January 15, 2010

Culinary Nooners Part II

This is part two of an 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.

Ever have a nostalgic flashback to your good old high school cafeteria, pining for the days when your iceberg lettuce salad with extra ranch and concave grilled cheese sandwich and 600-oz fountain Coke came on a red plastic tray for the whopping price tag of $5? Yeah, me neither.

But while I may not miss high school “cuisine,” or anything about high school for that matter, there’s just something about a cafeteria. Maybe it’s the comforting lack of atmosphere, the predictably unpalatable but incredibly cheap food, the little cartons of chocolate milk, the 101 stories you can make up about the people sitting in rows at long plastic tables gossiping about work or playing cards or reading romance novels while chewing their rubber hamburger cud.


In this installment of Culinary Nooners, you’ll get a blast into the past, and a Nestlé Drumstick too, at the Express Cafe in the United States Post Office in the Pearl District, a hidden gem (I use this term lightly, mind you) where your grilled cheesesteak comes with a free bodice-ripper, and you just might be invited to join a rousing game of Uno by a guy wearing a t-shirt that says “I used up all my sick days, so I just called in Dead.” Read full story »

January 14, 2010

Table For Twelve Returns With A Big, Fat Fibula

Dear Food Friends**,

Once upon a time sis Michelle and I had a supper club. It was called Table For Twelve and it was a rollicking good time. We ate, we drank, we met fun new people who also loved to eat and drink, sometimes we conducted ourselves with grace and dignity like our governess Nonna taught us, sometimes we flashed our wunderpants to the occupants of Le Pigeon and ran home barefoot. It was the best supper club in Portland.

Then, Hollywood came calling. Read full story »

January 14, 2010

Lovely’s Lovely

We had a lovely dinner indeed at just-opened Lovely’s Fifty Fifty, the newest dining venture from the Minnick sisters, who delighted Portlanders with their charming North Portland dinner den Lovely Hula Hands for many years before closing the doors Dec. 31 for personal and staff-related reasons.  You can read their farewell letter here. Read full story »

January 13, 2010

Table for Twelve Returns

Table For Twelve is back. Why should you care? Because it’s the best supper club in Portland, that’s why, bucko.

Here is how it works, in a nutshell. Once a month, me and sis Michelle join 10 of our closest friends/people we’ve never even met before and patronize one of the most interesting restaurants in Portland. We eat, we drink, we laugh, we meet new people, we share desserts with them even though for all we know they have the heebeejeebees, we drink too much, we embarrass ourselves, we run home barefoot, etc. The experience varies a little each time.

We print up meal rating/comment cards for you to fill out after the meal, which Michelle almost always loses, meaning she then has to make up the ratings and comments in our post-meal “review,” which is why a lot of the “comments” say something like “my favorite part of the meal was when michelle flipped jen’s dress up in front of the front window of le pigeon and everyone saw her wunderpants.” This is a true story, actually, which now causes me to wonder why it is we’re resurrecting TFT? Oh right, because it’s the best supper club in Portland. (Note to self: Wear pants on the second Wednesday of every month.) If you want to more about how it works, please click here to see details and our commandments of etiquette. We have 10 of them, just like Mt. Sinai.

While the ship has sort of sailed as far as having TFT tomorrow night, we will be having an amazing dinner next week at a very fun meaty new restaurant. You might be able to guess which one. I’ll be sending out the official invite for next week’s dinner, and subsequent dinners, in my weekly newsletter, Table Scraps. If you don’t already get Table Scraps, you can sign up here. It’s pretty painless. You input your name and email address, which I would never ever sell for money or even chocolate, and every Thursday you get Table Scraps in your inbox. And you get first dibs on Table For Twelve. It seems like a win-win to me.

Looking forward to seeing you at the table!

January 10, 2010

Gratin and Glücklich Endes at Grüner

I went out of town for the holidays, so sis Michelle and I celebrated a belated Christmas dinner at Grüner last week. Read full story »

January 7, 2010

Lucy Loves Bacon

Mette’s dog Lucy, the official Under the Table mascot, is caught in a moment of pure bacon lust.


Lucy Gets the Last Piece of Bacon

January 4, 2010

Foster Burger Open

I’ve been off the grid for a couple of weeks, which was lovely. No tweets, no updates, no posts, no check-ins, not much of anything really. Just me, my new book Far Flung and Well Fed: The Food Writing of R.W. Apple, Jr., and a bottle of champagne. Okay, a few bottles.

