Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tastiest Fast Feasts on Earth: Chowzter Global Awards 2014 in London!

We are beyond excited to be invited to attend the Chowzter Tastiest Fast Feasts London Global Awards. What is a fast feast you may ask. Don't let the title fool you. It's not about fast food. It's about a delicious meal from local food producers that include healthy, fresh ingredients prepared when you order.

We are working with Chowzter to find the best food Portland has to offer. Any Portlandian knows that we have so much food to discover in our city that it can become a never-ending meal. Last year, Portland was named foodiest city in North America during the Chowzter North American Awards and two of our Portland favorites made it into the top fifty for all of North America. Dove Vivi's Cornmeal Crust Pizza was listed at number 30 and the Beet Sliders at Huckleberry Pub were number 10.

This week we will be traveling to London to represent Portland during the World Awards. This time the Beet Sliders at Huckleberry Pub made it into the top 5 vegetarian dishes in the WORLD! I have high hopes that they will be the overall winner for the vegetarian category. I mean, beets! Come on. Most of  us don't even like them. Well, at least that is how it was at first...for all three of us. That's until my co-blogger, B, ate the beet sliders at Huckleberry Pub. In one bite, she went from a beet-hating vegetarian to waving the beet banner all over Portland.

I love meat so the idea of beets as a slider did not really appeal to me. I would rather have some carne!  I didn't believe B, so I had to make my own visit to the Huckleberry Pub. I ordered the sliders and a steak sandwich (in case I was let down by the beets). I was not disappointed! In fact, I'm still surprised that I liked them. It is the only time I have ever liked beets. The sliders had both red and golden beets and were served with a horseradish sauce, arugula, and grilled onions. I think I could almost trick my mind into thinking I was eating meat because it was so flavorful.

We had to talk to the creator of this unique vegetarian dish that could convert beet haters. We were lucky the owner and Chef at the Huckleberry Pub, James Drinkward, was there during our visit. He was able to come and speak with us and answer a few of our questions. I really wanted to know how and why he even thought to make beet sliders. I mean sliders are a usual menu item, but beets? James explained that he--like me--is a meat lover, but knows that Portland loves its vegetarians, too. He wanted to make a vegetarian slider and experimented until he had the perfect combination of flavors. James turned to beets because he wanted the sliders to be hearty. He often chooses root vegetables to use in many of his dishes and he has always been a beet lover. It seemed as though beets were the most obvious choice. Well done, James! You have created one of the world's tastiest fast feasts! A tasty, healthy vegetarian slider that even a meat lover would order.

We are excited to be promoting Portland and the Beet Sliders in London this weekend. We will be posting all weekend long on social media to keep you up to date. Wish Portland and The Huckleberry Pub good luck!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Taste of the Nation: Tuesday, April 29th

Disclaimer: I received a free media pass for this event, but all of my opinions are my own. This is a cause that is really important to me.

As school teachers, the three of us have first-hand experience with the importance of children having enough to eat. In the more than ten years that I have worked at our middle school, the amount of students living in poverty has grown at an alarming rate (something that can be tracked by the rise of homelessness among our students, as well as by the huge increase of students who are on free and reduced lunch). I have personally had students tell me that they are hungry or that they do not have enough food to eat at home, and it is heartbreaking. Many teachers make sure to keep extra snacks for students, but I imagine there are plenty of students who are too embarrassed to say anything. It is appalling to me that there are so many kids like my students who have to worry about having enough to eat (over half of Oregon's kids qualify for free or reduced lunch).

Taste of the Nation, a culinary event that will take place on April 29th at the Crystal Ballroom, is set up to combat the problem of childhood hunger. While the ticket prices are steep ($85 dollars for a regular ticket, or $150 to be a VIP), one hundred percent of the ticket sales support the cause. Local beneficiaries include the Oregon Food Bank, Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon, St. Vincent DePaul Society, and Klamath/Lake Counties Food Bank.

