Posts for December, 2009

December 21, 2009

Culinary Nooners Part 1

This is part one of a new Under the Table series entitled “Culinary Nooners,” where I find out-of-the-ordinary lunchtime destinations so you can have a little midday mini-adventure. You know, spice up your lunch life. And at the end of the article, you can enter to WIN A FUN PRIZE.

I try to eat lunch out every day. I know the financial whiz people who write bestselling books about how every time you so much as sniff your morning latte you take one symbolic step closer to the poorhouse would scorn me, but I don’t care. My retirement plan has always been to die young and beautiful and in mid-sip of Grande Dame anyway.

When I was little, eating lunch out on the town was an rare thrill, a welcome change of scenery from my own kitchen counter, an adventure that transcended my usual noon routine of a sorrowful, concave peanut butter and jam sandwich served on my mom’s hideous floral print plates. But now that I’m all growed up and can eat lunch out whenever I want, sometimes it gets boring. The thrill is gone. I needed to spice up my lunch life.

So come lunchtime, I went to China.


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December 19, 2009

Cheesy Good Fun

I sincerely hope you are a fan of my dear friend Lisa Jacob’s tremendously good cheeses, if you aren’t yet, make a point of stopping by her Jacob’s Creamery booth at the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market this winter (the Hillsdale market runs bimonthly year-round) for a taste of her delectable feta, crumbled mozzarella, cream cheese, mascarpone, ricotta, and new Irish Cashel blue cheese. And please don’t pass up the pudding.

lisathanksgivingLisa writes one of the funniest newsletters in town, and was gracious enough to let me reprint it. Recently, Lisa took a position as cheesemaker at Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheeses, setting off a whole new adventure that involves cheesemaking to the strains of Edith Piaf, learning to make blue cheese with noted cheesemaker-down-under Neville McNaughton, and living in a drafty old farmhouse in “Nowheresville” without luxuries like kitchen plugs.

Here’s the latest installation of Lisa’s hilarious chronicling of her life as a Cheese Czarina. If you want to be included in her mailing list, email her at
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December 18, 2009

Belly Timber’s David Siegel Talks Pork (And Other Things)

Once upon a time, when someone mentioned Belly Timber Executive Chef David Siegel, I immediately thought of candied bacon.


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December 17, 2009

Big-A** Sandwiches Is Here

It seems like everyone’s buzzing about Big-A** Sandwiches, a highly anticipated addition to Portland’s seemingly bottomless food cart community. Of course, with a name like Big-A** Sandwiches, curiosity and Big-A** expectations are only natural.

After a few Twitter-chronicled setbacks, Big-A** Sandwiches looks set to open downtown at SW 3rd and SW Ash on Monday, Dec. 21, for both breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday, and on Thursday-Saturday nights they’ll be dishing up late night grub as well.

The menu is simple and fun, offering four hearty sandwiches on Fleur de Lis bread and the option to douse any of them in creamy béchamel sauce for an extra dollar. Sides include coleslaw and three kinds of fries, from plain to bacon cheese, and you can wash everything down with a Mexican Coke. Big-A** Sandwich heaven. Read full story »

December 16, 2009

Come On, Get Slappy

Slappy Cakes, the newish make-pancakes-right-at-your-table restaurant on SE Belmont Avenue, was the most fun I’ve had for $10 in a long time, even trumping my last good paw through the Walgreen’s clearance section. And that’s high praise.

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December 15, 2009

A Christmas Prank

My friend Laura sent me this clip. It’s a prank of great ambition–wait until you see the gift-wrapped refrigerator and paper towels…priceless. I don’t know if the perpetrator deserves coal or a Zhu Zhu Hamster in their stocking.

December 15, 2009

New Chocoutique on SE Belmont?

I’ve been accused in the past of seeing, smelling, and tasting chocolate where no chocolate exists. I suppose there are worst hallucinations to be had. But I could just swear there was cacao in the air when I left Slappycakes (SE Belmont & 42nd) Sunday morning, and a few peeks inside the sleek space next door caused a hopeful theobromine rush.
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December 14, 2009

Danish For a Day

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending a bona fide Julefrokost, a traditional Danish Christmas Lunch, hosted by Under the Table’s very own Mette Hornung Rankin, designer extraordinaire and honest to goodness Dane, and her husband Darin, an honorary Dane.


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December 13, 2009

Cake, Steak and Lobster

I sure do love Martha Rich.

