I didn’t even remember I had this website… clearly I was experimenting of where to host my posts. Well, for a while I was using typepad, but now I have my own domain (and am using wordpress). So to see what I’ve been eating and what I’ve been doing, please visit
Too tired to write much… this whole month of October has been very draining, even though I had just come back from a weeklong trip to Chicago for a wedding followed by laid-back vacationing in Florida and the Bahamas. At the workplace, I've had to work with people in four different time zones, and balance multiple streams of tactical work along with defining two strategic directions. That means early morning and late night calls with multiple projects, so I haven't been going out much. Being tired also means I haven't been keeping up with exercising, so I also need to cut back how much I eat.
It looks like I'll be staying here at TypePad: I was trying really hard to get the hang of WordPress because it seemed to have so many possibilities. But, the import from vox didn't go as smoothly as TypePad's, and I couldn't fix the errors in pictures and layouts and just decided to give up as my patience just ran out.
Thankfully, last weekend I was able to getaway with friends to visit Sauvie Island to wander a corn maize and do some pumpkin inspections, and eat some corn brushed from a huge group butter container, yay! It was so nice to be able to just turn the thinking off and be chaufeurred off to silliness where others planned the fun and I was along for the ride, thanks!
The vox blog has been closed as vox is no longer offering blog support. I am currently trying to find a permanent home for my blog which can be the final place for all my previous blog entries and provide the functionality I am looking for to continue with posts in the future.I do plan to continue to write updates that describe my adventures in the future. I will update when I have made the move. Until then, love and peace!
An all veggie restaurant! Portobello is a vegan trattoria that offers food from the regions of Italy, Spain, and France. I had seen great reviews on Yelp, but going to a vegan restaurant also made me temper my expectations. Was it only so raved about because of the vegan adjective in front of it?
We had a great time though, and would visit again. The atmosphere was lovely, a combination of laid back and homey with the friendly openness of the servers in their casual dress and wildflowers in vases, yet a bit of fancy to feel like you are indeed dining out and it is going to be a nicer than an everyday meal, thanks to chandeliers and an interesting wall of wood with little artsy details scattered. I found a little owl in a corner particularly endearing.
Drink selection was full of creativity that perked a lot of interest for us. He settled for a mocktail called the "Ginger Rawgers" which was a mix of housemade kambucha called "herbucha" mixed with blueberry, ginger, and lime. We were also tempted by another mocktail called the "Red Scare" of beet, ginger, lemon, apple, and strawberry shrub. In terms of actual cocktails, the same dilemna. I ended up with "Lila's Limeade" with cherry-vanilla bean vodka, lime, and soda. Though I was tempted by the "Harper" with black pepper ginger vodka, strawberry puree, ginger, and prosecco. It was fun to see such a flirty and fun drink menu, they obviously put it together thoughtfully.
We started off with white truffle mushroom pate with accoutrements. This first appetizer didn't impress me- the pate just didn't have the soft almost buttery texture that spread and rich flavor that balanced the perfectly fine other accompaniments of fresh crusty bread and tarty cornichons. Using white truffle and mushroom I really expected more as mushrooms really can be rich. Next time I'll try the beet tartare.
For the first course, a half order of pan crisped polenta topped with a sweet and sour eggplant tomato ragout had a perfectly executed polenta that balanced the crisp exterior and creamy grit interior, and the ragout was very flavorful, a chunky sauce that gave you both the sweet and tart of tomato.
For the mains, the red wine braised seitan short rib with olive oil mashed potatoes, amaranth, lemon and fried garlic (we ordered a half portion) was more of a typical vegan dish (albeit excellent for being vegan) where it was clear that the seitan couldn't compare with real meat. But, the dish itself, if judged on its own and not as a short rib, was flavorful although texturewise all soft. It would have been a nice touch if the fried garlic has been more fried, adding some crispness. Look how meaty the seitan looks appearance wise though I missed the richness and tiny bit of gristle that real short rib would have had. As a vegan dish it was good- but the short rib adjective set the dish up to where it couldn't reach.
The "stravagante pollo falso", with gardein chick'n topped with thinly sliced daiya cheese and field roast mushroom loaf, herbs, and marsala wine jus (also a half portion pictured here!) was really outstanding. This was something that could definitely compete with a real chicken dish, and even trounce many normal implementations.
