Spring is starting to creep up, and it is getting me in the mood for a crunchy, refreshing bowl of vegetables. This is my favorite right now.
Brooke is back and I couldn’t be happier. I am loving following her adventures as she launches into her boat life, and I can’t wait to read more.
I just made this baked pasta from Smitten Kitchen to take to a friend with a new baby (because new babies mean no sleep means how do you even have the energy to feed yourself), and now I would like to make it for myself all the time please.
Now that I’m back, I’m hitting up all my favorite places and all the new places that have opened since we’ve been gone. Wares falls into both of those categories, and we went for brunch this morning. I was not mad about it. (GET THE FRIED KALE.)
Y’all! It’s been a minute since I’ve written! But don’t you fret, I’ve still been cooking up a storm and eating all the good food. I promise. But there’s a lot of other stuff that’s been going on too!
I’m moving! Where? Good question. In October, Jonah and I will be taking advantage of our ability to work remotely. First we’re heading to Thailand for a couple of months, then we’ll be in Germany for Christmas with Jonah’s extended family, and then we’ll be in Portugal, where we’ll hopefully stay for about 4 or 5 months, and traveling from there to visit friends in London, the Netherlands, and Morocco. Exciting? Of course! Terrifying? You bet!
It’s summer, and summer in the PNW means spending all the time outside and on the beautiful Oregon coast. Last weekend was spent at our friend’s beloved beach house, and the week before that was spent at Cannon Beach at a mini family reunion. Which brings me to…
We’re engaged! While we were in Cannon Beach Jonah popped the big ol’ question and I said yes (duh). If you have any wedding planning tips or tricks (especially for weddings that take place in Chicago) I’d love to hear them!
Ok, back to the good stuff. I’ve been doing my fair share of eating out these days too. Summers are perfect for happy hours outside, and putting on that cute new sundress to hit up that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. All the incredible flavors and ingredients of summer are out in full force. Here’s what I’ve been eating lately:
Jonah took me here to celebrate our engagement, and while I only took a picture of my cocktail (it was a phones-free-dinner after that), the meal was fantastic. The highlights were my cocktail (the P.D.T aka Peas Don’t Tell) and the albacore tuna conserva served with tomatoes and peaches.
You guys, Hat Yai is seriously at the top of my list as far as new openings in Portland go. They serve southern Thai food, and it is perfectly executed and complex and satisfying and just SO DAMN GOOD. Go eat here immediately and get the fried chicken, roti, and curry. You will not be sorry.
Chef Jenn Louis hosted a very fun blogger happy hour for at her N Williams restaurant Lincoln, and it did not disappoint. How can you go wrong with a bunch of food-loving ladies, cocktails, and delicious food with influences from cuisines around the world? Highlights included asparagus hummus with labneh and flatbread, grilled dates with marcona almonds and lime, and the fried chicken with white barbecue sauce. This happy hour is fantastic, so make sure you check it out!
Perhaps the fanciest food cart around, Le Pantry is relatively new to Pod 28 (on SE 28th and Ankeny). The menu is very sweet, and I can’t wait to go back to try more of their dishes. We enjoyed the deviled eggs with trout, and the salad with fried calamari was filled with bright flavors like nectarines, corn, and some crispy potatoes.
Jonah and I stopped into Lechon for happy hour before heading to the Waterfront Blues Fest to see Chubby Carrier. I had been hearing great things from both my roommate and blogger friends, plus it’s just across the street from the waterfront, so it worked out perfectly. The prices were great (as were the cocktails) and we seriously enjoyed a small salad, the ceviche, and clams with chorizo.
Where have you been eating lately? Any place I have to check out before hitting the road in October? Let me know! I hope you’re enjoying these beautiful PNW summer days!
2015 is almost over. I can’t believe how fast it has flown by. It has been a big year for me: I transitioned into working completely from home and for myself. I spend more time with Jonah than ever before, seeing as he is now working from home as well. I went to Israel (I still can’t believe that – did I dream it?). I finally learned how to use my camera and got my blog setup a little more polished. And the future is seeming just as bright: Jonah and I will hopefully be living abroad by this time next year, living our lives as digital nomads. Eek!
But before we look too far ahead, let’s look back, shall we? What better way to remember the last year than by my favorite things I ate? (These are listed in no particular order.)
