A guide to eating well, drinking well, and entertaining the best of company.

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What’s Cooking: Sangría

5 June, 2011 (00:29) | Drinks, What's Cooking | No comments

For me, sangría is the summer drink. It balances the complexity and depth of a good Rioja with the fruity booziness of punch. I’ve got fond memories of making (and drinking) it by the bucketful with a bunch of friends over the course of an afternoon barbeque. Lovely to make in preparation for guests coming by throughout a weekend, and never a disappointment at parties. Making it can take two days if you plan in advance, or as little as a few hours if you need to toss it together quickly.

As with all such recipes, each implementation is fiercely individual. Feel free to modify to taste and available fresh ingredients, though take care not to let it get too sweet or too tangy. The trick here is to use what is seasonal. I’ve used blueberries, strawberries, and peaches instead of apples, lemon, and lime. I’d be careful with pineapple: It’s often too powerful and may obliterate other flavors.

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Recommendation: R2L

17 February, 2010 (18:32) | Center City, Recommendation, Review, restaurant | 2 comments

R2L logo

R2L logo

There is a certain peril to restaurants placed on high floors in tall buildings: in addition to being expensive real estate, restaurants with a soaring view run the risk of becoming caricatures of themselves, the go-to place for taking out of town visitors, prom dates, and easy- to- impress business associates. In such instances (see: Portland City Grill, with miserable cocktails and positively pedestrian food, or SkyCity in the Seattle Space Needle which tries desperately and unsuccessfully to have  a menu that lives up to the price premium) it is quite likely that the view will usurp the food and drinks, and both will soon become afterthoughts.

So, when I heard that Daniel Stern (formerly of beloved Gayle and flash- in- the- pan Rae) was planning on opening a restaurant in Two Liberty Place, I was simultaneously concerned (Rae was in a similarly awkward location that attempted to be prestigious, and had a menu that was just as gawky as the locale)  and excited (after all, I’ve been to Portland City Grill, Sky City, and other similar establishments: I’m a sucker for a view). Stern indicated that the theme was going to be ‘cocktail cuisine’, and the atmosphere would be devised accordingly. It opened for Restaurant week with a limited menu, and the full menu was available about a week later. I waited for them to get some of the new restaurant kinks out and then gave it a visit. Read more »

What’s Cooking: Carbonara

1 February, 2010 (18:29) | What's Cooking | 3 comments

Carbonara, delicious!

Carbonara, delicious!

I’ve always been a sucker for bacon, and though my first attempt at carbonara was likely the most prolific culinary failure of my life, I’ve had a keen eye for new recipes ever since. What I’m about to introduce you to is a recipe that is simple, quick, reasonably cheap, can be made to dirty only one pot, and is so good it may very well become part of your regular rotation. It certainly is one of mine. I’ve made it regularly for  about a year now, and will occasionally pop home to toss it together over lunch for an amazing, refreshing mid-day meal.

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What’s Cooking: Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup

15 October, 2009 (22:41) | What's Cooking | 2 comments

43F. And rainy. Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup on the Boil

A mere six degrees away from my least favorite sort of weather, I arrived home with no small headache and very, very strong desire for soup. Hearty soup. With meat. But healthy, too, to help ward of the cold I’ve been dancing around for the past week and a half. I loaded up my trusty ‘to cook’ bookmarks, and found…  This. A very promising recipe. And just one pot, at that!

I saw this recipe over at Smitten Kitchen, which itself was adapted from Bon Appetit. I have, of course, modified it to my preference, ignored certain steps, and generally made it my own… But, not as much as  some others I’ve made. The result is a rich soup, thick enough to be eaten on its own, sweet enough to be fun, and just spicy and meaty enough to keep it from getting boring. The spinach gives it good green contrast, and I didn’t feel the need to add any additional spice at all. This should easily serve 3. Read more »

Side- by- Side Taste Test: Chemex vs. French Press

12 October, 2009 (08:40) | Coffee | 3 comments

A Chemex, winner of several design awards

A Chemex, winner of several design awards

In passing a while back, a friend mentioned their opinion that a French Press could surely make better coffee than my preferred method, the Chemex. Being a dedicated Chemex aficionado, and ever seeking to help the world enjoy better coffee, I proposed a side- by- side taste-test. The superiority of the Chemex, I thought smugly to myself, should be easy enough to prove empirically.

The methodology was as follows:

  1. We would use what we considered two representative blends purchased fresh from La Colombe: Phocea, their medium-full bodied blend, and Nizza, their dark roast which they also use for espresso. First the Phocea would be tested, then after a snack to cleanse the palate, the Nizza.
  2. The coffee would be served side by side at optimal temperature, to assure the optimal experience for each method.
  3. The taste test would be double blind, or as much so as possible. After the pour into identical mugs (labeled on the bottom of the cup to be checked for results later, but not visible to the taste-tester), each pair would be switched about by two different people before being delivered to the judges.
  4. Once the judge decided which they preferred, they would slide that mug to the center of the table. Mugs would then be collected, and results tallied. Read more »

Reccomendation: Music Fountain

3 September, 2009 (23:03) | Dessert, Fishtown, Recommendation | No comments

I just returned from the soft-opening of the Music Fountain, a 50’s themed ice cream shop that will be opening tomorrow in Fishtown, where I had a great time. Bob and Mary were frantically practicing for their opening tomorrow by throwing a fundraiser for the Walking Fish Theatre.

