Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October Pairing Dinners

The boys at House Spirits are at it again with a couple of awesome-sounding cocktail dinners. The Carafe event sounds particularly interesting. I love eating at Carafe but the cocktails on their regular menu can leave something to be desired. Here's what’s in store:

House Spirits & Clarklewis Pairing Dinner, with chef Dolan Lane
Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 at Clarklewis, 1001 SE Water Ave # 160, Portland, OR
Dinner starts at 7:30pm
$95 per person gratuity not included, limited seating
Contact Kurt Heilemann for reservations 503.235.2294

• Roasted autumn squash with sweet coppa; The Aviation Cocktail
• House Krogstad-cured salmon with peperonata and mint; Pepper Delicious #2
• Spaghetti with Pacific bay scallops, tarragon, fennel and citrus; Botticelli
• Hearth roasted Carlton pork shoulder with apple dumplings, braised red cabbage and cider jus; The Hearst
• Chocolate torte with dark chocolate ganache and raspberry coulis; The Raspberry Bramble Burn

House Spirits & Carafe Pairing Dinner, with chef Pascal Sauton
Tuesday, October 14th, 2008 @ Carafe, 200 SW Market St., Portland, OR
Dinner starts at 6:30pm
$76 per person gratuity not included, limited seating
Contact Carafe for reservations 503.248.0004

• Gougères with Rabbit Pate, House Cornichons, Plum Compote; Breaded Escargots with Garlic & Parsley; French 75

• Foie Gras "Club", Foie au Torchon, Whole Roasted Foie, Roasted Riesling Grapes, Foie Chantilly; Christian's Ee-chem
• Butter Poached Dungeness Crab, Sauce Vierge, Viridian Farm's Peppers; Pepper Delicious #2
• Corn Crusted Sweetbreads, Crawfish Ragout, Sage Gnocchi; Lady Sage
• Braised Lamb Ribs, Heirloom Shell Beans "Cassoulet"; Trident
• Meredith's Treats; 30/20/1

By the way, I recently discovered that House Spirits lists a few recipes on their website, including their signature Pepper Delicious, a really fun application of Aviation gin.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I just returned from a jaunt to the SF Bay Area. What a lovely place. Epicurean highlights of the trip included Tacubaya and Cantina.

Tacubaya is a Mexican restaurant on 4th Street in Berkeley that serves pretty standard stuff - enchiladas, tostadas, tortas - but the quality and freshness of the ingredients is exceptional, so even a basic dish can be extraordinary. I had this corn, black bean and zucchini tostada that kind of blew my mind. I don't even like tostadas.

Cantina is Duggan McDonnell's downtown San Francisco bar that specializes in complicated culinary cocktails. I had a fantastic Carmen Amaya, which involves rye, Cointreau and amontillado sherry. I love drinking amontillado sherry, and its complexity and tartness make it a great cocktail ingredient too.

Cantina also happens to be a block or two from the St. Francis Hotel, always good for a nauseating glass elevator ride or two.

Monday, September 15, 2008

In the House

We paid a visit to Belly Timber Saturday night to see what Bradley Dawson has been cooking up. On offer was the Vesuvius, an intriguing concoction of smoked jasmine tea vodka and blood orange soda, an 1870 Sazerac with three types of bitters, and my favorite, the deliciously earthy beet margarita, made with fresh red beet juice with a golden beet salt rim. We hear there will be a new cocktail menu in the next couple of weeks, so stop in soon to be sure to try one of these.

We also sampled some snacks from the kitchen: sumptuous salmon mousse on cute toasts with beet chips, and a grilled peach with balsamic vinegar. Marvelous.

What's extra neat about the BT is that it's in an old Victorian house. The beautifully restored interior (left over from the building's previous tenants) makes one feel really old-fashioned and decadent, and Bradley with his atomizers and eye droppers evokes the era's ambitious inventors and scientists. It kind of makes me want to wear spats.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bar Hopping: Actually Quite Economical

Bad news: My student loans have gone into repayment. You want me to pay what? Are you kidding me? As it turns out, I am nowhere near as big a yuppie as I thought I had become, unfortunately. A gloom settles over me as I realize I might have to do without certain necessities, like pork belly.

