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31 March 2010

Almond Butter

Now, I will be modifying the point of this blog a little, since I am getting a new apartment that will be sucking my monthly money away like an industrial vacuum might -- it will now be more like PDX Glutton On a Budget.

However, while I am still living for free with a wonderful woman who shops at New Seasons. We bought this great stuff the other day -- almond butter!! It's delish. It's near the "grind your own" peanut butter, and it comes out the same way. You grind it fresh yourself. It has a great almond flavor, just a little more bitter than peanut butter, and definitely sweeter. It is super spendy, though, so make sure you really want it, or have a special occasion for it!

New Seasons Almond Butter: $8.99/lb

28 March 2010


As you get off the bus on the corner of NE Fremont and 42nd Ave, you are often haunted by the warm, baked pizza scent - it wafts across the parking lot, seeking people out, I swear!

I finally gave in to the aroma, and decided to check out the source: Pizzicato Pizza.

I had a delicious slice of a daily special: pesto Parmesan! It had a pesto sauce, with mozzarella cheese, strips of spinach, and jalapenos, I believe. It was mildly spicy, and very crispy.

Pizzicato, in addition to having great pizza, gives back to the neighborhood! They have a "Dough for Dollars" program, which gives 20% of a day's sales to participating Portland-area schools! Last year they gave over $46,000!

They also have bio-degradable cups (like the one in the photo) which are made out of recycled plant material, and they can be composted/recycled again! In my cup you see fresh strawberry lemonade!

Pizza: 3 (approx, /slice)
Lemonade: 2.5

26 March 2010

Sweet Basil

My housemate and I were obliged to eat Thai food the other night, when a friend stopped by on his way to a recording session in Salem, and suggested we visit over dinner. I'm kidding about the "obliged" part, of course -- I have to "oblige" people by NOT eating Thai food for dinner every night of the week!

Sweet Basil is a renowned restaurant in Portland, winning pick of the week several times, and making the Top 100 under several Portland restaurant lists. Located on NE Broadway, Sweet Basil boasts "The elegant side of Thai food."

However sorely tempted I was to get the Pad See Ew -- I think I'm addicted to it! -- I decided on something much more photo- and blog-worthy. Pineapple Fried Rice. What arrived on the table in front of me was an entire pineapple jack-o-lantern, stuffed with a pungent, pineapple-laden rice. Whole cherry tomatoes, shrimp, chicken, cashews, raisins and cilantro graced the dish with their presence. It was a great adventure through salty, sweet, and exotic grainland. There is also an item on the menu called "Hawaiian Fried Rice," which mentions the same ingredients, but not the pineapple jack-o-lantern.

For a drink, I ordered a Gewurtztraminer wine, from Montinore, OR. Sweet Basil describes it with "intense floral aromas with pink grapefruit and orange on the palate. Dry finish." Floral grapefruit is right! This is the best wine I've had anywhere so far. It was really mild, and sweet, and really smooth on the taste buds. I have a taste for really mild wine, however. So if you like your wine dry and tangy, I would suggest something else for you!

Pineapple Fried Rice: 15
Gewurtztraminer: 6

23 March 2010

Moonstruck: Pt. 2

After a dinner at Marrakesh, it's time for some chocolatey delights! And since Moonstruck is right there...

This, my friends, is a Razzleberry Cream Cone. It's filled with a French butter cream, and just the right hint of raspberry, making for a delicately pink, light, fluffy cream. It was hard to choose between all the chocolates! Moonstruck has all of their adorable chocolate animals out for Easter, and since I didn't know whether I wanted a mouse, or a bunny, or a ladybug; I chose a cream cone! Classic, right? Can't go wrong.

Razzleberry Cream Cone: 2.5


The extent of my experience with Moroccan food has been Moroccan Chicken Wraps at the Valsetz dining hall at Western Oregon University. They were ok. Lots of curry and raisins.

But this! Oh, I shall never eat Valsetz' Moroccan Chicken Wraps again!

