March 26, 2009

The Wild Things are Almost Here

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I know I have had a lot of movie posts lately, but I am really excited about this one. I can't wait to take my nephews to see this.

March 25, 2009

Away We Go

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My sister Chelsea alerted me to this - another movie I am excited for. From writers Dave Eggers and his wife Vendela Vida, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Jon Krasinski and Maya Rudolph. Ummmm. Yep. Everyone I love in one movie. This comes out June 11th.

March 24, 2009

Don't Forget the Tap Project

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All this week at participating Portland restaurants.

March 22, 2009

A Jewel in the Freezer

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Have you tried Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches? Perfectly wonderful, handmade treats. Today I had the Dark Chocolate Cookie with Fresh Mint. The cookies are chewy and big. The ice cream is fresh and sweet.

I first discovered Ruby Jewel at the farmers' market and am delighted that they are now available at Zupan's, Whole Foods, New Seasons and Fred Meyer. You will never go back to those regular old ice cream sandwiches again.

With such flavors as Lemon with Honey Lavender, Double Chocolate Cookie with Peanut Butter and Cinnamon Chocolate Cookie with Espresso, why would you want anything else?

March 19, 2009

Finger-Licking Good

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If you drive far out to Driftwood, Texas, there's this great place for barbecue. Ansley gave me the heads up about Salt Lick BBQ and when our first BBQ experience was crap, well, we just happened to be a stone's throw from Driftwood.

Salt Lick is far down the beaten path and besides a few residential areas nearby, there's not much around.

You know the place has to be good, though because when we drove up, the place was packed. On a Monday afternoon. In the middle of nowhere. And they have all these rules: cash only, your time is limited to 1.5 hours, no separate checks, gratuity is added, bring your own beer. All of these rules and the place is still packed.

The atmosphere is incomparable. Check out the pit - have you ever seen anything so beautiful? Even if you didn't like barbecue, you'd get a little crush on it just from looking at that thing.

Ordering is pretty simple. I got a trio of meats, ribs, brisket and sausage with potato salad, coleslaw and beans. This time around, the rib meat fell off the bones easily - no slipping out of my hands this time! The sausage was deliciously peppery and the brisket was absolutely divine. The potato salad was more like mashed potatoes, but cold and with a splash of vinegar - it was tangy and absorbed a little heat from the sauce. The beans were dense and deep with flavor. The coleslaw I think had fennel seeds in it and it was so crunchy and fresh - almost Asian in taste with the dressing.

Amie ordered the chicken, which when she got the plate, you could tell had been freshly carved. This here was fresh food.

We ate our fill and left full. Isn't that the point?

The Salt Lick Bar B-Q on Urbanspoon

Have you seen this person?

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Some one from my high school class sent me a link for a cause on Facebook the other day. Normally I ignore stuff on Facebook, because then you end up spamming your friends, etc. But last night I clicked on this particular link on accident. It was a cause to help Find Nancy Moyer.

Nancy was in my high school class and middle school class. She was always nice to me - a lovely person. She disappeared from her home in Tenino, Washington on March 6th under suspicious circumstances. She has two little girls. I don't know what I can do to help, besides post about her here in the hopes of getting her picture out there, just in case. For more information, go to

March 18, 2009

Tap your compassion for some thirsty kids.

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A couple of years ago I walked a half marathon in hot weather. I was so freaking tired. And thirsty. My mouth was dry, my lips cracked. My throat hurt from the dryness of the air. What I would have given for a glass of water at that moment. Of course, when I finished the race, I had as much water as I wanted. But for many children, there is no water, no matter how thirsty they get. I can't imagine being in that thirsty state every day all day. Can you?

Millions of children go without clean, safe water every day. And even when you are here, in our lovely city of Portland, you can help bring clean, safe water to children in need all over the world through The Tap Project.

In many Portland restaurants, the week of March 22 - 28, you can pay $1 or more for the tap water that you normally get for free and that money will go to UNICEF to bring good water to these children who need it.

In these times, money is precious and not easily spent - but just once during that week, please, eat at one of the participating restaurants in Portland and add $1 to your bill for your tap water. One dollar will provide safe drinking water for one child for 40 days. Forty days. You can do that.

At the Gristmill.

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Our second and last night in Greune, we ate at the Gristmill Restaurant. The other guests at the mansion, who we had met over breakfast, were raving about it. It is huge - 10 distinct dining areas they said. We were taken through the maze back to the area with the boars heads on the walls.

I had heard a lot of great things about the chicken fried steak, so I decided to go with that. I also ordered a Caesar salad to start off. The salad was really great - hardly any croutons and tiny pieces of tomatoes throughout. The star of the salad was the dressing, which was not too heavy, but peppery and light and filled my mouth with intense flavor.

