December 13, 2006

Donate to a Great Cause for the Holidays

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You may have noticed the little box on the right side of my blog with a thermometer and a percentage listed. It's a way that you can help end hunger all over the world. I just learned about this organization, Heifer, from a co-worker. Heifer gives animals to needy families, teaches them how to care for the animals and use them for sustainability. I thought it would be cool if a blog about food could actually help end world hunger. Even if it's just for one person or family. For more information, go to, or follow the link right over there >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

December 11, 2006

Screen Door (2337 E Burnside)

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On their PBS cooking show, Caprial and John Pence often talk about what it is like to be a chef and the skills you need to be a chef, such as flipping food in a saute pan, mincing garlic sans a garlic press, and grabbing meat off the grill with your fingers ever so gingerly. One thing they talk about a lot is the ability that a chef should have to season food with salt.

Chelsea and I went to Screen Door, a restaurant boasting a Northwest twist on Southern food, this weekend - we were excited to go because we had read so many good reviews. The first thing we ordered, the mushroom beignets, were interesting - doughnut like on the outside, but filled with a mass of cheese, perhaps gruyere, and mushrooms. Despite the opportunity of such a combination, they were bland. We sprinkled salt on them, but it wasn't enough to fix the problem.

I was disappointed when my meal came to find the same problem with the spaghetti squash, flavored only with unsalted butter and my cornbread, though moist, was clearly made without any salt. The collard greens were excellent, though. (They were cooked with a lot of bacon. Salty bacon.) My duck hash was good, only after a significant amount of salt and pepper were added.

The service was flavored just right. Excellent, prompt service and a waiter that would even engage in a faux argument with a customer regarding the Civil War and the horrors of those damn yankees.

I probably won't go back to Screen Door - there's just something about food that's not flavored enough with the basic elements, like salt and pepper. I don't want to pay $15 for a dinner that is missing the base of all good food.

December 10, 2006

A Taste of Mexico (716 NW 21st)

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Before we went to Meet Me in St. Louis, I took my grandmother to a Mexican restaurant on NW 21st. It is beautiful, with brightly colored walls, beautiful framed prints of Mexico and a real sunflower in a vase on each table.

Salvador is a short-ish man, with glasses and a thick accent. He tells the couple behind us that he used to work in a restaurant in San Francisco and just moved up here to open this restaurant. He tells me that his favorite dishes are the Tortilla Soup and the Enchiladas Mole. Grandma orders the Tortilla Soup. I order the Enchiladas.

While we are waiting for our food, Salvador brings us a bright red square plate, with a small handful of multi-colored chips and a spoonful of bean dip with cojita cheese on top. Sometimes I eat the chips and salsa at Mexican restaurants in a frenzy - this is not the case here. Each bite is wonderful and full of intense flavor and creamy texture and I enjoy it not only before my meal, but throughout.

Grandma's soup is served in a beautiful wide white bowl, the soup red, with blue tortilla strips, chunks of avocado and sour cream. She says she is not hungry. She eats every bit of soup, without stopping.

My enchiladas look like Juliette Binoche's inventions in the movie Chocolat. Topped with fresh, crunchy lettuce and tomatoes, the deep, rich flavor of the sauce marries the shredded steak perfectly. They are beautiful enchiladas.

We still have 45 minutes to kill. Grandma orders Flan with Kahlua and Rum. I order crepes with caramel and chocolate. We watch through the glass divider by our table as the chef puts the whip cream on both desserts. We take up at least another half an hour slowly eating the sweetness put before us. Perfect.

Salvador does a good job. Go get A Taste of Mexico.

Cinema 21 (616 NW 21st Ave)

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My grandmother and I don't really get along too well. We really have only two things that we can talk about: food and old movies. She has an enviable collection of movie memorabilia from the early years, including an autographed picture of Jean Harlow. I have my own collection of pictures, two with autographs, though not as significant as Jean Harlow.

Yesterday, my grandmother and I went to
Cinema 21 in NW Portland to see Meet Me In St. Louis on the big screen. The 1944 film introduced the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas to the Christmas season and also garnered one of its young stars, Margaret O'Brien, a special Oscar for outstanding child actress at only 7 years old.

Michael Clark, a film-obsessed video store owner in Portland, sponsored the event yesterday and brought Margaret O'Brien, one of his good friends, to the theater to screen the movie with us and then do a question and answer session. (If you haven't been to Michael Clark's video store, Movie Madness, it is a must see Portland museum. Costumes, props, scripts from movies throughout the decades are mounted in display cases all over the store. One could spend hours in there just looking at the displays and then spend hours again looking at the rare movies.)

