Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Portland Pop-Up: PREAM at Ned Ludd

What: PREAM at Ned Ludd
Where: 3925 NE MLK Blvd
When: Monday Nights
Honeys Heart: All the pizza

When Doug and I got married a few weeks ago, Kelly and Adam did us the huge favor of hosting our rehearsal dinner at their house.

To help say thank you (because we seriously owe them big time), we offered to take them out to dinner at the place of their choice. If you haven't noticed, Kel and especially Adam are huge sushi lovers (see here, here, and here), so we were a little surprised to end up at PREAM, Ned Ludd's Monday night pizza and hip hop pop-up. It did seem fitting though given that our rehearsal dinner had been a pizza night too!

There were already a few names on the list when we arrived, so we grabbed a spot outside. A server had told us that he would come out to take our drink order- but after awhile we wised up and just headed to the bar. Kel and I decided to split a $25 bottle of syrah, while Doug went with a beer. Adam chose the Craig & Cola ($10) with bourbon and haus cola and later the Cock & Bull Special ($10) with bourbon, benedictine, cognac, combier, and bitters.

About an hour later (no surprise in Portlandia), we headed to our table inside Ned Ludd's quirky little space.

We started things off with a Chicory Caeser Salad with breadcrumbs and ricotta salata. Adam and I both found the chicory a little bitter for our tastes but we forged ahead anyway (aka, we just ate all the ricotta).

Following our salad, we ordered three pizzas to share:

1) Smoked Pork Pizza with treviso, celeriac bechamel & pickled peppers

2) Sausage Pizza with gremolata, bechamel, chile & breadcrumbs

3) Weekly Special Pizza with eggplant and a bunch of other good stuff...

We were banking on having some leftovers but no such luck! And we all had a different favorite too which I think is always a good sign.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend checking out PREAM. The pizzas were crazy delicious and there was a fun informality to the night that made it seem like we were all just there to hang out, eat good food, and have a good time. Just be prepared to wait- especially if you have a group of 4 or more- and make sure you get there before 8pm. The last couple of groups that were seated didn't have a choice about what pizzas they got- they just had to be fine with whatever was left.

Now that Kelly, Adam, Doug, and I are on a weekly pizza kick (we also made homemade pizzas on Kelly and Adam's BBQ the week before), we're going to keep the pizza train rolling and try out Ken's Artisan Bakery's Monday pizza night next week. We'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Portland Pop-Up: Morgan St Theater

What: Morgan St Theater
When: Monthly
Honeys Heart: Watermelon sorbet, feta, basil oil & cherry tomato confit sundae

If you follow the Portland restaurant scene closely, you know that pop-ups are the next big thing. And if you follow this blog, you probably guessed that I would be all about that ish too (such a restaurant lemming... sorry not sorry).

I've been on Morgan St Theater's mailing list since I read about them in The Oregonian's pop-up roundup last June. Morgan St Theatre is a pop-up dessert club run by Jared Goodman that specializes in combining flights of nontraditional ice cream sundaes with storytelling and live music. Intriguing, right?

Each "performance" has a different theme and our night's was "It's My Party and I'll Make What I Want To"- essentially a compilation of Jared's favorite sundaes that he's made in the year since starting Morgan St Theater.

When we arrived at that night's venue, din din, we were greeted with a communal table set for 20, a live jazz duo, and a half dozen or so other guests who all already seemed to know each other. Let's just say it was not Doug's ideal scenario...

However, we were quickly made to feel more welcome by Jared who came over to introduce himself and explain a bit more about the night's proceedings. We would be served three different courses of ice cream sundaes with optional cocktail pairings. Jared would start each course with a short story that would provide some context for the dessert we would be trying. Mingling was encouraged as was taking the bartender up on his offer for a pre-dinner cocktail.

After choosing our seats and chatting with the other guests, it was finally time to get our ice cream sundae on. First up: Put a Bird on It made with wild huckleberry ice cream, buttermilk raspberry biscuit, lemon honey sauce, and huckleberry shrub. Everything on the plate was delicious but the lemon honey sauce was my favorite element. It was the perfect combination of tangy and sweet and if you force-fed me spoonfuls of it I wouldn't try to stop you.

That was paired with a Tennessee Orchard cocktail made with bourbon, campari, oregon cherry shrub, and soda. Yum.

Next up was Sofia made with watermelon sorbet, feta, basil oil, and cherry tomato confit. Doug and I agreed that this was hands down the most impressive dish of the night. It was very simple and refreshing,  and all the flavors paired perfectly together. Plus the cherry tomato confit was so rich and homey- you could just tell this sundae was made with lots of care and love.

Paired with Sofia was The Yakuza made with gin, garden herbs, ginger beer reduction, lemon, and honey.

Last up was Alma Mater, a peanut butter ice cream pie with chili chocolate brownie crust and cream. This was definitely the most traditional of the dishes we tried, but it still had that unique touch thanks to the chili in the brownie crust. Jared explained that it was inspired by Alma Chocolate's Thai peanut butter cups and I obviously need to try those immediately since Jared's take on them was so good.

That came with the Mucho Gusto made with rum, lemongrass-chili syrup, lime, "Don's mix", and Aztec chocolate bitters. The tiki feel of this cocktail paired well with the heat of the brownie crust.

We ended the night by paying by check and leaving a note in the comment box that was passed around.

Overall, we had an amazing time. The sundaes and cocktails were tasty and unique and the storytelling and live jazz added some extra pizzazz to the evening. And while chatting with strangers has never been Doug's or my strong suit and we definitely kept to ourselves more than some of the other guests, it was fun to be part of a communal experience.

