The One and Only Joel
The One and Only Joel
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:14 PM
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.
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.)
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.
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
Posted by Ali and Evan at 4:08 PM
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Posted by Ali and Evan at 4:04 PM
Vegetarian Mushroom Roast
Curried Honey-Roasted Carrots
Lemon-Cream Braised Brussels Sprouts
(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
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
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:29 PM
Position at the Cafe: Cook, plant horticulturist, professional fridge organizer, handyman
That sick red one locked up out front (of the Cafe)!!!
One of your favorite books?
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
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?
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:29 PM
"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.
The Waffle Window
SE 36th and Hawthorne
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:18 PM
Now that ANTM* is over, me and my gal pals have full intentions of beginning Craft Night. Ideas include holidays gifts and building the Cafe a new display case. In preparation I busied myself with my own crafty D.I.Y. projects around the house and cafe, including making up these bags for the new granola. Allow me to beat you to the punch: I'm a total nerd.
*Let's get one thing straight. America's Next Top Model used to be a totally worthwhile show. It has since morphed into a complete disaster, where I really can't root for anyone because I hate every contestant. Not to mention the fact that Tyra Banks has sort of lost her mind. This does not take away from the fact that I am remorseful for what I've lost and that I'll buy into any excuse to spend time with friends on a weekly basis.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:50 PM
This dessert is perhaps even better than Jim Jarmusch's film. At least we know it tastes better... However, there is a side of me that would probably do anything to have RZA, GZA, and Bill Murry in our shop. This is what I'd serve them.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 6:07 PM
Ali, Alice, AnnMarie, Dekin, Dylan, Evan, Julia, Kris, Kyle, Logan, Madeline, Marly, Ray, and Zeus
P.S. In other unrelated yet still along the same line of exciting news (for us anyways,) Caesar is staying with us for the weekend. Everyone, say hello to Caesar. Caesar, meet the Blog:
Posted by Ali and Evan at 5:05 PM
That said, if the truth really be told, Evan and I have been working tediously over the past three months developing a more semi-permanent menu for the Cafe. This constant menu adjusting has given us the opportunity to weed out the duds, and has given us insight into what we do best and what is craved most in the neighborhood. Our hope is that a semi-permanent menu will give Newbies a chance to develop a "go-to" meal, and Regulars will stop feeling jaded because their "go-to" meal has vanished since last week's menu. Not to mention the ease it will put on the kitchen and our Chalkboard Artista Extraordinaire, Marly, and we're really looking forward to having the ability to re-join the 21st century and post a menu online again on the sad little LRBC website that we fail to give 1/4 of much love to as this blog (Um, cue the Genius web developer who wants to help us out here...). But until we've finished with the last details of the menu, slowly worked it through the kitchen, and feel confident in its full execution, we'll be coming up with menu specials weekly, including turkey sandwich specials.
This week's turkey is affectionately called, "Let's Talk Turkey," named after a little place I used to frequent as a pre-teen in the food court of a certain downtown Portland mall (remember when it was cool to just go to the mall just to hang out with your friends? Like OMG- the idea of this now induces the sweats pre-major-anxiety attack). I'm fairly confident my "go-to" meal at this establishment was a turkey sandwich with jellied cranberry sauce and cream cheese on wheat bread. I believe my taste-buds have always equated these flavors with many cherished holiday memories. To this day I cannot think of a Day After Thanksgiving when my mother and I didn't eat leftover turkey sandwiches smothered in cranberry sauce (this includes several tofurkey/mushroom-nut roast versions during the post-meat years). Well, in spirit of the upcoming holidays and general good cheer, I've developed my own version of this classic "Leftover Sandwich" this week for the Cafe:
roast turkey, melted brie, cranberry-sage chutney, arugula, and balsamic mayonnaise on toasted Fleur de Lis ciabatta
And as a special treat and by special request of my husband who suggested we include more of our recipes on the blog, here's the super easy and delicious recipe for the cranberry-sage chutney. Please enjoy.
LRBC Cranberry-Sage Chutney:
1 can organic whole cranberries
1/2 cup zante currants
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
4 sage leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
Combine all ingredients, salt to taste and chill several hours before serving.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:13 PM
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:33 AM
It was totally delicious. Not that I didn't think it would be; it had just been awhile, you know? I proceeded to spend most of the meal commenting on how good everything tasted: the buttery-crisp edges, the softness of the bread, and the syrup. Man, do we have good syrup. Evan has ALWAYS been a stickler for real maple syrup and will ALWAYS fork up the extra buck if a menu offers it in replacement of that corn syrup crap. To be honest I never really understood it until my French Toast Experience today. WHOA, What. A. Difference. Consider it an epiphany.
I found the whole experience very reassuring to be reminded that yes, our food is delicious. And yes, it's worth paying for. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that when we get in the thick of it. It's not enough to have people coming in and out of the Cafe. I cannot tell you how many weekends when I'm stuck back in the kitchen beneath a sea of tickets, that I ask, desperately gasping for air, "What are people saying? What's the reaction today? Do people like the food" And even when the news is good news--scratch that--GREAT news there are days when that is simply not enough. There are days when your taste-buds are the only ones who you can really rely on. So yes. We do have awesome French Toast: Tried and True. But please feel free to come in and check for yourself. Believe me, I totally get it.
