Ali and I have been lucky. Actually, that is a gross understatement. Ali and I got very lucky with our new location. We decided over two years ago that we wanted to open a restaurant of some shape or form. About seven months ago we both quit our "day jobs" so that we could focus our energies full time on finding the "perfect" location. We looked...and looked...and looked. There are plenty of beautiful spaces available in our fair city, don't get me wrong. But there always seemed to be an issue with each potential space we looked at. This landlord might have a perfect space in a good location but is unwilling to dole out any TI money, that property owner is interested in offering improvement money but the location is not right, somebody else has a space in a good location and is willing to shell out some money but the space needs a lot more work than we wish to perform. Month after month we continued to pursue our dream only to encounter this same song and dance. Then, "it" appeared. Just blocks from our home, Tom (god bless him), put up paper on the Nopo Coffeehouse windows, literally rolling the dice and waiting to see what happened. We happened. I think I called him the day after the paper went up, and LUCKY for us, he was willing to take a chance on us "kids."
I wish I could say that it was love at first sight when we first saw the interior, however 'lust' seems a more appropriate descriptor when it comes to capturing the tone of our mutual feelings on that fateful day. We knew right away it was the best space we had seen during our seven month journey, and we knew we wanted it...bad. Not too big, not too small, a big spacious kitchen, close to our home, and most importantly, there was very little we could foresee wanting to change other than the color of the paint on the walls. This had over time become the most significant factor for us in terms of finding the 'right' location. It didn't take long for us to learn how fast money can disappear in a space that requires electrical and plumbing work. We knew we needed to find a space that was already a restaurant. We could try to make a space our own, but we just couldn't afford to make a space.
This past weekend Ali and I took advantage of the fact that the cafe is not yet open, and went on a two night camping trip. When we returned home last night we found a number of packages on our doorstep (which we later discovered to be our new outdoor tables), as well as an exciting message on our answering machine: our light fixtures had arrived! Though we don't have the means to build out a space from scratch, we are thoroughly enjoying putting our thumb print on this existing space. The new lights we ordered are perhaps more decorative than practical, but should no doubt add to the comfortable and classic environment we strive to create.
We headed down to Schoolhouse Electric early Monday afternoon, excited to finally see in person what we had ordered via telephone three weeks ago. The showroom alone is worth the trip if you are even remotely interested in lighting or light fixtures. What seem like hundreds of light fixtures and shades adorn the ceilings and walls of the space, making for some very remarkable eye candy. The only downside might be the fact that there is so much to choose from, and given that each fixture and shade are made to order, it seems as though it could be easy to run up a pretty expensive tab at this place.
After we picked up our lights Ali and I made the 1/2 block journey to one of our favorite places to eat in Portland, Pho Green Papaya & Deli. Located on SE MLK, just a block north of Stark St, this place cooks up some mighty fine Vietnamese cuisine. They do serve up the best Pho I have eaten. The restaurant boasts a very balanced menu that caters to carnivores, while also offering a large number of vegan and vegetarian options. Go there soon. You will be glad you did. And if you aren't too shy be sure to say hi to Adam for us, he usually is running the front of the house show and is always courteous and on top of the game.
Pho Green Papaya & Deli
402 Se MLK Blvd
Portland, OR 97214
Posted by Ali and Evan at 12:56 AM
The saying "each day is a gift" used to sound cliche to me, but as I have grown a little bit older I must admit it has grown on me. Each day is a gift, but some days, like certain gifts, tend to stick out in your memory more so than others. Today, I think, will forever be remembered as one of those days.
Earlier today Ali and I received a comment on our blog from somebody we had not previously met. Well, I should note, that while I mentioned we had not previously met her, she happened to be the author of a very cool blog that we first discovered a few months ago. Ironic as it may seem, Ali and I are actually shy to leave comments on other people's blogs, even though it makes us, as authors, ecstatic whenever somebody else leaves a comment on our own blog. So it was with much excitement that we found that Lelo in Nopo had not only visited our blog but had left a comment. Imagine our pure joy and elation when we "linked" to her site and found that she had written a post about us!!! Needless to say we felt very honored and at the very least inclined to give back. As they say, pay it forward. So...what better way to formally introduce yourself than by replacing a handshake with a pint of fresh homemade ice cream?
