May 28, 2008

The Sturgeon Virgin and the Fake Arrest

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Friday night. NW Portland. Andina Restaurant. Atmosphere busy and elegant. But wait. What's that out the window? A guy in a truck. A police car. Are they patting him down. Yep. Oh we'd like water and Diet Coke please. Nice. Oh and some Conchas a la Parilla ( grilled diver scallops with a garlic lime butter sauce and crispy onions) and Papa a la Huancaina (yellow potato slices in a sauce of ají Amarillo and ricotta cheese, served cold) for appetizers.

Is that
his girlfriend in the front seat doing scratch-its? Here's your water. What's happening out there?

We repeat the whole story. The most important part: the girlfriend is nonchalantly doing scratch-its while her boyfriend is being arrested. That is totally broken.

Wait. Is the policeman winking at the guy he is arresting? Odd.

Scallops are amazing, buttery, flavorful. Potatoes are lovely palette pleasers. Jeff and I both order the special, which has to do with sturgeon and a lovely sauce over sweet potatoes. Ansley orders
Dorado al Rocoto y Kion (roasted mahi mahi over a shiitake mushroom, smoked bacon, and bok choy broth, topped with slivers of ginger, rocoto, and scallion basted with smoking sesame oil, served with asparagus-quinoa fried rice).

The truck guy is getting away! With
his scratch-it obsessed girlfriend! The cops retreat to their car making small talk, and maybe even a laugh. Does anyone else think this is weird? Our waitresses do. Extra points for them.

We get our main courses. Is it lame of me to just say Yum? Look at the picture for heaven's sake! It's beautiful. There was a tiny hard boiled egg (quail egg?) on top of the onions and purple sweet potatoes. I was a sturgeon virgin before that night. I'm so glad I gave it up. It was so worth it.

The nice Peruvian lady owner comes over and talks to us. "I guess I don't need to ask you how your food was! The plates are all clean!" She tells us how we need to go to Peru to visit and how beautiful it was.

Turns out, Indiana Jones was headed to Peru on Friday night and we went along with him. I bet it would be much more beautiful in person. Do you think the food is as good there as it is at Andina?

Andina on Urbanspoon.
Lunch and Dinner
Seven days a week

May 27, 2008

New Popsicle Flavor Pops

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The Sol Pops boys have a new flavor: Lemon Basil. I had one. And it was even better than the Cucumber Lime Jalepeno one. Get there early though. On the one sunny day we had, they were sold out by the time I got there. The popsicles are still good at 8:30 in the morning, though - don't worry. I think it's at least one fruit serving. If you're counting. Saturday at the PSU Portland Farmers Market.

A Rare and Necessary Time

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Soapbox time. I have written about Write Around Portland a lot. Because I love it and I believe in it so much. You'll not find a more inspiring place to be on Wednesday night, than the First United Methodist Church, where dozens of Write Around Portland participants will read their work from the new anthology, A Rare and Necessary Time. I know that it might seem drastic to say that this reading will change your life, but it also might seem true if you come.

You should check it out. You won't regret it.

From the Write Around Portland website:

Spring Anthology Release Party & Community Reading - Wednesday, May 28

Be the first to hear the extraordinary writing of our spring workshop participants at our community reading, celebrating the release of our new anthology, A Rare and Necessary Time. Readers include participants from our workshops for veterans, women with metastatic cancers, adults living with disabilities, at-risk youth, transgender adults and many others.

Date: Wednesday, May 28th

Time: 6:30 - 8:30pm

Location: First United Methodist Church - Collins Hall, 1838 SW Jefferson [MAP] at the Goose Hollow TriMet Max stop.

The reading is free, ADA-accessible and everyone is welcome. Light snacks and drinks provided, and anthologies will be available for purchase. Financial donations and donations of new journals welcome and appreciated.

May 26, 2008

Long Weekend Movie Roundup

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: My favorite line from the movie was Indiana Jones to his Raiders of the Lost Ark amore, Marion, referring to his past girlfriends: "They weren't you, baby." Which is exactly how I felt about this movie. It wasn't him. It was an old, overacted, forced version of the Indiana Jones I used to love. It wasn't you, baby. The stunts though, those were killer.