My dad, my aunt, and I waited around for the restaurant Marrakesh to open. When it did, we entered a very, very dimly lit place. We were greeted by a short, friendly man wearing a tall red cap, and asked whether we would like to sit on the floor, or on the couch. We chose the floor. There were only short, beautifully inlaid tables, surrounded by colorful little mushroom seats stitched of leather, with the option of loud paisley couches against the walls. It's not a good idea to wear a short skirt, if you so wish to sit on a mushroom seat!

The walls were all carpeted, with beautiful patterns of red and blue, which contrasted magnificently with the couches. Looking up, draperies billowed from the ceiling. The only things I'm pretty sure have nothing to do with Morocco were the strings of miniature Christmas lights that scrambled along the walls.He brought us menus, and three white terrycloth towels. There's only one price for everything (unless you have 4+ people in your party). You choose a unique entree, and the rest is up to Marrakesh. I chose Tagine of Chicken Honey and Prunes.
Our waiter took our orders, then brought out a large, ornate copper pot and pitcher. He instructed us to hold our hands over the kettle, to wash them, as he poured warm water from the pitcher. Aha! That, my friends, are what the towels are for!
Our first course was lentil soup, which was brought in small blue bowls, without spoons. It was delectably spicy.

Our second course, which came with fresh squares of bread, was the salad. It was a diced cucumber, tomato, cilantro and spices, surrounding a scoop of beans. The bread was our silverware.The third course was by far the most interesting bit of the meal. Called B'stilla Royale, it was a round pastry of phyllo dough, stuffed with chicken, scrambled eggs, raisins, dates, and myriad Eastern spices. The top was dusted with powdered sugar, and criss-crossed with cinnamon. It was hard to decide to mess it up, just to eat it! But I'm glad we did. The way the phyllo dough crackles under your fingers is of the utmost satisfaction a person can have. Seeing your dad make a complete slobby mess of his side of the table with powdered sugar is also pretty satisfying.

Finally, our entrees arrived. Still no silverware, people! Isn't it great? I could eat an entire vat of Tagine of Chicken Honey and Prunes. The chicken was slathered with a mass of sticky, sweet prune sauce, and peppered with almonds. All manners in La La Land with the silverware, I dipped and double dipped and slurped as much prune sauce on my chicken as I could. I also had some of my aunt's lamb, and took a photo of Dad's Tagine Chicken Apricot.
The waiter brought out the pitcher again, and we rinsed our hands a second time. Then he brought out the final course: milk pudding with almonds on top. As amusing as it would be to tell you that we ate this, too, with our hands, I cannot. We did indeed have spoons for this last portion!
Marrakesh is a great restaurant. Completely different from anywhere I have been before, and well-worth the time and money!

3 people or less: 18.5 (your choice of entree, 5 course meal with soup, salad, b'stilla royale, and dessert))
4+ people: 20 (with daily specials)
8+ people: 30 (with a huge hunk of lamb - call three days in advance!)

Starbucks: Caramel Apple Spice

This blog has been really good for me, in that it makes me write, every day, and in that it makes me try new things when maybe, under normal circumstances, I wouldn't.

So, today, I really branched out, went out on a limb, tried something new: at Starbucks. I know! How crazy would I have to be? I just looked at the menu, and did the mental equivalent of putting my finger on a random number. What I came up with was the Caramel Apple Spice drink.

It made me gasp -- no, I didn't burn myself (not THIS time!)-- but this was the most delicious drink ever to pass my lips! I think Willy Wonka has come to life, and made apple pie into a drink at Starbucks. Who knew? It was a perfect blend of apple cider, cinnamon, and caramel. I drank it in about two seconds flat. Let me tell you now, 12oz will NOT be enough!

21 March 2010

Peet's Coffee & Tea

In the land of coffee, it is hard NOT to run into a great coffee shop on every corner. Each coffee shop has its own unique flavor to bring to the table, something that sets it apart from the others.