1. Caramelized fennel and farro salad: This farro salad from Not Without Salt has been a game changer. I think I’ve written about it before. I tend to make double batches of it when I know I’m going to have a busy week, as it makes fantastic leftovers. It has all the perfect elements of a dish: crunchy, creamy, spicy, sour, and sweet. The only adjustment I make is to substitute dried apricots for the dates.
2. April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Greens: This book has been amazing for me. Everything I’ve cooked out of it has been fantastic AND pretty easy. Her writing is lovely, and I love her style of cooking. It’s so easy to riff on, to sub ingredients based on what you’ve got, and it has inspired me in the kitchen. I highly recommend the roasted carrots with herbs, the steamed eggplant with ground pork and thai basil, and the corn soup with chanterelles (but maybe wait on that one till it’s summer again).
3. Foil Yaki: This is a recent addition to my meal arsenal, but I can tell it’s going to be a keeper. It may not look like much, but this recipe is so unbelievably simple and packed with that scrumptious umami flavor (thanks mushrooms and sake and miso!). Here’s what you need to know: put a bunch of delicious ingredients in some foil, wrap it up like a jiffy pop, bake for half an hour, then eat supremely tasty, perfectly caramelized onions and mushrooms in a super savory broth. I recommend adding some soba noodles and eating it like a noodle soup or ladeling it over some rice.
4. Hummus: I’ve always liked hummus, but my trip to Israel really made me understand the pantry staple that it should become in my life. I adjusted Ottolenghi’s recipe from Jerusalem to suit my tastebuds, and now I’ve got a perfect recipe always ready in my back pocket. It is particularly delicious drizzled with good olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar.
5. Tomato and peach salad with tofu cream: If you’d asked me a couple years ago if I’d ever want to make something with tofu cream, I probably would’ve said…um, no thanks, I’m ok. But times they are a-changin’ my friends! This salad became a summertime favorite: easy, impressive, and tasty. Rich sweet peaches, tangy tomatoes, spicy onion, and this salty tofu cream underneath it all. Perfection.
1. The American Local: This restaurant has got to be one of my favorites this year. Every meal I’ve had there has been pretty dang flawless. The drinks are lively, the service is friendly but not overly involved, and the food is creative, unique, and just plain fun. Wondering what to order? I suggest sticking mostly to the fish dishes (often prepared in a sashimi style) and the vegetables. Pictured above is a dish with heirloom tomatoes, buttermilk dressing, crunchy quinoa, and herbs from their menu last summer.
2. Nodoguro: This dinner was a birthday treat, and I must say it was one of the most magical dining experiences I’ve had in Portland. I can’t speak to what Nodoguro will be like in their new location, but sitting with a small group at the counter of Nodoguro’s old space and having Chef Ryan Roadhouse come around to each party individually to chat was such a great way to start the experience. It truly felt like sitting in a friend’s kitchen and having them make you the most creative, fantastical Japanese meal. After dinner, all of the guests and cooks and servers lingered, standing around talking, not wanting the evening to end. I loved my conversation with Roadhouse’s wife Elena about our favorite places to eat in Portland. Wherever I dine, I can tell you that the next iteration of Nodoguro will make it onto the list.
3. Coquine’s breakfast: Ok, this place has gotten quite a fair amount of talk this year. And while I haven’t been for dinner (I’ll make it happen soon), Jonah did take me for breakfast on my birthday. I had a stellar hash with mushrooms, spinach, and potatoes, and poached eggs. I don’t know what magic they put in this dish, but holy moly it was good. Also their chocolate chip cookie is divine.
4. Seastar Bakery/Handsome Pizza: Cozy and warm (mostly thanks to the giant wood fired oven) and smelling of equal parts spiced baked goods, cheesy pizza, and campfire, this new spot houses both Seastar Bakery and Handsome Pizza. This combination has become one of my favorite work spots: I can come in and have tea and any of their stellar baked goods or toasts for breakfast, work for a few hours, and then get a slice of pizza (or a small pizza if I’ve got someone to share with) for lunch. I’ve only had the pizza a couple of times, but it has not disappointed. The bakery and I are becoming fast friends, and so far favorites include the cocoa, yogurt, and rye muffin, the salted black licorice cake, and the house made english muffin – get half with jalapeño cream cheese and half with whatever jam they’ve got that day.
5. Tea Bar: This place has become a go-to for me. I love seeing the same folks working there every time I go. I love the space that manages to be both kind of cavernous and cozy at the same time. And I love the menu, where it’s hard to decide between matcha, a hong kong tea with boba, or the perfect London fog.
