Weekend Fun

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Sometimes you just need a fun weekend with friends. And that’s exactly what this weekend was. It was busy but filled with lots of great things:

-Enjoying the beautiful weather on our patio. I’m super spoiled to have such a great view.

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-A super fun housewarming party for my friends Hannah and Brando who just moved in together. It was a great get together of awesome friends, plus Hannah even put together a homemade ice cream bar with freshly baked brownies, cookies and caramel corn.

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Damn those girls all wearing heels while I’m in flats so I look even shorter than normal…

-The sunny weather inspiring me to plant some plants on our patio! I am totally the opposite of a “green thumb” so fingers crossed they all survive!

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-Getting our new double ovens! The installation was a tad bit intense however as Brice was determined to install it himself.

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Brice being a great homeowner and husband installing our double oven!

It was a slightly tumultuous Friday evening trying to get the oven to fit in the built-in cabinet. At one point, it involved some Cirque du Soleil maneuvering on my part to climb over and behind the oven into the little cubby-hole and use a power saw to make more room in the back for the electrical cord. But after almost 9 hours of time spent on it (truly), we did it. Well, more Brice than me, I have to admit. But nonetheless we now have two ovens!

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Clearly freaked out about being stuck behind a large oven with a power tool.

I made some delicious peanut butter banana bread first thing Sunday morning to celebrate. It was delicious and perfectly baked. No burnt edges with uncooked centers like my previous oven produced. I cannot wait to bake with it more. Plus with two ovens, there will be double the treats!

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My first baked good out of my new oven!

-Dinner with some wonderful friends, Katy and Lauren at Teote: post coming soon!

-Saturday morning with a ton of delicious treats and blogger friends, two of my favorite things! Jane of In The Pink and Green and Rachel of Love, Rachel hosted a super fun “Blogger Beauty Brunch.” About ten Portland bloggers were there to mingle, drink mimosas, and even enjoy a manicure bar. It was such a fun way to start the day.

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I have loved getting to know other bloggers. It has been one of the best things about starting this blog. The community is fantastic for advice, suggestions and inspiration. Plus bloggers are just awesome people.

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And obviously we also know how to eat well. Look at this spread! Seriously, I had to keep telling myself to not eat everything although I really, really wanted to.

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Little T Baker and Pearl Bakery super generously donated these amazing pastries. I love both of those bakeries so I was beyond thrilled to enjoy their baked goods. I especially loved all of the rhubarb treats and of course the date granola bar from Little T.

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Another blogger, Meredith of Martha Chartreuse made this incredible savory egg sausage croissant casserole. It was fabulous and a perfect complement to all of the sweets. She has posted the recipe onto her blog so give it a look!

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This really cool vintage rental company, Something Borrowed, donated some beautiful tea cups and plateware. If you’re needing things for a party or event, check them out. Their inventory is so much more fun than just plain white plates. Basically, with any of their stuff, you could turn your event into a Pinterest board.

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Kelsey of Ladies in Navy took some really gorgeous photos of the event. My favorite is probably this one of Rachel’s adorable cat, Winston. I more or less hate all cats, but I can’t get enough of Winston. She is a precious, tiny fluffball.

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Photo courtesy of Kelsey of Ladies in Navy

The other ladies who joined us that morning were: Bee of The Spicy Bee which has a ton of delicious recipes, Chloe who just started The Paper Airplane about traveling, backpacking/hiking and fun Portland activities, and Brooke of Chocolate & Marrow, which is a food blog with insanely incredible photos.

All and all, it was such a wonderful, fun-filled weekend.

Have a great workweek!


Buy Your Tickets Now for Taste of the Nation!

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Wahoo! In just under two weeks, one of the most fun food events in Portland will be here! Taste of the Nation will be back Tuesday, April 29th at the Crystal Ballroom!

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I seriously love this event. With over 25 of the best chefs Portland has to offer and about 30 local wineries, distilleries and breweries, it is a massive, amazing all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink free for all. (View the TOTN’s Portland page for the full list of participants.) Each of the participants set up a booth and serve up specialty food or drinks made just for this event. A lot of booth and guests all get crammed into the West End concert hall, so it gets a little stuffy and overwhelming. But it’s well worth it for how much good food and drinks there are. And because there are so many chefs participating, despite the crowds, there are rarely lines.

