August 27, 2008

So this one time Lizzy said that 50 Plates rocks.

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I love tiny food. I really do. The fact that when I eat tiny food, I probably eat more food than if I ate big food has nothing to do with it. There's just something about stuffing an entire tiny burger into your mouth at once, instead of taking multiple bites of one gargantuan burger.

So imagine my pure delight when Ansley and I wandered into 50 Plates the other night and saw that they have bunches of different kinds of sliders. (Also, imagine my delight when I saw that there was a long table full of firefighters just behind us!) Chicken and waffle sliders (Roscoe's), pulled pork sliders (Carolina), beef burger sliders (Old Faithful, Tidy Joe), and one with fried green tomatoes, called The Lousy Hunter.

The waiter explained to us that 50 Plates was referring to 50 States - the menu draws from the best of American cuisine all over the country. The names of the food and the descriptions were just delightful. The 50 Plates Victory Garden salad - whatever is at the farmer's market tossed with our lemon, black pepper and maple dressing. The Buffalo Breast - So one day Joel said "why is it always just the wings?"

A menu with a sense of humor? A menu that makes me laugh and salivate? They had me at "So one day..."

I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone and ordered Buffalo Tamale Pie (cornbread crusted organic bison, cheddar, tomatoes, corn, olives from our hearth oven). I have only had buffalo one other time in my life and it was as a burger. I did not like it that time. At all. It was tough, chewy, and had an odd flavor.

But this time, the buffalo was tender and fell apart as my fork touched it. The flavors of the buffalo, cheddar and vegetables were so perfect together, as if they had been simmering for a whole day. The cornbread was moist and a little crunchy on the edges, just as it should be. One bite of the tamale pie yielded at least two minutes of happy dancing for my taste buds. It tasted like an upscale version of this dish my mom used to make. It tasted like it was homemade from my kitchen if I had the recipe and if I had the guts to cook with buffalo. Which I don't.

Because Ansley is so nice, she let me have a bite of The Lousy Hunter that she ordered. The tomato relish on top of a crispy, thick sliced, fried green, tangy tomato with goat cheese on a tiny toasted bun? It was a hallelujah moment for me. It melted all together with one tomato-y bite - tomato nirvana.

And, when they brought us the check, they also brought us out two spatulas with chocolate batter on them. OMG. They had me at chocolate. Hell, they had me when I walked in the door and saw the menu. They had me when I tasted the food. And they'll have me again. Many times.

50 Plates
333 NW 13th Ave

50 Plates on Urbanspoon

August 26, 2008

Viva La Comunidad!

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I know, I know. Just how many good causes are there in Portland? Too many to count. But this one is a really good one. Hacienda. Their mission? To develop affordable housing and build thriving communities in support of working Latino families and others in Oregon by promoting healthy living and economic advancement.

How can you help? It's so easy. Do you like salsa music? Do you like Tamales? Then this is for you. Listen to music and eat tamales. Serving the community has never been easier or more enjoyable!

Hammy's In Heat, The Gypsy Breasts and the Maronite Lebanese Festival

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I am still alive. Strep is almost banished with two more days of antibiotics. To quench your thirst for the answers, here's how Lizzy survived the OHD, Part 2:

1. I stayed at my friend Laura's house (she has air conditioning) and ate Hammy's Pizza, which I've always wanted to order because hellooooo, they deliver until 4 am and they will even bring you a movie. How cool is that. As it happened, we ordered pizza at 8 at night and we didn't need a movie because we were watching Michael Phelps win his 8th gold medal. Oh and we also watched this little movie: In Search of a Midnight Kiss. I think I liked it. It was about internet dating. I could relate. Except for the part where they got together.

2. I went to Nordstrom and had the MAC girl give me new eyes. "You only wear ONE color on your eyes???" "I can tell what you do to your eyes, you don't even have to tell me. My roommate does the same thing." "Do you even wear eye liner?" $44 later, I had eye cream and concealer. What the hell. It was air conditioned.

