PIFF & Pizza Take Two

February 26th, 2010

What did we do to deserve this?

Not long after I started this blog I wrote about PIFF and Pizza. Sorry that’s Twitter speak. In normal language: Not long after I started this blog I wrote about a good as it gets afternoon spent at a Portland International Film Festival screening of The Chicken, the Fish and the King Crab followed by an evening of cooking up homemade pizzas. We decided that it was such a great time it needed to be tradition so last weekend was our second annual PIFF and Pizza.

We saw the Belgian mind trip of a movie A Town Called Panic. It was so good that my face hurt — I think that 90% of the 75 minute movie I was either smiling like a goon or laughing. There was a man at the back of the theater with a laugh that sounded like a squawking duck. That of course added to the hilarity. It’s a crazy movie and I want to get as many people to see it as possible. I know that most of you already eat pizza so no need for persuading there…

I prepped the pizza dough before we left for the movie so it would rise by the time we got back. I also made a spicy red sauce with stewed tomatoes, serranos, red onion, garlic, a good kick of 5-spice and lots of olive oil before the movie. When we got back all we had to do was dice, slice and grate, brown and whisk the rest of our ingredients, roll the dough out and assemble the pizzas.

This year’s PIFF and Pizza included three savories (mine, my boyfriend’s and our friend Duc’s) and one sweet just like last year. We outdid ourselves with the savories this year but didn’t do so well with the dessert pizza. We’d lost some steam by then. And stomach room….

Pizza 1 — My pizza

I went with a throwback — spicy barbecue chicken pie. I seared the chicken for just a couple minutes and then tossed it in a spicy barbecue and red sauce mix with a generous squeeze of lime juice. Then I used the rest of the barbecue/red sauce to top the pizza followed by mozz and parm, thin sliced red onion, serrano and the chicken. It was really good.

Spicy bbq chicken pizza

Pizza 2 — Duc’s pizza

Ok this was a masterpiece so it deserves Darwin shots….

Butter followed by cheese followed by egg (cardiologists please read no more)...

Topped with ribboned lacinato, thin sliced red onion...

And since you’ve seen the photo at the top you know the final topping — prosciutto. It was speechless good.

Pizza 3 — My boyfriend’s pizza

My boyfriend decided to go traditional and we’re so glad he did.

Red sauce, mozz and parm, olives...

Followed by bulk spicy Italian sausage, red onion, and lots of cracked pepper

So as you can see after having our way with these three savory pies dessert wasn’t really a priority. But sticking with tradition we needed to make some sort of an effort. I picked up a Fuji at the market since the Granny Smiths were soft (tart sounded better…) along with semi sweet chocolate chips. I brushed the crust with melted butter, added thinly sliced apple, chocolate chips, and crushed spiced nuts. All those ingredients are tip top but it didn’t hold a candle to last year’s Bananas Foster Chuao Chocolate pizza

Good but not great

So another successful PIFF and Pizza. There’s still time to check out some kick you in the butt good international films at the Northwest Film Center’s 33rd Portland International Film Festival which runs through this Sunday, Feb. 28th. Other films that I saw and loved this year — The Topp Twins, Mother, and Short Cuts I.

Portland International Film Festival

Portland’s Mississippi Marketplace: The Big Egg food cart

February 22nd, 2010

If only James Beard had a food cart tip jar category...

On Saturday morning my boyfriend and I woke up early by our weekend standards (thanks be to sunshine) and by 8am we were ready for breakfast. We rolled by Por Que No because we’ve been wanting to check out their breakfast but it turns out they are on the Portland lazy hazy weekend schedule and open for brunch at 11am. We drove south on Mississippi and decided to check out what Portland’s newest food cart pod — Mississippi Marketplace — has to offer for breakfast.

There were a few options and we went with The Big Egg saddled in between the newest Garden State outpost and a coffee cart.

We both got the same sandwich to a T — The Portlander ($5, $6 add protein) with two eggs over easy, blue cheese (other choices: cheddar, fontina) and applewood smoked bacon (other choices: ham, veggie sausage). These savory sammies are made with soft and eggy Grand Central brioche. One slice is slathered with punchy whole grain mustard and minced chives and the other with blue cheese and minced chives…

No seat for Goldilocks

Inner workings

Two bites in

It was is good as it looks. The soft brioche sopped up the sunny yolks, the blue cheese melted into the bacon, and we stopped talking for a while. Yum. You can check out The Good Egg’s full menu here.

It’s nice to be at a food cart pod in the early AM if you love food as much as I do. It’s similar to getting early to a big show and watching roadies unload and set up. There just aren’t as many bus tubs of alcohol involved with food cart set up. At least not in plain sight. There were several carts prepping for the day and we even got to sample Southwestern Pizza Company’s breakfast pizza which was delicious.

