Saturday, April 29, 2006

I FINALLY got a job in the restaurant biz! One of the best ones in Portland. At a hotel. Great food, of which I've been able to sample on my training days--homemade cashew/coconut granola, beet/bleu cheese salad, and razor clams. Apparently, our chef buys all the razor clams available in from a particular supplier in the Northwest, and no one else in Portland can get them. They're not like clams at all, but larger, chewier, and flat. no guts. good. they were sauteed in butter though...kinda intense. served with a carrot slaw. oh! running out of batteries. more later.....vegan muffins! banana bread!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Saturday was Earth Day, on which I worked an organics booth at the Portland Earth Day celebration at Sellwood park. It was a glorious, warm, sunny day, and everybody was happy. I built up a decent appetite while talking about fruit and vegetables all morning, but when I went to get something to eat there were three food stands, of varying degrees of health: Wynne's hot dogs, Fat Kitty Falafel, and a Raw Food booth. The falafel smelled the best, but had the longest line, so I went for the Raw Food. They were giving out samples of their "green smoothie" which looked like scary wheatgrass, but was actually really delicious--with mint, parsley, apple juice and other good stuff. I had to order three things to get full (and then got hungry again about 2 hours later). I got a great little chopped salad with nuts in it, a "humus wrap" (a spoonfull of hummus and a cherry tomato wrapped in a raw collard leaf), and a "frosted cinnamon roll" (a date and nut patty with some sort of glaze on it, really good actually). Our booth was giving away organic fruit, including Minneola tangerines, which look a bit like tangelos, but slightly redder. They are DELICIOUS! I don't care much for oranges, or little seedy tangerines, but these are huge and easy to peel and so full of flavor. I came home that day with a haul of produce, including fresh Hood River shiitake mushrooms. I don't really like dried shiitakes like they put in stir fries sometimes, but I took a bite of one, and it had a really distinct, yummy, almost meaty taste.

So I cut up a leak, stir fried it in some olive oil, added the mushrooms, threw in some white wine after it got really hot. After that cooked I tossed in some cooked wild rice that I had, and when it was all hot, some sun dried tomato "bruschetta" that trader joe's has (it's only $2.99, and they ripped off the recipe from this company that sells it for about $8 in specialty markets), and it was a great little fried rice/risotto. Yum!
Geez, I'm beat. It's been a whirlwind busy week, working, moving friends, running errands in a huge red truck. When I reflect on what I ingested over the past week, it's a big binge blur of coffee, soda, pizza, hostess mini donuts, corn nuts and more coffee (which I did attempt to quit at some point during the week prior)...! Nothing of note, most of which I'm too ashamed to elaborate on. Glad that's over. Back to tasty and HEALTHY! And now I'm drinking tea. Or at least decaf.
Geez, I'm beat. It's been a whirlwind busy week, working, moving friends, running errands in a huge red truck. When I reflect on what I ingested over the past week, it's a big binge blur of coffee, soda, pizza, hostess mini donuts, corn nuts and more coffee (which I did attempt to quit at some point during the week prior)...! Nothing of note, most of which I'm too ashamed to elaborate on. Glad that's over. Back to tasty and HEALTHY! And now I'm drinking tea. Or at least decaf.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The odd thing about my “temp” job, is that, though technically it falls under the “legal” category (I got it through a recruiter who deals only with law firms), it has nothing to do with law, and everything to do with food service. I clean up coffee cups all day long. And put out beer and snacks for lawyers’ after-hours meetings. There’s always food around, because there are constant catering deliveries. Tonight, I set up for the reception after a big seminar—good bottles of wine, cheese and fruit. I was hoping that some of the Stag’s Leap Artemis cab or the Neyers Syrah would be left over, but, those lawyers knew their wine, and drank it all up. I was left to take home half a bottle of “Napa Valley Meritage,” which was actually mediocre table wine from Santa Rosa. But, I’m not complaining, what a great temp-job perk huh? And I got some cheese too!
4.13.06

