Friday, December 21, 2007

Long Time No See

Yeah, I know. I've been lazy. It's the Christmas season (not holiday) and I'm just swamped at at work, and so on and so forth....

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

Chesterfield and Thatch

This week I hit two places I'd never been before, Chesterfield over on Burnside, and Thatch on NE Broadway. My friend J and I met at Thatch at 4:00pm, and they didn't open till 5, so we headed over to Chesterfield. You might know Chesterfield by its big red paint job. It's in the same building as rocket - Chesterfield on the bottom floor, rocket on the fourth. Still haven't been to rocket but it doesn't sound like I'm missing much. Chesterfield is brightly decorated, with plastic stools. I didn't like them at all! Stupid stools.... Upstairs there's a round coke den table in black leather. It looks just like the ones at SubTerra, only not white. There's also a counter lining the loft ledge with more plastic stools, perfect for sipping solo, gazing down at the pretty young things below. Speaking of pretty young things, there were none in sight. In fact we were the only ones in the whole place when we walked in, and then a table of 3 showed up. The space is a lot smaller than I'd imagined, and I would not like to be there on a busy night. The best surprise was the bartender Russell. He's an old friend from my Red Star days back in 2000, and a terrific bartender. My friend had a perfectly balanced Pimm's Cup and I tried the Wendelini - peach bitters and prosecco with an lemon twist. J and I shared some curried mushrooms and a greek salad. Good portions for cheap. It was happy hour, too, so our drinks were $3 off. I will go back, soon, to see my friend Russell and try more drinks, like the Miss Sassy Rack or the Queen Bitch.

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

Helser's on Alberta

This past Thursday, we slept in. Like until noon. A slothly morning begets a late brunch. After debating where to go, bf and I hopped in the good ol' Hyundai and headed north to Alberta, vaguely thinking of Francis but not committed. Passing Tin Shed and Helser's, both looked busy so we continued on up to Francis. Parked the car, went inside and found...a zoo. I didn't know Thursday at 1:15pm was so popular for breakfast/lunch. Don't these people work? I don't like to wait, plus I never thought Francis was THAT good, so we drove back down to Helser's. Never been there anyway and wanted to try it. There was only a group of 2 in front of us, so we were seated within 5 minutes.

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


Having just returned from Mexico, I decided to hit Autentica's brunch on Sunday to see how it stacked up. I had read many great reports over at, so I had a couple things in my mind to try. First: shrimp in spicy broth. Well, not really what I expected. It was 4 big shrimp, butterflied, tail and shell-on with legs in a bowl of red broth that was surprisingly, not spicy at all and very fishy. One thing I have never mastered is peeling hot shrimp with utensils, so I made a mess of myself removing the shrimp to a napkin, peeling them and returning them to the hot broth. Besides not being spicy, the broth was one-dimensional. It was a little better after adding some red chili table salsa and lime, but I didn't finish it. The shrimp were cooked well and tasted good. Bf got the huevos rancheros that came with ham and black beans. Pretty yummy, though also very mild. The ranchera sauce was great and I ordered tortillas to help him scoop up the sauce. The ham was very thin and so-so, while the eggs were done right and the beans very flavorful and just salty enough. For apps, we had the shrimp and octopus ceviche and a chicken sope. The ceviche was was in a cold tomato broth and the seafood was tender and flavorful. The saltines on the side were good with it, tho I wish there were a few more. The sope was the clear winner. A small, thick tortilla-like base topped with shredded chicken, beans, cabbage, crema, avacado, onions, cilantro and maybe some other things I'm forgetting, piled on a plate. Each bite was the perfect bite. Next time I'm ordering a pile of these.

It was expensive. The 4 dishes above, plus 2 spanish coffees came to $48. (How did it compare to Mexico? Who knows, since I ate very little "authentic" food while I was there - our all-inclusive resort featured mostly buffet meals. I had a few carnitas tacos that rocked, and some good scrambled eggs with chorizo.)

5507 NE 30th Ave
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 287-7555

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

into the sunset...

Tomorrow I am flying to Ixtapa, Mexico for a one week vacation. It's my birthday October 18th and I'm going with my family. Should be a fun trip! Here's some pictures I found online to help get the drool going..

