¿Por Que No? and WHEEL



Yeah, it was no big deal, I was standing like, three feet from Pat and Vanna. It’s cool.

Wait, whaaaaaaat?? VIP tickets to see several episodes taping? Yes, please!

I kinda like this show.

We had so much fun – the VIP tickets meant we got to skip all the lines (there were probably 8-10,000 people there?) and get right to the front – we were in the third row! The first row is reserved for family of contestants, and some local celebrities.

It was really cool to watch the behind the scenes of this show – it’s a big event. When they go on location, there are huge sets built with the city’s landmarks. In this case, Wheel In Portland’s set boasted a large replica of our beautiful St Johns Bridge, a downtown theater, the Made in Oregon sign, real trees to accompany the trees, greens and blues in the photo backgrounds. Then of course there is the Wheel itself, and Vanna’s letters, a car parked offstage, and bright lights!

We captured one photo of me on set – we found out about the No Camera Rule a little while later…

There will be at least a couple weeks worth of shows (they were here for several days, and each ticket was to view three shows), and they air in early May. Watch for me in the audience!

Another highlight of our weekend was lunch at one of our favorites – ¿Por Que No? – a tasty taqueria in the Boise-Eliot area on North Mississippi.

Jason ordered a beautiful sangria and I had a house margarita. I chose one of the daily specials, the Spring Veggie Taco, which was fresh and flavorful and included grilled asparagus. I also ordered one of my standards, the veggie tamale:

¿Por Que No? was delicious as always. As we were sitting there, the sun came out – I look forward to spring and summer visits where we can sit outside!

Our Wheel Weekend was an awesome one – two tryouts, now actual audience members? I am getting closer to spinning that Wheel myself!

What is your favorite game show? Would you ever want to be a contestant?

¿Por Qué No? on Urbanspoon


blossoming lotus

this Valentines, Jason and I celebrated at one of my favorite places, Blossoming Lotus. they had a special Valentines menu, with two options for each course. as we normally do, we each chose one and shared.

we had a cheers with cocktails. mine:

White October – vanilla infused vodka, Averna, Cafe Lolita, coconut milk, ginger sugar, maple syrup – served up

this was amazing. mildly sweet, strong coffee and maple flavors. deliciously warming.
I had two.

Wintry Mix Manhattan – Bulleit rye, cinnamon-ginger infused Vya vermouth, orange bitters, barrel-aged bitters

Jason loved his Manhattan – enough that he talked about recreating his own version at home. sounds like someone I know…

the amuse:

Seasonal marinated and pickled vegetables

we each had our favorites with this plate – I loved the cauliflower, radish and the chili seasoned carrots! Jason liked the green beans and the beets.

the salad course:

wild arugula salad with preserved Meyer lemon and za’atar vinaigrette, roasted red and gold beets, pear

the arugula was deliciously nutty and spicy, and the pear was an inventive addition. we both loved this.

winter citrus salad with shaved fennel and basil, pomegranate, white balsamic

you know I love my vibrant colors in food – visually, this was my favorite of the evening. the bright flavors and the basil earned a place as my favorites in taste as well.

marinated king trumpet mushroom nigiri with parsnip rice, collard green maki roll with cucumber and avocado, salad of kale and wakame, burdock-carrot kinpira, pickled ginger

almost every visit to Blossoming Lotus includes me enjoying their collard rolls, or taking an order to go. I was very happy to see they made a roll for one of the choices – Jason and I both loved this course. I could eat these every day.

cornmeal and herb encrusted portobello, garlic chive mashed potatoes, braised chard, red wine demi glace

straight up comfort food.

I’m not even hungry right now and thinking of this plate just made my stomach growl and my mouth water… I could so eat this right now (yeah, it’s 4:38 in the morning…)

the portobello was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. a bite of portobello with a pouf of mashed potato blanketed in chard and dunked into the glorious demi glace…
I think that would satisfy any omnivore. completely.

raw chocolate torte with cashew crust and banana sorbet

this was gorgeously smooth and perfect. the banana sorbet (with shreds of mango!) was a wonderful light pairing to the rich chocolate.

deliriously decadent.

