Portland Dining Month: Tabla

March in Portland is Portland Dining Month, which means restaurants all over town offer a $29 dinner that usual incorporates a sampling of different choices from their menu. Most restaurants pick one appetizer, one main course, and one dessert to highlight, but some have other variations on the $29 deal.

On Sunday night I had the pleasure of dining at Tabla. Tabla calls themselves a “Mediterranean Bistro,” but for the geographically confused this might make you automatically think “Greek food!” It’s more Italian based fare here, though not the heavy red-sauce based Italian, a lighter, less Americanized Italian. Tabla’s Dining Month selection actually allowed each diner to choose their own appetizer, pasta, and main course from the entire menu. Options!

I started with the winter salad:

photo 1

I picked the salad because it has my favorite olives, castelvetrano. They’re those big lime green olives you see at the fancy olive bars at Whole Foods and New Seasons. They’re almost buttery in taste, and definitely a common indulgence of mine. The olives complimented this salad well, and it was a nice, crispy, fresh start to my meal. Although I did find the inclusion of celery in a salad odd, it actually worked well and added a nice crunch.

For my pasta dish I chose the crab tortellini: 

photo 2

I have been to Tabla a few times before, and always ordered the Tabla Ravioli, which I highly recommend. But I’m glad I decided to change things up. The tortellini is made from fresh pasta, and each one was stuffed nicely. Sometimes I’m afraid of ordering things like tortellini or ravioli at restaraunts instead of actual pasta because the servings tend to be skimpier, but this was just right. The crab was actually hard to taste at first, so if you’re wary of seafood this dish isn’t overly seafoody.

For my entree I went with the Braised Pork Braciole:

photo 4 

It’s basically a pork ragu. The sauce was good and tomatoey, and the pork was tender. There’s polenta on the bottom, and I was surprised and delighted by how creamy it was. The entire dish was delicious. At this point I was rather full, so I’m happy to report that the leftovers heated-up nicely the next day.

I highly recommend Tabla, even after Portland Dining Month is over. After March they still have a Three Course Dinner option on the menu that is only $33, which for what you get is a fantastic deal. The service is fantastic, the dining room was nice and quiet even though the restaurant was full, and most importantly the food is consistently good.

In case you’re interested in other PDX Dining Month options, Eater PDX put together a list of the best deals.

Stay tuned as I continue to eat my way through Portland!

 

Tabla on Urbanspoon

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I’ve got the Remedy…

Last week I had the pleasure of going to Remedy with some of my Bar Method friends. Remedy is a a fabulous wine bar on the corner of Everett Street and Park Avenue. It’s kind of tucked away, but one of my friends lives in the building and is a regular. I’m so glad she told me about it, because it has that perfect combination of ambience + food + wine. And they serve wine in beakers, which is totally my kind of science:

Screenshot 2014-03-05 22.02.43I don’t really know all that much about wine, but both times I’ve been to Remedy I’ve enjoyed what I’ve had. This time around, we got a bottle of red. I conveniently took a picture so that I wouldn’t have to remember exactly what the wine was. So let’s have a peek, shall we?
photo 1 (3)Yep. Whatever that wine is, it was great. Remedy also has some pretty amazing food. They have a somewhat limited food menu of snacks and small plates–good drinking food. But if you’re wanting dinner, they have a “plat du jour.” When we were there the daily dinner was chicken pot pie. It was a dreary Portland day, and the chicken pot pie was exactly what the weather ordered…errr… what I ordered:

photo 2 (4)You know you need a close up:
photo 4 (1)It was so good. The crust was buttery and flakey, but not too flakey. The inside was filled with chunks of chicken, potatoes, and other veggies. It was perfect, and it went surprisingly well with the wine.

Remedy is in the Pearl District, and yes it is immaculate, airy, and clean, but for some reason I don’t get a pretentious Pearl District Vibe (which I honestly don’t get in that many places, despite the Pearl’s reputation). The staff is incredibly friendly–I’m pretty sure I met the chef the first time I went, and she was very sweet and helpful. Rumor has it she’s a cheese genius, and I believe it because the cheese plate we got was amazing.