3. Ate dinner at The Gypsy, where the waitress had a very low cut blouse on, with, let's just say, ummmmm... well, let's just say that 3 women were definitely not her target audience. Even so, it was such a sight that I found myself staring. Between the breasts and the American Idol-ish song on perpetual repeat, and the waiter that looked like the lead singer from the Boys Next Door, and the fact that I was getting sick with strep, I felt a little Twilight-Zone-ish. But then that seems kind of perfect for a place called The Gypsy. I did have some excellent mozzarella sticks that were housemade. I dug them.

4. As it cooled off, we found the Lebanese Food Festival at St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in SE Portland. They served great food and it was fun to watch the kids play some form of a golf game. One 5 year old who was clearly in charge said to a smaller child, "That is unacceptable. What makes you think that is okay?" Ahhhh, memories.

August 18, 2008

How Elizabeth May or May Not Have Survived the Heat

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Me and the heat. We are not friends. In fact, I would murder it if I could, like the parents in The Closer episode tonight, who loved their son, but had to kill him for the good of the world. That's how I feel about One Hundred Degrees (OHD).

OHD made my lip swell up, he turned my stomach, and OHD, who I suspect masquerades as strep in his spare time, bit me viciously on the throat like an evil vampire.

So what did I do? I fought OHD bravely (read: wearily and complainingly) with air conditioning, movies and good food.

I saw most of High Fidelity for the first time (I was dozing in and out while holding an ice pack on my throat) and happily woke up in time to see Jack Black singing Let's Get it On.

But before that, I totally chilled in the movie theater and watched Luke Wilson in Henry Poole is Here. Luke Wilson + Great Music + Extra Tired = Happy Dreams.

The rain and clouds are working hard to heal the sun damage. Praise the Good Lord. And I really do mean that. I still have a sore throat. Tomorrow the doctor will tell me if I will live or die. More later. I gotta get some sleep. OHD is gone. Finally.

August 11, 2008

Cheating On My Blind Date With Lincoln

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I used to be addicted to Agatha Christie murder mysteries. I was pretty good about just reading them straight through, until the last Hercule Poirot mystery (Curtain), when for some reason, I could not stop myself from reading the ending when I was only half-way through the book. Oh how I regretted that moment. I cheated. And it took all the glory out of the ending.

A couple of weeks ago, I was persuaded by my restless, impatient mind to cheat again. My restaurant group had a reservation at Lincoln, a restaurant that was so new, the menu wasn't even online. We had no idea what the prices were, what the food was like, and wasn't it exciting! Ansley even said it was like going on a blind date with food. Then about a week or so before we planned to go, the menu appeared on their website. I promised myself that I wouldn't look. I wanted to be surprised, to make capricious choices, to fully enjoy the spontaneity of the moment.

Theoretically, it was a good idea, but I couldn't wait. I looked. And I picked out what I was having that very second: hanger steak with anchovy butter and onion rings. We clicked, me and the hanger steak, from the very beginning. I knew that we were MFEO (made for each other). I dreamed about that steak all week and when Friday came, I was anxiously anticipating my "blind" date. I had already looked at Lincoln's picture and knew that he had all his teeth, did not wear a patch over one eye, held a job and did not hit his mother.

We started out exchanging pleasantries and getting to know each other. I knew right away that we were going to hit it off. Thyme flatbread with chicken liver pate and grilled bunching onions (dark, rich, fresh), deep fried skewers of mozzarella and bread (hot, melty, comfort), crispy potato and sage fritters (crispy on the outside, soft on the inside). The waitress brought us tons of amazingly chewy/crispy bread with a lot of butter and salt (bless you!)

As we waited for our entrees, I was getting nervous to see IRL (in real life) the steak of my dreams. I knew that I wouldn't just take a bite. Sometimes you just gotta live. I had enough of the pleasantries and when my steak arrived, I threw caution to the wind and went straight to second base. It didn't disappoint - cooked perfectly medium rare, with a salty, slightly anchovied butter melting along side and light, crispy, well-cooked onion rings. Other people had cheesy risotto with summer vegetables, the lamb chop, and half a chicken. I didn't bother flirting with other people's dates. I was crushing hard on mine.

After the steak, we talked about it, and decided to go all the way. It was peach ice cream with homemade butterscotch sauce for me. The hot butterscotch slithered down the fresh peach ice cream seductively. The sauce pooled at the bottom of my ice cream dish and my favorite part of the whole night was delving into that peach laced stickiness with my spoon. Sweet, slightly salty and a little twinge of fresh peach.