And I love her new website. I think you will too, because who doesn’t love vivid paintings and illustrations of cake, steak, & lobster (and so much more), especially those with a story? Seems like the perfect Christmas present to me. HINT HINT.


December 12, 2009

A Merry Salty Christmas

Christmas trees are probably like babies, you’re certain yours is the most beautiful, even if realistically, it looks kind of like a constipated monkey. But seriously, my tree is the fairest of them all.


Sure, it’s a little lopsided, and someone didn’t distribute the blue lights all that evenly, and I’ve only dug up 11 ornaments thus far, and–as evidenced by the lone gift–I am waaaaay behind on the Christmas shopping, but all that just adds character.

Plus, my Big Gay Ice Cream Truck ornament is in the mail.
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December 11, 2009

Where Should I Go For Dinner?

This post is inspired by an email written by my coworker Heather, the shortest email she has ever written, in fact.

From: Heather

Subject: Dinner?

Date: December 9, 2009 12:58:59 PM PST

To: Jen


where should I go for dinner?

I am always happy to help when someone asks me this question. In fact, I tend to drop everything I’m currently working on (in this case, my expense reports, which is my least favorite activity, narrowly edging out ‘picking up the dog’s doody just as the street car goes by’) and devote myself to finding the person a perfect dining venue.

In this case, Heather wanted to try something new. This is the list I made her. Perhaps you will find it useful too.

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December 10, 2009

Northwest Sweets Opens

With the exception of a defibrillator, nothing warms the heart faster than a good old-fashioned candy shop. Thus, my heart went a-thumpin’ when it heard that Northwest Sweets had opened on NW 23rd Avenue.

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December 8, 2009

First Impressions: The People’s Pig

Sometimes, you don’t know what you’re craving until a nice pork-loving man named Cliff Allen wraps it in foil and hands it to you. 


Today, I was shivering and chattering my way to Blueplate for Pot Roast Tuesday when I was sidetracked by The People’s Pig, a new food cart at SW 2nd & SW Stark, tucked into a parking lot right next to Al-Amir Lebanese Restaurant. It’s a cheerful cart, painted yellow with red stripes, with a nice porky logo that’s difficult to see when the awning is up. I tried to take  a picture for you, but I’m only 5’2″ and I didn’t think the owner of the shiny black SUV in front of The People’s Pig would appreciate my bootprints in his/her hood so this is what you get. I scanned the menu and noticed they had two very tasty sandwiches on it. Plus, I’m such a sucker for a new food cart. My pot roast run was suddenly derailed. 
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December 3, 2009

Got Crabs?

In honor of this past Tuesday being the first day of Oregon’s crab season, I made a card for my friend Rob.
gotcrabs2For myself, I made a crab dinner. I love, love, LOVE fresh Dungeness crab. Is there anything more satisfying than cracking open a crab leg and gently tugging out a fat, gorgeous hunk of sweet flesh? (Gosh, re-reading that, I feel kind of cruel. Sorry. Click here to join the Facebook Group “Against Cruelty to Crabs;” motto: “Go pick on a prawn.” )

Just in case you’d like to celebrate the onset of crab season yourself, I thought I’d share my perfect crab dinner.

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December 3, 2009

No Prickles at Thistle

City girl that I am, I like to joke that I try to leave city limits as little as possible, but in all truth, I don’t get out of town nearly as often as I’d like to. Last week, as part of the Parents-in-Town holiday weekend curriculum, we drove out to the Willamette Valley wine country, where a day of wine tasting, fresh country air-breathing, and driving around in circles on random unpaved roads was capped by an exceptional supper at McMinnville’s Thistle restaurant.


Thistle opened this past July, helmed by chef/owner Eric Bechard and his partner Emily Howard, a wine buyer and McMinnville native. You might remember the talented Bechard from his days behind the stove at now-closed Alberta Street Oyster Bar and Grill. He’s super cute, has a way with roasted beets, and was named the Oregonian’s Rising Star in 2006. In summer 2008, he defected to Seattle to work at Opal Bistro, but it wasn’t long before he returned to Oregon, eschewing Portland in favor of going west into wine country to open his own place.

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December 2, 2009

Repeal Day at Teardrop Lounge

This sounds awfully fun, what with the whiskey prescriptions and secret passwords.

December 1, 2009

Olympic Provisions Sneak Preview

opfrontdoor2 opsign2
Mette, Shellie & I attended the Olympic Provisions’ Friends & Family Sneak Preview lunch this afternoon, so I thought that in the spirit of the season, I’d share my pictures.

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