Friday, October 5, 2007

Apple Pie

I made the first apple pie of the season last night. For the first time, I used Martha Stewart's pâte brisée recipe for the pie dough. I am now officially a big fan. It was easy to assemble in the food processor, rolled out beautifully, and the buttery flakiness can't be beat.

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 Country Cat Dinnerhouse

Hi everybody! Last Thursday I attended a dinner at the Country Cat with the Portland folks. I love getting together with these people. Finding this group of food-obsessed-even-for-foodies totally rocked my world, and now I have tons of willing dining partners whenever I need them. These people are like instant family, eating off my plate and offering bites of their own, dishing about new restaurants and favorite recipes. The family-oriented Country Cat was a hit with the group.

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


Who hasn't thought of a good title pun with Nutshell? Nutshell in a... , Nutty for Nutshell, Nutshell's Sweet Meat, Where's the Beef?, Nutshell Deshelled, etc, I could go on and on. It's a good name, not just for a vegan restaurant, but a Portland one, a Northwest one. Portland's more than a little nutty and the area is known for hazelnuts after all. More to the point, Nutshell fills a niche. A good vegan restaurant? There's Veganopolis, but I wouldn't call it good. Calendula was pretty well-liked, but they're out of business now. Tired of Old Wives' Tales and Kalga Kafe? Run, don't walk to Nutshell.

Of course, it's not all moonlight and roses. What would be the fun in that?

Spacious and slightly industrial, the place is personalized with giant renderings of the signature gorilla on one wall and some interesting art-on-vinyl kickin' it in the back along with an oversized, comfy couch. Booths line the wall opposite the very open and very small kitchen, and a good number of tables pile in front of the huge garage door opening (just above) to the street.

We picked a booth midway down with a good view of the action. Greetings from our red-haired server came quickly, with a request for drink orders. Bf and I both ordered Downtown Brown from Lost Coast Brewery. At that point we were waiting for our friend, so we sat back to explore the menu. This point was a little lost on our obviously new server (new to the food service biz, perhaps?) who came back multiple times to take our orders even though our friend had not arrived. (He was only about 8 minutes behind us.) The menu is broken into sections: Starters (2), Salads (5), Soup (2), Entrees (10), and Dessert (4). There's a list of Liasons (salad dressings) near the salad section and choices of vegetables and starches below the entrees. Many of the items are gluten-free or could easily be made gluten-free. There are no fake meats, tofu or soy anything. Hallelujah, praise Jesus! Also on the table was a slip of paper to tick off choices of bread, olive oils and salts. We picked an assortment of bread, along with a Spanish and a Chilean olive oil, a smoky volcanic salt, along with one I have no memory of, other than it was salty, which is good enough. The bread was good and I especially liked the rye. The olive oil pours were a little skimpy for $1. The smoky salt rocked - get it? Ha ha, Sean the Vegan would approve. (Chef Sean Coryell is a fan of lame puns.)

When it was time, we decided what to order. However, our server didn't tell us that the restaurant was out of many items. Six, to be exact. Both starters, the Vichyssoise, jamiacan barbeque, tandoor skewers, and the maple chocolate tart dessert. As we had been there for a good half hour, and she had been to our table like 10 times, it seems she would have mentioned that. Oops. So, it would have to be shots of creamy french lettuce & chervil soup, warm yukon gold potato pancakes, Nigerian akras, Bigfoot's raw living lasagna, and the imported spaghetti. Oh, and an order of 155-grain naan.

The soup shots came out quickly - cold, refreshing, and reminiscent of cucumber. It was what I would imagine a lettuce soup to taste, and it was delicious. I couldn't wait to try everything else.

Well, we chatted, saw some friends, talked, and waited...and waited....and waited. It says front and center on the menu "This is REAL slow food. So be patient, it might take a while." Or something like that, anyway. Boy, they weren't kidding. I was getting pissed when it was approaching 7:00 and we had been there for an hour and a half, had ordered an hour before, and still not even the naan had come out. I wasn't getting pissed; I was pissed. In fact I said to my friend and bf, "This is ridiculous, I'm never coming here again." Of course, then someone came and told us they were having problems with the tandoori oven, so sorry for the wait. They were very apologetic and sent over a special Bob Marley shot: Black Boss porter, sarsaparilla, brown sugar and peanut butter - a surprisingly yummy combination. But, only the naan is cooked in the tandoori oven, so wouldn't they send out the rest of our food and tell us the naan would come later, or maybe wouldn't be available at all? Seems like that would have been a more customer-oriented thing to do.

