The Portland Saturday Market

6 12 2011

This year I’ve gone out of my way to shop local and avoid national chains  for holiday gift buying.  I thought I’d start off by going to the Portland Saturday Market.  I’d been there before, but never with the intent of buying a bunch of stuff.  It’s a pretty vast setup of local merchants selling their arts, crafts, clothes, foods, and just whatever.  There are some crap merchants selling (non-local) cheap novelties, to be sure.  However there are enough local artisans to make browsing the many dozens of tents very worthwhile.  Plus it’s just fun, you can grab some food while you browse, Rogue sells beer for your imbibement , and I saw no less than 4 bands playing at the same time, along with a few street performers.  I ended up getting 2 major gifts there, and… a duct tape wallet.  Hey, it’s still local.  As you’d expect in Old Town, you’ll encounter some characters, like the lady (meth addict) next to me waiting to cross Naito Parkway that knocked a trashcan into the street then looks at me quickly and states “I didn’t do it!” in true Bart Simpson form.  I picked it up for the nice lady.

A shopping local side-note, after the market I went to the Trillium Artisans pop-up store downtown, and was AMAZED at all the great stuff there.  All local and all using recycled materials.  I highly suggest checking it out.

Musical group 1 of 4 I saw that day.

Can you tell it was chilly that morning?

I picked-up one of these cute bird feeders. It's one of those things you see and think, "why didn't I think of doing that?"


chickens, Chickens, CHICKENS!

18 11 2011

When I made the decision to move to Portland, I had also decided that as soon as possible after the move I would have chickens.  What could be more Portland?  I’m not the biggest egg lover, but regardless, I needed me some chickens.  It took a while, but now that things have finally settled down… it has happened.  After a quick “chicken class” at the Urban Farm Store and a good read through their book “A Chicken In Every Yard”, I gots some chicks!  Jane, a Buff Orpington – Emily, an Ameraucana – and Charlotte, a Cochin (note the fuzzy feat).

Chicks man... Jane - Emily - Charlotte

But now that the chicks were purchased, the rush was on to build their coop.  I had a little over a month while the chicks were spending time in their brooder box.  The coop took longer than I thought to build, was more expensive than I thought it would be, and took up more of my back yard than I though was needed.  Oh well, chicks were already under the grow light, so no turning back now…

It took about 4 straight weekends, $700, a billion trips to Home Depot, and although it ended up much different than how it was originally imagined I think it looks pretty neat.  And it’s very secure, no Raccoons or other varmints will get in to hurt my girls.  And that’s good, because I really enjoy them, much more than I thought I would.  They are soooooo soft and hugable!  And even though they have brains the size of a peanut, they still have their own unique personalities and are a lot of fun to hang out with.  Jane is independent, Emily is bossy, and Charlotte is laid-back.  While outside I’ll let them run around, they scratch the ground, chase each other and eat our weeds.  They’re like little goats with wings and dinosaur feet.

The dog and chickens actually get along quite well.

They like to eat our new landscaping 😐

They're so happy. This was when they were 1/2 grown, they're huge now.

The "Chicken Centipede". This is how they sleep at night, all stacked up.

Even in that bizarre picture above, you can see how colorful they are now that they’re fully grown.  They’re great to be around, now bring on the eggs…

Tasting Full Sail

13 11 2011

Autumn Ale, so yummy I couldn't get a picture before sneaking a sip

I’ve been quite busy the past few months working on my house, and well, not posting anything because of that.  So this weekend I decided that I needed to get out, and not just out of my house but Portland too.  After a brief thought of visiting Astoria, I remembered that Full Sail was in Hood River and, I’ve not been there, it’s closer than Astoria, and the leaves were changing in the Gorge.  So after a quick hike on the Washington side (see bottom picture), I crossed the Bridge of the Gods and rolled down to Hood River.