The chicken fried steak was really good - the fried crust was really perfect. It was thick and crunchy and even when smothered in gravy, stood on its own, not falling apart. The steak was tender and flavorful.

We ended up sharing the Jack Daniels Pecan Pie, which was warm, with melted chocolate chips throughout, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I'm glad we shared it - I was so full.

We walked back to our room and slept off the delicious fatty dinner.

Gristmill Restaurant on Urbanspoon

March 15, 2009

I walked the line. And it wasn't good.

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The RiverWalk in San Antonio is beautiful, lined with historic buildings, fancy hotels and restaurants that tickled my nose with tempting aromas. After our water taxi tour of the RiverWalk, we were pretty hungry. We walked along the sidewalk, looking for something to fill us up.

We were suddenly hit with the desire for barbecue and ended up at County Line Barbecue. The manager took us to our table. "This is the best seat in the restaurant," he said, "it just needs to be wiped down." Okay. Great. He stopped and looked at me. I mean, okay, we'll take it. I said, as it got a little awkward. He handed me the menus and silverware to hold. "Well you are just the perfect customers," he said as he slowly pulled out a cloth to wipe down the table. He was just plain odd. Finally he walked away and I was glad.

"Is this a chain?" Amie asked. Unsure, I googled it on my my BlackBerry. Yes. A chain it was. We didn't give up hope. It was still possible for it to be good.

I am no barbecue connoisseur, so Amie told me that I should order baby back ribs, to get a true barbecue experience. I did, and ordered black eyed peas and mashed potatoes as my sides. The waiter brought us hot bread and honey butter while we waited for our food. The bread was dark wheat, chewy and pretty darn good.

The waiter returned to tell me that they were sold out of the mashed potatoes. So, I substituted the mashed potatoes with potato salad. When the food got to our table, it looked the part. Shiny and red ribs, waiting to get all over my face and hands.

I cut off the first rib and bit into it. It took some serious effort with my teeth to pry the meat off the bones. It tasted okay. Kind of like the sweet, peppery barbecue sauce was trying to disguise the tough meat. Amie reported the same for her beef ribs.

The black eyed peas tasted like nothing. Which is odd, considering that I could see pieces of onions and peppers in with them, but it appeared that the flavor had been boiled completely out of them. The potato salad was okay. I've had better. Many times.

As I attempted to gnaw my way through the ribs, the slickness of the sauce triumphed several times and twice the rib got away from me. Once on the table, once on my lap. I looked like I had been in a fight with my dinner.

I had to go wash up after that. I headed to the bathroom. There was a line. Then, a blonde woman with fake fingernails, calico denim vest and a ton of make-up walked out. "There's shit all over in there," she said with a Texas drawl. "And the other one doesn't work." Okay then. I think I'll pass. If there's one thing that grosses me out, it's a nasty bathroom in a restaurant.

As we walked out, a waiter with shoulder length hair was carrying a tray of food out to a table. His hair was literally in their food.

I'm afraid I can't recommend this place at all. Tomorrow we're headed back to Austin in search of some real barbecue.

County Line Barbeque on Urbanspoon

March 14, 2009

We did not order the Viagra plate.

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It was between BBQ and TexMex. BBQ was voted off the island. Luckily, Cece recommended a place a few weeks ago for an authentic TexMex place just off the freeway. We were driving from Dallas to Greune, so a place by the University of Texas was perfect and right on the way.

We found it easily enough. Janitzio was in a cluster of about three or four Mexican restaurants in a shopping mall type area.

Everyone seated in the place was Hispanic, which is always a good sign. If the natives don't like the food, it's usually not authentic.

The salsa was fresh and spicy - the jalepenos were bright green, the tomatoes luscious red. And the chips were warm and lightly salted.

One thing you must know if you go here: There is something on the menu called the Viagra Plate. It appears to contain a lot of seafood. Beyond that, I'm not sure what happens when you order it.

We started out by ordering the Guacamole Beans. Basically hot bean dip, covered in cheese and topped with guacamole. This too tasted fresh and delicious.

The waitress who took our order was young and smiley. I asked her what her favorite dish was on the menu and she giggled a bit and pointed to the carne asada with nopales (cactus). I always love some good carne, so I went with her suggestion. Amie ordered carne guisada (some kind of stewed beef with tortillas) and Lisa ordered a shrimp dish with bacon.

In short order, they brought us our dishes. Lisa's shrimp kebob was oddly served with fries, but the shrimp and bacon were really, truly awesome. Thick, not greasy, bacon flavored the shrimp delightfully. My carne asada was not tough, but melted in my mouth. The nopales that covered it spiced it up nicely. I loaded some carne with nopales, lettuce, salsa and a few beans into a small flour tortilla and it all came together. Delicious!

