restaurants

As I look forward to Departure’s Third Annual Summers End Vegan Dinner, I realized I neglected to share last years. Looking through the photos and remembering the details has me looking forward to this years event even more – please enjoy:

Here we are, at the end of summer. The crisp cool evenings with the smoky scented air, the savoring of the last summer fruits and veggies, the cutting into pumpkins and squash, the creating comfort foods of fall.

For the second year in a row, Departure Restaurant’s Summers End Vegan Dinner fell on my birthday! I could not think of a more perfect way to celebrate than with the culinary skills of Chef Gregory Gourdet.

This year, he partnered with Chef Aaron Adams of another favorite restaurant, Portobello Vegan Trattoria, to bring a group of lucky Portlanders an amazing seasonal seven-course meal.

We began with [click to continue…]

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We have been on vacation since the 18th, enjoying a sunny road trip to California, enjoying wine in Sonoma, enjoying teaching Jason all about Instagram as I drove, enjoying pumping our own gas in another state.

We are back home, the super fun shiny red rental car is turned in. So happy to be back home, happy to pick Basil up from his vacation, happy to get back into a sortof routine.

On our way home, we stopped for lunch in Eugene, where I knew we could find a fresh juice and some plant based happiness. We went to the Morning Glory Café and were not disappointed.

We shared a huge carrot orange juice.

I chose the most awesome thing on the breakfast menu:

Happy Morning Sandwich - a fresh biscuit, split, toasted and topped with a soysage patty, spinach, tomato slices, “glorious” tofu patty, and tofu sour cream. Served with herbed glory potatoes covered with our tantric mushroom gravy and green onions.

This was very good – the biscuit was very flavorful (cannot pinpoint the flavor but as soon as I do…), the tofu sour cream was herby delicious, the tomatoes fresh and bright. Those potatoes were perfect, and that gravy, oh yum.

…and Happy Morning? I need to start naming my sandwiches cool things like this.

Cajun Tempeh Sandwich - Organic tempeh patty grilled in cajun spices, topped with grilled onions and served on toasted whole wheat bread with our jalapeno aoli, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and shredded carrots.

Jason’s sandwich was also tasty – he watched me after I took a bite, because the heat kinda sneaks up on you.

I will keep the Morning Glory Café in mind for future trips to or through Eugene – great food, casual clean and open atmosphere, friendly staff.

A great end to our vacation!

Morning Glory Café on Urbanspoon

 

 

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maple roasted beet salad

When I was in college, there was a singer in Portland who had this fantastic “lounge act” – Tony Starlight. He and his band would play various clubs around town, where he would give props to the classics like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tom Jones and Neil Diamond. He has a perfect Neil Diamond voice.

To say I was a fan would be an understatement – I frequented his shows, I have the CD, I even had the calendar. His shows are good fun – he tells jokes, has a great singing voice (and sings great songs!), and his genuine admiration for classic musical talent comes through.

Then he moved to Hollywood. My friends and I missed those entertaining shows.

maple beet kale salad

A few years ago, I was working at the desk of the spa I was managing at the time. The door opens and in walks a new client – ohmystars it was Tony Starlight! He had used his real name to make the appointment, so I had no idea. I was so dang excited – he and his wife had returned to Portland, and converted an old favorite nightclub, the Blackbird, into Tony Starlight’s Supper Club and Lounge. Same great act, in his own space, with the full supper club experience.

goat cheese beet salad (vegan)

Saturday night we meet friends for the signature Tony Show (see link for videos!). We arrived early and were able to catch the last part of Tony and his band rehearsing for a Neil Diamond anniversary series coming soon. Did I tell you he has a perfect Neil Diamond voice? 

The show was fantastic as always, my face hurt from smiling and laughing so much. When looking at the dinner menu, I saw a beet salad. I did not order it or see it, but in honor of fleet week beet week, I made an adapted version of Tony’s.

This is week two of Meatless Mondays A to Z, and b stands for beets!

This salad includes a vegan goat cheese, a recipe I will share soon.

maple roasted beet salad

dairy, soy and gluten free, vegan

serves two

2 medium size beets
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 servings kale chiffonade salad (recipes here and here)
marcona almonds
vegan goat cheese, crumbled

Scrub beets and slice thin, then chop each slice into quarters. Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet, pile beets in center of foil. Whisk together maple syrup, olive oil and lemon juice, pour over beets. Gather all sides/corners of foil, crimping closed. Roast in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes for crunchy beets, 30-35 minutes for softer beets.

Take care in opening the foil packet, as steam will escape when opened. Using tongs or fork, serve atop a kale chiffonade salad, with vegan goat cheese (or vegan cheese of choice) and marcona almonds.

…with a crisp white chardonnay, this was perfect.

 

maple beet salad with vegan goat cheese

Are you a fan of the classics, Frank, Dean or Sammy? Tom Jones? Neil Diamond?

Last week’s Meatless Monday recipe – artichoke shiitake ceviche.

More beet recipes:

pink thumbprints with whiskey ganache

 

berry beet juice

 

spicy hot shots in chocolate glasses

 

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My friend Carrie is visiting Portland right now, and Friday we enjoyed dinner at Blossoming Lotus.

