August 23, 2009


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The next three months will be so exciting. I'm moving, going to Greece, leaving my job (or it will be leaving me, I guess), and embarking on whatever new career I come up with. I will be writing to you from Greece, on this blog, keeping you apprised of my adventures (of which I expect to have many) during my month of travels.

I have so many ideas of what to do when I get back from Greece and finish up my job. But I haven't decided definitively on anything yet, except that I want to keep writing. Since I will be unemployed, my eating out budget will be significantly reduced, so you may see some other topics discussed here. I will also be staying just outside of Vancouver, Washington for several months and plan on checking out some of the restaurants in that area on a limited basis (suggestions welcome).

So that's all. I'm excited. There are so many possibilities and I can't wait to explore them. In the meantime, I may be posting less frequently as I get all this straightened out and prepare for my upcoming adventures. As always, thanks for reading!

August 17, 2009

Five Guys and a Matinee

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Whoa. Today was all kinds of stress. Intense four hours at work, then leaving early. The stress devoured the bagel sitting in my stomach from breakfast and I was starving. Well, you know, as starving as a girl like me can get. I was meeting a friend at the Cedar Hills movie theater in Beaverton. It's one of my favorites because they serve good popcorn there - Orville Redenbacher - and also they serve Dreyer's ice cream. And also. Their seats are awesome.

I stopped at Five Guys Burgers and Fries on my way to the theater. I walked in and it was a little bit of a circus. Bright red and white decor, with awards plastered on the wall for best burger, best family restaurant, etc.. Bags of potatoes were stacked on the floor and the place was filled with the torsos of the people they always feature on the news in stories about overweight America. (I include myself in that description.)

I ordered the Little Cheeseburger, because I have never been fond of two patty burgers. Also. I hate the word patty. I also ordered fries because there was a chalkboard near the counter that said: "Today's Fries came from: Quincy, Washington." I wanted to taste the Quincy Fries.

All their burger toppings are free and I had them put mayo, mustard, ketchup, onions and pickles on mine. That, to me, is a perfect burger.

I watched them flip and assemble the burgers, but my attention was mostly focused on the fries. They fill up a cup of fries, put it in the bag, then dump another scoop on top of the burger and fries in the bag. Totally excessive. But I don't think that bothered even one patron I saw, as the bags lay ripped open on the tables like the bodice of a heroine from one of those grocery store romance novels, ravaged by Fabio as the fries were ravaged by Five Guys customers.

My burger was messy. With processed cheese hiding any view of the condiments and smashed flat, it looked like a comfort food dream. There was a lack of pickles. I think there were only two. But it was very saucy, which I like and the beef tasted good enough. It was juicy, which I was worried about when I saw the sign that said they cook all their burgers well-done.

The fries were perfect. They tasted fresh. I don't think they are frozen - they were damn good - crispy and creamy on the inside. I ravaged them.

Then I went and saw District 9. I nearly lost my lunch on multiple occasions while watching. But I fought to keep my lunch in, as I enjoyed it way to much to lose it on aliens.

Five Guys on Urbanspoon

August 16, 2009

I feel pretty, oh so pretty. Well, my pie does, anyway.

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On Thursday, I decided last minute-ish to enter the Portland Pie-Off. I'm not really a baker and I do savory better than sweet. But I'm not above experimenting.

So I made two pies: a Greek savory pie (in honor of my upcoming vacation) and a Lemon Raspberry Cream Pie with Pistachio Brittle. Both were pretty good, but the Greek pie, which I named Stavros Pie (because it sounded more interesting than Greek Pie), I was most proud of. And it won an award! The Prettiest Pie Award! I got a ribbon and a gift card to New Seasons. Thank you, Portland Pie Commission!

