Friday, December 21, 2007
I've been baking and cooking a ton! Braised brussels sprouts, lemon-dijon chicken, sugar cookies, minestrone soup...
I did venture out to Sel Gris recently (in November) and am in the middle of a post about my experience.
After the new year, I'll finally have access at home and be able to load my photos and post more often. Don't forget about me!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
We had made a commitment to get into Thatch, so we headed back to my 'hood just after 5pm. It, too is smaller than it appears. Maybe 6 tables, and the bar. To enter, walk over the little wooden bridge spanning the "grotto". Some people find it annoying, but I love the tiki motif. It reminded me of being in Mexico. Sniff. There are tiki idol gods everywhere, and a thatched roof and a private table in it's own little hut. I can see heading there in the depths of February when ya just need a little cheering up and a mai tai is what the doctor ordered. J dared me to try a Donkey Punch, a drink so dangerous they are limited to two per customer. And the ingredients aren't listed, but the main one is Bacardi 151. And I drank two. I felt pretty good when I left. The food menu is pretty limited and there isn't much of a kitchen, so I don't know if I'd make it a food destination.
1101 E. Burnside
Portland, OR 97214
Open Daily 4pm - 2am
2733 NE Broadway
Portland, OR 97232
Open daily 5pm-close
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Right off, I liked the menu. Breakfast is served all day, a bonus for those who break their fast after noon, like me. It wasn't your standard bacon-and-eggs-and-benedicts menu. I wish I had one to post. Pancakes were on there, and maybe waffles, and a mushroom hash, bacon hash, a breakfast sandwich with crumpets, uh.......Oh wait, the menu is on their website. Clever. Ok, so no waffles. Potato pancakes, three hashes, steak and eggs, brioche french toast, scotch eggs, three different bennies, a Louisiana Hot Sausage Scramble wrap, the breakfast sandwich, a pear and Havarti pie, black bean chili scramble, and a dutch baby! Lots of things I might want to try for future visits. On the lunch front I spied a shrimp ravioli and a potato cake torta that looked interesting. Also, for the early birds, Helser's offers a $3.95 breakfast special from 7am-9am daily. Why can't there be a "late birds" special? I'm just sayin'.
Did I mention adult beverages for breakfast? Bf ordered a coffee nudge, and I was persuaded to get a hot buttered rum. We are lushes.
It was one of those times when I saw what I wanted right away, and only read the rest of the menu for kicks. Mushroom hash with criminis, scallions, garlic, Yukon Gold potato hash tossed with melted Havarti cheese. I added two poached eggs because, oddly, it was the only hash that did not come with eggs. And a side of hollandaise, just cause.
This was after I finished. It was huge! The mushrooms were more than plentiful, they were abundant. The scallions added a bright crunch to each bite; they didn't skimp on those either. Different from most hashes, the potatoes were sorta smashed and fried. I liked the soft texture. The cheese held everything together, although it didn't really need cheese. Next time I would sub the Havarti for chevre and add spinach. That would be perfection. I didn't really need the poached eggs, either, but it was good to have some protein.
Bf ordered the spinach, mushroom and tomato benedict. The eggs and veggies came atop a nice crumpet, but with very skimpy hollandaise. He was glad I had some to share. Speaking of, the hollandaise was heavy on the butter, but had no lemon taste at all. Not the best but at least it wasn't Knorr's. Bf liked the benedict, especially the crumpet. I "helped" him with some stray clumps of spinach. Very good. He commented that the tomatoes were especially good. Wonder where they get those this time of year?
At $28, it wasn't the cheapest breakfast, but it was really the drinks that did it. Otherwise it would have been under $20. A standout breakfast all around.
Helser's on Alberta
1538 NE Alberta St.
Monday, October 22, 2007
5507 NE 30th Ave
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
Martha's Pâte Brisée
Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
Tried-and-True Apple Pie
1 recipe Pâte Brisée
3 lbs. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
Juice of one lemon
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 365 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll out one disc pie dough to 2 inches larger than diameter of pie plate. Transfer dough to glass pie plate, pressing into corners. Trim dough to 1/2 inch past edge of pie plate.
Combine apples and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add the dry ingredients to the apples and toss to coat evenly. At this point I like to let it sit for 5-10 minutes, so the sugar mixture and the apple juices form a caramel-like syrup in the bottom of the bowl. This is a good time to roll out the other pie crust.
Stir apples, then pour into the pastry-lined pie plate. This amount of apples should create a generous mounded pie. Scrape the bowl to get all the caramelly goodness into the pie. Dot with butter.
