Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Figuelle Sandwich is Born

Michelle and I had an argument tonight over what to name our beautiful and tasty new sandwich, developed right here in the TableTalkPortland test kitchen. I wanted to name it the Figuette, she wanted to name it the Michelle.

The Figuelle is an ethereal combination of fresh Mission figs, cut and layered with slices of Brie on a Ken's Artisan Bakery Parisian baguette that has been slathered with soft creamy Gorgonzola dolce (translation: sweet gorgonzola), the kinder gentler version of gorgonzola that will win over even most blue cheese skeptics with its mild flavor.

So simple, so good. Go make a Figuelle of your own and eat it slowly on the front porch, relishing the last few weeks of summer.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Amelie and Olivier Martinez Make Us Le Happy

We enjoy being American as much as the next…well, American, but we cannot tell a lie: Sometimes we wish we were French. The lyrical language, the utter and complete devotion to beautiful food and wine, the passion for arguing about pretty much anything, the deep-rooted affection for sidewalk cafes and boulangeries, the effortless fashion sense and style, the joie de vivre…we could go on and on.

I’d checked out French Women Don’t Get Fat at the library this morning, and while living on Magical Leek Soup for a weekend didn’t sound so fun, reading author and Veuve Clicquot*champagne house queen Mireille Guiliano’s sweet little non-diet diet book inspired me to set out to find a bit of Paris tonight.

First stop, Le Happy, the creperie whose darling sunburst-colored façade brightens the deafeningly noisy, sooty stretch of NW 16th that squats beneath the 405 between NW Lovejoy and NW Marshall. We slipped in at 5:45 pm, in the midst of the Le Happy Happy Hour—which spans from 5-7 pm, very humane hours for 9-5ers, and includes $1 off speciality cocktails and beer and one of the city’s most famous happy hour unions: the Le Trash Blanc-- a buckwheat crepe clasping melted cheddar studded with super salty smoky spectacular bacon and a Pabst Blue Ribbon is only $5.50 ($4 without the PBR if you prefer something a little more sophisticated from Le Happy’s wine or specialty cocktail list).

We all shared a L'Epinard salad—crisp leaves of fresh spinach delicately dressed in tart lemon vinaigrette, mixed with plentiful chunks of tangy gorgonzola, and sweet dried cranberries, and nearly obscured by a cloak of slivered toasted hazelnuts ($6.50).

Our only complaint was that the salad was mounded so high on the small plate that it kept spilling over onto the table, making us look like we basically had the table manners of le two-year-old. Especially Reatha, whose trail of hazelnuts leading the way from the plate to her mouth rivaled Hansel and Gretels breadcrumb trail. (haha, just kidding Reatha! I made a Le funny!)

Erin’s a vegetarian (okay she eats prawns sometimes), and not a fan of arranged food marriages, so she bypassed the predetermined Le Happy crepes listed on the menu and built her own with goat cheese and Le Happy’s deliciously creamy and flavorful cremini mushroom sauce, which also fills their fun and tasty Faux Vegan crepe along with spinach, creme fraiche and goat cheese ($8).

Le Happy lets you customize your crepe by charging $2.50 for a buckwheat crepe and then a certain price-- ie, goat cheese is $3, ham is $2, cilantro is 50 cents--for whatever you want to wrap in it. Olivier Martinez is not one of the options on the menu, sorry.

Mon Dieu! Venez-vous Le Happy pour Happy Hour souvent?!
My God! Do you come to Le Happy for Happy Hour often?

Reatha, who recently visited Provence, ordered Ma Provence--roasted chicken, thyme, garlic, tomato, green onion, gruyere and goat cheese. There was a lot going on, but the flavors melded well.

We were all on Le Wagon tonight, which seriously, I know, is trés un-French and Mireille Giuliano would be trés completely disgusted, and I really have no explanation for our behavior so let's just forget about it okay? But I did peruse the drink menu to see what I was missing, and found that it had a nicely rounded selection of Rouge and Blanc wines by the glass, including wines from California, Spain, Italy, France, and Oregon. All wines were reasonably priced between $6 and $9 a glass. All were available by the bottle as well, and priced between $22 and $45. 

