In It To Win It

Just a few weeks from now Ray will compete in the 2009 Northwest Regional Barista Competition. The event takes place in Tacoma, Washington during the second weekend in January. Competitors will be judged as they attempt to make 12 different beverages in just 15 minutes. The winner of the competition not only walks away with bragging rights as the top barista in the Northwest, but will also have the opportunity to take place in a national competition late next year.

If you've already had the good pleasure of meeting Ray, than you know that he will do an exemplary job representing the Little Red Bike Cafe. It makes us proud to be able to help send somebody so dedicated to his trade.

Go Ray, go!



...our new (old and used) Ditting coffee grinder.

Ta da!

As part of our ongoing effort to make Joel's coffee taste as good as possible, we purchased the above Ditting grinder back in late September. It was an Ebay purchase, one of those experiences that adds validity to the statement "you get what you pay for." The grinder was shipped from a small town in Texas, via a seller that had zero customer ratings. Hmmmm. This might give someone pause. But that someone wasn't me: like I already mentioned, the price was right.

Originally a DHL driver attempted to drop the grinder off at our house, but we weren't home at the time. Second try, same story. Such it was that it became my duty to retrieve the package at the DHL shipping facility near the Portland airport. It was a cold rainy day when I made my way north to the airport, and upon my arrival to pick up the grinder I was less than overwhelmed once I first set eyes upon the cafe's newest toy...

The grinder had been haphazardly shipped in what appeared to be two broken down cardboard boxes that had been taped together.

I immediately began snapping photos of the package with the thought that I would have to use them during what I expected to be the long and arduous process of trying to get our money back. From the looks of the box I could only imagine what the grinder looked like. Upon further inspection the situation only worsened. I "opened" (more like broke-down) the package to find that the grinder had been shipped with a thin coffee bean bag as its only protection. Lovely.

Immediately I saw that the on/off switch had broken off, as well as one of the feet. There was also a very large dent on the backside of the machine.

Grumbling, I drove the grinder to Courier Coffee HQ where I hoped Joel would be able to tell me whether or not I had just thrown away a couple hundred dollars. Just my luck, it was also "one of those days" for our coffee roaster. He had a lot on his plate that day, meaning that he had a lot of coffee to roast, bag, and deliver.

There was too much work at hand for him to be able to dedicate much of his attention toward our new arrival. Nonetheless, in between calculating his delivery route, bagging coffee, and sending Matt Sperry down to the storage room to get green coffee, Joel was able to help me determine that yes, despite our new grinder's battle scars, the motor did in fact work. This was a good sign. Additionally, Joel talked me through a process in which I manufactured/Macgyvered a Bottom- Burr-Rotation Tester out of torn-up pieces of a business card (super fancy) which enabled me to determine whether or not the grinder might need a new part. The grinder passed this second test. Sigh (relief).

Next it was time to check the burrs for wear. Sure enough they were dull as a doorknob and would need to be replaced. Not too big of a deal if you have a Bunn grinder, however Ditting blades, due to the fact that they are of much higher quality are pretty expensive. We're talking more than we paid for the grinder itself expensive. Sure enough the cafe was on a tight budget at the time, and so the Ditting found a new home in the basement. And there it sat for weeks.

As time went by the grinder became more and more of a sore spot between Ali and myself. Why had we purchased this thing to sit in our basement? When we could afford it, we finally had Joel order us some new burrs, as well as a new on/off handle and foot. Even after all the new parts arrived in the mail, getting the grinder up and running proved no easy task. The old burrs were stuck in the machine from years of use and probable abuse. For a few days we tried to get them out so that we could install the new ones. No progress.

One night, upon returning from the cafe Ali and I began to quarrel over the state of the grinder. I assured her that with enough time, I could and would get the grinder working. She didn't believe me. In a huff I returned to the cafe to prove her wrong. After a few hours, multiple phone calls to Joel, and a trip to the grocery store to pick up some oversized screwdrivers, the new (old and used) Ditting was ready to go.

Until now I have held off trying to sell our old grinder, as well as blog about the new one, because given how tumultuously this new machine came into our lives, I have remained fearful that the motor might crap out or something else would go wrong. But after weeks of tearing through coffee like it's nobody's business, I feel that the time is right to christen our new baby.

Everyone, meet Jan (pronounced "Yawn") Did I fail to mention that Ditting is a Swiss brand? May he outlive us all and grind countless coffees from the world over.

