Saturday, August 29, 2009

So, I finally sit down to catch up on some blogging, and found this one that I started back in June. Maybe I held back in posting it because of the guilt? Maybe because it's sloppy and rushed. Oh well, I'll post it anyway, but let me say that since then I've come to my senses and am cooking a LOT MORE in the kitchen at my new house!

6-28-09
Cooking my first meal at home in a while (kale, sausage and eggs for breakfast), I reflected on this extremely decadent week of dinners I’ve had. Seafood city! My bank account is totally empty, so I don’t know what I was thinking. I wasn’t, basically, but it was good, and thought I’d gain something of what was lost in recording it.

Monday: Canceled a dinner date because of what was foreseen in the days ahead. I think I ate yogurt and blueberries.

Tuesday: Out in Hood River for work (stand-up paddling=awesome), I was lucky enough to dine at Celilo. Chef Ben Stenn cooks seasonally like most, but the care he puts into each simple but perfectly executed dish is apparent. His menu actually had more seafood on it than most that I see in Portland (closer to the coast). I shared a scallop appetizer, and had seared halibut on a bed of sauteed chard with a Walla Walla onion puree. That piece of halibut was one of the best I'd ever had - what a treat.

Wednesday: Intending only to meet my friends at the Victory for House Spirits Distillery’s “Recession Proof Mixology” Wednesdays (where I had the best cocktail, the Aquavit Delicious: Portland-made Aquavit, lime juice, simple syrup and mint). My friend had just finished the last exam of finals week, and I was persuaded to join them at a celebratory dinner at Nuestra Cocina, my favorite upscale Mexican restaurant in town. Usually, I go for the slow roasted pork, but this time I had a refreshing salad of jicama, mango, greens in an avocado vinaigrette, and a chili stuffed with shredded pork, almonds and raisins (refreshingly not fried).

Thursday: I wasn’t quite ready for an order like this, but I joined a friend whose boyfriend is the chef at Beaker & Flask, one of the most highly anticipated restaurants opening in Portland. It was opening night,and she said that their mac & cheese was a star, and it was: made on the lighter side (for this dish), with chevre, cheddar and herbs, topped with a slice of homemade blood sausage to mix through. Incredible, the way these flavors (a.k.a. fats) blended. I ordered the scallops as my entree, which were perfectly seared, and served with pickled fennel and aioli. So good, but so rich. My cocktail, El Morocco, was nice, but I was coveting the Zanahorita, a margarita-like drink made with carrot juice.

Friday: Walked over a mile from work to Sushi at Bara off of Clinton Street in my neighborhood. We sat on an outside table on the front porch (it’s housed in the bottom floor of a restored Victorian house). The setting was beautiful, but the sushi was okay - at least it was a lighter meal. I've said it before and I'll say it again - quality sushi is hard to find in this town. But I do like Bamboo Sushi (that would be the sushi there, not the lazy service). At Bara though, I did have kampachi nigiri, which just reinforced its place as my new favorite (by the way, if you ever want to make your mouth water, just google "kampachi sashimi").

Saturday: This is where the guilt really kicks in: this was supposed to be a quiet (cheap) night at home, but my friend who just got back from 3 weeks in Turkey calls...So needing to hear the stories, we end up at Noble Rot. I always go there intending to just have a glass of wine, but then there's always something on the specials board that I can’t resist. On this night (again, at an outside table on the top floor balcony, overlooking downtown), I had the sturgeon – locally caught, with roof-top garden grown baby carrots, sugar snap peas, pickled shallots and harissa. Really good.

Oh man, at this point, I guess I should also divulge what happened the Saturday prior: Simpatica dining hall. It was a four course meal, so i won’t give you indigestion just reading it, but the highlight was local black cod...

Friday, August 28, 2009

To read about a wonderful, spontaneous summer evening that I had with my new roomate on Sauvie Island last weekend, click here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I think it’s time to share my dirty little secret: afternoon escapism. Specifically, an escape to chocolate bliss. At least once a week (if not five times), I sneak across to the street to Cacao for a cup of Dark Hot Chocolate. One rich, foamy sip and I’m in heaven, or Paris, or… somewhere that is not my desk. A cup of this will take you to a warm and cozy place of bittersweetness. This isn’t just Hershey’s and milk: it’s the real deal – whole milk and cream, blended with 72% Arriba dark chocolate by the Swiss chocolate company Felchin.

Thank you, Cacao. You are my Calgon.