April 28, 2009

I made it through the rain... barely.

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Okay try to use your imagination on this one, since I don't have pictures for the beginning of the story (the picture to the left there is to entice you to keep reading!):

Two girls on a Monday night, both looking fairly decent, about to move a BIG entertainment center down the treacherous steps of an old dilapidated house. One step, not bad. Two steps, a little nervous laughing. Three steps, crap this thing is heavy. Rain drop. More nervous laughing. Another rain drop. Crap. (Or maybe another word.) Freaking torrential downpour. Crap, crap, holy crap.

Need windshield wipers for my eyeballs. Four steps, five steps, pretty much just pushing the wooden behemoth down the damn stairs. Six steps, seven. We consider the slippage of hands, the rain in the eyes and wonder if we will make it. Eight steps, why on earth isn't anyone stopping to help us. At the bottom of the steps we want to rest, but can't, as the sky is trying to pound us into the pavement. Straining, we lift the monster into the rented ZipCar truck. O.M.G. we are SO drenched. And we don't look decent anymore. I might even venture to say we look indecent at this point.

Pools of water are forming on the floor and I wring out my shirtsleeves. Deep breathing, we fog up the windshield. Jen turns up the defroster. It is not working. FREAK we are cold. How are we going to get this thing across the river - definitely not the freeway. Windshield is still fogged up. Then we realize. The car is not on. That is key in defrosting the windshield.

We sit, with the heat on high, formulating perfect plan which includes: we will find the perfect parking spot and random stranger men will help us carry this piece of wet wood up the marble stairs and into Jen's apartment. Right. Good plan!

We travel slowly across the Ross Island Bridge and meander over to Jen's apartment, where we find a perfect parking space right in front of the stairs! We sit there for a minute, then decide to brave the rain once again. "I can help you with that if you want." Random stranger man, as if from HEAVEN, lifts the heavy, rain-soaked entertainment center out of the back of the truck and carried it, with Jen on the other side, while I grabbed the drawers and ran up the steps. WE MADE IT. AND. Our plan came true!

Heavy breathing and toweling off commence. "I kept telling Jen, wouldn't it be great if a random stranger stopped to help us." I laugh stupidly because that's what I do when I am tired/emotional/thankful/trying not to cry. "Well I'm not a random stranger," he says matter-of-factly. "I'm Harrison Ford." Just kidding about that part. "Well I'm not a random stranger," he says. "I'm opening up a new L.A. Fitness just over there," he points over towards the Lloyd Center. "You guys should definitely come by," and then we hear in our brains, "because if you did you wouldn't need my help with this piece of furniture!" We smile and say our thanks and lie and say we will definitely check out his fitness club.

He leaves, not breathing heavily, and heads out into the rain. He leaves behind a flier though and I just want to say: THANK YOU BRAD LEATHERMAN, sales manager for L.A. Fitness (phone number: 503-734-2950)! Now everyone call him and get a membership, or at least a trial membership. He is nice and deserves your business. As for me, I would totally join, if I didn't live so far away.... I would. Seriously.

About an hour later, clothes changed and hungry as hell, we are sitting at North 45 Pub for some grub. Good news. On Monday nights, Happy Hour at North 45 is ALL NIGHT! What! Fabulous. I order cheeseburger sliders and pommes frites while Jen orders calamari and creamy potato soup. Also good news - North 45 is now *2* blocks from my new house. I know. You are jealous. I'm practically jealous of myself!

Calamari is okay - I generally have a couple of pieces and then leave it for everyone else. But these calamari are so good. Breaded and fried, they are tossed in a sweet chili sauce and served with a wasabi aioli. They are not really crispy, but are very approachably tender and not chewy. The flavor is fantastic. The pommes frites are crispy and seasoned, perhaps a little too seasoned, and creamy on the inside, served with a roasted garlic aioli.

The sliders are sort of average. I want them to have pickles. The watery tomatoes sort of dumb down the flavor. But I'm not having that. I still have some roasted garlic aioli to slather on the sides before I take another bite. That makes it all better.

I go to sleep, warm, dry and full of delicious food. Truly, everything is better now.

North 45 on Urbanspoon

April 24, 2009

Lizzy Cooks

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I have a new cooking blog: Lizzy Cooks. I'm still working out some kinks, but please come visit!

April 22, 2009

There's this place called Butter Island.

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I have the song "Puff, the Magic Dragon" stuck in my head. It's been there since about 6:30 Tuesday night, when I ate dinner in a school bus.

The Grilled Cheese Grill opened on Monday. An Airstream-ish trailer, with a canopy attached. No ordinary food cart, this place has some setup! About 10 picnic tables or so, on a gravely lot, with buckets of napkins and enough hot sauces to go around. And. My favorite part. A real life school bus, converted into a kick-ass dining room.

But I am getting away from the whole point of this. The food. Their menu is ambitious. The combinations extraordinary. Their methods... well, you be the judge. I placed my order for the Southsider. In exchange, I got a Garbage Pail Kids card, with Silent Sandy on it. They told me that when my food was ready, they'd call my name. My Garbage Pail Kid name.

