Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Where I ate in March 2016… a Portland food lovers guide!

Pancakes at home!
March was a crazy month for food.  Taking things a bit easier in February, I more than made up for lost time!  This photo is all you get here since I post so many food pics on my two Instagram accounts.  If you wanna see more, go check out: @503food and/or @debinpdx Here you will find my daily food photos including some things I make at home.  I am in the midst of trying to eat better which means less sugar, more colorful veggies and good sources of protein.  I am a vegetarian but don't worry, my meat eaters are great at input from the various places I take them.  I love that I can eat at just about any Portland restaurant.  Most places are used to us with "special diets" and seem to not even blink an eye at having a few items on their menus to make everyone at the table happy and satisfied.

I am also in the midst of making more aged cocktails for friends coming to Portland next week!  You'll find my first blog with the recipe just before this one.  I love doing the aged cocktails where you spend a heck of a lot at the liquor market, come home and pour a bunch of delicious stuff in to a 2 liter barrel and then just stare at it for weeks! Well, we taste a little too now and then to see if it's perfectly done or not.  Looking for depth in flavor, a little smokey taste and those notes you can't find without age.  I guess it's akin to anything that ages well over time.  It takes time but totally worth it!

Hope you find my March list of places I ate in Portland interesting and please enjoy my personal notes as well.  

Here goes:

GIGANTIC BREWING:  ok, so I've wanted to try this beer for a while and it was pouring buckets outside but hey, I really needed this beer.  A great little industrial style building with delicious beer and yes, I recommend it!  I hear they have a great food truck out there now serving food!  Need to go back asap.  Maybe 808 bbq?  

RED SAUCE PIZZA:  This will most def be on my list monthly cause I love it so freaking much.  The dough, the sauce, the nice folks and once again, the best pizza in Portland in my opinion!

BARISTA:  on Alberta, near my home, has darling little homemade pop tarts made with marshmallow, chocolate and hazelnuts and they go great with coffee.  This spot is sunny even in the rain so it's a fun place to relax and re-group esp. with the baked goods from Roman Candle Baking Co.

COAVA COFFEE ROASTERS:  ok, so I'm taking this gardening class one Friday and I have a break and need coffee.  I remember Coava isn't far so I walk down and get a latte and a scone.  I instantly feel like… uh oh… I'm totally out of place.  I am not wearing a beenie, my denims aren't rolled up, I'm actually wearing socks and I. do. not. fit. in.!!!!  So, out of place in a huge space that makes you feel out of place even if you were in place.  Does that makes sense??  Too big, not warm, too hipstery and ok, thanks, I'll take mine to go please!  At lease my coffee and croissant was good!

THE WOODSMAN TAVERN:  Haven't been here in ages so it was fun!  We went early as to not have to wait for a table or whatever.  I had a Cheddar Biscuit that I wished had been warm but it was nice with the Pear Butter along side.  Also enjoyed a brussel sprout and squash dish and deviled eggs but what this place really has going for them… their Tom Collins are the best in town!  Hubby did say his double cheeseburger was mighty tasty, just an FYI.  Oh, and the decor… love it, always have!

KIM JONG GRILLIN:  Second or third time with a Bibim Box and they offered me tofu this time and I said HELL YES!  I am not a fan of tofu but grill it, fry it, soak it in sauce… whatever it takes then I'll eat it!  It was good with all the veggies, noodles, egg, and kimchi!  I love this food truck.  It's parked on Alberta for now.

GREAT NOTION:  So, we went for the beer.  They were releasing several at a special paid event and we really enjoyed it!  Not far from home and so we walked and imbibed and stumbled home just enough to not embarrass ourselves.  Beer flavors like, Root Beard for example were so delicious.  Inventive and very relaxed and filled to the brim with folks like me that love beer so much!

TWO STROKES COFFEE CO.:  Out and about and headed to St. Johns to check this place out, the weather was sunny and nice and so I loved every minute of the drive over.  Not too far though and near the gorgeous St. Johns bridge, this coffee co. is one of the cutest in town.  Hope it's ok to say they are cute cause you know… motorcycles are supposed to depict toughness, leather and gumption.  Ok, but they are still cute and the husband and wife team are as cute and sweet as their coffee shop!  Good luck and congrats on your opening!

DEVIL'S DILL/NO FUN:  So, headed to a concert but first… a sandwich please at Devil's Dill.  Next door you can enter a little bar where you can sit and order your sandwiches to eat in now.  This is new.   I'll admit I had the vegan sandwich with seitan?  I looked it up after I ate it thank god.  It's all gluten!  Ok, that's fine but next time I'll just ask for a cheese sandwich;)!  Love that they have karaoke on Wednesday nights too!

