Monday, July 27, 2015

Home Run at Division Food Trucks with Pyro Pizza and The Dog House

Capping this week off with a fabulous food truck experience, Dan and I visited the Division St. food trucks this past Friday eve.  Never disappointed by their bounty, we were on the prowl for fresh wood fired pizza we noticed last time we were there.  

Pyro Pizza - Taking note of their fresh wood fired pizza oven and the beautiful, crusty pies they turn out, Dan and I had our eye on the prize.  It's great to see that the pizza is made to order, of course, so it takes a few minutes to cook but it's all worth it.  There's plenty of other things to get at nearby food carts that you can snack on in the meantime, which is what we did.

Fennel Sausage - Dan got us a fennel sausage pie to share and it more than delivered both on appearance and taste. Boasting a beautiful blistery crust and thoughtfully composed toppings of homemade tomato sauce, spicy local fennel sausage and thin slivers of red onion, the flavors in this pizza shone bright.  We loved how light and airy it was, the dough bejeweled with air bubbles that made it fluffy like a cloud, allowing us to eat lots of it.  In terms of portion size, it was perfect--filling us up but saving room for dessert at the same time.

The Dog House - Specializing in hot dogs, sliders and tater tots, The Dog House will tickle your comfort food bone and then some.  The tater tot offering is simply amazing, as besides the classics, you can top your tots with virtually anything from a fried egg to avocado.  Their creations offer up a new take on an old favorite, which is enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

Sweet Potato Tater Tots - Getting a side of sweet potato tater tots was a good idea, especially since they were homemade and double fried.  I loved the size of these things, as they offered up the perfect little bite and were highly poppable.  Biting into one revealed a bright orange middle, showing off some hand grated deliciousness.

Service and Cost:
As I already mentioned, both foods I just described were made to order and therefore entailed a bit of wait time, but it was all worth it.  It behooves you to stay close to both carts, as they shout people's names out when the food is ready, so you want to make sure you don't miss it.

Costs are affordable for both things and you can walk out of there full for under $20!

3 Mmmms

Pyro Pizza & Dog House PDX - SE 28th Avenue and Division Street, Portland OR 97202

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Off the Waffle is Off the Hook

Just this weekend, Dan and I drove over to SE Portland to finally cash in my free waffle winnings at Off the Waffle.  Entering their social media contest each week for nearly 6 months, persistence paid off, as I won a $10 gift certificate, which was almost good for 2 servings of waffles.  Overall, the experience far from disappointed and we'll certainly be back soon - especially after our new miniature arrival makes her debut.

Located on SE Clinton Street - one of my favorite locales in Portland - Off the Waffle is hard to miss, especially since it's situated diagonally across from the quirky Clinton Street Theater. There's a few other good restaurants and coffee haunts in the area that bring in a young 30 and 40 something crowd, including lots of families.

The interior is vibrant and welcoming, made up of a nice open dining room which is somewhat modest in size.  I recommend dining here on a nice day when you can score a table outside on their sidewalk or take a waffle to go.  A few convenient dining room touches include little napkin and utensil cubbies on the edge of each table, which avoid you using excess paper goods, therefore decreasing waste.

Something else that I have to call out is the bathroom experience.  Yes, the bathroom is equipped with a fully rotating disco ball and music to boot, making your visit to the loo that much more festive and memorable.

We knew why we came, as we were both in the mood for savory waffles.  In addition to the delicious waffles we ordered inside, they happened to be giving out free samples of their OG waffles outside the restaurant as well so we grabbed those too.

The Self Fulfilling Prophesy - Both of us gravitated to this sweet and savory combination of Off the Waffle's classic Liege waffles coupled with a sunny side up egg, lean bacon and a dose of real maple syrup.  I wasn't sure if the waffle would be too sweet for this combo, but it worked perfectly, reminding me of some of my favorite desserts mixed in with smoky bacon.  The latter was just perfect and they didn't skimp on it at all, Dan and I both observed.  A runny delicious organic egg on top sealed the deal for us, giving this already hearty meal extra richness.  

Service and Cost:
I'm happy to say that everyone at Off the Waffle was nothing but friendly, accommodating, super casual and efficient.  Dan and I were astounded by how quickly we got our food after ordering, and despite this, we didn't feel the least bit obligated to rush out.  Overall, it was lovely experience that I'd like to repeat soon.

Costs are affordable, and even more so for us since we had that handy gift card.  An average waffle however will set you back between $5.25 - $9.

3 Sweet and Savory Mmmms

Off the Waffle - 2601 SE Clinton Street, Portland OR 97202

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thai Peacock is Deliciously Comforting

Just the other day, my co-workers and I ventured over to the Thai Peacock for a lovely team lunch.  Not only was it close to our office, the food and drinks proved to be delicious and certainly a place I'd like to return to again soon.