While I was standing there, waiting for my food, one of the guys in the trailer stuck his head out. "Imogen! Imogen! Your order is ready." No one responded. Once more. "Imogen!" A guy with long dreadlocks sitting at a picnic table finally realized they were calling him. "Here's your Cheesus Burger." Now just for your information, a Cheesus Burger is a 1/3 lb. burger in between *2* grilled cheese sandwiches, instead of buns. Imogen a.k.a. Dreadlocks Guy, eagerly grabbed the paperbag and took off down the street with his dog.

"Silent Sandy!" My order was up in less than 5 minutes. Perfect! I was running late, but I didn't care. I wanted to eat in the school bus. I decided immediately that the school bus had to be the scene of many Mortified moments, if not from my own life, from many others. The tables were covered in nerdy kid school pictures, and there were laminated essays from elementary school kids about grilled cheese sandwiches. On my table, the essay read: "I like grilled cheese because when I lick the bread, I feel like I'm on butter island."

I'm not sure if it was the essay that affected my brain, but I sure felt like I was on Butter Island when I bit into my sandwich. Grilled sourdough, but with a BUNCH of butter. Not that I'm complaining. I freaking love butter. Inside the Southsider: artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and mozzarella. A lot of mozzarella.

It was greasy and cheesy and such the perfect end to my hungry stomach. I had grabbed a to-go menu when I was ordering and I read over the little intro on the back:

"So come by for a taste of your childhood. Unless your childhood sucked, and then we'll let ya share a taste of ours." I think I teared up just now, writing that down. I had a good childhood, but I still want to taste theirs, because I think theirs was greasier and probably pretty delicious and maybe I need a peek of that every so often. You should check out their menu online because you will want to taste their childhood, too. Trust me.

Besides, how often do you get to be called by a Garbage Pail Kid name AND eat on the school bus without getting in trouble!

Grilled Cheese Grill on Urbanspoon


T - Th: 11:30 am - 9:00pm
Fri - Sat: 11:30 am- late night
Sunday: 11:30 am - 3:30 pm

And the girl and the sandwich lived happily ever after.

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I turned 36 on Monday. I was not feeling super excited. My original plan was to order pizza and sit on the empty floor of my new 225 sq foot apartment that I am moving into this weekend. But that is kind of lame. So, my sister organized a dinner out. I picked Kenny and Zuke's new place, SandwichWorks, because I knew it would be good and inexpensive.

Right after work I stopped by my parents' house to pick up a mysterious present they had for me. It was an oven! A countertop convection oven for my new place. I will need it, as I have only two burners, a mini-fridge and no oven! Excited. Yes I am.

And, as it happened, my sister, in a fit of generosity, bought me a super nice (for me, the inexperienced photog) digital camera. NOW I CAN TAKE PICTURES FOR MY BLOG! I am elated that I can free myself from the dark shadows of my camera phone. And how exciting that sandwiches are the first thing I get to photograph.

So anyway. I love the new space at SandwichWorks. So open and airy and the garage doors/walls were open, so it was practically like eating outside, which was perfect on such a lovely day. The guy behind the counter was so nice, checking with us a couple of times to make sure we knew that we had to order at the counter, since we were sitting at the table already. (We were waiting for a few people.)

I had decided that morning that I was going to order the Super Torta Puebla with roasted pork, black beans, chorizo, avocado, mayo, cheese and chipotle salsa on a hoagie. I had also decided that since it was my birthday, I was going to order extra pickle. They gave me THREE! Happy birthday to me!

The sandwich was freaking beautiful. And tasted as good as it looked. It tasted spicy and not overwhelming. It wasn't falling all over the place, but a succinct bite of spicy, smooth, creamy, well-loved - as if it were some strange thing that was born like that, all together and all wrapped up in a chewy hoagie roll, instead of a swaddling blanket.

Sis ordered the reuben sliders, which turned out to be pretty regular sized and delicious. I tasted the crunchy vinegary coleslaw as well - as always at Kenny and Zuke's, fabulous. Everything was great - but I'm pretty sure that my sandwich was the best.

It was the highlight of the night - my favorite part. I want to go back to SandwichWorks to try other things, but I don't know if I can stay away from that sandwich. It. Was. Seriously. Awesome.

P.S. How do you like the pics? You can see more pics of all the different sandwiches on my Flickr account. I don't know how to work the camera yet, really, so please excuse the blurry ones. I'm learning.

Kenny and Zuke's SandwichWorks on Urbanspoon

April 21, 2009

School Day.

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All attempts to Eat Mobile on Saturday were thwarted by fabulous weather and crowds of people. Ack. We were too hungry to wait in those lines.

Someone said that there was a fun looking place on MLK called Yam Yam's. Oh yes. I have heard of this place, I said. Have been meaning to try it.

We walked in and perused the menu - What's good tonight? I asked the very tall guy behind the counter. It's all good, he said. Okay. Quarter chicken dinner with sweet potato fries, collard greens and cornbread, plus a drink for $10. Cheap for that amount of food!

There were orders of pulled pork sandwiches, yams, fries and even red velvet cake. We sat at a big long table. We were a bit conspicuous. A group of six white girls in a room full of African Americans.

The first thing we ate was the red velvet cake. I thought it was a little dry. Not my favorite. A guy came and sat at a smaller table next to us. He was a truck driver, he said. From California. He heard this was the second best BBQ joint in town. He couldn't remember what the name of the best place was.