Which is my excuse for not posting this press release sooner. 


Foster Burger, 5339 SE Foster Road, Portland, 97206, (503) 775-2077, opens its doors tonight.

Chef Daniel Mondok (Sel Gris Restaurant and James Beard Nominee) has put together a short and sweet menu (see attached) featuring house ground burgers, hand cut fries, meal size salads and milkshakes.  Foster Burger will be open for seven consecutive days (December 29th to January 4th) and then will phase into its normal opening schedule:

Thursday to Monday –  Open 5pm to 11pm

Open until midnight on Friday and Saturday

Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

Here is the menu, in case you want to torment yourself reading it while eating your healthy New Year’s Resolution dinner of lettuce leaf-wrapped tofu.
Read full story »

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.


Read full story »

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
Read full story »

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.


Read full story »

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.

Read full story »

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.
Read full story »

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.


Read full story »

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.
Read full story »

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.

Read full story »

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.

Read full story »

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. 
Read full story »

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.

Read full story »

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.

Read full story »

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.

Read full story »

November 30, 2009


There are a lot of neat food blogs out there, but every once in a while I stumble up on one that’s irresistible. Like Bakerella. Beware, clicking into her site right now may cause you to fritter away most of your Monday morning looking at cake pops. This post in particular might pique your interest, provided you are a fan of Sesame Street. Which everyone should be. 


Tall Tales

The kitchen door swung open and Jen gasped as an ancient ham and gruyere omelette hissed menacingly and darted behind the refrigerator. She surveyed the carnage. It was never pretty when the leftovers went on a rampage.

November 25, 2009

Every Time a Restaurant Opens, a Foodie Gets Her (Third) Chin


The ripping and tearing sounds you’ll hear in the week following Thanksgiving aren’t your favorite jeans finally giving up the post-11-helpings-of-leftover-stuffing good fight, it’s the brown paper coming off the windows of four new Portland restaurants. Or so we hope. Keep your fingers crossed for the following eateries to throw open their doors as scheduled. Read full story »

November 24, 2009

Grüner & Foster Burger Updates

This is probably old news to most of you, I accidentally let both of these press releases age in my inbox for a few days, but they caught my eye this morning while I was trolling for job offer emails from French champagne houses in need of tasters, so I will post them now, old news or not. 

First up, Foster Burger. 


Kurt Huffman

 to info

show details Nov 20 (4 days ago) 

Portland, Oregon
Daniel Mondok (Sel Gris) and Andy Ricker (Pok Pok, Ping) will team with ChefStable to open a burger bar at 5339 SE Foster in Portland sometime this January.  The menu will be simple and inexpensive with a focus on signature meat (ground in-house), hand cut fries, simple salads, milk shakes and a full bar.  The 48 seat bar will feature a heated 50 seat outdoor smoking patio which will be open year-round.
For more information e-mail:

Next, good news from Chris Israel about Grüner, which is only blocks from my apartment, so I’m extra excited about it. It’s a long one, but just click to keep reading. Read full story »

November 21, 2009

Five Food Funnies

Here are my favorite food funnies of November, thus far.

1. Girls in cute dresses making Ham Daquiris


Read full story »

November 19, 2009

The Scoop on Fifty Licks

fiftylickstruck2Ice cream lovers (and I hope that’s all of you), put down that tub of Haagen Dazs or Coconut Bliss and pay attention–there’s a new ice cream maker in town, and he and his trusty Carpigiani have big plans to seduce you with their cold, creamy creations, passion for excellent local ingredients, and maybe even the sweet strains of the ukelele.

I sat down this week with Fifty Licks‘ Chad Draizin in the marvelous smelling Lower East Burnside kitchen he shares with Abby’s Table and Salt, Fire & Time, over a bowl of soup generously provided by kitchenmate Tressa Yellig, and we talked about Chad’s winding path from college dropout to beer brewer to ice cream man (all before the age of 30), his passion for the “science nerd” aspects of ice cream making, the impromptu tequila and chocolate-fueled think tank that resulted in the name Fifty Licks, and his dreams of his very own scoop shop filled with retro waffle makers, shoestring fry-studded malted ice cream, and of course, plenty of jimmies. Read full story »

November 19, 2009

Lovejoy Bakers Opens Today!