We watched the movie, singing along quietly under our breaths, and I cried during the Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas scene. It is a beautifully done movie.
After the film, Margaret O'Brien graciously answered questions from the audience, and told stories of her childhood, sneaking out with Natalie Wood late and night to go visit James Dean, playing games with Judy Garland and flirting with Clint Eastwood. It was like listening to fairy tales. These people have never seemed real to me, I think because most of them are dead. But yesterday I met a real live movie star from the 1940s. She was lovely. (Blurry person in red is me, blurry person in black, Margaret O'Brien.)

Cinema 21 often shows old movies, independent and international films. It is a pretty big theater, with a balcony and they just got all new seats, which are more like recliners. Another thing to note: though drinkholders are absent, there a ton of leg room in front of each seat for you to stretch out, or put your drink on the floor. They have curtains over the screen, which dramatically open before the film starts, just like in the old days.
My grandmother and I had a great time living nostalgically for an afternoon. Rent Meet Me In St. Louis this Christmas, instead of one of the old stand-bys. You'll end up singing along. I know you will. You might even cry.

November 27, 2006

Salvador Molly's (1573 SW Sunset Blvd)

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Molly's Super-Cure-All, 5-star-love, Garlic Chicken Lime Soup. It sounds like a concoction you would buy from that street vendor in Pete's Dragon who can't say Pass-a-ma-quady, and I must admit, I was kind of hoping for such a miraculous soup that would cure all ailments. I only ate about an hour ago, but so far, it seems to be working. I came home and checked my email and not only did I win a million dollars in a contest, but I have 5 dates lined up next week and I just got a voice mail from a local radio station telling me that I have won a trip to Greece.

Okay maybe I was exaggerating a little. But there was a tad bit of snow on the ground when I got home and I didn't get any bills in the mail. Close enough. Plus, I got to eat a whole bunch of peanuts at Salvador Molly's and throw the shells on the ground. Life is beautiful. Eat Garlic Chicken Lime Soup.

Salvador Molly's on Urbanspoon

October 21, 2006

Dublin Pub (6821 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy)

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Terrible food. Bad service. You will lose your hearing. But guess what? Tonight I was an uninhibited (mostly) dancing girl. The most fun in the whole world. How great is that. And it was Jen's birthday. Her 30th. It was her second of three birthday parties. The Dublin Pub was host to me coming out of my shell and dancing like crazy all night long. Or at least several times all night long. The Boys Next Door (very loud cover band) killed my hearing, but enticed me to keep dancing. I want to go again! Happy Birthday Jen!

Addendum: I went back. Their chips and salsa are actually really good. It is more fun to go and dance than to sit and listen. So if you go, go to dance and dance a lot. Go with dancing friends. If you don't have any dancing friends, call me and I'll go with you!

October 3, 2006

Imbibe (2229 SE Hawthorne Blvd )

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Last Saturday I bought the biggest earrings I have ever purchased. Long dangling. HOOPS. Hoops that get caught in between my chin and my shoulder when I turn my head. I wanted earrings that I could wear OUT. Real going out. Heels. Trendy capris. As it happened, some of my friends were going to Imbibe on Saturday night to listen to a band play. Imbibe, which previously looked too intimidating for my kind of people, suddenly seemed within reach, now that I had giant hoops and heels to bolster my confidence.

My sister and I got there before our friends. We were seated pretty near the band, which was warming up and fixing all of their technical difficulties. The waitress checked our IDs a second time, in case we were under 21. Flattering.

The couch in the corner, off to the side of the stage, made for a living room like atmosphere. Chandeliers that looked like flea market finds shimmered dim light over the tables, and the band started to play.

A cookie-cutter girl with a low-back black top, started dancing right in front of the band. She swirled and twirled and thrusted and floated. Another sexy blonde joined her and they began to dance together. The sexy blonde sat down after a couple of songs and then a man, clearly over 50, with his shirt open, began to dance with the cookie-cutter.

Smiling and twisting and gyrating, the cookie-cutter girl danced all night. Sometimes by herself and sometimes with others. She had no shame, no embarassment. She had a good time. I think I was a little envious. That will never be me. Not in real life. But maybe sometime when I'm on vacation and visiting a bar where I don't know anyone, I will get into character and play the part of the dancing girl.

Imbibe Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

September 30, 2006

Spice (fka Billy Reed's) (2808 NE M L King Blvd)

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Tempura covered deep fried vegetables (broccoli, squash, zuchini, green beans) are just as tasty as french fries, maybe even more so, and come with a handy little guilt disposer. Upon the first bite, you might think to yourself "I really shouldn't eat all this fried food." Then, upon swallowing all the nutrients, the vegetables compel you to feel good about yourself. "Think about all the vitamin ___ I'm getting from eating this ____ (fill in vegetable here)."