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:

Imported Spaghetti with porcini cream and truffles.

Naan with olive oil. (So good I took the rest home. It was the only thing leftover!!)

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

Riley is Found!

He was stuck in the house across the street. He's hungry, but fine. Thanks for the (imagined) support.

Coming soon, a visit to Nutshell.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Help! Riley is missing!

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

Genie's Cafe

Woke up this morning with no water at our house, just air coming through the pipes. Turns out the people next door were having sewer work done, and they broke the water main. Good going, guys. I used this as an excuse to go out to breakfast. Milo's City Cafe is our usual haunt, but we were in the mood for something new. I tried Genie's a few months ago alone when my girlfriend stood me up. That time I went for the scrambled eggs with black truffle, potatoes, toast and a side of hollandaise. The eggs were blah, the truffle not very fragrant nor the flavor I expected, but I really liked the hollandaise.

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.

Genie's Cafe
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

Hamachi and Scallops at Ten 01

Just a couple photos of my solo dinner last night at Ten 01's bar.

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.

Next: Scallops

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

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

10 medium-sized tomatoes
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

Le Hana

The first restaurant just opened in the South Waterfront district. Le Hana is an interesting mix of Japanese and French cuisine. I was leery till I checked out the menu and found it's mostly a Japanese focus where you can also order a Kobe tenderloin, a Strawberry Mountain ribeye, sake diver scallops, and pan seared Copper River salmon. The menu has a lot of sections:

Seafood Entrees
Meat Entrees
Vegetable Entrees
Fusion Sashimi
Assorted Sashimi
Nigiri Sushi
Nigiri Sushi Combination
Hand Maki
Regular Rolls
Specialty Rolls
Baked Rolls
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.

Le Hana
3500 SW River Parkway
Portland, OR 97239

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Heirloom Tomato and Bread Salad

I really was inspired by Molly at Orangette on this one. She mentioned, in passing, in one of her old, old posts (I'm going through the archives) from 2005, about a great summer pastime, eating tomato and bread salad. I have heard of such a thing, but never thought much about it. Shame, shame on me. It's so easy and delicious. Just do this:

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

Le Pigeon again..

Finally took bf to Le Pigeon last night. We showed up at 6:45pm and were told there was a short wait. No problem, we'll leave our cell number and head over to Doug Fir. Oops, before we could order a drink at Doug Fir, Le Pigeon called back! That was fast. So this was my first time sitting at the bar. This is the way to go, folks. Talk about an open kitchen; at this bar, you're right on top of them. We ordered:

  • 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

Cadillac Cafe

The Cadillac Cafe is just like Florida - filled with wicker, palm trees and old people. I had never been there before this morning, but had heard good and bad. Funnily enough, no one mentioned the decor, other than to mention the big pink Cadillac set behind windows. Well, let me say, the place is pink with stenciled palm trees. We sat in a sun porch area in big wicker chairs. I'd say it was the prime seating area. And we both noted that it was the "younger" section - no retirees in golf shirts here.

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

Pho Harry Potter (Fairy Potter?)

Saturday I grabbed my Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows and headed up the way to Got Pho? The storefront exterior hides a large, bright and nicely decorated space. I got my usual, pho tai chin. It came a steaming bowl with lotsa meat and noodles. The garnish plate was not up to Pho Oregon's level, but whose is? There was enough basil and bean sprouts, jalapeno and lime, but I missed the culantro. The broth is spiced heavier than Pho Oregon's; I wasn't sure if I liked it at first. The clove and cinnamon (?) outdid themselves, covering up the meaty flavor. It got better the deeper I dug into my bowl, though. Note to self: don't try to read a new book while inhaling pho. It gets splashed. Oh well, Harry's baptized. Verdict - Not as good as Pho Oregon, but good enough. And closer.

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.