Our heavy plates came about 10 minutes later. My chicken was so juicy and fell off the bone when I pulled at it with my fork, just a bit. The sweet potato fries were crispy and just sweet enough. The collard greens were a bit bitter - not how I prefer, but they were good just the same.

The yams I swiped from my friend's plate were sticky sweet delicious. The hushpuppies just the right side of spicy and crispy on the outside.

The younger of the two boys behind the counter walked over to our table and stopped right in front of me. "Ma'am, do you mind if I ask you how old you are?"

I hesitantly said that I would be 36 on Monday. "Do you happen to have a younger sister named Chelsea?" I stared at him. Then pointed to my sister Chelsea at the end of the table. "Um yeah - right there." Chelsea's mouth was open. "Nope, that ain't her. It's just that you look so familiar." He shook his head and walked away. Chelsea was stunned. So was I. How weird was it that he asked if I had a sister named Chelsea and that in fact I do have a sister named Chelsea, who was actually sitting at the table, but wasn't the one he was talking about!

I finished my meal, licking my fingers (I think licking fingers goes along with barbeque), and somehow started talking to the guy at the table next to me. I asked him if he liked his meal. He gave me a look that said definitely not, but he didn't say anything. Then he told me a story.

"One time, I was in Mississippi, driving. I went to this restaurant. The food was so good that I ate till I couldn't eat no more, then I ordered a plate to go." He was leaning towards me - enjoying the storytelling and using his hands to emphasize his words. I was completely ignoring my friends at this point.

"I gave the waitress a tip and then I told her to give some to the cook as well. She said, 'give it to her yourself.' So I sat there and waited for the cook. Then this white lady walked out of the kitchen. I looked around and said 'where's the cook?' She said, 'I'm the cook! We all eat like this down here.' And I tell you, that was a school day for me. That lady took me to school that day. She showed me that it didn't matter what color your skin is."

He told me how he is going to retire in a couple of years and buy a restaurant and serve the best food in the Bay Area. He's going to drop dinner and just serve breakfast and lunch. "Let them cook their own dinner!" He said. The conversation faltered. My friend Laura spotted an untouched plate on his table.

"You didn't eat your hot dog!" she said loudly.

"It's a hot link," he said quietly. "You want it?"

"Sure! I'll take your hot dog."

"It's a hot link," he said again as he handed his plate over to Laura.

One of the guys behind the counter was watching the interaction and hollered over to us, "You want some barbecue sauce with that?" Of course she did.

I'm not normally one for trying a stranger's food, but since he hadn't touched it - I was game. It was good, but admittedly, it was the only hot link I have ever had, so I've nothing to compare it to.

We hung out for a bit longer, watching the Blazer game on the big screen. Some other guy behind us demonstrated scooping up yams with a biscuit and declared it *the* way to eat yams. "This what you gotta do," he said as he stuffed it in his mouth.

Truck driver guy caught his taxi. We headed out and waved goodbye to the guys behind the counter, who waved, asked us if everything was okay and then we stuffed a few bucks in the tip jar.

Yam Yam's Southern Cooking Barbecue on Urbanspoon

April 19, 2009

Chez Delicious

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I hit Chez Joly up for the last night of the four course meal for $2o.09 a couple of weeks ago. I was impressed.

Pâté Made With Marsala Wine and Pistachio. Served With Crostini and Cornichons: Smooth, creamy, mild, rich.

Oignon Gratinee - Slowly Sautéed Caramelized Onions and Herbs with Baguette and Gruyere Cheese: Beef broth, sweet onions, melty cheese, chewy bread.

Poulet Romarin - Roasted Chicken Breast and Leg Rubbed With Fresh Rosemary With Sautéed Haricot Vert and Roasted Potatoes: Crispy skin chicken, with bright rosemary taste throughout the moist meat. Potatoes crispy and few - just the right amount.

Galette de Pommes an Fromage - Apple and Goat Cheese Tart: Small piece of delight to end the meal.

The service was great and the meal was really fabulous. I can't wait to go back and try more of their dishes. This was a really good deal for $20.

Chez Joly on Urbanspoon

April 17, 2009

Food Carts, Food Carts, Food Carts!

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I totally forgot to write about this. But duh. Everyone should go to this!

Here are the details. Psst. IT'S TOMORROW!

Eat Mobile 2009
Portland's Food Cart Festival

Live music and samples from some of the best food carts in Portland.
Beverages available for purchase.
5:30 - 9:30 pm, Saturday, April 18th
8371 N. Interstate Avenue
$5 - all proceeds benefit MercyCorps NW

Need more info? Willamette Week has more...

End Childhood Hunger and Eat Good Food.

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Have you ever been hungry? I mean really hungry. I have. When I was in college and badly managed my money, I ran out of food. I was resourceful, though, in the kitchen and lived off of popcorn for a week, or a bag of potatoes. But what if I was a kid? What if I had no control over my circumstances and I was hungry? Stomach growling, pangs of hunger, taking over my thoughts. And what if there was no food around anywhere?