I’d love to hear about some of your favorite things you ate in 2015, and what you’re looking forward to eating next year! Here is to another year of delicious eats!
Pizza is near and dear to my heart (ok, tastebuds). I love that it can be fancy, it can be casual, it can be greasy, cheesy, covered in classic ingredients, or ingredients that you’ve never seen on a pizza before. In Portland, there are an insane amount of pizza places (or places you can get pizza), many of which are really delicious. When we decide we want pizza for dinner, we still have a decision to make. Do we want neapolitan, slightly soggy in the middle from Firehouse? Do we want slighty classed-up parlor-style from Apizza Scholls? Do we want slab pizza from Roman Candle? Do we want slightly adventurous, mix between neapolitan and pizza parlor but always delicious Oven & Shaker? The list goes on.
Up at Ned Ludd, they do this thing on Mondays. You see, Ned Ludd uses a wood-fired oven to cook all their food, but they don’t make pizza. So on Monday nights, pizza it is. P.R.E.A.M. (standing for Pizza Rules Everything Around Me) used to be the regular pop up in the spot, but then got big enough that they decided to open their own restaurant. Pizza socials still happen on Monday nights at Ned Ludd, with great Portland chefs coming in to design their own specialty pies.
I had never been to P.R.E.A.M. I wanted to go, but Monday nights were tricky, and I never could squeeze in a pizza dinner. But oh how I wanted to. I had heard great things. So as soon as I heard they were opening their own spot, I knew I needed to go. And now, having been twice, I figure it’s time to tell you about it.
First of all, they were bumping all my favorite 90s and early aughts hip hop and rap hits. You know, some Destiny’s Child, Ludacris, Ja Rule. Just really nailing it. Second, there’s a quote from Francis Mallman at the bottom of the menu. If you haven’t been watching Chef’s Table on Netflix, do it. But maybe just skip to the episode about Francis Mellman. The guy is quite a character, and cooks some of the most beautiful, rustic looking food I’ve ever seen. His love and knowledge of fire and cooking over it, in it, and with it was jaw dropping. Moving right along though – the menu is divided into Intro, Hook, Chorus, Verse, and Outro. Think appetizers, sides, pizzas, salads, and desserts. The staff was a great resource when picking dishes, which I always appreciate. Aside from that though, they seem a little green: not offering alternatives when they were out of something, and not always being on the same page regarding which server was helping us at certain points during the meal.
Let’s talk beverages. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember the name of the cocktail I got the first time – it was nearly three months ago. Plus I can’t find the drink menu online. But I will say this: it was good. It was a hot day, and my beverage hit all the right notes: fruity and refreshing while still being boozy and not overly sweet. The second trip, I got a mix between a shandy and a shrub, which was good. But be warned, on my second visit they were out of many of their beers, both on tap and bottled.
Our first time there, Jonah and I tried the escarole salad with smoked buttermilk dressing and chicken skin, which was awesome. I love crispy chicken skin, an they didn’t skimp. The dressing was creamy, but not heavy, which is a delicate balance. The second time we went with friends, we ate the summer squash with za’atar, sumac, and olive oil, which was a great, light dish. We also tried the black garlic knots in puttanesca which were tasty, but I wished there had been more black garlic in them.
Let’s get to the pizzas. These are some of the cheesiest, meltiest pizzas I can remember having, and the crust is rocking. Perfectly chewy and charred and brushed with what seems like a garlic oil. Rarely do I enjoy eating the crust as much as I do the cheesy, topping-laden part of the pizza, but this was different. In my two visits I’ve tried three pies: the fennel sausage pizza (so. much. cheese.) with lightly dressed arugula on top, plus a spicy sriracha like sauce the ‘Nduja with chicories and marinated peppers, and the tomato leaf with basil, and caramelized onion. The favorite for me is a tossup between the tomato leaf and the fennel sausage. Totally different, but both great. And the menu is changing all the time, so who knows what they’ll have next time I go.
The dessert I had there on my first trip was an olive oil cake on mascarpone cream, topped with green granita made of parsely and cilantro (nice and savory/salty), topped with marinated strawberries. Yes, the granita might sound weird, but it was a perfect salty and savory addition to what otherwise could’ve been an overly sweet dish. Plus it cooled the whole dessert down on a hot day. It was an awesome end to the meal – unexpected, playful, and refreshing.
Would I go back to P.R.E.A.M.? Absolutely. Especially if I’m in the mood for fun, nostalgic music, a good drink, and some cheesy, creative pizza.