Last Friday I hit Saucebox with my family. We consider it an old favorite, where everybody can find something they like. The biggest decision, of course, is what to drink. The 'cocktail catalogue' has pages and pages of house creations divided into sections by spirit. I was into rum that night, so I went with a Coconut Lime Rickey. Very good, tart, coconutty and frothy. The next one I tried was the "Pom" Beach. It was similar to the first one but had pomegranate juice and no cream. Maybe that's why I liked the first one better.

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
(503) 223-3393

Tuesday - Friday 4:30pm to close
Saturday 5:00pm to close

Beer Potato Chips

They do have a hint of beer flavor, but basically it's kettle chips with a malty, sour aftertaste. Bf pointed out, "They probably taste more like beer if you're not drinking beer at the same time." Brilliant.

Beer Chips website

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fratelli and Bar Dué

Fratelli recently expanded into the space next door, creating Bar Dué. It's dark, candle-lit, has a small bar and a long bench seat with 5 or 6 two-top tables. I tried two cocktails that I really liked, a pear-tini (Grey Goose Pear odka, fresh lemon & Amaretto) and a Mezzaluna Orange Martini (Mezzaluna vodka, Grand Marnier & fresh squeezed orange juice). The Happy Hour menu is broken into Pizzette and Small Plates. There are four pizzettes with various simple toppings. I tried one with tomato, fennel and salami. Yummy, crisp and slightly sweet. From the small plates section, I had the veal meatballs with gorgonzola and the braised beef panini. The meatballs rocked. Veal and gorgonzola - what a combo. The panini was pretty good, too, especially the spiced pickle and onion marmalade spread. Also on the menu is roasted lamb with salsa verde, polenta with mozzarella and prosciutto, squash wrapped in pancetta, beef and pork lasagna, and a mixed green salad. Happy Hour is 4:30-6:00 and 9:00-close; $2 drink minimum. Pizzettes and small plates are $5. The regular bar menu includes pizza, antipasti, bruschette and formaggi. Prices range from $3 (one antipasti) to $16. Try it!

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

Ten 01

Full disclosure: I have friends/family that work at Ten 01.

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.

Ten 01
1001 NW Couch Street
Portland, Oregon 97209
(503) 226-DINE

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

Tabla Mediterranean Bistro

Walking into Tabla feels like coming home. Bf and I have been friendly with the owners and people who work there for a few years now; it's nice to go in and see familiar faces and be welcomed with genuine enthusiasm. Of course, we get treated extra special.

The 3 Course Prix Fixe dinner is a good deal and includes an appetizer, half pasta and an entree for $29. We upgraded this by including wine pairings. However, we let our server Lia choose our wines so I have no idea what those were, except that we started with a most excellent Prosecco. I like me some bubbly.

There was an amuse, a crostini with blackberry spread and either sheep or goat cheese. Very tasty. I chose the Cucumber & Bell Pepper Salad (local cucumber & bell peppers salad on cucumber puree with sheep milk feta cheese) for my first course. The puree was a little blah on its own but perked up when eaten with the bell peppers in the same bite. Bf chose the Butter Leaf Lettuce Salad (served with creamy lemon vinaigrette, shaved grana padano & spices), which was pretty basic. The creamy vinaigrette was extra garlicky, a plus for us.

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.

I zeroed in on the Halibut Cheeks for my entree (pan seared & served over fregola sarda with Spanish chorizo, cilantro & tomatoes) and never looked back.

(Sorry for the cell phone pics.) As you can see from the size of the cheeks, it must have been a big halibut! My line cook bf was quick to inform me that fregola are toasted, hand-rolled semolina pasta from Sardinia. Seared fish are a favorite of mine; my cheeks did not disappoint. The seared crust was buttery and full of good flavor, while the fish was slightly firm and moist. Triangular little chunks of Spanish chorizo added depth when eaten with the smoky, slippery fregola and cilantro. The tomatoes were little cherries bursting with sun-ripened flavor.