The line wasn’t quite out the door yet this morning when I arrived at brand new Lovejoy Bakers, but it was getting close.

A partnership between former Pearl Bakery head baker Dan Griffin and the owners of Pizzicato Pizza, Lovejoy Bakers’ opening was eagerly anticipated by neighbors, industry folks, and curious food lovers alike. I’ve been peeking through the brown paper on the windows for weeks, myself. Maybe even months. Having suffered through meals at three of the four restaurants who occupied and then unoccupied the space before the arrival of Lovejoy Bakers, I was sincerely hoping the fifth time would be a charm. It’s certainly looking, and tasting, hopeful.

Inside the beautiful glass and steel-framed bakery, tantalizing freshly baked breads and pastries were lined up in neat rows, a full coffee bar fueled those on their way to work with Ristretto Roasters brews, and a selection of fresh fruit, natural juices and sodas, sparkling water, and Nancy’s organic yogurt filled the cold case by the registers.

I ogled the lunch menu, which includes 17 sandwich selections like open-faced smoked salmon tartine with creme fraiche and egg salad with lemon zest and chives, a few soups, house cheese and charcuterie plates, breakfast sandwiches served all day, and salads like roasted beet and citrus with chevre and the Lovejoy Salad–Bleu d’ Auvergne, San Daniele proscuitto, house-roasted turkey, sliced egg, and cured olives in a tarragon dressing. For pictures and menu click here>> Read full story »

November 18, 2009

They Eat, They Tweet: 12 Food Tweeps You Should Follow



What with Twitter being all the rage these days, it’s hard not to be a follower, even though Mom told us it was a bad idea because no good comes those who channel their inner lemming. Just the other day, overwhelmed by the relentless tide of incoming tweets rolling down my @jenlikestoeat page, I cleaned out my “following” box, and in the process took stock of my favorite existing tweeps, and added a few new must-reads.

Here’s my list of 12 of today’s tastiest Tweeters. If you aren’t already following them, you probably would enjoy doing so, assuming you give two twits about food. (I know. I’m sorry. I could not help myself.) Read full story »

November 17, 2009

Julefrokost 2009

I got this invite from Mette today. In true Mette style, it was exquisite.

A traditional Danish Christmas lunch, Julefrokost starts at 1 pm, and from what Mette tells me, lasts at least seven hours.


“You are invited to our Annual Holiday Lunch for victuals and cheer. Arrive prepared for good food, drinks, and conversation,” reads the invite in both Danish and English when you lift up the four tiny doors that Mette painstakingly crafted with an X-Acto knife. Then it spells out a few menu teasers. “Schnapps, herring, fish, liverpaste, cucumber salad, beer, ryebread, mackerel, and more.”

Apparently, Danish Christmas lunch also involves a great deal of Aquavit. Oh my.

November 16, 2009

Confessions of a Snack Smuggler

moviepicnicLast week, my boyfriend and I went to see The September Issue, a rare treat since neither of us ever seem to have the time for the luxury of a movie-theater movie. I was set for movie snacks, I’d just gotten a sampler pack of Theo chocolate bars as a birthday gift and it was securely buried in my handbag beneath a scarf. Eschewing my stash of chocolate, he bought a small soda and a small popcorn at the theater snack counter, the total for which came to $11, which sent him into spasms of indignity. To which I said, “That is why you SMOS–Smuggle Your Own Snacks.” 

I’ll probably get my Regal Crown Club card pulled for this post, but I’m a firm believer in packing in your own movie snacks. It’s not just the outrageous cost associated with in-theater snacks, it’s the selection and quality control. It’s true that a few theaters around town, like The Academy Theater in Montavilla or downtown’s plush Living Room Theater or (depending on how you feel about the McMenamin’s menu), any of the McMenamin’s theaters, serve up a decent spread at a not-too-ungodly markup, but almost invariably the first-run theaters serve up the same tired boxed candy, oversalted popcorn, and conventional soda. The food-lover needs more. 