Oh, and as far as the coffee is concerned, I am now a true believer in Ditting mythology. Courier Coffee never tasted so good.


Cabin Fever Shmeever

When it looks like this outside:

Winter Wonderland, For Reals

And you have your sister/your very bestest friend in the whole wide world (not to mention her husband and their pug) in town:

sister, two pugs, and a blanket of snow

this is what you make for breakfast:

The Frostbite
soft poached egg, shaved red onion, Beecher's Flagship cheese, Carlton bacon, and blackberry-basil jam, served open-face on ciabatta

Yes, it's true. Tara, Dan, and Matilda Uni Rose made it to PDX safely around 3:00am Monday morning. They were on the last flight not canceled from NYC and had they not made that flight, they were told they wouldn't be able to fly in until the 27th of December. WHEW! We are relieved to have the East Coast contingent of our family safe and sound, albeit partially snowed in, in our lovely little home. In order to combat cabin fever we are busying ourselves with:

The Greatest Music Exchange Ever
(including but certainly not limited to: Otis, Ingrid, Alela, Bon Iver, Blow, & Electrelane)
Board Games in the Balderdash and Scrabble variety
Jam Making and Canning
Whiskey Milkshakes
Fireside Chats

unveiling the secrets to our whiskey milkshakes

And in case you're wondering yes, the Cafe is still open. Bless you Evan, Ray, and Alice for making the trek to work in questionable conditions and keeping our neighborhood satiated. I'm sure I speak for everyone out there who hasn't gotten an opportunity to thank you yet when I say, "We appreciate you!" XO


What's For Dinner/LRBC Little Known Fact #45

We dig cheese.
The first time I became a vegan I was convinced the thing I would miss most was ice cream. Ha ha. Silly, novice, little Imbecile. What I quickly realized was that I would not be able to forget, or eventually live without, was the way that cheese melts and tastes, or develops on the tongue, the way it bites and nudges at the senses, the way it lives elegantly solo or compliments and pairs amazingly with partners, and oozes with love, and tradition and handcraftedness. Try as I might, I never have been able to get away from the fact that I love cheese and all the food, beverage [i.e. beer & wine, macaroni, grilled sandwiches, pasta, eggs, toasted nuts, quince paste, roasted vegetables, etc.], and time-honored processes that go along with it.

In fact, before we opened the Cafe I applied for a position at the cheese counter at New Seasons Market. Evan bought me the The Cheese Primer which I reminiscently studied like a true nerd would for her comprehensive exams and I went ahead and wrote a four-page supplemental essay in addition to my application explaining why I should hold post at one of the most coveted positions as cheesemonger at one of the finest grocery stores out there. I couldn't imagine anything better than talking cheese, eating cheese, cutting cheese (yeah, yeah-grown up already!) pairing cheese, and discovering new cheese all day long. Unfortunately [or perhaps through fate] I never did hear back from New Seasons regarding the position or my application. Having a cafe and opening access to all of the wonderful cheeses and cheese producers out there has certainly been the next best thing to living it. We never skip an opportunity to see what's new, to appreciate what's old, and gorge on what's tried and true. Currently our stockpile boasts: smoked gouda, gorgonzola, brie, chevre, Flagship, mild cheddar, smoked cheddar, jack, parmesan, pecorino, swiss, and manchego.
Lists such as these lead us to do silly things like make dinner entirely out of dairy products. Tonight we're enjoying a trio of simple crostini:

goat's milk brie with dried cherries and balsamic glaze
goat's milk brie with {freshly} homemade Oregon blueberry jam
Tillamook smoked cheddar, sauteed chard, and sliced Washington braeburn apples


Holiday Specials

Marly's boards always say it best but if you don't get a chance to see them this is the gist of it for this week...

Black Bean Chili
Peppermint Cocoa
Cinnamon-Hazelnut Mochas
Seasonal Beer Floats
Rudy Fernandez
Homemade jam in the Apple Butter, Oregon Blueberry, Black Mission Fig, and Oregon Marionberry variety

"The Charcuterie Sandwich"
jamon serrano, blue cheese, quince paste, Albina City hazelnuts and roasted red onion mayo on warm ciabatta. Served with chips, gherkins and pepperoncini


In Exactly One Month...

We will be here:photo courtesy of peggydaly

For God's sakes, slap me with some spf and put me in a Corona commercial...



Not that anyone cares, but...

I have really been into making poached eggs for breakfast lately.