Le Happy offers a list of specialty cocktails, a handful of bottled beers, and has Mirror Pond Pale Ale ($3.50) and Pilsner Urquell ($3.50) on tap. You can also order a few unusual liqueurs, such as Amarula, a South African fruit cream liqueur ($6), Nocello, an Italian walnut liqueur ($8) and Belle de Brillet, a pear cognac from France ($9). There is, most appropriately, a French sparkling apple cider (alcoholic) on the menu, the 2005 Bordelet Poire Sydre Doux ($7), which in my experience smells and tastes faintly of old socks, but is nonethless very pleasant and reminds me of sitting in a tiny café last summer in Bayeux, a small town in Normandy, washing down ham and gruyere galettes with earthen cups filled with this traditional Norman beverage while writing notes about my trip (ie: Have escaped Mother, finally. How many cathedrals can one country have? Why does this cider smell faintly of old socks?)

After our satisfying savory crepes dinner we ordered a sweet crepe to share for dessert, and although at Le Happy you can get your dessert crepe with everything from Nutella and bananas (Nutella Banane, $6) to Olivier Martinez and marmalade flambe (Le Good Time, priceless), I mean, Grand Marnier and marmalade flambe (Suzette, $9) we opted for the simple but delicious Strawberry Chocolat--fresh strawberries, chocolate, and whipped cream ($7). As long as I’m writing about it, I might as well get it off my chest that I wish there would have been twice as much chocolate in the Strawberry Chocolat, but it was still magnifique.

Let me switch to my native language (no, it is not Pig Latin or Moronese, I don’t care what Michelle told you) to explain how I feel about the Le Happy décor. I love it! Bordeaux-red walls covered in eclectic art work, fake flowers, small figurines, all manner of friendly kitsch. Big solid dark wood tables like you imagine grandmémé would have in her French farmhouse kitchen, dim lighting playfully twinkling off a huge disco ball in the center of the restaurant. Old photo booth pictures in the bathroom (BYO next time). Board games aplenty if you are planning to stay a while, the foursome next to us was fighting over whether to play Candyland or Yahtzee. By the way, I kick Le Booty at Yahtzee if you ever want to play.

We couldn’t linger though, although I was itching to school everyone with my uncanny knack for rolling Yahtzee. Because we’d lingered too long licking the strands of chocolate sauce off the plate and trying to pay with francs, we were late to our movie, which perhaps predictably, was Amelie! What, you say? Amelie, the cleverly written and beautifully filmed story featuring Audrey Tatou as an introverted and highly imaginative Parisian waitress with the best of intentions and the darkest of soul-filled eyes, is not still in theatres?! It came out in 2001!?! Jeez, I am getting so old! 

Fun Fact: Amelie's French title is "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain" ("The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain")

Yes, yes, this is all true, but if you are in the know about Broadway Metroplex's Independent Film Revival Flashback Feature series, occurring every Monday night through November 3rd, you too would have been in line for Amelie, playing at 7:30 pm for a paltry $5. I was so excited to see my favorite French movie I almost peed Les Pantalones! Just ask Erin and Reatha, who got a little embarrassed when I kept asking people on the streetcar, “Are we there yet?!” In French. Or what I felt it would sound like in French, since the only thing I actually know how to say in French is "On va chez toi ou chez moi, Olivier?" (Your place or mine, Olivier?)

I was sure you’d all be jealous that you didn’t get to see Amelie too, so I included a picture of the movie, most appropriately during the part where Amelie herself is at the movies. It’s kind of dark, but I guess that helps you feel like you were there, because movie theatres are dark places.

And that concludes my tale of finding a little bit of Paris right here in Portland. If you will excuse me, I will resume my reading of French Women Don’t Get Fat...yet another stellar reason to be French.


*By the way, my birthday is in October and I like champagne a lot.