Onion rings are just another tempura covered deep fried vegetable. The ancho chili in the batter sets them apart from the squash and green beans, but really, it's all the same. I can still feel good about myself. Especially because I had a salad for dinner. I mean, the appetizers were fried, but they were so small and come on - they are vegetables! The salad was heavy laden with tasty vinagrette and goat cheese crostini - but there was an awful lot of greenery there to balance it out.

I felt good about my dinner at Spice. The glasses and silverware were all swoopy or sloopy (depending on which word YOU use), making me feel a little sideways. The service was okay - we had two waitresses, which was annoying (How's everything tasting? said the curly haired girl. Do you like your dinner? said the tight pony-tail girl 5 seconds later).

I never went to Billy Reed's when it existed, so I have nothing to compare it to. All in all. Yum. They have numerous fountains emptying all over the sidewalk. Or maybe it was a water main leak. Nevertheless, it added to the ambiance.

P.S. The picture on this post has nothing to do with the restaurant. It is a picture of my favorite spice rack from Dean and Deluca. Someday, when $145 means nothing to me and I am living on Easy Street, counting my money because I am bored, this spice rack will be mine.

September 20, 2006

Bridgeport Ale House (3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd)

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A nice waiter that I think is named Joe, with longer than shoulder-length, nutty brown hair pulled back in a ponytail is my favorite. When he smiles, all of his teeth show and his goatee moves with his face as the shape of his head changes to accommodate the wide spread of his mouth. He crouches down next to the table and asks us what we want. I feel like asking him how his day went because somehow I feel like we are friends, even though we aren't.

The food is good - the best spinach artichoke dip in Portland, excellent poblano corn cakes, great burgers, pizza. All of that is fabulous and amazing.

I like to go to Bridgeport Ale House late at night, when I have had a not so good day, so that I can see Joe and catch a little of his contagious smile. It's a place you can sit for hours and hours and talk forever and never feel uncomfortable.

Oh yeah. And their tiramisu, served in little teacups. KILLER.

BridgePort Ale House on Urbanspoon

August 23, 2006

Le Bistro Montage (301 SE Morrison)

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Do you remember when your mom used to yell at you to come in the house when you were at the neighbor's house? "Elizzzzzaaaabbbeeetttthhh!" Yep, that's the sound. We had only been on the waiting list at Le Bistro Montage for about three minutes when the hostess, one foot inside the restaurant and one foot out, cupped her mouth and shouted my name in a mad-mom voice. Turns out, she wasn't really mad. It was just time for us to be seated.

We skipped the appetizers because they were out of black-eyed pea fritters and only had alligator and froglegs left. We went straight to the meal. Fried chicken breast with garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables, including broccoli, peas and greens cooked in some kind of yummy sauce. The chicken and potatoes were lacking a little salt, but other than that, it was perfect. I had a taste of the macaroni and cheese which was nice and saucy and also tasted the pork loin in apple chutney. Divine.

We were so excited to get the leftovers, which we had seen people exiting the restaurant with, wrapped creatively in tin foil sculptures. What would we go home with? A very eager to help waiter (maybe he was new) with long dredlocks came over and said "Let me move some of this stuff for you, so you can have a little more elbow room." That was nice. He took my plate, upon which I had painstakingly left a small portion of everything to be wrapped up. Splat. He grabbed the other plates and plopped them right on top of my carefully preserved potatoes. He took my friend Karen's plate and carried it separately from the others. Oh good, we thought. Karen is visiting from out of town and it will be nice that at least SHE will get a tin foil sculpture of her leftovers, which were quite a lot, actually.

Five minutes went by, 10 minutes. No sculpture. The same waiter came over and filled up our water glasses again. No sculpture. Our leftovers were gone forever. Now we HAVE to go back and eat more delicious food and leave even more on our plates so that we can get cool sculptures, like everyone else.

Le Bistro Montage on Urbanspoon

August 20, 2006

The Farm Cafe (10 SE Seventh Ave)

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We thought there wasn't going to be any parking, but there was plenty. We thought we'd have to wait a long time to get a table. We were seated immediately. I thought I wasn't really that hungry, but then we got the hummus plate. Hummus on steamed arugula, with roasted red peppers, olives and crunchy, chewy pita bread. I thought I would never eat a meat substitute and enjoy it. I had seitan (soy-based meat substitute) tacos, with crunchy grilled vegetable salad and fresh salsa made with whole grape tomatoes. I savored each bite, even if I was sweating from the spiciness.

Organic vegetarian loveliness.

Farm Cafe on Urbanspoon

August 8, 2006

Voodoo Doughnut (22 SW 3rd Ave.)

