I couldn't help myself. I admit, it was an impulse buy but it's spring and I wanted strawberries. So despite Evan's coos to "wait for Oregon strawberries," I went ahead and bought them. Two lovely containers of beautiful, juicy organic California strawberries came home with me this afternoon so I decided to whip up a strawberry dip that just can't be beat, at least not in our home.
The Best Dang Strawberry Dip
8 oz organic whipping cream
3 oz softened organic cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Using a hand mixer, Kitchenaid, or your bodacious guns, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add room temperature cream cheese and continue mixing. Add sugar, almond extract, and cinnamon. Dip away.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 6:35 PM
As we continue our search for the perfect location I cannot help but think of the Philip Eastman book my mother used to read to me, "Are You my Mother?" You remember the story; the one with the baby bird who falls from his nest and ventures on a quest to find his real mother? Each time a realtor unlocks the door I find myself feeling a little lost but remaining hopeful, the inside of me asking, "Are you my restaurant?"
Today our quest lead us to an end cap located on NE 60th and Glisan. The area is technically in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, an area we love, and is also close to Mt. Tabor. From what we understand the landlord has done some extensive storefront improvements. Painted red brick with a built in planter box outside (I immediately envision snake grass) and large expansive windows create an inviting entrance. The end-cap space actually shares two ADA bathrooms with the retail space next door which happens to also be vacant. We asked the realtor about the possibility of widening the common doorway to allow easier access to both spaces and she seemed to think it would work. Combined the two retail spaces equal approximately 2500 sq. feet, the perfect amount of space for what we would be trying to accomplish. And so the observing and scrutinizing began...
The first space was perfect. Today was the first day in Portland that actually felt like Spring and for the first time in days the sunlight was able to escape the clouds. We were delighted to see how much natural light the two windows provided throughout the space and became even more delighted when we saw that one wall was in completely covered in exposed brick. I'm not sure why but I have always had a thing for exposed brick, I find it both masculine and comforting. When the realtor said possible TI (tenant improvements) could include hardwood floors I was ready to sign the lease right then and there. Nevertheless, the space was simply too small by itself which of course forced us to look into the idea of adding the second retail space into the lease agreement.
The second space was less impressive and consequently carried a better price tag. Nondescript and seemingly lifeless, I mentioned to Evan that we could easily close off part of it to make an office for ourselves. But in the end it was clear that the only highlight of the second space aside from additional sq. footage was that it had access to the first space. Also appealing was the unfinished basement down below- the perfect possibility for dry storage.
All in all we were quite intrigued with NE 60th and Glisan. Our only major concern was the lack of parking around the area. Unless we made an arrangement with the building next door, there are only three parking spaces available in the provided lot. While many of the locations we've looked at lack a lot all together, for some reason when a lot does exist but in a completely pathetic way, it makes me ask, "why even bother?" rather than appreciate its existence at all.
And so we return home, not sure if we've found our "mother" or not. We are forced to ask ourselves these practical questions:
1. Does this building draw you enough to stop and eat here?
2. Would you be willing to eat here even if you had to park 1/2 block away?
3. Does the second space make you want to curl up and die or is there something you can do to make it work?
4. Who lives in this community? Are they walkers, bikers, public transportation commuters?
5. What can we do to make a positive contribution to this community? What services are lacking or could be improved upon?
6. How long do we wait until we make a proposal?
7. What TIs could we ask for from the landlord that won't scare him away?
We like the space but do we love it? Maybe she is our mother- busted parking lot and all. Or perhaps she's just some distant relative that merely bares a resemblance.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:53 PM
A few weeks back, while reading about the local restaurant scene via portlandfoodanddrink.com, I stumbled upon a menu posting that caught my attention: a waffle with "whipped cream cheese with real vanilla and a touch of sweetness. Served with organic strawberry or raspberry jam. Our 'regulars’ favorite."
I immediately had two questions: Where was this FlavourSpot and how come I'm not one of their "regulars"?!?!?
"Guess where we're going for breakfast?!" I called to Evan who was in the other room.
"Where?” He shouted back.