Bf went with the Moroccan Peanut Stew (braised lamb, yams & zucchini with grilled flat bread), something I never would have chosen as I'm not big on peanuts or yams. I do, however, love lamb and zucchini enough to venture a bite. Verdict: earthy, spicy, peanutty with a touch of sweetness. A little too peanutty for me, but that's me.
The flat bread was undercooked/doughy in the middle but wasn't bad. Bf and I ended up polishing off my halibut cheeks and boxing up most of his stew (we were full at this point and figured it would keep better than the fish). Ah, but then dessert menues appeared. For once I felt in the mood. I went with the Cocoa Caramel Panna Cotta (whipped cream, vanilla bean, amaretto & chocolate cigarettes) and bf got the Staccato Gelato of the day, blackberry mint. The panna cotta was very good although I don't remember much caramel flavor. The gelato tasted of fresh berries, and the mint was a nice accompaniment. Finished off with a shot of espresso and a Kyle's Smoky Martini (scotch instead of vermouth), the night was just fabulous.

Tabla Mediterranean Bistro
200 NE 28th (at Davis)
Portland, OR 97232

Sunday, July 8, 2007

No Food, Bad Food, Food Porn

No new places to report on from the last week, although I'm heading to Tabla tonight. Every time I go (with the exception of the last time) I sing the praises of this simple Mediterranean bistro.

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

Birds and Bees

My horoscope today in the Oregonian.

Libra: The birds and the bees do it. The pursuit of intimate pleasures could be foremost on your mind. Someone could play hard to get.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Summer in Margaritaville

I am blessed in many ways. Not least is that I have a very loving bf who is a master in the kitchen and makes great drinks. All of his cocktail creations are made with fresh-squeezed lemon, lime and orange. His favorite liquor is tequila, so, not surprisingly, we enjoy many versions of the classic margarita.

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

Toro Bravo

"The Brave Bull" is walking distance from our place. Here's a quick rundown of our dinner the other night:

  • 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
(503) 281-4464

Open Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday 5pm-10pm
Friday & Saturday 5pm-12am
Closed Monday

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Famous Apricot-Bacon Cornbread with Maple Ice Cream

Saturday night at one of the hottest restaurants in Portland? Usually that's a hell no. But, I was dining with the lovely folks from Portland Food who had kindly arranged a reservation for our party of 6. I had driven by Le Pigeon many times, but had never looked inside. It's teeny. There are 3 community tables seating eight or ten, and an L-shaped bar that seats another eight, perhaps. I really didn't get a sense of decor if there is any to speak of, just a lot of....people. It's like a seated rock concert, with Gabe Rucker headlining night after night.

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.

Le Pigeon
738 E. Burnside
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 546-8796

Open 7 days a week for dinner beginning July 8th.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Thursday was a big eat-out day for me. First, a lunch at El Gaucho with the Portland Concierge Association turned out to be a huge amount of food: lobster rolls, crab cakes, filet mignon, burnt sugar cream. Then, I had a dinner date with my dad.

Wow, Andina was packed; I'm glad we had a reservation. It was very smoky when I entered. Cook-fire smoky, not cigarette smoky. The booths lining the windows are a prime place to sit and watch the traffic on Glisan. However, being a two-top, we sat at a two-top in the middle. The service was very good, especially since they were so busy. Then again, this is Andina. They are always busy, so they must be used to it by now.

Dad and I started with cocktails: a mojito for him and a caipirinha for me. In case you don't know, a caipirinha is a Brazilian drink made with cachaca (sugar cane liquor), lime and sugar. In this case, it is "shaken ecstatically" and served on the rocks. Dad's mojito was fresh and minty.

After listening to the specials, we decided on some apps. We went with the special cebiche, made with red snapper, mango, onions and habaneros, and a half dozen oysters. The cebiche rocked! A perfect blend of tart and spicy, served with a slab of sweet potato on the side. Something crunchy would have been nice to break up the texture. The oysters came as a selection of tiny Kumamotos and another that I cannot remember. Instead of the usual champagne mignonette, Andina's oysters come with 3 little salsas. A cucumber one, a mango one, and a spicy jalapeno one (I think). I had a different salsa with each oyster and they all complemented the fresh, ocean-y bivalves in a different way.

