Archive for the ‘beer’ Tag

Portobello + Beermongers   Leave a comment

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. 

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Posted August 29, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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Annibrew Summary, and Prepare for Bite-time   Leave a comment

The Bailey's Taproom Annibrew Cubed event was what I had hoped it would be- full of good beers and conversations with other beer enthusiasts, it wasn't crowded or hot and there were no obnoxious people that I could tell, which is good enough. We were there when they opened their doors to ensure we would get to taste everything, and sure enough a few hours in our top favorite, the Cascade Bailey's Quadratic Formula in beautiful beer geekiness of ax^2 + bx + c = 4 where a= 1 bubonic Plague(Heaven's Hills) b= 1 Spiced Quad (Maker's Mark) and c=2 Big Red(Maker's Mark)  all equating into a wonderful swirl of complex flavor, was out. As we left, our second place winner in our eyes, the Firestone Parabola with a bold bourbon and tobacco initial punch followed by dark chocolate and smoke as it bloomed on the palate, also tapped out.

During our 5 hour stay (which also included a cheerful passing by of pirates outside from Plunderthon which many along the windows raised their glass and waved to but still everyone withstrained from any shouts or screams even after a couple hours of drinking, inner woo hoos only!), we chose to get a few repeat token taste. The beers that made this cut included the Russian River Consecration (Belgian style aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces and Pediococcus and currants added to make one sour beer) and Hair of the Dog Cherry Adam from the Wood (a bourbon nose with a very dark cherry profile and only a hint of tartness Pilsner malt aged with black cherries in bourbon casks). We were at a draw whether the Hopworks For Those About to Bock had vanilla tones or yeast tones in it or not- even 20 minutes after we had left and were on the way home the debate continued.

And we will never forget the barnyard nose, our first experience of barnyard in beer, on the Block 15 #181- despite its aroma the yeasty ferment did even out on the tongue. The biggest disappointment was the Allagash 08 Curieux, a Belgian Tripel aged in Jim Beam for 8 weeks that didn't have much to show for its age. The New Holland Dragon's Milk was a soft caramel nice beer, but not as deep as hoped either. And no, there are no pictures from this event because hey, I was tasting 20 barrel aged beers. The veggie sandwich I had right before and the chorizo burrito from Santeria afterward were still not enough to combat the heavenly effects of the alcohol content ingested at this Bailey's third anniversary. Still my favorite beer event of all July. So no beverage photos… though I do have a token photo of the best happy hour menu in Beaverton that I know of, Decarli's. The pizzettas are enough for two, and their best one is the portobello mushroom, gorgonzola, sweet onion, and walnut-sage pizza. The best option is still the polenta fries with gorgonzola butter, but if you want to share, go with this pizzetta.

Next weekend is Bite of Oregon, including 120 items from restaurants, food carts, and a dessert pavilion to taste. I'll also be switching gears from tasting beer to tasting wine. On Monday, there is a Groupon special where you can purchase 2 admissions for the price of 1!

We'll be stopping by on Saturday afternoon, after a class I'm very excited about, a cheese making class with Hip Cooks where we'll be making and sampling Ricotta, Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, Mascarpone and Fromage Fort in a menu that includes

  • Roasted tomatoes filled with fresh ricotta
  • Goat Cheese and Fromage Fort with french bread
  • Pizza bianca with fresh Mozzarella
  • Poached apricots stuffed with Mascarpone, rolled in pistachio

Isn't my countdown to this coming weekend worth it?

Posted August 1, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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July is Craft Beer month… and the highlight is Bailey’s   Leave a comment

This means it was time for the now annual pilgrimage to the Oregon Brewer's Festival. This year we showed we had learned our lesson from hiding at the Buzz Tent last year on a Saturday (now on our Murtaugh List), so this year attended on OBF opening day. Sure, we had to take the day off from work, but it was worth it for no lines and plenty of laid back tasting and conversation instead of loud talking over random group cheers/shoutings/screams that usually punctuates the tents. Thanks to sharing tastings with others, I tried approximately 30 beers. Besides the toasty tasting Maui Coconut Porter, the rest of my faves were at the Buzz Tent (such as vanilla coffee chocolate Caldera Mogli, and pepperjack Riverport 5/5 Pepper), where it took two instead of one tokens to get a taste.

