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Eaten, Barely Blogged: Fresh Seafood and Forgotten Chains of the Oregon Coast

local ocean trio

Because I enjoy generalizing and like seeing the world through my own experiences, I have no problem stating that Oregonians don’t really eat seafood. Not natives anyway. And Dungeness crab aside, local bounties don’t get their due either. You’ve probably had Washington oysters, maybe northern Californian (even in Seattle, some Humboldt Bay bivalves float their way onto menus) but do you even hear about Oregon oysters? I don’t. I don’t even know why.

mo's clam chowder

Regional chain Mo’s and its famous thick, buttery clam chowder is probably the only coastal restaurant with name recognition. And this treatment from the Sterns in Saveur a few years ago is the only food-focused article on the area that I can recall seeing in recent history. It’s strange how so much coastal food is overpriced and geriatric and ‘90s continental crusted in hazelnuts. I just wanted to eat fresh fish, which is how I ended up coercing my mom and stepdude 75 miles from where I was staying in Nehalem, and my sister and her husband (even after a decade, brother-in-law sounds weird) 120 miles from their base in Eugene to Local Ocean Seafoods in Lincoln City for a belated Christmas dinner. (Yep, it’s now April–I’m determined to rein 2016 back in.)

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Color Me Bad: Easter’s Most Wanted Purples

This ube ice cream sandwich (should really just start calling this Ube Patrol) currently at OddFellows Sandwich Shop was my pick for amazing purple edible thing of the week. A Danny Bowien/Sam Mason co-creation, it also includes coconut dulce de leche and shiso granola, and I want it.

But then Dallas BBQ posted a purple long island iced tea, and in its own typical lily-gilding fashion, adds a Peep, shot of rum, and upturned bottle of moscato. Wow?

Um, and there’s a Dallas BBQ just four blocks from OddFellows…

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Pizza, Pizza, Sushi, Himalayan and Not

pizzeria sirenetta arugula & prosciutto pizza

Pizzeria Sirenetta This is type of place–pizzas, pastas, snacks, all under $20–just taken for granted in so many neighborhoods. (A little less so in this more-desolate-than-you’d-think pocket of the Upper West Side.) I mean, it’s kind of boring. Also, I would kill for one. There just isn’t anywhere to get skinny linguine creamy with meyer lemon-spiked ricotta and sprinkled with micro-croutons or what I’ve decided is my favorite pizza, the perfect bitter/rich/salty combo of arugula and prosciutto. Instead of the little chocolate pudding freebie offered at the end of the other Mermaid restaurant meals, you will receive a tiny panna cotta with a droplet of balsamic vinegar.

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Screen Time: The Affair, Doll & Em, Transparent, Portlandia

From New York’s annual Best Of issue: Best 35th-Birthday Bar “Here’s a new one: ‘midlife millennial.’ That’s who Bryce David and his partners had in mind when they opened this bar and dance club, a spot for grown-ups who still want to rage but feel too old for the hangar-size dance bars like Output and Verboten.”

First off, no. Uh-uh. Millennials don’t get to start laying claim to middle age now too. I’m already bracing for an even Bigger Chill over the next decade.

Ok, just had to get that out of the way before playing catch up with some TV portrayals of elder women in bars.

the_affair (2)

The Affair: Helen is only drinking white wine alone in Brownstone Brooklyn because she got stood up by a Tinder date. “Tinder is more of a hookup site for millennials,” the server informs her, while suggesting Match.com because that’s where the divorcees hang out (hello, OurTime.com). It’s frightening to think I’d be roughly in the same dating pool as this character because I don’t look like Maura Tierney (51), own a home in Park Slope, or a housewares shop, and this probably goes a long way in explaining why I end up with 30 year olds with roommates not middle-aged salt-and-pepper drunk doctors, who hump you in the basement during a rainstorm while your kids are upstairs.