Lay the other crust over the top. There should be some overhang. If it's too long, trim it, but I usually just tuck it under the bottom crust lip and press to seal. At this point, you can flute the edge or use a fork to make a pretty design. I'm a fluter. (If you don't know how to flute, here's a video!)
Use a sharp knife to cut a couple of small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Some people like to brush the crust with milk or an egg wash and sprinkle some sugar on it. Me, I leave it plain.
Place the pie on a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Cover crust edges with some foil or a pie ring to prevent burning or overbrowning. Now it's ready to go in the oven.
Bake for 40 minutes, then remove the foil or pie ring and bake for 20 minutes more. Pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the apples are soft (but not melted like applesauce!).
Let cool on a rack for an hour or so before cutting into it, if you can. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, or my favorite, freshly whipped cream.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The owner/chef Adam Sappington dropped by to welcome us to the restaurant and sent out some starters for us to enjoy. The house made jerky was a spicy, sweet surprise, spicy wings crackled with flavor, and the heirloom tomatoes were fresh and summery drizzled with olive oil. After all those munchies, I decided to forgo a salad and just ordered the "Whole Hog" entree ($19). That featured a slab of pork belly, a brined pork chop and a nugget of deep fried head cheese atop a pool of grits. The head cheese was my favorite, although I admit I didn't know what I was eating. It tasted like liver or another organ or pate, all of which I really like. It was crispy and creamy and rich all at once. The grits were out of this world; I ate all of them first and took home a bit of pork belly and chop for bf. The chop was a little dry; I missed the little ring of fat that can juice it up a bit. I also prefer chops that are bone-in. Just a petty quibble, and it was quite enjoyable regardless. Someone ordered a plate of onion rings ($4) for the table and boy did I like those. Shoestring-skinny and piled on the plate, these were made for sharing. There's no way one or even two people could finish that plate.
Others tried the lamb ($22), beef roast, bacon-wrapped trout ($16), goat cheese and onion hand pie ($13), boneless fried chicken ($18) and duck leg ($18). The only bummers were the trout (needed salt) and the tarragon sauce on the fried chicken. The lamb got rave reviews, as did the whole hog for others that ordered it. I think we all appreciated the flawless service. My water glass was full the whole time and the servers were there when we needed them before we had to ask or look. Some have opined that the place is a little too upscale or expensive for the area, but I disagree. I lived 10 blocks from there last year and would have loved to have it as an option. It might not be what folks are used to as a "family restaurant" in the area, but the neighborhood can, I believe, support a quality eatery.
I had a great time overall and can't wait to return.
The Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar
7937 SE Stark
Portland, OR 97215
Open daily 5pm - close
Brunch Sat-Sun 9am-2pm
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
And then they had to make me eat my words. Never come back? Yeah, right, I want to return tomorrow, if not sooner! In one swoop, everything was laid in front of us. The naan, the bane of my visit, was spicy and grainy and dark - and delicious. I started with the potato pancakes ($11)in front of me. More like potato pillars than pancakes, each of the three supported kale and big, meaty mushrooms and there was caraway cream drizzled along the outside. Interesting flavor. The imported spaghetti ($12)was bathed in a generous porcini-cream sauce and sported fresh veggies and black & white truffle. I know it wasn't dairy cream, but there wasn't any difference in taste. The akras ($9) were chickpea fritters, quite tasty if a little heavy and filling. The lasagna ($12) was definitely the prizewinner. Stacks of heirloom tomatoes, pine nut ricotta, marinated mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes with a little salt, vinegar and olive oil. Served cold cause it's 'raw, living lasagna', meaning not cooked. Think of it like a hearty, stacked salad. Those of you readers who are counting might notice that we ordered 4 entrees for 3 people. Yes, yes we did. Take three bites, pass to the left. It worked out pretty well, except I might have snuck an extra bite or three of the lasagna.
After a while someone noticed a plate of one of the starters going to a table - Tunision brik, a phyllo-and-spinach dish that had been reported as "out". We checked, and it was available, so we ordered that, too. The menu described it as three-day spinach, which maybe accounted for the strong and slightly bitter spinach taste. It came as two big triangles, kinda like spanikopita with no cheese. The pastry's flaky butteriness perfectly offset the muscle of the spinach. Along side were two harissas of varying heat. Naturally, I liked the spicier one best.
Oh, yes, I have pictures. This is the best one, of the lasagna:
They're all really dark:
Yeah, the pictures don't do it justice. Blame the cell phone camera, not the food.