Just so you know Mississippi Marketplace’s lot is landscaped, there are tents to ward off the rain, there’s loads of seating, plenty of bike parking, and vendors are asked to use recyclable packaging and compost food waste. Here are some other snapshots from our Mississippi Marketplace morning…

We sampled his breakfast pizza and it was tasty. No sauce just lots of butter and bacon.

Sharpen your sweet tooth

Garden State's menu

Vegan food and drink.

Mississippi Marketplace
SW corner of N Mississippi Ave. and Skidmore St.

Blog For Food! Oregon Food Bank Needs You

February 18th, 2010

I’m a big fan of Oregon Food Bank. I began volunteering for Oregon Food Bank after I took the Organic Gardening Certification Program in fall of 2008. There’s a volunteer component for that program and for mine I volunteered at Oregon Food Bank’s Eastside Learning Garden as well as planted a row of veggies in my backyard for its Plant a Row for the Hungry program.

Now, thanks to Tami Parr of Pacific Northwest Cheese Project I’m participating in the annual event that Parr founded — Blog For Food! — a big, beautiful blog project geared toward raising money for OFB.

Mid-March harvest of collard greens from OFB Eastside Learning Garden

From February 15th until March 15th Oregon bloggers are blogging it up in an effort to raise dough for OFB.

According to Tami Parr:

The reality is that the economy has tanked over the past few months. That’s not news. And as I’m sure you’re already aware, joblessness is increasing rapidly. Unemployment rates all over the country are skyrocketing. What that means is that there are a lot of people in need…the Oregon Food Bank set a record for food distribution in 2008-09; according to CEO Rachel Bristol, OFB distributed more food last year than it ever has in its history. That’s pretty incredible. (see the full news release here).

If you’re able to donate go here and/or click the link on the logo at the top of this post. When donating be sure to add the note “blog for food” in the “In Honor of” section on the Food Bank donation page, so that the totals can be tracked.

If you’re a blogger and want to participate head here.

A friend’s wife just started a new position at Oregon Food Bank and I’m looking forward to keeping up with the organization more through her. A little trivia: guess where Portland Farmers Market executive director Ann Forsthoefel first worked when she moved to Portland? You got it — Oregon Food Bank.

Oregon Food Bank
7900 NE 33rd Dr., Portland

Gartner’s Country Meat Market and Cincinnati Chili

February 15th, 2010

Sometimes 3-ways are sloppy. Cincinnati chili 3-ways that is...

My boyfriend and I have a semi-annual tradition — a Cincinnati chili Super Bowl Sunday party. The way it came be was several years ago when we lived in Southeast Portland I cooked up a huge pot of my brother’s killer Cincinnati chili recipe on you guessed it — Super Bowl Sunday.

I talked to my brother on the phone that day — he’s in Cincinnati along with the rest of my family — and told him about the chili party. He said something to the tune of that’s perfect. As in, Cincinnati chili plus Super Bowl equals perfection. It wasn’t though in his terms because we didn’t in fact watch the Super Bowl. We never do. Not only do we not have television reception, we just aren’t into football and neither are a lot of our friends.

Anyway, our no Superbowl on Superbowl Sunday chili party became tradition from that day forward and it’s always a hit. This year people were so into it we actually ran out of chili — first time ever. Luckily it was in the final hours of the party and everyone had had their fill by then. If you don’t know much about Cincinnati chili here are some spots that you can learn a thing or two from. (Please disregard the fork twirling in the Saveur photo — that just isn’t how it’s done.)

My friend Rale made us a very special card for the Cincy chili party this year…

That social networking is lame?

I had no idea Cincinnati chili likes cheese puffs

I can’t get enough of Cincinnati chili. It’s always the first food I eat when I land in Cincinnati and I’ve been known to have it for breakfast on more than one occasion while visiting. It’s that good. It’s home. (Anthony Bourdain, I’m sad that you tried Cincinnati chili for the first time with someone who sneers at it for your Cleveland No Reservations episode. Next time you’re in Portland I’ll make you some.)

My brother’s recipe is fantastic. And as much as I miss the parlor aspect when I make it at home I actually think it’s better than most of the Cincy parlor renditions. You even get the steamy windows when you cook it at home. Stumble upon a Cincinnati chili parlor in the wee hours — when people are on the late night crawl and fueling up — and from the outside you’ll think you’ve arrived at an open-all-hours greenhouse.

Pork and beef German weiners from Gartner's Country Meat Market

Although I’ve never found a good source for the mini dogs and buns that a proper Cincinnati chili coney requires I’ve made do with Gartner’s delicious German weiners. These pork and beef, sheep casing dogs are better than any hot dog I’ve ever known and I like that they are on the skinny side, all the better to fill those coneys with more chocolate and cinnamony Cincy chili.