This week, this is becoming more of a “what she drinks” log than what I eat (since I’m mostly eating at home, things like hummus, tuna, toast, etc.). You like how I skimp on food but save cash for drinks? Hey, I gotta be social. So here is some cocktail commentary... Yesterday, a girlfriend and I decided to do a little bar-hopping on a Wednesday night. Our first stop, by my request, was Apotheke, in the Pearl, tucked inside a gourmet complex of sorts—above the upscale Peruvian restaurant Andina (their specialty is ceviche), and with a wine shop in the basement. One night a couple of months ago, I started talking with this cool guy on the streetcar going from Northwest downtown, and he was on his way to meet some friends there. We both knew little about the place, just that they served unusual European liquers. It’s not easy find information on either. Mysterious. The entire room is painted white, yet it’s dark in there, with mod white barstools and low-lit orbs hanging from the ceiling. Sitting in there, you could easily be in Amsterdam. There was a dj right near the entrance playing what I thought was drum and base, although it might have been some other genre of foreign electronica. People were speaking in German.

Apotheke is über-cool, and so are the drinks. Their menu is a multi-page pamphlet, and the first page explains that they don’t serve anything mixed, to thus preserve the true integrity of the each liquor. They have many unusual “digestif” drinks, which taste of various herbs and spices like cinnamon. And there are brandys and scotches and wines. They’ve got such things as Pernod, Chartreuse, Campari. I had a grappa, made by Clear Creek Distillery, a local bottler. The last time I had grappa was backpacking with the girls in Florence, and unfortunately we took the restaurant’s bottle into our own hands that night, and I didn’t wake up for 24 hours. This was a little different. It was a sipper. Made from Muscat grapes (there were 2 other grappas as well), once the alcohol wore away, it tasted like flowers. Like perfume. I loved it. Taking pretty little nips at a delicate little glass. It was lovely.

Next, we headed back to our beloved East-side to Mint’s bar, 820. They have two long lists of fabulous, fresh drinks made with all sorts of wonderful things—rosemary shaken with gin, a mojito made with cilantro, boysenberry puree...After much reading and internal debate, I made a snap decision to order the guava cosmo. And oh was it the right choice. Vodka shaken with guava puree, fresh squeezed lime juice and maybe a little something else? It was the perfect amount of sweet and sour, and totally reminded me of working in the smoothie stand on Kauai as a kid. My cousins and I made the smoothies to sell to tourists for my auntie and uncle, who had the papaya farm. We only had one kind—banana/papaya/pineapple juice with a squeeze of lime. But what we made for ourselves was pineapple and lime, a little ice, thrown in the blender ‘till it frothed. That’s what that drink tasted like and I enjoyed every single sip.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My whole budget constraint situation has led to some creative innovations in food storage. As I will not pay for any disposable plastic containers, bags, etc., I have taken to using what I have. Of course, the most obvious of these is the plastic yogurt container, which is basically just tupperware with writing on it. I’ve scored similar (clear!) reusable containers for leftovers at Thai restaurants, which are great for anything, especially a big lemon that you keep taking wedges off of. Many tortillas these days (luckily the homemade whole wheat ones I love) come in re-sealable zip locks. So does dried fruit actually, though I buy mine in bulk so I miss out on that one. After I baked that apple pie, I wrapped the whole thing in a Fred Meyer plastic shopping bag and just tied and untied it. And to keep an avocado half in the fridge, just dampen a paper towel and wrap it over the top (this actually keeps in better than plastic anyway). But I think I may have invented my own food wrapper yesterday, when I wanted to take a banana to work in my bag, but didn’t want the brown sap to get on stuff. Since, you know, old plastic bags are prized also for their usability as trashbags, I didn't want to waste one, so I rolled the thing in an outdated resume and taped it up like a present. Tres resourceful, no?