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Last year was a total blast with incredible food, like the Fifty Licks’ Churro Soft-Serve Ice Cream and delicious cocktails, like the House Spirits’ Pineapple Southside made with Aviation Gin. There was even a photo booth with ridiculous props courtesy of Yelp! Portland. I am always a big fan of these. You can read more about the 2013 shenanigans and my favorite eats and drinks here.

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Last week I got to attend a preview event, “Taste of the Taste” to check out some of this year’s line-up. Hosted at Irving Street Kitchen, it provided samples from ISK, Boke Bowl, ImperialLardo and the new pop-up Project Grace/soon-to-open Renata.

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The Green Garlic and Parmesan Soup with English Peas from ISK was creamy and delicious. Sadly, the picture was not so quality however, so you’ll have to use your imagination on what it looked like (PS – if you haven’t had the Butterscotch Pudding from ISK yet, drop whatever you are doing, head to the Pearl District right now and order it. It is one of the best things ever. It is so popular you can even get it to go. So no excuses.)

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The guys from Lardo prepared a great griddled Mortadella sandwich.

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I really loved that Vitaly Paley and Ben Bettinger of Imperial made potato latkes as I was raised Jewish and man, did I love those fried potato pancakes growing up (ok, I still love them). Their version was topped with Steelhead pastrami, sour cream and dill, giving the latkes some extra saltiness. When asked what else made these different than the typical at-home version however, Vitaly, who was also celebrating his birthday that night, exclaimed “oh probably the duck fat!”

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Boke Bowl prepared an Asian-influenced poutine. Crawfish and pork were mixed in a thick, spicy black bean sauce then poured over rice tots. I am not sure how much I liked the super-dense tots, but that gravy was really delicious with a slight kick, flavorful crawfish and well seasoned pork.

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Project Grace, which is doing a pop-up dinner series with five-course meals every Friday night at Trinket in SE Portland until Renata opens, made rabbit terrine with a giardinara (spicy pickled-pepper) aoili, with rabbit sourced from local My Pharm.

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I love giant magnum champagne bottles!

It wouldn’t be an event without drinks! Beverages were provided by Moet & Chandon, Volcanic Mineral Refresher water, Fire + Flood winesPamplin Family Winery, and Bull Run Distilling.

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Patrick, the co-founder of Bull Run, mixing up some awesome cocktails

Bull Run made delicious ginger beer and lime-inspired cocktails featuring their Temperance bourbon whiskey, Medoyeff vodka, Aria dry gin, or Pacific Rum made with Hawaiian sugar cane. (You might know that ginger beer + vodka is a Moscow Mule, but did you know if you substituted gin, it is a Foghorn? Or with rum, it’s called a Before the Storm? Or my favorite name, made with whiskey, it’s a Presbyterian?! Fun things I learn at events :) )

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Especially after this preview night, I can’t wait to get more at the actual event. Of the full TOTN participants list, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing what Biwa, Tasty n Alder and of course Salt & Straw will be preparing.

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To make this event even better (how is that possible, you ask?), well this is also a fundraiser for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Each ticket purchased helps support Share Our Strength’s efforts in eliminating childhood hunger as well as local beneficiaries, which include Oregon Food Bank, Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon, St. Vincent DePaul Society and Klamath/Lake Counties Food Bank. For more details on Share Our Strength, read fellow Portland blogger The Goodhearted Woman’s really wonderful, heartwarming post that shows the powerful impacts these organizations make.

So even if you might gawk a tad at the ticket price, remember two things: 1) you can eat and drink your heart out and 2) it goes to a good cause.

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Some additional words of wisdom before going to TOTN:

1) As mentioned above, be prepared for large crowds. Hopefully you aren’t claustrophobic…

2) At least the last few years, there weren’t many tables to sit at nor was there a coat rack (at least not to my memory…), so avoid bringing large bags and coats that will get in the way of you getting all the food and drink you want!