The "chicken" here, the gardein chick'n topped with the mushroom loaf, was the texture of if you had taken a chicken breast and pounded it to tenderness, and the mushroom loaf gave it a tinge of salty toughness on top almost like a skin. The cheese and the jus gave the whole dish a creamy richness almost like it had been cooked in chicken stock, and the entire dish was juicy. Throw in a starch and veggie onto the dish and you could believe it was up to par with any normal meat entree dish at any other restaurant… and the fact it beats the moistness level of most chicken dishes makes it even better. I wish it had come with olive oil mashed potatoes like the short rib dish or some sort of side to absorb those juices.
So my overall impression? Like any restaurant there are some hits and misses- but the misses aren't terrible, just didn't live up to full potential. Sometimes vegan food can be very dry or limited in taste because they dial back not only the meat but also unhealthy components like fats that make food taste good (heh my opinion anyway), but Portobello doesn't suffer from this at all. It draws from ingredients that already pack a lot of flavor, and they buy it fresh. If you have a veggie or vegan dining companion, they will definitely enjoy this, "a night dining out" with all food done vegan- and the whole menu to choose from instead of just one or two choices and sometimes after verbal negotiation with the waiter/chef.
If you are looking to replace a restaurant dining experience that offers meat on the menu with an evening at Portobello and do eat meat, go in looking for something that tastes good, but doesn't necessarily need to compare/replace meat. It would be like going to a French-Japanese restaurant and lamenting that the food isn't French enough even though the food is tasty. As a restaurant, Portobello gives you what it advertises- a trattoria experience, simple, casual, but good, but defined on its own terms. The flavors their dishes offers that seem simple are not simple at all because the flavors have been carefully constructed to parallell traditional dishes in a vegan way. Sometimes this makes it better then the traditional dish- and sometimes it just makes it a different kind of dish.
As for dessert? After being torn about the tiramisu, we passed (though we sorta wish we hadn't in retrospect). Beermongers is basically next door, so we stopped there for some interesting beer. Dogfish Head's Theobroma peaked our interest first since no Dogfish beer has been disliked. Theobroma ("food of the gods") is an ale brewed with honey, Aztec cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, ancho chilies and ground annato.
We also tried two Mikkeller barrel aged Black Hole bottles- both were stouts brewed with coffee, honey, and vanilla. However, one was aged in rum barrels (giving it a smoky flavor), and another bottle had that same beer aged in red wine barrels (giving it more acid background). There are two other versions of this- aged in scotch peat whiskey barrels and aged in bourbon barrels- which unfortunately Beermongers didn't have anymore. Wha
t an awesome series though, and it was very cool to be doing vertical tasting with that same stout backdrop.
All these beers gave us a little munchie craving, so we got a takeout Arrabiata pizza from Portobello. Beermongers doesn't serve any food, but they allow you to bring any food you want in. The Arrabiata had chile-fennel marinara, hot cherry peppers, "sausage" and daiya cheese. It's a thin crust, and we wish it just had a little more sauce. The sausage is cut into slices and spread, rather then crumbled I would have preferred to to spread that taste out all over and I could get that meaty burst in every bite.
This little corner at SE 12th and Division, with Portobello and Beermongers which both change their menu offerings per what is available and seasonally, certainly has some unusual tastebud offerings if you want to try exploring the definitions of traditional flavor profiles of food and going to whole new places in drink.
The only picture of me at the cheese party, sadly. In the mirror… as we were setting up with guests arriving.
Table filling up with cheese… the goat cheese we made is out in the front in this photo, and you can spread it on a baguette and top with basil/mint/sage and/or pinot noir jam and/or honey balsamic vinegar. Most of the wines for the evening were reds, though some beer also got thrown into the mix later.
There are actually two more side tables of cheese items not in this photo that included blackberries, the parmesan romano rice, slice granny smith apples, and chips with homemade cheese salsa, but this was the main spread that everyone revolved around.
Other cheeses that were added to the chevre (topped with mint/basil/sage and/or honey vinaigrette and/or pinot noir jam), Willamette Valley Farmstead Brindisi, and Pecorino E Tartufo Rusti that I had planned included Chaubier, Feta, Humboldt Fog, Cave Aged Swiss Grueyere, and Queso Del Invierno.
Examples of the pao de queijo… I decided to try a new version of the recipe I found because it is less fat (uses olive oil, less cheese) then the version I usually make. It also uses a blender instead of hand-kneading, which resulted in much more fluffy version.
However, I think I may still make the other version which is denser and chewier, and offers more savory cheesiness.
Current homemade chevre progress… just unmolded yesterday morning after 12 hours of curdling, 24 hours of draining in mold. Then it needs 24 more hours of draining through the bamboo. 12 hours to go, and we'll wrap it tonight! We haven't decided what we wanted to roll it in yet. We do have sweet basil, mint, and sage in our herb garden.
