Monday, February 26, 2007

Kitchen Bling

I've had Teflon pans for too long. With the health warnings piling up, I knew I needed to change. Recently, the nonstick coating on one of the sauce pans began to flake. That was really the final straw.

And, if you're going to switch up, why not go all the way.

So, I sprung for the All-Clad Stainless starter set. Damn, they work absolutely. They are a true joy to cook with. I'll need to add a couple of pieces here and there, but this 9 piece set is really tight.

Kitchen bling, indeed.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pizzetta 211, SF

So it's Sunday eve, my last night in SF. -M- and I scour the Slow Food Guide to SF, that Eat Drink Shop SF book, and Chowhound. We aren't quite sure what we are looking for...

Then, somehow, we come across Pizzetta 211. I think we saw it first in the Eat Drink guide. We checked Chowhound again to see how it fared. Lo and behold, a positive review from Kim at Apizza Scholls. That was good enough for us.

Pizzetta 211 is a little out of the way. It's in the Richmond (hope I've got that right, -M-, maybe you can clarify if needed?). We park a few block away and walk on over. There is a bit of a wait as the place is VERY small. Counting outside seating, there can't be many more than 25 to 30 seats. We are told 30 min, but a table gets up sooner than expected, and the wait is more like 5 min.

We order a few things to try...
  • White bean and kale soup (or some kind of green, maybe chard) - Tomato-y and delicious. A good start to the evening.
  • Artisan cheese salad - Perhaps the only down part of the meal. A plate of slightly overdressed greens and some hunks of cheese on the side. When asked which 'artisan' cheeses they were, they told us cheddar, brie, and a sheep's cheese. All tasty, but not an amazing dish.
  • Pizza 1, a basic margherita - Tomato base, mozz cheese, and basil. These are small-ish pizzas (maybe a little smaller that Pizza Fino's small [and yes, I will review them soon]), so -M- and I are able to polish them off with no problems. Good crust, top notch toppings, very satisfying.
  • Pizza 2, we go out on a limb - Olive oil base, sheep's milk cheese, pine nuts, rosemary, and farm fresh eggs. We were a little confused about the farm fresh eggs. We imagined hard boiled, which seemed weird, so we inquired. No, in fact, they are over medium. The pie goes into a hot over first, with no egg, to set the crust and melt the cheese. Then, a couple of eggs are cracked on top, and the pie is put into a slightly cooler oven to cook the eggs. When they come out, the eggs are a prefect over-medium. We ask for an egg on only one side, not sure if we are going to like it. We crack the yolk and spread it around. One bite and we're hooked. So rich, so velvety. Why isn't this being done everywhere (although, when I mention it to Queen E, she says they have this over at Nostrana. I'll have to investigate).
  • Scharfenberger flourless cake. A good ending to a lovely meal.
The wine list is small but good. Surprisingly it is mostly French, so you know I am happy. We get, through the course of the night, 2005 Chidaine Touraine Blanc, 2005 Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone, and 2005 Joguet Chinon (Petite Roches, I believe...) And, of course, I get coffee with the chocolate cake.

A spectacular last meal in SF. Good call, -M-.

PS, image borrowed from

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sparklehorse at the Wonder

Yep, I go see Sparklehorse again, this time at the Wonder Ballroom in PDX. Smaller space, louder sound, basically the same set. This time, I was much closer. Fast songs fared better then slow songs at the Portland show, basically the opposite of the SF show.

Pre-concert, I ate over at Pok Pok. 45 min wait for a seat at the Whiskey Soda Lounge (and I was already running late) so I grab a few items from the cart and sit outside. It's cool but not cold.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sparklehorse at the Fillmore

I'm traveling in CA this weekend. Sat and Sun in San Fran, Monday in LA.

Who is playing at the Fillmore while I am in SF?? None other then the mighty Sparklehorse. Yeah, I am going to see them in Portland on Tuesday too, what of it? -M- picked up tickets for us a few days ago. How thoughtful. The Fillmore is nice. The show is spectacular. Although Sparklehorse is really, for all intents and purposes, only Mark Linkous, the live band was a four piece (including long time collaborator Johnny Hott on drums and pump organ, Chris Michaels on guitar and keyboards, and Paula Jean Brown on bass and vocals. They were occasionally joined by a fifth, unnamed person on pedal steel guitar).

The first part of the show relied heavily on the first album, Vivadixie... In fact, they opened with an amazing rendition of Spirit Ditch. Unfortunately, my favorite record, It's A Wonderful Life was neglected a little (they did play Apple Bed and Eyepennies, though). Two encores. The first ended with Homecoming Queen, which would have made for a nice, bookended concert. The second one song encore was Shade and Honey, not a bad song, but certainly a bit of a weak end. Oh well.

It seemed to me that the slower, less rockin' songs held together better in a live setting. Not that the rockers were bad, they just seemed to lose some of the vitality they possess in the recorded versions.

