March 31, 2008

Lunching at Bitchport: The Blue Tangerine

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Working south of the city, I sometimes meet up with my fellow suburban workers for lunch at Bridgeport Village, a.k.a. Bitchport.

Friday, my friend Erin and I hit up The Blue Tangerine for a little Mediterranean food for lunch. Free appetizer with two entrees - we were excited. We got a huge dish of tzatziki with pita bread. It was appropriately tangy. It was way too much sauce, though for the amount of bread and indeed for any two people. It probably could have served four or five, easily.

I ordered the gyro and Erin had the kebob - both were very tasty, though not spectacular. Though I do have to say that the roasted tomato served with my sandwich WAS spectacularly perfect - seasoned just right, no salt and pepper needed. Thank you for that. And I do love their dishes! Crate and Barrel according to the waiter - I happen to have the same appetizer plates!

It was Mediterranean food for reasonably reasonable prices, considering we were at Bridgeport Village. I think my sandwich was 9.50 and the kebob was 12 or something around that. The atmosphere was quiet and the service prompt and attentive. All of this was good for a non-stop talk fest for me and my former co-worker.

We walked outside when we were done, which prompted Erin to declare: "I hate this place. Let's never come here again. I hate all these rich stay-at-home-moms** with their fancy cars and clothes." Food - good. Bitchport - mood killer. Maybe because of their perfectly dyed hair or their pink Ann Taylor outfits or the ginormous Hummers that they drive. Maybe because they have the freedom and money that we all want and they spend it on excessive ridiculousness. Oh wait. I do that too. Except I'm not rich. Damn.

Maybe that's why I go there sometimes after work when I'm alone. I do like feeling rich for a couple of hours, doesn't everyone?

**Not that there's anything wrong with stay-at-home-moms. I love all of you dearly. Unless you leave your kids with a nanny while you spend all day shopping at Bitchport in your Hummer. Then, not so much.

Blue Tangerine on Urbanspoon

March 30, 2008

The Trouble with Teenagers

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I put on my favorite sweatshirt. It had one brown mouse on it and one white one. Both dressed like the main characters from Miami Vice. It said in pink lettering: Miami Mice. One of my best friends had given it to me as a going away present when we moved away from New Hampshire just a few weeks earlier. I thought it would show that I was totally in fashion if I wore something that referenced a popular tv show.

As I nervously walked into my first period class in 8th grade, a big guy with a letterman's jacket turned and looked at me. Or rather, at my shirt. He started laughing. "That is the dumbest sweatshirt I have ever seen." I was mortified. I pretty much hated public school in Olympia after that moment. Every class, every interaction was laced with self-doubt and the exaggeration of the pre-existing who-the-hell-am-I syndrome.

This past week I received an email from one of my sisters. Don't you know this guy? she asked. It was the letterman jacket. All grown up and an asset to society. He is now writing for the Seattle Times blog as he serves in Iraq. The feelings that came rushing back to me when I saw his picture were crazy. I couldn't believe how strongly I still felt about the confusion, the self-hatred, the insecurities that enveloped me during those days of teenage-dom.

As my eyes stung with tears and I tried to reconcile these feelings of mortification with the feelings of wow, this guy is serving the country and I should be grateful to him, I came to the realization that most teenagers are wobbly on their self-discovery feet - it wasn't only me who had the who-the-hell-am-I syndrome. Maybe even letterman jacket had it. Maybe he didn't really know what he was saying, those times he made fun of me. Maybe he was just as confused as I was.

Yesterday I went to Cinema 21 and watched Gus Van Sant's new Portland-based movie, Paranoid Park. Walking out of the theater, I had a bad taste in my mouth. Not only because I didn't put enough salt on my popcorn, but because I had just spent 84 minutes watching insecure, unintelligent teenagers screwing up their lives. There is a murder twist somewhere in the midst of this film about confused teenagers. But that is kind of a minor point.

The film was beautifully shot in Portland. Shots of Half and Half, The House of Louie and the Hawthorne Bridge made me feel at home in the movie, and made me feel like I knew about these kids, their homes, the type of people that they were.