I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve had a few different beers from Full Sail, and they were pretty good but I always ended up walking out of the store with a Deschutes or Widmer brew.  Well, I can happily say that I really enjoyed the place, for the 3 reasons you would expect.

1) The Pub

Great views of the Columbia Gorge, all while nice people bring you food and beer.

I loved the views, wasn’t expecting them as I walked down the hall to the Pub.  You can’t see from the photo but the trees were all sorts of yellows and browns, November is a really good time to go.  And as far as the staff goes, very attentive and friendly.

2) The Beer
Like I mentioned, I like the beer, but had previously not gotten overly excited by it.  However, I got their Autumn Ale (a Pub exclusive, pictured above) and loved it.  It’s “a strong English-style bitter to help warm the changing of the season.”  It did help that “changing of the season” thingy.  I also tried their Amber Ale, quite good too.

3) The Food

Cheesy (3 kinds) goodness.

Started with the artichoke dip, which admittedly has been done to death, but most don’t usually contain Rogue Creamery bleu cheese.  That combined with the pepperjack and sharp cheddar with panko on top really made this stand out from all others I’ve had.

For my main course I ordered the Tempeh Veggie Burger.  I like tempeh when I don’t try and make it, because I’m terrible at it.  This tempeh is made right next to Full Sail at Turtle Island Foods… who also make Tofurky… which I’ve decided that after eating them for 7 straight Thanksgivings are actually quite unappetizing.  But I went for it anyway, and it was great!… it was topped with Full Sail’s edamame pesto and Asian slaw which made it even better.  To be sure, that’s a lot of different flavors and textures, but they all work together to make it fresh, flavorful and fulfilling.

There's a lot going on here, but it all combined for some tasty tempeh.

The others in my party ordered the buffalo hot wings which were spicy, juicy and delicious – and the turkey & brie sandwich which was good, but nothing too special.  We spent the last 15 minutes in the dark because the power went out due to the high winds that were in the area, which was fun, but a bit of a bummer because I wanted to take the brewery tour.  Oh well, next time.  Another bummer is the fact that I wanted to explore more shops and such in Hood River, however all of downtown was also without power.  But I’ll go back again soon, and I’ll go to Full Sail again because of the combination of good views, beer and food.  I’ll also hike again 1st, because the views from the Washington side are quite purdy…

The pre-Full Sail hike.

Full Sail Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Tasting Tasty n Sons

12 08 2011

I was supposed to go to the beach last Sunday, but Saturday night the people I was going with said “it’s so far”, “will it be sunny?”, blah blah.  Lazy.  So I said “fine!” We can cancel, but we have to go to Tasty n Sons 1st thing in the morning instead!  And thankfully we did.

I’ve been wanting to go to Tasty n Sons for quite some time.  I guess I was scared because of the “it’s so busy you have to get there early or you’ll wait all day” kind of rumors.  So we decided to get there 20 minutes prior to opening, and there was a line already as we figured, but it wasn’t that bad, and once the 1st seating was in, the wait was never that long.

We chose to sit at the counter.  It was great, not only did we get a front row seat to watch huge, luscious biscuits being made, we got to look to our left and see the frenetic action in the kitchen.  And frenetic it was, they make everything to order as you’d expect, and they deliver each dish as it’s ready so that it’s hot and fresh.

So what did we order?  Way too much, but it was my 1st time there and I had to fully experience it…

Baked Cherries with taleggio & grilled bread, and Griddled Bacon Wrapped Dates with maple syrup & almond in the back.

1st up were baked cherries with taleggio cheese, and after I took my 1st bite I knew I was in for quite a meal.  Piping hot, sweet and savory cherries were perfectly complimented with the melted cheese.  The picture doesn’t do the color justice, the cherries were a deep rich purple, matching their flavor.  In the back are the bacon wrapped dates, and although I didn’t have any, it took every ounce of restraint for the people who ate them not to order more.  Side note, I love that they use old menus instead of new doilies or something between the plate and dish, I’m such a treehugger, but on we go…

Cast Iron Frittata with amaranth, chard, beets, caramelized sweet onions, mint & feta.