The sad truth is that this happens all the time. Hungry kids are all over the world and you and me? We have the power to stop it. Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation Portland is coming up on April 27th and by buying a ticket you can help feed hungry children right in our state. This year's event benefits the Oregon Food Bank, Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force, St. Vincent de Paul Food Recovery Program and Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank.

Why should you buy a ticket? Well, for starters, some of Portland's most awesome restaurants will be serving food. Here's some of what you'll be tasting:

Bamboo Sushi
Meyer Lemon Oil & Spring Herb Crudo of MSC Certified Wild Alaskan Salmon atop an English Cucumber Disc

Roasted Leg of Mutton with Bitter Greens and Aged Balsamic Vinegar

Causitas Moradas y Solteritos - Traditional Peruvian preparation of fresh lime flavored potatoes with savory fillings: purple potatoes with shredded chicken and aji amarillo; yellow potatoes with garden fresh vegetables

Grilled Rosemary Lamb Sausage with Baby Field Greens

Paley’s Place Bistro & Bar
Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Chilled Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Crème Fraiche

Various wineries and breweries will be there as well, supplying beverages. You can see a complete list of restaurants and what they will be serving, as well as the wineries and breweries at Taste of the Nation Portland.

General admission tickets are $75. Honestly the menu is totally worth the money and there will be some fantastic items being auctioned off in a silent auction. There will also be live music.

If you were going to eat out twice in the next two weeks, why not save up and go to the Taste of the Nation Portland instead? You will be able to taste some of the most amazing food in the city and help hungry kids in Oregon at the same time.

On the other hand, if $75 is a bit steep for you, don't despair. Share Our Strength has partnered with Lizzy Dishes to offer a pair of VIP tickets in a giveaway! They are worth $125 each. I know! Your lucky day.

Please leave a comment on this post, telling me about your favorite meal in Portland lately, why it's your favorite, and your email address. In order to win, you must be able to attend the event at 5:30pm on April 27th at Luxe Autohaus in Portland and you must be 21 or over.

The winner will be notified next Friday, the 24th by midnight.

I am so proud.

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I'm taking a break from volunteering this year to do some other things and I have missed it greatly. Today I checked in on Write Around Portland's website to see what was going on. Right there on the front page, is one of the women from my most recent workshop at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. Sam Robinson. She is amazing and beautiful and I'm so proud to have been a part of that workshop. The featured writer for April, you can read an interview with her and read her poetry on the Write Around Portland website. I hope you do.

April 16, 2009

Bubba Bernie Smiles on Hawthorne.

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I know, I know. I've got to stop. Enough already with the 12th and Hawthorne food carts! But I'm not quite done. You see, the last couple of times I've been over there, Bubba Bernie has been perched on the picnic table by his cart. He sells Po' Boys, Pastrami Sandwiches, Hot Dogs, including a Monster Chili Dog and a Bacon Dog (!!), Jambalaya and other such Louisiana delights.

He's an older guy, with white hair and a chef's coat and hat. His bright red trailer looks shiny and new. "What's good tonight?" I asked him as I looked over the menu. "Everything's good every night," he said matter-of-factly. Then, as if giving a second thought to his helpful statement, he said "How hungry are you?" "Medium," I said. "Then a sandwich'l do ya." Perfect.

I ordered the pastrami sandwich, with mustard and pickle ($6.75). I watched him slice it and toss it on the grill. "You want your mustard and pickle on the sandwich or on the side?" "Oh definitely on it," I said. What a great sandwich. Pastrami just warm enough for the fat to be all melty and easily consumed, on outwardly-crispy, inwardly-fluffy french bread, with tangy mustard and a crunchy pickle. No other vegetables distracting or watering down the simple pleasure of the meat and bread. I loved it. (Of course if you want lettuce and tomato, they are available upon request.)

Tonight I went back with my parents (I'm trying to expand their horizons) and my mom ordered the shrimp po'boy ($6.75). I ordered. The. Monster. Chili. Dog. Onions? Yeah. Cheese? Yep. Knife and fork? Yep. My mom got her sandwich first. A french roll stuffed to over flowing with crispy deep fried shrimp, lettuce and tomato with a just-spicy-enough remoulade. She was a little overwhelmed. We all picked some shrimp off to help her out. Then she managed to eat it, but not without considerable stretching of her mouth!

The Monster Chili Dog ($6.00) came out a few minutes later - a big fat long hot dog, smothered in chili and onions and cheese. The chili was slightly sweet - and had a subtle heat that woke up my tongue. In a bite with the salty meat, the melty cheddar, the crunchy onions - the chili brought them all together into a mouthful of guilty pleasure. Monster is right.

Both times I've eaten at Bubba Bernie's, he's come out of the trailer afterwards and asks how we like our food - and he asks with a confident smile on his face, like he knows what we're going to say. He seems pleased when I answer that everything tastes great. I think he knows - his food rocks.

So when you see Bubba Bernie perched on the picnic table, be sure you head over to the bright red trailer and order some good Louisiana food.

Bubba Bernie's
SE 12th and Hawthorne Food Carts
6 pm - 12 am M - Th
6 pm - 2 am F - Sa
(He'll stay open later if business demands!)

April 12, 2009

Yes, I want the balls. I always want the balls.