We sampled two desserts as well. Pone ($6), a coconut-corn pudding with grilled pineapple, brown sugar sherbet and raisins, was very good if a little heavy, like a dessert oatmeal. Definitely need to share. The Argentine empanada was the favorite, a flaky, crispy crust filled with banana, coconut and quince, piping hot with a tangy lime sorbet.
Verdict: Service issues need to be addressed, but the creative, flavor-filled cuisine saves the day.
3808 N. Williams
Open for lunch and dinner.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
This is not Riley, but a picture of an almost identical cat. I last saw him Wednesday, Sept. 12th. He is a neutered male, 4 years old, with a short, chocolate/cream colored coat and bright blue eyes. I'm posting flyers and talking to the neighbors. I posted a "lost cat" notice on the Dove Lewis site and the Multnomah County Animal Services site. He's never been gone from home before; he is very attached to me and our other cat Bella. Please wish me luck and I'll keep you posted.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
This visit was more successful.
Bf and I ordered the same thing: a special of the day wild chanterelle mushroom frittata with bacon, spinach and topped with feta for $10.25. And of course a side of hollandaise. The frittata was very good, baked gently with lots o' mushrooms. The bacon was good and meaty, the feta plentiful. I did add just a touch of salt and a few shakes of Cholula. About 8 pieces of breakfast potatoes were artfully arranged around the frittata, giving it the appearance of a sunburst. I actually don't much like their potatoes. They are ones I wouldn't eat without something to dip them into, like ketchup or hollandaise. The hollandaise wasn't as good as last time. It had a flour-y mouthfeel to it that I didn't like and couldn't figure out where it came from. Maybe they switched to a mix? It was lemony enough, though, and I ate it all, so that tells you a lot about me. Genie's is good enough; I will return to try the benedicts and biscuits & gravy.
The coffee is Stumptown and sufficiently strong.
1101 SE Division
Portland, OR 97202
Open 8-3. Coffee shop opens at 7. Long lines on the weekends for breakfast.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
First, Sashimi of Hamachi:
Hamachi with green apple-celeriac vinaigrette. There's also some kind of tasty oil coating the fish. Soooo buttery is all I can say.
The scallops were slated to come with smoked salmon risotto, trambancino squash and whole-grain mustard aioli, but I was in the mood to change it up, so I ordered it with the quail set-up. Those are cranberry beans with melted cherry tomatoes and pieces of smoked ham hock. I was in *hog* heaven!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
3 red peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large or 2 smaller sweet onions, like Walla Walla, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
tablespoon dried basil
pinch red pepper flakes
2 cups vegetable stock
juice of 2 oranges
juice of 2 lemons
1-2 cups heavy cream
avacado, diced (optional)
Turn the broiler on high. Stem the tomatoes and cut in half. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. It might take 2 batches to do all the tomatoes; it did pour moi. Broil carefully, till the tomato skins have black charred blisters and look pretty wrinkly, 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and slip the skins off the tomatoes with tongs or your fingers (be careful, they're hot!). Place the tomatoes in a non-reactive bowl. Repeat as necessary.
Cut the tops off the red peppers. Or do as I do: using thumbs, press the stem inward till it breaks from the flesh, then remove it. Cut the peppers in half the long way, removing the seeds and white membranes. Place cut side down on the baking sheet, and repeat broiling process. The skins are a little harder to remove than the tomatoes. Enlist the help of a knife if necessary. Cut the peppers into strips, then add to the bowl of tomatoes.
In a large, non-reactive stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often, then add basil and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking until onions are just about translucent, about 5 or so more minutes.
Add tomatoes, peppers and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly.
Puree soup in batches in a blender. When working with hot liquids, never fill the blender more than 1/3 full. Some recipes now strain the soup, but not me.
Return the blended soup to the pot. Add orange and lemon juice. Taste. Salt and pepper it, and taste again. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Add as much cream as you are comfortable with, then bring the soup up to a gentle simmer again. You might want to taste it again and add more salt.
Serve in a shallow bowl with diced avacado mounded in the center. This soup would go well with a green salad, or even a toasted cheese sandwich.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Nigiri Sushi Combination
Meat Lover's Rolls
Bf and I ordered a lot. Miso (didn't order, it just came), tempura shrimp, the small assorted sashimi platter, hamachi sushi combo, Iro Iro Maguro roll, and the Scent of Shiso roll.
The miso and tempura were good, on par with most sushi places in town. Assorted sashimi came with 2 pieces each of hamachi, salmon, albacore, escolar, octopus, maguro, shrimp and snapper. Salmon and hamachi are my favorite, they were both buttery and smooth. The fish was cut a little thicker than I'm used to, but I viewed it as a plus. High quality, though I've never been to Murata or Hiroshi, so I can't say how it matches up. I really loved the pure-white escolar, although recent health warnings gave me pause.