Here's the recipe for the Greek Pie:
1 unbaked pie crust
2 lbs ground lamb
1/2 red onion, minced
1 T. olive oil
2 t. Kosher salt
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1 t. cinnamon
pinch of anise seed
1 t. cumin
1/4 c. flour
2 T. lemon juice
8 oz. goat cheese + extra for garnish
1/4 c. bread crumbs
3 eggs
fresh oregano
1/2 c. minced kalamata olives
1 leek, cleaned and minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
olive oil

Add ground lamb to saucepan. Cook over medium high heat. While it is cooking, add the red onion and the cinnamon, cumin and anise seed, salt and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent and the lamb is completely cooked. Drain the meat/onion mixture to get rid of excess grease from the lamb. Add the mixture back into the saucepan. Add the olive oil and the flour. Stir until meat is coated and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

While meat is cooling, cut cherry tomatoes into halves, toss in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven on 450 for 15 minutes, until tomatoes are burst and starting to char. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a saute pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and the leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium high until caramelized, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

When the meat is cooled, add the goat cheese, bread crumbs, a few leaves of fresh oregano, 1/4 cup of chopped olives and eggs. Mix together thoroughly.

To assemble the pie, add the meat mixture to the empty pie crust. Cover the top of the mixture with the caramelized leeks, remaining olives and roasted tomatoes. If desired, dot the top of the pie with goat cheese.

Bake in oven for 1 hour at 375 degrees. Garnish with fresh oregano and serve warm.

August 11, 2009

Much Ado About Nothing (or The Tale of the Time Traveler's Wife)

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I don't do what's popular when it comes to books. I didn't read The Da Vinci Code, The Jane Austen Book Club, or Eat, Pray, Love. Not that they aren't good. I mean, I don't know if they're good. But I don't really care. I've had so many people tell me to read them that I don't read them, just so I can say that I'm the only person that hasn't read them. (I know. It's very mature behavior.) The Time Traveler's Wife is one of those books.

I've had friends that have read it two or three times. It's so romantic, such a good story, so addicting, they say. So I was kind of excited to see the movie. So I could see what all the fuss was about. Also because I was curious to see how the whole time travel thing would translate to screen. And tonight. I found out.

As one who cries when there is applause at a concert or at any random, sappy Lifetime movie, I did not shed one tear in The Time Traveler's Wife. In birth, romance or death. No. Tears. Why? Because I didn't care what happened to any of the characters.

Clare (Rachel McAdams) and Henry (Eric Bana) start out meeting in a library and somehow fall in love, though it's never really clear why they like each other, what their interests are, why they are attracted to each other. Empty dialogue attempts to narrate the story, but does not explain anything. There are flashbacks. There's time travel. He's there and then he's gone. He's being chased, she's home alone crying. It's not about her, the title character, The Time Traveler's Wife. In fact we know less about her than any of the characters, which is mildly annoying since she is the title character. But only mildly because I was not emotionally invested at all.

Clare and Henry get married, because he decides that he's "not lonely anymore." During the wedding, he keeps leaving to time travel and coming back either older, with gray hair or younger, with black hair. Multiple times. In one day and with guests around, though they never seem to notice. Everyone just acts like it's normal that a guy will have gray hair then black hair within twenty minutes without the assistance of a hair stylist and some dye. This is where I laughed out loud. It was not romantic at all. Especially on their wedding night when... oh never mind. It's not about their wedding.

The time travel was problematic and nonsensical. Yes, I know it's a fantasy kind of a story. But I can watch Firefly and have my disbelief completely suspended while I'm watching spaceships flying around. I did not believe the time travel for a minute. Time traveler talking to current self, giving advice. Time traveler as playmate to current self. Time traveler being romantic with current self's wife.Time travel is a silly complication that's totally unnecessary. It's not about time travel.

There's just no story there. There's no real conflict and there's no resolution to the non-conflict. And then it ends. It was like a two hour long montage of video a sometimes happy, sometimes sad couple. And sometimes they talk. It's about nothing. The end.

If you've read the book, see the movie. Otherwise, don't bother.

The Time Traveler's Wife opens in wide release on Friday.

August 10, 2009

The Non-Snobby Nob Hill Bar and Grill

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Nob Hill Bar and Grill does not match it's name. In the midst of the pretentiousness on NW 23rd Avenue, the visibly older establishment unashamedly invites the average person in for a bite. Being entirely average on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I found myself wandering through their doors.