The main character, seemingly devoid of emotion if facial expression is any indicator, is in every shot, slumping in his seat, just hanging out, strutting with his pants hanging down, his plaid boxers showing, his face totally blank. It's the moment, when no one else is around, when he almost calls his dad, when he sits and buries his face in his hands, that one moment that shows the audience that this kid is smoldering with anger and regret, but he can't let it out. He can't let his mother know, the cops know, his dad know. He can't let them know that he accidentally killed someone.

It was the most powerful moment in the film, because that was when I related to him. That was the moment that I realized that he is not so different from me. Not because I have killed someone (I haven't), but because I have felt that strange vaccuum of emotion that so envelopes you when you are a teenager.

We are all insecure, unintelligent teenagers at some point, even the smartest of us. And life doesn't turn out the way we think it will. As teenagers, who really thinks with any sincerity I will fight a war, I will be a writer, I will kill someone.

As I have processed through my opinions of this film over the past 24 hours or so, I have decided that I did like it after all - as a well-done film that portrays teenage life the way I remember it and as part of my hometown.

Paranoid Park is being shown nightly at 7:45 and 9:25 at Cinema 21 through April 3rd.

Cinema 21

616 NW 21st Ave.


March 28, 2008

There's Pastrami in My Fries

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I saw on Portland Food and Drink earlier this week that Kenny and Zuke's has a new menu. So I gathered an emergency dining group together to test it out. My dining companions didn't come for me, though. No. I had nothing to do with it. It was three words: Pastrami Cheese Fries. Yes, I said Pastrami Cheese Fries.

The other big change to Kenny and Zuke's menu is that their dinner specials, which previously had only been available on certain nights, are now available every night. This is a halle-freakin-lujah moment for me. If you only knew how many Wednesday nights I went to Kenny and Zuke's and remember how much I wanted to taste their fried chicken, fried to order in duck fat, which was only served on Tuesday nights.

Happy happenstance indeed. Chicken Pot Pie, Grandma's Goulash, and now multiple selections for Reuben sandwiches - this is an unloved child's dream. Every dish is one big hug from a mother figure (a.k.a. that roll of fat around your middle).

But I digress. I really came here tonight to talk about the Pastrami Cheese Fries. Big plate. Lots of fries. Shimmering cheese. Red bits of pastrami, scattered throughout which, if I grabbed the fries just right, would catch some cheese on the way out, and sink together into the pool of mustard on my plate before I quickly and efficiently shoved it in my mouth. Good cheese. Excellent Patrami. And a nice little ménage à trois with a plate of crispy, fresh, hot fries.

The fried chicken was crispy, flavorful and hot with my mashed potatoes, appropriately homemade-ish lumpy, with brown gravy that looked comforting, and tasted better.

I was going to end this post here and then I remembered that I actually had apple pie, too! Holy hell, I thought I did pretty well on my diet that night. Clearly I am delusional. Anyhow, the pie crust was dense and buttery and the apple filling tasted like my mom's homemade applesauce.

And now my sister Erika is jealous. She said she hasn't had good pastrami since 1996! She needs to come visit Kenny and Zuke.

Kenny and Zuke's on Urbanspoon

P.S. Kenny and Zuke's has the longest list of sodas available than any other place I've been. So if you are a root beer snob or a cola connoisseur you should check out their menu.

A Little Formatting Change

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and try to make things a little more interesting because it's getting so boring on my blog that I'm falling asleep. So I'm going to throw in some gripping, saliva inducing titles and move the restaurant information to the end of the post for your reference. Eventually I'll organize all the posts so that you can click on types of foods, $ signs, etc. But egads that's a lot of work and tech savvy and that might take a while.

Anyhow, while I'm shaking things up, feel free to tell me you hate it, love it or really don't give a crap what I do with it. I'm all for feedback.

Thanks, devoted readers. Now go eat.