Last night I had dinner with a friend at Piazza Italia. I’ve been wanting to try this place out ever since I discovered it on a day wandering around the Pearl, because the place is a slice of Italy in Portland. The first time I saw it, there were three slick twenty somethings standing outside on the sidewalk, speaking in Italian and wearing mirrored sunglasses and tailored clothes. I glanced inside, to see a short, bald man behind the espresso bar, and soccer on the numerous televisions hanging above the restaurant. This was the most authentic Italian place I believe I’ve ever been in outside of Italy. A bold statement, I realize, but it is not a place of the romantic, Roman, marble and wood, old men sitting outside and chatting over café. This is Italy now. This is what a place looks like in one of the towns outside of the tourist centers, where things are being built, and they actually use what looks like drywall. To the visitor, it might seem a little fake even, or a little tacky looking. But this is exactly the kind of place where modern Italians eat.

Anyway, to add to the authenticity, the serving staff was speaking in Italian, amongst each other and to a few of the customers (particularly a group of older adults sitting at the table next to us). And there was a deli case full of chilled side dishes, just like they do in Italy, and big cellophane wrapped easter eggs and that Italian boxed fruitcake for sale up front. One of the nightly specials was rabbit, roasted with vegetables. Rabbit! In a family style restaurant in Portland. That is the second time I’ve seen rabbit served at a casual restaurant here, proving, I believe, that this really is a foodie town. Back to Piazza Italia—I had lasagna, and it was perfect really. Bubbling in its own little casserole dish, crusty around the edges, with a thick layer of cheese that topped off layers of pasta and delicious saucy meat. And the meat had a delicious flavor, I’m thinking it was a veal mixture, because it was definitely not ground beef. I know what I said earlier about veal. But...this was really good. I want to go back there on a Sunday morning, to have a real Italian cappuccino and read the New York Times in it’s entirety, since Rich’s cigar shop (the best magazine store in town) is right by it.

Last night we also wandered over to South Park wine bar, which was pretty empty (it’s a big space, and it was Monday night). They had a great by-the-glass menu, with really descriptive categories like “European style with minerality and finesse”, “Modern New World style, rounded with rich fruit,” and “European reds tending towards earthy spice.” My friend already knew that he was ordering his favorite wine, from that last category, an Italian Aglianico. I wanted a Pinot Noir, but I do like a certain “toasty” style of wine. When I asked our server about the one Oregon Pinot Noir on the menu, she described it as being “very characteristic of the Willamette Valley style” or something generic like that. The day before I tasted over 25 “willamette valley pinots” and each one was different. I thought that was pretty weak. Instead, I went for a French Carignan, because I thought I’d try a new varietal, but I didn’t really care for it. I should know better, when it comes to French reds, I love Cotes-du-Rhone and Chateau Neuf du Pape, but few else that I’ve tried. I don’t think my palate is sophisticated enough yet. This wine was really smooth, but just a little too cool for me.

Have I told you about Tuk Tuk Thai restaurant yet? It is SAVORY. So many perfect flavors. And it’s so affordable (it’s been chosen as one of Portland’s best cheap eats for a couple of years by the WW). It’s on Freemont and 42nd or something, way out there in the neighborhood. We had wide noodles with vegetables, a red chicken coconut curry, and fried salt and pepper calamari to start. There are many places that serve calamari, but this was the best I’ve had in town so far—the batter was glistening and golden, really fresh. There’s not too much more to say, just that, there’s thai food everywhere, and most places have the same dishes, but at Tuk Tuk, they just do everything better. The food is just more fragrant, and delicately done (the chicken was in perfect thin slices, and the veggies were all really fresh).