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Mango Tango
Orange-colored jelly exploding
My fingers sticking to everything
Crushed sweet tart candy powder
Glazed doughnut skin flakes on my shirt
Heartburn with a smile

What kinds have you tried?

August 7, 2006

Doug Fir Lounge (830 E. Burnside)

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A couple of weeks ago when the heat was unbearable at 11:30 at night, my friends and I drove around aimlessly with the air conditioning on to escape the oppressive non-breeze. We couldn't think of an air-conditioned place open past midnight. Then my friend had a brilliant idea. What about the Doug Fir Lounge? Great place for concerts, but I had never eaten there. Incidentally, they are open from 7 am - 4am every day and they serve breakfast the WHOLE day.

The service was ridiculously slow, but the place was packed, so at least there was an excuse. They serve water in really nice wine bottles. That was a nice touch.

While we waited for our food in the air-conditioned-but-not-nearly-cold-enough restaurant, a really drunk guy came and sat next to me. He got within about 2 inches of my face and told us how he was getting kicked out of the bar because he had had too much to drink. He was really drunk. But he also smelled really good and was really handsome. Double plus. Almost negates the drunk part, but not quite.

I had a ridiculously fattening french cheese sandwich, dipped in batter and fried. So good, but so rich that I could only eat half of it. (My heart was grateful.)

The Doug Fir Lounge (which looks like a log cabin on the outside) is filled with beautiful people with beautiful clothes (to quote JR), beautiful tatoos and very chic glasses. Their service is crappy. Their food is good. Their drunk people are nice and friendly. They serve breakfast all day long.

Doug Fir on Urbanspoon

July 20, 2006

White Eagle Saloon (836 N. Russell St.)

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The White Eagle Saloon is a McMenamins establishment. Food at any McMenamins is always the same. Eh. Edible, but nothing special. Not even worthy of a real review.

White Eagle Saloon on Urbanspoon

July 9, 2006

Mississippi Station (3943 N. Mississippi Ave.)

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The restaurant is open! Hooray! The space next to Mississippi Studios is now Mississippi Station, serving amazing locally grown, organic meals in the backyard that merges beautifully with the backyard of the Studios, Airstream trailer and all!

The Station Burger is huge, with a pile of dijon-braised onions, Tillamook Cheddar Cheese, aioli and barbeque sauce. Served with hand-cut fries, crispy and salty right out of the fryer, the burger dripped lovely sauce all over my plate. It was perfect. For dessert, a grapefruit sorbet drizzled with Campari. My sister had berries with creme fraiche, sprinkled with fresh mint and fennel. That was AMAZING.

They put candles in mailboxes, randomly placed throughout the yard. Even next to the old gas pump and movie theater seats. Eat a bite. Hear some music. Enjoy the fresh air in the backyard. Suck in the ambiance and take it home with you.

July 7, 2006

The Green Room (2280 NW Thurman St)

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Have you ever noticed that certain venues have customers that wear matching apparel? At the Green Room on Friday night, almost everyone was wearing a t-shirt with rips in it, hanging off their shoulders and ripped jeans. Oh also, almost everyone there was barely old enough to be there. Except for the parents of the singer/songwriters that were performing there that night. They were older than me. But everyone else was not more than 21. I swear.

My sister and I sat in the corner by the ticket taker/ID checker. He was friendly guy, and so were the waitstaff. They constantly filled up our drinks and took good care of us. We just ordered snacks - onion rings and sweet potato fries - which were average. The dinner menu looked good (barbeque sauce with red, yellow and orange peppers! Yum!) and I might be back to sample it sometime.

The first two singers that night were unknowns (at least to me). The first guy kind of mumbled and I couldn't understand a word he said or sang - until he sang Comfortable. He didn't sing it as well as the original singer, but it was pretty good. The next performer was Sarah Angela and it was her very first show. You could tell because for the hour and a half before she performed she was jumping up every five seconds to either answer her phone or hug someone coming in the door. She was bright and way too cheerful. I was skeptical of her talent, especially when she taped sheets of music to the microphone for her guitar player. But she sang a killer cover of Creep. It was rockin and blew my skepticism out of the water. We left when the cigarette smoke started infiltrating our brains through our eyes, once the noise ordinance kicked in and all the doors and windows were shut. I didn't get to stay long enough to hear Kirk Duncan, who I came to hear, but I did sit at the table next to him during the opening sets. Close as I was going to get to hearing him that night.

Next time I'll try the barbeque and hear my music. I'll have to rip a t-shirt and jeans and use my anti-aging moisturizer that day.

June 29, 2006

Wild Abandon (2411 SE Belmont St.)