The hamachi sushi combo was supposed to include 8 pieces hamachi roll, 2 pieces of hamachi nigiri and 3 pieces of chef's choice nigiri. What we got was 8 pieces spicy salmon roll, and 6 pieces of assorted nigiri, luckily most of it tuna. I was not at all upset, as the spicy salmon roll was outstanding. The spicy sauce gently coated the delicate salmon pieces without overwhelming the mild fish.
The Iro Iro Maguro roll consisted of blue fin tuna, avacado inside, lightly seared toro outside with a lime caper sauce and tobiko on top. Loved this and would order it again in a heartbeat, despite the $18 price tag.
The Scent of Shiso roll was just as good. Salmon, avacado and dungeness crab with shiso and halibut on top. Shiso is an herb leaf that reminded me of mint or cilantro with lemon notes as well. It added a little fresh crunch and burst of brightness to every bite.
The interior has booths along two walls, a sushi bar and a regular bar. Big, round, creamy-colored lanterns hung above the entry beckon from blocks away. Red lamps hover over each booth at varying heights. Watch out for those booths; they are definitely built for little people.
3500 SW River Parkway
Portland, OR 97239
Thursday, August 16, 2007
cube some good bread (can be day-old or not)
toss bread in a bowl with olive oil and some halved garlic cloves
toast in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes on a sheet pan
dice heirloom tomatoes in large chunks and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic
mix croutons with tomatoes and season with salt & pepper
add some cheese (fresh mozz, shaved parm, whatever) and basil
*edited to add: let sit for 5 minutes
eat (Orangette says to eat aggressively)
If I knew how to get my pictures from my camera onto my computer, I would add a picture here.
Monday, August 6, 2007
- Beets, cucumbers, lemon creme fraiche
- Foie terrine, brioche, truffled apricots
- Beef Cheek Bourguignon
- Flat Iron, tomato, leek, anchovy
I like how simple the menu is. It doesn't mess around with wordy descriptions. Of course, you have to ask how the pork is prepared, but that doesn't bother me.
Beet salad rocked, but I can't think of a better combination than beets, cucumbers and lemon creme fraiche. I hogged this to myself. The foie terrine was interesting. I'm not to sure about foie yet - it's the texture. Anyway, it came as a big slice layered with fat with a spoonful of truffle apricot jam on the side, and a plate of brioche. Bf ate almost all of this. It was really rich, with a hard butter texture, and I liked it with the brioche. I actually would prefer a crostini with it, something crunchy.
The beef cheeks were served with a couple slices of potato, a bunch of carrots, and some onions or fennel. It all blended so it was hard to tell. The cheeks are huge, though, and with your fork you can pull off a bite of thready, juicy, beefy goodness, spear a carrot and a bite of potato, swirl it around in the burgundy reduction and try to make it to your mouth before it drips on your new blouse. Ahh, bliss. Bf's flat iron came a very red medium-rare (all the better) sliced and stacked on a pile of sliced tomatoes, leeks and anchovy. It was very good, but I liked mine better.
That we were going to order the apricot-bacon cornbread with maple ice cream was a given. It was the whole reason I brought bf there! It was just as good as last time. I am quite enthralled with the flavor of the maple ice cream. Maybe next summer I will buy an ice cream maker.
Our dinner, including one beer and one glass of pinot noir, came to $87, and I took home more than half of my beef cheeks. Also, the cook burnt our cornbread and had to remake it, unbeknowst to us, so they comped it! Totally unnecessary, but a nice gesture.
We look forward to visiting Le Pigeon often. The menu changes all the time, and you are guaranteed to find something that you've never had (pigeon cherry tart, anyone?), or something put together in a way you never would have done.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I didn't peruse the menu like I usually do, probably because I saw something I wanted immediately on the specials menu. Huevos Rancheros. Now I'm sure I've never had "real" or "authentic" huevos, but I've liked most versions I've had anyway. We did get both the breakfast and the lunch menus, very much appreciated. Bf ordered the Eggs Mazatlan.
My huevos came as 2 corn tortillas laid flat, stuffed with shredded pork and black beans, topped with eggs over easy, ranchera sauce and cheese. On the side I had subbed sauteed veggies for potatoes. The veggies were okay but had too many carrots. I liked the huevos quite a bit - pork was tasty, tortillas slightly crisped, eggs runny, and cheese melted. I tasted cumin and chili powder and a few sprigs of cilantro were on top. The ranchera tasted like enchilada sauce to me, but I confess I don't know what ranchera sauce should taste like. I imagine a place like the Cadillac wouldn't either. The dish did, however, suffer from a lack of salt.