Everyone at Remedy seems like they’re really enjoying what they’re doing, and I truly wish them the success they deserve. It is a bit pricey, but according to this article on Eater, they’re starting up a happy hour deal–$6 wine pour and a $4 snack. Cheers!

Remedy Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Lately

I have become obsessed with Whole Foods/New Seasons hot bar foods. I have no idea how to track these Weight Watchers points, but a bite here and there can’t do toooooo much damage, right? Really, I should be making the salad bar my new BFF, but it’s too damn cold.

unnamed-8

 

 

Post Bar Method brunches:

Smoked salmon pretzel at Nuvrei.

unnamed-7Chilaquiles at Isabel.
unnamed-3Both are fantastic brunch spots and deserve their own reviews, but then you’d discover how great they are! It doesn’t hurt that they’re both around the corner from Bar Method. Speaking of which…

New socks!

1653291_10102477619612263_457140323_nYes, my Bar socks are proposing to me. And I will marry them.

Lastly, and most importantly. I went to a Blazer game…and met Blaze! Yes, our team has a CAT mascot. Because we are AWESOME.

1385005_10102483493780383_1245413317_nIf you can’t tell, I was really excited to meet Blaze.

So in hopes of encouraging all 5 of my readers to speak up and join in the fun that I’m having, I’m going to try this whole daily question thing.

Question of the Day: What have YOU been up to lately? And more importantly, if you could meet any team mascot, who would it be? I would obviously pick my man Blaze. But if I could meet any other mascot it would have to be the Phillie Phanatic, simply because I remember seeing him from afar at games as a kid, and he’s a weird green blob, so that’s pretty cool.

 

Thursday Weigh-In, Travel Edition

This week was a tough one! First I was snowed in for three days, and then when I finally made my great escape, I was on a work trip, surrounded by cake, cookies, and wine at every step. The hotel catered every meal, and it was a challenge, but I survived! In case you’re wondering exactly what I ate while surrounded by hotel food, here’s a snippet of the food posted on my tumblr (carlyeatsfood):

Not too shabby. There was also some wine and some cake. I’ve found that my mindset really has changed, thanks to weight watchers and tracking all of my food. When I find myself facing a challenging food decision I remind myself, “there will always be another piece of cake. Is THIS the piece of cake you want to indulge in, or should you wait for something better?” And generally, I wait. And then when I do find a piece of cake, or whatever, that I do want, I’m ok with it because I’ve said no to like 5 other pieces of cake (ok, I’m not normally surrounded by that much cake, but you get the idea!). Honestly, simply being mindful has made a huge decision.

So here are some tips about eating when traveling for work (not for pleasure! If I was in Hawaii I’m pretty sure I’d throw my WW app out the window!):

1. Pack snacks. A baggy full of nuts, a few protein bars, if possible some cheese or fruit. I failed at this, thanks to Snowpocalypse I didn’t make it out to the store before my flight. I did have some nuts but ended up never eating them.
2. When in doubt, get a salad. There were many carby, meaty, heavy options and I generally just told myself it wasn’t worth it and stuck with salad. Boring, yes, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by the bad for me options if I knew I could stay on track by simply not taking them into consideration.
3. Let yourself indulge. At some point, you’re going to crack if you keep avoiding ALL the sweets. So let yourself have a treat every so often, or if you’re anything like me, you’ll go from eating no cake to eating ALL THE CAKE.
4. Embrace the hotel gym. This was a first for me! Never in my life have I used a hotel fitness center, but after sitting around in meetings all day, I actually wanted to go to the gym. A few miles on the treadmill and I felt less guilty about the wine later. It’s all just a balancing act, really.
5. Drink water. I carried my water bottle from meeting to meeting, and staying hydrated definitely helped keep the munchies at bay.
I know you guys know all of these already, but hey, I’m here to help! Or really, just to brag, and sound like I’m smart, when really, I’m afraid that my weight loss success is going to start getting harder and harder and I’m eventually going to go running into the loving arms of Ben and Jerry. But so far, so good.
Starting Weight: 176.6 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 169.0 lbs
This Weigh-in: 166.8 lbs
Difference: 2.2 lbs 
Total Difference: 9.8

All I Do Is Eat

When I decided to stop focusing this blog solely on books I was afraid that I would run out of things to write about. Turns out I should just quit my day job and become a professional eater!