One of my favorite restaurants in Portland that I visit frequently – you may remember our Valentines Dinner this year, and the Summers End event with Blossoming Lotus Chef Wes Hannah. I also have a new perspective after taking classes from the founding chef, and this was my first visit since completing the course last month.

Carrie started with an all greens juice (no photo) and I chose a booster shot – ginger, lemon cayenne:

I loved this! Extremely spicy, this is called the “flu fighter”. While I am not feeling under the weather, I chose this one for the flavors. Definitely has a spicy kick.

Carrie ordered the Live Falafel Wrap, one of my favorites. The falafel is made with walnuts and brazil nuts, and is wrapped in collard leaves with tahini pate, cucumber, onion and tomato, and served with cashew cream.

My choice was on the specials menu, a Cauliflower Purse. This was served over dandelion greens, seasonal vegetables and beans with rich spicy flavors. I loved it.

For dessert, Carrie and I shared the Live Berry Cheesecake – oh my.

This was amazing. Perfectly fluffy and creamy and just the right level of sweetness. The wonderful consistency of this dessert is inspiring me to get back in the kitchen and try more variations on a raw cheesecake. I just ordered a new ingredient I am looking forward to playing with.

While I did not take photos of Carries eats (I don’t know why, she was taking photos as well!), I eat at Blossoming Lotus often enough that I do have other photos to share, including the falafel that Carrie enjoyed:

Another dish I order often – the Tofu & Greens Bowl- wok tossed tofu and seasonal greens, with sweet bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, butternut squash, and a sweet tamari glaze, served over your choice of brown rice or quinoa.

So very good.

As always, Blossoming Lotus comes through with the fresh and vibrant flavors. I’m happy to have shared this place with a friend who I know would appreciate it – she was talking about visiting for brunch and another dinner before she leaves!

 

Blossoming Lotus on Urbanspoon

 

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I have a couple of restaurant visits to share with you from our recent vacation to Oregon’s wine country, and I am starting with a very good one.

For Jason’s actual birthday dinner, we visited a new restaurant taking on the concept of farm to table.

Paulée is the new home of executive chef Daniel Mondok (formerly with Portland’s celebrated Sel Gris, also the renowned Genoa and Foster Burger) serving fruit and vegetables from its own farm right next door.

The atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable, where great music was obviously the chef’s choice – the open layout of the kitchen allows you to view the goings on, and Chef Mondok could often be spotted singing along as he worked.

Chef Mondok with pastry chef Stephen Gazda plating my dessert:

We shared many plates, Jason choosing the meats while I enjoyed the veggies and pastas from each. The courses are solidly executed in stunning presentation, and the desserts creatively unique.

Jason loves to photo-bomb - can you find it in the above photo? Perhaps you can see it better in this photo.

The amuse…  a rich pâté on a delicate cracker.

Mixed Greens – strawberries, hazelnuts, pickled onions, blue cheese.

This was by far my favorite. Well, until dessert.

Lyonnaise – pork belly lardons, fried egg, frisee, sherry vinaigrette.

I love a frisee salad, and the egg was perfectly cooked.

Risotto – porcinis, morels, cardoncellos, white truffles, chevre.

Look at all the truffle…  the flavor of this was over the top perfect.

Heater Allen.

One of Jason’s favorite beers.

Beef – sirloin, oxtail, potato paillasson, chichories, jus.

Jason loved this. I loved the potatoes!

King Salmon – Israeli couscous mac & cheese, tempura garlic tops, tomato, trout roe.

Couscous mac and cheese. Genius. Fantastic. With a bite of those (smoked?) tomatoes, the flavors were perfect.

Daily made sorbets.

The three flavors were ginger, watermelon, tangerine. A refreshing finish, indeed.

Walnut Cake – blueberry conserve, walnut dacquoise, celery cream cheese ice cream.

Celery cream cheese ice cream! It is why I chose this dessert, and honestly, why I chose the restaurant!

The cake was very good, but for me the star was this ice cream – fresh and vibrant with a subtle sweetness. Also, the plating and design – beautiful!

The impressive walls of wine:

Many aspects of Paulée remind me of and transport me back to Napa. We look forward to visiting again.

Paulee on Urbanspoon

 

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Right in the middle of my spa career, I took a break to pursue another love – food. I was the store director with a high end European deli here in Portland, one of my favorite jobs to date. I started at one location in the heart of downtown (I love working downtown!), and while running that store I planned the build and opening of a new location in Lake Oswego.

While I thrive on the fun that goes into the execution of a new business and the grand opening events, my favorite aspect of this job was the food. At the new location, we built a bakery where we made fresh pastries, breads and bagels each morning. I took a series of classes in Baking and Pastry in preparation, and while I could not have early morning hours all the time, I loved arriving at 4am to make muffins, bagels, bake off croissants proofing over night… it was bliss.

Having been a customer for many years, I was thrilled to be a part of the executive staff (although looking back now, I would have been just as happy running the bakery). This deli boasts an excellent reputation for having great food. Their menu has both permanent items and seasonal choices on rotation.