It all began as an attempt to master the art of egg poaching so that we could confidently execute the style during service at the cafe. Somewhere along the way something else took over, and I have been craving poached eggs ever since. Don't tell Paula Deen, but after more than a year spent eating eggs that were fried in butter, it is kinda liberating to enjoy them without the added fat. For the time being, my arteries are thanking me.

All that said, I am not even about to say that poached eggs taste better...I still hold dear to my heart Paula's mantra that "everything tastes better with butter."


Recovery {aka a "Day Off"}

Recovery in our house...

Looks like this:

a humble abode in north pdx

Smells like
: a 7ft. grand fir
Sounds like: Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium I on vinyl
Tastes like: spicy chili served over brown rice, topped with fresh avocado and homemade whiskey milkshakes (Buffalo Trace, vanilla ice cream, and Baileys) for dessert
Feels like: watching one of your favorite Alfred Hitchcock's in your pajamas in bed with freshly washed flannel sheets


The Weekend in Review

Friday, 6:20 pm:

Saturday, 10:30 am:

Sunday, 1:50 pm:

Sunday, 6:27 pm:


Storm's a' Brewin'

Forecasting Hash

Forecasts call for a cold weekend with snow Saturday and possibly Sunday! Could this really be real? Our first actual winter storm? Could we actually get some lovely white wonderland-worthy flakes to dust our sidewalks with and justify silly mittens and our favorite knit caps on our heads? It rarely snows in Portland but when it does it feels like magic. I love the idea of a good snow storm. I can picture the neighbors all wearing their pjs shuffling in to the Cafe for mugs of hot chocolate with whipped cream. Lombard St. is dead outside. The snow accumulates on the road, erasing any signs of passing traffic. It's quiet outside except for community conversations. Children laughing. Alice will have made the perfect soundtrack for the day, surely full of Otis and Aretha and we all keep catching ourselves nodding our heads, humming along. What a Saturday. Hum. That would be heaven. And in this heaven we'd eat yam and sweet potato hash.


Coming Tomorrow...

We've been using our free time to can our favorite jams. Beginning tomorrow, we will be adding homemade Black Mission Fig Jam and Oregon Blackberry Jam to our retail repertoire at the Cafe. Perfect timing for the holidaze.

New to fig jam? We like using our fig jam on the LRBC's Alleycat Sandwich, paired with anything with basil & goat cheese, and spread on buttered toast for breakfast. Amen.

Oregon Blackberry and Oregon Blueberry Jam: $5/half pint $9/pint
Black Mission Fig Jam: $6/half pint $10/pint


Win a date with this guy?

photo © Jonathan Maus


The Portland Mercury
is currently running its Online Charity Auction. This year's beneficiary is the Portland Women's Crisis Line. Among the many auction items is a unique opportunity to get some face time with Mayor Elect Sam Adams, as well as BikePortland.org's Jonathan Maus. Oh, and did we mention that this meeting is scheduled to take place over lunch in the confines of a small bike themed North Portland cafe?

Click here to learn more about this package.

Huge thanks to the Portland Mercury, The Portland Women's Crisis Line, Sam Adams, Jonathan Maus, and everyone bidding in this year's auction. It's people like them who remind us just how much we love our City. We're honored to be able to play our little part in it all. Thank you, Portland.

Remember, the auction ends Friday, December 12th at 5pm. Happy bidding!


Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game

Whole-Berry Cranberry Simple Syrup

In my quest to unveil new seasonal French Toast Specials on a weekly basis, I ran in to some issues with last week's compote: It contained cranberries. Little did I know that cranberries have the tendency to turn some people waaaaaay off. Personally, I couldn't think of anything that sounded nicer than Challah French Toast with an spiced Apple-Cranberry compote. I loved the tanginess of the berries, the sweetness from the apples, all stewed together with cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, and a little brandy. I guess others had another idea as it was the least popular the French Toast has ever been. WTF?