Bf's wasn't as good and it looked bad enough that I didn't want to try even a bite. There was a folded-up yellow flour tortilla that wasn't warm nor toasted at all. He said it also was salt-free. The accompanying housemade salsa looked good, tho.
The worst thing is the drinks. We opted for 2 "lunchtime cocktails" at a whopping $6.75 each, for a 1/2 shot at most weak-ass drink. Boo.
In spite of the pretty good huevos, I doubt we will go back.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
My heart broke when I read the last page of my Harry Potter. I can't believe there are no more! It was a great book, full of action and magic and revelations on every page. All questions were answered and pieces fell into place. Aww..Severus Snape! I'm not going to give it away, but I liked the ending. I am going to read it over again right away.
If anyone hasn't read Philip Pullman's series His Dark Materials, go grab the first one! It's called The Golden Compass and the movie will be released soon. I liked his books as much as the Potter series.
For apps, we had a half dozen oysters, the Thai Beef Salad and spicy corn fritters. I loved the zingy beef salad - especially the mint/cilantro flavors. I ordered the ribeye medium rare for an entree. It was not medium rare. It was juicy enough and had good flavor, but I was not pleased. I like it bloody. I probably would have sent it back if I had been with other folks, but for a family night - nah. I ate most of it anyway as well as the fingerling potatoes and sesame beans. Two at my table ordered the Thai Red Curry with chicken. It looked and tasted fabulous. I might get that next time! The other entree was the Korean Baby Back Ribs. I didn't try them, but I did have a bite of the house made kim chee. Not bad. Besides the overcooked steak, it was a good night. We could have stayed and talked for hours after we were through. I love my family!
214 SW Broadway
Tuesday - Friday 4:30pm to close
Saturday 5:00pm to close
Sunday, July 22, 2007
1230 NW Hoyt
Summer Hours: Sun-Thurs: Bar 4:30-9:30, Dining room 5-9:00
Fri & Sat: Bar 4:30-10:30, Dining room 5-10:00
Friday, July 20, 2007
I have a drink or appetizer at Ten 01 at least every other week or so. The bartenders are great, always ready to suggest a drink I might like, or describe the new offerings on the bar menu. I haven't had a full dinner there since opening weekend in November (under a different chef) until last night.
A server at a neighboring table described the changes since Executive Chef Jack Yoss took over in May as "like working in a completely different restaurant". That's certainly reflected in the menu. Where previous menus were divided into mulitiple confusing sections, current ones are simplified into straightforward "Appetizers" and "Entrees". Instead of funky combinations like a kamut berry entree or crawfish pasta with kumquat cream, there's a roasted jumbo quail with wild mushroom stuffing and brown-butter potato puree and grilled spring lamb chops along side goat cheese gnocchi and fava beans. Yum!
My aunt and I sat upstairs in a comfy corner booth. Five or six booths line the wall of windows overlooking busy Northwest Tenth Avenue, with a few more interior booths and tables. The primo spot is the corner table that seats ten people or so and has a lazy susan for easy family-style meals. There's also a private dining room on that level that can hold 28 people.
We downed glasses of champagne while perusing the menu. Love those bubbles! We ordered and shared:
- Sashimi of Hamachi with green apple-celeriac vinaigrette
- Heirloom Beet Salad with arugula, belgian endive, shaved radish and tangerine oil
- Glazed Carlton Pork Belly with pickled spring onions and asparagus
- Sautéed Alaskan Halibut with fingerling potatoes, chanterelles, pearl onions, smoked bacon-sherry sauce
- Alaskan King Salmon with mussels, braised fennel, fregola sarda, lobster sauce
The chef sent out an amuse of sweet corn bisque, made with smoked mussels, chives, lemon-herb crème fraîche and served in a shot glass. Very sweet, fresh, corn flavor. It was piping hot, a nice change from the tepid soups I am usually served. The kitchen was nice enough to split every order into two plates for us. It really made the whole experience more enjoyable. The hamachi came first. Four or five slices of fat-marbled hamachi with a good amount of small dice green apple and celery root piled on top and scattered around. After the first bite, my aunt and I's eyes met in amazement; it was wonderful. The buttery fish melted in the mouth. I could eat this for days, truly one of the best things I've eaten this year. The beets in the salad were plentiful; I liked the golden ones best. The tangerine oil was a good flavor match. Auntie had never tried pork belly, so we had to order it. What came was a three-inch rectangle wrapped in bacon. I quite like the pork-on-pork action going around these days. The fat was all melty and good with the crisper bits.