Monday, April 10, 2006

I did a lot this weekend, and ate a lot. Well, not volume, but variety. I manned a booth at a health expo on Saturday in Vancouver, WA, promoting an organic home-delivery company (we deliver organic produce to your house!). Everyone was giving away free stuff—hot cocoa, coffee, flax cookies, nuts, granola, and we were handing out organic bartlett pears, pink lady apples, and blood oranges. At the end of the day, I got to take home zucchini, fingerling potatoes, italian parsley, onions, and a ton of pink lady apples. I figured, well, I could bake a pie...so I did. Easy—cut the apples (2 1/2 cups), mix in some cinnamon, sugar(1/2 cup), lemon juice, a couple of tablespoons of flour, a little butter and salt. Put it all in “Mrs. P’s” crust, and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. It turned out pretty good, but I think it could’ve used a bit more sugar and a smidge less lemon. It was lemony.
I made a new foodie friend whom I worked with at the expo, and she invited me to the ethiopian take-out food/movie night that she and her husband do bi-weekly. She also took me to the grocery store to get the pie stuff, where we were treated to some fab samples of sweet roasted vegetables (carrots, onions, yams, dried fruit & spices all baked together, really yummy). She also taught me a little bit about raw-foodism.
After I made my pie, another friend who just returned from Mexico that afternoon picked me up and we went to a local brew pub for hefeweissen and heavy food. I don’t know why I ordered the hugest kielbasa sausage I’d ever seen (with bread, sauteed onions and potato salad!), maybe it's because I spent the whole day talking about vegetables. After that, we classed it up by going to Collosso, a dark spanish tapas bar on NE Broadway, with a pretty authentic menu and atmosphere (there were big candles which did remind me of that bar in Cadaques). We each had a glass of sangria, the perfect dessert.
Speaking of latin things, for lunch that day, I walked over to the Vancouver farmers market and bought a chicken tamale (the pork was sold out already), which was moist and delicious, with just enough green chile, and masa bound by what had to have been lard. Seriously. It was a treat.
THEN, on SUNDAY, more! I woke up and ate a huge piece of hot apple pie, then two more new friends picked me up for an Oregon winetasting adventure! These girls work at Portland’s best wine bar, so they had a little list of destinations (and all the tastings were gratis!). There are so many wineries just 40 or so minutes outside of Portland. A lot, maybe, like 50 wineries? It’s so cool. So, anyway, we went from spot to spot, tasting and talking. Some really really good pinots. My favorite wines were a 2004 Archery Summit cuvee Pinot Noir (about $40, their lowest priced wine, but I thought the tastiest), and a 2004 Torii Mor Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($25, a good price for Oregon Pinot, unfortunately they don’t distribute in Hawaii). Yum! We drove down gravel roads, tasted at stately Napa-style wineries and little cottage-like tasting rooms, and had a picnic high up on a hill with the view of the valley below. My friends stopped at Whole Foods on the way, and brought smoked salmon, seeded spelt crackers, brussel sprout/carrot salad, and broccoli rabe with roasted garlic.
I got home that night, pretty tired out, and made a zucchini/chinese pea/couscous salad with sauteed onions and garlic. I have yet to try it. I want to learn to make grain salads, though I realize couscous is pasta, not a grain. Stuff with more vegetables! Anyway, it was a perfect Oregon weekend.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Does anything taste as good as something that was provided with true care? I’m finishing the last of a hot chocolate that was bought for me by the parents of a friend, really nice people who I’d only met once before, but who I spent a charmingly warm birthday dinner with last fall. A dinner of wine, and steak, and a special Finnish cake. On what was to be a lonely spring night in Portland, I was headed to the coffee shop that I’m in now, to have a hot chocolate actually (and job-search online), and ran into the Mrs. on the street, and she invited me in. It was very nice to sit down with genuine people.

