Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Face Rock Creamery @ Dig a Pony

I've been a vegetarian since I was twelve. In the earliest years, I ate a lot of cheese. Cheese and bread. Cheese and crackers. Cheese and pasta. I consumed more than my fair share of cheddar and a ridiculous amount of carbohydrates. Now I eat vegetables, legumes, and the like...but I haven't given up on cheese.

Reading through old posts, it's obvious that I love cheese. Sure, I will order a cheese plate here and there. But it's the macaroni and cheese that I can't seem to avoid. Over the years, I've posted so many pictures of macaroni and cheese that my mom is convinced it's one of Portland's specialties. Perhaps it is. Or perhaps it's just me (which would mean I might need to branch out a bit).

The macaroni and cheese on the happy hour menu at Dig A Pony is one that I especially enjoy. It starts with a great pasta (a shape that really allows the cheesy goodness to cling right on, making every bite even better than the last) but it's the cheese that really makes it what it is. And now I know where that cheese is coming from.

I first came across Face Rock Creamery last fall at The Wedge, a cheesy event held annually with proceeds going to the Oregon Cheese Guild. I sampled a lot of cheese that day, but only went back for seconds at a couple of tents. The extra stop at Face Rock wasn't just for a second taste. That was one of the only purchases we made that day.

Face Rock Creamery is located on Highway 101 in Bandon, Oregon. It's only a four-hour drive to the creamery (where you can find ALL of their cheese offerings) but the basics are available at New Seasons Markets, Food Front, Green Zebra, Costco AND in a few of the dishes at Dig A Pony--including their macaroni and cheese.

I enjoyed samples, a few specially-made snackables, and perfectly paired mini cocktails at Dig A Pony earlier this week. (I then made a trip to Costco the very next day to buy the big block of Aged Cheddar--just $9.99 per pound.) You can enjoy some of the same at their 2-year Anniversary Party May 9th and 10th. Enjoy live music, Arch Rock Brewing, BBQ, and lots and lots of cheese. It'll be well worth the drive.

Face Rock Creamery on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mediterranean Exploration Company

333 NW 13th Avenue
Happy Hour: 4 - 5:30, daily

Five days before giving birth to my baby girl, I enjoyed happy hour with friends at Mediterranean Exploration Company. It wasn't supposed to me my last hurrah. I was sure--as research had indicated--that she would be late, like most other first borns. Nope. There was no waiting around during my first days of leave. I didn't get my toes done. Never got that massage I wanted. There wasn't a chance to relax before our lives completely changed. I even went to work the day that she was born. That little girl will be eleven weeks old this Thursday. She doesn't sleep through the night...but either does the dog. She does, however, take naps. And if I've eaten and I've showered and there are clean clothes for tomorrow, I still have time to blog. I am, however, almost out of material. I guess that means I will have to head out for happy hour soon enough. And when I go, I'll be bringing her with me.

I would love to head right back to Mediterranean Exploration Company for another bite of their falafel sandwich. Perhaps my senses were heightened due to the hormones, but I'm pretty sure that I would LOVE that sandwich if I were to have another go at it now that things are somewhat back to normal. It's hard to tell by the picture (as things were so perfectly wrapped) but that sandwich was stuffed with good flavors and amazing textures. And the ratio of falafel to hummus was spot on. Included in the mix was a handful of arugula, a little tahini, and just enough s'hug. (I spend a lot of time googling ingredients--to avoid embarrassment--but this time I decided just to ask. It's a condiment, can be super spicy, and is apparently as common to Yemenites as ketchup is to Americans.) All that, and the most delicious pita. It wrapped up perfectly, didn't fall apart like so many do, and helped to balance the other flavors involved as opposed to being a bit too overpowering.

An easy dish to share with friends--and something that can stave off a little hanger, if the potential exists--is a bowl of olives. At the Mediterranean Exploration Company, they serve my favorites: the castelvetrano. Warmed and served with a little olive oil and a bay leaf, this bright green snack is something that I can't say no to. (And I don't mean just once or twice. I can't say no until the bowl is empty. It can be a problem.)

Also pictured are the Keftedes--Greek Meatballs--made with lamb, pistachio, parsley, mint, and tomato. The presentation was commendable--I know the pickled red onions were fantastic because they came on my plate too--and every meat eater at the table seemed to really enjoy the dish.

My husband enjoyed one of their seven dollar cocktails (a decent price at dinner, but a little high compared to some happy hour establishments) while I sipped on the house-made ginger ale. They also offer three dollar draft beer and seven dollar pours of wine (with one sparkling, one white, and one red made available during happy hour).

Happy Hour is limited to the bar (at the bar itself or one of the many high top tables) and things fill up rather quickly. If you are going with a crowd, plan to get there early or expect to spend most of the night standing.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Nearly Meets (it's pricey)


Mediterranean Exploration Company on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Stella Tacos

2940 NE Alberta Street
Happy Hour: 3 - 6 PM, daily

I love avocados. I love them in salads. I love them on sandwiches. I love to eat them straight from the source with nothing more than a little salt. And now I love fried avocado tacos.

Fried Avocado Tacos are on the menu at Stella Tacos for just $2.75. And they're only two bucks during happy hour. In fact, most of their tacos are just $2 during happy hour. (Only those made with seafood don't come at a discounted rate.) We stopped in for a late lunch recently and easily filled up without spending much cash at all.

With multiple veggie tacos available, I picked one of each. The Vegan Mole Taco was full of flavor and came topped with peptitas, adding just enough crunch to the mix. The Black Bean Taco included smashed beans, pickled carrots, sweet onions, jalapeƱos, queso fresco, and cilantro. And that Fried Avocado Taco--the one that will have me back for more, perhaps ordering nothing but--was topped with grilled onion slaw, roasted mushroom sauce, and fresh cheese. The texture--especially that crunch from the freshly breaded and fried avocado--and flavor combined to create an enjoyable treat that was both good for me (loaded with veggies) and not (fried foods can lead to trouble, eventually).

My husband enjoyed three meaty tacos, favoring the Shredded Brisket most of all. Also pictured--although you can barely see the Shredded Brisket in the back--is the Pollo Asado (Char-broiled Draper Valley chicken topped with shredded lettuce and an avocado creme) and a Chile Colorado (pulled pork shoulder topped with matchstick potatoes).

Although not included in the discounts, we enjoyed a (very small) side of guacamole and a bag of freshly made tortilla chips. The ratio of chip-to-dip was WAY off, but the chips had enough flavor all on their own that it wasn't too much of an issue.

Despite the name on the door, there are a few other items on the menu (including a lunch special, if you get there too early for happy hour). I'm most interested in the Alberta Bowl (topped with a chile relleno) or the breakfast Chilaquiles Tacos (available until 3 PM daily).

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets (order at the bar)
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets

Stella Taco on Urbanspoon