Le Happy * www.lehappy.com * 1011 NW 16th Avenue * M-Th 5pm - 1am, F 5pm - 2:30am, Sa 6pm - 2:30am, Closed Sunday * 503.226.1258 * yes, yummy crepes, no, Olivier Martinez won't serve them wearing nothing but le loincloth

Friday, August 15, 2008

Table For Twelve at La Calaca Comelona

    Jen has been having great success with her new Wine & Fruit Diet!

Table For Twelve at La Calaca Comelona: The "It's Too Darn Hot, Even For a Hungry Skeleton" Edition

Michelle and I are currently battling today's soaring temperatures in the best way we know how. By eating Otter Pops while being dipped in liquid nitrogen!

Just kidding, actually Michelle went to Freddy Meyer on her lunch break and opened all the freezer doors and stood in front of them until an irritated employee chased her off, whereupon she headed over to the dairy aisle and laid atop the cheese, and is kicking her legs briskly at anyone who tries to interfere. Hope nobody's dead bent on making fondue tonight!

And because Michelle is not home, I have snuck into her backyard, filled her hot tub with ice, turned up great American composer Cole Porter's catchy tune "Too Darn Hot" on her stereo, and mixed up a batch of blackberry margaritas, which I am dribbling all over her brand-new copy of Star magazine while I lounge in my ingenious new "cold tub." (haha!)

Speaking of margaritas, we are taking Table For Twelve to La Calaca Comelona (the Hungry Skeleton) on SE Belmont Wednesday night! We plan to commandeer their lovely patio and their supply of chilly housemade margaritas and ice cold Coronas, while celebrating what's left of our long lazy summer evenings hungry-skeleton style. Whatever that is...it sounds fun, though. We plan to nosh on fresh guacamole with cilantro and serrano chiles, red snapper empanadas, prawns cooked with garlic and chipotle, pork cooked in banana leaves and achiote sauce, and the perfect complement to my new blackberry margarita fetish--the blackberry mole made with a million kinds of peppers and served with chicken, pear, rice and tortillas.

If talk of all that hot spicy Mexican food is making you sweat even more, don't worry, we'll have an icy margarita waiting for you Wednesday night at the Table For Twelve at La Calaca Comelona: The "It's Too Darn Hot, Even For a Hungry Skeleton" Edition. We hope you are not Too Darn Hot to join us!

Details, Details

When: Wednesday, August 20, 7 pm...or earlier if you want to come help us fight the good fight to take over La Calaca Comelona's patio, which is occupied on a "first come first serve" basis. Jen plans to get there at 2 pm with her flask of tequila and an iPod full of Cole Porter and Mariachi Vargas tunes. She will share...her music, that is.

Where: The patio of La Calaca Comelona Restaurante Mexicano, 2304 SE Belmont. Yes, the PATIO. We intend to triumph over La Calaca Comelona's "no reservations for the patio" policy!

Why: Because you can beat the heat with us by imbibing icy margaritas on La Calaca Comelona's PATIO , and eat spicy good Mexican food with fun people and hungry skeletons...what better way to spend a summer evening?

What: Table For Twelve is Jen & Michelle's earnest attempt to cultivate convivial consumption among Portland food lovers and food curious alike. What does that mean? Beats us! But if you can't beat them, join them, we always say! So join us at Table For Twelve, it's the coolest supper club around! To find out more about Table For Twelve click HERE.

RSVP: by e-mailing us at tabletalkportland@gmail.com. The intern will answer your e-mails as soon as he is done making us a Spongebob Squarepants piñata to bat around on the PATIO after dinner.

See you at the table,
Jen and Michelle

What is Table For Twelve?

A few of our readers have been asking about how our super fun supper club Table For Twelve works exactly, so here you go....

Table For Twelve is Jen & Michelle's earnest attempt to cultivate convivial consumption among Portland food lovers and food curious alike. What does that mean? Beats us, we just love using big fancy words! Just kidding, what it means is that approximately every two weeks (this can vary depending on various factors: Michelle's frequent jet-setting, Jen's laziness in writing the damn INVITE ALREADY, etc etc), we reserve a table for 12 at different restaurants around town, send an email about it to our mailing list, and the first 12 people to respond come to dinner with us. Maybe you love haute cuisine, maybe you're more of a food cart person, maybe you just like to meet new people, no matter...join us! 