Lately it has been serious budget eating for me. Yesterday I got excited because I got off work (oh yeah, i’m temping, currently cleaning up coffee mugs and replenishing bowls of mini-peppermint patties on the 19th floor of an office building), starving, and bought a snack for 35 cents!! How, you ask? Safeway bakery. A kaiser roll with cheese and onions, is basically, I learned, the poor mans bagel. Oh, why blame anyone else, it’s the poor girl’s bagel. I was on my way to First Thursday, when all of the galleries in the Pearl open late, hold art shows and receptions, supposedly with wine. There was no free wine. Just a no-host bar and some random crackers and stuff. So, my palate has been quite boring these days, with any cooking I’ve done in the past week consisting of making a quesadilla, or it's close cousin, the breakfast burrito. Wait a minute, maybe I haven’t been so boring, maybe, in fact I have had a little adventure infusion, because I do recall a little snack I had this afternoon...has anyone ever dipped arare in peanut butter? Anybody? Anybody? Dont laugh, it’s kinda like an Iso peanut. (Remember that kid who said he liked teriyaki and peanut butter sandwiches? same idea). And, here’s adventure, a barbequed-salmon sandwich, with cole slaw on it. Yeah I had it for lunch today, and yeah, it was gross. Although despite that fact, I was still a little pissed when a sauce drenched piece of salmon fell out on to my pant leg as I walked, repulsively bouncing and staining. (Well, maybe I was just angry because MY IPOD BROKE TODAY. Yes, in theory completely unrelated to this blog, but a fact that totally affects my entire well being).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

4.6.06

One of the best things my dad ever did was make make these things for breakfast called dutch babies. The dish was a family legend. Not only delicious, but completely unusual and not-so simple to make (you had to have the RIGHT PAN). They are basically a huge popover, a custardy pancake-like thing. He made them for special occasions, in old, seasoned cast-iron skillets, so they’d come out as big as a small pizza. He cut them into wedges, and they were always topped with powdered sugar and lots of lemon juice (not maple syrup or anything like that). Anyway, they’ve always been my favorite, for their taste, texture, and overall specialness.

I was lucky enough to have that taste experience recreated for my mouth yesterday, by the obviously talented line cooks at Doug Fir. One of Portland’s hippest venues (it’s been in design magazines like Wallpaper, AND is actually frequented by a cross section of portland youth, including even the greasiest grungsters if their band’s playing) actually serves a pretty good breakfast. It’s probably due to the hotel ajacent, and the bands who wake up groggy and hungry from playing/partying the night before.

My best friend’s mom was in town, so her uncle took us out to eat, and it was hearty and great. Family memories past and present. My dutch baby came with thick-cut peppered bacon, and their egg stuff all looked good too. Back to my friend’s mom, I spent MANY a night at their house, watching her cook, and taking notes from childhood on. She taught me how to throw together the best things, pastas, salads, snacks--just good, melange-type food to feed a family (and all the kids’ friends). And that patis, fish sauce, is the secret to flavor. Take that note and be saved from bland food forever! Just never put a bottle unattended in any part of your car, if it spills, like it did in my auntie’s toyota, you’ll never get the smell out.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sitting solo at the Thai Orchid on Burnside one day shortly after I arrived in Portland, I overheard two ladies-who-lunch discussing real estate and restaurants. One said to the other, “and pho. Do you know pho, the vietnamese soup? We go to pho once a week. I love vietnamese food.” I have to say, I was surprised and impressed that this blond Oregonian, who buys and sells historic homes, was so into asian food. I imagined she and her husband huddled over bowls of soup (sipping amid the slurpers) in one of those boldly ugly fluorescent lit noodle shops, out of place and loving it. But then she followed up her comment with “you know, Pho Van.”

I had been curious about this place even before I got here. I’d read about it in one of the foodie magazines, as it’s built a reputation for being delicious and fresh. I’ve also heard it called the favorite restaurant of a handful of name-dropped Portlanders. I wondered what made this place so great, as I've only eaten pho at well-known hole-in-the-wall type places. Then I saw the one in the Pearl. And the one on Hawthorne. Pre-tty shi-ny. I tried to eat there on a Saturday night, but once I wedged my way to the hostess station, who offered to call me on my cellphone when a table was ready, as the wait was about an hour. “God, that place must be great,” I thought as I walked to a wine bar around the corner. I imagined ruby red glistening slices of steak over fresh rice noodles, awaiting steaming, salty broth, and platters piled high with fresh beansprouts and maybe other vegetable surprises.