Peet's has a new Raspberry Mocha. It is beautiful. It is delicious. It is a little sip of heaven in a mostly-recycled paper cup. It is chock-full of coffee (you call the shots), laden with chocolate, and hinted with raspberry. You better get whipped cream on top, because they drizzle this bright, yummy berry sauce all over it, and you cannot live without this drizzle!

Another of Peet's unique must-haves is their salted caramel. It's a dark chocolate truffle, filled with a lightly salted caramel filling. Rock salt sprinkles the top - make sure to savor the rock salt, it makes ALL the difference!

Their raspberry preserve scones are worth a try - the scone is crisp, and the preserves are sweet!

Raspberry mocha: 3 (approx)
Salted caramel: 2 (approx)
Raspberry preserve scone: 2.9

20 March 2010

Arabian Breeze

There is a Middle Eastern restaurant on NE Broadway called Arabian Breeze. They serve authentic food from Syria, Lebanon and other nearby countries, the recipes and preparation of which have been handed down through the Arabian Breeze family for years.

All meals come with a wide circle of flat bread, hung on a short stand on the table. Think of it as a giant, thick tortilla. I would recommend getting hummus or some sort of dip to come with it! My party got Baba Ganush -- a pureed smoked eggplant, much like hummus, actually, except with a great wood-smoked flavor.

I was excited about their menu, because I discovered a food I had not eaten since I was in Ecuador, and I ate these ALL the time at night downtown in Quito: Chicken Shawarma! Not an Ecuadorian food, by the way. Shawarma is a roasted chicken wrap, with veggies, and a white garlic cream sauce on the side. Mmm. This chicken was flavored with a pungent array of Middle Eastern spices.

This is Dad's lamb kebab, with yellow rice. It was well-done lamb, and the rice was smooth.
This was Kefteh, a strong lamb meatloaf:
And this! This, my friends, is pistachio cheesecake. It was delicious. The crust was not overly crumbly, but very sweet, and the cheesecake was smooth, and delicately green and pistachio-flavored. It was a big piece -- I definitely recommend sharing. My low-carb, low-cholesterol-watching party didn't help me much.

Chicken Shawarma: 10.75
Lamb Kebab: 12
Kefteh: 13
Pistachio cheesecake: 7

18 March 2010

St. Honoré Bakery

My cousin Kate and I took a little jaunt on St. Patrick's Day from PSU to NW Thurman, in pursuit of some bucolic delights at St. Honoré Bakery.

It's an adorable little bakery, well-lit by the afternoon sun, with outdoor sidewalk cafe tables, and edible decor. When first you walk in the door, you are greeted by someone behind the counter. But pay them no mind. Instead, I direct your attention to the pastries and cheesecakes and chocolate slivers peering from inside the glass case.

For lunch, I had a very hard time deciding between the Quiche Lorraine and Jardinere, the Tian Provencal, and the Vol au Vent. I eventually chose the latter. Vol au Vent is a flaky pastry puff, filled with chicken, mushrooms, broccoli, leeks and creamy sauce. It's how I always imagined a flan was, in the Redwall books, until I discovered what a flan really was. I like these better. :)

They brought it to me toasted, which made the pastry crispy. It was almost like a pot pie. I also ordered a cranberry juice. My cousin Kate ordered the soup du jour, as you see pictured up top!

Vol au Vent: 7.2
Cranberry Juice (very small bottle): 3.2

17 March 2010

Deschutes Brewery

I have heard so much about the Deschutes since becoming a major, and silly me, I thought it was a river!
I visited the Deschutes Brewery and Public House in the Pearl District, to see what it was all about. The brewery is located in a very nicely renovated warehouse, with great woodwork and skylights, which gives it an open, foresty feeling. My waitress, Marie, was great -- I don't think she stopped smiling once in the time I was there.

