Friday, September 19, 2008

A Princess & Slave Birthday at TableTalkPortland

Well, besides food there is one thing we get REALLY excited about at TableTalk Portland and that is our birthdays! Our mother ingrained in us that birthdays are a very serious event and on the day you must surround yourself with great food, friends, and experiences. So, I recently celebrated my birthday in TableTalk style!

Jen and I had done a Birthday Eve celebration at Alu (review coming soon) in rockstar style.

Birthday morning was a little tough, because I typically make it a policy never to work on my birthday, but this year was an exception because I am totally out of vacation. So, I made a brief appearance at work, was crowned Princess, ate eclairs, received a bottle of Veuve Cliquot and headed to Castagna for my birthday lunch. Chef Elias called to say they were going to prepare a special lunch in honor of my big day (we sort of have an inside connection ;)).

Of course I had to wear my crown!
In our family a birthday means that your siblings have to do whatever you ask of them and with a smile... so it was so much fun to have Jen be my slave for the day... so after she shined my crown and sunglasses our dishes arrived. Of course when it is your birthday in our family, Executive Chef Elias brings the dishes to your table.

Boquerones and chilled mussels...


Agnolotti... which I obviously couldn't contain myself over...

Foie gras with slightly underripe nectarines tossed with Muscat on housemade brioche...

Then I made my slave Jen ask our classically handsome waiter Eli to make us a root beer float...

I was really excited about my birthday root beer float...


Slave Jen clearly wasn't having as much fun as me...

To brighten her day I let her know that I would need her to chauffeur me to my spa appointment and she needed to call and confirm it! Her birthday is coming up and I know I will pay dearly as her slave! After I made Slave girl pay the bill, I told her to go home and make my fresh whipped cream and banana chocolate cake for my party and then pick me up after my massage and soak... I love my birthday!

For the party, we decided to keep it simple by ordering pizza from Hammy's , which is my new favorite pizza from a place that delivers. (The great thing about Hammy's besides their thin crust pizza is that they will deliver a movie with your pizza!)

There is just about one thing we love as much as our birthday and that is singing karaoke at our birthday party, and singing Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart is "Our Thing." So, instead of boring you with more talk about my birthday... I thought the best way to get a good feel for a TableTalkPortland birthday is to let you be lulled by the sounds of Total Eclipse of the Heart (PLEASE NOTE THIS IS THE RATED PG-13 VERSION DUE TO OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE) and pictures of my great day!


video

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bunny War is ON!

A few months ago, Jen thought it would be funny to buy all of Freddy Meyer's old chocolate Easter bunnies for twenty-five cents each and while I was sleeping put them all over my car and yard (click here to read the post). She then sent me the following cryptic text, "Peter and his babies are so cold, sis. Let them in!" I then had to go out in the freezing cold in my pajamas and pick up all of the bunnies, so the neighbors wouldn't think I was a total freak. I am sure Jen thought I would just either eat the chocolate (it was waxy, cheap chocolate-totally not French) or toss it in the trash, but I have always had a plan for the waxy bunnies- REVENGE.

The time for revenge surfaced the other night when Jen said she was at a friend's house and was just too tired to go to Alu with the BF and me. How BORING!! The BF had the genius idea that we could liberate Jen from her BORINGNESS by doorbell ditching her... it was then I had an epiphany- BUNNY REVENGE. We dusted off the waxy chocolate bunnies and then proceeded to put them all over her car and friend's yard.



I think our favorite part of the night was after sending Jen the same cryptic email, we circled around the block just in time to see her scurrying to pick all the waxy easter bunnies up. The BF and I decided that we must celebrate our success over some bubbly, so we headed over to my new favorite bar Alu.

Bunny War on Sis!


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ramble On: Beaker & Flask and James John Cafe

Just a warning: this post contains a lot of information and jumps around faster than a Hi-C saturated kindergartner playing hopscotch. Skip to the bottom if all you want is the synopsis..

It's getting hot in here, so take off all your fur.