Located on the corner of SW 9th Avenue and Oak Street, Thai Peacock is set amongst other notable food and drink heavy hitters such as Courier Coffee and Maurice.  Its corner location makes it perfect for outdoor dining as well and makes for some nice people watching, especially during lunchtime.

We sat inside for lunch, as it accommodated our larger group quite well, but word to the wise - you should make a reservation in advance.  While the interior isn't huge, it's charming and quaint and includes some pretty touches such as beautiful oak tables, maps of Thailand and a few snazzy light fixtures that help set the mood.  The vibe is a little trendy but still casual enough to come by with your buds or even that special someone.  So all in all - a very versatile place.

There's tons of delicious things to choose from for both lunch and dinner, but in terms of lunch specifically, there's a few specials that you can get for under $8 and the portions are generous.

Honeydew smoothie - I wanted to try something a little different to drink and went with the bright green honeydew smoothie you see above.  What really sold me on it were the tapioca balls that you see on the bottom that reminded me of the delicious bubble tea I used to get in NY's Chinatown.  The overall taste of this smoothie was milky, vibrant and not too sweet, which was appreciated.  As the ice melted, it tasted more and more like a tasty milkshake, and I'd be eager to try the other flavors too.

Kaeng Mamuang - A type of curry dish, this one incorporated fresh ingredients such as chunks of mango, bell peppers, peas, carrots and fresh basil.  It was a visually stunning plate of food that I also chose to have with some nicely cooked beef.  The curry powder used in this dish was pretty spicy, as it was the red kind, and a little hint for people with more sensitive palates is to get it mild or medium.  You'll still feel the spice that way, trust me.

Service and Cost:
I have absolutely no complaints about the service, and especially given our larger party which is usually a recipe for disaster.  While not all of our dishes were brought out at the same time, generally most of the meal's service went off without a hitch.

Costs are reasonable and for lunch will set you back anywhere between $8 - $13.50 for an entree and about $10 - $16 for dinner entrees.

3 Mmmms

Thai Peacock - 219 SW 9th Avenue, Portland OR 97205

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summery Fried Eggplant with Fresh Tomato Salad

Looking for a new way to prepare eggplant, I gained  inspiration for an eggplant layer dish through browsing through my Pinterest Healthy Eating board, only to create my own variation on an eggplant parm dish.  The medley you see above uses loads of fresh, local ingredients that made it very scrumptious and I also omitted the heavy dose of cheese that's commonly used in the classic version of the recipe.  With all of these tweaks, I created something I'm calling my Summery Fried Eggplant. Here's how you make it:

Fooditka's Summery Fried Eggplant 

Ingredients (serves 2)
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 - 1 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
1 egg white and 1/2 cup of water, whisked together until frothy
1 cup of gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1)
2 cups of fresh heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
1 tbs of red onion, sliced
1 tbs of fresh basil, chopped
Balsamic vinaigrette
Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Cut the eggplant into slices and then season with salt.  Let it sweat for about a half hour so it gets nice and tender.

Coat the eggplant in the flour, then the egg whites and finally the breadcrumbs.  Place into a hot skillet with olive oil and fry for about 5 minutes on each side.  Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Then, make the tomato salad by combining the tomatoes with the onions and basil.  Toss with a few splashes of the balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Then layer on top of the eggplant.

If you so wish, you can serve the eggplant on top of fresh pasta or gnocchi like I did.  It was really hearty and so delicious!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Best Pizza in Oregon (so far) is at Double Mountain Brewery

This past weekend, Dan and I took a little road trip to the Columbia River Gorge, which we haven't been to in a few months.  We missed our scenic road trips that we decided to visit the Vista House in Corbett and then drove another half hour east to Hood River.  There, we had our eye on the prize, which was trying out Double Mountain Brewery and their legendary pizza.


Located in the heart of Hood River, not far from the waterfront, Double Mountain Brewery
is a popular go-to spot for visitors and locals alike.  While the brewery isn't as scenic and spacious as Full Sail (also located in Hood River), its charm comes through in other ways.

You'll find both indoor and outdoor seating here and even on a scorcher of a day like last Saturday (temperatures hit almost 100 degrees), there were still people dining outside with their dogs.  The interior is extensive and offers both casual bar-side seating as well as more traditional tables, which we chose to occupy.  Even though there's a little bit of a wait during lunchtime, it moves pretty fast and we were pleasantly surprised to be seated just 10 minutes after putting our name on the list.

We knew why we came, which was of course for their famous pizza and this is exactly what we ordered.  Also observing the generous portion size, we knew that splitting one pie would be just enough to fill us up.

