Monday, October 27, 2008

Rosemary Toast

Clarklewis has this thing on their happy hour menu that is like savory french toast with melted cheese in it. I tried to replicate it at home, and amazingly, it turned out awesome. Here is what I did:

1. Beat with a fork:
1 egg
a little milk
salt, pepper, garlic powder (the holy trinity of suburban food)
dried rosemary

2. Soak two slices of New Seasons's's whole wheat levain in the egg stuff
3. Heat butter in a skillet. Drop the bread in the skillet, pour remaining egg stuff over the bread slices
4. Fry on both sides, shred some mozzerella and melt it on top.

YUM! It was so savory, and not just in a "something that has salt in it" way but really, you know, umami-y. I had it with a Widmer Drop Top amber ale, which is a pretty whatever beer, but the French toast somehow brought out some nice fruity notes.

Forget the bars - next time, happy hour's at my place!

Photo: Rosemary French toast. Skillet: William Temple House thrift store. Avocado green 1970s stove courtesy of American Property Management.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Whiskey and Figs

Wednesday night André and I made pizza for our friend Devin. For dessert, on Lance's suggestion, I paired the Eagle Rare bourbon I have been nursing since last Christmas (thanks Karen!) with fresh mission figs.

It was a good suggestion. I like the idea of pairing spirits or beers with simple desserts, but it's easy to overwhelm the sweetness and flavors of the drink with something too sugary like chocolate or baked things. As much as I love tooth-rottingly sweet things, this is the one case where I believe they are inappropriate. Once I thought Aventinus dopplebock would be great with oatmeal cookies, but to my palate the rich cookies made the beer taste flat and bland in comparison.

Something mildly sweet like bourbon (or probably Aventinus) is way better with something that's sweet enough to complement, but still lets the drink taste sweet and luscious when enjoyed alongside. Like these figs. Sweet but fresh. Delicious and weird. Voluptuously textured. The bourbon's buttery and vanilla-y qualities created a sort of pie crust effect, and the slow, thick mouthfeel contrasted with the clear, wateryness of the fruit in a way you wouldn't get when drinking whiskey with something containing butter or cream. Devin, please come back soon so we can do this again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tea at the Heathman

I finally had the opportunity to check out the Heathman hotel's afternoon tea a couple of Saturdays ago. I have always been fascinated by old-school, continental-style luxury, partially because of all the complexities it stands for (or masks), and partially because it's fun and romantic when things are shamelessly, obviously elegant. I'm a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald for this reason; he does a good job of portraying both of these things in his stories.

Anyway, apparently tea at the Heathman is a Portland tradition; ladies bring their little girls for Christmas or Mothers' Day and everyone gets all dolled up and you get tiered platters with tiny crustless sandwiches. (I think there is even a special children's tea menu for finicky eaters - note the ants-on-a-log in the photo!) The tea room is full of brocade, velvet, 18th century-looking paintings in ornate frames, fresh flowers, gilt, and old woodwork. The table settings include tiny forks and cloth doilies.

They switch it up for holidays and special events, like last weekend, when Michael Recchiuti, an SF-based chocolatier, came in and chocolized the whole thing. (Michael also has a shop in SF's ferry building.)

Instead of tea we got a big cup of drinking chocolate (!!), and in addition to the deviled eggs, pate and scones there were all types of cocoa delights, like French-style macaroons made from cocoa nibs instead of almonds and an assortment of dark chocolates. The drinking chocolate was the best part, a Columbian varietal that had a surprising fruity brightness that balanced out the fatty richness for a very complex, full taste. I don't spend a lot of time tasting chocolates so I don't really know what I'm supposed to be looking for, but I could tell there was a lot going on in my cup.

With or without chocolate, the Heathman's fancy tea is a fantastic antidote to Saturday Sweatpants Syndrome, and all that sugar and caffeine are ample fuel for all kinds of additional frivolity.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Restaurant Guide

Willamette Week's Restaurant Guide has arrived, nestled in this week's issue (also the endorsements issue - great cover BTW). Even if I hadn't contributed, I would still be urging you all to go out and snag a copy or two before they are gone next Wednesday, because it's a really well put together guide to Portland's dining scene. Despite being the supposed "expert" on dining out among my friends and family, every time someone asks me what "the best restaurant for (Indian/Thai/vegans/my parents) in Portland" is I draw a blank for some reason, and I find myself referring back to Restaurant Guide all the time. There are reviews of 100 of the city's best restaurants, and other goodies like Top 5 lists for lunches, outdoor dining, etc. Plus, in the last couple of years they have made it into a cool digest magazine style (with nice color photography and design), which is easier and more attractive to keep around than a newspaper section. And it doesn't cost you a dime. Get it while it's hot!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Monday night I checked out the "Drambuie Den," a party and cocktail competition sponsored by Drambuie (of course) at the Doug Fir. Lance Mayhew of 50 Plates and My Life on the Rocks, Dave Shenaut of Teardrop, and Blair Reynolds of Trader Tiki and Acadia were competing, among others, and I wanted to see what they'd whip up.

Drambuie put together a pretty impressive event. The club was packed to capacity. Waitresses in saucy red getups passed trays of various Drambuie cocktails. I had a Drambuie Ginger, which was very sweet but showcased the liqueur's herbal layers surprisingly well.

What struck me more than anything was the day-to-night. Many of the guests were wearing some combination of well-cut but neutral business suit pieces, sexed up with a floaty camisole or the subtraction of a layer. I always see magazine pieces on "going from day to night," but I never have seen it applied so adeptly and so literally in real life.

Dave Shenaut won the mix-off with his High Plains Drifter (recipe below). I ended up having to jet before the shaking even started, but Lance and Dave filled me in later. "I had a great time," Dave says. "Mostly I enjoyed hanging with the 'Ladies of Imbibe.' Oh yeah, I got to pose for a photo (shitty time to decide to grow a sleazy Portlander beard I guess). And I'm getting my first non-flair trophy since Tball."

High Plains Drifter

1 ¼ parts Gin
¾ parts Drambuie
¾ parts lemon
½ parts rose bud infused honey syrup
Dash peychaud's bitters

For the syrup, bring one cup of water to a boil and remove from heat.
Steep edible roses in water for 4 min and strain off the buds. Stir in 2 cups of honey and let cool.
Combine all ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a dried rosebud.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I Heart Karl

Sorry, this has nothing to do with cocktails, but I had to share. The man kind of fascinates me.