He immediately got the joke, or at least thought he got the joke. Our local Videorama happened to house an incredibly sad looking purple coffee cart that touted itself for its $1 coffee, and was oftentimes the butt of several inside jokes between the two of us. Evan, a self-proclaimed coffee snob would NEVER think to drink coffee that only cost a dollar. Well, that's not true. It would be more fair to say he would never drink $1 coffee and promote the product.
Convinced I was jerking his chain, he thought nothing more of my declaration.
"I’m serious Man, we're going."
'What the hell are you talking about?" he is still in the other room.
"It's changed ownership. Or at least I think it has. It's definitely had a change in menu," I continue trying...Evan is still preoccupied. "It's now serving waffle sandwiches."
I got him. He enters the room.
He was amazed at what he saw. A delicious menu from a place located in our neighborhood, one created by new young independent restaurateurs. We leash the dog and begin the trek. Our local video store and consequently this cart is only a 15 minute walk from our home, a blessing and a curse we are only now beginning to reap the benefits of. It didn't take long for us to realize that the sad little coffee cart had a significant face-lift and was now a creative and thriving new business.
David Stokamer and Jon Erikson have managed to attract an incredibly devoted local following by serving some of the tastiest waffles we've ever had. Committed to quality their menu boasts seasonal, local, and organic ingredients, satisfying flavour profiles, and a no-nonsense approach to good food and good coffee. Their business spares no expense when it comes to the quality of their operation. All of their coffee drinks are prepared with organic milk (no xtra charge for soy), and made with two freshly extracted shots of Portland Roasting espresso. Their waffle selection runs the full gamut: vegan, sweet, and savory. Picture tangy lemon curd, honey whipped with cinnamon, maple veggie sausage, ham and gouda, Nutella with all natural creamy peanut butter, and even an ice cream waffle sandwich. Nuff said. Guests may wait at the counter or sit at the picnic bench enjoying the provided NY Times or the complimentary wi-fi. And the whole $1 coffee thing? Based on principal. Dave insists people should be able to get a coffee for a buck. Not only that but he'll serve it to you with organic creamer, an act that defys rationality and seems to shout "to hell with a standard mark-up on the cost of food." Needless to say we like this guy. We like this guy a lot.
The FlavourSpot has undoubtedly become our new breakfast Spot and we’ve enjoyed getting to know and supporting these top-notch guys. Having spent the last four mornings out of six there we are honored to say we proudly promote $1 coffee and we have now earned the right to wear the coveted title of Regular.
N. Lomard between Denver and Greely in the Videorama parking lot
UPDATE! FlvourSpot has a second location!
Corner of N Mississippi and Fremont
Posted by Ali and Evan at 3:57 PM
The Mock Crest Blue Plate Special
The Ultimate Burger.
Mock Crest home patty, tomato, red onion, fire-roasted sweet peppers, grilled shitake mushrooms, avocado, organic mixed baby greens, gorgonzola cheese, on Dave’s Killer Good Seed
Oven roasted broccoli tossed in extra virgin olive oil and sea salt
Salt ‘n’ Pepper Fries
Alexia’s organic seasoned crinkle fries
LTD Full Sail Ale
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:31 PM
Twenty thousand dollars. The number floored us both. We knew that these systems cost a lot of money, but neither one of us imagined that purchasing and installing a Class 1 hood/ventilation system would set us back this much. Fortunately for us we know people who have been through this process, and we were learning of this grotesque figure now while we are still in the planning stage, rather than further down the line when we are trying desperately to stretch every penny we have. Twenty thousand dollars! Neither of us was quite sure what to make of this number, but we knew that we would have to seek other alternatives. Lucky for us once again, our knowledgeable friend had a suggestion that might possibly be the answer to our newest hurdle: go electric.
It seemed simple…
If gas range = hood, and hood = $20,000, then no gas range must = no hood, which in turn should = $0 spent towards a ventilation system. We thought it over for a while, trying to come up with a reason why this new idea would not work. It didn’t take long before we both realized that our friend might be on to something. An all electric commercial kitchen could prove very functional, while simultaneously lowering our start-up costs. Without disclosing too much about our menu we can tell you that we do not plan to serve any items which necessitate sauté, which in turn negates our need for gas power. The newest question: Could we build a totally electric commercial kitchen?