The Visitor: Subtle, intense, lovely. Richard Jenkins is amazing, smoldering emotion, and releasing himself to love strangers and changing his life because of it. I loved it. Inspiring.

Baby Mama: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are laugh-out-loud-kick-the-seat-in-front-of-you hilarious. And they made me want to have lots of babies.

May 21, 2008

Holy Yakuza, Batman!

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I've never ever been in a mood where I say, "Gee whiz, I am really craving sushi. I just have to have some." Now mind you that I have said that about probably every other kind of food, but just not sushi. It kind of scares me, sushi. I always get a picture in my head of someone doubled over, throwing up into the garbage can. "Bad sushi," they say, heaving away, their face pale and stressed. Don't ask me why. My head is a mystery.

I am on the email list for Beast (which I am totally going to eat at sometime) and a couple of weeks ago, they mentioned their next door sister restaurant Yakuza in their newsletter. They said that Yakuza, though formerly a full fledged sushi bar, was now more "Japanese gastro pub" with the best burger in Portland. Hmmm. Intriguing. I take the claim of best burger seriously. And I take it as something that I must investigate.

I got there before my friends did and ordered an appetizer. Fried goat cheese with caramelized onions and honey with grilled bread. I'm not sure that I really need to describe that any further because, hello! Fried goat cheese? Yeah.

I asked the waitress to surprise me with a drink. Muddled apricots, nutmeg and vanilla with soda water. Yum. So good. When Jeff arrived, we ordered the grilled asparagus with pistachio pesto. I so love asparagus. It was delicious and beautiful. I wish you could have seen it before we devoured it.

Kristin arrived and we ordered sushi. Now I can't remember the name of it, but it had Japanese eggplant and avocado in it. Oh my gosh - it was amazing - the flavors were strong and intense and melded together to be a kind of super hero sushi, saving my mouth from boredom. Oh and we also had sashemi. I really have no idea what kind of fish it was, but it was delectable. I quite enjoyed it!

Unbelievably, we then ordered entrees. I ordered the burger. Jeff ordered the duck. Kristin ordered more sushi. I was totally full, but when they brought out the Kobe beef burger, piled high with goat cheese, arugula and potato crisps, the smell alone made me almost cry at the work of art in front of me. I gripped firmly and took a big bite. The flavors really ignited my taste buds beyond anything I have tasted before. I really mean that. There was something spicy in the burger and the subtlety of the goat cheese, the crunch of the potatoes and the crispness of the greens - all together, this beat out Cafe Castagna's burger by a long shot.

The duck was good, too (I only had a bite) but I'm super glad I ordered my burger. All night, I just kept thinking about my fairly boring week and how it had turned out to be quite exciting after all. Sushi, sashemi, goat cheese (fried!), and an amazing rich burger in one night. Awesome.

Yakuza Lounge on Urbanspoon

May 18, 2008

All We Could Do Was Sing

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I have a confession to make. For a while now, I've had this fantasy of moving to Alaska and having a wild, torrid affair with a handsome fisherman. I wasn't really sure why until this past Friday night, when I went and saw Port O'Brien at the Towne Lounge.

We walked past the sandwich board that said Towne Lounge and then underneath in cursive writing, "For Urban Sophisticates". I think that is some kind of a joke. When you walk into the smoky dive, there is really nothing sophisticated about it. The vinyl on the booths is torn, the tables look like they haven't been wiped off in a while and various types of people, from yuppies wearing stylish summer clothes to the everyday Portland people, wearing cut-offs and t-shirts, are standing around, waiting for the music. It is an intimate setting and that's why I like it - it's like going over to your friend's house for a concert in the family room (and it's not really any bigger than a family room).