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Eaten, Barely Blogged: Seattle Side Trip

Almost always if someone outside the West Coast hears you’re from Portland, they assume you know everything about Seattle even though with 175 miles separating the two cites, that’s practically like conflating New York City with Baltimore. (Also, no one in Jackson Heights has ever heard of Oregon or Portland.) Prior to January, I’d only been to Seattle once in 1993 on an art school field trip where I used fudged work study money to buy a pair of John Fluevog flatforms, got my photo taken by tourists, and sipped not even second-wave coffee at some place called Puss-Puss Cafe before being driven back south by a charter bus.

Contemporary Seattle is…I’m not sure exactly. Definitely more mature than Portland, a little bland (seriously sad Tinder), a lot wet and outdoorsy, kind of like if a city could be the municipal embodiment of damp polar fleece. That said, there is also a lot of new, and a lot of it seems to have sprung-up close to where I was staying in Capitol Hill.

Capitol Hill Cider This is where I kicked off my final night of eating and drinking (my first night of three was a bust after barfing into an air sickness bag while waiting on a porch for an Airbnb host) a little before night truly began. At this cider-focused tavern with a Northwest bent, just a glass of Apple Outlaw’s Ginger Bite kind of because the gluten-free menu wasn’t my thing (nothing against bbq or tempura broccoli) but mostly because I had many more pit stops ahead of me.

bar melusine

Bar Melusine I eat a lot of happy hour oysters, often without paying much mind to origin. At Bar Melusine I was excited about two things: trying more than just the familiar kumamotos, and getting an eyeful of that mint green, marble, and brass scheme that’s like visual Xanax. With six oysters on offer, the kumamoto being the only non-Washington bivalve (and raising the question as to why you never encounter Oregon oysters), ordering a dozen was the perfect opportunity to try them all, with an Aquavit-based cocktail like the Fleet Wanderer. Supposedly ranked mildest to strongest (I did not agree): Kumamoto, Treasure Cove, Eld Inlet, Passage, Blue Pool, Hama Hama.

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Canlis

threeshovelThe only reason I went to Seattle at all was because it was–and is–cheaper to fly to from NYC than Portland where I ultimately ended up taking a Bolt Bus to because I’m all about luxury. Also, I had this minutely contrarian notion that Seattle is a more serious restaurant city than Portland, which I’m not sure is true. All I knew was that if I were going to Seattle with that mindset, I’d need to experience Canlis, a classic spread-out in a low-slung, mid-century building overlooking Lake Union with food that has morphed over a half-century into something highly regional and to be taken seriously, the latest incarnation circa summer 2015 being the work of chef Brady Williams, formerly of Roberta’s, a slightly unexpected shift from the special occasion restaurant with a piano player, and couples stationed side by side to take in the view from banquettes.

I don’t even know if Portland has a Canlis equivalent. I can’t recall ever seeing women dining in sequined sheath dresses, or even tattoo-sleeved youths–this is the Northwest, after all–in appropriately glam frocks, in my hometown

My original plan was to simply go by myself, despite no bar seating (the lounge was closed for renovations, but I’m not sure if it was ever for dining) but after my sister said she would be into coming up to Seattle from Eugene (and thankfully saving me the visit down there) I said I’d take her to dinner as a belated Christmas gift, the first time I’ve ever role-played the wealthy husband role. Even going the $100 four-course pick-and-choose prix-fixe route rather than a tasting menu and sticking to a sub-$100 bottle of wine (a small percentage of the voluminous list), a Walla Walla syrah from a producer I’m blanking on, this was a full-on splurge (those pre-dinner drinks and digestifs will get you).

canlis grid

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Langbaan

fourshovelI wouldn’t have expected one of my favorite, ok, maybe my total favorite, meal in Portland to be tough-reservation Thai, served just a few nights a week, across the street from the bar I used to frequent two decades ago with the boyfriend who was the age I will be in five months. Why not four shovels? That gif could use some airtime. 

langbaan grid

Langbaan is a pop-up of sorts, a side piece of PaaDee, with a theme that changes monthly. January, my month, was Central Thailand, which could’ve been boring potentially since that’s region most Thai restaurants in the US draw from. I’ve only been to Central Thailand, yet knowing myself I’m still going to say it’s my favorite, leaning sweet and rich with great balanced heat. It’s not like Langbaan was going to put out chopsticks and bowls of overly coconutty green curry with the option to substitute tofu. (If it were my show, I’d be a dick and make pad thai, a really awesome pad thai, but that would be more of an NYC move not Portland. Pad Thai is notably absent from PaaDee’s menu, as well.)