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Ansley is moving away. I am sad. We go to a new restaurant to soothe our sorrow. We cry with Wild Abandon. Or rather AT Wild Abandon. Kristin says the air smells like Russian Olive Trees. The patio is beautiful and not so crowded. The service is painfully slow, but we have a lot to talk about while the clock ticks. I eat pork loin stuffed with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts in a port wine sauce, with smashed red potatoes in between stories of jealousy, psychosis and clandestine affairs. We talk about the good times of singledom in Portland and how Salt Lake City doesn't have as many cool places as Portland. Not even Trader Joe's. But then we talk about how there are lots of nice men there and perhaps Ansley might meet one and how she has four (!) job interviews one day after applying on line for nursing positions and how it will be a good move. My stomach is satisfied and the selfish part of me is sad. But Ansley will take Salt Lake with Wild Abandon and have fabulous adventures to share over dinner when she visits. I can't wait.

Wild Abandon on Urbanspoon

June 25, 2006

Mo's (195 Warren Way, Cannon Beach)

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I think I have to move out of Oregon or risk getting kicked out by what I am about to write. I don't like Mo's. Their food is not good. On a scale of tastiness ranging from hospital food to the best gourmet restaurant in Portland, Mo's hovers right below cafeteria food. Granted, I do not usually eat seafood, so when I go there, I don't get their famous clam chowder. But I would think that if they are so good at making clam chowder, that their culinary talents might spill over into other dishes, at least a little bit. I ordered pasta with grilled chicken. What I got was a mess of overcooked fettucine with a glop of thick, white sauce that I'm pretty sure was a variation on the chowder base they sell maybe with some gelatin added, with a pile of flavorless, stretchy cheese and some slices of grilled chicken that hadn't been cut all the way. No onions. No garlic. No seasonings of any type. The salad was like cafeteria salad: crisp, browning and watery.

The only reason to eat at Mo's is for the view. But you can walk right out on Tolovana Beach and get an unobstructed view of the ocean that supercedes any view you get at Mo's. There are so many good restaurants in Cannon Beach. Mo's is not one of them.

June 22, 2006

Bella Faccia Pizzeria (2934 NE Alberta St)

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The view of Alberta Street is perfect from the front tables of Bella Faccia Pizzeria. Lots of hipster men with square glasses, longish hair and bags slung over their old-sweater covered shoulders. It's a good thing it is a good view, too, because we waited an hour for our pizza. Sitting in Bella Faccia for an hour, smelling the garlic, the onions, the cheese, the smells so pungent tickling my nose and instigating saliva streams in my mouth...well, I became desperate for the pizza to be in my mouth. So when the pizza finally got there, we all devoured it messily and immediately. I don't remember now what kind we got. I think one had chicken on it. It doesn't even matter. The smells were such glorious foreplay that the pizza itself was devoured in a frenzy, leaving me wanting more. That was my one night-stand with a pizzeria.

Bella Faccia Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

June 20, 2006

Parallel 45 Wine Bar (8294 SW Nyberg St., Tualatin)

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A guy named Kirk (, with an unshaven face, slightly unkempt hair and a content look on his face, strummed his guitar while singing ballads in a Ray LaMontagne-like style. My friend Alishia and I ate bread dipped in basalmic vinegar and herbs and I ventured into new territory with the seared ahi. There was a cool breeze on the lake right in front of us and the sun was going down. It would have been romantic, minus Alishia. All the same, it was a great atmosphere, deep food with a light taste that enlightened my soul. They have a good selection of wine, if alcohol makes you happy. Their water was fantastic and the waitress smiled a lot. I'm going back to listen to the guitar guy. And maybe to try something else new, too.

Parallel 45 on Urbanspoon

June 3, 2006

Lizzy Dishes on Location in Minneapolis

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My friend Heidi invited me to visit her in Chaska, Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis. I had never seriously visited Minnesota, just a couple of one night stints in campgrounds during road trips. But this trip, I got just a taste of what Minnesota is REALLY like. Well, as much as you can in three days, anyway.

Minneapolis is way cooler than I expected. We went to dinner at Chino Latino (2916 Hennepin Ave S), which was hip and yummy and expensive and fabulous. Just look at the outside of it! They serve Latin-Asian fusion food. We had smoked salmon sushi, empanadas, portobello satay and tacos. I know, strange combination, but all SO delicious!

The dark rooms, loud music and brightly colored lights made me feel like I was 19 again (but a hipper, cooler 19 than I actually was in 1992).

Other places to note in Minneapolis: Punch Pizza, the lakes, the new Trader Joe's (making it a city that I could live in, if I was adventurous enough to take a giant leap across the country), and the sculpture garden. I will be back to Minneapolis sometime soon, to visit or live. Haven't decided which yet.