The mechanics are pretty simple: show up to dinner on time, bring cash, keep track of what you order, pay what you owe when the bill comes, join us for a post-dinner cocktail somewhere nearby (that part is optional), and enjoy yourself enormously. See? So simple!

If you have any further questions, feel free to read our 10 Commandments of Table For Twelve, listed below. If you still have questions or if you want to be on our mailing list, e-mail tabletalkportland@gmail.com and the TableTalkPortland intern will answer them as soon as he's done with the dishes.

1. Table For Twelve is put on by TableTalkPortland.com, a food review and discussion website, thus be aware that thy food-related table chatter and photograph may end up on the blog/website/TableTalkPortland YouTube channel.

2. Thou shalt be punctual for Table For Twelve, and if catastrophe should occur, thou shalt call the restaurant and ask them to inform us of your plight.

3. Thou shalt bring cash to cover your portion of the check (to avoid frazzling the server with 12 separate methods of payment).

4. Honor thy waitstaff with a friendly demeanor and positive attitude and please tip 18-20 percent, provided the service is worthy.

5. Thou shalt embrace the convivial vibe of Table For Twelve and be willing to share thy food with others. Thus, thou shalt not have communicable diseases.

6. Remember to have an open mind about unfamiliar cuisine and food preparations. In other words, try not to gag when Michelle orders sweetbreads.

7. If thou must cancel on us (BOO!) for some cataclysmic reason, thou shalt provide at least 24 hours notice or risk exclusion from future Table For Twelve events.

8. Thou shalt not be a fuss-budget, loud-mouth, potty-mouth, picky eater, gelato hater, non-drinker, or vegan. Just kidding. Sort of.

9. Thou shalt read TableTalkPortland.com and TableTalkPortland.blogspot.com religiously, and pass the good word to others.

10. And most importantly, thou shalt have a marvelous time eating, drinking and being merry with other fantastic food-lovers!

We hope to see you at the table!
Jen & Michelle

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Little Bloggers Who Could: WAR DIALING French Laundry

At 0900 this morning, Michelle completely interrupted the TableTalkPortland team's normal morning routines with a top secret missive. Since I can't keep a secret to save my life (oh my gosh, NEVER tell me what kind of baby you are having, in my excitement I will accidentally tell your mother, who didn't actually even know you were pregnant), I'll share it with you. 


We have an important mission today, probably the most important in our lives.

We must secure a reservation at the French Laundry.

Your Mission
At exactly 9:45 you will begin dialing 707.944.2380.
If you get a busy signal, you will hang up and keep dialing until you get through.
If you should break through the busy fortress and actually speak to a human being then you are to attempt to secure a reservation for 2 on August 28th for lunch or dinner under the alias Brian or Michelle. If you are told they are completely full then ask to be put on the waiting list and leave this number 503.xxx.xxxx.
If you should get through make sure that you text your fellow comrades to cease and desist.
I will send a message for the War Dialing to begin at 0945.

We will be successful,

Captain Michelle

Naturally this urgent message raised a lot of questions. What do we do if we have to go to the bathroom or require a snack mid-mission? What if Thomas Keller himself answers and we get tongue-tied and blow it? And why does Michelle get to be captain?

I can't answer all these questions for you. But I can release the TableTalkPortland French Laundry WAR DIALING DIARIES--which consists of this morning's genuine TableTalkPortland team e-mails, text communications and snapshots--to tell our story. In case you are wondering what war dialing is, it is when you have three (or more) people calling at the same time on your behalf to get a reservation at French Laundry. See, they only have three lines, so theoretically if you can capture them all, holding all the other billion phone line invaders at bay, reservation victory will belong to at least one of you. It seems very simple. 

The TableTalkPortland French Laundry War Dialing Diaries

0931 JEN: Princess Captain Michelle,
I am ready to do battle with the infamous French Laundry reservation system. I've had six cups of Stumptown (organic French Roast, if you must know) and my determination levels are at an all time high. I want you to know I am taking a break from my Tuesday morning home spa ritual to undertake this crucial mission. That is what sisters are for. Godspeed to you all.