I liked this place a lot. Thanks, Cece!

Janitzio on Urbanspoon

I made it.

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1:00pm – Get home from work to quickly throw some things in my bag for my trip. Find house completely infested with flies. It was like the birds, only smaller flying things. Open windows and run around house like madwoman with broom, shooing out the flies and yelling at them to get out of my house.

1:30pm – Realize that I left my phone at my parents’ house. My sister takes off in my car to get my phone, promising to be back by 2, since my plane leaves at 3:30.

2:10pm – Sister honks, I run out with my luggage and we head to the airport.

2:40pm – Arrive at PDX after getting stuck in traffic.

2:45pm – Stand in Alaska airlines line 15 deep while ticket agent hosts reunion of former airline worker and several other employees, hugging, kissing cheeks and ignoring customers.

3:10 – Finally talk to the agent, clarify my questions, check my bag and head for security.

3:15 – Board tiny puddle jumper from Portland to Seattle.

4:08 - Arrive at SeaTac. Notice that they have a Crocs store. Crocs make high heels? I never knew.

4:10 - Wishing that I had time to indulge in the massages available at the airport. Seattle - you are better than I thought!

5:00 - Notice adorable family at gate with two adorable little boys, running and jumping all over the place. Awww, I say, almost audibly. Aren't they adorable!

5:20 – Am seated next to adorable family with two adorable little boys.

5:25 – Realize that boys may not be as adorable as previously thought.

5:28 – Flight attendant tells mother to put up the tray table for take off. Mother replies that the little boy won’t listen to her.

5:31 – Flight attendant tells mother to put the tray table up and buckle in the little boy. Mother reluctantly tells little boy to put the tray up. Boy screams.

5:32 – Mother tries to buckle boy in. Boy screams. Loud.

5:33 – Other little boy, seated in the row in front of me with father starts screaming for mommy.

5:35 – Father passes boy #2 to mother. Both boys scream.

5:38 - Plane takes off. Boys still screaming.

6:00 – In the midst of screaming and squirming, I ask the mother if I can help her. She says, yes, could you please trade seats with my husband? You betcha.

6:30 – Drown out screaming boys with personal DVD player ($5.00 rental from the airline) and watch The Secret Life of Bees.

6:35 – Begin crying in movie.

7:00 – Still crying in movie.

8:30 – Still crying.

Sometime between 8:30 and 11:00pm – Time change takes effect. It’s two hours later. The flight attendant announces that it’s about to get really bumpy. I have panic attack and force myself to listen to calm music while deep breathing for the last hour of the flight.

11:30 – Land at DFW. Make my way to baggage claim. Hug my friend Amie. Wait for luggage.

11:45 – Still waiting for luggage. Baggage turn thingy starts sputtering and turning slowly. Multiple people attempt to reboot it. Doesn’t work.

11:55 – Airport staff announce that they are moving baggage to another thingy.

12:00 on the dot – Thingy starts turning. (Friday the 13th is over!)

12:15 – Got my luggage!

12:30 – Taco Bell for dinner on the way to Amie’s house.

1:30 – Finally in bed and feeling a little sick from Taco Bell. Am pretty freaking tired.

March 13, 2009

Cheap Eats 2009!

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I'm a couple of days late on this one, but Cheap Eats 2009 from Willamette Week is out. This is good news. These days we can all use a heads up when there's a good deal for cheap food.

Also, Red Star (which I have never been to) is extending their happy hour to now be 4-8pm DAILY. Happy Hour till 8? I'm there, as soon as I get back from Texas.

Happy eating and happy weekend!

March 9, 2009

This one time the fried chicken crushed the chair.

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When my friend Amie lived here in Portland with me, we were compulsively social. We would invite random people over for dinner, make huge feasts and laugh our butts off. One Sunday, Amie made fried chicken. Now Amie was born and bred in Texas and if there's one thing she knows how to do, it's fry chicken. Crispy, juicy, seasoned perfectly with salt and pepper. Mmmm. Few things I like better.

Anyhow, I had set up the room with my old wooden chairs that I bought at an estate sale. They were folding chairs, but looked antique-y because they were wooden and beat up. I loved those chairs, even if they did wobble a bit. Everyone arrived and we started eating.

I can't remember what we were talking about - just that I was having a good time stuffing my face with chicken while talking. I got up for my second or third helping of chicken, laughing and talking, and plopped back down in my wooden chair, nonchalantly, and took a bite of the crispy chicken leg. Then, snap, splat and crunch, faster than I could get up for a fourth helping, my weak antique folding chair collapsed, crushed under the weight of my body.