What I loved about the fritatta was that the amazing flavors were separate and not melded together, so each bite was a different experience.  Or, you could mix and match, a little beet with onion, some chard with feta…  Really vibrant flavors in this dish.

Fried Green Tomato BLT, a special that day.

As soon as my guests heard about this special there was no pause in ordering it, and it delivered both in presentation and yumminess.

Tasty Muffin with fried egg, pickled beets, heirloom tomato, beecher's cheddar, red onion & mixed greens.

Although I liked the Tasty Muffin, it was the only dish that wasn’t perfect.  The flavors were excellent, and the heirloom tomato was the best I’ve had in months, but the actual muffin was so hard that I was even having issues cutting it using a serrated knife.  Perhaps we just had an abnormal muffin.

Chocolate Potato Doughnuts with creme anglaise.

Yeah, so perhaps these aren’t much to look at, but they are pure awesome.  We actually started the meal with an order of these, and, well, ended with one.  Each time they came out so hot and fresh we had to let them cool for a minute. Very sweet, fulfilling and chocolaty with the familiarity of a regular doughnut that you’d expect.

In summation, Tasty n Sons lived up to and surpassed all that I had heard about it.  Even the service was fast and friendly.  The only thing I wish I would have tried were the mimosas and bloody marys I saw the people waiting for tables drinking.  Although that morning I was only in the mood for coffee, and that too was great.

Tasty n Sons on Urbanspoon

Tasting Laurelwood Public House – A Mini Review

18 06 2011

Good beer makes the rain go away.

Wow, it’s still cold and rainy in Portland, and it’s almost July.  After a taste of sunshine yesterday it started raining again this morning, and that made me want to grab a beer pre-5 o’clock.  But, I craved a new beer… so I headed to Laurelwood Public House at 51st and Sandy.

The 1st thing I noticed when I entered, is that it reminded me of Columbia River Brewing, which, from what I understand was Laurelwood’s old location before Columbia moved in.  It’s open and airy, simple, with lots of light wood throughout.  Now, the reason I call this a “mini review” is because even though I hadn’t eaten all day I just wasn’t that hungry, so myself and my dining partners didn’t order that much.  However, it should be telling that I want to rave about the few things we had, because although their menu is fairly straight-forward pub fare, they do with tasty expertise.

Organic Free Range Red & Sun Daze.

Let’s start with beer, I had their Organic Free Range Red and in the background is their seasonal Sun Daze, which had “hints of mint and mango”, sounds weird, wasn’t, it was subtle, and great.  A fantastic summer beer actually.  The red was quite delicious too.

The nachos that never got soggy!

OK, veggie nachos, hard to screw up right?  No, they are often soggy, are plastered together with cheap cheese and have their ingredient ratios all wrong.  Laurelwood’s nachos were great, simple, and for some reason, regardless of what was on them they never became soggy!?  The salsa was surprisingly good, super fresh and had a hidden heat that made everyone’s face sweat after 5 minutes.  Goodness.

Those fries look crispy and comforting don't they?

For the main course it was burgers all around.  Boring perhaps, but what is more comforting on a rainy day (when it should be sunny!) than a burger with your beer?  I ordered their veggie burger with “pearl barley, roasted garlic, onions, mushrooms, celery & garbanzo beans, topped with roasted red pepper & basil-pesto spread” and the beer-battered fries.  Excellent texture and not dry at all, one of the better veggie burgers I’ve had in the area, and the pesto spread really gave it a unique character (perfect bun too).  And oh those fries…

So yes, I believe that even though my ordering was boring on this visit, Laurelwood deserved a quick (mini) write up, because it was the perfect place for a sun-missing Portlander on a chilly June Saturday afternoon to grab a quality burger and beer.

Beaverton Farmers Market, A Good Alternative To PSU

14 05 2011

Lots of tents full of good stuff... and a lady staring curiously at me.