Michelle and I are huge advocates of the above-and-beyond theater repast. We shared a bag of freshly made cart tacos at Wolverine, we feasted on strawberries, chocolate and Brie in The Proposal, and we took a bottle of Veuve and Riedel flutes to the Sex & the City screening, unintentionally popping the cork at a pivotal point in the opening sequence and earning a theater-wide ovation for it. A few weeks ago we went somewhat thematic and smuggled hot Altengartz bratwursts into New York, I Love You, and packed a French picnic for Coco Before Chanel–ham & gruyere sandwiches, green olives, crisp apples, good dark chocolate, little cans of Sofia Blanc de Blancs, and tiny bottles of Segura Viudas cava. The picnic fit in a small Banana Republic bag, and the ticket-checker didn’t give it a second glance. 

It made me wonder what other people smuggle into the movies. Please, do share your Confessions of a Snack Smuggler. What’s the finest feast you’ve taken into a movie? Do you smuggle your snacks in the giant purse you reserve for moviegoing excursions, in your back pocket (oops), in your scarf-with-pockets? Email them to I will compile the best ones and post them, sort of a la Cosmo confessions, but less raunchy. Well, I think they’ll be less raunchy, anyways. Who knows what memories people might dredge up about what they snacked on at the screening of 9 1/2 weeks.

November 12, 2009

Getting To Know Elias Cairo and His Meat


As the eagerly anticipated restaurant and salumeria Olympic Provisions prepares to open in the Produce Row neighborhood of the Southeast waterfront next week, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding the OP and its roster of influential and accomplished partners, which include Clyde Common owner Nate Tilden, Clyde Common Executive Chef Jason Barwikowski, and former Executive Chef of Castagna Elias Cairo, who will assume the unique title of “meat-curing chef.”

Last weekend Eli, Michelle (Eli’s sister and OP co-owner) and I went to breakfast at Broder (one of Eli’s favorite breakfast spots) and talked a little bit about his globe-trotting meat-loving adventures, his taste in meat-curing music, his favorite spot to get meat, his ironic stint as a happy teenage vegan, and why Olympic Provisions will be the biggest and most exciting challenge of his career.

Read full story »

November 12, 2009

Are You Playing Foursquare?

foursquaregirlOnce upon a time, I was not fond of Foursquare. When you are forced to wear glasses AND a headgear in elementary school (why yes, this did scar me for life, thanks for asking), you develop a wariness of games involving hard rubber balls being bounced in the vicinity of your face.

But time changes everything. Teeth get straightened. Nearsighted eyes get Lasiked. The scars of youth are replaced by those inflicted by adulthood. And one day, you wake up and Foursquare is the most compelling thing since bacon-infused chocolate–Foursquare the location-based social network, that is.

I’m new to the Foursquare scene, myself. My first introduction came this summer, as I read Whiffies Fried Pies owner Gregg Abbott’s tweets declaring himself mayor of this or that. At first, I ignored them. I thought he had delusions of grandeur, or was living out some sort of weird twisted mayoral recall-gone-wild fantasy. Au contraire, he was “playing” Foursquare, a fast-growing mobile social networking phenomenon with a loyal and quickly expanding Portland following and strong implications for social food lovers about town. Read full story »

November 12, 2009

Tale of Two Pie Heavens: Part 1

anjapieone anjapietwo anjapiethree

Once upon a time a wise man, I think it was Jack Handy, said: “When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it’s not, mmmmmmmm, boy.”

Some people’s idea of pie heaven is holing up in a warm kitchen with a lot of cold butter, a rolling pin, a heaping fruit basket, and a library of spices, while other people’s idea of pie heaven is walking into Random Order bakery, pointing to the brandied peach pie and handing over their money. Let’s not quibble–there’s no right or wrong pie heaven.

But with Thanksgiving on the horizon, it’s time to think about where you stand, because while the turkey gets a lot of space on the T-Day playbill, it’s the pie that brings down the house–warm spicy pumpkin pie, could-die-happy-now chocolate pecan pie, cinnamon and nutmeg-laced good-old-fashioned apple pie.

Whether you believe the road to pie heaven is paved with good intentions, Grandma’s secret lard-laden crust recipe, or cold hard cash, Portland’s pie scene has something for you. Read full story »

November 12, 2009

Tale of Two Pie Heavens: Part 2


Not wanting to make pie is nothing to be ashamed of. Not everyone has pie-making in their blood, or even a remote interest in breaking cold butter into a willing mound of flour, rolling out a flaky dough, wrestling it into a pie pan, crimping it, and filling it with deliciousness.