While Lelo commented she was a big fan of lavender, we suspected it was a flavor she had tried before. Thus we wanted to make something special, something that would make her mouth and brain go, "hummmm," consequently forcing her to take another bite and then another. While undeniably a nostalgic, classic treat, we ascertain that there is nothing simple, old, or tired about ice cream. When done right, ice cream, particularly homemade ice cream, can be quite complex for the palate. This was the gift we wanted to give Lelo. And then it came to us: Aztec Chocolate. Yes, chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla bean, and chili pepper. Rich but cool. A little sweet but spicy.
So we set to it. The rest of the entry should be prefaced by the fact that Ali's sister and her partner just spent the last 12 months traveling the world. Ali and I were fortunate enough to meet them in Belize and travel through Guatemala with them where we all discovered the beauty of the cacao bean. After six weeks in the region it was no surprise why chocolate, and cacao specifically, hail as regional treasures. Unfortunately for us we had to leave them and return home to our "normal lives" while they continued to explore the region, eventually heading north through Mexico. A couple of weeks ago they came to visit us in Portland and low and behold they brought for us a most special gift. During the course of their Central American/Mexican travels they accumulated a treasure trove of chocolate delights. Fresh roasted cacao beans from here, some fine milk chocolates from there, even special chili pepper blends with which we could attempt to concoct the ultimate hot chocolate beverage.
We couldn't think of a better time to unearth these precious gifts than when making Lelo's ice cream. Special people deserve special consideration, and it is quite obvious that she falls in to that category.
At approximately 6:30pm, just as her dinner guests were arriving, we showed up at the front door of her beautiful home with our freshly churned ice cream. It seemed appropriate that the sun decided to break through the clouds around this time. Sometimes things just click. Some days you get an opportunity to realize how many nice people there are out there in the world just waiting around the corner to meet you. We felt that way about today. Thanks Lelo, for getting the ball rolling, and we most sincerely hope you and your guests enjoyed the ice cream.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 11:49 PM
Just want to take a minute and congratulate Joel, from Courier Coffee, for getting named in Willamette Week's "Best Of Portland" reader's poll. This guy works as hard as anyone we know and we can't imagine that there is anyone more deserving of the honor. Congrats, Joel!
Posted by Ali and Evan at 2:05 PM
Our laundry room houses an ice cream machine graveyard. Sometimes when I go in to the there to take out the trash, or to wash a new load, I get sad looking at them. Even guilty at times when I realize I cannot even remember what flavor they were churning before their motors seized, failing to keep up with our rigorous, unrealistic demands. Three in total, all of their motors broken, having churned their last batch at the crazed hands of compulsive ice cream eaters. I suppose thats not entirely true. We weren't compulsive eaters of ice cream, just makers. It became very clear from early on in the obsession that it was less about eating the ice cream and more about making it. There was always a new flavor to try. A new technique. A little less sugar. A little more cream. Our freezer shelves representing a seemingly ill-prepared war-rationing stockpile, nothing more than rows of white pint containers full of every ice cream flavor under the sun. Out came the frozen veggie burgers, the peas, the ice cube trays, and in went the ice cream, the yogurt, the sherbet, the sorbet. I began to think that breaking the machine was part of the process, as if it represented a tally mark in our efforts to produce and master the perfect spoonful of ice cream. And that was what it was about, that first spoonful (or, if you're Evan, that first lick off the paddle) of fresh, homemade ice cream. In fact, it wasn't until we went through three, and finally decided to purchase a commercial quality machine that the obsession subsided. It was as if this commercial machine was the culminating result of all of those tally marks, proving that at last we deserved to buy ourselves a nicer, higher quality machine. The Cuisinart changed the way we did ice cream. No more rock salt. No more ice. No more freezing the inside container for 24 hours prior to churning. No, the Cuisinart arrived in our kitchen and it said, "just plug me in, fill me up, and turn me on." Our search was over. We finally found the machine that outlasted all others; there was no reason to test its capabilities because it was obvious from the very first batch it churned. The result: Perfect peanut-butter chocolate chip ice cream. We became satisfied. Satiated. We stopped making ice cream...until now.