Inspired by Steve's Cheese and Ten01's Cheese Spectacular, I've decided to make my own cheese party version at my home this coming weekend. Mine will not have 100 cheeses. But, I still want that same casual atmosphere of going up to stations of cheese to try a taste and mingling cocktail style, but without the complication of fancy hors d'oeuvres or dinner or managing a bar. I asked everyone to bring a favorite cheese/beverage pairing, or a dish with a cheese ingredient. So for the most part I'm not sure what I'm going to get, though I am guessing most are going to lean towards the cheese and wine route.
I've been trying to brainstorm how to make sure everyone enjoys cheese as much as I do at this get-together, at least the part I can contribute/control. I think it's about both sharing with each other our favorite cheeses as well as throwing in something new to try, and balancing that with interesting assortments of beer and wine and other accompaniments. And, to me, a delicious time is to tickle all those tastebuds: sweet, savory, salty, spicy, sour and bitter.
Obviously the cheese is offering the savory. I have decided on three cheeses to offer.
JUST THE CHEESE
I am guessing that everyone will end up eating 4-6 oz overall of cheese, divided
among all the cheese options available.I think if I bring three cheeses, there's a likelihood that there will end up being eight cheeses at least, which is quite an assortment.
So, first the familiar. I have planned
Valley Farmstead Brindisi, a hard cow cheese aged 12 months, with
Bridgeport IPA and/or red like the Gouger Celler red grape blend 903.
- Pecorino E Tartufo Rusti, a sheep's cheese with truffles from Italy,
paired with beverages. Either with a home-beer kit brewed malty porter
and/or a berry leather
red like Cain Five that I've had for almost a decade and is really
needing to be shared with other wine appreciators. I think many won't
have had tried this kind of cheese before, though I love trying
experimental cheeses rubbed or aged in whatever anyone wants to try.
So something new. We want to offer
- a soft cheese
like chevre drizzled with liquidy pinot jam on toast point or cracker. We're planning on having this paired
with Blue Moon's honeymoon summer ale and/or a sweet light white like a Vinho Verde (an almost sparkling summer when it's sooo hot white). We are going to attempt to make our own goat
cheese chevre, and when we check on it that morning we'll know whether
to go get a substitution from the farmer's market…
We have other white and red wine, various beer, Coke and Sprite, lemonade,
pitcher of mixed juice beverage, and water. The lemonade is going to be made quite sour, while the fruity beverage will be sweet.
We will provide
- hye roller sandwiches
(Turkey Breast, Ham, chicken salad, veggie or tuna salad, with cream
cheese spread, green leaf lettuce and cherry tomatoes). Yeah, I'm just getting this at Safeway. I wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted something in their stomach so they can drive home could have something a little more filling.
- parmesan romano rice with peas.This is one of my dirty little secret things I like to eat that I discovered when I first was living on my own after college. It totally starts with the natural parmesan romano rice a roni. Yes, rice a roni. It didn't used to have a "natural" version, but this changed a couple years ago I think, and really it's a mix of pretty straightforward ingredients then dried: parboiled long grain rice, parmesan and romano cheese, whey, cultured nonfat milk, sunflower oil, salt and other seasonings. The key though is to us this as a base and then mix in a little extra, like lightly sauteed in butter organic local peas, and a drizzle of truffle oil and sprinkle of dill. I also like shrimp or mushrooms, but based on who may be coming I may leave that out based on their dislike of those ingredients
- Brazilian cheese mini-rolls: essentially, pao de queijo
Moving from the more substantial savory offerings to the sweet, I have
- lemon honey hazelnuts
- orange honey hazelnuts
- sliced apples and pears
Salt-wise, there are
- shelled walnut halves
- jalapeno bacon almonds (which also adds to the table one of the flavors I like, some hot spice)
For sour, I am going with
- bacon pickle slices. It is vegetarian (flavored with hickory smoke) by Unbound Pickling
- pickled beets in a pomegranate and chai sprice brine by Unbound Pickling, though these have some sweetness because of the pomegranate
- little gherkins
And, finally bitter. I thought about a nice arugula salad, my standard go to for bitter (that or a beer but those drinking wine might not want to mix beer). But I think a helping of salad to balance with the sandwiches and cheese makes it too much of a meal that detracts from the cheese, even if I add some shavings of grana padano. And, I only have little canape plates for the number of guests coming. So instead, I am going to cut some bittersweet chocolate in little pieces as "dessert", and if some are interested I can open a port. I also have some balsamic vinegar (one Italian heirloom that is barrel aged, one honey vinegar) that is nice drizzled as an optional enhancement to bread or cheese.