0932 BRIAN W.: I love it! Where is my war paint?
0933 JEN: Use coffee grounds! Hurry up!
0934 BRIAN W: Don't rush me. Gareth of Wales is ready with his phone too.

0937 MICHELLE: Troops, As we get closer I must remind you to be safe, don't press down to hard on the phone keys, you must protect yourselves! Also, take a picture of yourselves so that I have an initial locate as to your whereabouts. Bless you all.
0939 BRIAN W.: Ur all nuts.
0940 JEN: Brian! Quit complaining and put your headband on already!
0940 BRIAN W.: O-k! I am not sure if i should wear the rainbow headband or the cream colored waffle stitch.
0941 JEN: maybe the rainbow one.
0941 SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT APRIL: Special Correspondent April reporting for duty! On a 25-mile run but able to perform war dialing duties as requested!

0941 BRIAN P.: Brian P here! Sir! Yes Sir!....Sorry I meant Princess! Yes Princess!  I have received my instructions, my shoes have been shined and my suit and tie ready for eating. Wait ....correction Princess.... no reservation.
Prepared to dial. 2 Phones secured. Private location secured. Friend covering for me. No time.... must go. Fire Fire Fire...again...again...Never back down....never stop..... 

0942 JEN: Princess Captain Michelle,
I am a little scared! I am eating my new favorite chocolate, L' Artigiano di Gardini Finissimo al latte al Sale Dolce de Cervia e Olio Brisighello (which can be purchased at Cacao), to calm my jittery nerves. My hands are shaking, but maybe it was all the coffee. What if Thomas Keller himself answers and I become flustered and accidentally proposition him instead of making your reservation? This mission is fraught with peril. 

0943 MICHELLE: Send an email if you get past the busy signal...
1 Minute and counting... phones up
AIM and FIRE!! GO!



0946 MICHELLE :, It is a mind game Jen... he is doing it to make you break. Just focus on the goal! keep calling.. there reservation office opens at 10, but the lines get jammed right before! 

0947 JEN:Princess Captain Michelle, we talked about this! "Their reservation office..." Jeezus.
0948 MICHELLE: Don't question rank or i will have you thrown in the stocks
0950 MICHELLE: no
0950 JEN: But I am hungry now.

0951 BRIAN W: I got past the Busy signal but there reservation line opens at 10 am.....Did you try Open table?
0952 JEN: Yes! Michelle tried Open Table already! Don't you read TableTalkPortland!! And can none of you SPELL?
0953 MICHELLE: you have to keep dialing because right before 10 they turn it on and no one can get in! Open table has only 4 tops and only 2 of them.
0954 BRIAN W: Get the 4 tops...find some friends there! This busy signal is driving me crazy. 
0954 JEN: What busy signal?
0954 MICHELLE: are you not getting a busy signal?
0955 JEN: no
0956 MICHELLE: are you dialing the right number?
0957 JEN: Yes, what do you think I am, an idiot?
0957 MICHELLE: you said it
0957 JEN: I quit this mission. I am going to go make a ham sandwich.
0958 MICHELLE: Mom said never be a quitter... 5 more minutes
0958 JEN: but i have a terrible hankering for a ham sandwich!
0959  SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT APRIL: Not having any luck here, but have burned 4 million calories! 

0959 JEN: that's a lot of ham sandwiches. maybe I should be running too.
0959 MICHELLE: troops, at 1008 we will retreat and try again later
1000 JEN: i am playing eye of the tiger for inspiration!
1000 BRIAN W: I am playing Broadway's Best!
1001 MICHELLE: good idea, don't give up troops we are almost there! push through this and we will be successful!
1002 JEN: my ear hurts. can't we hire a flock of monkeys to do this?
1008 MICHELLE :well troops, should we pull back and go for a sneak attack at 2?
1008 JEN: Whatever you say Princess Captain Michelle! I am going to go make a ham sandwich.
1009 MICHELLE: Ok... RETREAT... I will see you all at 2 

1010 JEN: Good work troops. This day will live in infamy. Or something like that.
1011 BRIAN W: pooper. 2 pm it is- Jen are you taking me to Breakfast?? Lunch?
1012 JEN: No. I have to remove my NARS mud mask, and then I have to write all day. I am trying to finish my memoirs.
1013 MICHELLE: Good Try troops... Don't look at this as a failure... Look at it as training!
1045 BRIAN P: Did someone say retreat? Just a second--let me tell my admin to stop calling.