For me, that's not the highlight of this July though. I missed the Rogue Annual Beer and Cheese event this month because I dropped the ball on when it would be and didn't block my calendar, so I had an inevitable work conflict. But that's not the highlight either. No, the highlight is Bailey's Anniversary Barrel Aged Beer Fest. I know there will be no annoying woo-hoos at the mature anniversary event at Bailey's Taproom, our usual hangout for beer, and it is held inside so you can enjoy AC and shade (though they have a few tables for outside patio drinking sometimes). Bailey's is our drinking hole thanks to their constantly (a couple times a week) rotating tap which I follow all the time on FB and twitter. Despite the lack of food menu, they have an understanding with the Mexican hole in the wall across the street, Santeria, that delivers their dishes to Bailey's, and that is just fine with us and leaves you more money for beers. This is their 3rd anniversary, an event they celebrate where they tap aged barrels of beer for sampling at only $15 (which includes a real glass glass and 5 tasting tokens). It's like another Cellarfest! Yes, an event enjoyed indoors with beer aficionados, not 1000 people looking to just drink a lot of beer.

They've written up 2/3 of their descriptions already, and they include, so you have an understanding where my beer palette lies since my re-education and relocation from Chicago thanks to all that is available in micro brew capital Portland… (below photo is quite representative of a typical visit to Bailey's)

  • Oakshire Very Ill Tempered Gnome was first brewed for the Holiday Ale
    Fest.  Oakshire then took this Strong Winter Ale and aged it in a Sokol
    Blosser Pinot Noir barrel for five months.
  • Rogue Juniper John John is a Juniper Pale Ale aged in Rogue’s Juniper
    Gin barrels.  A hint of cucumber and a sprucey note in the aroma are
    followed by a Juniper bute mid palate finishing with a soft oakiness.
  • Upright Lambicus Six is the first batch of their Six (a dark Rye)
    that has been sitting in a Pinot barrel since May ‘09 with brettanomyses
    lambicus added to it.  The result is a Flanders style red/bruin
    character.
  • Russian River Consecration is a belgian style ale aged in Cabernet
    Sauvignon barrels.  Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces and
    Pediociccus are added, plus currants
  • Firestone Parabola has been on of the most popular beers at the past
    two anniversaries, this beer features bold bourbon and tobacco aromas
    and rich dark chocolate, charred oak flavor.
  • Moylan’s Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale.  Moylan’s took this rich malty beer and aged it in both Apple Brandy barrels and Port barrels.
  • Fort George ‘09 Illuminator.  We’ve been holding on to this one for a
    year.  It is dark brown in appearance, with an intriguing hint of
    bourbon, rich, malty, and balanced with the dryness of hops and a tart
    finish.  Aged in Heaven Hills bourbon barrels.
  • Lompoc ‘08 Bourbon LSD.  Another beer that we served at our first
    anniversary and have been hanging on to.  This beer was fantastic two
    years ago, we’ll see what another couple of years of aging did to it.
  • Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza is brewed in the Franco-Gelgian
    tradition of strong golden ales.  It is Spicy and peppery with  a gentle
    hop bouquet and the beguiling influence of wild yeast.  Aged in Oak
    barrels.  8% ABV
  • Full Sail ‘09 Black Gold was initally brewed in Feburary 2008 and
    released as their Imperial Stout.  Full Sail ages a portion in Bourbon
    casks and releases it a year later as Black Gold. We held on to this for
    an additonal year.  Chocolate and caramel nuances blend with the hops
    for a smooth Imperial Stout.  10.5% ABV
  • Allagash ‘08 Curieux is their belgian Tripel aged in Jim Beam barrels
    for eight weeks.  The beer picks up soft coconut and vanilla
    characteristics…and also a hint of bourbon flavor.  We had this at our
    first anniversary and then held on to an additional keg.  11% ABV
  • New Holland Dragon’s Milk has a soft, rich carmael-malt intermingled
    with deep vanilla tones; all dancing in an oak bath.  New Holland
    brought this beer to OBF a couple years back, I’m guessing there are a
    couple of people who wouldn’t mind trying it again.  10%ABV
  • Deschutes Twilight is their summer seasonal that they aged in Pinot barrels.

They have a few more beers lined up, so I am awaiting one more write up at the Bailey's Blog from Bailey's soon with the rest of the beers for their big day. This Bailey's Bday event is to me, the real deal example of celebrating Oregon craft beer month, not OBF.

Posted July 24, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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