There were a couple of people at the bar. At first glance, they might have been homeless. (Twenty-third Avenue, despite it's desire for the wealthy pocketbooks, also attracts many without pocketbooks at all.) At second glance, they were probably just regular people, albeit not the 23rd crowd of high maintenance with white pants with red heels and a constantly tossing bleached head of hair on an overtanned body.

I found a corner table and focused on a car race on the tv. The walls within my sight were covered with CitySearch awards for the best burger, and I could see an older gentleman, with glasses at the end of his nose flipping burgers in the kitchen.

The waitress, friendly and smiley, asked me for my order. I went for the BLT. That's what I order when I feel like being healthy. (Blah blah fatty mayo and bacon. Can't hear you. It's totally healthy.)

My sandwich came out within 10 minutes. And it was really quite good. Layers of crunchy lettuce, juicy tomatoes and thick bacon with a simple layer of mayo and nothing else, on toasted sourdough. Just the way I like it. No fussy, fancy ingredients, just simple, crunchy, salty goodness.

The fries were a different story. Some of them translucent from the oil they were fried in, they were greasy and chalky tasting. Next time, I'll get the chips. Yes. There will be a next time. I have to taste their award-winning burger.

Nob Hill Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

August 9, 2009

Sunday Experiments with Pomegranate Juice

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Every once in a while a company will send me products to review or sample. I only write about them if I like them and if I think it will be useful to my readers. Last week, the POM Wonderful company emailed me to see if I would like to receive some pomegranate juice. This was an easy one for me. Because I loved pomegranate juice long before my love was reciprocated.

I was surprised when a box of 8 bottles of pomegranate juice arrived in the mail. What would I possibly do with that much juice? I drank some, which was delicious, but then I got the urge to cook and packed the rest up for my cooking extravaganza this weekend at my parents' house while they were out of town.

First up:

Pomegranate Blueberry Sorbet

1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
16 oz. pomegranate juice
2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, until sugar is dissolved. Add pomegranate juice and blueberries. Bring to a boil again, stirring occasionally to break up some of the blueberries. Let it cool completely. Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.

Yield: 1 qt.

A scoop of this sorbet in a glass with club soda poured over it is very refreshing.


Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce

4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone-in
Kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 c. vegetable stock
8 oz. pomegranate juice

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place in a preheated pan, skin side down. Cover and turn heat to medium high. Cover and let chicken brown until skin is crispy and brown, about 12 minutes. Turn thighs over and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate.

You may need to spoon some of the skin grease out of the pan after the chicken is cooked, leave 1-2 T. in the pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute until caramelized and lightly browned. At this point, you can remove the onions and garlic and set aside to use in a side dish (mashed potatoes are good) or you can leave them in the sauce. I prefer to remove them so that the sauce is smooth, but still has the flavor of the onions and garlic.

Add one cup of the vegetable stock to the pan to deglaze and scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Once the pan is deglazed, add the pomegranate juice, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes, until reduced by half. Add remaining stock and bring to a boil again. Add the chicken back into the sauce and turn off the heat. Cover and let it sit for 5-6 minutes. Be sure to spoon sauce over the chicken, so the flavor is in every bite.


Pomegranate juice is rich and deep and more intense than regular juices. It's also good for you. But mostly it just tastes really good and is versatile in cooking. The chicken recipe that I made today was not super sweet, just a touch of sweet, like I had added wine to the recipe. The sorbet was sweet, but not overly so, but again had that deep richness that I so appreciate in food. It can be expensive - so don't buy it at the gourmet stores. Shop around a little. It's worth it.

August 8, 2009

Inside Every One of Us

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This trailer is brilliant.

August 6, 2009

Frittering Away Precious Time Staring At Ben Affleck.

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I love a good happy hour. Especially when they are super cheap. The Gilt Club is not super cheap. All the food is $5 during happy hour. But it is really good food and I didn't even care that I ended up spending $20 on food and drinks. Also because our waiter looked like Ben Affleck. Don't get me wrong, I think Ben Affleck is a terrible actor and is probably pretty dumb, but I'm not ashamed to say that he is a beautiful specimen. As was the waiter.