March 24, 2008

Iorio (912 SE Hawthorne)

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Iorio. A charming dinner at the bar. Beet salad, with shredded beets, red and golden, goat cheese and Oregonzola. Fresh seasonal ravioli. Warm foccacia bread with butternut squash spread. Friendly service with a waiter that sings while he works.

I am looking forward to going back. What? They have cooking classes?! Sign me up. Oh and you should make reservations, cause they were packed for the night, they were just nice enough to squeeze us in at the bar.

Iorio on Urbanspoon

Cheap Eats 2008!

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There are so many reasons that I love the Willamette Week. Cheap Eats is at the top of my list. Yay!

March 20, 2008

Flavourspot (N. Lombard)

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This past Saturday was a little dismal and cold. I wore a t-shirt and sweats and blasted the heat in my car. My sister wore a shirt, a sweater, two coats and a scarf when I picked her up at her apartment. Within seconds, the window was open - it's so hot, she said. And so we had the heat with the fresh air, one of my favorite feelings, though totally not energy efficient.

We drove up the freeway to North Portland to Flavourspot, a little waffle stand that gets a whole lot of press as having the best waffles in the city. There was a small line outside, but only 3 or 4 deep - not too bad, which is good, since I started shivering once I stepped outside. My sister on the other hand was warm. Go figure.

On the side of the stand, which looks very permanently fixed in the Videorama parking lot, is a sign that says: Free Wi-Fi is penetrating your body. Try it with your laptop. I like that kind of edginess at 9 in the morning.

I ordered the waffle with maple cream and sausage. My sister ordered the one with butter and powdered sugar. After a week of protein bars and yogurt for breakfast, I was wanting a warm waffle like a crazy woman.

We watched the families with dogs and babies come and order, watched as people picked up their shiny tin-foil wrapped breakfasts. We waited, maybe about 10 minutes or so, me doing the cold weather jig to keep warm.

Finally, it was our turn. A waffle sandwich of sugary maple cream and salty breakfast sausage. The waffle was warm, crisp and sweet on its own, before I even tasted the maple cream. Then when I took a full bite, the tastes blended harmoniously, salty and sweet. I wasn't going to eat the whole thing. I had promised myself. But all the way home I kept sneaking just one more bite. And then there was none.

It did warm me up, that waffle. My sister's waffle was simply delicious, but a little on the colder side of lukewarm. But she still liked it an awful lot.

Flavourspot also has a number of specialty drinks and coffees. I think you should go there. And try all their flavors. It seems like a good breakfast adventure. A new flavor every day. That sounds nice.

Flavour Spot on Urbanspoon

March 16, 2008

Café Castagna (1758 SE Hawthorne St.)

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For so long I have been hearing on all the foodie discussion boards and blogs about how Café Castagna has the best burger in the city of Portland. A couple of weeks ago I decided to verify that statement.

And I declare: it's true. Thick, beefy burger cooked medium rare, with pickles that tasted homemade. It was delightful. And the mess of fries I got with it - crispy and thin. Just right.

I don't actually eat burgers very often because I don't find them to be a particularly interesting food. But when done right, they can be very tasty. And I found this to be extremely tasty.

I know some of you might be saying, "Wait a minute, missy! How can you say if this is the best burger in Portland when you just said you don't eat them very often?" And to you I say, Well, because it tasted better than any damn burger I have had pretty much anywhere, so in the world of Lizzy Dishes, I say it is the best.

My friend ordered the house-made Italian sausages - one very smooth, one not so much. Both of them very good. I can't describe the taste very well, because, well, the memory is blotted out by the memory of my burger. I do remember thinking that they were excellent, though.

I do remember the taste of the chocolate pot de creme that I ordered for dessert - a rich, dark chocolate with the mellowing touch of whipped cream, served with a fennel shortbread. A great finish to the meal. Sigh.

Cafe Castagna on Urbanspoon

March 13, 2008

Eat Out and Help Children

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My friend Ansley emailed me about the Tap Project today. What a great idea!

"Beginning Sunday, March 16 through Saturday, March 22, restaurants will invite their customers to donate a minimum of $1 for the tap water they would normally get for free. For every dollar raised, a child will have clean drinking water for 40 days."