Their soups are legendary.

As soon as cold weather chill hits Portland [click to continue…]

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of

FORTUUUUUNNNNNEEE.

Yeah, it was no big deal, I was standing like, three feet from Pat and Vanna. It’s cool.

Wait, whaaaaaaat?? VIP tickets to see several episodes taping? Yes, please!

I kinda like this show.

We had so much fun – the VIP tickets meant we got to skip all the lines (there were probably 8-10,000 people there?) and get right to the front – we were in the third row! The first row is reserved for family of contestants, and some local celebrities.

It was really cool to watch the behind the scenes of this show – it’s a big event. When they go on location, there are huge sets built with the city’s landmarks. In this case, Wheel In Portland’s set boasted a large replica of our beautiful St Johns Bridge, a downtown theater, the Made in Oregon sign, real trees to accompany the trees, greens and blues in the photo backgrounds. Then of course there is the Wheel itself, and Vanna’s letters, a car parked offstage, and bright lights!

We captured one photo of me on set – we found out about the No Camera Rule a little while later…

There will be at least a couple weeks worth of shows (they were here for several days, and each ticket was to view three shows), and they air in early May. Watch for me in the audience!

Another highlight of our weekend was lunch at one of our favorites - ¿Por Que No? - a tasty taqueria in the Boise-Eliot area on North Mississippi.

Jason ordered a beautiful sangria and I had a house margarita. I chose one of the daily specials, the Spring Veggie Taco, which was fresh and flavorful and included grilled asparagus. I also ordered one of my standards, the veggie tamale:

¿Por Que No? was delicious as always. As we were sitting there, the sun came out – I look forward to spring and summer visits where we can sit outside!

Our Wheel Weekend was an awesome one – two tryouts, now actual audience members? I am getting closer to spinning that Wheel myself!

What is your favorite game show? Would you ever want to be a contestant?

¿Por Qué No? on Urbanspoon

 

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this Valentines, Jason and I celebrated at one of my favorite places, Blossoming Lotus. they had a special Valentines menu, with two options for each course. as we normally do, we each chose one and shared.

we had a cheers with cocktails. mine:

White October – vanilla infused vodka, Averna, Cafe Lolita, coconut milk, ginger sugar, maple syrup – served up

this was amazing. mildly sweet, strong coffee and maple flavors. deliciously warming.
I had two.

Wintry Mix Manhattan – Bulleit rye, cinnamon-ginger infused Vya vermouth, orange bitters, barrel-aged bitters

Jason loved his Manhattan - enough that he talked about recreating his own version at home. sounds like someone I know…

the amuse:

Seasonal marinated and pickled vegetables

we each had our favorites with this plate – I loved the cauliflower, radish and the chili seasoned carrots! Jason liked the green beans and the beets.

the salad course:

wild arugula salad with preserved Meyer lemon and za’atar vinaigrette, roasted red and gold beets, pear

the arugula was deliciously nutty and spicy, and the pear was an inventive addition. we both loved this.

winter citrus salad with shaved fennel and basil, pomegranate, white balsamic

you know I love my vibrant colors in food – visually, this was my favorite of the evening. the bright flavors and the basil earned a place as my favorites in taste as well.

marinated king trumpet mushroom nigiri with parsnip rice, collard green maki roll with cucumber and avocado, salad of kale and wakame, burdock-carrot kinpira, pickled ginger

almost every visit to Blossoming Lotus includes me enjoying their collard rolls, or taking an order to go. I was very happy to see they made a roll for one of the choices – Jason and I both loved this course. I could eat these every day.

cornmeal and herb encrusted portobello, garlic chive mashed potatoes, braised chard, red wine demi glace

straight up comfort food.

I’m not even hungry right now and thinking of this plate just made my stomach growl and my mouth water… I could so eat this right now (yeah, it’s 4:38 in the morning…)

the portobello was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. a bite of portobello with a pouf of mashed potato blanketed in chard and dunked into the glorious demi glace…
I think that would satisfy any omnivore. completely.

raw chocolate torte with cashew crust and banana sorbet

this was gorgeously smooth and perfect. the banana sorbet (with shreds of mango!) was a wonderful light pairing to the rich chocolate.

deliriously decadent.

Meyer lemon polenta cake, cara cara orange curd, almond lace cookie

as much as I loved the chocolate, I loved this one just as much if not more. I love a polenta cake that is very mildly sweet, and the orange curd was bright and beautiful,
tart and sweet.

I loved sharing both of these desserts with my Valentine.

…and if that was not enough, there were surprise truffles at the end. three flavors, two of each, one eaten with a perfect cup of coffee, two enjoyed on the way home.

we were both happy with our Valentines choice of Blossoming Lotus. After an uncharacteristic and slightly weird start (the door was locked until seating time, when we were asked to enter single file for our seating assignments), my favorite Portland gem quickly recovered and we were delighted by course after delectable course. We had some great conversation with the very talented and informed mixologist, talking cocktails, coffee and bitters (we will return in the spring for the rhubarb bitters!).

 

Blossoming Lotus on Urbanspoon

 

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