Good news: Apparently I have resumed food and drink reviewing. As it turns out, decadence pays. Or at least, it pays for itself. Problem solved!

Photo: Happy hour Moscow mule and pimiento cheese toast at 50 Plates.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Unexpected Beers

My sources tell me that Aventinus now graces Ten 01's newly revised beer menu, along with other new finds. Why I am not having one there right now, I am not really sure.

I love drinking beer at Ten 01 because it's not the kind of place you would necessarily go for a beer. Bar manager Kelley Swenson is better known for his delicious and fastidious classic cocktails (no garnish, please), but he pays the same close attention to the beer menu, resulting in a carefully chosen roster of winners. And it is really fun to perch among fancy ladies and drink a gnarly Belgian out of a delicate crystal glass the size of my head.

On the other side of things, have you ever BYOB'ed really nice beer to a house party? There is something really satisfying in showing up in a t-shirt on your bike and cracking open a beer that you swig out of the bottle, that happens to be St. Bernardus abt 12. Even if the party is just four guys sitting around on the porch, texting. Especially then.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rum Dinner

This is going to be amazing. Not only do these people make phenomenal cocktails and know way too much about spirits culture and history, they are also super fun and totally un-stuffy.

On Sunday evening September 21, 2008 at the Cleaners event space in the Ace Hotel, there will be a Rum Dinner. There will be five courses, spirit pairings, cocktail parasols, Hawaiian shirts, and torches. Doors open at 6 pm. This is spirit dinner #6: Rum!-–a sneak peek at the developing chemistry of Beaker and Flask. Your chef will be Ben Bettinger of James John Cafe.

To make a reservation email spiritdinners at gmail.com. Please include the number of person(s) in your party and a phone number. We will confirm your reservation by phone and we ask that you provide a credit card number to hold your seat(s). The cost of this dinner is $65, not including gratuity. As before, payment for this dinner is cash/check only.

This menu is bright and playful-–the only way to confront the coming clouds. The cocktails will transport you. Enjoy our tiki-encrusted environment, flush with the aroma of cocoa butter, voodoo kitsch, and raffle tickets! Special guests include Robert Louis Stevenson. As always, we look forward to guiding you through this experience.

Chef: Ben Bettinger
Bar: Kevin Ludwig
Host: Timothy Davey
September 21, 2008
1014 SW Stark Ave
the Cleaners
6:00 pm doors open
$65 / person
Reservations: spiritdinners at gmail.com

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Teardrop in the Bucket

The best thing about Teardrop Lounge is that they have a really strong signature. Their bizarro ingredients and housemade concoctions combine in unusual cocktails that always have a lot going on. Fresh fruit, flavorful spirits and interesting spicy, sour or bitter elements are always meeting up in unexpected ways. It may seem a little shocking or fussy to classic cocktail loyalists, but I always appreciate the chance to taste a new recipe and learn a new way to enjoy my favorite spirits.

Teardrop is also a very comfortable spot for happy hour. Yesterday we enjoyed a beautiful September evening out on the sidewalk with an awesome Love in the Afternoon (rye, aprium®, lemon-basil-demerara soda - wow) and an intriguingly peppery-fruity-smoky something or other made with a canteloupe-cayenne gastrique and tequila. And also a super velvety Twilight at the Nacionale (Matusalem rum, apricot brandy, pomelo bitters, lime, and Teardrops' house specialty tepache. We snacked on yummy mushroom-cheese empanadas and squash-chevre croquettes with pine nuts on top. I feel like pine nuts were very much a part of the whole 90s gourmet thing (I remember getting them on Zachary's pizza in Berkeley) and not used so much anymore, which is why it is so exciting to eat them now again. Food trendiness is funny like that.

Then I convinced chef Alyssa to bike-pool back to Southeast, which was fun. It is always nice to ride home at 7 instead of 5. Especially when it is sunny and warm out. September is pretty nice.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Lance shook up a delicious Pritchard's rum daiquiri at 50 Plates Saturday night. That rum is pretty tasty, huge butterscotch and vanilla. I want to soak a cake in it. Like a pineapple upside-down cake. Yum.

BTW Pritchard's is made by this guy in Tennessee whiskey land who was like, whatever, I'm gonna make rum! Imbibe ran a story on it in the July/August 08 issue. Rad.