Hum...this got me thinking. Perhaps it wasn't the Toast or the apple compote, we've served up both before with success; been there done that, so it must've been the cranberries. Cranberries get a bad rap. With their meager representation being limited to canned vessels and somewhat hokey commercials from Ocean Spray, who can say they're surprised by this fact? I reckon very few people have actually been exposed to the actual deliciousness encountered when cranberries don't come from a jar in juice form or in gelatinous loaf from the can. Sure, people are used to smothering it on their turkey sandwiches but really, there are so many more ways to enjoy cranberries!!! So a new quest ensued as I had a week to rack my brain for another way to incorporate cranberries into a French toast special that wouldn't make people freak. And as such, an idea for a new Sunday Special was born:

Gingerbread Challah French Toast
served with whipped cranberry mascarpone, sweet-cream butter, and real maple syrup

The whipped cranberry mascarpone came together in a cinch. I began with making a cranberry simple syrup, incorporating water, sugar, orange peel, fresh ginger and fresh whole cranberries. Once boiled down I slowly added the syrup, almond extract, powdered sugar, and lemon zest to my whipped mascarpone in the food processor and "pulsed" until a beautiful pink hue emerged. Next, I folded in some reserved berries left from the syrup mixture, and voilĂ , a star was born. Even Evan, who usually turns his nose up at cranberries, was eating this lovely shaded dessert-cheese by the spoonful.

P.S. I also like to keep this syrup around for holiday-inspired champagne and vodka cocktails. Please enjoy!


We Dig Scott's Nuts

A lot. In fact, we can't get enough of Scott's nuts. I know, this is getting a little raunchy but that's certainly not our intention. The reason why we're having this little word play is because this is the experience Evan and I have with Scott when he comes in to the Cafe and we want to compliment him on his downright amazing nuts.

Okay...allow me to explain...

Scott, a certified cheesemonger, is Evan's former co-worker from New Seasons. Devoted Courier Coffee Enthusiasts, we are now fortunate enough to visit with Scott and his lovely wife at the Cafe on a weekly basis when they come in with mugs (from their ever-impressive coffee mug collection) to "Fill 'er up." When they told us of their plans to start their own nut business, Albina City, we were ecstatic. Imagine deliciously roasted Oregon hazelnuts, seasoned to perfection. It didn't take too long before we were hooked. Hence the embarrassing situation we encountered early-on in our discovery. Seriously, can you think of a polite way to tell a guy (let alone in front of his wife) that his nuts are are the bomb? There really is no way to put that without offending someone's grandma. So we've just decided to embrace this notion and declare, "Damn, those are some mighty fine nuts!"

While Evan thinks of these as the perfect snack for his grocery shopping (and by "snack" I mean they're all gone by the time we get to the register--don't worry, we bring the empty container to check-out with us...), we also knew there was great potential for these nuts at the Cafe. And as such, a Saturday Special was born:

Fall in Love
honey-roasted Oregon pears, homemade ricotta cheese and Albina City’s candied hazelnuts, drizzled in honey & served open-face on toasted ciabatta

If you would like to get your hands on some of these nuts just stop in at any New Seasons Market, but if you happen to be at the one on Interstate Ave. you might just be lucky enough to compliment Scott on his nuts in person.


So Much to Say

I apologize in advance, there will be no witty captions for the following photos. We are putting all concentrated efforts on preparing for the Cafe's weekend service. We would however like to take a moment to get you caught up on some of the recent happenings...

First, though it has taken us a long time, we finally have LRBC jam available for sale at the cafe. This is the first time we have had "homemade" jam available for sale since Tim and Lindsey were last with us nearly a year ago. Currently we are selling 'Oregon Blueberry,' but keep your eye out for a few new flavors scheduled to arrive late next week.

Second, I am hellbent on perfecting a pie dough recipe I recently came across in a popular food magazine. Which means that the Sour Cream Apple Pie you see pictured below is on tomorrow's menu. Don't worry, we have already confirmed that the recipe for the filling is indeed a keeper.

Third, Courier Coffee Roasters dropped off a new coffee from El Salvador early this morning: Finca Fatima, 100% Bourbon Varietal. As far as I know it is the first delivery of bulk coffee Joel has received that was shipped in vacuum sealed bags. Joel indicated that the freshness of the coffee may have actually made it more difficult to roast given that the green beans have not aged at all during shipping. I will say that the initial roast is very light, and extremely tasty, which indicates to me that this coffee has a lot of potential.

Last but certainly not least, we were more the honored yesterday to see that one of our beer floats was featured on the delightfully cheeky blog, Endless Simmer. Pretty humbling to see our own creation up there amongst some ingenious recipes ("What would you do for a Klondike Bar?"). I still think our Oatmeal Stout Shake (pictured below) ranked as my favorite beer-ice cream experiment we yet to embark upon. We like to consider it our ode to Doc, of Steinbeck's Cannery Row.