The place is very much in theme, abounding in pastel radios, a straight- outta- Happy Days jukebox, and a wall filled with portraits of crooners of old. Formica tabletops and a beautiful old Hamilton Beach milk shake mixer add to the verisimilitude, a sort of 50 years younger successor to the Franklin Fountain. Indeed, both of the Berley brothers were there in their nineteen ought nine style, talking shop with Bob and Mary and passing along well-wishes and tips

They’re clearly still getting some things together, like any establishment less than a day away from Zero Hour, but the thought and energy is already abundantly apparent. Both Bob and Mary are just so happy to be behind the counter scooping up cones and shakes that you can’t help but be happy for them for living out this dream. Indeed, I didn’t see a single person walk out that wasn’t smiling infectiously. Read more »

What I’m Eating: Pink Lady Apples and Crackers With Goat Cheese & Honey

27 August, 2009 (10:05) | Dessert, What I'm Eating, breakfast | No comments

Apples and goat cheese with honey on crackers

Apples and goat cheese with honey on crackers

After going through much preparation for dinner last evening, I realized that I hadn’t acquired anything for dessert (I blame that on the nearly impossible task of acquiring Pinotage from the PLCB at the last minute). A moment of exasperation came and went before I realized that, after a heavy meal, perhaps something on the lighter side was called for.

Fortunately, I had everything needed immediately at hand: Pink Lady apples, goat cheese with honey, and crackers.

The goat cheese is smooth and creamy, with enough honey to balance nicely with the saltiness of the Trader Joe’s ‘Entertainer’ crackers, which are crispy and airier than Ritz crackers, but in the same style. The Pink Lady apples are my new favorites, with the mealy consistency and sweetness of a Golden Delicious, but the firm citrus tang of redder apples.

I liked it so much, I had it again as my pre-breakfast snack this morning. Breakfast? Dessert? Works either way!


Jovialist is Headed to NYC

18 August, 2009 (18:34) | Travel | 1 comment

Google view of Manhattan from above

Google view of Manhattan from above

There comes a time, every 6 months ago, where I get an urge to go visit our big brother up north and make sure it’s still there. Only a train ride away, I frequently head up for just a day or two and take it in doses. This time I’m making a long weekend of it, and I’m open to your suggestions.

I already have a rough set of objectives:

  1. I have a music event I’ll be attending on Saturday eve
  2. I’m going to check out the High Line. That’s a no-brainer
  3. Explore the Wall Street area. I haven’t spent much time in that part of Manhattan
  4. Check up on progress at the WTC site. I’ve been doing this every 6 months or so since early 2002
  5. Visit Cafe Zaiya
  6. Stare up at the giant blank wall that is 33 Thomas Street.
  7. Maybe visit Redeemer on Sunday morning, depending on how late number 1 goes
  8. Head to the Met and see my favorite paintings by Stephen Hannock. Again.
  9. Stop at Bowery Kitchen Supply and test my self control.

There’s plenty more to do, and you’ll note that this itinerary leaves many meals open. I’m probably going to visit a ramenya (Rai Rai Ken, perhaps, loved it last time), sample plenty of baked goods, and hunt for New York’s best macchiato.

Post in the comments any suggestions you may have!


What’s Cooking: Roasted Red Pepper & Chickpea Salad

4 August, 2009 (21:37) | What's Cooking | 1 comment

Alright, I admit, there’s been a terrible silence since I got tripped up from my PDXSEAYVR series (summary: Wordpress ate my homework), but I’ve just made this recipe and I can’t help but share with you, as it was delicious, and the source of a couple of revelations.

This salad is good hot or cold, I enjoyed it both ways. Good for lunch, or as a side to dinner or on a picnic. It will give you garlic breath.

It took me some time to find dry chickpeas (don’t use canned, the flavor isn’t nearly as suitable), but I eventually turned them up not at Reading Terminal, but in the International department of Thriftway. Who would have guessed? Read more »

Pacific Northwest Grand Tour: Seattle, Part I

4 June, 2009 (18:25) | Conspiracy, Travel | No comments

Seattle, as seen from the Bainbridge Island Ferry

Seattle, as seen from the Bainbridge Island Ferry

Seattle is a city I have heard many good things about, and I’ve got no shortage of friends there. Portland was great, far more enjoyable than I had expcted, but I anticipated appreciating Seattle even more. I was there for close to five days, and I had a lot of ground to cover.

But before I could start my Seattle adventures, I had to get there. Fly, drive, hitch?



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