But anyway. I ordered a mini-bacon cheeseburger, which was tiny, but seriously so flavorful, with a special sauce and crunchy thick bacon on top of a medium rare little burger, topped with vegetables and housed on a lovely little bun, that I wanted to just keep it in my mouth and not swallow ever. I'm sure everyone is glad that I moved on and swallowed before I dug into the fries and the manchego cheese fritters in a red pepper sauce. Yes.

The fritters rocked: tangy, a little sweet, crunchy and melty with the exotic Spanish cheese. In fact, if they were to have presented me with a basket of them (a la Chili's), instead of a plate of three, I would have eaten them all. Which I'm sure would have been attractive to Ben Affleck the waiter. Because, hello. I appreciate good food and it shows. In more ways than one.

Gilt Club on Urbanspoon

August 4, 2009

I TOLD you I didn't like hiking.

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You know how every summer, people fall off cliffs and mountains and there are all those creepy murders on trails and stuff? Basically, lots of scary and dead people out in nature. And that, my friends, is the premise of A Perfect Getaway.

Steve Zahn and Milla Jovavich star in this silly, tepid suspense flick that pits couple against couple in hand-to-hand combat on the Hawaiian islands. Cliff and Cydney (Zahn and Jovavich) are happy honeymooners embarking on a hike in the dreamy waterfalls of the islands. They meet Nick and Gina (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez), and the four decide to hike to the falls together.

Suspicions on both sides taint their conversations and interactions and personal stories about their pasts spill out unexpectedly and their relationship deepens as they get comfortable with each other.

Then. There is fighting and running and stabbing and shooting. [Story in a nutshull.]

Steve Zahn should really stick to comedy. He's not believeable as a serious human being. And I haven't seen Milla Jovavich in anything since she was in a Disney miniseries when she was a kid, so I can't compare it to anything. But her acting was labored. And I didn't care what happened to either of them. The character development was... lame.

The far more capable and believeable actors were Olyphant and Sanchez, who captured my interest from the beginning - there was a depth there that wasn't with Zahn and Jovavich.

Anyhow. The movie wasn't scary. Really at all. There were a few jumpy moments, but it was never scary. Which I was disappointed in, because I love scary movies. There were holes in the movie that were never explained and that annoyed me because that is just lazy storytelling.

It did reinforce my attitude on why exploring the outdoors should be left to the wild animals and the certified nature people. Because there are lots of scary and dead people in the outdoors.

**Note: No, I will not go camping/hiking/caving with you. Do you think I'm stupid? Murderer!

Rent it when you're bored. This is a Saturday afternoon trash tv movie at best.

Opens Friday in theaters everywhere.

August 1, 2009


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There's about four McMenamin's establishments within walking distance from my house. Probably more. Throughout the Portland area, McMenamin's is a staple for burgers, cheap movies and beer. Their food has always been blah. Burgers are thin, overcooked patties and the salads are drenched in dressing unless you request it on the side. Service is average at best and it's usually not best.

But you know what the food is going to taste like. It's reliably mediocre. And sometimes Cajun Tater Tots are really what you want. Recently I noticed that at the Ram's Head Pub near my house, the happy hour menu changed. Curry fries and totchoes - new items that piqued my curiosity.

Last night, in need of some planning for our trip to Greece, my friends and I met at Ram's Head to plan some details on the wifi and to try the totchoes. Because who wouldn't want nachos with tots instead of chips? I was imagining piles of crispy tots, ground beef, lots of cheese sauce, sour cream, olives, beans. Everything that you get at Taco Bell on the Nachos Supreme. That seemed like a delicious idea. I was all set to be impressed. Then our food came:

This was quite possibly the lamest plate of nachos I have ever seen. The sauce was barely dribbled on top and a side of pickled jalepenos? Please.

This is not totchoes by any stretch of the imagination. This is tots, with a tiny bit of cheese sauce on part of them.

The pork sliders with coleslaw were decent. Spicy and crunchy. And I should be happy about that and shut up because that's more than I can say about a lot of meals I've had there.

But still. I am bitter about this lame attempt at MexiTots. McMenamins, your totchoes are a failure.

*Note: Regular tots are $2 on the Happy Hour menu. These "totchoes" are $4. JOKE.

Ram's Head on Urbanspoon