So what do you get for the ticket price (besides feeling good about yourself for helping to feed hungry children)? A regular ticket holder gets to attend from 6:30-9:00 p.m. and experience food from tons of great local restaurants (some of our favorites on the list include Lardo, Irving Street Kitchen, and Produce Row Cafe). There are also lots of beverages available, including beer, wine, spirits, and nonalcoholic options. A VIP ticket holder gets to come an hour earlier and experience even more food samples, including some from some of Portland's most popular restaurants (Tasty and Sons and Chef Paley's restaurants are a few of our favorites). While I have never personally attended, it sounds like everyone leaves both full and tipsy. I am really looking forward to a fun evening that supports a great cause!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Double Barrel

2002 SE Division Street
Happy Hour: 2 - 7 PM, daily

Double Barrel is a bar. Not a restaurant, but a bar. They do, however, have some pretty appealing snacks AND a whole lotta discounts during happy hour. It's so typical for bars to offer nothing but fried foods. At Double Barrel, you can get whiskey grilled asparagus (topped with bacon), lil' smokies (that aren't straight out of a package), and the Single Barrel Burger for just five bucks. They do have hushpuppies and fried pickles...but again, not from a package.


Happy Hour at Double Barrel lasts from 2 - 7 daily. That's a good five hours in which you can enjoy a few snacks--maybe even enough to call it dinner--and a discounted drink. They're located on Division near the "Seven Corners" intersection at 21st. Parking is getting more and more difficult as Division expands but it's not impossible on this stretch of the street.

Discounts are offered on beer, wine, and well drinks but they've got a number of specialty cocktails that are worth a little consideration, too. With cocktails topping out at $8 each, it won't break the bank to try something new. I opted for the Ransom Note. Made with Ransom Vodka--hence, the name--plenty of ginger (something I'm loving more and more thanks to the many Moscow Mules I've encountered) lychee nectar, and soda, this was a drink meant for summertime (but will still be just as delicious when dreaming of the sun on one of those dreary days in December).

As we perused the menu, a number of food items made their way from the kitchen to the bar...and the tables beyond it. It made the decision-making process pretty easy...but also had me wanting a little bit of everything. In the end, we settled on the pimento dip with pretzels, an order of hushpuppies, and the lil' smokies.

Although I enjoyed the hushpuppies most, my husband was especially impressed by the lil' smokies. He LOVES lil' smokies but doesn't get to enjoy them nearly as often as he'd like. (Perhaps I am to blame. Maybe because I don't eat meat.) I was expecting these to look just like the ones found at the grocery store. Boy, was I wrong. I don't know if they make them in-house or special-order them from a local source, but I do know that they are something we'll be going back for. Probably fairly soon.

The hushpuppies at Double Barrel are stuffed with corn and jalapeño and come with an adequate amount of honey butter. We didn't get silverware right away--they were busy--but that didn't stop me from biting into these while they were still fresh and warm.

The pimento dip is just one of three dips available during the day. It is, however, the only one that comes with a discount. Both the vegetable and the crab dip are served with a baguette. They're just a couple dollars more than the happy hour priced pimento dip, so if you want something other than the peppery cheesy goodness melted to perfection and served with freshly warmed pretzels, you should probably pay the extra buck or two. Growing up on jarred pimento spread and loving every bite, I was eager to give this version a go. And go it did. Eating that much cheese in one sitting is probably not recommended. In the future, I'll be sure to share more with those around me.

Service was a little slow at first--like I said, they were busy--but we were taken care of once things had settled down. Sitting at the bar--which is easy to do as it wraps around the whole place--gave us an advantage, I am sure.