Yesterday we received a call from Roadway Freight Handlers. They were calling to schedule a drop off time for the cafe's brand new ice cream machine, fresh off the boat from Italy. We didn't know what was stranger: the idea of a gigantic Roadway truck cruising down our tiny neighborhood street, or that we could expect a beautiful Lello Musso Fiume imported from Italy to be dropped off at our front door. The Roadway operator informed us that our 150 LB package would be arriving today, July 25th, anywhere during the time-slot of 12pm-5pm. We are frantic with anticipation. The driver comes promptly at 2:37pm. The truck makes its presence known from a mile away, noisily chugging its way up N. Lombard before turning left onto our street. Before he even has a chance to pull the parking break we are out the front door, gliding off the front porch, and attempting to open the back of his truck.
I leap and bound back to the house to get the door for Evan and the driver. We decide that right in the center of the livingroom is best. Like kids on Christmas morning we tear open the box. At this point I think I'm a little sweaty and I'm sure that I'm starting to understand how Joel must've felt when his cargo bike arrived. The machine itself is too heavy for me to help Evan lift out of the box, so we resort to a rusty box cutter. Haphazardly slicing each side of the box, we remove the styrofoam from from it's edges, rip the plastic away from its body, and cautiously, oh-so-carefully, slide the machine away from its former encasing to reveal: All stainless (no, NOT aluminum). 3.5 quarts. Half the time of the Cuisinart.
Dare I say perfect?
We immediately take pictures with our cellphone and send them to friends (yes, they do think we're strange but gratefully they've gotten used to such behavior). We call family. 45 minutes later Evan's sister, Jamie, is at our front door with fresh ice cream makings.
So alas, we are back at making ice cream and very interested in taking requests. While we are fully aware that some people's window for ice cream eating is limited to the summer months, Evan and I happen to be in the boat of year-round ice cream supporters. That being said, our goal at the cafe is to produce the highest quality, freshest tasting ice cream thats ever touched your lips. We plug the machine in, turn to the stove, and begin to create the custard for the beginnings of homemade coconut ice cream. The obsession has been revived, stirred from its slumber. As the motor starts to warm up and the paddle begins to turn I cannot help but want to shout from the top of my lungs a war cry, "Hello Portland, Oregon!!! Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Little Red Bike Cafe, Portland's first micro-creamery!!!" Please, please, please let us know how we can best suit your needs.
P.S. And for those of you who were worried, no, we have not replaced our "little" Cuisinart. This commercial machine will serve us faithfully at home while its larger, higher capacity counterpart will remain at the cafe.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:31 PM
Certainly nobody enters the restaurant industry with the idea that their concept is going to fail. Even the most masochistic of individuals would not subject themselves to such rejection. That said, we've all heard that awful statistic which plagues this industry; that as many as 80% of restaurants fail in their first year. Though it seems this statistic cannot possibly be true it is undoubtedly the result of a cold hard fact: this is a tough business.
It goes without saying that we hope we can avoid becoming part of this statistic. Not only do we hope to "make it" but our goal is to become a neighborhood fixture, something that is able to serve generations of families. But how does one achieve such a task? What are the different elements that separate the "good" restaurants from the "great" ones? As far as the restaurant industry goes, one simple measure of greatness relies on the creation of "the regular." The regular is the patron who above all others you can count on to return to your establishment, who get to know you and vice versa, who become personally invested in the success of your business. If you are lucky enough to get enough of these people around you might just be able to create something timeless. Case in point: King Burrito.
Established back in 1970 this North Portland fixture has, for better or worse, become a staple of our diet. Granted, this is NOT health food and you probably won't find one of their menus posted on Portland Food and Drink but visit this establishment any night of the week and you will likely find a line of hungry "Regulars", tickets in hand, faithfully waiting to pick-up their orders.
Top Five Reasons Why We LOVE King Burrito:
1. To date, this is the only place we've been able to find that has the skill, ingredients, and level of craftsmanship to pull off the infamous "queso' con guacamole y chile" (cheese quesadilla with avocado sauce and green chile salsa) which we first (and always and forever) fell in love with at Leo's Taco Truck, in Eagle Rock (LA), California.
2. The authenticity of flavors as the result of fresh ingredients prepared daily, such as pico de gallo, salsa verde, salsa picante, escabiche, and guacamole.