The last two items we ordered as entrees, although we really didn't need any more food at that point. I really had good intentions of taking part of my salmon home, but that didn't happen. Damion, our server, had mentioned that it had been in the water not more that forty hours ago - that was pretty much the clincher. I had been leaning toward the stuffed quail or the rib eye. The salmon was cooked perfectly medium rare. "Slippery salmon," I called it. The skin was seared crispy with just a touch too much salt. The surrounding fregola were good but I wasn't so keen on the lobster sauce. It's hard to tell what lobster sauce is, as a diner. Is it creamy, is it brothy? In this case, it was tomatoey, brothy, salty. And there were mussels that tasted good, but I didn't think really went with the salmon. The fish was definitely my favorite part of the dish. My aunt's halibut was a winner all around. Very nice seared crust with a pile of chantrelles, onions and fingerling potatoes.
For dessert, we shared a slice of the flourless chocolate cake with chantilly cream and raspberry sauce. It was very dense, very chocolate-y and very perfect. A nice something sweet to cap off a mostly great meal.
1001 NW Couch Street
Portland, Oregon 97209
Dinner: Monday - Saturday from 5pm to close,
Lunch Monday - Saturday from 11am to 3pm
Happy Hour from 3pm - 7pm Monday - Saturday.
Monday, July 9, 2007
Choosing a pasta was the most difficult. Tabla makes all their pastas in-house and they are by far my favorite pasta in town. I have always enjoyed the Tajarin with truffle butter as well as the signature Tabla Ravioli (stuffed with chard, ricotta and a poached egg, finished with poppy seed butter), but this time I spied a new option: Calamari (house made noodles tossed with white wine, cherry tomato & fresh calamari). Beautiful dish, as pictured above. Toothsome calamari rings and tentacles atop a small mess of fresh, wide noodles and cherry tomatoes. I gobbled up every bite and then wished there was bread to soak up the wine sauce. My other half can't get away from the Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu, but this time he chose the Bison Ragu (house made pasta with bison braised in red wine & fresh thyme finished with crushed chilies).
To me it tasted quite similar to the rabbit ragu, maybe a little meatier. The chilies lent a nice kick.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
I did eat at Russell Street BBQ recently, though, but it wasn't that good. I'm not interested enough to post about it. Maybe later when I'm really bored.
Food porn. Photo courtesy of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, where I would really like to eat someday. This item is entitled "apple". The menu states it is served with horseradish and celery.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
This is one he whipped up last night. I can't post the recipe - I don't know the amounts. He used lemon, lime and orange muddled well with sugar, ice, tequila, triple sec, cranberry juice and grenadine shaken furiously, then topped with a little splash of RockStar energy drink. Bottoms up!
Monday, July 2, 2007
- Green beans with lemon and tomato puree. Nothing but yum!
- Fried Anchovies - came with fried lemon slices and fried onions with Romesco. Very good and fresh, not fishy. I liked eating the whole fish, the head and all. The fried lemons rocked.
- Crab & Pork Croquettes - fried crab balls with a little bit of pork with olive oil and a small dice of tomato, onion and parsley. The pork dominated the flavor, which to me made them not as good as they could be, but very good nonetheless.
- Scallops with Romesco - The Romesco sauce is great and went very well with the Scallops. Bf thought the scallops were a tad overcooked, maybe medium instead of medium rare. I disagreed. I love scallops, but there were nothing special about these, in that we could've had them anywhere.
- House-Smoked Coppa Steak - came with carmelized onions and kalamata olives. I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. At least 2 inches thick, pink in the middle, crusty on the outside. I found it chewy, and so smoked it tasted like ham. Bf thought it was great and it was his favorite dish of the evening. Me, not so much. The texture was so chewy it was hard for me to eat. There was quite a bit of connective tissue and fat that hadn't rendered. It was also hard to cut with the knife provided. The flavor was enjoyable, especially the middle pinkest part. I don't think I would order this again, but bf definitely would.