Yep, looking forward to the show at the Wonder Ballroom on Tuesday.

Oh, photo credit (shh... without permission) : Magnet

Saturday, February 10, 2007

N. Lombard Taco Taste Test, pt. 1

My friend, the ADC, has decided to eat at all the taquerias on N. Lombard over the course of the next year. I'm trying (with little luck thus far) to convince her to try them all over the course of a week or two, and hopefully expand it to all of north Portland.

Last weekend, we grabbed waffles and coffee at the Flavour Spot (I'll try and post more on that later), and drove all the way up Lombard, way past St. Johns, up to Terminal 4 and beyond. Then, we turned around and drove back, taking copious notes on every taqueria we came across. Address, hours, etc. I'm pushing to include one that is actually on Portland Hwy (which is what Lombard turns into)...

Anyway, here is the preliminary map.

If you have any suggestions for judging criteria, I'd love to hear them. Watch this space for future reports...

PS - Yes, I know Google has misspelled Javier's Taco Shop. Unfortunate, but not my fault.

Oregon Trail Sourdough Culture

I just ran across this on Boing Boing while waiting in the airport Saturday morning. I've never been able to bake a decent loaf of bread, but I'm thinking about gettin' me some.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Which one are you??

Great post from Indexed, tracked down via Boing Boing, who has this to say...

"If you arrange the 7 Deadly Sins around a heptagon label them A-G, and connect each Sin to the others, you get 21 secondary sins. For instance Sloth + Pride = Slackers."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Short Ribs

CC had the idea to start up Sunday Supper, and I of course took the idea and ran with it. What you’ll see below is a mercifully pared back version of what I had originally envisioned…

But first, the guest list. The gardener and the barrister, who I don’t see nearly enough, agreed to join us. CC was of course in attendance, and my good friend NT also made it over.

CC and I spent the better part of the day shopping, prepping, drinking a little wine, and listening to music. We were, however, no where near ready in time. Last minute details to finish up, you know, frying up pancetta for a crispy soup topping, grating cheese for the polenta, things like that… Luckily, the gardener was up for helping us set the table.

Also, check out my new salt setup... Cyprus black salt, coarse French grey salt, Redmond Utah sea salt, and Hawaiian Alea red salt...

So, here’s the meal, laid out course by course:

To start, n/v A. Soutiran Grand Cru Brut (100%) – Oh, the percents. These will refer to how much of said wine was consumed. Sort of a guide to how much the group liked this or that particular bottle. Bubbles are fully consumed.

Course 1 - Celery Root Bisque. I used veggie stock in place of the water that was called for. I’d found the water version, well, watery, and wanted it to have more flavor. I think I’ll make my own celery stock next time. Bisque was good, good texture and flavor, but not celery-y enough in my opinion. The crispy pancetta topping was really great, though!

  • 2005 Dom. De Triennes Viognier “ Sainte Fleur” VdP du Var (80%)
  • 2003 Francois Villard Condrieu De Poncins (50%, criminal! This wine was great)
  • 2002 Marc Tempe Pinot Blanc “Priegal” (20%, this was going through a secondary fermentation, and was a little spritzy, but still tasted good)

Course 2 – Braised Short Ribs with Parsnips and Bacon. I had intended to write this up earlier so I wouldn’t forget too much about the meal, but here it is, a week later, and I’ve forgotten plenty.

We roast the short ribs in the oven, drain fat, deglaze roasting pan, add all to the Dutch oven, add a bottle of Zinfandel, some parsnips (my first experience with them, nicely spicy, cloves and allspice, very cool vegetable, this 'parsnip'), and bacon. We served this up with a little creamy parmesan polenta and some broccoli rabe.

  • 2001 Dom. Ott Bandol Rouge (80%, a pretty rare bottle. Too young, even when decanted)
  • 2000 Dunham Syrah (30%, NT claims this tastes of Malibu, all coconut and vanilla, like the overly oaked wine it is)
  • 2000 La Cave des Vignerons de Chusclan CdRV Chusclan “Les Monticaults” (100%, perhaps the winning red wine. We thought it might have been over the hill, but it was soulful and satisfying)

Course 3 – Cheeses. Again, I should have written down the amazing selections CC picked from Pastaworks, but I didn’t. Maybe she can enlighten us with a comment? Anyway, there were amazing cheeses, pecans, hazelnuts, dried cherries, and currants. Served with an amazing 2003 Champlou Vouvray Trie de Vendage “CC” (100%, a sweet Vouvray in a 500 ml btl, fabulous!)

Course 4 - Chocolate Espresso Truffles, Sea Salt Caramels, and Candied Citron. We serve this up with a little cup of French press coffee (COE, Columbia Finca el Placer).

At the end, we all sat back, completely full and satisfied.