Thank you, Endless Simmer! (And just so you know--gansie in particular--we're huge fans of topping everything with an egg.) You have reinvigorated our passion for the limitless possibilities which stem from the combination of dairy and alcohol. Case in point our newest beer float, set to debut tomorrow:

The Pick Me Up
chocolate ice cream, double shot of CCR espresso, and Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout (Limited Release, October thru December)

Pictures and witty captions to follow...


What's For Dinner...

Homemade Pappardelle with Sage Cream
(and yes, that garnish is fried sage leaves, aka my favorite)

Why is homemade pasta so good? Why am I lucky enough to have married a man that not only appreciates fresh pasta but can make it? Why was he lucky enough to marry a woman that knows how to make one hell of a sauce? These, my friends, are the only deep questions we're asking ourselves tonight. Tonight is all about looking forward to winter, opening up that bottle of Chilean wine we've been saving (besos, Todd!), and sitting next to the one we love...[wait for it]... folding laundry, and realizing that domesticity ain't so bad after all. To all our fellow women's studies majors out there, let us just say: it has its place.

Fried Sage Leaves

1/2 cup vegetable oil
flour, for dusting
30 fresh sage leaves

Clean and thoroughly dry the sage leaves on paper towels. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat until hot (oil will bubble.) Once dry, lightly dust the sage leaves with flour, shaking off any excess. Fry sage in batches, stirring, 10-20 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, then season with salt. Leaves should retain some green color, and will crisp up as they cool.

These are good for topping pastas, soups (hello, butternut squash!), or, if you're like me, eating like potato chips.


It has got to be the sandwich

Rudy's line from tonight's win against the Knicks:

18 points (12 in the 4th quarter), 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in 22 minutes.

Is it a coincidence that the rookie, who had struggled in his previous few games, had a breakout performance immediately following his sandwich's return to the LRBC menu?

We think not.


Thanks, Joel

All bags of Espresso, All Roasted by the Guy in the Background:
The One and Only Joel

We were saddened to learn today that our friend, and your coffee roaster, Joel, was unable to go to the beach as planned. You see, Joel's got a nice little sanctuary-esque retreat on the coast he likes to escape to when he can find the time to get away. When I asked him once what he liked to do at this place he responded, "Sleep. I like to sleep." Truth be told Joel has less free time than any guy we know, and unfortunately today was one of those days when his work overtook the possibility of the beach (Example: "We're out of decaf!," "I hear a leak somewhere on the Synesso!," "We need Teflon! Bubbles on top of the steam-wand indicate a possible broken gasket.") Those of you who have bought espresso/coffee from us in bulk have witnessed this dedication: his roasting times are printed right on the bag, many are in the wee hours of the morning. So Joel's idea of a vacation involves a lot of sleeping; and who could blame him? Joel gets up earlier than almost everyone we know (except for our baker, Greg), works a later day shift than everyone we know, works more days than everyone we know, and does 98.9% on bike. If we could only really convey to you how much Joel works for his business, for us, for Y-O-U. We just thought it was high-time that we said: Thanks, Joel. We love you. Your efforts are noticed and appreciated. Your passion is inspiring, your coffee is delicious, and we surely are grateful for the opportunity to serve it in our place. Here's to the next beach trip. We'll pay for the gas. XO


In a Nutshell...


Thanksgiving was great. It really was. And I'm not just saying that in an, "Oh, thank god we had a day off and yeah, sure, great, it's a holiday" kind of way. Rather, I'm saying it in a, "Geez! That food was sort of incredible if I do say so myself, and golly, the company sure couldn't have been greater, and my-oh-my it's only 8:30pm and I'm already in my happy place and it's almost my bed-time" sort of way. Something really great happens when you have a restaurant: suddenly the thought of hosting 18 people for a Thanksgiving meal doesn't seem like that big of a deal. When you have a pre-rinse, a three-compartment sink and a Sanitizer that does a load of dishes in 90 seconds, let me tell you, Thanksgiving really isn't that big of a deal. I say, "Bring on the extended family!" I say, "Let's see what these babies are really capable of..."

Carrots, pre-roasting

Thursday morning Evan and I slept in until 9:00am (definition of our conception of: peace), showered and headed to the Cafe with bagfuls of groceries in tote. With our menu we wanted to re-create the classic meals of our childhood but update the flavors with better, more flavorful ingredients (sorry, Mom(s) We love you). Every dish was timeless and familiar, but we tried to give each its own unique twist; Evan blended his mashed potatoes with a roasted garlic butter; the baby carrots were roasted in a 425 degree oven and tossed in a curried-honey glaze; the brussels sprouts were first caramelized then slowly braised on low heat in lemon-cream; and the green bean casserole was made purely from scratch using a homemade wild mushroom-sage gravy. By 1:30pm the table was set and almost everything was ready to put in the oven to finish off.