After I decided on a beer --Hop in the Dark Cascadian Dark Ale (cool name, huh!)-- she suggested I get it on cask, for a smoother feel and taste. I don't know much about beer, but it was very hoppy, with a pretty sweet aftertaste. If you get beer, you might as well get dark ale!

The rest of my menu consisted:
Oven-roasted turkey sandwich made with Madrona Farms turkey, Carlton Farms applewood-smoked bacon, tomato, lettuce, gruyere cheese, buttermilk-avocado dressing on hoagie.
My green salad came with excellent honey mustard dressing.

Upcoming Deschutes Brewery happenings: There is a "Gateway" beer dinner, featuring Deschutes brews paired with Your Kitchen Garden Organic Produce, and Carlton Farms Pork Bellies, April 12th. Sounds like it'll be good!

Hop in the Dark Cascadian Dark Ale (300ml): 3
Oven-roasted Turky Sandwich: 10.75

16 March 2010

Cupcake Jones: "Velvet Painting"

I would like to thank Ten Thousand Villages for letting me volunteer with them, and in doing so, allowing me to explore the edible delights of the Pearl District!

Today I was looking for a tasty, lightning-quick, relatively cheap snack to grab on the way to TTV. I was lured to Cupcake Jones - a teeny shop by Ben and Jerry's on NW 10th and Everett. There were at least 7 women crowded into the little space inside the door, making me suspect that this WAS the place to be. I immediately decided on the "Velvet Painting" cupcake -- I absolutely adore red velvet cake!

Cupcake Jones offers cupcakes in two sizes: tiny, and huge. The tiny ones are just bite-sized bitties that you can pop in your mouth and still carry on a decent conversation. The huge ones are cream-filled, berry-filled, any-scrumptious-thing-filled. The price difference is not bad, either, so of course, I went with the huge one. It was filled with a thin, mild cream, and topped with a hefty swirl of cream cheese frosting, and a sugared rose petal. I know! I'm getting into my Redwall groove, here, but I'm serious. A sugared rose petal -- and it was good! Can someone tell me if they sell those by the ton somewhere?

Also, on Tuesdays, part of your cupcake money goes to benefit a charity. Mine went to breast cancer.

Be sure to visit Cupcake Jones yourself, and look for more cupcake updates!

"Velvet Painting" cupcake: 3.25
(Miniature: 1.5)

15 March 2010

VooDoo AND Stumptown!

Since my last visit to VooDoo Doughnuts was unsuccessful -- line length to attention span ratio was too great -- I decided to try again. I had it on good authority that their maple bacon bar was a necessity of life. Necessity of life means waiting in line!

While waiting in line at VooDoo, not only was I told that I look like Kelly Preston, but I also learned that they perform weddings at Voodoo! Apparently one of the guys there is licensed to. So keep in mind that if you ever want to get married, you could do so -- under a gigantor doughnut replica.

I purchased a maple bacon bar, and a voodoo doll. Although they sell Stumptown coffee on site at VooDoo Doughnuts, I wanted to swing by the actual Stumptown for a sit-down experience. Once again, great barista with mad milk-pouring skillz, absoballylutely excellent coffee! It went perfetly with my bacon and maple.

Sadly, I seem to have left my voodoo child at the bead store I stopped by on the way home. I hope someone eats him! However, this is a perfect excuse to go back to VooDoo in the very near future.

Maple Bacon Bar: 2.5
VooDoo Doll: 1.3
Stumptown Cappuccino: 3

p.s. VooDoo only takes cash -- so either have some at the ready, or remember to use the ATM (it's right inside the door)
before it's your turn to order! Or else you'll look like an idiot. I personally tested this method out for your benefit.

p.p.s I don't really look like Kelly Preston.

13 March 2010

Mr. Jolly's Coffee Bar

Since I do not have an iPhone with a Starbucks locator app (do they have those? Should I patent one if they don't?) I was forced to find alternative means of espresso on my way to Ten Thousand Villages this morning. What I discovered was Jolly.