Meyer lemon polenta cake, cara cara orange curd, almond lace cookie

as much as I loved the chocolate, I loved this one just as much if not more. I love a polenta cake that is very mildly sweet, and the orange curd was bright and beautiful,
tart and sweet.

I loved sharing both of these desserts with my Valentine.

…and if that was not enough, there were surprise truffles at the end. three flavors, two of each, one eaten with a perfect cup of coffee, two enjoyed on the way home.

we were both happy with our Valentines choice of Blossoming Lotus. After an uncharacteristic and slightly weird start (the door was locked until seating time, when we were asked to enter single file for our seating assignments), my favorite Portland gem quickly recovered and we were delighted by course after delectable course. We had some great conversation with the very talented and informed mixologist, talking cocktails, coffee and bitters (we will return in the spring for the rhubarb bitters!).


Blossoming Lotus on Urbanspoon


new years eve at portobello trattoria

Jason and I usually stay home on New Years Eve. Unless we are on vacation or staying at a hotel somewhere, we would rather not be out on the roads.

This year, we hired a driver and went to dinner. We were back home before midnight to cheers prosecco with Basil. It is tradition for him to stick his nose in our glass, then make a face from the bubbles. The face that makes me call him Snarls Barkley.

In 2012 I have some big and fun plans involving food, and if there is a great place to kick the year off right, it would be Portobello Vegan Trattoria.

With a special prix fixe menu for New Years Eve, there were two choices for each course, three choices for dessert. Jason and I opted to order one of each and share, so we could enjoy everything. We also chose the beverage pairings.

We each ordered a cocktail to start. Jason chose the drink special, this fruity red beauty. I am not a whiskey drinker and I loved this – a wonderful blend of blood orange and hibiscus!

I almost liked it more than my drink. Almost. I chose a vibrant concoction of pepper vodka and ginger, topped with an apple garnish. I’m not one for New Years resolutions, but the lush libations I’ve been enjoying lately has me resolving to be a more creative bartender at home.

First courses:

Portobello Carpaccio:
roasted, marinated portobello mushrooms topped with pickled pepper, red onion, basil, capers, condimento balsamico. with herb crostini

A great beginning! Loved these flavors together, capers were a nice touch

House-made Macadamia-Cashew Cheese:
with petite arugula salad and house-made membrillo. with gluten-free toast

Despite a dislike of macadamias tracing back to an 8 year old Kristina eating too many in Hawaii, this was one of my favorite courses! The macadamia cashew cheese was like nothing I’ve ever tasted, and I am already working on my own version. The membrillo was a sweet addition (like quince paste) and these flavors were meant to be enjoyed together – a bite of the arugula included. Gluten free

Beverage pairing:
Brut, Gruet, Mew Mexico

Second courses:

Creamy Cauliflower Velouté:
potato, leek, fennel and cauliflower soup with roast fennel, crispy cauliflower, arancini and truffle essence

One of the gluten free offerings, and another of our favorites. The crispy cauliflower was a nice accent, and we both love arancini (rice ball). Simply genius to use them as a soup topper! Delicious flavors throughout.

Ravioli en Brodo:
roast butternut squash stuffed ravioli, with spiced apple cider and caramelized onion broth. with roasted hazelnut oil & fresh sage

Jason is not generally a squash fan, so I figured most of this would be mine. Wrong! He loved it, saying “are you telling me this is what squash is supposed to taste like?” The ravioli were pillowy sweet, and the broth was amazing – we tipped the bowl to finish it all. Fresh sage was a strong flavor that played nicely with the others.

Beverage pairing:
Pinot Gris “Tikka’s Run,” Lemelson, Willamette Valley, Or ’10 

Third courses:

Citrus Marinated White Trumpets with Truffles:
Pan roasted white trumpet mushrooms with porcini risotto, Swiss chard, truffle demi-glace and fresh Oregon truffles 

Another gluten free choice, and a good one. Hearty and comforting, this was creamy and deliciously woodsy at once. Vegan demi-glace boggles the mind.