3) Don’t eat much that day. Seriously, there is so much good food at this event, it is insane. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving. You have to prep for small meals before hand so you can pig out appropriately!

Event details:

Date: Tuesday, April 29th

Time: VIP – 5:30pm; General Admission – 6:30-9pm

Tickets: VIP – $150; GA – $85; buy them now here (VIP tickets not only get you into the event before the masses arrive, but you also get a separate line-up including those delicious latkes from Imperial)

Location: McMenamins Crystal Ballroom at 1332 W Burnside Street, Portland

Hope to see you there!


Sauvie Island Center’s Toast the Farm

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Man, a lot has been going on the last few weeks. Usually I feel like winter is the slow time of year with everyone hibernating a bit to wait out the dreary, drizzly days but instead this March has been one of the busiest with most nights having some sort of event, either for work, a blogger event, or just trying to get to the gym. It’s been a bit of a struggle keeping up with everything!

That made this past weekend really great – I spent almost of it sleeping, getting much needed exercise, catching up with friends, and planning our crazy adventure to SE Asia for next fall. (I have spent most of my time researching where to eat, go figure!)

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But because I can never have a weekend with out a to do list, I also wanted to finally post something about the Toast the Farm event I went to a few weeks ago!

As I’ve mentioned on here once or twice before, I’m on the board of a really fabulous local non-profit, the Sauvie Island Center, which brings children from most high-poverty schools to the farm and teaches them about vegetables, farming and the land. Our spring fundraiser, Toast the Farm was a really fun night with good food, wine and beer to raise support for SIC. One of the things that made the event even more wonderful was that this year, we teamed up with Diane Morgan, who wrote the James Beard award winning Roots cookbook.

Roots is a gorgeous, 432-page compendium with 225+ recipes of known roots like beets and ginger and unfamiliar roots like yuca, salsify and burdock root. It might be a little intimidating looking but Diane writes her recipes for the home cook so they really are approachable.

This event was perfect timing as well because I was looking for a birthday present for my mom and knew she’d love this book. (To prove how small Portland is, I have actually known Diane for a really long time since I was good friends with her son in high school. But I was still really excited to get the cookbook autographed. She is a James Beard award winner after all!)

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Back to the event! Toast the Farm was hosted at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Portland. All of the food was prepared by the Garde Manger class which is taught by Chef Cory Schreiber, who is well known for founding Wildwood Restaurant twenty years ago. The students took recipes from Diane’s book and prepared an exquisite menu of hors d’oeuvres and desserts, all featuring root vegetables. Such a perfect tie-in to the Sauvie Island Center.

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My favorite was the Porcupine Meatball which highlighted water chestnuts (which admittedly I didn’t ever really think of as being a root vegetable till this night, is that sad?). The pork was rolled in rice, steamed then served with an Asian-inspired sauce.

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For carrots, we enjoyed a Moroccan carrot and chickpea salad made with dried plums and toasted cumin vinaigrette.

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I loved these little soup shooters – chilled beet soup topped with dill and creme fraiche.

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Horseradish, beet and smoked salmon gravlax.

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This dish was really fantastic as well. Shanghai braised beef with these turnips that were out of this world. I don’t remember exactly what they did with those turnips, but I definitely never thought they could taste that good!

Note to self: always charge your camera’s battery BEFORE going to an event! Sadly my camera died before the dessert course so I had to shoot those with my phone. Definitely not as pretty but trust me, the desserts were killer.

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I loved this Ginger Panna Cotta. Rich, creamy custard with a full ginger flavor and topped with toasted, lightly sweetened coconut for some added texture.

They also served brown sugar ginger ice cream in mini ice cream cones that were delicious and adorable.

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The red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting were made with beets rather than food coloring. I found the Roots recipe for these cupcakes on this Huffington Post article. Definitely give it a read for the interview with Diane as well.

The crisp chocolate crinkle cookies featured one of the more unusual roots of the evening – galangal, a ginger-lookalike that is found in Thai, Indonesian, and Malaysian cooking.

It was a really fun evening of good food, good drinks and all supporting a good cause. Now I really need to pull a “I bought you this as a present mostly so I can use it” and borrow my mom’s copy to make that ginger panna cotta…