Mr. Jolly, in fact! On NW Everett (and 9th, I believe!) there is a little cafe called Mr. Jolly's Coffee Bar. I was just in for a quick mocha, but they had some tantalizing pastries available, and also serve lunch, etc. There is a little sitting area, which is pleasantly located on the corner, and would make for good people-watching.

My barista was a man named Giuseppe, who was very generous with the espresso, and had the coolest accent!

I'll be back for lunch sometime soon!

Mocha: 3.5 (double shot espresso)

09 March 2010


After a quick tour of the Ten Thousand Villages fair trade store on NW Everett, I arrived at Isabel - a cafe on 10th and Everett, recommended by a friend -- the awesome woman whose hospitality I'm invading.

It's a great little cafe! It's all windows -- I had a great view facing the Lovejoy Columns courtyard next door. The staff was very friendly - just don't ask them for food suggestions! There are so many good choices, they don't even know what to recommend!

I ordered -- on my first day back of NOT being single -- the Single Happiness dish. Toasty grilled chicken on top of rice, with grilled seasonal veggies, and a side of peanut sauce. The chicken was really tasty, and the spices they flavored the rice with were absolutely amazing. A huge punch of flavor. I used some of the peanut sauce, which had a mild flavor, but mostly just enjoyed it the way they'd cooked it. The veggies were green and yellow squash, broccoli, and sprouts (I adore sprouts!)

I also ordered a Passion Fruit Iced Tea with Lemonade, because it had the longest name, and sounded intriguing. Well, it tasted like iced tea to me, folks! But, so far, nothing that says "passion fruit" in this country actually tastes like real passion fruit.

The meal came with chopsticks. I am afraid I am not quite proficient in chopstick, yet. Ok, ok, worse than not-quite-proficient. It's very hard to get into the snooty food reviewer groove when it seems painfully obvious that your fine motor skills have just flown out the window. So, apologies to anyone who may have been witness.

Single Happiness lunch: 10
Passion Fruit Iced Tea with Lemonade: 2.5

I would highly recommend Isabel. They had some more intriguing dishes that I'll come back to try later (like Spicy Clam Chowder!) The Single Happiness was good, but don't get starry-eyed over the "Passion Fruit" tea -- it's just iced tea!

08 March 2010

Trader Joe's: Banana Bread

Usually I am an advocate of baking things from scratch, unless I don't have time, or much money. That's when Trader Joe's kicks in!

I ran across this banana bread mix the other day and thought, "well, might as well try it!" So I did. It's great! It took:

Two eggs
1/3 cup veggie oil
3/4 water
45 minutes in the oven
Willing stomachs (of which there were plenty)

The bread turned out really moist, and has kept moist for several days. There are no banana chunks or strings -- it's just a pretty smooth blend of ingredients. I would suggest adding some cinnamon or nutmeg to the dry mix beforehand -- it would have added a really good zing to it! You could also add probably a third cup of nuts of your choice, if you wanted!

Trader Joe's Banana Bread Mix: 3.5 (approx)

07 March 2010


This place is so good, Nickel Creek's mandolin player Chris Thile wrote a song named after it! I'm always excited to go to Stumptown. Today, I was going to go to VooDoo Doughnut, but the line was longer than Crystal Gale's hair, so I skipped out (for today, that is!) and went to Stumptown down the street instead!

Stumptown refers to Portland's old nickname from the late 1840's, when the city was growing so fast that the trees cut to make way for roads remained as stumps until things slowed down and they could be removed.

The atmosphere at Stumptown is great (I've been to the one on Hawthorne and the one in NW PDX) - the people are unique and polite. I don't fanny around with Stumptown - no mochas or syrupy drinks. Just unadulterated espresso. Today I ordered a macchiato. My barista poured a perfect milk heart right into it - no tricks, no sticks. That deserves a round of applause.

I also got a pastry (I justify this by telling myself that it's for the sake of my blog). Stumptown's Berry Brioche is pretty tasty. It's a very moist cake, and the berries (black, rasp, and straw) are really tart. I would recommend sharing -- I could hardly finish the whole thing!