As soon as we returned home we untagged the Wolf ranges from our ‘bookmarks’ and began researching electric commercial restaurant equipment. Much to our delight we found that not only was there a great selection of electric equipment on the market, creating an all electric kitchen could save us money in addition to that which we would save by not having to purchase and install a hood.
On to the next question: What impact would an electric kitchen have on the environment? This one was hard to gauge. Since we first conceptualized our restaurant we have always imagined that we would make efforts towards being environmentally sustainable, both in our construction and throughout our day to day operations. Relying solely on electricity is certainly not the greenest way to power a restaurant. However, we realized that in effort to offset our potential electrical gluttony we could purchase electricity that has been generated through wind power.
The more we thought about it the more it began to appear as though it would work. Locally grown seasonal ingredients highlight our menu, and we believe that many of these ingredients speak for themselves when it comes to flavor. The intention of our recipes is to emphasize the many wonderful qualities already inherent in the foods we cook with. And with the right equipment, we think we will be able to do just that.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:19 PM
While we were in
So in the beginning, Evan and I began to think about Our Context. We wanted to know everything we possibly could about our restaurant. We had to ask questions like, what do we Taste like? Answer: Local farmer’s markets. And, what do we Smell like? Answer: Melting cheeses on crusty artisan bread, a perfectly extracted espresso shot, cinnamon & sugar dusted on fresh baked pastries. What do we Sound like? Friends chatting, co-workers gossiping, laptops buzzing, families recounting, foodies munching, commuters slurping, a community rising. What do we Feel like? A breath of fresh air, an overstuffed sofa, a home cooked meal, the perfect fit.
Many of these questions were easy to answer. Quite simply, we set out to create a space we would want to eat in, a place we would later coin as our “Spot.” A place of productivity and assembly, a gallery of art and music, a place where the seating is inviting, a place where the food is inventive and indulgent without being so fancy that you can't scurry back to the office to scarf down your lunch, a place where the staff is genuine and fulfilled, where the menu options are endless, a place that emanates warmth, security, possibility, and delectability. That is our context.
But other questions still remain; questions that do not rely on a context, but a location. There are spaces and gaps in my mind regarding the physicality of our space. Are our floors made of concrete that we will perfectly stain ourselves one sunny afternoon; or are they old hardwoods that we’ll learn to map and navigate across, seeking out the squeaks new and old? Does our neighborhood have a community garden full of fruits and vegetables we will incorporate into the menu; or is the neighborhood full of bustling citizens, busy shopping and working while simultaneously seeking a nourishing refuge? Does our space have large expansive windows up front, perfect for counter-seating and people watching; or exaggerated skylights perfect for catching the resonance of
If context is the beginning of the journey then location shall be our middle. In my dreams I take an ad out in the paper:
Smart, fresh, hospitable Context seeks ideal Location for relaxation, hearty meals, creative endeavors, intelligent conversation, and convenience. Serious inquiries ONLY.
Part of me is dying to ask Evan, “Are you sure we just can’t get a realtor?” And then the other part of me knows I want to be there to feel It, the visceral reaction I’m confident I will have when we find the Spot. Unfortunately I’ve had the It feeling plenty of times only to have my prospect brutally trampled upon when we learn of the price per square foot, or when we hear the space “has just been leased to someone else.” A frustrating process, but nonetheless an irrefutably necessary one. Given our disenchantment my father recently suggested we look for a mobile food cart instead. A place where we could make our own hours, seek out new parts of the city, continue traveling at our leisure, and of course the obvious: be less likely to fall upon the path of failure. I know this suggestion was made out of love and concern but I also I know without consideration that Green & Green does not belong in a food cart. At least not this Green & Green.
The risk of failure is of course something that plagues many minds around us, understandably of course. I cannot even recall the countless number of times I’ve been reminded of the statistic that 80% of restaurants fail in their first year. Trust us, we know. We have worked long enough in this industry to see the hopes and dreams of friends and loved ones titter on the edge plenty of times, their fates dependent upon minuscule details, or cost inflation, a change in ownership, or a lousy review. And although all don’t make it I passionately ascertain that the effort alone made it worth it. That is, the drive and love that became an obsession that caused the attempt in the first place is a noble one, one that should be admired given its established risk; one that can be explained as simply as, “because I need to at least try.”