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Twelfth and Hawthorne is becoming my favorite late night place. The other night, after the Kids Rock 4 Kids concert, Ansley and I decided to head over to the food carts and get some dinner. After reviewing the offerings at Potato Champion and Perriera Creperie and Yarp?!, we both decided that Yarp?! was going to be the way to go. The menu was fabulous. Lost of pasta and some seared Ahi Tuna - yum.

"You looking for me?" A guy with a reddish sweater vest, a dress shirt and some slacks walked towards us. "Are you the one that makes the food?" I asked. "That's me! What do you want tonight?" "I'd like the roasted red-pepper spaghetti." "You want the balls with that?" "Yes, I want the balls," I said. "I always want the balls." Ansley ordered the veggie pasta with a red wine rosemary reduction. "Give me a few minutes and we'll have that ready for you." He walked inside the trailer and started cooking.

The trailer, covered in spray paint, with anarchist messages, did not look like a place that you would necessarily look at and say "I want to eat there". But there were fresh herbs peeking out from the window and somehow, talking to this guy, I knew the food would be good. I had read a couple of things online about them that gave me the idea that Yarp?! was a safe bet.

It was probably 10 minutes or so when they handed us two boxes and two tin foil packages with two napkins and two real forks. The boxes were heavy! We sat down at the covered picnic table and we opened them up. Holy crap. This was a helluva lot of food.

The roasted red pepper spaghetti was lighter than normal spaghetti and had terrific flavor. The meatballs had fantastic texture and perfectly seasoned flavor - a little spicy, which is exactly how I like my meatballs. The foil packages contained delightfully buttery thick slices of garlic bread, freshly warmed through and perfect for sopping up extra sauce.

I ate exactly one third of my spaghetti before I was bursting full. Ansley, too. She declared her pasta to be amazing and loaded with veggies, and was also bursting full after eating only a third.

We said good night to the chef and headed off. Leftovers served for two additional meals the next day. And they were still just as delicious.

Damn good food. And seriously THE best people watching in the city. I didn't even tell the story about the umbilical cord hats, the billy club and the stoned skateboarders, but use your imagination. And check out Yarp?! You will be happy you did.

SE 12th and Hawthorne Food Cart Pod
Wednesday - Sunday
8pm - 3am

Easter Eggs Benedict

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Easter Eggs Benedict
Serves 8.

8 panini rolls (flavor of your choice - I used fig anise rolls)
16 slices of proscuitto
1 large leek
olive oil
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
16 eggs
1 recipe of Blender Hollandaise Sauce (see below)
fresh chives for garnish

Trim the leek to just above the white stem, cutting off the tough green part. At about an inch above the root, cut length wise through to the top. Repeat, turning the leek 1/2, making another cut from above the root through to the top. Wash the leek thoroughly, through all the layers. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Heat 1 tbs. olive oil in a saute pan. Chop leek and add to pan. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Saute until caramelized, about 8-9 minutes, until golden brown in places. Set aside.

Slice panini rolls in half and set aside. Place two halves of a roll on each plate. Place a slice of proscuitto on each half of a roll and top with caramelized leeks, about 2 tsp on each half.

Poach eggs using an egg poacher, or in a frying pan. If using a frying pan, add about an inch of water and heat to almost boiling. Add 1 tbs. white vinegar and a sprinkle of sea salt. Add the eggs one at a time (probably about 4 at a time, depending on the size of the pan) and cover. Poach for about 5 minutes, to desired doneness. I recommend poaching until set, but still runny. Of course when you are making it, make them how you like them.

Top each half of a panini roll with a poached egg and cover with about 1/2 cup of the Blender Hollandaise Sauce. Garnish with fresh chives.

Blender Hollandaise Sauce
(adapted from Home and Garden, February, 1962 and Epicurious.com)

6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 serrano pepper
4 tablespoons cream
2 cup (1 pound) melted sweet unsalted butter, heated until bubbling but not brown
Juice of one lime

In a blender, add egg yokes, salt, serrano pepper and cream and blend on high until frothy, about 4 minutes. Turn off blender and remove center of the top. Cover with a towel and turn on medium speed. While half covering the hole in the top with the towel, slowly stream in half of hot butter. Add the lime juice and then continue streaming in the remainder of the butter. Blend until sauce is thick, about 1 minute.

Crispy Roasted Potatoes with Chives

4 lbs. small red potatoes
olive oil
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
fresh chives, chopped

Wash potatoes and cut in half. Place on baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Toss with hands until all potatoes are evenly covered with seasonings and oil.

Bake at 450 for 45 minutes, until brown and crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh chives. Toss to distribute. Serve warm.

April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!

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I made Eggs Benedict for my family this morning on fig + anise panini from Pearl Bakery at the farmers market, with prosciutto, caramelized leeks and my creamy hollandaise sauce and crispy roasted potatoes, all garnished with fresh chives from my mom's garden. I have to say, it turned out very well!

April 10, 2009

Talented and gifted.

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When I was 15, I remember hearing about the Middle East, poverty, war-torn countries. Did I think they were real? Eh. Not as real as the zit on my face. Or the rejection I felt from the boy I had a crush on.