3. This is definitely a family run place, and on any given night you might find yourself staring across the counter at one of the owners. Might I also add that this is by far one of the hardest working families we've ever witnessed. Open seven days a week from 10 AM to 11 PM. And did you notice that they've been open for 37 years? 37 years!!! Enough said.
4. The value and the price (yes, there is a difference). We consistently walk away "fully full" AND for under $10 for the both of us. Please, if anyone out there knows where I can get more bang for my buck, please write me and let me know. We are hungry, and on a budget.
5. The temporary tattoo dispenser. Though Ali is already on her way to having two sleeves, we still do love us some fake tattoos. They make you look really cool when you go bowling, and people can't tell they're fake from far away.
2924 N Lombard St
Portland, OR 97217
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:26 PM
A little over one month ago Ali and I made the official announcement, via our blog, that we would be serving Courier Coffee Roasters (CCR) coffee and espresso at the cafe ('proudly' serving, I might add). Much has transpired over the past six weeks since we wrote that post, and I thought it would be appropriate to give a little background information on Joel, the owner/roaster/courier of CCR, as well as why Ali and I were so adamant about serving his coffee at our cafe.
As I mentioned before, Joel is a Portland native, and has been a fan of good coffee for most of his life. Growing up SE Portland, he had ample opportunity to familiarize himself with the local coffee scene from a young age. A few years ago Joel began experimenting with home roasting coffee. Only a year and a half after he first began roasting small batches of coffee in his back yard, Joel started roasting professionally for one of the most popular (for very good reason) cafes in Portland, Half & Half, and later their sister location, the Acorn. After Half & Half began serving his coffee, Joel was contacted by Olea restaurant, who has since been serving his drip coffee. Today Joel stands at the helm of a very successful one man business, which is driven by his creative energy, as well as his commitment to quality.
Over the past month or so Ali and I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Joel and his business. After spending some time with the guy, it is no surprise to us why his coffee tastes so damn good. For one, the guy possesses serious intuition. During our first visit to his roastery, Joel walked Ali and I through all of the equipment he happened to be servicing at the time. Joel paused at a particular espresso machine and told us how he did have some trouble figuring out how a section of the electrical wiring worked. He held the mass of what looked like 15 or more multi-colored wires in his hand and told us, "I had to stare at it for a few days before it made sense." To me, this statement was comical, because I knew that most people, myself included, could stare at the same wiring for weeks, or even months on end and still not attain a clear picture of the functions of each individual wire. Joel's mind must have been working much the same way when he first began roasting coffee over three years ago. Often described as an art form more so than a skill, coffee roasting requires a good eye, a keen sense of timing, and a great deal of patience. Obviously there must exist a great deal of trial and error during the initial phase of a roaster's career, though I imagine good intuition could greatly affect one's learning curve. Combine that with a tenacity to learn all there is to know on a given subject, and the fact that Portland just might be the greatest city in the world when it comes to the accessibility of information and resources on anything coffee, and I am beginning to understand why the coffee is tasting so good. For now I must stop thinking about it, and just keep drinking.
A few days ago Ali and I received word that a momentous occasion was to take place: Early the following morning the Center for Appropriate Transport (CAT) was going to deliver Joel's new bike. This, as we had already learned, was not just any bike, but a custom built cargo bike which would allow its rider to carry over 200 lbs. of cargo. The delivery was scheduled for 5:00 am. The next morning, I made my way south around 4:45 am to meet Joel so that I could document the event. I found the house just as Joel was coming outside to staple his address above his door for the delivery driver to see. We sat out on the porch for a few minutes drinking coffee until a white delivery van pulled up to deliver the cargo. It was an exciting moment to witness. It seems to me that Joel knows almost as much about bikes as he does about coffee, and this was the first time he had actually seen the bike. Though he did ask for certain specifications, much of the design was left up to the folks at CAT, and from the look on Joel's face upon seeing the bike for the first time, it seems they did a great job.