Seitan Scallopine:
slow-braised house-made seitan with truffle-leek whipped potatoes, garlicky broccoli and brandy-green peppercorn demi-cashew cream

This still has me reeling. Being gluten-rich, seitan is not something I generally eat. This seitan? The best I have ever tasted. I have never been a “meat, gravy and potatoes” kinda girl, and was very surprised how much I loved these flavors and textures. Some serious comfort food right here. The broccoli is hidden within the potato, cozy under the seitan blanket. There was a lot of it, we both loved it, it made us happy.

Beverage Pairing:
Pinot Noir, Forefront, Willamette Valley, Or ’09 

Dessert courses:

Pear Tartlet:
with salted caramel ice cream

oh my. salted caramel ice cream is why I chose this one. then celebrated the buttery soft crust of this sweetly decadent tart.

lemon icing glazed fritters with cashew anglaise sauce 

Another amazing offering – cakey fritters with tart icing paired with a sweet cashew cream. simply perfect ending, especially with the beverage pairing:

House-made Limoncello:

We left full and happy – with Jason making plans to return very soon. For a guy from the Midwest to enjoy this as much as he did is a great compliment, indeed.

A great start to the year.


Portobello Vegan Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Summer’s End Vegan Dinner

My birthday cocktail was one Luck or Fortune martini – mandarin and vanilla vodkas, fresh orange, coconut. Delicious.

The restaurant with spectacular views is Departure, located on the top floor of The Nines Hotel, in the historic Meier & Frank building downtown. Sleek and modern with panoramic views of the city, this place feels very cool.

The event, which happened to fall on my birthday, was the Summer’s End Vegan Dinner. Portland’s fabulous veg friendly rock stars – Chefs Wes Hannah of Blossoming Lotus and Lisa Clark of Petunia’s Pastries – joined the supremely talented Gregory Gourdet to celebrate not only the close of summer but the incoming flavors of fall.

Flavors, indeed. and dining in a room of vegans was familiar and awesome.

As people were arriving and being seated, the amuse bouche was shared:

poppadoms with peanut dipping sauce.

delicious. crispy poppadoms with a lively spicy peanut sauce. great start.

first course:

vegan charcuterie board – vegetable terrines, nut cheeses, savory pates, live seed crackers and early autumn pickled vegetables

a bright and beautiful carrot terrine – great flavors. a broccoli block of awesomeness is without photo, my favorite part by far. a tofu and tempeh pate was incredibly rich in the most wonderful way, as was the nut cheese. the perfect crunch of the cracker served as a efficient and tasty vehicle for all elements of this course.

second course:

roasted Kabocha squash soup – sunflower seed cream, sunchokes, Asian pear, crispy ginger, spice oil

a hush fell over the restaurant, I swear it did. all you could hear was the jingle of spoons in bowls as this sweet spicy loveliness was enjoyed all around. just beautiful.

third course, in three parts:

tempura figs, roasted grapes, candied walnuts, spicy greens and ginger vinaigrette

well. this left me speechless, and thinking about it again now has rendered me without words again. sweet figs in tempura, as it turns out, make a perfect warm topper to a spicy cool salad. perhaps my favorite portion of the night. I wanted a bowl three times the size.

sweet corn custard, grilled Romano beans, local sea greens, pickled shallot-sesame dressing

for reasons unknown, I have never been a corn custard fan – and I even liked this! beautiful flavors and beautifully executed.

maple-soy glaze grilled tempeh, smoked heirloom tomato – peach marmalade, tomato crisps

tempura figs have some competition for my favorite with this – the smoky jam and the crisp tomato were layered with the tempeh to make a sandwich of flavor delight.

fourth course:

roasted early autumn mushrooms, wild ginger, spruce, sake – white soy glaze, crispy hempseed cake, pumpkin seed condiment

there were a few different mushrooms represented here, and one in particular that I loved. I will be hunting for that. the hempseed cake? bring me another bowl of that gorgeous soup and let a couple of these crispy squares float around in there… the creamy flavor with crispy coating was fantastic.

dessert course, in three parts:

coconut crusted pistachio tart

a crunchy cookie-like base, oaty in flavor, with a decadent rich topping. I was delightfully full at this point, and still enjoyed this confection perfection.

plum soda

tart and bubbly, this added softness and a mild break between two rich and bold desserts.

candied plums, crystallized ginger, coconut cardamom ice cream

you know I’ve been loving my cardamom lately. this was velvety perfection.