Fine. So be it. But there must be pie on the Thanksgiving table, so you are going to have to go out and forage in the urban wilds of Portland to find it. Fortunately many fine local bakeries are opening their pie-making arms to you. Here they are.

Read full story »

November 11, 2009


Someone cute just sent me this. Considering I paid $6.25 for a ham sandwich at lunch today, I feel wistful. I could sure go for a 25-cent deluxe tulip sundae right about now. 


November 5, 2009

Love at First Bite: The Sugar Cube

sugarcubeextI woke up so all aflutter this morning, I half expected to see plane tickets to Paris on the nightstand. But then I realized that my morning butterflies were just preemptive insulin spikes resulting from my anticipation of the Grand Opening of much-missed The Sugar Cube food cart, the newest and sweetest addition to North Portland’s Mississippi Marketplace.

Read full story »

November 4, 2009

Chef Ben Bettinger Tells All

(Okay, so maybe Ben didn’t tell all, but he did tell me what it’s like being named Restaurant of the Year when your kitchen is barely four months old, he revealed his early affinity for melted Brie and apple sandwiches, and he admitted that while he works at one of Portland’s premiere cocktail hotspots, after a long night in the kitchen he drinks Coors from the can.)

benbettingerAfter nearly a decade spent in the kitchens of some of Portland’s most respected restaurants, 30-year-old chef Ben Bettinger has come into his own at four-month-old Beaker & Flask, a much-anticipated cocktail bar and restaurant that garnered a significant buzz around town leading up to its rather prolonged opening on June 25th. Read full story »

November 3, 2009

A Dish-Free Thanksgiving

dishwasherDear Dishwasher,

I’m sorry to break it to you like this, but your services won’t be required this Thanksgiving. Yes, I know you’re accustomed to full racks four times over on Turkey Day, I know you were ready and willing to bravely spray, wash, rinse and pulverize at least 25 pounds of turkey gristle, butternut squash soup smears, port and tangerine zest-accented cranberry sauce glops, pecan pie crusts, and the half-eaten remnants of Aunt Martha’s dreaded leaden corn muffins like you do faithfully every year, but this year Mother has asked that we dine out, and Mother always get her way.



PS: If you’re thinking of picking up some freelance work on T-day, you might try one of the following bastions of Turkey Day gluttony:

Read full story »

November 3, 2009

Do You Have What It Takes to Get Yelled At by Chef Tom Colicchio?

cheftomcolicchioishotBravo TV’s Top Chef combines two of my favorite things–food and reality tv–and affords me the opportunity to gape at sexy Chef Tom Colicchio, so it was exciting to hear that Top Chef is holding auditions for the show’s 7th Season right in here in our dear Portland, next Sunday, Nov. 15, between 10am – 2pm, at the Benson Hotel. 

The stakes are high and so are the producers’ expectations. Contestants must have “a passion for food, creativity, a thorough knowledge of cooking techniques and trends and oodles of charisma.”  According to the 24-page application, hopefuls must also:

*Create a culinary interpretation of the lyric “Eleven Pipers Piping” from the song “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

*Create a dish based on the color yellow.

*Dish on who your least favorite chef is and why. 

*Describe your most embarrassing moment. 

*Reveal an odd fact about yourself or talent you possess. 

*List any celebrity chef contacts you have. 

You also have to submit a five minute video, in which you are directed to “show off.” 

“We want to be impressed with you as a chef, but we also need to get to know you as a person and your personality–make us laugh, cry, have fun…most of all, be YOU,” requests the network.

That’s all very nice, but after reading through all 24 pages of the application, my one question was not answered: Is Tom Colicchio going to be there giving out free smooches or what? Because if he is, even I could be persuaded to make a video revealing my passionate, charismatic rendering of yuzu pancakes with corn and yellow bell pepper salsa in a French’s mustard & lemon reduction.

November 1, 2009

All You Can Eat Tastebud Pizza and Salad

tastebudallyoucaneatIf you’re prone to the Sunday evening blues, and are known to stay home alone eating leftover lo mein, watching Ace of Cakes reruns, and trying to forget that you are working class and thus have to return to your cubicle in roughly 12 hours, take heart–starting TONIGHT, Tastebud Pizza has brightened your Sunday nights considerably with their new All-You-Can-Eat Pizza and Salad extravaganza.