The delivery of the bike was no doubt a significant moment for CCR, as the ability to carry more cargo offers the potential for growth, regardless of whether its needed or even wanted. Certainly new doors have been opened. As far as Ali and myself go, we have a strong commitment to quality, as well as a desire to support other small businesses through our cafe. The question of whether we wanted to serve Joel's coffee was an easy decision to make. There is a high level of consistency given that the business is a one-roaster operation. As far as quality control, I don't imagine anyone is as critical of Joel's coffee as Joel himself. And to top it all off, to then have that freshly roasted coffee delivered via bicycle, well...you might be beginning to understand why at times we feel like its Joel's coffee, and we are all just lucky to be drinking it.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 5:06 PM
Michael Caine, Jim Belushi, and Linda Hamilton? Yes, a very unusual, very powerful trifecta, brought together in the 1990 classic, "Mr. Destiny." For those of you who have seen the film, you get the joke, and for those who have not, I am attempting to be facetious (which is a difficult thing to do in a blog). Yes, Jim is no doubt less talented than his late brother, and yes, this film presented an underwhelming role for Linda Hamilton given the accolades she had received for her previous role in "The Terminator," and YES, Michael Caine's immense talent as an actor is at times underutilized in the film. But, for some strange reason, Ali and I both fell in love with this movie during our childhood. I think what struck us both at such a young age was in fact the idea which drives the film's plot, and that is, that small changes which occur during one's lifetime can have a profound effect on the outcome or "destiny" one will later go on to fulfill.
The film seems an appropriate backdrop for what occurred just a few days ago. Ali and I were looking on Craigslist for used restaurant equipment (a ritual which we partake in at least 3 times a day), when we came across a posting which advertised antique commercial dishware for sale. Uneducated as to what "antique commercial dishware" meant, we took note of the listed N. Portland location and decided we had nothing to lose.
Upon arriving at the seller's house and viewing the dishes we were awestruck by the detail and beauty of the collection. The intense colors and intricate designs on each piece demonstrated a true sign that the manufacturing of these items was practiced with acute thoughtfulness and care, a quality that appears to have dissipated from the industry over the years. Susan, the seller, spent a good twenty minutes walking us through her impressive collection, educating us on the different design patterns and showing us how to read the stamps on the underside of each piece to decipher its origin. After reading the stamp of hotel supply company I remembered one of the few factual pieces of information I know of my father's family. I remembered learning that around the turn of the 20th century my great grandfather had been involved in a hotel supply business based out of San Francisco, CA. Excited, I asked Susan if my surname was familiar to her. "Oh yes," she replied, "they were one of the big ones." While she didn't have any plates in her collection that bore my family's mark, she did produce a book on antique restaurant-quality dishware which contained a historical blurb on my family's history in the hotel supply business. After reading this I was elated. Not only was it exciting to add to my limited knowledge of my family but I couldn't help but feel as though we were on the right path with our restaurant.
We left feeling in high spirits and with an urge to track down more items, wondering what the odds were that we would stumble across this beautiful and personal collection; surely we were on the correct path to our destiny. Or at the very least we have gained a new hobby which we can use to entertain ourselves if the business ends up going south.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 10:30 PM
So it has finally begun. Our dream, the thing we have been looking forward to during the past two years is now upon us. Most of our waking hours, as well as at least a part of our sleep is now dedicated towards thinking about the restaurant, and figuring out what tasks we must accomplish prior to opening. In effort to stay organized we have created detailed and extensive weekly "to do" lists that, dare I say it, put my Mom's yellow sticky note system to shame (sorry Mom).
Immediately after signing our lease and handing over our first and last months rent and security deposit, we began working on some of the not-so-fun but essential issues involved with opening a restaurant. Here in Portland, Oregon, that involves (in no particular order) filing for a federal tax ID and City of Portland business license, compiling and submitting the very thorough Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) application, and applying for a restaurant license and inspection schedule with the Multnomah County Environmental Health Department. The latter task is simple for us given that the space we are moving into was previously a licensed restaurant. Thus far we are not planning on making any major changes to the building which might necessitate the purchase of costly permits that would result in even more costly construction fees. In addition to completing the above not-so-exciting tasks, we have found our insurance provider, purchased various pieces of (mostly) used restaurant equipment, finalized our logo, come very close to finalizing our menus, acquired a new domain name for a forthcoming website, set up accounts for all of our utilities, and ordered what I and a good many other coffee geeks like myself consider to be the Cadillac of all espresso machines (much more on that in a later post). I'm sure I am forgetting to mention countless other things we have been keeping busy with, but one gets the idea: we're excited, and we're taking care of business...literally.