Portland's bar scene is as hot right now as my vintage "pre-air-conditioning"-era Northwest apartment on a sweltering summer night. Every time we're out and about it seems that yet another hip new watering hole has thrown open its silver butterfly door, and is casting a siren song of meticulously-crafted house cocktails and highly-evolved 'bar food' to our more than willing ears. Glowing reviews and accolades for Portland's finest mixologists from national, regional and local press continue to accumulate like empty shot glasses 'round the Ouzo bottle at our family's Big Fat Greek Thanksgiving. It's a fine time to be a bit of a lush in Stumptown. I said a bit of a lush. We don't want Mom to worry.



Michelle and I have been doing our best to keep up with the flow of spirits, frantically making the rounds and falling in love with a new bar every night, er, weekend this summer...first it was Kir, then Bar Avignon, then Alu (stay tuned for our posting on this little gem, with its magic front door and patio cat named Get Lost)...anyway, you get the picture.


But what we're really frothing at the mouth for is Beaker & Flask, which will open soon at 720 SE Sandy, just a short wobble from the likes of Simpatica Dining Hall, Doug Fir, Le Pigeon, & Biwa. Owner Kevin Ludwig has some pretty impressive credentials-he used to be at Park Kitchen and is currently bar manager at our beloved Clyde Common, and he helped found the Oregon Bartending Guild.

{Let us digress for a moment: the OBG has put together a veritable Prom Court of PDX Food 'n Drink royalty for their super-cool Bar-Chef cocktail class tomorrow at Carlyle restaurant, pairing a few of the city's bestest chefs with the city's bestest bartenders in a quest to demonstrate how kitchen techniques can be shaken 'n stirred and poured in a cocktail glass. Each dream duo--think Vitaly Paley (Paley's Place) & Daniel Shoemaker (Teardrop Lounge), Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon) & Kevin Ludwig (duh, have you even been READING this post?!), Scott Dolich (Park Kitchen) & Neil Kopplin (Carlyle), Jenn Louis (Lincoln) & Lance Mayhew (50 Plates), Jake Martin (Carlyle) & Jamie McBain (Park Kitchen)--has to present "a single cocktail based on collaborative design." The class, which is open to the public, will be held from 4-7 pm tomorrow, Sunday, 9/14, at Carlyle on NW Thurman, and costs $50. For more info go to www.oregonbarguild.org.}

Anyway, we are super excited about Beaker & Flask, and not just because we LOVE the name. Come on, we're not that shallow. Okay, we admit we can be pretty shallow, but seriously, Beaker & Flask has got some significant substance behind it.


According to his easy-to-read blog (beakerandflask.com/blog) Kevin is bringing in Lance Mayhew of 50 Plates to bartend, along with Tim Davey as "Spirit Sommelier"...hmmm...nice title. We first met Tim when he was behind the bar at Castagna, but he is now at Clyde Common, where he poured us what seemed like endless glasses of rose-ay this past Monday night. Tim, or Timmy as he graciously let us squeal at him all night, is our absolute favorite red-headed bartender ever and the man who poured the infamous shot heard 'round TableTalkPortland...the night we held our supper club event Table For Twelve at Castagna for the Asparagus Dinner, Special Correspondent April and I got a little bored waiting in the dining room for the first course and thought it might be a marvelous idea to slip into the Cafe and get a Lemon Drop to help pass the time. Timmy took soooo long making it ;) that Michelle realized we were up to no good and rampaged in, nearly ripping my little ear off as she dragged us both back into dinner and berated me for being a disgustingly negligent hostess (next time I will be sure to invite EVERYONE to the bar for a shot, Sis!). So thanks much for that Timmy. We still love you, though.

It was just one little shot.

Eeek! Michelle was so mad!

Kevin has also hired his friend Ben Bettinger as Beaker & Flask's chef. We were curious about this Ben Bettinger fellow, who used to be sous chef at Paley's and is currently the chef at coffeehouse-cum-dining destination James John Cafe in St. John's (8527 N. Lombard, 503. 285.4930), so we made reservations for one of James John Cafe's Sunday Dinners. Usually held (obviously) on Sunday, next week's is going to be on Saturday evening because Ben is presiding over a Rum Dinner hosted by Timmy at Clyde Common Sunday night, if you must know. Dinners are four courses and $30, what a deal!

Kevin & Ben: Gastronomically gifted, and easy on the eyes too! 
(photo lifted from the Portland Tribune, hope that's ok!)