Recipes vary each week but we also try to keep it seasonal. Some favorites over the last year:
Spiced Pumpkin French Toast with Maple-Pecan Butter and Real Maple Syrup
Southern Challah French Toast with Oregon Peach Compote and Kentucky Bourbon Butter
Challah French Toast with Oregon Strawberry Compote and Orange-Poppyseed Butter
Posted by Ali and Evan at 3:58 PM
This is a CROQUE MONSIEUR (toasted ham and cheese sandwich) with the addition of a fried egg. We do ours sunnyside up styles.
Trust us, its very good; Kris and I split it for breakfast this morning--Kris also took one home for lunch. So yeah, it's like that good. Don't worry if you can't make it in over the next few days, we will likely be adding it to the menu permanently.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 4:09 PM
Oh, and whoever is the first to find out where I can get my hands on a Fernandez bobblehead wins breakfast for two at the LRBC, courtesy of yours truly. Happy hunting.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 10:03 PM
On days off like today when you are not woken up by your alarm company at 6:19am to tell you the front door security at your place of business has been breached like you were two Mondays ago, things are downright blissful.
Yes, on days off like today E and I found comfort in: feeling on the mend, sleeping in, local breakfast eats, walking our dog, essential grocery shopping (i.e. cold-pressed olive oil, vinegars of the white, apple cider, and balsamic variety, Parmesan cheese, etc.) , finally replacing various kitchen items that have been confiscated by the Cafe (i.e. microplane, colander, etc.), unclogging shower drains, working on projects with artsy-fartsy friends, fixing internet problems (i.e. approx. 50 mins. on the phone with AppleCare and another 25 with Qwest), a homemade dinner eaten fireside, the purchase of an amazing (last) seasonal nail color (OPI's Russian Navy), and some much needed fine-mandolin-tuning (i.e. E and his F-style and a lot of Dawg Music.) We are now focused on a much deserved cocktail hour followed by a movie in bed. Ahh yes. It's days like today that remind you that this is what a day off should be like.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:40 PM
Top with fresh ground pepper
Whenever I'm sick (like I have been over the past two weeks- C'mon, I'm over it already), I have a craving for comfort foods, the ones that filled my childhood growing up. As a little girl there was about a two year period where I ate nothing but scrambled egg sandwiches, made lovingly my my mom. I'm not even kidding, two scrambled eggs, every day for two years. Perhaps this over-consumption of eggs explains my years of veganism in college.
This morning, during my quest for breakfast I almost bypassed the eggs altogether. I was going to make do with just toast, a little butter, and some homemade blueberry jam. But then a hankering for my old go-to breakfast came over me. I was able to easily gather the necessary ingredients and began working on a simple but satisfying meal. The results were just like Mom used to make, with addition of a couple gourmet ingredients. Now only if this sandwich guaranteed a speedy recovery!
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:32 AM
Today marked the third morning in a row that I have woken up to a phone call from our alarm dispatch, informing me that the alarm at the cafe had been tripped. The reasons for the three different alarms are all unrelated, and ridiculous, so I will spare you the details. I will say however, that the first time the alarm was tripped on Monday morning it happened at 6:19am, and since then each incident has occurred earlier than the previous. My only hope is that tonight I can sleep soundly, and that my bedside alarm is the only thing that wakes me up tomorrow morning.
Fall is really here, which means that there is nothing but rain in the forecast and we are looking for anything and everything to help keep us inspired, and eager to create new recipes for the cafe. Lucky for us we work with a bunch of artists who regularly produce amazing works like the one you see pictured above, that make us want to tap into our own creative sides. Case in point: were still making ice cream.
Yes, we know its starting to get cold outside, and we still haven't purchased those outdoor heaters we mentioned a couple months back...but somebody once told me that Portlanders eat more ice cream in the winter than they do in the summer. Do you think that could actually be true?
Posted by Ali and Evan at 7:11 PM
As Etta James once famously sang, "At Last." Talk about a cause for celebration. I'm getting over walking pneumonia, we have a new president elect and life is undeniably good. President Obama. Yeah, we like the sound of that. We like the sound of that a lot. We're celebrating with treats from our friend Elizabeth's delectable new shop, Two Tarts in Northwest Portland: Chocolate Chip with Fleur de Sel, Lemon Crumble Bar, Pecan Tessie, and Pumpkin Ginger Tessie. Some people like to wash their cookies down with milk (us included). But tonight is worthy of an adult friendly beverage and we've taken a liking towards Dogfish Head's seasonal Punkin Ale, "a full bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon & nutmeg."
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:39 PM
I must admit that one of my favorite parts of this whole blog thing is having the ability to look back and see exactly what we were up to one year ago. It wasn't until yesterday that I realized that Ali, who just kicked a nasty cold, was sick with a cold at the exact same time last year. Coincidence, or is the nature of the human body more cyclical than we often realize? Regardless, without this little journal of ours much of our recent past would be forgotten.
Our pictures, as well as our words tell us a lot about what our lives were like at any given time. As far as I can tell from the above photo, which was snapped early last November, it appears as though I had already lost my thunder for cutting onions and had taken to photographing my odious enemies prior to cutting them. My sadistic side coming through.
Thanks mostly to Dekin, I now have far less early morning onion cutting sessions in my life.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 8:58 PM