Last night I went out for a friends birthday. We had dessert before dinner. I would share with you my terrible iphonography, but honestly, my scoop of ice cream looks like… a scoop of ice cream! But it was from Salt & Straw, so clearly it was delicious. I tried a bunch of their special seasonal flavors, including the bizarre “Universe II” which was chocolate pudding and lime and something else weird. It of course tasted way better than it sounds, but I ended up going with my old standards of Olive Oil and Salted Caramel. Boring can be delicious too. Oh, right, you non-Portland people are like, Olive Oil ice cream, WTF?! Well, let me tell you. IT IS SO GOOD. It’s just smooth and yummy and…mmmm. It really does taste like olive oil, but it’s subtle. I really like it because of the texture. It’s not overly sweet either. It’s kind of like eating butter flavored ice cream, but not as gross and rich as that sounds. After Salt & Straw we headed over to the Whiskey Soda Lounge.

afterlight (2)

Yes, I had a little fun with photo filters. It was really dark!! One of these days I’ll start taking my good camera out with me and the quality of photos around here will be better, I promise. Anyway. Whiskey Soda Lounge is owned by the Portland-Famous Pok Pok, and is a “bar/lounge serving Aahaan kap Klaem, the drinking food of Thailand.” Translation: They serve really cool/unique thai food and delicious delicious drinks. The lounge opened up across the street from Pok Pok when that shit got SUPER popular, so people can go across the street and have a drink while waiting for their Pok Pok table. But it’s a great place on its own, and they have delicious chicken wings.
afterlight (1)They. are. so. good. They’re cooked with fish sauce, so they’re slightly sweet, and tangy. And they’re really nicely sized, so a few chicken wings is really all you need. We also got drinks. afterlightI had the Pok Pok Gin & Tonic (left), which uses their house infused Kaffir Lime gin. Refreshing and delicious, and tall! Not your average tiny g&t. But that tiny cup on the right? It was so cute and full of something alcohol I don’t remember what. But come on, it’s a tiny cup!

In summary: Salt & Straw + Whiskey Soda Lounge = Delicious Portlandy Night. I love that Portlanders get really attached to their local restaurants/ice creameries/coffee shops, and when these places do well they multiply like bunnies–there are three Salt & Straw locations, and a bunch of different Pok Poks–including a Pok Pok in New York. Because Brooklyn is the new Portland. And if you didn’t think I could get more Portlandy: I just read that last year’s Salt & Straw/Breakside Brewery Salted Caramel Stout is back and being released at Belmont Station this week, so guess who will be saving up her weight watchers points? (answer: it’s me!)

I do love Portland. I really do.

Farm Cafe

Once a month two of my best friends and I go out to monthly drinks. A) It’s nice to schedule a fun night out because we’re all so busy, it’s good to know we have one night for us! and B) We dress up and go explore Portland. We select a special drink that we all have, and this month due to the New Year, we decided on champagne cocktails. After a little bit of research we headed out to the Farm Cafe for Goldenrods. The Farm Cafe is a restaurant in a house in inner SE Portland that boasts a fresh farm to table menu.

photo 1Our Goldenrods were indeed golden, and consisted of: sparkling wine, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and a splash of lemon juice, with a twist of orange.  Yum! The drinks were delicious. We also started out with baked brie, and despite being in the middle of a gluten-free experiment, I was an idiot and ate some bread. It was so good. Yay bread. The brie was good and gooey, and I ended up with a very sticky hand from the honey the whole thing was soaked in.
baked brie
I ordered the seafood cioppino for dinner. I love seafood. I was torn between the cioppino and the trout, and well, maybe I should have gotten the trout. The cioppino had clams, shrimps, and big chunks of salmon… and it was so so salty. I still ate the entire bowl and didn’t feel like I got cheated on seafood bits (as can be the case), but man. I can salt my own food. I find that this is often a problem for me, so maybe I’m just overly sensitive to salt.