Wild Rice

Roasted Butternut Squash for the Wild Rice with Corn, Cranberry, and Toasted Pecan

Feeling quite pleased with our progress, we headed home for a quick change (yeah, yeah, we like to get spiffy every now and again) and came back to the Cafe to greet our guests. The cafe, the Cafe, the Cafe. We keep calling it that when really, what we realized recently is that it's not just a cafe, it's Our cafe. Our Cafe. Yes. That's right, we have a cafe. It's a place that we built, a place that we love, but sometimes a place we can take for granted all too often. As we explained to our parents, we spend the majority of our lives at the Cafe and spending "hard time" like that has a tendency to wear on you and sometimes have the effect of making you under-appreciate what you've got. We love that cafe. We know we do. But sometimes it's hard to remember that when we all too often wear goggles that see only flaws. So that is why we were so lovingly anticipating the chance to celebrate the Holiday in Our Cafe, giving thanks for our many blessings amongst the people we so dearly appreciate and love. It was a chance for us to do what we love (design, conceptualize, plan, cook, and serve), in the place that we love (a dream 4 years in the making!), amongst the people who helped us get here (our parents, our friends, our co-workers, and our dogs-okay, so they were like in the basement.)

Purely from scratch Green Bean Casserole (pre-topping)

Off the bat it became obvious that everyone arrived in high spirits. At first, when my dad first asked me what kind of beer he could contribute (for 18 guests), and I told him "Anything Mexican" and he showed up with a 12 pack of Bud Light, I tried not to be discouraged; but something inside me made me shake my head, "What the hell is he thinking?" Little did I know he was hiding a garbage can full of Corona in his trunk; he only brought the Bud Light to chide me. Ha ha. Joke was on me. We ate a lot of food (surprise, surprise) and drank a lot of "Spirits" (bigger surprise) and we ended up with fewer leftovers than I imagined.

The Spread

The Table

In the beginning we were insightful...

And then silly...

And then just plain debaucherous...

I think it the end we were all in bed (for the most part) by 11:30pm, sleeping fat and happy with some fairly interesting dreams. Undoubtedly this was one of our personal favorite holidays to date, as it was our combined families first Thanksgiving together, not to mention the fact their first time being together since our wedding, which was over four months ago. Not only did we manage to get our families together but many of our dear friends as well, which was also a treat and a vision a long time in the making. So yes, there are many things Evan and I have to be grateful for this year; and what a treat it was to be able to sit down and literally count our many blessings for an evening. So yeah, Thanksgiving really was pretty great.

Hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Many good tidings to you and yours. XO


Thank you.

No really, thank you.

Lots of leftovers to follow...


Anatomy of a Kitchen Drawer

The silverware set was a wedding gift from my childhood best friend, Allison Monti, who once, at the age of four, organized a celebrity garage sale in her Seattle neighborhood. We are completely smitten with this gift and its Giver, and truth be told, this was our first hint that we may just be growing up after all.

I use our kitchen shears for countless tasks. Cutting plastic packages, trimming greens beans, opening mail, cutting the ends off flowers...in fact, I'm pretty sure I use these scissors more than I should.

Old-School Ice Cream Scoop w/ the Orange Handle:

This is the ice cream scoop from my childhood that I somehow managed to smuggle out of my mother's house. To this day I cannot say I've found a better one. Coming from me, someone who works with ice cream, well, like every day, that's saying something. Growing up we used to love to dip the metal scoop in hot water and yes, how lovely, the scoop retains the heat because it's metal, a conductor of heat. Beautiful. Now the ice cream can be scooped with ease. Ahhhaaa. Hey Einsteins at those manufacturers who are making those cheap, plastic scoops out there, please take note.

Mini Scoop
The perfect scoop for perfect little scoops of...I don't know, use your imagination. We like to use ours for: homemade ice cream bon-bons, pats of butter for pancakes and waffles, blobs of sour cream for chilis and stews, and dispensing batter for our mini muffins. Who doesn't like down-sized things? They're irresistibly cute!