I was so glad when I saw the second band take the small stage. The lead singer, with long stringy blonde hair and the winning-est smile I have ever seen, the bass player I think, with hipster glasses and a plaid shirt, another guitar player with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth - they were all playing intensely, energetically and singing with a mighty force. Somewhere in there was a really pretty girl playing the banjo along with them, though I couldn't see her at all from where I was standing. For the last song, which is apparently a favorite with their fans, they passed out washboards to the some of the audience and they all busted out this amazing jam session of a song. I wish I would have bought their album that night, because I've been wanting to re-live it, just a little bit.

Check out Port O'Brien's website and see if you don't want to move, too. Or at least buy their album.

Port O'Brien

Towne Lounge
714 SW 20th Place

May 17, 2008

Free Concert for the Democrats

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Just kidding. I'm sure anyone can attend this free concert in Waterfront Park tomorrow at 12:30. Oh. And there's going to be a big fat rally for Barack Obama following. The Decemberists. A likely future president of the United States. 75 degrees. Waterfront Park. 5,000,000 of your closest friends. See you there.

May 12, 2008

Why I Am So Glad That My Friend Sara Gave Me A Food Dictionary For My Birthday

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"So tell me about the Crudo of Hamachi. What is that exactly?"

"Crudo is another word for raw," the waitress said in a confident tone laced with a little snot.

"Oh. Gotcha. Okay." (Then silently in my head, but what is Hamachi?!) "Yeah, I'll take that, that sounds great." I mean, it was probably good, whatever it was. The foodies around the table had heard that Ten-01's Hamachi was excellent. And: It was. Once I found out what it was. (Fish.... the good kind.)

Second Course. Sweet Onion and Cauliflower Soup. What's not to like. Lamb sausage. Raisins. Almonds. Was there even cauliflower in it? Couldn't taste it if there was. And that's a good thing. The complementing ingredients dressed up that bland vegetable and made it dance like a princess on my tongue. (Wow, what a weird image I just got in my head.)

Third course. At 9:30 at night. After two and a half hours of talking about food, eating quite large portions of the first two courses, I got my steak. Okay, okay. It wasn't just a steak. It was: grilled cascade natural new york strip, warm fingerling potato salad, braised cippolini, harrisa bordelaise.

I hang out at Zupan's olive bar enough to know that cippolini onions are my friends. I thought I had had harrisa before, but couldn't put my finger on just quite what it was. And Bordelaise, yeah, no idea. But I for sure was NOT going to ask the waitress to explain it to me, lest she topple off the very tall horse she was riding around on. It sounded Julia-Child-ish. It wouldn't be bad.

No, indeed, it was intensely flavorful. The cippolini onions did not disappoint with their tangy sweetness and steak was cooked to a medium-rare perfection. Unfortunately, it fell like a rock in my stomach because I was already full and it was the middle of the night. Good leftovers!

Holy hell, yes, there's one more course. Stop. Please don't make me eat it. Sorbet? Okay, that sounds refreshing. Three scoops. With hazelnut cones. In a raspberry-rose sauce. Tongue curlingly sweet. Three bites. Done. So so so done.

I liked Ten-01. The food was really really amazing. And the bartender, when I told the waitress to surprise me with a non-alcoholic concoction, came up with a cucumber, tarragon, lime and chamomile drink that rocked. The service was horrifically slow, though and fairly inflexible.

One of our party had to leave at 9 and asked around 8:30 or so if they could start preparing the entrees, so she could eat her meal before she left. The waitress explained that everything had to be "fired up" together, so unfortunately they would try to hurry, but probably not. The person ended up leaving having only had two courses in two hours. Maybe that's just how it works and I'm just a glorified hick visiting restaurants way above my social range, but it would have been nice for them to try a little harder. We didn't get our entrees until an hour after she asked. That seems a little extreme.

And now, for your educational pleasure:

Hamachi (Seriola quinqueradiata), commonly known as yellowtail, is a prized, expensive, rich, flavorful fish in the jack and pompano family.

Harissa [hah-REE-suh] From Tunisia, this fiery-hot sauce is usually made with hot chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil.

Bordelaise sauce [bohr-dl-AYZ] A French sauce made with red or white wine, brown stock, bone marrow, shallots, parsley and herbs. It's usually served with broiled meats.

