Friday, August 29, 2008

Minty Fresh

I love this time of year. The first hints at the change of season are so refreshing and exciting, and the magazines and shop windows are full of cute scarves and boots, but it isn't actually cold and miserable yet. Maybe it's the season but I have been a teeny bit obsessed with whiskey lately, and whiskey cocktails. There are some great ones on the menu at 50 Plates, and at other, lesser bars where cocktails tend to look better on the menu than they taste in the glass, bourbon and cola has become my can't-fuck-it-up standby.

After a decadent Tuesday night of cocktails at Mint/820 this week, I have a new favorite to add to my whiskey obsession collection: their Nutty Manhattan. It's just Jim Beam (!) and nocello, shaken and served with a gooey cherry, and the simple combination is perfect, showcasing each spirit's flavors and achieving just the right degree of sweetness. I love Mint because it's fancy and delicious yet the weird location makes it relatively free of annoying people. Also, going to a bar that isn't one of my usual haunts was tremendously fun.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Continental Breakfast

I know the best way to enjoy a good coffee's full flavor profile is French pressed. I know that moka pots don't make the best coffee in the world, but I still kind of love them anyway because a) they are cute, b) you can put a lot of milk in your coffee and then you're halfway to breakfast, and c) at 6:30 a.m. flavor profiles are the last thing on my radar.

When I was in the suburbs last weekend with my Spanish family I would stay up late reading, then wake up late, drink milky moka pot coffee with cookies, and loaf around. Vacation was great.

Top 5 Things to Eat with Coffee
1. Thick, chewy sourdough toast with butter and jam
2. Homemade mandelbread
3. Biscotti from Ken's
4. Rolls with mustard, cumin gouda, and ham
5. Rolls with nutella and rainbow sprinkles

Friday, August 22, 2008


I am on a suburban safari visiting family in Rockville, Maryland. I have been drinking mostly water and eating a lot of excellent American home cooking. We had a party for the family and enjoyed, among other things, deviled eggs, brisket and an unexpectedly delicious chocolate-chocolate sheet cake from the Giant. I made the deviled eggs. It was fun to have a party and serve more than beers, bread and cheese. We had beers too though, Wild Goose oatmeal stout, which was difficult to distinguish from the chocolate cake.

Now I am watching Kiss Me Kate with my Ibizan cousins. Wunderbar!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Juniper-Flavored Vodka

We checked out the new high-class Americana restaurant/bar 50 Plates (NW 13th and Flanders) on Friday night, and had a smashing time. Banker by day/writer, smartass and cocktailian extraordinaire by night Lance Mayhew (My Life on the Rocks) helms the bar Thursday through Saturday nights, crafting classic cocktails to please purists' palates as well as those of the Bridge and Tunnel crowd: In addition to the excellent Sazerac carried by blossomy-fresh lemon, not to mention the textbook-perfect Julep, there is a daily special "mojito of the moment," and we hear a bubblegum martini is in the works. The night we were there, a lady came in who professed to hate gin. Lance made her a Last Word ("It's made with juniper-flavored vodka," he said - what a jerk), she thought it was delicious, and then Lance got to the punch line and got to tell her about classic cocktails, obviously relishing every second of it.

The food menu is delightfully Betty Crocker-esque. We sampled prawns and grits with some sort of tangy red pepper tapenade type thing, fennel sausage manicotti with an uber-buttery cheese sauce, a mellow Green Goddess salad with shrimp and creamy avocado, and a perfectly balanced melon-prosciutto-blue cheese salad. Yum.

The contemporary-mod interior, with lots of dark wood and cream, low ceilings and lots of horizontal lines, achieves a nice balance of fancy and cozy, so you feel like you're having a nice night out without being on display. Smack dab in the middle of the Pearl, it's an equally great place for a post-work stiff one or a manicure-and-martini afternoon - the Aveda institute is right next door. In fact, the more I think about it, the more reasons there are to drop in for a drink. Somebody stop me. I'll see you there.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

City Market

I never really shopped much at City Market because usually if I was cooking at home the point was to save money. But actually, they have really good stuff, and I don't care if it is a couple bucks more than Fred Meyer because it's worth it. We went last night and bought the Italian dry pasta that comes in a blue box, some pancetta and greens sauce, and a couple beers. Dinner totally ruled. That sauce was so good. It was basically just tangy, pork-flavored greens with some other stuff thrown in. All we added was some butter on the pasta and grated parmesan on top. I think our dinner was equally cheap and fast as going to Laughing Planet, plus no annoying people to detract from our dining experience. Thumbs up for City Market!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Drink Locally

We are having a heat wave in Portland. Yesterday evening I was returning from an epic bike ride (to Fred Meyer) and stopped at a new place in my neighborhood, this funky little local business I'd never seen before. It seemed to be family-owned, like the kids running the counter could afford to be idealistic and have less-than-professional service because Mom and Dad were bankrolling it. It was a tiny place with a hand-lettered sign, with just a walk-up window and not even any patio seating. I enjoyed a cooling, non-alcoholic citrus infusion, served up. It was very refreshing in the heat but I was surprised that a quaint little neighborhood cafe in Hosford-Abernethy would use paper cups. Still, the portion sizes were generous, and at 50 cents a pop, a tremendous bargain.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Last night a friend of mine had his birthday dinner at Toast on 52nd Ave. They don't normally open for dinner but they were nice enough to arrange it for us, with picnic tables set up in the parking lot. Ever since Jebediah's memorable outdoor shrimp boil feast at Sckavone's, this is now my favorite kind of birthday party - casual outdoor dinners at friendly neighborhood restaurants.

Our dinner at Toast was amazing. They served this incredible creamy gazpacho with prawns, cilantro and basil. The tomatoes tasted super fresh and vibrant and the fresh herbs and prawns were a great match. I didn't know that gazpacho was something you could get excited about. Then they served a gigantic burger with sharp white cheddar and sweet caramelized onions. The burger was served on two huge slabs of toast, which was tasty and fresh and sopped up the burger juices and didn't get crumbly. I had it with a golden ale from Clinton St. Brewing. We also had a Toast with a cava that I don't remember what it was. For dessert, there was warm blackberry cobbler with ice cream and big, fat, fresh blackberries.

Then it was a warm summer evening and I had a nice ride back through Southeast.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Dude, Aventinus Dopplebock is hella good. It tastes so rich and fruity and delicious, and the mouthfeel is smooth and thick almost like a liqueur, but it's not cloying, just awesome. It would be really good with rich food. I tried drinking it with oatmeal cookies once, which seemed like it would be a great idea, but the cookies seemed to ruin my palate and the sweet deliciousness of the beer got lost.

We tasted a bunch of beers last night with some mediocre Thai takeout. (Mediocre isn't necessarily a bad thing for Thai takeout; sometimes with that sort of thing you just want it to be inoffensive. Last night's food from Beau Thai (I know, right) was inoffensive and tasty except for the refrigerated-tasting chicken.) I think Thai food is pretty awesome with basically any beer, the flavors go well together but there is enough contrast that the personality of whatever beer you are having still comes through really nicely without getting overwhelmed.

The beers we tried were all over the map. English porter, German dopplebock, Belgian golden ales, American farmhouse ale. It was really fun. Beer tasting is also really cheap, there were four of us and we ended up spending about $40 for all the beers and $40 for the food.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Welcome to Socktails. I enjoy cocktails. Also, I wear socks. I used to get paid to drink cocktails and write about it, which was pretty cool. Now I usually don't get paid for it, but I get to do it however I want. I also like to eat things. This blog will probably be about drinking and eating things in Portland, Oregon. Also maybe socks.