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#humblebrag

humblebrag

Bon Appétit’s March culture issue presents a full page of A-to-C action: “I Quit My Boring Job So I Could Make…”

Babies would be my answer if asked (no, I don’t have children) but whatever. It’s all well and good, not terribly upsetting or anything. The kimchi anecdote was my favorite, though.

kimchi

Buying a bodega in Queens is going to be my new response to any life goal-type questioning.

I can’t speak to Mama O’s, but I bought a jar of Mrs. Kim’s last week on Fresh Direct as a whim and I must concede that it’s 10x better than the grocery standard Kimchi Pride. Fresh and effervescent overall, lightly gingery, with a funky, beefy backbone. Sadly, not made in a bodega in Queens.

Eaten, Barely Blogged: More Ramen, Bhutanese Queso, Boat Noodles

ramen by mew

Ramen by MEW Maybe at a certain point even ramen obsessives (which I am not) give up on keeping tabs on every new option’s appearance. To me, they just blur together and I’m never going to click on the whichever best-of round-up emerges weekly. I know Ramen-Ya is the more lauded newish West Village shop but at Ramen by MEW you can just walk in and be slurping within seconds. The karamiso tonkotsu, melding earthy miso and chile heat with pork broth into an opaque orange brew, is seriously hefty. There’s no way that tuft of spinach can balance out that lovely slab of of fatty chasu porking-up the bowl even further.

Not terribly related, there was an unusually long reported piece in Tasting Table today about Japanese chains opening in the US, mostly in NYC with some focus on Portland, Oregon. The ramen’ed-out like me have udon-focused Tsurutontanto and standing-only Ikinari Steak to look forward to. Yes. 

A little related to the above, Portland’s Original Pancake House is opening in Hakata, its third Japan location.

ema datsi bhutan

Bhutanese Ema Datsi  Controversial blanket statement: I’m kind of indifferent to most Himalayan food, which is shameful since I live steps from  its New York epicenter. (Ok, I almost ordered delivery from Phayul the other night, but they have Sichuan leanings so it’s not all bland beef and starch.) But I got caught up in the spirit of neighborhood adventure–this unusual restaurant at the nexus of Woodside, Jackson Heights, and Elmhurst is the only place in the city serving Bhutanese food, after all–after some back and forth with someone who might turn out to be my last-ever NYC Tinder date (a development having nothing to do with this benign individual). I was fond of the namesake dish, ema datsi, in that it was like eating chili-studded queso with nutty red rice instead of chips. The confusing aspect was being warned about heat, specifically the soup that came with the sekam thali, akin to a milky seaweed-heavy miso broth, was baby palate mild. Maybe I’d just revved up my taste receptors too high, having come straight from Plant House Love (r.i.p. Queens location). Sekam, by the way, is practically Bhutanese chasu; thin, still-fatty, jerky-like strips of pork belly interspersed with daikon and rehydrated red chiles.

lots of memories but it’s time to move on

A photo posted by บ้านปลูกรัก/ ร้านลูก (@plantlovehouse) on

More unrelated-ness: with the recent defection of Biang! (and humble kin Xi’an long before) and Plant Love House to Prospect Heights, plus Bun-Ker’s expansion to Bushwick, there must be a Queens is the New (Old?) Something or Another trend piece to unpack. 

pata paplean nam tok

By the way, it’s not like you can’t still get petite servings of blood-enriched nam tok in Elmhurst. If you can work out Pata Paplean’s quirky hours, there will be a nice bowl of boat noodles in your future.


 

I Do(nut): Red Hot Red Lobster

cheddar bay mixThere’s likely a lame bae pun in this, but I’m just going to give the facts: Green Bay Packer James Jones proposed to his now-wife using Cheddar Bay Biscuits as a romantic foil, as one should.

I would’ve preferred the ring to be inserted into one of the baked goods rather than just placed in the basket. And now you know my preferences, if anyone was getting an idea or anything.