LOS GORDITOS:  Love this burrito place on Killingsworth.  Next time I'm getting the Garbage Burrito… it's vegan but what the heck!  I hear it's delicious!

VICTORIA BAR:  I've mentioned this place so much and it's one of my favorites.  When you need space to relax, enjoy some cocktails and eat Mac n Chz or fries covered in cheese and cilantro and onions, go here!  The cocktails are so good as well as having great beer choices and ALL their food is outstanding!  I highly recommend it!

HOP AND VINE:  So, my third or fourth time here and all we go for is jello shots and proseco this time but that's ok, I'm not complaining.  I was too full from Victoria Bar to eat but I'll go back again over and over for the food and drink and those jello shots… where the heck have I been?!!!

SARAVEZA:  Deviled eggs, carrot soup, chili, soft hot pretzels with mustard, beer and a rice crispy treat to take home.  My gosh, life is good!  Another spot I will go to over and over again.  My first time and again, where the heck have I been????  Over by the weekend brunch spot, the Bad Habit Room off Killingsworth.  You need to go check this place out, I loved it!

MILK GLASS MARKET:  So, I've sworn off sugary baked things for a while and I'm really pissed off about it.  So, I drag hubby to this place, one of my favorites.  I have a freaking cup of tea while he tells me how good Kir Jensen's Bergamont Cream Puff is. Wait… that sounds weird but you know what I mean.  The cream puff was also covered in dark chocolate for gods sake.  He couldn't even finish it… jerk!  Ha.. just kidding but really, this is one of the cutest spots for tea, coffee, breakfast, lunch, treats, baked goods etc.  You will find me there more cause hubby loves Kir!

LOCALE:  Walking over two miles toward Mississippi Ave., I made it to this sweet little coffee shop.  I enjoyed my latte and visiting with the owner and I highly suggest that if you are reading this, that you go too!

PORQUE NO¿:  It was wet and cold and I was hungry so I piled in about 2pm for a delicious Winter Taco and some chips and guac.  Nice and warm inside with all the other folks, this place always feels like home.  I did however have to run to Freddy's a few days later to pick up some religious candles for my own house.  Now home feels like Porque No¿

SMOKEHOUSE TAVERN:  Delicious!  Hubby had the Brisket Olympia Provisions dog, son had ribs and I had the MacnChz and picked through the cornbread which was quite amazing.  One good example of finding food for a vegetarian at a bbq place… ha… they had some things I could enjoy as well.  I'll be back!  p.s.  One of the best Moscow Mules ever!

HEAVENLY DONUTS:  I was told they had the Homer Simpson doughnut but they had run out when I got there.  But Steven said the doughnuts were fresh and tasty and that he'd go back.  Old school donut shops are awesome when you want just that. 

BREAKSIDE BREWERY:  Met some gals for dinner and love this place.  I have always loved their beer and their pub food is pretty good pub food.  Had a great grilled cheese and waffle fries.  Forgot I gave those up too and ate everything on the plate.  Oooops!

NEAT:  I had to see the art with women with mustaches and WHO wouldn't want to see that?? Cute spot, good cocktails and nice jacket potatoes!  

AUTENTICA:  Easter Sunday was spent in sin!  Seriously ate a sinful amount of brunch here.  The best in Portland I might add.  Plates filled with amazing flavors, some spice, eggs, rice, meats, warm tortillas and guac and mighty fine Bloody Maria's too!  I highly recommend Autentica for all your dining needs;)!

STELLA TACO:  Friends and family here one night and it's one of our most favorite spots in town for a taco!  Mine was filled with all kinds of goodies including mushrooms and avocado and wow… some of the best frozen margaritas as well.  Great spot for lots of folks to eat and all the food is very good!  We have never been disappointed!

JADE:  Another day of trekking around the city brought me to Sellwood last week.  I knew I'd end up here and I did.  I ordered the glass noodle stir fry with tofu and once again, I don't really like tofu but sauce it up, fry it up or grill it and I'll eat it.  I love their variety of baked goodies too!  Came home with a bag of macarons for the boys… always delicious!

HUNNY MILK:  Proof that good marketing skills and Instagram work! They drew me in with their menu and the fact that on the first Saturday of each month, while waiting for your brunch to come, you get a packet of letter writing materials including stamps! They encourage you write a letter which I did and thoroughly enjoyed it!  I had the onion quiche which was just ok for me but the Carrot Cake Waffle was simply amazing and delicious!  Topped with cream cheese mousse and so good.  Open only on weekends btw.