May 28, 2006

Lizzy Dishes on Location in Chicago

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Vacations are good. This week, I ventured to Chicago for a little culture and relaxation. I had a couple of hours to kill before I needed to be at the Steppenwolf Theater for a play, so I walked around N. Halsted Street in search of a nice Sunday brunch.

I could tell Vinci (1732 N. Halsted Street) was good, just from smelling the glorious aromas as I walked by. Like a zombie, I followed the trail.

The real live Italian waiter seated me next to the window, so that I could watch people walking by. He served me water and then unfolded my napkin and placed it on my lap. It was a little intrusive, but okay. He brought me a basket of bread: raisin bread, crusty bread, and batter bread, with a trio plate of two kinds of jam and a yummy lump of butter.

I ordered the Eggs Benedicto. Eggs Benedict on foccacia bread. I can't describe it, but I can show you, since I sneakily took a picture of it with my camera:

Yes, AMAZING. Enough said.

Other places to note in Chicago: La Strada, somewhere on Michigan Avenue (great crab cakes) and a little seedy karaoke bar (I don't remember the name or location, except that it was next to a police station) where I enjoyed several hours of amateurs singing along to videos that were straight out of the 80's which mostly showed women in Laura Ashley-type dresses doing interpretive dance in fields, living rooms and bathtubs, with flowers in their hair, hands, or teeth. Chicago actually has a karaoke newspaper, with all of the hot spots and competitions. Impressive.

May 25, 2006

Aztec Willie and Joey Rose Taqueria (1501 NE Broadway St)

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After attending a reading of Write Around Portland participants (if you've never heard of it, go to and feeling uplifted, emotional, grateful, happy, sad and everything in between, I needed something that resembled comfort on a plate.

Aztec Willie and Joey Rose Taqueria on NE Broadway is casual: you order at the counter and take your food back to your table on a tray, cafeteria style. I ordered the Enchiladas con Carne. It was average Mexican food, except for one thing: the enchilada sauce was my mother's recipe. Well I don't know for sure that it was her recipe, but it sure tasted like my mother was in the kitchen using her culinary influence.

I also had a fantastic guava soda. I don't know if it was Mexican or not, but it was sweet and not 7-up or Coke, and was fizzy and fabulous.

Besides the fact that I got to eat my mom's enchiladas tonight, I got to hang out with my brother, which almost never happens. What more could I ask for?

Aztec Willie & Joey Rose Taqueria on Urbanspoon

May 21, 2006

Mississippi Studios (3939 N Mississippi Ave) and Voleur (111 SW Ash St)

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If you've never been to Mississippi Studios to listen to music, you simply must go. It rocks. After winding our way through a rock-garden-backyard, past an Airstream trailer (all set up with tables and couches) and an old gas pump located conveniently on the tent-covered patio, we made our way into the old Mississippi Studios building to hear a few bands play on a Saturday night.

Our feet were touching the stage and we were within sweating distance when the lead singer shook his head. It was the Ian McFeron Band that we were there to see - a country-rock-alternative-folk-country band. Ian McFeron was hot (literally and also handsome) and the fiddle-player was straight out of my middle school, wearing black sneaker-type shoes, a green t-shirt and jeans with one of those cloth belts. She amazingly played the fiddle AND made inside-joke-eyes with the drummer and guitar player at the same time.

The background of the stage was covered in red curtains, making me feel as if I were there to see a show put on by the neighborhood kids on a stage in their garage that they made out of their mom's old drapes. [The picture above is from a show last year with Glen Phillips, but look at the cool curtains!]

After the show, we went out on the back patio and hung out in the garden, then in the Airstream trailer and eventually went and mingled with the band a bit, who were relaxing, drinking and listening to one particularly enthusiastic fan - "You guys used to play at Steven's? No way! I love Steven's. I can't believe they shut it down! You know the owner? No way! He is cool!" - and other variations of kissing rock star ass.

A restaurant attached to the studios is opening in a few months. I can't wait to check it out.

It was 11:45 and we were hungry, so we headed downtown to Voleur. It's wild downtown around 2nd and Ash at 12:00 on a Saturday night, in case you didn't know. I didn't know because I am usually in bed at that time. But I created another personality last night and got really excited to be in the midst of the craziness and the free-flowing intoxication wandering the streets.

At Voleur, we sat at a long table in the back by the door and sang along to a song that we all knew, but no one could identify for certain. Except Ansley did later on, but now I can't remember what it was. The waitress with pink hair came over and slapped her hands on the table. "Let's get to the important things: What are you drinking tonight?" Water. Water. Water. Diet Coke. "Ohhhhh! Wild tonight!" Diet Coke with Lemon AND Lime. "Whoa!" Water. She was laughing at us. I didn't mind. She made me laugh.