Also, they have the cutest little brown cups!

Macchiato: 3.5
Berry Brioche: 3

06 March 2010

Starbucks: Dark Cherry Mocha

When Alison Krauss sang about a "new favorite," she didn't know what she was talking about, because Starbucks' new mocha hadn't arrived yet!

This, my friends, is my new favorite drink from Starbucks. If they are still giving them out, you should at least try a free sample of the Dark Cherry Mocha. Technically, its major debut is March 9th (right around the corner -- just like Starbucks!) but I definitely got one last week. Despite this lovely weather we're having, I recommend one hot, rather than iced!

They are deliciously cherryful, chocolaty, and of course, loaded with coffee! Thank you, Starbucks!


05 March 2010

Trader Joe's: Chile Spiced Mangos

I went into the chip aisle to get, well, chips -- and came out with these things. They sounded intriguing. And they are, but holy moly, are they a whole lot of intriguing!

My unprepared mouth was assaulted at first -- it caught on fire, and started smoking. Maybe this was because I put an entire mango slice in my mouth at once.

I worked up the courage the next day to try again, knowing what could arise, and they were much better behaved. Dusted with paprika and cayenne pepper, these slices have a very slight saltiness to them. The mango is only mildly sweet, and what comes out is a really unique flavor combo!

I would recommend them highly, with a "take small bites!" caution.

Chile Spiced Mangos @ Trader Joe's: 2 (approx)

04 March 2010

Trader Joe's : Oriental Rice Crackers

This is what needs to happen: you, readers, need to go to Trader Joe's, and get some of their Oriental Rice Crackers. They've got a few different brands. You can get wasabi-covered, less sodium-covered, etc. Whatever your needs are, rice crackers can fill them!

These crackers are little bite-sized crunchies, in various shapes and sizes. Watch out for the crescent moon-shaped ones -- they're spicy! But eat them anyway. I was just foreshadowing.

Tip: I recommend eating them in alternation with something chocolate. No, not because I think chocolate goes with everything -- though that is a good reason. Chocolate helps cool down the spicy ones, and just complements the soy salt flavor of the crackers! Try it!

Trader Joe's Oriental Rice Crackers: 4 (approx)

01 March 2010


Another local favorite in the NE corner of Portland is a little Italian restaurant by the name of Lucca. I went there for my birthday. What a fabulous place to (currently) live around the corner from! In addition to serving great food, our waiter was very pleasant and informative. The restaurant boasts local, seasonal ingredients, around which their menu changes.

My menu consisted:

Inama Carmenere Piu, 06 (Venet0):
It was not too dry, not too sweet. It was recommended with our meal choice.

Apple Salad:
Made with green apple slices, local wintergreens, hazelnuts, pancetta, and the most flavorful parmesan and sherry vinaigrette. It was like nothing I've ever tasted. I would not have thought that apple and pork and hazelnut would work so well together -- especially in a salad!

Lentil Soup:
I tried some of Dad's lentil soup in exchange for a piece of duck. It was pretty tasty -- and the lentils were cooked through! What a concept!

Strozzapreti & Duck:
I have never had duck before. I suppose the part of my brain that tells me that everything I try will taste like chicken got the best of me. The duck actually tasted much like venison -- though it was cooked in white wine until it was fairly melting with tenderness. The duck topped off a rope pasta, laden with tomato and myriad spices, and laced with pecorino.

Gianduia Tiramisu:
A Swiss dessert, Gianduia is a chocolate hazelnut cake with layers of mascarpone. They served me a hefty piece, topped off with Nutella-worthy shavings. Surprisingly, the best part of this dessert (no small feat!) was the stick of hazelnut biscotti they'd propped on the cake. I could eat that all day long!

My salad: 8
My entree: 13.5
My dessert: 6
The wine: 20

Obviously it was my birthday present. :)