Cioppino
We couldn’t end the meal without dessert.
chocolate souffle That is a chocolate souffle with coffee ice cream. Which, I am happy to report was not too salty. While I had a lovely evening, and there are many other interesting items on the menu that I want to try, there are so many other amazing restaurants in Portland that I would probably choose over Farm Cafe. If someone suggests it, I won’t shoot it down, but I’d say it’s a solid B restaurant, and pricy at that.

And yes, this meal was courtesy of my Weight Watchers Flex Points. I have been super strict with WW, and I’m trying to let go of that a little bit because this has to be a lifestyle change. And sometimes in life you need chocolate souffle.

The Farm Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday Weigh-In

I can’t think of anything relating to weight-loss that starts with a T, so I’m sticking with a boring title for this post for now… Thursday Torture? Tummy Be Gone Thursday? Thursday Things But Really Just Weight? Yeah, I give-up.

First of all, I want to thank all of the commentors on my first weight-loss post about how I joined Weight Watchers. You’re support means a lot–oh wait. I have like zero readers. Well…. thanks for the strangers who stopped by and said NOTHING. I appreciate it. No really, I do. This whole posting about my weight thing is kind of embarrassing, really. Especially when I think of the fact that people I know might google me and find this blog somehow. But whatever. I’m being ACCOUNTABLE.

Like this salad I just ate:

salad

Turkey: 1 point, Laughing Cow Cheese: 1 point, Egg Whites: 1 point, Romaine Lettuce: 0 points, Oil & Vinegar Dressing: 2 points TOTAL POINTS: 5 P+

Win. I was still a bit hungry, and considering that’s a lovely low point lunch, I grabbed a Picky Bar.

smoothcaffeinator_largeI’m pretty sure I heard about these bars from someone at Bar Method, but I could be wrong. Either way, I was housesitting near a fancy grocery store that carries them, so I figured I’d give them a go. And it was really good. And I’m full. So win-win! (5 Points Plus, ala WW calculator.)

So Weight Watchers. I last left you guys being afraid of going, and then I went, and it’s working. So what goes on in Weight Watcher meetings? That’s what you really want to know, right? Well, as someone said at today’s meeting, it’s kind of like AA. At first I thought this was a shameful thing. I mean, alcoholics have a serious problem. Do I have a serious problem? Definitely not in the same way. But that doesn’t mean a support group can’t help. And that’s what we are. The meetings keep you accountable, knowing all week that you’re going to go to a meeting and get weighed, and have a number to be faced with. Well I don’t know about you, but I don’t like disappointing people. So I want that number to be going down every week. It actually has helped me get through the week. I want to feel HAPPY getting off that scale. So I imagine myself happy, and I don’t eat the pint of ice cream, or slice of pizza.

Today we talked about how it’s really a lot of little steps that get you to your goal. And how it’s a marathon not a race, blah blah blah. The thing is, we all know these things. We have the tools. It’s really going every week, and staying on top of it, I think, that’s going to help me be successful. I mean, I’ve gone on wacky diets. I’ve given up before. I don’t want to give up this time. If I lose a pound every week, that will keep me going. If I lose half a pound, that will keep me going. I’m probably NOT going to lose every week. But making this about a healthy lifestyle, and not about a wacky trendy diet, that’s what’s going to make the difference.

I’m probably not going to always go to the meetings–it’s expensive, and time consuming. But it’s working for now, and if it works, it works. Confession: I just googled trying to find this quote from someone in today’s meeting and came up with a bunch of terrible articles on WW, and now I’m a bit spooked. Because SO many people gain it all back. But right now I don’t have to worry about that, and I’m not going to get ahead of myself, dammit. One week at a time. One pound at a time. And it really was one pound this week.

Starting Weight: 1766.6 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 171.0
This Weigh-in: 170 lbs
Difference: -1 lbs