Here's a list of Portland restaurants participating. Let's give them our business this next week and raise some money for clean drinking water!

¿Por Qué No?
23Hoyt Restaurant & Bar
3 Doors Down Cafe & Lounge
A Cena
Acadia Bistro
Acorn Cafe
Alberta St Oyster Bar and Gril
Apizza Scholls
Arleta Library Bakery Cafe
Basta's Trattoria
Bay 13
Blueplate Soda Fountain
Cafe Allegro
Castagna Cafe
Cup and Saucer Cafe
Cup and Saucer Cafe North SE
Cup and Saucer Cafe SE
Daily Grill, Portland
Dove Vivi
Dragonfish Asian Cafe
East India Co. Grill & Bar
Fire on the Mountain Buffalo Wings
Francis Restaurant
Geno's Grill
Gilt Club
Gino's Restaurant
Half and Half Cafe
Hot Lips Pizza (1)
Hot Lips Pizza (2)
Hot Lips Pizza (3)
Hot Lips Pizza (4)
Il Piatto
Iron Horse Restaurant
Jade Lounge
Justa Pasta
Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
La Buca
La Calaca Comelona
Lauro Kitchen
Le Pigeon
Mamma Mia
Masu Sushi
Matchbox Lounge
Mekong Grill
Meriwether's Restaurant
Mother's Bistro and Bar
Noble Rot
Nuestra Cocina
Paley's Place Bistro & Bar
Piazza Italia
Pinocchio Bar and Restaurant
Podnah's Pit BBQ
Pok Pok
Red Star
Rontoms Lounge
Salty's on the Columbia
Savoy Tavern & Bistro
Screen Door Restaurant
Seven Virtues Coffeehouse
Siam Society
Simpatica Dining Hall
Someday Lounge
Tabla Mediterranean Bistro
The Daily Cafe in the Pearl
Toro Bravo
Trebol Mexican Restaurant
Veritable Quandary
Vino Paradiso Wine Bar & Bistro
Wildwood Restaurant and Bar

March 12, 2008

Pok Pok (3226 SE Division)

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So have I ever told you how I like things quick and dirty? Give it to me straight. Give it to me fast. Give it to me now. Sometimes this even applies to food. Forget the artful appetizer, the beautiful entree, the two hour meal time. Just give me the food already. All of it.

Pok Pok delivered. Twice. Now they are in my quick and dirty little black book of places to go when I am really hungry and want good food fast (okay fast after a bit of a wait for a table).

So let me just give you a quick and dirty rundown of the two meals I ate:

Limeade: Warmish, salty-ish, delish

Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings (mild): Crack cocaine for chicken wing lovers

Khao Soi Kai (chicken curry soup): tender noodles, chicken off the bone - I couldn't stop eating it.

House Roasted Peanuts: Salty, spicy, warm - careful of the dried chiles - I accidentally ate one
and lost my voice for a minute.

Papaya Pok Pok: Who knew that papayas could be so hot?

Hoi Thawt (crispy crepe with mussels): Crispy, chewy (good chewy), fresh

Grapefruit Drinking Vinegar: My new addiction. I wonder if I can concoct at home?

Muu Paa Kham Waan (boar collar): Arrrrgggh! (Had to do that) Deeply spicy and complemented with chilled salted mustard greens. I want to eat this with my hands all night long, with roars in the background.

Muu Sateh (pork loin skewers): Tender, tasty.

Okay, I know I haven't covered everything, but seriously, this is so much food and I'm embarrassed that I tasted all of it in only two meals! Also, I can't possibly think of any more adjectives to describe the kick-ass food. The service was fast and impeccable, and it needed to be - the food was disappearing fast. Pok Pok is richly spicy - spicy that you can taste for hours later and in your dreams that night and even if your taste buds are gone from the heat, you will want more.

Pok Pok on Urbanspoon

March 10, 2008

Pine State Biscuits (3640 SE Belmont St.)