STACCATO GELATO:  Went in for donuts to take home and got four!  Love the names… Prince of Darkness for hubby of course.  Gave all but one away to neighbor kids happily playing outside in the sun on Saturday morning!  Their parents were thrilled as well.

PACIFIC PIE CO.:  Went in for a quick bite.  Ended up with a pie stuffed with sweet potatoes, peanut curry and wow… so good!

Ok… I think I have throughly embarrassed myself once again.  Some new places listed here however, some old haunts that I love are also listed.  Please note that my thoughts are my own and my reviews are just my opinions.  

If you have a place you want me to visit for you, let me know.  I'm happy to preview.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Barrel Aged Cocktail!... Lemony, Cool and Perfect for Spring in Portland, 2016!

Hubby's at the cigar club tonight and we drained our cocktail aging barrel last weekend so guess what I'm up to on this Friday evening?  I've chilled my little glass and poured in my Lemon Ginger Drop aged cocktail, garnished it with a lemon twist and it's my favorite so far!  It's pretty solid but light as the slight lemon comes through with a sting of that ginger liqueur.

Our barrel is about spent but sitting inside of it now is a nice strong Boulevardier with pieces of charred oak so we're hoping for a nice oaky aged cocktail taste in a few weeks.  We have friends coming up from SoCal, a former firefighter buddy to be exact and about the time he and his wife arrive, the aging will be complete on this recent batch, a Boulevardier!  Once that's finished, I'll let you know my thoughts on taste and post the recipe here.  Just an FYI… looking for a barrel?  We got ours off Amazon however, we know some local bottle and supply shops carry them as well.  For sure F. H. Steinbart had plenty to choose from the last time we were in and that's where we are getting our next one.  Recipes are easy to come by as well.  This one is from Feast Magazine's website.  Here's the recipe and have fun making this aged cocktails in your sweet barrel!


2 bottles, plus 3-1/2 ounces Dark Horse Distillery Rider Vodka (as you can see in the photo below, we used local DL Franklin Vodka by Dogwood Distilling crafted right here in Oregon!  And… that ginger liqueur.. made here too!  It's by New Deal Distillery!  And lastly, the Crescendo LimonCello… made in Eugene!!)

6-3/4 ounces LimonCello

6-3/4 ounces Ginger Liqueur

Lemon twist for garnish

Pour all ingredients in to your 2-liter barrel.  Taste once a week till you love it!  Ours stayed in for three weeks which in my opinion, in an almost spent barrel, is perfect!  Once done, pour 3 ounces barrel-aged Lemon Ginger Drop into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.

Cheers to you and your aged cocktail adventure!

note:  please drink responsibly

Sunday, March 20, 2016

One pan pasta dinner… for after working in your Spring garden!

I'm not a "one pot" kind of gal but now and then when I want dinner to be delicious and easy and quick, this is perfect!  I found it somewhere on line and then again on a Martha Stewart website.  I had all the ingredients in my pantry and fridge so I piled it into a big pot, boiled the heck out of it for about 15 minutes and then… dinner!  Creamy, filled with flavor, chunky and garlicky, it was a great and quick and easy way to end my day yesterday after an afternoon in the garden.  Enjoy and if you have a "one pot" wonder you just love, please send it my way!


  • 12 ounces linguine (I used leftover linguine and spaghetti I had)
  • 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large (I used two 14oz cans of organic roasted tomatoes)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) (I don't like that much onion so used about half)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (I used a 1/4 tsp. but next time will use 1/2 cause spicy is a good thing!)
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish (I didn't have any basil in the garden so used about 1 t. dried basil)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water (I think next time, I'll use only 4 c. water however, it turned out great using the whole amount.  I put the lid on for the last few minutes of boiling and some of the liquid did absorb which made it perfect.)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

  1. Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. (I actually boiled the heck out of for about 15 min. maybe a little less.  Keep checking the pasta for doneness and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a fork or the tongs.)
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pancakes at home! Cardamom and wheat flour cakes covered in Pure Maple Syrup!

I've been dying to make pancakes for a few weeks but keep putting it off.  They're not that hard to make really but lazy is lazy and it's so much quicker to pop a bowl of oats into the micro when I'm in a rush or when I'm not!  Today was fun as I eased in to my morning a little earlier than usual.  Hearing the painters outside getting ready to paint Gropious Gray on to the house and knowing it could either be sunny, cloudy or rainy today, my anxious release came in the form of this pancake recipe.  Hope you like it as much as I did with the house smelling so sweet and yummy and so here goes!  Enjoy and cheers to the weekend!