So far things have been going, dare I say it, relatively smoothly. This is both comforting and unnerving at the same time. It is pleasant to think that all of our hard work spent preparing for this time might actually be paying off, though I do sometimes get the feeling that this is simply the calm before the storm. Everywhere we go we seem to meet people who tell us that the closer we get to opening, the more we will begin to encounter little roadblocks.
For example, we experienced one such little "roadblock" a few days ago. For some time now we have assumed that we knew where we could source baked goods and pastries that we will serve at the cafe on a daily basis. Though baking is most certainly a passion of mine, there is no question that we will not have enough time to make good quality baked goods and pastries in addition to the many other duties we will have to accomplish each day. Thus we have known for some time now that we will have to source these items from somebody else, preferably from a quality local purveyor. Prior to contacting the bakery we assumed we could source for our day to day needs, I had no idea that having baked goods delivered daily to our space might in fact be a problem in itself. Much to our dismay, the bakery we had hoped to utilize is currently not taking any new accounts. A minor roadblock I assumed. Not so in fact. I discovered this dilemma very quickly after utilizing a favorite Google-maps technique of mine in order to locate all of the bakeries within a 10 mile radius of our cafe space. After looking at the map, it quickly became apparent that there simply weren't that many options when it came to local bakeries. No offense to the Wonder Bread outlet store and Winchell's doughnut shop (which was actually among my most favorite places to eat as a child...and oh how I still love their doughnut holes covered in rainbow sprinkles), but we are more interested in items such as cinnamon rolls, scones, and fresh baked croissants to pair alongside our coffee and breakfast fare (and don't worry if you're a doughnut "nut," we will still be serving delights for those who prefer their dough fried). A common response we received from more than a few bakeries we contacted was that they "don't deliver north of Mississippi Avenue. "Oh really?" I would reply, "Well thats too bad. Please know that there are businesses north of Mississippi that would like to serve your products." Since when did North Mississippi become the standard delivery boundary for so many local businesses? Surely there must be some bakeries out there who could help us?
Much to our delight, and after a very thorough search, we were able to locate two fantastic bakeries, one in NE Portland and another in SE who are willing to take us as a new account. When we had previously contacted both of these bakeries, we were told that they were not taking any new wholesale accounts, but after a brief description of our dilemma, as well as some minor pleading, each offered to help us out. And get this, one of them is even willing to deliver to us!!! It seems as though all is not lost after all. Contrary to what I was beginning to believe, there exists no imaginary force-field that separates N Mississippi from the rest of North Portland, and it looks as though we will in fact be able to offer fantastic fresh baked goods each and every morning we open. And while I hesitate to do any name dropping at the moment, let me say that the bakeries we hope to source serve up some of the finest goods that can be found in our fair city. In short, we really lucked out. If you don't believe me, just check out some of these photos.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 1:59 PM
The following can be found posted on a red front door of small soon-to-be cafe located at 4823 North Lombard St. in Portland, Oregon:
We would like to introduce the Little Red Bike Café to the community.
We are both Portland natives, and have lived in the neighborhood for over two years. Though we have not yet met, we are looking forward to sharing the Little Red Bike Café with you. The café will feature fresh baked goods, locally roasted coffee and espresso, artisan sandwiches, homemade ice cream, and more.
As we ready the space, please feel free to stop by and say hello.
If you’re hungry to learn more, you can contact us at:
Ali and Evan
Opening late summer 2007...
Posted by Ali and Evan at 12:05 AM
Dona Tomas' Corn Pudding
3 cups fresh white corn kernels (from 3 ears of corn)
1-2 zucchinis, diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 egg yolks
3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons kosher salt
preheat your oven to 375 degrees, (350 if convection)
toss corn and zucchini in a bowl with flour until coated
in separate bowl combine eggs and yolks, whisk briefly, then add cream, and salt and whisk until fully incorporated
butter a 9-inch shallow casserole dish. Evenly spread corn and zucchini mixture on the bottom (3/4 to 1 inch thick). Pour batter over. Bake, uncovered, for about an hour until lightly brown on top. Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:10 AM
What do family, the cabin, and The French Laundry have in common? Well, the three collided together in celebration of my birthday last Sunday where my loved ones, with the help of acute knowledge and Thomas Keller's new cookbook, served a meal that not even I could alter, negotiate, or transform because frankly everything was perfect; a meal that's literal translation proved that my loved ones truly listen to, absolutely know, and love all that is ME. Thank you for making my birthday such a memorable one. I love and thank you more than words or my stomach could ever say.