If you find yourself way out west on a Saturday, like “all the all the way past 217” west, you might want to check out the Beaverton Farmers Market.  I made my 2nd trip there this weekend and it’s surprisingly big, with a lot of interesting things to purchase.  I found the vendors to be refreshingly different than what I’m used to at PSU, but they cover the same categories; food, coffee, plants, vegetables, and knife sharpening.  Knife sharpening?… OK well maybe that’s not at PSU.  And the difference is good, like instead of Pine State Biscuits for breakfast you can have a tamale from Canby Asparagus Farm, a good alternative!

Although I think I prefer going downtown to the PSU market, I must say that I very much enjoy the selection and variety of Beaverton, and will go back often.  Oh, and the parking isn’t easier, but it is free.  Here’s a few examples of some stuff I got…

I started off with a very tasty cappuccino cheesecake from Zoe Ann’s (who’s about the friendliest person I’ve spoken to in months). Good stuff.

Then I went for some kettle corn, yes, had the sweet-tooth going.

Mmmm beets, I love ’em.  Don’t know how to cook ’em, so they’ll probably just end up rotting in my fridge.  But that’s OK, I tried.

Now that’s a hulluva a lot of asparagus!  It’s in season, and those look great!

Tasting The Glockenspiel Restaurant & Admiring Tulips

18 04 2011

Those kids come alive...

Mmmmm, bar.

Glockenspiel Spätzle.

The Glockenspiel Sampler Wurstplatte, bratwurst, smoked German sausage.

I took a big detour outside of Portland recently, huge in fact!  I drove a whole 45 minutes south to Mt. Angel and Woodburn.  Mt. Angel I would come to find out, is a town with German heritage, and has a downtown decorated in a Bavarian theme.  It’s cute.  But my main reason for visiting was tasting some German food courtesy of The Glockenspiel Restaurant.

The 1st thing I noticed were the um, kids up in the tower outside.  I quickly realized they would come alive, but not for another hour so I could eat and then catch the show.  Although it’s a newer building, walking into The Glockenspiel shows a nice authenticish dining area with wood beams and German decorations all around.  The bar looked very inviting with its big beer mugs and steins, and it did feature many different German beers on tap.  Actually, all beer is on tap, nice.

The food was really quite good, and from what little experience I have with German cuisine, seemed authentic.  We started with their fondue appetizer, which was good, but could have used more of the flavors from the cheese and/or wine.  For a main course I got the Glockenspiel Spätzle which was fabulous, and very filling (and cheesy).  Lots of veggies and spatzle thingies.  It’s nice to see a vegetarian meal be a restaurant’s staple.  Oh, and it also came with a tasty tomato bisque soup.  My dining partners got the Glockenspiel Sampler Wurstplatte with bratwurst, sausage and vegetables, the Wiener Schnitzel and the reuben.  All reported thoroughly enjoying their meals.  We even got dessert, a standout was the German chocolate cake, which was obviously made on site and had no hint of Sysco Food Service that I constantly fear in desserts.

Afterwards we went outside to see those creepy kids come out and sing.  I took a video, and although interesting, it just wasn’t interesting enough to post.  But, it definitely adds to the enjoyment of the Glockenspiel.

But why was I in the area to begin with?  Because, of tulips.  About a billion.  I’m up for any adventure, and when I was made aware of a tulip festival at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, it was a no brainer, had to go.  I must say, the amount of tulips was pretty amazing.  It’s mostly a great place for flower lovers and parents to take cute pictures of their kids.  Aside from the impressive amount of blooming bulbs, it’s kind of a craft festival coupled with some overpriced kids rides and the requisite corn dogs and elephant ears, but at $10 a car, it’s a fun and colorful diversion.  Click below for big colorful eye-candy…

Vast bulbage.

Makes me want Skittles.

Glockenspiel Restaurant on Urbanspoon