Each and every Sunday night from 5-10pm, at Tastebud’s pretty little hidden dining room at 3220 SE Milwaukie (across the street from the Aladdin Theater), for $15 you can choose from 4-5 kinds of seasonal brick-oven-baked pizzas (think roasted squash, pancetta, pears, and spicy kale) and a variety of winter salads, and then keep on with the pizza and salad-eating force and don’t stop ’til you get enough.

October 29, 2009

Don’t Pigeonhole Pumpkin

Come autumn, the mighty and annually-anticipated pumpkin—great golden gourd of fairy tale, Charlie Brown, and state fair lore—can sometimes fall victim to the indignity of epicurean profiling. Pumpkin ‘pie, pie, pie, soup!’ is the repetitive rumble heard round the patch, er, kitchen. But our favorite fall fruit has so much more going for it than being smashed, mashed, mixed with cream and warming spices and baked in a flaky shell, although that sounds quite nice. Read full story »

October 28, 2009

Today is My Birthday, now Gimme Some PickleCake!

foodclock2Today is my birthday. I won’t tell you how old I am, because after a certain age, a lady should never tell, unless the Trader Joe’s clerk asks you because you’re buying a case of Blanc de Blancs, which by the way is the best $4.99 bottle of sparkly ever.   

The day is going well. I had a round of La Tur and a small bar of Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate (both from Pastaworks) for breakfast, because, it’s my birthday and I can.

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October 24, 2009

I Got Lucky at the Hot Pepper Spa

luckystrikeext2It was Friday night, work was a rapidly fading memory, and my tumbly was rumbly. Time to play the ‘where do you want to eat tonight?’ game. I had a few ideas, I usually do.

“Some people like to come home after a long week, put their feet up, watch a little TV, relax,” my boyfriend said wearily. “You want to go drive around and look for food.”

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October 23, 2009

Friday Breakfast Club: Byways Cafe

bywaysextEvery Friday morning at 7:15 am, Bethie and I (and Michelle if she can get out of bed), meet for Friday Breakfast Club. It can be a little tricky to find a good breakfast joint that’s open before 8 am, but we ferret them out. We both work downtown, so we aim for west side destinations, in a largely futile attempt not to be later to work than usual.

This week we met at Byways Cafe on NW Glisan Street, in the Pearl. Byways is a cheerfully eclectic diner with an old fashioned soda counter and wonderful sparkly red vinyl booths to sink into on a rainy morning such as this. Hot coffee comes almost immediately, and you can hear the scrambles a’sizzling and the line cooks ribbing each other. A motley collection of regulars sit silently at a table or on a barstool and leisurely read the paper. It’s a great place to wake up and smell the bacon. 

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October 19, 2009

Look Ma, Wallpaper Loves PDX! AlsoIgotatattoo.

hennatattooOh, the things I do for my job. Today, I volunteered to have my leg tattooed with henna, for a video shoot we’re doing this week. Laura was supposed to be the victim but whoever got the tattoo couldn’t shower until tomorrow morning and she wanted to work out tonight. At first I objected but she bribed me with a bottle of champagne. We all have our price.  Read full story »

October 19, 2009

PFM Makes Food Dreams Come True

farmersfundraiserLike me, you probably have food dreams yet unfulfilled. Cooking school in Montalcino, dinner at elBulli, centipede skewers at Beijing’s Dong Hua Men Night Market, a steamy snog session with Jamie Oliver, I could go on and on. Perhaps your yet-to-be-realized food dreams include a year’s worth of Portland Farmer’s Market shopping sprees (yes, please!), or making dinner with famous Portland chef… Read full story »

Tall Tales

The kitchen door swung open and Jen gasped as an ancient ham and gruyere omelette hissed menacingly and darted behind the refrigerator. She surveyed the carnage. It was never pretty when the leftovers went on a rampage.

August 15, 2009

My Summer Essay

I knew it would be a good summer when my mother called me up and asked if I wanted to take a little road trip–up to the esteemed The Herb Farm in Woodinville, Washington, for their summer Basil Banquet dinner and then down to Yountville, California to dine at the famed French Laundry, a meal I have dreamed about for many moons.  My momma didn’t raise no fools, so I had my Dora the Explorer duffel bag Goyard vintage travel bag out and half-packed before she’d even finished her sentence. Read full story »