1130 BRIAN W: I can't stop calling...still busy!
1135 MICHELLE: Cease and desist! I got through! I am on a $*#*$# list! My next thing is to email Thomas Keller and try to get one of his private tables. Thanks for all of your help! 

1137 BRIAN W: Yeah. The poop list or wait list?
1138 MICHELLE: poop. just kidding. wait list. i am on my way. we are 5th and 6th on the waiting list.
1139 BRIAN P: Did someone say poop? am i still supposed to be calling?  

1140 JEN: That's fantastic news sis! We are an amazing team here at TableTalkPortland! now we just have to hope that everyone ahead of you on the list and two already scheduled diners swim with the fishes! i mean, i hope they make other plans, maybe at Cyrus!
1142 BRIAN W: I am celebrating for you. 

1142 SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT APRIL: Me too! And I earned this drink, dammit.

1142 JEN: me three! what a day at TableTalkPortland!

And there you have it. TableTalkPortland's first attempt to secure a reservation for Michelle and Brian P at French Laundry was a semi-success. But Michelle won't be satisfied until she is sitting at a table Thursday night.

Stay Tuned.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Whirlwind TableTalkPortland Weekend

What a weekend! Sure, I say that every weekend, but seriously, it was quite a weekend here at tabletalkportland.com. First Thursday, Bite of Oregon, Farmer's Market, Toro Bravo...it's all kind of a blur. Fortunately, I took lots of pictures.

First stop, the Pearl District's Teardrop Lounge for First Thursday.  Heather and Patrick secured the big booth in the corner for our relaxed sipping pleasure, and we all piled in--Michael, Patrick, Heather, Bradley, me, Michelle, and Teardrop Executive Chef Alyssa Graff. 

It was Sake Sangria night for me--Teardrop makes fantastic sangria with sake, fresh seasonal fruit (peaches and blueberries this particular night), brandy and spices. At $6 a glass, it's the best bargain on the cocktail menu. And if you happen to make it in during happy hour (4-7 pm), it's only $4 a glass. 

We'd neglected to eat dinner, so Michelle ordered the lamb meatballs,  

and the Panzanella salad--chunks of crispy brioche, fresh tomatoes and cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, tender pieces of mozzarella, a chiffonade of basil, olive oil and vinegar. Delicious.

Then we moved on to the Everett Station Lofts for a courtyard art party. Our friends Fabian and Mary Anna (who was singing at the party, hear her lovely voice HERE) were hosting a mojito party in their loft. Fabian has a distinct mojito-making style, which involves cutting up tons of limes with a very big knife and a maniacal grin.

Fabian kindly provided his Quick 'n Easy mojito recipe, which uses 7Up in place of simple syrup and soda water to streamline the mojito-making process. He also puts lime zest in his mojitos, which releases essential lime oils into the drink for an extra punch of citrus.

Fabian's Mojito Recipe
Juice and zest of 5 limes
4 liters of 7Up
1 bottle rum, "quality dependent on quality of your guests"
Crushed ice

Mix above ingredients in a big pot. Crush ice with a cast iron skillet and fill cups, then ladle mixture into them. So easy! So good!

After all those mojitos Thursday night, it is understandable that I was a little late to my Friday morning volunteer shift at Bite of Oregon, Portland's annual Waterfront culinary festival benefitting Special Olympics. Leigh, Erin and I were in charge of selling commemorative 25th Bite of Oregon Anniversary Riedel wineglasses to festival patrons.
It was a very hard job, but somebody had to do it. 

After our shift, we browsed the booths. Hip Chicks Do Wine was there, and we tasted a few of their wines, including the Bad Birl Blanc and the Riot Girl Rose. 