Was I talented? Eh. I could play a sonata on the piano or write an overly dramatic story. But with the confidence and posture of a wet rag, I didn't really pursue any of my talents, or believe that they were real, anymore than those world tragedies I'd heard about.

Tonight I attended a benefit concert for Mercy Corps, put on by four kid bands from Portland. Seriously. These kids watched the movie Slumdog Millionaire and put a benefit together to help kids in underprivileged countries. And these kids are not 17 or 18. They are 7th, 8th and 9th graders. Can you imagine being so empowered, so confident and so talented at such a young age?

Oh. And these kids freaking rocked the Crystal Ballroom tonight. They were good! It was really fabulous to see whole families there, rocking out to kids covering Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Franz Ferdinand and even songs that the kids had written. I would go to see any of these bands play again at any venue and pay money. These kids have enormous talent and having the compassion and determination to use their gifts for good at such a young age... well, it's amazing.

Great job, guys. I think all of you are ROCK STARS.

Social Appetite - my cousin Nate plays in this band, and I have to say, they were my favorite!

The Vibrations
- four brothers, including a 4 year old, who, incidentally, ripped off his shirt on the last song.

Blind Einstein - stylish dudes - very entertaining.

Still Pending - their music is going to be in a movie. So cool!

P.S. The next time someone shakes their heads and says "Kids these days!" remind them that kids like this will be running our country someday. How awesome is that.

April 9, 2009

All the Single People..and family people... and lonely people... and everyone else, too.

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Sometimes the benefits of single life are debatable. Sometimes they are not. On this particular night, I didn't feel like being at home. It was 9:00 and I had no commitments, no one waiting for me at home. I drove through downtown. Nothing really looked inspiring. I drove across the Hawthorne Bridge. Then I remembered. The late night fry cart.

Next to the car dealership at 12th and Hawthorne, across the street from Burgerville, a semi-circle of food carts glowed in the dark, like a camp of covered wagons. There was more than a fry cart. There was a creperie and Mexican food and BBQ and Italian. It looked a little intimidating, even for me, who is not afraid of heading out alone on the weekend.

I texted my friend Jen and we conspired to meet up in 40 minutes when she got done with work. As we approached the camp, loud music was playing and there was quite a few people standing around - some munching on fries.

The Potato Champion cart had some interesting offerings: Poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds) and regular fries, with so many sauce options it was dizzying. We ordered the Poutine because hello, fries+gravy+cheese? Then we ordered some regular fries and the tarragon anchovy mayo and the rosemary truffle ketchup. Who thinks these combos up? Because I wouls like to kiss him. Or her. Or at least give them a really big hug.

There was one guy, who was finishing up his fries and we watched him jealously while he finished the last of them. Then when he got up, we snagged his seat. And. Delightful. The picnic table has holes in it! To hold the cones of fries. Genius. It was windy and cold, so thank heavens for the outdoor heater they had going on.

As we sat chomping on our fries, a cute little family came up to the cart - now mind you it was 10:30 at night by this time - with two kids and a dog, the kids probably 10 and 12, or something like that. Adorable and out for a late night treat. What cool parents. That's gonna be me sometime. If my ovaries don't expire first.

The fries were crispy and hot and creamy inside - the sauces were a nice exploration of flavor and I want to try all of them. I think it was $8 for everything and we were pleased with our choices. The Poutine was a bunch of carmelized onions, with a little gravy and cheese curds - it tasted like MY onion gravy that I make, so I loved it!

Meanwhile, a couple rode up on bikes. He was wearing a tux. She was wearing a floor length formal with some flats. Did I mention they were on bikes? They ordered crepes from the next door crepe cart after debating fries or crepes.

Another group wandered up. "I think it's kind of weird to have a place that ONLY sells fries," said one guy, who had clearly never eaten anywhere except Applebees and Macaroni Grill. "But they are really good!" The girl was losing the argument. Finally, they decided to order fries and also get some take out on the way home, because the guys felt that you couldn't have just fries. You definitely needed something else.

We actually decided that, too. So we ordered some crepes. I ordered chocolate and pear. "Do you want the Frangelico with that?" Dancing crepe making girl asked, as the music blared from their cart. I looked at Jen. "That's alcohol," she said. I started laughing. Yes! Give me the Frangelico. Jen promised to take my keys if I got tipsy. (See previous incident in my life involving rum cake.) They put a very small amount of Frangelico in the crepe, which was cooked on the circle hot plate thingy while they added pears and chocolate. Jen ordered lemon and sugar.

Amazing. Delicious. Perfect end to the night. We headed back to my car, where we finished up our crepes, wadded up the paper wrapping they were in and hollered as we threw them over our shoulders, into the garbage can... I mean my back seat. "Single girls can eat fries and crepes for dinner at 10:30 at night!" Jen was right. We can do whatever we want!

But that night we had seen a family, a single person, a couple on a date, and a group of friends. It made me happy that we can all, no matter our circumstances, enjoy some excellent treats late at night, outside in the cold.

SE Twelfth and Hawthorne Food Carts

Potato Champion on Urbanspoon

Perierra Crêperie

Open from 8pm - 3am, Wednesday through Saturday

Kids Rock 4 Kids

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My cousin Nate is playing in one of the bands at Kids Rock 4 Kids tomorrow night at the Crystal Ballroom. It's a pretty great project and it would be great if they could get a good turnout. It's from 6-9 and all ages welcome. It's only $10 and it benefits MercyCorps.