For entrees, we continued with the seafood. He had the quinoa-crusted scallops with wilted spinach and potato parsnip puree, and I decided to go with two tapas, bay scallops with lime butter and parmesan, and also yuca rellena. I did not try Dad's scallops, but they were beautifully presented on a long, rectangular dish holding three scallops each perched on it's own little bed of spinach and puree. Drizzles of some sweet, red fruit reduction artfully decorated the plate. I imagine they tasted good, too. I had had the bay scallop dish before, but it had been served in the scallop shell the last time. I thought there was too much parmesan cheese melted on top. Too much parm is not good. It has a weird texture. So I scraped most of it off and enjoyed the scallops in the lime butter on their own. Next time, if I'm in a scallop mood, I will go for the other choice, the grilled diver scallops in lime butter sauce. The yuca was quite tasty, though I would've enjoyed more heat. I didn't realize the chile flavor was in the accompanying sauce until later. The yuca is really filling, and came as four, 4x2 inch "logs". I ended up giving one to Dad and taking the last two home. (By the way, what is it with servers not including the sauce when wrapping up your leftovers? Sauces are very important! Scrape that sauce into that clamshell!)

No dessert for us, although the chocolate-cinnamon cake sounded yummy. It was a very fun night overall, with good food and company. Thanks, Dad!
[photo from Andina's website]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Strawberries and Star Wars

I'm late, I know. Everyone's been bragging about all the Oregon strawberries they've been scooping up from the markets. Well, today, friends, I got my hands on my share. A nice lady who lives in the Meriwether was going up to the Marquam Hill farmer's market (Tuesdays 3-7) and brought me back a basket! They are dark red, sweet and sun-warmed. Seascapes, they're called. Thank you, nice lady!

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

Top 5

Every few months I go over the restaurants I haven't been to yet and create a top 5 list. My current restaurant pool:

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

Top 5

Le Pigeon
Toro Bravo
Park Kitchen

I'll be able to cross off Le Pigeon next weekend!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pok Pok Wins Restaurant of the Year

So...Pok Pok won the Restaurant of the Year for the Oregonian. Great. I'm very selfishly pissed because the damn waits were already too long! I know I'm not alone in thinking that if the masses hadn't already experienced Andy Ricker's genius, they didn't deserve to. I really wish it had gone to 23Hoyt as some foodies speculated. That would've been a very natural choice for the O: Bruce Carey, NW Portland, a phoenix-like rise from the ashes of Balvo... Pok Pok is Eastside, barely any reservations, no pad thai. Screw the pad thai, there's Hoi Thawt! It's complex but it works: mussels, scrambled eggs (kinda), broken crepe and bean sprouts with a side of Sriracha. I crave it only second to pho. Alas, I will have to start hittin' it right at 5:00 or get together a group of 5 or more and make a reservation in the new upstairs dining room.

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

Honorable Mentions:
Pork Belly Skewers - Biwa
Truffle Fries - Ten 01
Shrimp Po' Boy - Lagniappe

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Big Love & Pie

All of a sudden it started pouring. I can still spy a patch of bright blue sky hovering over NW Portland, though, so maybe it'll be a short shower...

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.
(from gather)
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.

Baked Chimichangas

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

It's hot!

This year is the Centennial Rose Festival. Wow, 100 years. I'm looking forward to all the special events. I created a Rose Festival Calendar for my Concierge desk. I hope everyone else is as excited as I am. For all event details, visit the website.

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

Dad's Birthday Dinner - Part I

For my dad's 50th birthday, bf and I are cooking a meal for him and my stepmom. And 2 other couples at most. ( I don't think we can handle cooking for more than 6.) These are our ideas for the menu so far:

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!

Friday, May 25, 2007


I'm addicted to Pho Oregon. (Or Ph'Oregon as I'm calling it.) The combination of delicately complex, MSG-laden, slightly sweet but very spicy broth with eminently slurpable vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, cilantro, culantro, basil, lime and thinly sliced beef is driving me wild. The broth is spicy cause I douse it with Sriracha. Customized, yo. I crave it once daily at least. To be fair, the *only* other pho I've tasted was from Pho Van (see extramsg's pho showdown here, complete with addresses and phone numbers) and that was take-out. And not hot enough. I first tried Pho Oregon at the end of April, and I've been back four times since. The days that I don't have it, I want it. The days that I do have it, I want it again later. I really can't get enough. I must learn how to make it. I have a recipe somewhere, and it's do-able, but getting all the spices and ingredients together initially is the challenge. Maybe next week or so I'll get out there and hit a Vietnamese market or two. Until then, I'm heading to Pho Oregon.