Tag: Portland

My Favorite Eats of 2015

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.)

Cooking In

Tomato and Peach Salad with Tofu Cream 2015 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Homemade Hummus 2015 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
April Bloomfield's A Girl and Her Greens 2015 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

 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.

Eating out

Nodoguro 2015 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
The American Local 2015 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Coquine's Breakfast 2015 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Seastar Bakery/Handsome Pizza 2015 | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

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!

It’s time to FEAST!

Nong's Khao Man Gai | Feast PDX | Serious Crust

Tea Bar | Feast PDX | Serious Crust
Ice cream & Wine | Feast PDX | Serious Crust

It has begun. My Instagram is being inundated with photos of delicious bites displayed on tiny wooden plates. It’s time for Feast PDX! I’m easing into it this year, and just attending two events: Night Market and Brunch Village. But that doesn’t mean that there will not be indulgence and excess all. weekend. long.

My dad and stepmom are coming down for the weekend, we decided take the opportunity to also show them some spots that we don’t usually get to hit up when they’re here. The plan is to hit up some of my Portland favorites between events, while also fitting in a hike in the beautiful Forest Park (exercise, please!).

So today we’ll be hitting Nong’s Khao Man Gai, a Portland staple, for lunch. Chicken and rice may not sound exciting, but holy smokes it’s so dang good, not to mention being topped with the best gingery spicy savory sauce ever. After that, it’s time to cram in the last minutes of work before the party really begins, so I’m taking my stepmom to my favorite tea shop, Tea Bar, for a work date.

Tonight is Night Market, which I have been dying to go to for years, and this year the scheduling stars have aligned to make it happen. With the vibe of an international urban street market, and dishes inspired by food from around the world, this is my jam. Keep an eye on my Instagram if you want to see what I’m eating while I’m there.

Blue Star Donuts | Feast PDX | Serious Crust
Tomatoes with Jacobsen Salt | Feast PDX | Serious Crust

Tomorrow is our day off from Feast, but it doesn’t mean we’re taking a day off from eating. My dad has requested a stop at Blue Star Donuts, and who am I to say no? My favorite is probably the matcha cake donut, so I’ll have one of those to myself. After breakfast, we’ve planned a hike in Forest Park to help us feel better about all the food and drink we’re imbibing. It’s supposed to be a perfect fall weekend, and it’ll be nice to get active for a bit.

Saturday night, we are going to try our luck at the Multnomah Whiskey Library before hitting up Boxer Ramen for dinner, and then, thanks to the influence of the NYT 36 hours piece on my parents, we’ll spend the rest of the evening whacking ping pong balls at each other at Pips and Bounce.

We’ll round out the weekend with Brunch Village on Sunday morning. This, of course, is something Portlanders can get excited about. Bloody Mary’s, eggs, biscuits, eggs, pastries, eggs… What a perfect way to start the day, and finish the indulgent weekend!

Are you going to Feast? What are you excited to eat? Don’t forget to follow the weekend by checking out #feastpdx on social media!

Restaurant Review: P.R.E.A.M.

Restaurant Review: P.R.E.A.M. | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: P.R.E.A.M. | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: P.R.E.A.M. | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: P.R.E.A.M. | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Restaurant Review: P.R.E.A.M. | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

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.

Restaurant Review: Cup & Bar

Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

A few months ago, driving south on MLK Jr. Blvd from my house as I often do, I noticed a beautiful industrial space with high ceilings, white walls, and a garage door. Not long after I first spotted it, I was happy to read that it was going to become Cup & Bar, a coffee and chocolate tasting room, production facility, and café opened by Trailhead Coffee Roasters and Ranger Chocolate.

More delicious coffee PLUS luscious chocolate? What more could you want? The real beauty of it, though, is that the two are paired together in the most spectacular ways. Yes, there are lattés and chocolate bars for sale, but there are also mochas, dirty charlies (a macchiato gone wild, topped with chocolate shavings), flights of drinking chocolate, and coffee mocktails as well as beer and wine. The spot takes it a step further with refreshing bites like avocado toast and small sandwiches, plus house made syrups in flavors like orgeat, anisette, and cardamom mint.

Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Cup & Bar | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

My first visit, a work date with fellow bloggeress’ ErinMeredith, and Mary, was lovely. It was just after lunch, so my sweet tooth was aching for a treat. The Ranger Brownie was delicious – the perfect balance between fudgy and cakey, and the gal working even dug around in the stack of them to find me a corner. How sweet is that? After a couple hours at my laptop, plugging away on some podcasts, I needed a pick me up, so I went for the Cold Fashioned – a mocktail based on the Old Fashioned, but with cold brew instead of whiskey. While I can easily see how it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea – or coffee, as it were – it was funky, cold, and caffeinated, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

On my most recent visit with Jonah, we both got a dirty charlie. Right as we sat down, one of the miniature garage doors in back opened up, and a gentleman bearing two tiny spoons dipped in chocolate offered us a taste of Ranger’s most recent chocolate blend, called Wildcard, which was dark and delicious.

I highly recommend a visit to Cup & Bar for an afternoon pick me up of chocolate and coffee. I hear they also do tours and tastings, so you can bet I’ll be back to learn more about the roasting processes!