This year, Gartner’s Country Meat Market was a mad house the day before the Super Bowl. It’s always busy before holidays — especially summer holidays — but this time around it felt like a popular NYC borough bar, five people deep. And it’s money in the bank for Gartner’s that after ten minutes waiting to place your order any carnivorous sane person will find at least one or two (for us three or four…) more items in the case to add to their order.

We added a quarter pound of really good lunch meat — beef thuringer. It’s an emulsified bologna type meat that we slapped between some tasty cheese bread with mustard and called it lunch. We also bought a couple cheddar onion knackwursts for breakfast the next morning. Gluttons.

And even though we managed to eat our way through a large stockpot of Cincinnati chili this year we were left with a dozen Gartner’s weiners. One thing we did with those was cook up a mean migas scramble with them, eggs, cheddar, red chile flakes, and of course the requisite sliced and fried corn tortillas. Mmmm

Gartner’s Country Meat Market

7450 NE Killingsworth St., Portland
Tue.-Sat. 9am-6pm
Sun 10am-4pm

Please Judge My Book By Its Cover

February 11th, 2010

Quite the looker

How do you like that? I’m pretty impressed if I do say so myself. I think the Sasquatch Books crew did an amazing job with the entire design of my book (I’m working on the final proofs at the moment) and I’d like to give a big shout out to cover designer Jessika Merrill.

Other book related news is that FOOD LOVER’S GUIDE TO PORTLAND comes out as an e-book April 1st, 2010 and as a printed book (yes, they still exist) July 1st, 2010.

You can now pre-order the book from Amazon, Borders, and it’s listed in the PGW catalogue with an excerpt for book buyers.

I’ll let you know as soon as Sasquatch Books starts pre-sales for my book because I’d love to send you their way.

One more thing on the self-promotion front — I’m on Twitter now if you’re into that chatter…

If you haven't had enough of me already...

If you haven't had enough of me already...

Say Cheese: Last Day for Steve’s Cheese Feb. 21st, Sneak Peak at Cheese Bar to Open Mid-March

February 8th, 2010
One door closes and another opens -- Steve Jones will still have his hand in cheese at Cheese Bar on SE Belmont St. and 60th Ave.

One door closes and another opens -- Steve Jones will still have his hand in cheese at Cheese Bar on SE Belmont St. and 60th Ave.

Only the good die young…

but only the great rise again like the phoenix.

Sorry for the cliche overload but it’s hard not to wax poetic when discussing Steve Jones’ still-open-but-not-for-long Steve’s Cheese on NW Thurman and his newest venture Cheese Bar due to open mid-March at 60th and SE Belmont.

I spoke with Steve late last week and here’s the scoop…

How would you describe Cheese Bar?

Cheese Bar is a cross between an old world delicatessen and a tabac.

What’s a tabac?

In France and Italy both there are these things called tabacs and they’re on almost every corner. It’s where old men come in in the morning and buy their tobacco — although we obviously won’t be selling tobacco — and then they’ll stand and have a glass of espresso and maybe a croissant. And then in the evening they’ll come back and have a glass of grappa and piece of cheese or something.

I’ve always really liked the social aspect of them. People coming in and out — and quite often they’re in and out in twenty minutes. It’s really the only fast option you have in Europe — everything else takes forever. So it’s kind of cool you can get a little bite or boost and keep on moving. That’s kind of been my intention with this. If people want to linger they can but Cheese Bar is more for when you’re on your way home and you stop and have a glass of beer and a piece of cheese, or a glass of wine and a small bite.

Other differences between Steve’s Cheese and Cheese Bar?

I keep telling everyone [Cheese Bar is] everything you’ve got now [Steve’s Cheese] and more. We’ll still carry everything including all the meat and cheese but you’ll also be able to have a beer while your shopping. That’s, you know, my dream moment. To get a beer and then shop for cheese. I mean, hell yeah, that’s perfect.

I think if we’ve got a really long line I’m just going to grab a pitcher of beer and just pour everyone a little glass and say, “Here, have a beer.” I used to shop at an old meat shop in St. Louis and no matter what time of day you’d walk in they’d ask — “Want a bavarian beer?” It’s 9:30 in the morning and they’d be offering you a beer…”

Same killer cheese selection at Steve Jones' Cheese Bar plus beer and then some

Same killer cheese selection at Cheese Bar plus beer and then some

Other things I learned about Cheese Bar:

The small menu will be stocked with sandwiches, soups, salads (such as garbanzo, tuna, and red pepper) snacks (sardines on toast), and hot plates ranging from $2-$10.

Cheese Bar will have the same rocking cheese selection (available in-house or to-go) as Steve’s Cheese as well as all the other retail food and drink products such as vinegars, pastas, pickles and more.