Cardamom Whole Wheat Pancakes:

2-cups whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1 t ground cardamom
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t salt
3 large eggs
2-cups milk
1/4-cup oil
3 T honey

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, spices and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, oil, and honey.  Add to dry ingredients and mix well.

I used my cast iron skillet and heated it up and brushed some oil on while it was heating.  Using a soup ladle, pour on as much as you like depending on how big you want your pancakes to be.  Cook until bubbles form on the surface about 2 min.  Turn and cook the other side until golden about 1 min. longer.  Serve with pure maple syrup!

note:  This recipe was adapted from The Big Book of Breakfast by Maryana Vollstedt. This breakfast cookbook was my "go to" bible cookbook every morning when I had a BnB in the Willamette Valley.  Most recipes are good and true however, I make my own changes here and there to suite my tastes and needs.  Powell's carries the cookbook last I checked.

last note:  Using the best ingredients I can find is super important to me.  I find organic wherever possible and using locally made and grown whenever possible is good to me too!  I love my Whole Foods and New Seasons markets both close by so it's easy to find all the good things here in my Portland neighborhood!

last last note:  The honey I used was backyard honey grown and raised and harvested here in Portland by our local honey bees as well.  I used the darker honey for these pancakes keeping the lighter for tea and to sweeten my morning oats.  Being so fresh, the honey is sweeter than the honey you buy at the market and it's so good and makes anything I put it in feel and taste wonderfully sweet.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spring is almost here… a Portland Garden in transition!

Red Tipped Spruce… new growth is on its way!

I ran outside to snap a few photos before it gets dark so you can see what I'm up against here.  Spring is coming quickly and I cannot believe I'm saying this but… I can hardly wait!  I told myself I'd never say I'm ready for it because I love gray and rain and cold but let's just say, I've been here long enough now to yearn with the rest of them for Spring and sunnier and warmer weather!

My garden has survived our winter and we've had a ton of rain so things are going well out there but I am still having to make lists, mental ones anyways on how I want to tackle this seemingly simple task.  Some things have survived well and along with the trees and foliage I've planted over the past two years, I have things coming up I've never planted too.  I think they are weeds but we'll see as time goes by as I remember to get them before they go to seed.  I traipsed through the bark and rock this evening and found pots with new growth and things such as mint, rosemary and some others that really never went that far away during these cold months.  In fact, the mint is freaking going crazy already and I think I might have a problem as it's seeded out of the pot and prolifically green and scented.  I am drenched in the smell of that rosemary as I brushed against it and that's making me hungry for dinner!

My garden is a hobby so I will never be "done!"  So, I have attached an article from that I truly enjoyed reading and I really loved the photos and want to incorporate some of what I learned in to my front garden.  I already have five trees there, some bigger foliage, grasses, rock, bark and stepping stones.  But, I know I have room for more, there's always room for more.  Enjoy the Houzz read and thank you for visiting my garden this evening!  Link is below:

That girl in the Japanese Forget-Me-Nots… they have to go!

A little color in an early March Oregon Garden!

New growth found in pots all over the garden!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Portland's Food Lovers February 2016 Report!

At home planning from Plenty!
After my embarrassment last month at the freakish number of places I dined out at here in Portland, I decided February was the month to redeem myself.  So, I've calmed down a bit and decided more cooking at home was in definite order!  So, here's my February list before I tell you about my "at home" adventure cooking this month.  Also, I have mixed the list and included places I frequented in February as well.  Enjoy:

Red Sauce Pizza:  Went back and took hubby this time.  He had taken his first bite and told me just after it reached his mouth that the pizza was really good!  I'm so glad he thought so cause I've been telling everyone of my pizza adventures at Red Sauce and I really love them and their pizza and I'm so glad that I don't live very far away.  I've been back twice in February and I'm not ashamed of it at all!  I did try the calzone and it's as good as the pizza I might add.

Back To Eden Bakery:  I love this place because although I am NOT vegan, I do love a good sweet treat now and then and eating one here is not only delicious, it gives me the false sense that I am actually consuming something that is beneficial to my health. Dontcha just love denial??  So, I ate this little vegan doughnut on my way home and brought home a chocolate vegan brownie for hubby!

Pip's Original Doughnuts:  As always, at least bi-monthly anyways, Pip's is my "after a work out" place to go.  I feel energized and enthusiastic and skinny after the gym and again… in denial about my fatness so, I head over for an 'Emmy Lou' chai and one little doughnut.  I take my son and he eats the rest cause he's not fat at all!  Lucky duck!