The Salami Pie - When we saw the word Olympic Provisions in the description of this pizza, we were so in!  As you see above, the whole thing was also generously sprinkled with fresh peppery arugula, which added a nice dose of earthiness to this hearty pie.  Dan asked to add a little bit of fresh mozzarella to this already delicious combo, which the staff was happy to accommodate.  The end result was spectacular and so memorable - from the blistery crust to the fresh tomato sauce and those magical salami slices.

Service and Cost:

More than impressed with the service, not only was our waiter quick, he was knowledgeable, pleasant and there when we needed him.  Even during a busy dining time, he was totally on the ball and we felt that everything from the time it took to bring out our pizza to refilling our water and beer glasses went off without a hitch.

Costs are moderate to a little expensive, but completely worth every penny for what you get.  The pizza set us back $20 which is a lot for a pie, but the portion is nice and large and even gave us a little bit to take home.

3 Mmmms

Double Mountain Brewery - 8 Fourth Street, Hood River Oregon 97031

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Monsoon Thai Goes Way Beyond Pad Thai

Excited to get my fix of comforting Thai food, Dan and I met new friends Danielle and Pat at Monsoon Thai last week on Mississippi Ave.  Truth is that I've passed by this place on many occasions without really noticing it, as it's not one of the modern, trendy restaurants that primarily occupy this neighborhood.  However, this is a good thing, I think, especially when it comes to Thai cuisine, making us look forward to our experience.

As I already hinted above, the ambiance at Monsoon is far from trendy and modern, but it's no dive either.  From the outside, it's pretty noticeable with a bright yellow facade and cheery signage.  In fact, I think it's quite fitting for an authentic Thai restaurant and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Inside, the dining room is spacious and I love that they have these large wooden booths that create nice privacy.  We chose this style of seating exactly for this reason and sat near the window which gave us a little view of Mississippi Ave.  Note - there are two entrances to the restaurant, one in the front and the other  off to the side where you can pick up your to-go orders.

While the menu is extensive, I'm happy to report that it's not overwhelmingly long, which made our choices easy.  We tried a little bit of everything - mixing both traditional staples with some new things as well.

Appetizers - Starting off with some deep fried tofu and fresh salad rolls was a good idea.  I love a nice piece of tofu and Monsoon's definitely delivered, as they weren't oily and went perfectly with the tangy peanut sauce.  The salad rolls were excellent too, stuffed with fresh vibrant veggies such as carrots, cucumbers and lettuce.  The latter was a great option if you're choosing to eat light.

Entrees - We each decided on a different entree and sampled each other's food, which was a fun way to go.  I went for the Thai Ginger stir fry dish with pork, Dan got the classic pad Thai with chicken, while our friends got other variations of these two dishes.  It was interesting to have a pork stir fry, as this isn't usually what I go for in a Thai restaurant but this was delicious.  The pork was tender and presented in bite sized pieces while the veggies in the dish such as shredded ginger, onions, mushrooms and bell peppers added nice freshness.

Dan's Pad Thai was also excellent - the noodles being a little tender but definitely not overcooked and coated in a slightly sweet and sour sauce that made your tastebuds dance.  The chicken that was mixed into the dish was nicely cooked as well and once again infused with great flavor from ingredients such as bean sprouts, green onions and once again the chunky peanut sauce.

Service and Cost:
We enjoyed really great service from start to finish.  As soon as we sat down, our waitress made sure our water cups were full and she came to check on us a few times before our friends arrived.  Once we ordered, it took just a few minutes to receive our food and the bill was easily expedited as well.

Costs are affordable and range between $4.95 - $10.95 for appetizers and $9.95 - $13.95 for entrees.  They also have great lunch specials for $7.95 for all entrees on the menu.

3 Mmmms

Monsoon Thai Cuisine -  4236 Mississippi Avenue, Portland OR 97217

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Homemade Chocolate Chunk Blondies FTW

I've been on a baking kick lately - mostly because there have been many occasions to bake for including the 4th of July, a few block parties and also just for the sake of sharing something yummy with others.  These gooey chocolate chunk blondies came about when thinking of something tasty, comforting and transportable to make for our neighbors who recently did something lovely for us.

Getting the recipe from Food Network's Ina Garten - the master of classic comfort food recipes - I thought they'd be welcome by adults and kids alike.  The recipe was relatively simple, but definitely uses lots of rich ingredients such as butter, sugar and generous amounts of chocolate.  While I skipped the walnuts in this case simply because I didn't have them and also because you never know who's allergic, I imagine it would give this dessert some nice texture and complexity.  

The whole thing took about a half an hour to put together and another half hour to bake - so overall not a huge investment.  Our neighbors seemed to appreciate them and commented on how heavenly they smelled.  I must agree that they did!

Chocolate Chunk Blondie Recipe, as adapted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa


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