It's more than just food and drinks at Double Barrel. They've got shuffleboard, plenty of pinball, and I'm pretty sure I walked past a dartboard at one point. That's a lot to offer. And I'm sure that's not the end of it.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Double Barrel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Block + Tackle

3113 SE Division Street
Happy Hour: 5 - 6 PM, Wednesday through Friday

There's nothing bad about Happy Hour at Block + Tackle. The food menu has tiered pricing--something I'm always in favor of--starting as low as a buck. Discounts apply to drinks, too, with $2 tall boys, $3 well drinks, and wine for only five dollars. That, and you can sit anywhere in the restaurant--not just at the bar. But Happy Hour at Black + Tackle is only available for three days each week. Three days? That's a little too limited, in my opinion. I still enjoyed everything I ate. And every sip, too. I just wish I could have done the same on a Sunday or Monday.

There aren't a lot of vegetarian options on the food menu, but my pescatarian friends and family would LOVE all that they've got to offer. For a very small price, you can get oyster shooters, clam chowder, seafood cocktail, clams or calamari. I enjoyed the deviled eggs ($1) and a small salad ($3) but watched as a big bowl of chowder ($4) was happily consumed.

The deviled eggs are fairly basic with a sprinkling of paprika and a few small rings of sliced chives. It's just a dollar for two halves, piped full and resting on just enough filling that they don't slip and slide across the plate.

The salad was a mix of farmer's greens topped with carrots and fried capers. (This is the third time I've come across fried capers in the past month or two. Apparently, it's the new thing. All three, however, have been completely different in taste and texture.) The salad was a small plate--something I wouldn't want to share--but seemed right, given the price.

Although I didn't taste it, the clam chowder seemed to be the most impressive thing at the table. It, too, was topped with chives but also a sprinkling of oyster crackers and plenty of BACON. I guess bacon makes everything better. I'll have to head back to Block + Tackle when my parents are in town to get a second opinion--they know chowder--but for now, I'm going to believe that it's a bowl you'll finish (no matter how many other stops you've got planned on your happy hour outing).

Since the menu was last updated online, they've added Sangria to the list of discounted drinks. For only five dollars, you can enjoy the fortified drink of the day. I'm not sure how often they switch between red and white, but based on the description it sounds as though they rotate between fruits based on the season.

As SE Division grows and grows, it'll be fun to see how restaurants change. I'm hoping that the first change includes a longer workweek--and therefore more opportunity for Happy Hour--at Block + Tackle.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Block and Tackle on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Dig A Pony

736 SE Grand Avenue
Happy Hour: 4 - 7, daily

I've had a restaurant concept in mind for as long as I can remember. Like any restaurant, it may or may not attract enough customers to really thrive...or even survive. There's a pretty good chance it would flop. But who knows? All I know, for sure, is that I've got the idea down, the name in place, a few items ready to be printed on the menu...and absolutely no principal. And so I will continue to keep that restaurant name in the back of my brain for a very very long time.

All of which makes me wonder just how long the owners of Dig A Pony were working with that line. It's a great name. And they've attached that name to a great place. But which came first? I'd love to hear the story.

Dig A Pony opens daily with happy hour discounts from 4 until 7 PM. It's a good chunk of time and--although there are plenty of people taking advantage of the cheap food and drinks--there always seems to be a good place to call your own. And you can really take over. This is the kind of place (assuming that you can find a much-needed outlet) to get some work done. If I was the office type--instead of the classroom type--I'd totally use this as my getaway when I needed a change of scenery.

They've got plenty of snacks to munch on while working, or chatting--or whatever it is you are doing--but they also have enough listed on the happy hour menu that you can easily make it into a complete meal. With prices between three and six dollars, you can put away a lot of food for very little money.

With plans to share, we ordered the fried plantains ($3), hush puppies ($4), and the macaroni and cheese ($5). Next time, I will be sure to try the roasted veggie sandwich ($5) and maybe a house salad ($3) or, for the same price, a plate of fries--that's gonna be a hard decision.

The hush puppies came with some sort of addictive honey butter. There was something else to it--something with a little heat--but the sweetness kept me eating despite my attempts to call it quits. Honey butter is a dangerous thing. (And I have loved it for too long.)

Served with a bowl of mojo, the fried plantains were a fun choice and something that was easy to share. And the pickled pineapple mojo was a perfect match for these fried strips.