It's so cool that these kids put this together.

April 6, 2009

Escape from New York...and the Scary Homeless Dude

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Saturday evening I wandered over to my soon-to-be-hood over on NW 23rd to meet my friend Laura at Escape from New York Pizza to grab a slice and catch up. I snagged a table outside, gave Laura some money and she went inside to order.

I saw him out of the corner of my eye, coming down the street. A 60+ year-old transient, stumbling towards me, mumbling. Laura came out with the pizza (a slice of pepperoni and a slice of mushroom, olive and tomato) and we started eating. The man stopped behind me and continued to mumble.

I started feeling a little uncomfortable - which is unusual for me. I don't mind giving a few bucks to the homeless now and then, but this guy was creeping me out a little. I strategically moved my purse between my feet. Finally, he moved along to the Kornblatt's tables next door, which were all empty, save for the basket of condiments on each table.

I took a bite of my pizza - it was greasy, as pizza should be. It was foldable, as NY pizza should be. It tasted okay. The pepperoni was better than the mushroom pizza. The mushroom pizza pretty much had no flavor.

Mr. Transient started digging through the bus bucket beside the Kornblatt's tables. He pulled some food from it and headed for the condiments. One of the Kornblatt's dudes came out and grabbed the bus bucket and took it inside. Mr. Transient picked up some Tabasco sauce and put the bottle in his mouth. Then he put it back on the table. Then he went a few tables down. Opened up the horseradish bottle, stuck his fingers in and pulled out a fistful of horseradish and stuck it in his mouth.

At this point, I felt a moral obligation to let the Kornblatt's people know that their condiments were contaminated by transient fingers. They were livid. Kornblatt dude went bursting through the door: "GET AWAY FROM THE F---ING CONDIMENTS!" Mr. Transient wandered off down the street and Kornblatt dude dumped all the condiments in the garbage. Thank heavens.

After this diversion, I returned to finish my pizza. It was not tasting super great. Kornblatt dude came over to talk to us about Mr. Transient.

"It was disgusting," Laura said, "He stuck his hands in the horseradish." I started to feel my chest tighten up, blocked with the bready crust. "We've called the police on him already today, but they let him go after 15 minutes. It's just disgusting." I was starting to feel like I was going to hurl all over both Laura and the Kornblatt dude. Then I would be on par with Mr. Transient. "I feel bad yelling at him, but you gotta yell at them or else they just keep coming back."

I half smiled at him while I was starting to panic. I tried drinking my soda. It made it worse. Kornblatt dude walked away. I couldn't talk. The crust was blocking my airway. I drank Laura's water and sat there, as the crust slowly made its way down to my stomach. It took about 5 minutes or so.

Mr. Transient II, sitting on the sidewalk behind us, spat on the ground 4 or 5 times.

Truthfully I don't know if it was the pizza or the transient situation, but my digestive experience at Escape from New York was not a pleasant one. I think next time I will take shelter at Pizzicato across the street. Between the almost vomiting and the spitting and the hands in the horseradish, well, it will be a while before I go back. Sorry, New York.

Escape From New York Pizza on Urbanspoon

April 4, 2009

Taste of the Farmers' Market

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This morning:

Salumeria di Carlo: Spicy Italian Sausage Sandwich. Was so spicy that my eyes were watering which was fine because it was cold and they would probably have watered anyway. But. There's nothing better than eating this in the cold. Mmmmm. Warms you right up! Thumbs up. $5.00

Two Tarts: Chocolate chip Fleur de Sel cookie, Li'l Mama cookie. The Li'l Mama cookie is a homemade oreo cookie that they just started making. Chocolate crispy cookie + buttercream. Do you really need me to tell you how this tastes? YUM. $.75+$.75 = $1.50

Pearl Bakery: Sourdough baguette. So fresh. So fabulous $3.00

Jacob's Creamery: Olive Cream Cheese. This stuff is made differently from normal cream cheese - it has less whey in it. I don't know exactly what that means, except that this stuff is awesome - smooth, creamy, chunks of salty, tart olives. $4.25

April 3, 2009

Funny People

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The alum from Freaks and Geeks (Jason Segel, Martin Starr and Seth Rogen, among others) have a special place in my heart. I pretty much love all of them to freaking death.

Tonight I saw a really great movie, Adventureland, with Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds and Martin Starr (adorable, allergy ridden Bill from Freaks and Geeks). It was fabulous, alternately funny and heartwarming. Best movie I have seen in a while. It takes place in the 80s and is about a geeky English Lit major (sounds familiar). The music is really, like, totally awesome (that was an 80s reference).

One of the previews they showed was for Funny People, a movie coming out by Judd Apatow and starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen and the fabulous Leslie Mann. Another one that I will be seeing this summer...

Quick Product Review: Dulcet Sweet Orange Chile Mustard

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You see them at the Farmers' Market. You see their products in the grocery stores. But when do you ever want to spend $5.99 on mustard? Once you taste Dulcet's sweet orange chile mustard, you will want to.