While Chef Gourdet is not vegan, he is dairy free. As a result, the Departure menu is 98% dairy free. I am also hoping the rumors of vegan additions to the menu are true! This stunning restaurant with the fantastically talented chef could easily become a favorite.

My favorites this night included the crispy hempseed cake, the maple soy tempeh, the tempura figs and the amazing salads served with it… oh, I loved everything! Those three are just the first I will try to replicate in my own kitchen.

Our next outing, though, will be Blossoming Lotus. Jason loved this event and wants to go there soon!

The desserts – and the extra take home surprise dessert – Petunias Pastries far surpassed my expectations, as always.

Yes, it’s the end of summer and the end of my birthday month. This was a celebration of that, and a welcoming of autumn’s flavors, textures, celebrations to come! This was a grand event, and that it fell on my birthday, well that was just sweet.

Departure on Urbanspoon


Down to Earth on the Street of Dreams

Last weekend we did two things we’ve done before – one we go to each year, and the other, seemingly each weekend. Our annual Street of Dreams is going on all month, and it is an event I look forward to every year. The homes are beautiful, and many close to or over a one million price tag. Dreams, indeed. What I love most are the accessories, and this year I found a few things I would love to have in my own home.

I really want this side table, it just looks fun. Do you like tic tac toe?

I also love these plates – and we’ve been needing to buy new ones.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Crowns on pillows would round out my collection, so many more great accessories – too many to post here, and hanging out in the pantry with Paula Deen. It was a great tour this year!

After touring the homes, it was lunchtime. Jason really wanted falafel. I remembered that our newest favorite neighborhood place, Down to Earth Cafe, was more of a Persian menu after breakfast, so off we went!

We started with fresh juice, the same order as our last: Jason had the Down to Earth Medley – apple, beet, carrot and ginger.

I chose the Drink Your Veggies and Fruit – carrot, apple, lemon, spinach, pineapple and walnuts. So good, again!

Jason was able to get his falafel – a vegetarian sandwich of falafel patties with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, red onion, Tzatziki sauce, crumbled feta on  pita bread. He loved it!

I went for something I have been thinking about since our last visit, the Vegan Tofu Scramble – firm tofu, mushrooms, red onions, zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, topped with avocado; with salsa; home fries and pita.

This was as amazing as it looks! (as amazing as it can look with a smart phone camera…). I love a good tofu scramble, and they do it right. Once again, Down to Earth made me happy.

We love this place. Everyone is super nice, the food is always excellent, warm and comfortable atmosphere. There is that one thing, but I will gladly overlook that and continue to enjoy!

Do you have a favorite restaurant that you frequent?

Do you have a tour of homes event in your area, or have you been to one?

Down To Earth Cafe on Urbanspoon


Down To Earth

The biggest challenge with our juice fast was getting juice when we were away from home. Juice loses much of it’s oomph if not consumed immediately, so a google search with home and work zip codes gave us places to continue juicing fresh away from our own kitchen.

With the search, I am very happy to have found a great cafe very close to home – Down To Earth Cafe in Multnomah Village. They have a menu of delicious fresh juice blends, and we agreed to return post fast. For breakfast.

We started with juice, of course.

Jason’s was this bold, bright beauty called the Down to Earth Medley – apple, beet, carrot and ginger. A classic we make at home often.

I chose the wonderfully rich Drink Your Veggies and Fruit – carrot, apple, lemon, spinach, pineapple and walnuts. Inventive and tasty!