I'm a big fan of Hip Chick's sassy labels. I believe I will get this particular one for Michelle for her upcoming birthday (September 5). Don't tell her please. She doesn't actually read my postings so I am safe telling you my plan. 

Leigh and Erin took their pictures with the Thomas Kemper root beer models. 

After our grueling day at Bite of Oregon, we met up with Mom and Dad, who were in town for the weekend, for happy hour at Bluehour. We sat next to Bruce Carey! Oh my!

The drink of the day was Sparkling Sangria! Mom liked it very much!

We also shared a few appetizers off Bluehour's phenomenal happy hour menu, including the Portabella mushroom brushchetta.

Feeling in need of dessert, we headed to Fenouil for a flight of Italian digestifs

and a delectable peach tarte tatin.

Saturday morning Michelle and I were at our 8:15 am Taste the Place volunteer job at the stroke of 8:37 am, and after buying roughly 10 pounds of Gathering Together Farm's beautiful eggplant, we were soon frying up thin strips of eggplant to woo the eggplant skeptical and delight the eggplant loving. We used the family Fried Eggplant recipe. Slice eggplant thinly (a quarter inch works) then dredge in flour and pan fry in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkling lightly with garlic salt, until golden and crispy on both sides. See, so simple! 

Michelle was very bossy today and quite frightening wielding her big eggplant slicing knife. "Cut faster! Dredge faster! Dance, I SAID DANCE!" she snarled. "I do not wish to dance," I informed my cantankerous kitchen tyrant of a sister, slapping her with a slice of undredged eggplant.

After a brief flour fight and a few good wallops with the frying spatula, we settled our differences.

Saturday night we raced the clock to get to Toro Bravo at 4:55 pm, just in time to slip into the looooong line of hungry patrons hopeful of making the 5 pm seating. Thankfully we just made the cut, while the unlucky sods who didn't were forced to sit out the first seating in Toro Bravo's skinny little waiting closet. To soothe our nerves, Dad and I had Blackberry Pimm's.

Mom dishes out the Singing Pig greens salad,

we gobbled up crispy little Manchego and paprika fritters with spicy pico de gallo

and the superb lamb with apricot and coriander.

Michelle had coffee and we shared the sweet-salty chocolate almonds for dessert.

Sunday morning was breakfast at Junior's on SE 12th Street. I like Junior's very much. It is tiny, with sparkly gold vinyl booths and walls filled with mirrors clasped in gilded frames. The pictures on the back wall are crooked, which made Mom dizzy, and I could see she was itching to straighten them, but really, I think they are intentionally crooked just to panic the obsessive compulsive, which is rather amusing. 

However, there were a few things about Junior's Cafe that were NOT amusing.
They were:
-out of spoons (we're living in a spoonless world for the next few minutes, says the server)
-out of all freshly baked goods (you'll just have to use your imagination, says the server)
-out of Nutella toast (we're out of Nutella, says the server rather unapologetically. huh? what?! who runs out of Nutella??????????!!!!!!!!)
-low on menus (you want one to keep? forever? we're short, but maybe next time, says the server)

Despite all the shortages, breakfast was very good. I'd love to tell you all the details, but I couldn't keep my menu and my memory is poor. I will try though. 

Mom had the Migas  scramble--three fresh free-range antibiotic free eggs, green chiles, jalapenos, tomatoes, chorizo, salty goat's cheese and lots of yummy fresh cilantro, served with fresh fruit in lieu of potatoes ($3 extra) and whole grain toast.

Dad had the basic eggs 'n bacon. "It's not fancy, but it's good," he growled when I accused him of being an unadventurous breakfast eater.

I had the maple smoked ham, brie, and leeks breakfast sandwich on whole grain bread. It was like a very nice grilled cheese sandwich, although I thought it could have benefited from some sort of spread to give it a little more flavor. But maybe the lack of Nutella in my system was just making me surly. 

I guess I know where I got my love for jam. Thanks Mom. 

And that's about it, folks. Hope your weekend was fabulous too.