Tag: Tea Bar

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!

My Caffeinated Office: Working from Coffee Shops in Portland

As someone who works 99% of the time on her laptop, and can therefore work from anywhere with internet, it’s important to still get out of the house and interact with other humans. It sounds silly, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who work from home and feel the same way. Yes, maybe I get to stay in my pajamas all day, but there are also times that I don’t speak to another person until Jonah gets home at 5:15 p.m. Not great.

So I’ve always made a point of finding coffee shops in Portland that are good for working. The requirements are (fairly) simple: good internet connection, ample seating, plenty of outlets, preferably not too much noise, but also good taste in music (for those rare moments when my ears aren’t full of podcasts). There’s this handy website, Workfrom, that can help me find those spots. While good beverages are a plus, I also love places where I can grab a treat to snack on. Here are some of my favorites:

1) Case Study Coffee on Alberta

Case Study Coffee on Alberta, Portland, OR | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Photo from Google+

With this new location, Case Study finally came to my ‘hood. While I first fell in love with their fleur de sel caramel latte, they have lots of other tasty house made syrups and things for you to expand your coffee horizons. Past the beverages, they’ve got the fastest coffee shop internet I’ve experienced, not to mention incredibly nice staff and fantastic music choices (lots of Paul Simon, Elton John, and indie rock). In this new space, they’ve got a loft with plenty of seating, and I love the long communal table.

2) Tea Bar

Tea Bar, Portland, OR | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Kombucha and a Matcha Shake on a recent sunny day

This is quite possibly the most Kinfolk-esque establishment I have ever been to. A beautiful, open space on NE Killingsworth with a curated tea selection and blank white walls, big windows, and everything displayed just so. Tea Bar has some delicious tea lattes, like a Matcha Latte and a London Fog, as well as some other beautiful teas, which owner Erica Swanson is happy to tell you about. There are tables along the east wall, which also has a few outlets, but you’ve got to stake your claim. The communal table in the back is awfully appealing, but alas, there are no outlets there. It’s also important to note that between the blank walls and the concrete floor, it can get a little echoey and loud. You can read more about Tea Bar over on some friends’ blogs: Bakery Bingo and Martha Chartreuse.

3) The Sugar Cube

The Sugar Cube, Portland Or | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Photo Courtesty of the Portland Mercury

I’ve written about The Sugar Cube before, but it bears repeating: this place is great. While there are only 4 tables plus some counter seating, and the outlets are few and sometimes require crawling on the floor to plug in, I come here All. The. Time. Why? It feels like you’re sitting in a friend’s kitchen while they make you cookies. Except that friend is super talented baker Kir Jensen. I love the music (you’ll often hear Sharon Jones or old Motown favorites), the big windows offer plenty of natural light, and for some reason, the sound of mixers and kitchen timers in the back is so comforting to me. Oh, and you can get some of the most delicious treats in town. My favorite is the toast plate with house made lemon curd (available only before 1pm).

4) Bushel and Peck Bake Shop

Bushel and Peck Bakeshop, Portland, OR | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Tasty pastries and cute mugs at Bushel and Peck

This is my favorite neighborhood spot. The perfect distance for hopping on my bike, or taking a stroll if it’s sunny. There aren’t a ton of outlets (they’re all nestled in one corner near a two person table) or tables (3 plus a long communal table along the window) but gosh do I love it. The people working are always so kind and genuine, it has a nice little buzz, and there’s a nice energy in the air. The staff makes a delicious latte, and the internet works just fine. If you’re hungry, I highly recommend the biscuit (perfectly flaky and specked with black pepper) with whatever jam they’ve whipped up, or if you want something sweeter, the double chocolate orange cookie is chewy and perfect.

Runners up: Arbor Lodge, Coffee Division, Coava Coffee on Hawthorne, Tea Chai Te in Sellwood, Breken Café, Heart Coffee downtown, Townshend’s Tea on Alberta

I am always looking for new spots to try, so let me know in the comments if you have a favorite in town!