an amaranth and corn fritter. Rider told me that her initial go at the fritter was dry and uninteresting. So she added fermented black beans. The beans added dimension, an almost meaty taste to the corn that was stuffed into the crispy-edged fritter. A dollop of avocado cream lent tang and boosted appeal by cutting the flavor of the otherwise dense cake.

Indian buffalo taco bits was the second course. Buffalo has provided clothing and weapons to the Native Americans, along with food. Now raised on ranches in Oregon, it is a low-fat alternative to ground beef. The Buffalo (Bison) is still considered a special totem (spirit animal) in the Native American culture, playing a central role in their spiritual life.

The taco bits was made with fry bread instead of a taco shell. “Fry bread is served everywhere in New Mexico,” Rider explained. “It’s as prevalent as sliced bread at a meal.” Easy to make, it has just three ingredients — flour, water and baking soda that is quick-fried so that it puffs up. Slow-cooked ground buffalo with green chili rested between the puffs, topped with spicy salsa, shaved red onion, cilantro and queso fresco (a milky, mild Mexican cheese).

As most meals in New Mexico rely on meat from land animals, the Tribal Trout main course was an homage to the Pacific Northwest Native Americans. The dish was a true celebration of fall using pumpkin seeds and smoked squash, rainbow trout with crushed pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and a blue corn crust that was fried to crispy perfection. The trout meat was moist and tasty; the skin was crunchy. The trout lay atop mesquite-smoked squash puree. Prickly pear syrup drizzled and pooled over it all. Lightly wilted wild greens lightened the flavors. It was sweet, savory, tangy and crunchy, but not fishy — an unusual but tasty combination of ingredients.

The berry torta dessert brought together outdoor flavors that reminded me of camping. It was a deconstructed pie with graham cracker crumbs, fresh whipped cream and a scoop of “pine” ice cream. Rider confessed that the original pine flavoring was “pretty awful.” The house-made ice cream did taste like pine, but it was whole sprigs of rosemary that created the pinelike flavor.

A specialty drink, beer, wine or mocktail is included with the meal. This month it was a cranberry rosemary cocktail made with vodka or bourbon, sparkling sweet rose, fresh poured cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.

The last Saturday of each month, a different country is featured in the “around the world monthly series” that runs from the fall through April. Last year, dinners included food from Japan, Morocco, Spain and Ethiopia, (which was such a big hit she decided to serve the platter at her weekend brunch.)

The November dinner will be on the next to the last Saturday rather than during Thanksgiving weekend. It will feature a menu of Peruvian food. In December (possibly New Year’s Eve), it will be an “around the world” of different cultures. In the past, it has been inspired by foods from many cuisines like Finland and Spain.

That dinner will accommodate many more people, as a remodel of Bethlyn’s Global Cuisine will be completed. It will add a second room with a full bar, weekend brunches and a late-night menu. It will be a chance to celebrate.

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