Tonight I roasted sweet potato spears until crispy. Mixed two teaspoons of the sweet orange chile mustard with 1 teaspoon of mayo and then dipped the sweet potatoes in the deliciousness.

It's worth the $5.99 - really. I can't wait to make an awesome potato salad with it, or smear it on a turkey burger. Orangey with an underlying chile spice - not subtle, not in your face, confident in its flavors but fabulous and made here in Oregon. For those of you who don't live in Oregon, don't despair - you can buy this fabulous stuff in lots of fine food stores across the country.

April 2, 2009

This meatloaf is making me thirsty.

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I met my friend Marianne for dinner at Besaw's last week. I picked that particular restaurant because they were participating in the Tap Project and I wanted to pitch in. Also, I heard good things about it - mostly that it had been around a long time and that they have a killer breakfast.

The waiter was super friendly when we sat down - He was very enthusiastic about the food - "Oh my gosh - you'll love this... or that..." I love that in a waiter. It's very endearing and makes me really want to order one of everything.

We started out with the warm beet salad with goat cheese. So tangy. So warm. So red. There was plenty for both of us to share and then some.

I knew what I wanted. I've always been a meat and potatoes kind of girl. And anything with mashed potatoes usually pulls me in. Besaw's was no exception. I ordered the meatloaf, with bacon gravy, collard greens and mashed potatoes. Marianne ordered the roasted pork loin with brussel sprouts in a maple reduction. We agreed that we would share our food, so that we would each get to taste both of them.

The problem is, once I got my meatloaf and started eating it, there was no going back. The pork loin was nice and all, but it didn't have gravy. Or potatoes. It was in fact, a bit dry. And pork and brussel sprouts, well, they just don't compare! We traded for about 1 minute and we both decided that we liked our own dinners the best. Thank heavens. I missed that meatloaf the minute it left my hands. It was tender and flavored well - crispy bacon popping up to say hello every now and again, simply delightful.

The meatloaf was a tad salty. Usually a restaurant errs on the side of not enough salt, so I was a little surprised. It wasn't too salty to eat, but it was noticable and with each bite I heard my tongue say in a weak little voice: "water... please..." I drank a lot of water that night. Good thing! Because I was paying for my tap water that night for the Tap Project!

All in all, it was lovely - the service was great, the waiter was adorable and friendly and the food was packed with flavor. I'd go back. Definitely.

Besaw's on Urbanspoon

$20.09 Dinners - Last Week!

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I'm late. But I still wanted to let you know about the Delectable Dining Deals in Portland next week. Well, actually, they've been happening for the past three weeks and I'm just now getting around to telling you about it for the last week. I know. Lame! But check out these restaurants next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for their 3-course, prix fixe meals for $20.09:

Chez Joly
, Davis St. Tavern, Gracie's, H5O bistro and bar, Mamma Mia Trattoria, Mother's Bistro, Pazzo, Red Star Tavern, Macaroni Grill, Southpark and Typhoon.

That's a lot of restaurants. I am going to check out Chez Joly next week, since I've never been there. If I had unlimited time and money, I'd also check out Southpark, Gracie's, Redstar and Pazzo as part of my top five. My top 7 would include H5O and Davis St Tavern - I haven't tried either of those yet. If you end up trying one of these meals, come back and comment - I'd love to hear about it!

April 1, 2009

Do you want some Chili Cheese Fries?

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Today I had this craving for chili cheese fries. Ick. I was also thinking about how sick I would feel if I ate them. Then I created this recipe in my head and had to try it when I got home from work.

The result was an intensely spicy, complex pile of deliciousness that filled me up, but didn't make me sick. I did the nutritional analysis and it's actually a healthy recipe! What do you know. Here's the recipe and some pics of my cooking:

Lizzy's Chili Cheese Fries

Serves 2.

2 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 Serrano pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
2 Roma tomatoes
1 can of pinto beans
1/2 cup water
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup shredded Colby jack cheese
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Scrub sweet potatoes and slice into long spears, about 1/8" thick. I like to leave the skin on.

3. Place sweet potatoes in a large Ziploc bag. Add 2 tsp olive oil, a dash of kosher salt, 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin. Shake to toss. Pour out on to lightly oiled baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.

4. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large saute pan on medium high heat.

5. Chop onion and add to oil. While onion is cooking, mince garlic, seed and chop the Serrano pepper and chop the red bell pepper. Add to onion and cook until all vegetables are tender. Season vegetables with a dash each of salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin.

6. Chop tomatoes and add to vegetables. Cook down until tomatoes are dissolving into the vegetables, about 5 minutes.

7. Drain and rinse pinto beans. Add to vegetables with 1/2 cup water. Add in remaining chili powder and cumin and an additional dash of salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook over medium high heat. Occasionally smash some of the beans with the back of your spoon or spatula and stir to thicken the chili. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes, until liquid evaporates and chili has reached desired consistency.

8. Pile 1/2 of sweet potato fries on each plate. Spoon 1/2 of the chili mixture over each pile of fries and sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese. Let sit for 2 minutes or so, so the sweet potatoes can absorb some flavor and the cheese can melt.

9. EAT!

Per Serving: 438 calories, 12 grams fat, 69 carbohydrates, 17 grams dietary fiber, 18 grams protein.