Kevin also has a few interesting cocktail recipes on his blog, offering a glimpse of what is sure to be a stellar drink list at Beaker & Flask. We're feeling parched just thinking about it. The Joe McCarthy's Ghost is a mix of Calvados, Creme de Violette, and Lucid absinthe, and there's a recipe for The English Picnic, an amazing-sounding watermelon & tonic drink--watermelon vodka, watermelon puree, and tonic syrup. The posting comes complete with a recipe for homemade tonic water, which we're fascinated by. Homespun tonic water, which we were humbly introduced to at Teardrop Lounge, is INFINITELY better than Schweppes.

Okay, well I've managed to somewhat write off my teensy little hangover, so I guess I'll go make a ham sandwich now. If you've managed to make it to the end of this posting (Ramble On, so goes my favorite Led Zeppelin song), I just wanted to say thank for reading TableTalkPortland. And Michelle eats big green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts! (Just checking your attention span, Sis!)

A Quick Summary, for the ADHD among us:
1. Beaker & Flask is opening soon. This is very exciting. Visit beakerandflask.com for more info.
2. If you like cocktails and chefs and mixing the two, go to the Oregon Bartenders Guild's Bar-Chef class at Carlyle tomorrow.
3. Come try soon-to-be chef at Beaker & Flask Ben Bettinger's Sunday Dinner at the James John Cafe next weekend. We'll be there.

--J

Friday, September 12, 2008

Northwest Chocolate Festival is Here!


There are few things we love more than chocolate here at TableTalkPortland. Champagne, maybe. Friends and family...weeelll, let's just say it's a close contest. (Just kidding guys! Really!) So we are pretty excited about the Northwest Chocolate Festival, which kicks off tonight with a Wine & Chocolate Tasting that will highlight single origin chocolates and small Pacific Northwest vineyard wines, and continues through the weekend with a delicious schedule of workshops, guided tastings, presentations, panels, classes and demonstrations. Click HERE to see the entire schedule.

Passes for the whole weekend are only $60 and include entry to all daytime events as well as tonight's wine & chocolate tasting and tomorrow's Gala Celebration. If you like to be tucked into bed early (boring!) you can get an All-Day Pass that covers your entry to any events held during the day on Saturday and Sunday for a mere $20. Buy passes or tickets HERE.

If, like us, you spent nearly your whole allowance on Prosecco and marcona almonds last night at Alu, for only $10 you can attend the Chocolate Gala Celebration and NW Regional Chocolate Competition tomorrow night at 7 pm, at the Gerding Theatre in the Armory Building in the Pearl. The Gala will include live music, guest chocolatiers, regional chefs, wine & beer, a chocolate competition, a dance-a-thon (!), and maybe most exciting of all, chocolate fountains. We love chocolate fountains. It reminds of us of how when we were little, all we wanted to be when we grew up was one of the Oompa Loompas that got to tend Willy Wonka's chocolate waterfall. That didn't work out so well, but a kid can dream.

For the full Northwest Chocolate Festival schedule and to buy passes or tickets, click HERE, or go to www.nwchocolatefestival.com. Be sure to come up and say hi tomorrow night at the Gala. You know where to find us--we'll be hugging the chocolate fountain all evening.

-J

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jen Found the Perfect Man

Everyone knows that finding your soul mate can be as difficult as pulling the bones out of a sardine. So call me the luckiest girl in the world.

Meet Marsden. We met at M Bar's (NW 21st & NW Flanders) daily 6-8 pm happy hour, over $3 glasses of Cristalino cava. It was love at first drool.


Marsden is a dream. He is handsome, well-mannered, in possession of a very healthy appetite (critical for a food loving girl such as myself), and he is a snappy dresser.


What can I say? I'm in love.

-J

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jen's Dinner is So Fast!


Inspired by the lunch menu at Golden Horse Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown,


Jen tries to catch her dinner. Dinner is so fast! 



Monday, September 8, 2008

Table For Twelve at Bar Avignon: The “Jen, Michelle & Brigitte Bardot the Poodle Don't Get Fat" Edition


It's Michelle's birthday and she'll cry if she wants to... and she WILL if you don't come with us to Bar Avignon.