Can Opener
I'm not sure if this was originally Evan's or mine. We both had a tendency to veer towards OXO brand in college. (Must be the G.I. Joe Kung-Fu grip). You know how it goes, you move in together and everything just becomes One. You eventually weed out the stuff you absolutely hate or just don't use and begin to claim that all the useful, timeless, treasured pieces were obviously yours in the first place, and aren't you kind to share it with your Beloved. All I know is that this black OXO was our original can opener and it was hijacked by the Cafe. Only recently has this beloved tool been returned to its place in the Drawer. In the meantime we were using E's parents' (barely operable) camping can-opener from the 1970's. The joints in my hands would scream, "Arthritis"-- I mean --"MERCY " every time I used it. Fortunately E rescued our old one and we've been lovingly opening cans ever since.

The Microplane
My most essential and beloved item in the kitchen. So useful. Think: nutmeg, hard cheese, garlic, citrus zest...

Measuring Cups & Spoons
Like almost every cook I know, I rarely measure, the exception to the rule is baking. ALWAYS MEASURE WHEN YOU'RE BAKING. Baking is like science. Proportion and technique are everything. It is my belief that some people have "the touch" when it comes to baking. I am not one of those people. Fortunately Evan is, so he bears the title of "Master Baker" and takes care of the majority of the biscuits, scones, muffins, and blueberry pancakes in the house. Me? I could use all the help I can get. So I went through four different sets of measuring cups before I found the "ones." I'm particularly a fan of these measuring cups because they're collapsible, which saves space in the Drawer, which let's be real, is full of prime real-estate.

Vegetable Peeler
My sister and brother-in-law bought this for us at their local farmer's market in Union Square in New York City. The peddler of the peeler, an English-born man named J. Ades, has since become somewhat of a New York legend, and is known for his plaid suits, crafty showmanship, and is more than likely to be sitting on or near a pile of potato and carrot peelings, hawking his blades on the street. If you believe his act than you might be convinced you've purchased the greatest peeler in the world. Tara and Dan believed the hype and sent one to the West Coast. Our opinion? Go visit Union Square Market and pick yourself up one of these. They really are amazing. And from what I hear, it's worth the show.

Two Baby Spoons:
These stem from a habit I adopted from my mother. Growing up we always had a plethora of baby spoons lying around and they ultimately became our favorites for eating dessert with. I can still picture my mom cupping her mug of ice cream (chocolate-always), the end of a silver baby spoon poking from her lips. To this day I love to have a couple of these in the drawer. Now-a-days they're perfect for stirring our espresso, and eating things like creme brulee and The Best Chocolate Pudding Ever.

Large Spoon
Yet another habit I inherited from my mother's kitchen. I think we both agree that we cannot stress enough the usefulness of having an over-sized spoon in your drawer for spur-of-the-moment needs. They're perfect for plating dinners, mixing batters (and consequently licking later), scooping ice cream if your trusty scoop is busy being washed, or just for general serving purposes.

Wine Opener
Working in fine dining where there are plenty of opportunities to completely embarrass yourself trying to present wine at a table, you learn pretty quickly which wine openers are your friends and which wine openers are foe. I like this one because there's a bottle opener on the other end which comes in handy since Evan and I rarely drink the same thing at the same time. In his ahem- "older" years, Evan has found that both wine and beer can have negative impact on his head but if having to choose between the two, he'll take a beer any day. I on the other hand, am just learning to open my heart to beer...if only just a little. Either way, a good wine opener, one that you love, one that won't break on you, particularly if in front of a table trying to open up a 2004 bottle of Archery Summit (d'oh) is an essential kitchen tool.

What about you? What are your most treasured tools of the trade? What does your Kitchen Drawer look like?


A Menu "Fit" for Thanksgiving

Evan's Apple Pie with Brown Sugar Topping

We are having our first annual LRBC Thanksgiving this year. The Cafe will be closed for the holiday but we are gathering our families and friends together for what will go down as one hell of a feast. This is the first Thanksgiving that my family will be spending together with Evan's family- talk about a BIG DEAL. And even more special to us is that we're doing the Thanksgiving we've always imagined: a large group of family that are friends and a large group of friends that are family. In eager anticipation we've had several of our guests ask us, "What can we bring? What can we bring?" To which we reply (for the most part) "NOTHING!" (Exceptions?: To my dad: "Bring beer." To E's dad, "Bring bourbon.") We have more than all of our bases covered. What are we serving up? Oh, I'm so glad you asked...