Hands down the best fries I have ever had at midnight. Handcut fries with Blackberry Habanero Ketchup. I shared a Pasilla Peppered Chicken Quesadilla, slathered in something green and spicy, sour cream and fresh salsa. It was seriously loaded with the cheesiest of melty cheese.

There's something about sitting in a restaurant late at night with friends and strangers, with a few people at the bar, a homeless man wandering in for a beer, a pink-haired waitress and Billy Joel singing Piano Man. Perfect ending.

May 20, 2006

El Grillo (703 SW Ankeny St)

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"Seriously, this place has the best burritos. And you have to use the bathroom." That's how I first heard about El Grillo, a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place downtown. A co-worker told me to go and drink a tall Corona with my meal and then venture to the restroom, hidden behind the swinging door connecting El Grillo with Mary's Club.

I didn't go for the Corona, but I did order a Diet Coke with the Burrito El Grillo - a giant burrito filled with tender ground beef, fresh chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and jalepeno peppers, covered in enchilada sauce and cheese. Everything tasted so fresh and the cilantro was bright green and newly wilted by the heat of the meat. It was a simple burrito, but it was excellent. I even got a Mexican Flag on a toothpick on top. Fast service and friendly people enhanced the authentic food. (Okay, I've never been to Mexico as an adult, so for me to say it is authentic is, well, a rather unauthentic comment. But it seemed to me to be more authentically Mexican than Taco Bell or Baja Fresh at least.)

As we were eating, the back door swung open for a large man wearing a shirt with flowers or dolphins or some type of hideous pattern on it, coming in from the strip club with greasy hair and a toothy smile. "I'm ready for my drink," he said as he laughed with his belly.

The back door has a few signs on it, including "RESTROOM" and "NO MINORS ALLOWED" and "NO DRINKS FROM EL GRILLO ALLOWED IN THE BAR" and frequently swings open, wafting a breeze of cigarette smoke, whistling, cheering and clapping throughout, reminding the patrons of their proximity to a strip club.

I was going to get up the nerve to go use the restroom, since I haven't ever been to a strip club and I thought it would be an interesting adventure to write about it. However, my bladder was not that full and I'm not quite brave enough to go into a place like Mary's Club by myself on a Saturday afternoon, with a stomach full of burrito.

Great burritos, great people watching. Atmosphere - nice, but punctuated with cheers and whistles from men that are way more greasy than the food.

El Grillo on Urbanspoon

May 16, 2006

Hung Far Low (2410 SE 82nd Ave)

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The thing about CitySearch is that I trust it. If it says that a place of business is on the Best Of List, then I trust that someone somewhere said that it was one of the best in the city. I really should have learned my lesson when I found a hair salon that was rated 8.6 on the Best Of List, that turned out to be located next to an animal hospital as well as being the workplace of my "stylist" (yes, I do need to put it in quotes - "stylist" is a huge overstatement of her career choice) whose introduction to me was "I'm SO glad you don't have a complicated haircut. I am so hungover from partying last night. I just want to go back to sleep." Besides the fact that she was dressed in red velour short shorts, a wrinkled white tank top and had obviously not cleaned off her eye makeup from the night before, she was one of the owners. Did someone really say that this salon was an 8.6 out of 10? Really?

Hung Far Low was rated a 7.1 on CitySearch. The red leathery menus boast their existence of almost 80 years in Portland. I wonder who's been eating here for 80 years. Perhaps the owner of Hung Far Low paid off the people at CitySearch to give his restaurant a favorable rating.

The Appetizer Platter consisted of several different deep fried morsels, including shrimp, chicken, crab puffs, egg rolls, along with some barbequed pork. The platter was almost overflowing and was enough for five or six people. The batter on the chicken was thicker and had more substance than the meat that it surrounded. It was quite bready and not crunchy. The crab puffs, though were excellent. The dipping sauce that came along with the appetizers was not spicy at all, a red sauce with a very small dollop of mild mustard and some sesame seeds.

The Egg Flower Soup was a thick, glistening yellow liquid, with crunchy vegetables floating in every bite. I was fascinated that when I filled my spoon, the soup was perfectly still, not sloshing as soup usually does, but stable and almost jello-like. Almost. It was still soupy enough that it didn't gross me out. Until Jen found a hair in her soup. Not a long hair. It was probably an eyelash or an eyebrow hair. But it was still a hair.