Autumn is in the air, which has caused a slight stir here at TableTalkPortland. Mildly concerned about the effect of the impending rainy season on our waistlines, Michelle and I reread "French Women Don't Get Fat" last week, which is a nice book for people who don't like conventional diets, you know, the kind that tell you to go to the gym and stop eating 10 pounds of chocolate a day. What?! Sacré Bleu! While we both enjoyed the book, we've had different responses. I spent an afternoon pretending to be French, which means I tied a Chanel scarf (faux) around my neck, and sat in a park drinking Cremant d'Alsace and eating marionberry macaroons whilst keeping a sharp eye out for any super hot monsieurs to practice my, um, French on.

Michelle on the other hand, decided she was French, and has been driving everyone at TableTalkPortland headquarters insane--sashaying around the office dressed in vintage Christian Dior gowns, smoking Gauloises and blowing croissant-shaped smoke rings, "reading" the French edition of Vogue, playing Edith Piaf's incessant warbling nonstop on the Victrola, addressing everyone in supercilious pidgin French (if she calls me mon chou, "my cabbage," one more time I'm going to lose it), and of course, she's adopted an alabaster poofball of a poodle named Brigitte Bardot. Thank goodness An American in Paris jammed in the DVD player or there might have been a mutiny.

We've tried to no avail to remind Michelle that she lives in Portland, not France, but once Michelle has an idea in her head, she does not do it half-derriere. And since it was Michelle's birthday this past Friday, we are going to humor her by taking her and Brigitte Bardot the Poodle to Bar Avignon, one of the newest and most exciting additions to the local bar scene. Bar Avignon occupies a cozy, classy space on SE Division & SE 22nd (across from Nuestra Cocina), and features a nicely rounded wine and cocktail list as well as some very tasty small plates. We hope you will join us, mon chous, for Table For Twelve at Bar Avignon: The "Jen, Michelle & Brigitte Bardot the Poodle Don't Get Fat" Edition!

Details, Details
When: Wednesday, Sept. 10, 7 pm
Where: Bar Avignon, 2138 SE Division
Why: Because Michelle won't quit being French, and it was her birthday Friday and she's really old now so we're humoring her
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: Via email to tabletalkportland@gmail.com.

See you at the table,

Jen & Michelle
http://www.tabletalkportland.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 1, 2008

La Calaca Comelona: BYOTC (Bring Your Own Tortilla Chips)

A few weeks ago when Jen and I were soaking in my hot tub full of ice to save ourselves from the heatwave, we were trying to decide where to take our Table for Twelve dinner. We were thinking ice cold margaritas and beautiful patios and that led us to La Calaca Comolona, a small Mexican restaurant on Belmont with a gigantic patio. Of course when the day came to go to La Calaca Comolona, there was a monsoon and it was freezing, so we all had to sit inside and try to get cozy while drinking freezing drinks.

For those of you who have never been to a Table for Twelve (shame on you), we do a survey after the dinner of all of our guests and then I use the surveys to write my review. Guests are asked to rate certain aspects of the meal/dining experience by giving a rating of 1 to 5 bottles of champagne with 5 being the best. A few of our diners have been getting up in my grid (yes grid- not grill) about not posting the overall results. So from now on you will get the average results! The survey results of our dinner at La Calaca Comolona are...

As you can see the ratings were quite good and the overall rating was a 4.3! The only major complaint in the comments was that there was no tortilla chips and Jessica complained that she didn't know it was a BYOTC (Bring Your Own Tortilla Chips) party. (This excludes the comment Jen made that the only improvement needed was for me to wipe the pooh face look off my face.) It is not like they were out of chips, they never have them. They do serve salsa with their house made tortillas, which are absolutely wonderful, but I think some of our guests were craving a salty, crunch! To get over it, quite a few sipped on a Paraiso ($7), which has coconut rum and white rum, with orange, cranberry and pineapple juice... it tasted like summer and everyone at the table was raving about it.

I am not sure if it was the monsoon outside or the lack of tortilla chips or Jen's pooh face, but we were definitely a feisty, loud, food-sharing bunch. I couldn't quite capture the essence of the evening in words (it would have been a novel), so I decided to capture it with pictures and music...

video

-M

La Calaca Comolona * 2304 SE Belmont* dinner served Monday - Saturday 5:30 to close* Reservation Accepted* BYOTC