There will be in-house beer, wine, and beer and wine cocktails. Curious about the latter — we shall see.

And the look and feel? Lots of reclaimed wood and reused materials, four tables, two small bars (one standing bar, the other with stools), and a warm color scheme with lots of reds and browns.

I know where I’ll be come mid-March.

Cheese Bar
opens mid-March
6031 SE Belmont St.
10am-11pm Tue.-Sun.

Dovetail Bakery Open: Extra, Extra!

February 4th, 2010
Tasty vegan treats at Dovetail Bakery's new NE Alberta location

Tasty vegan treats at Dovetail Bakery's new NE Alberta location

In December, I wrote about vegan Dovetail Bakery’s soon-to-be new retail location on Northeast Alberta Street. Well, they’ve delivered on their promise — they’re open for business!

This Saturday, February 6th from 5-8pm Dovetail is hosting its grand opening party with snacks, drinks and all sorts of good folks. According to Dovetail owner Morgan Grundstein-Helvey the more the merrier so head on over for some merrymaking and free tasty vegan drinks and snacks this Saturday.

Dovetail Bakery 

3039 NE Alberta St.

Portland, Oregon


Hours: Tue.-Sun. 8am-6pm

**All photos in this post were taken by Morgan’s friend KC Tarog on Dovetail Bakery’s opening day late January.

Good morning sunshine -- Dovetail's cinnamon rolls

Good morning sunshine -- Dovetail's cinnamon rolls

More Dovetail Bakery vegan sweets. Open for business!

More Dovetail Bakery vegan sweets. Open for business!

Dovetail Bakery vegan scones and muffins

Dovetail Bakery vegan scones and muffins

Happy Anniversary Blog: One year and counting

February 1st, 2010

Yep, it’s been one whole year of blogging and I thought I’d do a year in the life post of the Food Lover’s Guide to Portland blog. I’ll start this off with a confession. When Sasquatch Books vice president Sarah Hanson asked me at Wordstock 2008 to start a blog for my book I remember a sinking feeling in my stomach. It wasn’t a one too many Manhattans feeling. It was more of an — I don’t want to be a self absorbed, write-ad-nauseam-about-trivial-kitchen-experiments kind of person. I don’t want to share my personal life with strangers online. I don’t want to bore people, and bore myself to tears.

Well, I hope that my initial apprehension has served me well and that I’ve risen above my fears and provided something truly worthwhile in this endeavor — nearly 100 posts later. Mostly I hope that I do not, in fact, bore you to tears. If I do — please move along because what follows is simply a year in review — ghosts of my blog’s past.

My first post revealed my stinky side — my kimchi habit.

All my kimchi fixings

All my kimchi fixings

And I’ll have you know that shortly after that batch of kimchi (for which I bought a new mandoline) I sliced off the tip of my right ring finger slicing radishes on it. That’s one way to delay the writing of your book by the way.

One of my favorite blog posts was about the April Fool’s Voodoo Doughnut wedding that I got to attend. The fact that this was just days after I went to ER for my sliced finger and was hopped up on Vicodin made this weird event even weirder…

Beneath the Cruller Chandelier of Life...

Beneath the Cruller Chandelier of Life...

Some other good times researching/writing the book and blogging about it include meeting Earnest and Sumiko Migaki of Jorinji Miso and learning all about their local miso…

I love that we have local, hand crafted, delicious miso in Portland

I love that we have local, hand crafted, delicious miso in Portland

Talking with Belmont Station and Biercafe co-owner Carl Singmaster about all things beer…

I got to try my first sour beer with this man!

I got to try my first sour beer with this man!

Going on yet another amazing Wild Food Adventure with John Kallas

This spring I ate wild sorrel, young huckleberry shoots, and stinging nettle thanks to John Kallas of Wild Food Adventures

This spring I ate wild sorrel, young salmonberry shoots, and stinging nettle thanks to John Kallas of Wild Food Adventures

Volunteering with Oregon Food Bank at its Eastside Learning Garden

Mid-March harvest of collard greens from OFB Eastside Learning Garden

Mid-March harvest of collard greens from OFB Eastside Learning Garden

Taking a Kookoolan Farms cheese class

I learned how to make ricotta, herbed chevre and more at a Kookoolan Farms cheese class in the spring

I learned how to make ricotta, herbed chevre and more at a Kookoolan Farms cheese class in the spring

And attending Home Orchard Society’s All About Fruit Show in the fall…

Thanks to Home Orchard Society experts at the annual All About Fruit Show this fall I found out my ancient backyard apple tree is a Gravenstein

Thanks to Home Orchard Society experts at the annual All About Fruit Show this fall I found out my ancient backyard apple tree is a Gravenstein

Thanks for reading, thanks for caring.

Here’s to another great year!

Eat, drink and be hairy.