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:53 PM
Wilted Spinach Salad
Organic baby spinach leaves, red onion, sliced navel orange segments, matchstick bell pepper, and avocado tossed in warm honey sesame vinaigrette
PDX meets Genovese Pizza
Whole wheat pizza dough, homemade pesto with lemon zest, roasted garlic and onion jam, fire-roasted yellow and red peppers, shitake mushrooms, and chevre cheese.
2001 Abacela Tempernillo
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:12 PM
Based on a suggestion from a respected fellow blogger Evan and I are determined to make sweet potato barbeque chips for the restaurant. However, the oven down at the coast is nearly twenty years old, and is a difficult tool to work with when trying to bake the perfect chip. Thus our quest to find the ideal Green & Green oven is underway, and the initial part of our search has given us both an acute case of oven envy. So many different makes, models, and designs, all functioning with different combinations of high speed impinged hot air, microwaves, infrared heating elements, water, gas, and electricity. For now we will work with what we have, but our dreams will be filled with ovens that can roast fourteen pound chickens in 3 minutes, bake crème brule in 45 seconds, and steam asparagus in 50 seconds.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 5:40 PM
Exactly one year ago Ali and I were both working other jobs, while at the same time preparing to open a booth at the Saturday Portland Farmers Market. The farmers market was not originally something we set out to do, but rather an idea that was first suggested to us by Monica, a friend of my mother and the owner of Monica’s Market Gourmet, an amazing booth/catering company specializing in tarts and other baked goods. Monica had heard that Ali and I had hopes of opening our own restaurant, and suggested that the farmers market could be a good place for us to get our feet wet.
The experiences we had at the market surpassed our expectations. We built a clientele, became comfortable with our craft, and had a lot of fun along the way. In addition, we had the great fortune of being able to work side by side with some amazing culinary talents. Mike Martinez, who ran the Perfect Day Burrito stand next to our booth, recently opened Encanto, a New Mexican restaurant located in
Next door to Mike was Pinestate Biscuits, owned and operated by Waltar Alexander, Kevin Atchley and Brian Synder. In effort to bring the flavors of the southeastern
The recent opening of Mike’s restaurant, as well as the impending opening of a Pinestate Biscuit location have given Ali and myself a great deal of inspiration for our own endeavor. Excited and proud of the different paths we have chosen, we will surely miss working next to such kind and creative people. With the beginning of the Market Season only weeks away, we are already feeling the withdrawal knowing we won’t be there. In attempt to suppress our cravings Ali and I decided to make a Southwestern inspired scramble and homemade buttermilk biscuits for breakfast this morning; an homage to Mike and the guys from Pinestate. Many thanks to Monica, Mike and the Biscuit Boys for your guidance, your friendship, and your support.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 4:01 PM
Ali and I decided late last night that we would spend every moment of the following day working on things related to the restaurant. One can imagine the sense of irony we felt when the clouds began to break early this morning, and the
I knew very little about coffee prior to working at New Seasons, though I had always enjoyed drinking it. When the opportunity arose to pick up some hours in the espresso/pastry area of my store I jumped at the chance, eager to learn something I knew very little about. Before working in that department of the store I first had to attend a Barista 101 course taught at the Stumptown Roastery on Southeast Division. There I learned where and how coffee is grown, trade policy, how it is roasted, and lastly, how to make really good coffee. I coveted the training experience I had at the roastery, and after I returned to New Seasons I continued to seek ‘the truth’ from the folks at Stumptown, calling them on the phone any time I had a question about coffee making or thought I could improve upon my existing technique. I became a self-declared ‘coffee snob.’ A month after my initial training I discovered I would only drink coffee that was made by someone who I thought was consciously attempting to make it well, which in effect limited my consumption to that which I made myself, and a small number of coffee shops around the city. The coffee from ‘the other guys’ simply didn’t taste as good. Over time it started to become apparent to me how subtle differences in coffee making technique can completely transform the overall taste of a drink. Important details such as the grind, quality of water used, temperature of the shot glass, and the speed of the pour all must be performed correctly in order to coax the desired flavors and aromas from the bean.