I have had General Tso's Chicken at a lot of different restaurants and usually General Tso does a pretty good job of enlivening my mouth. I don't enjoy food that is so spicy that I can't taste it, but a little effort from the chiles is necessary to make it to the happy medium. They can't just lie there on the plate, listless and dead, eeking out the last bit of flavor left in their tired little bodies into the sauce. No, I need my chiles to be excited about where they are going and what they are doing. The chiles in my chicken were pretty much dried up. It's like when you go to use your cinnamon after a really long time and you open the jar and there's no smell. It's so old that it doesn't have any smell at all. I think that's what happened to my chiles. I hope they weren't as old as the restaurant.

The fortune cookie was good, though. I actually got a fortune, and not a piece of advice: "You will have many friends when you need them." That was nice.

Who votes on CitySearch, anyway? Does anyone know? Or is it one of the mysteries of the universe? Hung Far Low would get a 3.4 at the very most from me. The hair in the soup is an automatic 4 point deduction, then taking the taste and consistency into consideration, it has to be that low. You do get a lot of food for your money, though, even if it is mediocre food.

Hung Far Low on Urbanspoon

May 9, 2006

Le Happy (1011 NW 16th Ave.)

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I (with my friends) arrived at Le Happy in NW Portland around 12:15 on a Sunday morning. The dark, candle-lit room was casually buzzing with friendly jabber bouncing off of the colorful walls. A group of about 10 people in the corner, all wearing very stylish skirts and suits leaned into a table, wrapping up a night out. Another couple was chatting quietly with a woman, their table up against the wall where three paintings of fried eggs hung. The woman, a lanky blonde wearing jeans, motioned to us and then said loudly over the chatter "Sit wherever you want - I'll be right with you."

She took her time finishing up her conversation and then wandered over to where we were sitting in the tiny restaurant. Behind us, a group of three women were showing the bartender their shoes, laughing loudly as he made smart-ass comments to them. The waitress squatted next to our table and asked us how we were doing. We looked tired, she said. We were. But we wanted crepes.

We ordered, amid the laughter, the loud music and entrancing candlelight that was slowly lulling me to sleep as we waited for our food. My friend picked up the candle and swirled the watery wax until the candle went out. The waitress, noticing that our table had gone dark, brought us a replacement.

For my dessert, I chose the most decadent crepe, called Spectac. And it was! A light, melty crepe filled with Nutella and bananas, in a puddle of Grand Marnier. Flambe. The Grand Marnier married the hazelnut and banana flavors perfectly in my mouth and then burned my virgin throat. I thought to myself that I could not possibly finish such a gluttonous dish at 1:00 in the morning. But the crepe seemed to be feeding me small amounts of giddy energy as I consumed bite after bite and laughed more and more at the rather dull conversation going on between my friends and I.

My friend took my car keys from me, said goodbye to our new friend the waitress and we headed home, markedly happier than when we had arrived.

Le Happy on Urbanspoon

May 7, 2006

Echo (2225 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.)

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In an effort to know our surrounding city more intimately, my friends and I set out to explore new venues for late-night menus and ended up at Echo in Northeast Portland.

Our table was by a window, a booth looking out at MLK Blvd., which was a nice quiet view for a Saturday night.

The waitress filled our skinny, tall water glasses from a pitcher laden with sliced cucumbers. A new experience, drinking cucumber water, but it was quite refreshing and left a summery taste in my mouth that cleaned my palate after each bite. The Diet Coke was very strong and had a bite of its own. The best I have had since I visited the Coke Museum in Atlanta ten years ago.

We ordered the Baked Crab and Artichoke Dip, the Grilled Pizza, and the Hummus Plate. The Crab and Artichoke dip came with a small chunk of Italian bread, which was quite spongy and thinly sliced and not stiff enough for the thick and hearty dip, making the dipping process a little awkward and slightly messy (even embarrassing at times!)

The Hummus Plate came with some excellent flatbread and the hummus itself was not shy. It stood out on the plate with the corner on flavor, a strong garlic taste, and complemented the olives, artichokes and flatbread quite well.

The Grilled Pizza was pretty much the same as the hummus plate... without the hummus. The same flatbread with a garlic base, topped with tomatoes, olives and a little cheese. It was not spectacular, but it was pleasant, nonetheless.

One of my favorite things about this restaurant was the menu, which was fastened onto slats of wood, tied together to make a book of sorts. The atmosphere at the restaurant Echoed the menus, classic with solid wood surrounding and intended to last a very long time.

The mix and match antique-looking china dishes were another shout-out from the chic modern-day Portland to the bygone era when people actually used delicate flower-adorned plates with gold rims.

Despite CitySearch's claim that it is a night spot for thirty-somethings, it was mostly filled with the chic senior citizen crowd of Portland. Maybe it was just that night. It was a good night. That night I was served the best Diet Coke in Portland. And the cucumber water. That was a great thing. Watch for it at my next party.

Echo on Urbanspoon