Macaroni and cheese is a typical happy hour food option--and one that I often opt for--but these guys have added their own twist. With a mix of cheddar and fontina, this mac and cheese has a little kick to it. In the mix is enough jalapeño and onion to make it flavorful but without being too obvious.

To match the sunshiny day, I opted for the drink that sounded the most like summertime. Made with ginger vodka, lime, sugar, and ginger beer, the 96 Tears is a lot like a Moscow Mule. It's a favorite of mine and one that will become more popular as the days get longer and longer.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Exceeds


Dig A Pony on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 07, 2014

Remedy Wine Bar

733 NW Everett Street
Daily Antidote: 3 - 6 PM

We first stopped by Remedy Wine Bar with a pack of food bloggers and the ladies of Little Green Pickle. That was back before they offered happy hour. We loved the beverage-first concept and enjoyed the Tuesday Night Flights, but are far more keen on the discounts that apply during happy hour. Now that it's available, we knew it was time to go back. (That, and I'd been craving those Cheezy Bits for a very, very long time.)

It is most fitting that they would dub their happy hour the Daily Antidote. All of the names are a play on the original use of the building. The story is printed on the back of the menu and is definitely worth the read. At Remedy, the Daily Antidote is available from 4 to 6 PM, Monday through Thursday, and from 3 to 6 PM on Friday and Saturday. Discounts are available on wine by the glass, the "Lowtail" of the day, the daily snack, and a current selection of cheese. Prices aren't unreasonable on the regular menu, so if the daily snack isn't what you were craving--maybe an order of those Cheezy Bits--the other options are all well-worth the full amount.

We were there just after opening on one of those days when the sun breaks lasted long enough to open the windows overlooking the Park Blocks. It was gorgeous and will only get better as the temperature continues to climb. They've really done a great job with the look and feel of Remedy. This place is classy but so very comfortable, too.

Although I knew I could trust the discounted glass of red ($6) to be a good one--this place is known for pouring the best--I was all about trying the "Lowtail" of the day. I remember the mention of the low-alcohol wine-cocktail when we were here before and was eager to give it a go. There are a number available on the regular menu (priced between $8 and $10) but the daily showcase is just seven bucks.

The Cheezy Bits are dangerously addicting. Dangerous not only because you are likely to finish a bowl and want to order three more but because you could easily lose friends fighting over the last bit in the bowl. They are surprisingly soft and generously dusted with the most amazing Rogue River Blue Cheese powder.

We also ordered the white bean dip...since it was the discounted snack of the day. I love the texture and the grilled bread that accompanies it. Unlike so many places, the amount of bread matched the size of the dish perfectly.

Although we didn't have the same "meet the owners" experience this time around, we still learned an equal amount about the wines being served and received the same care and attention.

Food: Exceeds (Order the Cheezy Bits!)
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Remedy Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 05, 2014

East Burn

1800 E Burnside Street
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM, daily

It's been a long time since we last reviewed East Burn's Happy Hour. That, however, does NOT mean that it's been a long time since the last time I was at East Burn. Since my husband and I bought our house in NE, this has become one of our regular go-tos. Their food is amazing, they've got great chalkboard specials, I love the Bourbon Cherry Buck, and there's SKEE BALL in the basement. It's great when it's just the two of us OR when we are out with a crowd.

We stopped in during Spring Break for Happy Hour and because we NEEDED Trinity Fries. I often crave fries. It's normal. They're delicious. Trinity Fries, however, lead to a different kind of craving. If you haven't tasted the perfect fried trio of potato, sweet potato and leeks just yet, please go there...NOW. You won't regret it.

During Happy Hour--or what they call recess--you can find a number of their regular food items on the menu at a discount. It's a great option if you are up for an early dinner. Although I didn't go for one this time around, the ubertarian is one of my absolute favorite portobello sandwiches. It's good because it's more than just a mushroom. They stuff a portobello cap, caramelized onions, scallion sour cream, and a potato pancake between a ciabatta roll. It's not the easiest to eat and you're likely to spill something somewhere, but it makes for a pretty good meal. There's a meaty version, too, which is important to some people. Both are available at a discount during happy hour AND on Uber Mondays. Monday night is also free Skee Ball night(Yay! Skee Ball!).