I started laughing because otherwise I would have started crying. The guy from Africa that had joined us for dinner helped me up and said: "You should not eat so much chicken." Right around then a couple of words went through my head, but for the life of me I can't remember exactly what they were... I think one started with and f and ended with you. But I can't be sure.

It was a while before we invited people over for dinner after that.

I am going to visit Amie in Dallas this weekend. Stay tuned for reports from our adventures on the road with fried chicken, BBQ and TexMex. May all the chairs in Dallas survive.

*Picture from and Gourmet, January 2008

March 8, 2009

Russets, Sweets, Leeks: The Fried Trinity

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Trinity Fries. That's what they're called. An massive bowl of russet fries, sweet potato fries and long, thin strips of fried leeks. Sprinkled, while hot, with chunky salt and served with a side of tomato aioli. And let me tell you, it's pretty close to a religious experience.

You can get them at EastBurn. For $6. The sandwich I had was good, too - portobello mushroom with goat cheese. But all I can remember with any accuracy is the Trinity Fries. And I plan on going back this week before the memory fades.

EastBurn on Urbanspoon

Get off the couch and go.

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I am going to Texas this next weekend, which puts my week in a panicky, unprepared state of non-entertainment. If I was going to be around, I would be attending these events.

Che - Steven Soderbergh will be at Cinema 21 for the screening of this 4-hour event, followed by a Q&A. Tickets are only $11. Friday and Saturday, March 13th and 14th.

Super XX Man - at the new Mississippi Studios - Thursday, March 12th.

Live Wire
- always entertaining! Saturday, March 14th.

March 4, 2009

Identity Crisis. There's No Place Like Home?

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#1 Sustainable City
#1 Best City in America to Have a Baby
One of Travel + Leisure's Favorite Cities
#1 Unhappiest Cities in America (#1 for depression, #12 for suicide, 222 cloudy days)
#4 Bike-Friendly Cities
#3 Volunteer Rate Ranking in top 50 Cities
#2 Most Strip Clubs Per Capita (yes, we've fallen from #1)
#29 Best Cities for Singles
#2 Cooking Light Best City

I'm single and I recycle. But I'm pregnant and I'm alone, so I'm really depressed. I ride my bike in the rain through the throngs of tourists to the strip club and feel a little better, then stop at the market to pick up some healthy food to cook at home, after I volunteer at the soup kitchen. I'm glad I live in Portland.

March 2, 2009

Ping, ping, ping went my heart.

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I was excited when I found out that Andy Ricker of Pok Pok was opening a new restaurant in Chinatown. Since Pok Pok is so popular, I knew it would be busy, but Wednesday night, 7:45 - I didn't think it would be THAT busy. Wrong.

"So, I'm thinking about 35 minutes," the host at Ping said. "Because of safety reasons we can't have you wait inside, but I've been telling people to go to that coffee shop across the street, Backspace to wait - they have tea and coffee and all that. I'll call you when your table is ready - it will be an 801 number." We agreed. Then started to walk across the street. As Ansley brought up on our way over to Backspace, it might be unsafe to wait inside, but have they checked out the neighborhood? Not sure it's all that safe outside either. In all fairness, we only had one request for money on our way to the coffee shop.

The coffee shop was random and great people watching. But I was relieved when my phone rang with that 801 number. I was starving! Okay. Not starving. But really really hungry.

It was crowded and a little loud, but quite lovely. I particularly loved the old radios they had on a shelf on the back wall. The enthusiastic waiter explained the menu - order a few things and share, he said.

I ordered the steamed pork bun, the grilled bread with coconut egg jam and the cuttlefish. Chelsea ordered the green salad - which was by far my favorite dish. It had shrimp, chicken, egg and bright, flavorful dressing. I could not get enough.

The steamed pork bun was soft and chewy and full of rich shredded pork - (it's going on my comfort food list). The cuttlefish was like jerky, flattened and dried and spiced to light your mouth on fire, with a sweet chili sauce to cool. I loved that - the flavor was intense enough to satisfy my appetite without a lot of filler. I love that.

And I pretty much loved Ping. There's so much more I need to explore though, it's a little daunting. I'll whittle away at the menu til I try every last thing. Even the chicken butt skewers (which I have to say, I told my nephew about, to which he replied, "Ewwww. You don't know what's been in there.")

Ping is delightful. But be prepared to wait at the coffee shop across the street. I'm pretty sure it will only get more busy as word gets out.

Ping on Urbanspoon

Bridge Over Troubled Water

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I watch the ABC drama Brothers and Sisters pretty faithfully. Tonight, they played this beautiful cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water by Quincy Coleman. I bought it immediately on iTunes and can't stop listening to it. It's been kind of a rough few days, and I really appreciated it. Hope you enjoy it.

March 1, 2009

Gigantic Love

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I saw this preview today at the movies. I love everyone in it and I love the trailer.