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

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.

 

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

Early Bird Award

ALA AwardsGood morning! I was up early this morning because today is a special day in the Children’s Book World. It’s ALA AWARD DAY! YAY! Every year the American Library Association announces the winners of the youth media awards–the most well known are the Caldecott, for illustrations and Newberry, for children’s literature–but there are a whole slew of other awards. The awards were announced on the east coast at 8am, so this little bookshop girl had to wake-up and get to the store at 4:30 to watch the live webcast (ok, I’m not the buyer, so technically I didn’t HAVE to wake up, but it’s fun and exciting!).

A full list of the winners can be found here. Honestly, I’ve been out of the children’s book world for awhile, but I’m glad my bookstore still has a place for me. (And a new website, that I designed! Yay!) So I’m a little out of the loop on some of the winners, but I have a few YAY! THEY WON!s: Mr. Wuffles! received a Caldecott honor, and Eleanor and Park  received a Printz honor. One of my favorite picture books and one of my favorite YAs of the year. Yay!

Eleanor and Park also received an Odyssey honor for audiobook, but honestly, I listened to the audiobook, and while the narrator did an excellent job of the Park sections, I really think they should have picked a female voice for the Eleanor chapters. He was just trying too hard and I cringed every time he used his fake-girl voice to read Eleanor.

I have to say, with Kate DiCamillo winning the Newberry, and David Wiesner getting a Caldecott honor, it feels a little bit like Ground Hog Day (you know, the movie…) they’re both very talented, but it would be nice to share the love with other talented authors and illustrators who don’t get recognized as often.

After we watched the webcast, and put together the display above with the winners that we had on hand, my lovely coworker/friend/bookbuyergenius went to breakfast at Beaterville.

photo 2 (1)I got the breakfast of champions! Well not really, but I figured I’d make my corned beef hash look festive. If you’re in Portland and haven’t tried Beaterville, I recommend it. They’re open super early and always have a solid breakfast. There was a table of teachers eating breakfast as well, and we suspect they had been up early to watch the awards too. Solidarity.

(And yes, I only ate half my breakfast, for you judgey people who have been reading my Weight Watchers posts.)

And now it’s nap time! Have a lovely Monday everyone!

Cider House Rules

1photo 1Usually when I think cider I think fall, but I recently had the chance to go to a cider tasting and I’m now tooting a different cider horn. Cider all year round! The tasting was at Hop & Vine, an adorable bar on Killingsworth with an attached bottleshop. Every Wednesday night they offer a free tasting from 6-8 from a different brewery or winery. This particular Wednesday night they were featuring ciders from OutCider a local cider brewery that specializes in small batch ciders–and their labels are unique for each batch!

photo 4They were offering two different ciders to taste. The first was their standard Dry Cider. I was surprised when I tried this one because it wasn’t the cloyingly sweet cider I was used to. Instead it was crisp and almost tangy. The second cider was the reason I wanted to go to the tasting. Ginger Pineapple Supernova. This one was superb. You could taste the pineapple and the ginger, but it didn’t detract from the cider flavor. They juice everything themselves and it tasted fresh and crisp–definitely a cool summer drink for a hot day. I liked the Supernova so much that I went next door to the bar side and got myself a glass. photo 4Hop & Vine also has a great beer list, and a really delicious looking menu that I would love to come back and explore sometime. This place is quickly becoming one of my favorite bars in Portland. It’s unpretentious, has a great selection, and the atmosphere is cozy but not your typical hipster-portland-bar.

While I’m on the subject of cider, this weekend in Portland is the Cider Summit NW. I won’t be able to attend, but if anyone does, please tell me how it is! And if you see OutCider there, grab a glass!

Question: What’s your favorite summer drink? Any one have any cider recommendations for this cider newbie?
In the summer I’m usually less of a beer drinker and more of a g&t drinker, BUT I have officially become a Portlander because I now like IPA. Hello hops! Definitely an acquired taste, but one I’m glad to have now.