Then I ate at Pho Van. The original, on 82nd Avenue. Amidst the car lots and burnt-out neon signs on that strip, sits the restaurant’s lovely building, surrounded by luxury automobiles (Mercedes S.U.V.’s and Volvos) belonging to its customers. As I opened the menu, I realized that it’s not just pho—there are all sorts of exotic specialties served there. Huge, weightless and savory crepes filled with meat, seafood and vegetables, meats marinated in lemongrass, 7 courses of beef, fish served whole, and various appetizers. On the sweet side, there are avocado and soursop smoothies, mango juice, and an appetizer that we tried, of coconut milk, shaved ice and sweet beans (yum!). The wierdest thing was, the pho was the only thing that WASN'T good. It was bland!! Not salty enough. And the meat was cooked already--it tasted, I'm so sorry to say, RE-HEATED. It was really bad, and the anemic plate of condiments was sorta spotted and limp. So, there it is. If I want any kind of simple but tasty vietnamese food in a pleasant setting, I may go back there. But if I want hot, steaming, rich pho, with slices of beef cooked right there at your table by the anise infused broth, I'll be catching the bus way out on Sandy or Glisan, to one of those funky little places, full of customers with black hair.
4.3.06

Budget wine woes...
Long gone are the days of buying a decent bottle of wine just to drink a glass, or pouring mediocre wine down the drain (as samples from mom’s market). I spent at least a half-hour tonight in the wine aisle of one of the better markets, searching for...a decent white under 9 bucks. I figured that this shouldn’t be THAT hard, since even in Hawaii where shipping prices are sky high, you can get a bottle of Yellowtail chard for under $8 (a couple of years ago, it was less than 5 in Honolulu, and that stuff is decent). And, I’m in Oregon. Anyway, after much reading and deliberation, it was a toss up between an Argentinian Chardonnay, and a California Viogner. The latter was only $5.99, on sale from $9.99, while the other was $8.99. I was interested in trying a new varietal, and feeling really broke, so I went for the viogner (Pepperwood Grove, 2004). Bad move, bad, bad move. I really should have known better—that if a wine is marked down that much, it either hasn’t sold in months, or more than one customer probably brought it back to the store complaining how horrible it was.

As a part of my extensive in-store research, I read in a wine guide that a viogner is a “glamorous” grape, with fruit and floral notes. I like fruit in wine—cherry, raspberry, apricot, grapefruit even, when it comes to sauvignon blanc. But this one, I dunno, was trying too hard to be something it’s not. Though I could sense where the flavor wanted to go, the taste was all wrong. This wine was like a guy in drag, a mahu masquerading as the “Sweet Lady of Waihole,” selling her papaya. Trust me guys, of all the fruit flavors out there, you do not want your wine tasting like papaya. There’s that wierd sickly taste in there that is just not good.

But, does this mean that I’ll pour the bottle down the sink? Does this mean that I won’t drink it tomorrow? Probably not. I’m warming up to it about now. Well, maybe it’s warming me up. I am, after all, starting to really groove to the Reggae cd my sister sent me today along with some arare and li hing mui. “Sweet, sweet lady of Waihole...she’s sittin’ by the highway, sellin’ her papaya, her pa-pa-paya, and eating ripe ba-na-na...” ;)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

In response to an earlier entry, my Chef/Artist friend Betty Jean (bettyjeannativio.com) offered these tips for cooking with wine, which she does oh-so-well:

"The 411 on cooking with wine is White for light,f ish chicken, veggies, Red with meats and of course red tomatoe sauces, sweet reds are great with tomato sauces and can be use with white meat. Fruit based recipes such as chicken with cherries or fish with grapes are great with champagne, when you may have just a little leftover, or the reason they make cheap champagne as far as I'm concerned!"