Inspired by one of our staples at Lovely Hula Hands, E created this crostini featuring garlic-romano bread, roasted garlic, double-cream brie and avocado with a balsamic reduction
A chilled puree of sweet petite pea soup with white truffle oil and Parmesan crisps
Oven roasted asparagus and wild Oregon morels with goat cheese mousse
Grilled cheddar and caved-aged Gruyere with caramelized onions and white truffle oil
Strawberry cream sorbet shortcakes with sweetened creme fraiche
Homemade baked doughnuts dusted with cinnamon & sugar, topped with Sauvie Island marionberry jam (made by our lovely and thoughtful friends Tim & Lindsey)
Sapphire & tonics w/ extra lime and Cakebread sauvignon blanc
Posted by Ali and Evan at 6:44 PM
Food Lovin' Tree Huggers
A Special Edition of What's For Dinner...
I was very smitten with Evan from the moment he promised to take me on a camping trip. Never in my life had a man (er...um...even a boy) been "man" enough to ask me on a proper "sweep you off your feet" kind of date. The idea of a camping trip with an intriguingly polite, kind, and not to mention downright beautiful specimen was enough to send my heart to the races but what made me fall in love with him was when he kept his promise and drove me 6.5 hours down the Redwood Highway to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
This camping trip was the product of a late night conversation that took us from sunset to dawn on a warm summer evening. Evan became noticeably upset when I admitted to him that I had never seen a single Star Wars film. Despite his fondness for Lucas' original (I repeat, ORIGINAL) trilogy Evan's dismay stemmed from the fact that I had no acquaintance with redwood trees, even those featured in the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi.
On route to Humboldt County we stopped at Evan's parents' cabin for a few nights located in Camp Sherman. It was our first night at this cabin that Evan cooked for me for the first time. It was obvious he had spent time planning it out: he set the table with rustic dishware, filled our wine glasses to the brim, made sure there was a fork, a knife, and a spoon resting on cloth napkins to go with the food...and the food...well...let's just say it wasn't the highlight of the meal. You see, we had what one (one being Evan) could call vegetable stir fry. The vegetables were less than cooked, the sauce watered down and soupy, and I'm not sure there was even rice to soak up the mess. In all fairness he could have served me a pine cone on a frisbee and I would have been no less head over heels for the man who sat across from me. In addition it was not as if I had volunteered to cook for him and even if I had I am assured I would have done no better at the time.
You see while it took no time for either of us to develop our taste for good food, it took a much longer time before Evan and I honed the craft to actually produce it ourselves. In fact, it is not a stretch to say that there were many meals spent together in gastronomic silence, our bellies full but no doubt still hungry. I can think of plenty of meals where I wouldn't hesitate to prepare a salad by first opening up a can of syrupy mandarin oranges and dumping them (literally) in to a bowl and putting nondescript greens on top.
Fortunately we've taken the last seven years together and created a food revolution for the purpose of delighting eachother's tastebuds. We have learned the difference between the appropriate time to celebrate the wonderments of fruit cocktail in a can (your friend's 1950's Housewife Party, complete with cocktail wieners and deviled eggs) and an appropriate salad topper (kadota figs, roasted golden beets, or Gabriel Coulet Roquefort) which is the very reason why I felt compelled to write a special addition of What's For Dinner.
Last night I was treated to one of the most outstanding meals I've ever had stateside or otherwise. I am happy to say that after seven years together I am not only loving this man more than ever after seven years, that I have more than ten trips to the redwoods under my belt, but I am eating a hell of a lot better too...
Mixed Green Salad
local organic greens, fig, baked goat cheese, and roasted hazelnuts and a balsamic reduction
E's Whim Pizza
olive oil & garlic, Cypress Grove's Purple Haze, a chevre produced in Northern California flavored with wild fennel pollen and lavender, caramelized red onion, garden zucchini, and roasted garlic and onion jam
Grilled Sweet Corn
the quintessential ode to summer served how you like it: lime & chili, mayonnaise and cayenne, parmigiano reggiano butter, or just straight up with a lil' s&p
Posted by Ali and Evan at 4:19 PM