Well, I don't know what else to say. Lincoln was cheeky and just as handsome as his picture. Maybe next time I'll have more restraint, but it's not likely.

P.S. I don't regret cheating.

Lincoln Restaurant on Urbanspoon

August 5, 2008

Mummy Dearest ***SPOILER ALERT***

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Few movies have reached the hysterical heights of Free Willy and Pearl Harbor. Thankfully, tonight I can add one more movie to my list of entertaining laugh-fests- The Mummy Returns On Another Continent, With a Replacement Wife and a Grown-Up Son.

It starts out with "Once upon a time, there was a Chinese Emperor..." Yada yada, you get the picture. Then, suddenly, we see a brunette Maria Bello (not a good look for you, Maria) speaking with what could be the worst British accent on film (not a good sound for you, Maria). She's reading from her new novel, The Mummy Returns. Then it's Q and A time from the audience. "Mrs. O'Connell, how have these adventures changed you?" (Or something like that). She says with a smirk, "I think I can honestly say, I'm a whole different person." Da bum bum. Good move Rachel Weisz, good move.

Then there's the grown up son, who's quite a ladies' man, oh and he also dug up the Chinese mummy. He happens to run into his parents who are on a secret mission and 1-star dialogue ensues:

"Alex. O'Connell. You. Get. On. The. Back. Of. This. Horse. This. Minute."

"Dad, I'm sorry I blamed you and mom for bringing back the Emperor."

"She speaks Yeti?"

Various size and stamina jokes relating to guns, that I can't quite get my brain to remember.

And then a great plot twist, wherein Father and son find out that the only way to kill the mummy is to strike him in the heart with a certain knife. Then they plan to hit him and blow him up and hit him again to stop him. Even though they know that they only way to kill him is with the knife.

Then I start getting bored. Yada, yada, yada, terra cotta army comes to life, yada yada, yada, the Emperor turns into a three headed dragon, yada, yada, yada, the other dead army comes to life, blah blah, they stab the mummy with the knife and he dies. Everyone lives happily ever after.

Say what you want about trashy Summer movies - I laughed harder tonight watching this than I have watching an actual comedy.... ummm.... in a very long time. Thank you, Hollywood, for bad acting, bad hair and bad accents. And most of all, thank you for the Mummy, who can simultaneously roar and rip pieces of his face off to throw at the humans who are trying to bring him down. You've made my night.

August 3, 2008

My Tongue Is Delighted

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The first time I had a macaron from Ken's Artisan Bakery, it was a favor from a baby shower. I picked up my chocolate spice macaron on the way out the door. It looked so enticing that before we were out of the driveway, the little cellophane bag was open and the fluffy sweetness was in my mouth.

As I was licking my fingers, some of the other guests walked past us on their way out, seeing my tongue fleet in and out, not allowing one iota of sugar to escape. But I didn't really care. The taste of the cookie was too creamy, chewy and chocolate-y to be squashed by embarrassment. From that moment on, I wanted more.

Saturday, my new roommate and I decided to head to Ken's to check out the morning fare of baked goods. My tongue was practically jumping out of my mouth as I saw that they had Apricot Macarons, in addition to the Chocolate Spice ones. I ordered one of each and a cannele. Oh and a fresh cherry tart. Ansley ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and a macaron of her own.

As we sat, not so discreetly eavesdropping on the people beside us plan their business floorplan, and eating our sweets, the wind blew through the open retractable wall and I savored the sweet summer morning. The cherries were tart atop a sweet cream, and the cannele, a sweet spongy mini bundt cake-like pastry was just perfect. The macarons - I took them home, only to savor them after my lunch later on in the afternoon. Even though I had tasted them before, they properly stunned my tastebuds with their subtle spiciness and their overtly first-place-in-the-world-of-macarons chewy sweetness.

The grilled cheese, which I was so grateful to have a bite of, was gloriously gooey and cheesy - a french cheese, similar to brie, generously slabbed and melted atop walnut bread and toasted with a panini press. This was heaven. Finger-licking heaven.

Thanks, Ken. Please don't ever leave Portland. Please.

Ken's Artisan Bakery on Urbanspoon