Sapphire Hotel:  Oh my sweet gosh this place is in my mind day and night since going a few weeks ago.  Hubby picked me up at Union Station after a trip south and we went to this little place.  Candle lit and dreamy with a history of travelers, sailors and lady's of the night and I was good to go!  We shared squash enchiladas, had a cocktail and each had our own Butterscotch Pudding and it was so freaking good!  I look good in candle light and my handsome hubby always looks good so it was a night to remember here at the old hotel.  The hotel itself is no longer functioning as that but the rooms upstairs are actually apartments which is great in this rental market in Portland.  I cannot wait to head back to the Sapphire Hotel again.

Rose's Ice Cream:  We see this place all the time.  Next door to Red Sauce Pizza and across from Pizza Jerk so hubby surprised us one night after dinner at home and took us finally.  I had a delicious root beer float with house made vanilla ice cream.  There were banana splits, shakes and cones all around.  All of it, so good!

Epif:  I went alone in January and loved all of it.  Most of it was great this time with friends and family and I recommend it still however, there was something a little off this night we went a few weeks ago.  I felt like everything needed flavor or salt or something.  However, those empanadas.. spot on!

CHESA:  Yes, it's all caps cause it deserves all of it!  Opened just last week or so and went Friday night and dined on four year old ham, shredded tomatoes on crunchy farm bread, paella, little baked potatoes and dessert and wow… all of it delicious!  I hope they do well always and being hitched to their 180 xurros spot next door isn't a bad idea at all.  Good Luck Chesa!

Bollywood Theater:  Had a chance to go a few nights ago with a friend and my son. They had the lamb thingys and I had veggies and coconut rice and fried kale and again… as always… delicious!  I love this place.  The warmth exudes right through you and you feel at home and all the things and the food and drink make you feel wanted and fed.  So glad they are only a few blocks away! #comfortfood

Now… about cooking at home!

I decide to finally read a cookbook a friend got me for Christmas that just so happens to be on Powell's Top Ten Cookbook List.  It's called "Plenty" by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I made several things out of it but my favorites were the Socca's.  So pretty, so fun to make and absolutely delicious!  I recommend Plenty and as I said, it comes recommended by Powells so I'm sure it's there… go get it!

I also made the usual good things in February like Spicy Italian Spaghetti, Pizza etc. It's always good to go out but sitting in my cushy old lady recliner watching Netflix now and then while I dine on homemade goodness is nice too.

Thanks for reading my list for February and I am hoping that March's list is a little longer but not too long.  Trying to be good in Portland is super hard so I've decided it's ok to be bad now and then and try to just be smart about where I chose to eat and keep the list manageable.  Oh god.. who am I kidding;)!!


Pip's Original Doughnuts!

Sapphire Hotel!

Rose's Ice Cream on NE 42nd!

Bollywood Theater on Alberta Ave.

Red Sauce Pizza!

Chesa on NE Broadway!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Aged Cocktails… making them at home!

We've made aged cocktails in the past and thought it would be fun to get the most possible out of this barrel and since we have friends coming in April, right now was a good time to get going.  Since most aged cocktails have to age at the very least a few weeks, we will try and make two before mid April.

I have only had Lemoncello once in a cocktail and while it was tasty, I am not in to super sweet drinks and this one looked pretty good since the ginger in there was new to me.  We put the Lemon Ginger Drop ingredients together last night and now this concoction sits on the counter.  I've printed out the recipe and stuck it on my fridge with the date we started this aging process.  This is a good way to not let time slip away too quickly without sampling the ingredients weekly and knowing when to stop the process at just the right time.

Follow me and when we taste weekly and produce the end product, I'll give you tasting notes and let you know how timing worked as well.  Enjoy and Cheers!

Lemon Ginger Drop, 2-LITER BARREL

  • bottles, plus 3½ oz Dark Horse Distillery Rider Vodka
  • 6¾ oz limoncello
  • 6¾ oz ginger liqueur
  • lemon twist (for garnish)
Pour 3 ounces barrel-aged Lemon Ginger Drop into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.

Boulevardier, 2-LITER BARREL

  • bottle, plus 8½ oz Dark Horse Distillery Reserve Bourbon Whiskey
  • 17 oz sweet vermouth
  • 17 oz Campari
  • ice
  • orange peel (for garnish)
Add 3 ounces barrel-aged Boulevardier into a chilled coupe or Old Fashioned glass and fill with ice. Zest an orange peel into the drink, use it for garnish and serve.

Note:  all recipes are from Dark Horse Distillery however, we used local liquor as much as possible in our aged cocktails.  

My favorite time of year!

My favorite time of year!
in the leaves