We both chose the Vegan Breakfast Burrito – tortilla filled with tofu scrambled with potatoes, red onions, green peppers and tomatoes; topped with avocado and served with salsa.

This was incredible. Savory, satisfying and wholesome. There are a few tasty vegan choices on the menus, although I could see myself ordering this exact dish again and again.

I was happy.

Was I just trying not to think of the marionette in the corner?

Creepy – I am not a fan.

A tasty break fast in more ways than one! Perfect after a fun night out the prior evening, complete with three stamps leaving me looking tattooed:

I am happy this is so close to our neighborhood – we will definitely be semi regulars. I want to return for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Do you have many organic, vegan and vegetarian choices at restaurants in your area?

Do you like marionettes?

Down To Earth Cafe on Urbanspoon


23 Hoyt

I took Jason to dinner for his birthday last month, and when I asked where he would like to go, he wanted to try 23 Hoyt.

This New American Tavern is located in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Northwest Portland (on 23rd Avenue and Hoyt Street). 23 Hoyt is another in The Bruce Carey Restaurant Group along with a favorite of ours, clarklewis.

We began with cocktails:

for Jason, the No Bull – bourbon, cock ‘n bull ginger beer

while I enjoyed the Claudette – vodka, passionfruit & fresh lemon-lime

I’m not a bourbon fan, but Jason loved his, and the Claudette was great too – not too sweet.

Bread and salted butter with the amuse-bouche –

Celery Soup.

This was lovely. Rich and aromatic.

We each chose a small plate to share. My choice –

Iceberg Wedge – blue cheese crumbles, buttermilk dressing and bacon

The wedge is one of my favorite salads, and 23 Hoyt’s version did not disappoint. Crisp, fresh and flavorful.

Shells and Cheese – bacon, peas

Jason chose this one, it was madly decadent, I had a few bites. Quite tasty comfort food – creamy, cozy and perfectly heated.

My entree –

Pan-Roasted Sockeye Salmon – flageolets, charred cippolini onions, braised fennel

I loved this dish! The salmon was perfect, and tasted great with the buttery beans. The charred cippolinis and braised fennel were delicious.

Beer Braised Beef Cheeks – preserved lemon polenta, local asparagus, sweet cippolini onions

Jason loved this. The lemon polenta and asparagus? I could eat this classic and bright combination as is.

My choice for dessert probably won’t surprise anyone –

Beignets with caramel sauce. 

Always makes me happy.

The birthday boy’s choice was no surprise either –

a 15 year Laphroaig and the house-made ice cream

We stick with our favorites, I suppose! Another drink I do not like, but I love the smell (like campfire!).

We were impressed overall – the atmosphere was lively without being loud, the service attentive and friendly from knowledgeable servers. I have memorized the happy hour menu and have decided we need to return, and soon.


23 Hoyt on Urbanspoon

Thomas Keller’s Bouchon (Napa)

Remember our road trip to Napa in May? I forgot to share one of our favorite parts, dinner at Bouchon. We had attempted a reservation at French Laundry, but it was not possible (two months out, and even then you need luck on your side!). We will keep trying, and in the meantime, we enjoyed wonderful meals at both Ad Hoc and again at Bouchon on this trip…

Bread, butter, and a delicious bean spread.

and wine.

Salt cod fritters with tomato confit and fried sage

These were amazing. Absolutely delicious.

I chose the daily special – soft shell crab. This was great, just… high maintenance.

Jason also chose a daily special, the brisket.

He loved it. I loved the presentation.

The dessert I ordered was fantastic – a trio of fudgy brownies, pistachio ice cream, candied ginger.

Jason had his favorite, the ice cream and sorbet.

Once again, a lovely experience. We sat next to a fun couple and had great conversation with them! They live near Napa and gave us many insider tips – their favorite wineries and restaurants – like well-kept secrets. We made a list and plan to return to Napa, hopefully soon.

For us, Bouchon will always be on that list.

Bouchon on Urbanspoon