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Biscuits were one of the first things that I learned to bake. I am a bread fiend, so quick access is important sometimes when you need that dense serving of carbs fast. First I learned how to make baking powder drop biscuits. Those are okay when you are in a real hurry, but nothing compares to the cream biscuits I learned to make that rise a couple of inches high as they bake until golden brown.

They split easily because they are so flaky and buttery. This is by far the best biscuit to use on top of a chicken pot pie. But the best way to serve them is plain, with butter and jam. Hot. Right from the oven. Or with a pile of sausage gravy on top, yeah, that would be fine too.

I'm so happy that Pine State Biscuits opened up a real-live store. Their popularity at the Portland Farmers Market propelled them into a storefront. Halle-freakin-lujah. So Saturday morning when I met a couple of friends for breakfast at Pine State, I decided to go for the gravy. Spicy sausage gravy, with paprika (I think) sprinkled on top of the biscuit, oh yeah, and the fried egg over-easy. So warm. So solid. Such a freakin good meal with such complex, heavy-hitting taste.
They have no juice, only this Cheerwine soda that really isn't that great, but it makes me happy to look at the bottle and you can't help but be in a good mood when you are drinking red sugar at 8 in the morning. It's coffee or soda here, folks. Oh and water.

It was a packed and I'm sure it will stay packed for a while. Great biscuits are hard to come by. These are de-light-ful.

Pine State Biscuits on Urbanspoon

March 6, 2008

Ristorante Roma (622 SW 12th Ave.)

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I'm not really into politics anymore. I am disenchanted by politicians. But somehow, when you get a group of friends together, at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and the discussion becomes a little passionate and political over a tartufo or a panna cotta, well, things just get a lot better.

Such was the other night at Ristorante Roma. I wasn't too hungry, so I had minestrone soup, which was deliciously bean-y and chock full of vegetables. I tasted the spaghetti carbonara, peppery and bacon-y, the ravioli, rich and flavorful and the pappardelle, sweet and creamy with sausage.

We jabbed politicians, confessed our reasons for voting for _____ and confessed our confusion, while we tasted the exquisite desserts. The tartufo, a chocolate powerball of hazelnuts and some kind of creme, and the panna cotta, looking beautiful with the nectarines and caramel sauce. We agreed it looked much better than the "vasectomy on a plate" as the waitress at the Wonder Cafe called it one time. As the conversation turned a bit more... um... sexy, the lights were turned down and the closed sign up just as they gave us the check. Great timing. There is nothing better. Here's to good friends!

Ristorante Roma on Urbanspoon

March 2, 2008

Mother's Bistro (212 SW Stark Ave.)

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Oh this is long overdue. I can't believe I haven't written about Mother's before. My sister had a birthday breakfast there about a month ago, with my mom, both grandmas and our sister. It was a good time! I have to say though. They have a policy about not seating you until your whole party is present, which I totally understand. But they were not flexible at all considering we had one 98-year old and one 89-year old, who both need assistance walking down the street. That was a little disappointing.

But the food and the service once were were seated were great. My sister had made flower arrangements and brought jars of lemon curd for everyone, which the waitress ooh-ed and ahh-ed over. They brought her some complimentary crunchy French Toast with candles in it for her birthday. Luckily, we all had a bite. Very hey-mom-let's-put-corn-flakes-in-the-French-Toast-ish. It was delicious.

I ordered the biscuits and gravy, which were pretty good. I did like my grandma's pancakes better, though, with coconut in them. Those were really great. My mom got the eggs benedict, which was good, but the hollandaise seemed a little gloppy. It tasted great though.

I've eaten dinner at Mother's before, but not for ages. I do remember their pot roast and their mac and cheese being delightful.

So for all you people who have been to Mother's before, what's your favorite?

Mother's Bistro & Bar on Urbanspoon

Baker and Spice Bakery (6330 SW Capitol Highway)

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My sister bought this cake for a friend's surprise party last weekend. Baker and Spice Bakery did a great job of customizing this cake with a Vespa - and as it turns out, the pastry chef knew the birthday boy! I'm definitely going to be checking out more of their sandwiches and pastries in the near future.