Very good service and timing. Dishes came out one at a time for the most part, and the ten minute or so break before the steak came was appreciated to get our tummies caught up. We came in just before 6:00pm when it was just about half full, but it was completely full when we left after 7.Toro Bravo
120 NE Russell St.
Portland, OR 97212
Open Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday 5pm-10pm
Friday & Saturday 5pm-12am
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Shared: Asparagus with fingerling potato and pigeon aioli, Butter Lettuce salad with bacon & blue cheese, Pickled Pig's Ear with fettucini and artichoke, and Crispy Frog Legs with Picked Garlic Remoulade. The salad and asparagus were tasty if not earth-shattering. I did not care for the pig's ear or frog legs. I commented at the time that the frog legs tasted like nothing, not even chicken. The pig's ear was mixed with a bunch of fettucini (not my favorite) and tasted strongly of vinegar. The artichoke was good, though. For my entree, I ordered Scallops & Swine - 2 rich marshmallow-sized scallops, crusty on the outside and med. rare on the inside paired with a generous slab of pork belly with oyster mushrooms and asparagus tips on the side. Oh yeah, and smoked pork fat hollandaise. Swoon. Words can't do justice to the combination of sweet scallops and smoky pork belly. I wanted to lick the plate. I tried a bit of Beef Cheek Bourguignon - stewy, meaty beef cheeks rich with Burgundy wine. Lamb looked great atop a white bean puree, and the sweetbreads were that perfect mix of crispy and creamy.
The dessert options were scrawled on a big chalkboard on the East wall. Our choices included Creme Brulee, Espresso Pot de Creme, Foie Gras Profiteroles, and the famous Apricot-Bacon Cornbread with Maple Ice Cream. (All of which we ordered for the table.) I'm not a very big dessert person, but I deigned to have a bite or two. As expected, the Cornbread was a hit! Salty, smoky and sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and the cornbread itself had a very rustic texture with a large crumb. The ice cream's creamy smoothness set it off wonderfully. I can't wait to go back just for this dessert.
No wonder Gabe was named one of the Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine.
Speaking of the Chef, he was there in full-force, busting it out in the tiny open kitchen. He came personally to deliver a course to our table; I noticed him doing the same throughout the restaurant. What a great touch. Tattoos of the namesake bird play on his forearm, and he's quite good looking in a David Arquette kind of way. The next time I go, I want to sit at the bar and watch the action.
738 E. Burnside
Portland, OR 97214
Open 7 days a week for dinner beginning July 8th.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Listen up, hoteliers! Getting rid of concierge service at your properties is a bad, bad idea. The front desk, bellman and valets cannot provide the level of service concierge do. Neither can a virtual concierge website. A full-time concierge is necessary and valuable. The largest convention hotel in the state is discontinuing their concierge service after the current concierge retires at the end of the month. Good luck, hotel-that-shall-not-be-named.
Funniest thing I've seen today is Robot Chicken Star Wars. Thanks, G.C.! Second funniest is this guy in my building who walks his cat on a leash. But only when it's nice out.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
23 Hoyt, Acadia, Alba, clarklewis, Clyde Commons, Country Cat Dinnerhouse, Fenouil, Giorgio's, Hiroshi, Le Pigeon, Lovely Hula Hands, Meriwether's, Murata, Nostrana, Olea, Park Kitchen, Roux, Simpatica, Toro Bravo, Vindalho, and Wildwood
I'll be able to cross off Le Pigeon next weekend!
Friday, June 15, 2007
Over at Portland Food, there's a great little thread about the Top 5 things one's eaten in a restaurant this year. Here's mine:
Pho Tai Chin - Pho Oregon
Duck Pate - Ten 01
Ramen with egg - Biwa
Hoi Thawt - Pok Pok
Brisket & Greens - Podnah's
Pork Belly Skewers - Biwa
Truffle Fries - Ten 01
Shrimp Po' Boy - Lagniappe
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I went to see Waitress last night with Jeremy. (NY Times Review). It's been months since I've gone to a movie. Thanks, Jeremy! (It wasn't a date, I specified no tongue.) The main character is played by Keri Russell, formerly of the WB's Felicity. I can safely say that I never saw one episode, snippet, or scene of Felicity. That girl kinda bugged me with her mane of crazy curls and relationship melodrama (I assumed). Well, I guess she's grown up. The age in her face suits her and makes her appear more like a human. And her hair seems to have calmed down in her old age. Pies, that's her schtick in Waitress. She makes great pies, pies with funny names.
I DON'T WANT EARL'S BABY PIE: Quiche of egg and brie cheese with a smoked ham center
KICK IN THE PANTS PIE: Cinnamon spice custard
I HATE MY HUSBAND PIE: “You take bittersweet chocolate and don’t sweeten it. You make it into a pudding and drown it in caramel..."
BABY SCREAMING IT'S HEAD OFF IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND RUINING MY LIFE PIE: New York style cheesecake, brandy brushed pecans and nutmeg
EARL MURDERS ME BECAUSE I'M HAVING AN AFFAIR PIE: “You smash blackberries and raspberries into a chocolate crust."