The Holy Trinity: Moo's Turkey, Stuffing and Gravy Gravy
Vegetarian Mushroom Roast
Vegetarian Gravy
Curried Honey-Roasted Carrots
Lemon-Cream Braised Brussels Sprouts
Creamed Spinach
Smashed Potatoes
Autumn Salad
(Purely from scratch) Green Bean Casserole
Wild Rice with Roasted Butternut Squash, Cranberries, and Toasted Pecans
Brown and Serve Rolls with LRBC Homemade Blueberry Jam
Spiced-Cranberry Sauce
Baked Mac and Cheese
Apple Pie with Brown Sugar Topping

And this time we promise, pictures really will follow...

P.S. And this post just wouldn't be complete without giving thanks to all of you for your support, love, and all-around-awesomeness in helping us be who we are. XO


8 Questions with...Logan

Disclaimer: This photo was shot at The Alibi, about six hours in to the LRBC One Year Anniversary Party. Let's just say we don't need anyone to show us how to have a good time.

Name: Logan
Position at the Cafe:
Cook, plant horticulturist, professional fridge organizer, handyman

If you were a bike, what kind of bike would you be?
That sick red one locked up out front (of the Cafe)!!!
One of your favorite books?
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
Favorite condiment/spice/herb?

Salt and Pepper, how can you go wrong?
One of your favorite movie quotes?

"You said it, man. Nobody f**ks with the Jesus."-Jesus Quintana
Your Dream Pet?
Already got him. His name is KANE and he can be viewed
on the Polaroid wall (located in the Cafe bathroom.)
He's so dreamy!!!
Great Show you saw…
Which one, there's just so many to choose from... to be continued...
This summer you’ll find me…
In a tube floating down the river, melting like a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day
Where would you like to live and why?
Everywhere, what kind of question is that?

Compliments to the Chef

Three B's Waffle @ The Waffle Window

This past Sunday I found myself being interviewed. One of the questions I was asked was, "how do you and Evan like to spend your free time?" Hum. This one stumped me for a minute. I mean, when E and I aren't "doing the Cafe" how do we spend our time?
"We eat," I finally replied. Which was about as truthful of an answer as I could come up with.
Seriously, besides caring for our dog there is very little Evan and I do that doesn't revolve around food. (And it would be safe to say that our dog would attest that the majority of his life revolves around food as well. What can we say? It runs in the family.) If we're not cooking it, shopping for it, or serving it, we're eating it.

As such, we're starting a new segment on the blog known as "Compliments to the Chef," an ongoing series dedicated to highlighting the fantastic meals, chefs, cooks, and food purveyors in this fantastic city that feed us on a routine basis. We recognize the city of Portland and her inhabitants as true gems and this will hopefully become our way of thanking our peers and particularly those that feed us for always being friend over foe, and for your continuous achievements in inspiring, satiating, quenching, nourishing, and delighting our taste buds.

For this inaugural entry we'd like to highlight The Waffle Window, a spot we hit up this morning for the first time, and likely a spot we'll be frequenting for many a'breakfast on our day off. As you know, we're suckers for waffles and this place is right up our alley (well, not technically, given the fact that it's quite a distance from our 'hood but decidedly WELL worth the effort.) There are equal amounts of thought and love given to both the sweet and savory flavor profiles of each waffle and and each is unpredictable and unique in its own right. Evan started his day off with the "Three B's:" Pepper Bacon, Brie, and Basil, served with Peach Jam. Let's just say we both had a "D'Oh" Homer Simpson moment of, "Why the hell didn't WE think of that first?!?" Once we got over ourselves it was easy to concede that alas, sometimes it's absolutely crucial and best to leave the inspiring to others. And it would be terribly rude of us not to mention the fact that the melted bried was actually layered between the waffle and the bacon, a true testament to the thoughtfulness of the deliciousness. Did you hear that? I said layers of brie.

As for me, I went for the "Fallen Leaves" waffle: Fresh Raspberries, Fresh Pear, and Whipped Cream on a Chocolate Dipped Waffle. I usually veer towards savory items in the morning but this one had my name on it and I found my usually generous self to be sinfully greedy, hoarding the last bites for myself. E had to stop me at one point to inform me that I had chocolate stains on the corners of my mouth; a true sign of overflowing, seemingly inconsequential submission. Please go. This place radiates Specialness, if you can imagine that. I recommend letting your taste buds do it for you.

Fallen Leaves

The Waffle Window
SE 36th and Hawthorne
M-F: 9am-3pm
Sat&Sun: 8am-5pm