Since today is a cheap-o sunday, and i'm sipping the dregs of my coffee (which was, actually a 'viennese au lait,' or as the barista girl called it 'a poor man's mocha,' and quite good), let me offer another recommendation, of one of my favorite restaurants in Portland, where a friend and I went on a wet weeknight a couple of weeks ago:

Caffe Mingo, holy good! Everything, down to the rich, piquant olive oil that accompanies fresh bread. Gnocchi—i was skeptical because of their unorthodox marshmallow-like shape, but bow down, these might be the best ever (over Machiavelli in Seattle even), with just the perfect hint of cheese. House made sausage pasta, a heaping, shiny pile of colorful cured antipasti and veggies, what more can I say, really? The specials are scrawled in illegible italian at the door, to reinforce its “just sit down and order anything, it’ll be amazing” credibility.
4.1.06
You know those great New York Sundays, when the sun is out, and you walk around the city enjoying its urban wonderments (while working off a leisurely brunch), finally sinking down to an early dinner somewhere, like 5 hours later, realizing that you’d been on your feet ALL DAY? I had one of those days yesterday, in Portland. A friend took me on the esplanade that runs along both sides of the Willamette river, past runners and bikers, under the blooming cherry trees and over the bridges. It's America’s very own little Paris y’all. Afterward we roamed around my neighborhood, “East Side Industrial,” in search of thirst quenchers and sustenance. He took me to Lauro Kitchen, a mediterranean restaurant way up on my street. I’d walked by it before, wondering about it’s modern, airy, stainless-steel-and-glass-out-of-placeness. At 5:00, the place was actually packed, the servers were really friendly (and thoroughly descriptive), and the food and wine were fantastic. The tapas plate had all kinds of goodies on it, including oiled and herbed cubes of manchego (?), tuna (or bacalao?) stuffed roasted red peppers, but the favorite was definitely the roasted dates wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with a single marcona almond. Between us we had butternut squash ravioli with sage browned butter and crushed hazelnuts, and beet (red and golden) salad with fresh feta and sprouts (radicchio? watercress?). Yum! I had a glass of La Caleche (crisp & delicious, a combo of chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc grapes (?), not fruity at all), then martinis at the Rose and Raindrop, after attempting to go to this bar called Acme, a little concrete-mod-60s-era-retro-revival-spot. we got there too early to get in, so all i can say about it is you’re lookin’ good Acme, lookin good. I'll be back.

I was spoiled yesterday, because before all that, I met a couple of friends at Genies, a well-known eastside breakfast joint, a block away from my apartment. Fairly consistently, when I give people my new address, the usual response is “right by Genies!” Which, I suppose is lucky, because the wait is always at least a half-hour there on weekends. When you walk in, there’s a sign pointing to a corner with a sign-in sheet and a “help yourself” coffee station (good coffee actually). The food was everything a great breakfast should be—a little sweet (huckleberry pancakes), a lot savory (5 kinds of eggs benedict, and killer potatoes with onions & peppers), and comfortable (nice, attentive servers, and vinyl booths). One distinct thing that we noted was that the air was fresh in there—not greasy or smoky like most diners and breakfast places, so you could leave and start the day without changing your jacket, because, isn't that just the worst?
3.31.06

This afternoon I went to see "The Squid and the Whale," a much buzzed about NY film about an intellectual family in 80s Brooklyn, at the Laurelhurst theater-pub. They serve pizza there! And beer! Each row of seats has a bar running in front of it, where you can nosh and drink while enjoying a great movie for only $3.00. Unfortunately, I ordered no food, and the aforementioned picture turned out to be seriously depressing. The only thing cooked in the movie were veal cutlets. Come on, how depressing is veal?

Switching gears...It was a beautiful day, sun shining through the budding trees, dropping their white petals like confetti on the sidewalks...and I got invited to dinner at the home of my favorite Portland family...

Let me take this opportunity to give some cred to the home cooked meal. Friday night dinner at chez Rogé, otherwise known as Roger and Steven’s house, was a feast. First, a caesar salad filled with all kinds of non-trad goodies—cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, cubed avocado, celery. He made 2 juicy roasted chickens with gravy, mounds of mashed potatoes dotted with green onions, green beens sauteed with pinenuts, and bread toasted with homemade garlic butter. Magnifique!! Damn, it was really good. My mouth is starting to water. I should go eat some cereal.