My obsession lasted for months, until the day I accepted a new job within the company that took me out from behind the La Marzocco. As time passed my coffee consumption decreased, I began to relax my exclusive policy of only drinking coffee made by experienced baristas (I even went so far as drinking an iced latte every once in while). I began to reject the notion that everything I drank had to be gourmet, and embraced the fact that I am somebody who obsesses over details, and not everybody feels the same as I do about the importance of good coffee making technique. I know that people can make very tasty coffee without knowing everything about what they are doing. Still, I remain a firm believer in the notion that a good combination of know-how and a little love help to bring out the best qualities in a product.
For example, during our recent travels to
A lover of good coffee, and having never tasted fresh roasted cacao, I bought a pound of each the day we flew back home to
My recipe for the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my life:
3 tablespoon fresh ground cacao
¾ cup hot water (45 seconds post boiling)
½ cup hot milk
1 tablespoon sugar
Brew the cacao in a French Press for 4 minutes (break the crust, or top layer of the grounds after 1 minute to ensure that all the grounds get moist). Pour into your favorite mug, and mix in hot milk (or soy milk), and sugar. Slurp slowly.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:49 PM
According to the calendar spring is less than two weeks away, but today on the Oregon Coast winter showed itself in the form of strong winds and heavy rain. In effort to keep us warm indoors Ali put together a spicy bean soup that is undoubtedly worthy of an encore. The soup was hearty, made from a vegetable and tomato base, it had cannellini beans, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, onion, carrot, celery, broccoli, zucchini, garlic, parmesan rind, spices, and salt, and pepper. And to balance it all out, oven toasted foccacia and gorgonzola with a honey drizzle…yum.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:01 PM
Last week Ali was struck with inspiration, and decided that house made potato chips would have to be a staple on the Green & Green menu. We have spent the better part of the day chipping away at the list of recipes we earlier compiled, and narrowed down our first round of tests to four different flavors. Ali cooked the first two batches, a sea salt and rosemary concoction, and the second flavor, a mixture of cracked pepper, garlic, and lemon zest. The latter was our favorite of the two, though both recipes exceeded our expectations. The lemon zest really complimented the spice from the fresh cracked pepper and garlic…
For test batches three and four we made a parmesan and black pepper potato chip, as well as a sweet potato chip tossed in cinnamon, sugar, ginger, and fresh lemon juice. The parmesan recipe was spot on, the parmigiano reggiano making for a very rustic nutty experience. If we had to name a weakest chip out of the bunch we tried today it would probably be the sweet potato. The flavor combination made for a lovely sweet tasting chip, but we feel that something more savory would be a better fit with the rest of our menu. Next up: barbeque.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 2:49 PM
Evan and I love to travel. In fact today on our way down to the
In February we returned from what we considered to be our last opportunity for extended travel (for who knows how long). Usually when we return from a trip there is some underlying anxiety about The Homecoming: removing the backpack, sorting through the mail, calling friends, getting back into the swing of normal working life. This time was different, however. We were excited, energized, and ready to dig our heels down into the “muck.” After spending an extremely productive week home, making contact with our web designer friend, Kyle, setting up an appointment to visit a new space located in
Posted by Ali and Evan at 12:55 PM
NATIVE Portlanders, we first met when I was 12 and Ali was 11. At the time, she was sure she would grow up to be a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and I was on my way to becoming the next Hunter S. Thompson. Flash forward many years and we've been struck by the gastronomical cupid. Green & Green Salad Co. was born last year under a 10X10 tent, at the Saturday Portland Farmers Market. Waking up at 3:30 am on a Saturday morning in order to bake sticky-sweet pumpkin french toast, and wild chanterlle mushroom and goat cheese bread pudding with roasted shallots affords one plenty of time to contemplate his future. Perhaps it was the morning when the whipped cream exploded all over the kitchen, and all we could do was laugh despite the thick coating on the ceiling, walls, cabinets, and even in- between the stacks of plates. Or maybe it was when the nice woman returned to our booth at the Farmers Market moments after eating a small pint of our creamy roasted red pepper and tomato soup with garlic cheese croutons, only to ask if she could buy it by the gallon (literally). Whatever it was, it wasn’t long before we realized that this could no longer be a part-time job for us, it was our future. Now we find ourselves "self employed," excited and anxious to build The Restaurant.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 12:33 PM