And to quote Scarlett O'Hara (kind of) - "As God is my witness, as God is my witness.... I'll never [eat ignorantly] again." Thanks, Sara!

Ten 01 on Urbanspoon

May 6, 2008

Margo-rita Incites Jealousy, Lust

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We all wanted a piece of her blistered, crunchy skin, slathered in tomato sauce and garlic, shimmering with mozzarella and fresh basil. She was beautiful. And she was all mine. Okay, fine, she belonged to my team, not just me.

There was nine of us all together, so we decided to break up into three teams and order three different pizzas around the giant square table in the back of Apizza Scholls. My team included Sara and Dave. Sara, a veteran diner of the restaurant, acted quickly. We should get the Margo-rita, she said. We agreed. First dibs on the pizza with the best personality - simple, but mature and well-seasoned. (Huh, that sounds suspiciously like me...)

Not that the other teams ordered shabby pizza - to my left was the Bacon Bianca, with fresh cheese and housemade bacon. And to my right was the pizza unknown - I can't remember what it was, because I didn't actually taste that one, but it was pretty.)

After we had each had a piece of Margo, the tangy tomato sauce, with the sweet fresh basil atop, we decided to be nice friends and share. "I wish I would have gotten that." "Margo sure is delicious." And other such comments were heard around the table. We were the champions of pizza. We had made the opposing teams jealous as they lusted after our prize pizza and wished there was enough for everyone. Simple tomato and mozzarella beat out bacon. Now that's an accomplishment, because really, doesn't bacon usually beat out anything? (Maybe that's only in my head, but I'm pretty sure I've heard Paula Deen say that once or twice.)

Of course, the other pizzas got eaten, too - in fact the Bacon Bianca was really great - A big strip of bacon right down the middle of my piece of pizza. Yah - I'm not going to find anything wrong with that.

At Apizza Scholls, they take only one reservation a night. We were lucky and scored a night that was free. Their service was prompt, their food was delicious. The crust, crispy and fresh from their volcano-hot ovens. In fact, I've been craving it ever since I left the restaurant. If I could have just one more piece of that Margo-rita. Mmmm. Yes. That is what I want out of life. One more piece.

Apizza Scholls on Urbanspoon

**Thanks for the pictures, Sara!

The Popsicle That Made Me Warm

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Saturday was cold and rainy. I know. What a shocker. But I went to the Farmer's Market at PSU to check out the fresh produce and to grab some breakfast. I tried to get warm by eating biscuits and gravy from Pine State, which by fat content alone should have been like a wool blanket. But I was still cold. And now I was in need of a drink to wash it all down. I couldn't find anything that looked refreshing. Then. I saw the Popsicle cart. Two guys (who were kind of adorable) hanging out, selling their popsicles, on a cold and rainy Saturday. "How you doing?" said the one behind the stand in a Joey-esque voice. "Is that a Cucumber Lime Jalepeno popsicle?" I asked. "Oh yeah," he said in a voice that believed that this popsicle was absolutely AWESOME. It sounded refreshing. That's what I wanted.

I licked the popsicle and found the taste of cucumber very light and palette cleansing after the heaviness of gravy. The lime gave the popsicle the sweetness that should by all means be in popsicles, but it was not over bearing - it was slight. But then, my mouth warmed as the spiciness of the jalepeno appeared and I was sold. This was the best damn popsicle I have ever had. The ingredient label lists only four ingredients: organic cucumbers, organic evaporated cane juice, organic lime juice, and jalepeno. I think this is one popsicle I can feel good about eating. And I might go back this Saturday and find them again. The guys at Sol Pops. I know I should try the other flavors, but the cucumber lime jalepeno popsicle kept me warm and if it's cold and rainy again, well then... I might just stick with that.

May 1, 2008

Breaking News... LadyConcierge Wins Big!

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Okay, it's not HUGE, but it IS a $50 gift certificate to Mercato! Congratulations to LadyConcierge, who has her own lovely blog about food. Drop me a line with your mailing address and I'll get the gift certificate in the mail to you. Thanks for reading and for playing!

Stay tuned for the next giveaway.... sometime.