This time, we were in it for the fries ($7) and an order of the kale and goat cheese dip ($8). I love kale. And I love goat cheese. This dip is a lot like the typical warmed spinach dip you'd fine just about anywhere, but it's kale. And goat cheese. And that makes it all the more delicious.

There are about a million beers to choose from at East Burn--something that makes my husband very happy--but I can't not order thew Bourbon Cheery Buck. Now that I know how amazing it is, there's no switching things up. It's just too good. The Bourbon Cheery Buck is made with Bulleit Bourbon, Black Cherry, Fresh Ginger, Lemon and Ginger Ale.

Service has always been good at East Burn. It sometimes takes a while to be seated because they can really fill up, but once you are seated you are well taken care of. That's just how it is.

There's no question about my return visits to East Burn. It's gonna happen.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


EastBurn on Urbanspoon

Rum Club

720 SE Sandy Boulevard
Happy Hour: 4 - 6:30 PM, Monday through Saturday
ALL NIGHT Happy Hour: 5 - midnight, Sunday

I spend the majority of my day trying to convince eighth graders that they can do math. That they can be good at math. And that they can even like math. It's not easy. But it is a lot easier when I supply them with something that makes sense. Something they can see. Something that they know outside of the classroom. Next week, we start our work with transversals. One of the most common examples used to make better sense of transversals--at least to kids in this area--is Sandy Boulevard. Looking from above, Sandy--or at least the majority of it--cuts through the coordinate grid that is NE Portland. At the end of that transversal--on the corner of Stark, Sandy, and 8th Avenue--is the Rum Club. You probably drive by it all the time. Maybe you didn't even know it was there.

Rum Club isn't big but offers big flavors. The Happy Hour food menu--which changes with the seasons--incorporates fresh produce and bold flavors in a way that makes me feel like I'm back on vacation. And not just any vacation, but one that includes long stretches of sand, fresh coconut, and too many mojitos. Even on a rainy Portland afternoon, the mix of Mojo Shrimp Skewers, Ginger Soup, and Homemade Spiced Rum might be enough to keep you from complaining about just how grey the days can be.

Having already stopped for one happy hour before hitting up Rum Club, I was most excited to see a menu with so few fried items. There are no fries on the menu. No fritters, either. Instead, the menu is a long list of items that will fit perfectly into your healthy eating plan (if you've got one). We opted for the Mojo Shrimp Skewers (served on a bed of black beans and avocado), the Roasted Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup, and a bowl of the Tamarind Spiced Nuts.

Toasted with coconut and fresh mint, the bowl of Tamarind Spiced Nuts were a great pick for the table to share. It's a mix of hazelnuts, peanuts, and cashews that are more than just dusted with a little of this and a little of that. These things are quite bold. Not as bold, however, as the soup. If you love ginger, this is one that you've got to get in for before the menus change again.

The Ginger Soup was green in color, had great flavor, and came garnished with green onions and crispy sweet potato strings. At only $4 per bowl, I would have expected a little less soup or a little less attention to detail.

Also at the table was an order of the Mojo Shrimp Skewers. They were served on top of a salad made with black beans, chickpeas, red peppers, scallions, and big chunks of avocado. This was the most expensive item on the food menu but considering the cost of the ingredients, the six dollar price tag made complete sense.

There are a number of discounted drinks available during happy hour, including the daily punch. After much debate, I decided on the Chilcano. It wasn't easy to decide, but the pisco won me over. I'm fairly certain that I haven't found a pisco drink I didn't like. Cocktails at Rum Club range in price from 8 to 14 dollars, but during happy hour you can get a number of the same drinks for under seven bucks.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Rum Club on Urbanspoon