Here's what Morgan St Theater has coming up in the next month:

Sunday, Oct 12- Sukkot: A Jewish Year in Ice Cream Sundaes

Thursday, Oct 23- A Night at the Opera

And if you want to join their mailing list, you can do that here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Portland Restaurant & Market: Prettyman's General

What: Coava Coffee
Where: 2631 SE Hawthorne Blvd
When: Weekdays 6am - 6pm, Weekends 8am - 6pm

When I work remotely (which is always...), there is a point in the day when it is so hard to focus at my house and I have to get out. I planned on lunch at Prettyman's General but they don't serve coffee, so first stop was next door's Coava Coffee. Just the caffeine boost I needed.

What: Prettyman's General
Where: 2637 SE Hawthorne Blvd
When: 11am - 11pm Daily
Honeys Heart: The vibe

Coffee in hand, I went to my final destination, which turned out to be the pretty much the cutest place. The little store has different spaces with couches, chairs, and a loungey vibe with specialty products, a small food menu, wine, and beer.

Too cute, right?

I settled in with the smoked steelhead (from Flying Fish Co. down the street) salad with kale, arugula, and a lemon dressing. The salad was fresh and there was a generous amount of fish!

Definitely a spot I would recommend spending some time in if you're looking for a change of scenery or an off-site lunch or drinks with co-workers or friends. 

Writing this makes me ready to go back, like tomorrow... 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Feast Portland 2014: Recap of the Sandwich Invitational

We were lucky enough to stuff ourselves silly at Feast's Sandwich Invitational last Thursday. (Big thank you to Doug for Katie's ticket and Feast for Kel's!) We also learned that "Yacht Rock" is a thing. So basically, it was a good night.

Of course at events like these, all the food is good. But since the Sandwich Invitational has the added fun of being a competition, we thought we'd share our rankings of the 14 sandwiches we tried.

#1 Marche's Moraccan Lamb Pockets

We're suckers for well-cooked lamb and Marche paired theirs beautifully with warm spices, harissa aioli and cilantro pesto. If we had room for seconds, we definitely would have gone back for another round of these.

#2 Kachka's Smoked Sprats

We are already big fans of Kachka and this open-faced sandwich with smoked sprats, egg, and sour cream on toast only reinforced our love for its unique Russian-inspired dishes. This sandwich also won the Judge's Choice award. Woot!

#3 Avec's Gyro

There is a turning point in the night where you're really full, but there is still 6 sandwiches to go and you're not slowing down. This crisis moment was made easier by Paul Kahan's "Return of the Gyro" with pork, eggplant, yogurt, "fun", fenugreek, and "flavor". We appreciated the description and the fresh herbs. 

#4 FT33's Fried Bologna and Pimento Cheese

Sometimes the simple ones are just so good. 

#5 Lardo's Pork Burger

This was the longest line of the night (challenged only by Salt and Straw) and the combo of pork, peaches, American cheese, and arugula was pretty delicious.

#6 Dustin Clark's Water Buffalo Short Rib Sandwich

This was our last sandwich of the night, aka it was at a major disadvantage because we were SO full, but it still ranks high on our list. The water buffalo short rib with sichuan picked cucumber sandwich was rich and mouth watering. We will definitely be hitting up Dustin's upcoming restaurant The Oddfellow Social.

#7 Nostrana's Smoked Lamb

Made with smoked lamb ham, crescenza (a soft Italian cheese), tomatoes, pepper cress, and onion relish on focaccia, this sandwich featured more traditional flavors and textures, but we appreciated some balance to the craziness that was happening at other stands.

#8 Empire State South's Pimento Grilled Cheese

Doug's love for Hugh Atcheson knows no bounds, but even he agreed with us that Hugh's pimento sandwich, though quite delicious in it's own right, was not quite as good as FT33's. 

#9 Salt and Straw's PBJ Sundae

Made of buttery bread topped with marionberry jam, vanilla custard ice cream, peanut butter whipped cream and homemade peanut butter Captain Crunch, this thing was good- but a major sugar bomb very much in danger of leaving you with a serious stomach ache. It was also a bit tame by Salt & Straw standards. That peanut butter whipped cream though...

#10  Bunk Sandwich's Duck & Foie Banh Mi

Far more flavorful than Chris Cosentino's meh take on foie banh mi (#13 below) plus the boys manning the station were having such a fun time that it made it hard not to enjoy this sandwich. 

#11 The Bent Brick's BBQ Goat Fry Bread

Ugh, the Bent Brick. They just keep making it SO hard to like them. They ran out of fry bread by the time we got there and while the meat was good... it really could have used some fry bread. Turns out they serve this, or something very similar, on their happy hour so we could have a second go at it...

#12 Broder's Gravlax on Rye

This was Doug's favorite dish but it just didn't do much for us.

#13 Cockscomb's Banh Mi

Doug and Katie loved Cosentino's beef tartare at last year's Night Market but felt iffy about their visit to his restaurant and as a group we felt even iffier about this not-so-noteworthy banh mi. Sad.

#14 Bar Avignon's Deconstructed Cubano

The best thing about a Cubano is all the flavors coming together in one delicious bite. When those ingredients are separated and you have to work to get them all in one bite... it just doesn't work.

Aside from the sandwiches, there was also plenty of beer from Widmer and wine from Columbia Crest Grand Estates, Erath, Hawks View Cellars, Northstar, and wine cocktails from Union Wine Company.

We may have also drank some straight vodka from Reyka Vodka. Apparently, when your stomach is unhappy from eating way too many sandwiches, it is more than fine to consume many different alcohols at once.

It's also recommended that you go to Kask afterward for a few more rounds. At least that's what we did...

Until next year! Cheers!