I CAN'T HAVE NO AFFAIR BECAUSE IT'S WRONG AND I DON'T WANT EARL TO KILL ME PIE: "Vanilla custard with banana. Hold the banana..."
PREGNANT MISERABLE SELF PITYING LOSER PIE: “Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in. Flambé of course...”
In fact, that was the extent of my knowledge about the movie before going, and it was enough. See, I like pie. Anyway, the movie was kind of a dark comedy. I laughed quite a bit but it wasn't a happy movie for sure. What's his name, the Matlock guy was in it and so was Jeremy Sisto, of 6 Feet Under and Clueless fame. Good one. You should see it.
Later, curled up on the couch with a plate of baked chimichangas and a cocktail, I watched the first disc of Big Love. Have you heard of this one? I think it's on HBO, and it stars Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Chloe Sevigny. Bill Paxton is a polygamist in Utah with three wives and three families. They live in three separate houses that are right next to each other with a communal backyard and pool. Big Bill owns a big home store, evidently netting enough to keep his wives and kids (7) in diapers and cars. It's hilarious! Try having three wives to please. There's some LDS/Mormon stuff in there, although the family has to hide the polygamy from the church. In addition, look for some almost full frontal male nudity! Yay, just what I look for in my TV shows. Damn, I need to get cable.
I thought I'd post my baked chimichanga recipe. It's really easy and freezes well. When I was growing up, my mom called it "Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas". However, it is clearly not a quesadilla since it is rolled up like a burrito. In college, my sister and her roommate dubbed it "Pollo de la Bunghole". The beauty of this simple dish is its adaptability. You can use whatever chicken you have on hand. You can add red and yellow bell peppers if you want. Go ahead, get crazy with it. Note that the following measurements are approximate - I've never prepared it the same way twice.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 pound shredded cheddar and jack cheese (or more if you're a cheesehead)
One bunch chopped green onions
One large can diced green chilies or jalapenos
One tub salsa (Emerald Valley is my fave)
One can black beans (drained)
10-12 flour tortillas
1-2 tablespoons melted butter
Begin by cooking the chicken in some way. Season it. I use salt & pepper, cumin, chili powder and cayenne. Sometimes I bake it, sometimes I sear it. When the chicken is cooked all the way through (juices run clear, 165 internal temp), let it rest till it's cool enough to handle. Then shred it with a fork, or chop it anyway you like. Place in a big mixing bowl.
Next, add the cheeses, black beans, green chilies, green onions and salsa. Mix it all together. You can taste it at this point, see if it needs more cheese or heat.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Warm the tortillas slightly in the microwave or in a dry pan. They're a lot easier to work with when warm.
Scoop some chicken mixture into a tortilla and roll it up, folding the top and bottom in. Place it in a baking dish. Repeat until you run out of chicken mixture. The chimis should be snug together in the baking dish. Sometimes I use 2 baking dishes.
Brush the melted butter over the top of the chimis and bake them in a 425 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or when browned and crisp.
Serve with sour cream and more salsa. Guac if you've got it.
One more thing: I recommend not baking the chimis that aren't going to be eaten immediately. What I do is roll 'em all up, bake the ones I'm eating, and freeze the rest in foil packages of two each. They can be baked frozen for 40 minutes or so at 450 degrees, or if you have time, thaw them out and bake as directed above.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
In other news, I have worked 9 days straight and finally get two days off tomorrow and Friday. Sweet. I am going to the Portland Art Museum with the Portland Concierge Association to preview the Rembrandt exhibit. Yay free famous art!
I (we) installed our window air conditioner this morning, since it was 91 degrees today. In May. In Portland. I knew it was going to be a hot summer, so I insisted on an a/c. I found it used, on Craigslist. It was surprisingly hard to find one to fit our slider casement windows. We seemed to be missing a couple pieces, but we had the instructions and made it work with only a few screws! I love you, air conditioner.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
munchies: marcona almonds tossed in oil, radishes with lime compound butter and sea salt
amuse: seared ahi tuna
apps: crostini with serrano ham, manchego cheese and truffle oil, bacon-wrapped scallop
soup shots: cauliflower soup? white bean? asparagus?
salad: crab salad-topped avacado or beet salad with mache or pea shoots
entree: Paella with saffron rice
dessert: creme brulee or flourless chocolate cake w/bourbon whipped cream
Some of it will be up to my dad. He might hate beets, for all I know. But I am so, so looking forward to this. I've never prepared an elaborate meal before. It will be good experience. It helps that bf is a cook by trade. And that some of the dishes can be prepared in advance. Dad just needs to pick a date!
*Edited to add: Happy 23rd Birthday, Clayton!