3.31.2009

Compliments to the Chef


We were first turned on to this cart by a lady who knows a thing or two about the Portland Food Cart scene. You may have heard of her website? Well, yes. We had the great fortunate of meeting the one and only Cuisine Bonne Femme for lunch down around 10th and Alder one fateful winter afternoon, where as many of you know, food carts abound. We were incomprehensibly eager to see which carts she would recommend given that we were in Mecca, and what could be deemed by some as her "territory." She was Caesar in Rome, and we were visitors invited to enjoy the fruits of the land, so long as we chose carefully. I feared this would be a loaded decision.

As we edged around the lot, dodging passerbys and attempting to scan menus, I began to feel a bit overwhelmed. And that's when the great Cart Queen became our Shepard and we her sheep, and she uttered those famous words, the words that changed our lives forever; "There's a great Korean BBQ cart around the corner," and then suddenly, a particular cart, in that mass sea of carts, began to sharpen into focus.


And there it was: the #1 Bento Korean BBQ Cart.


These are the women that'll likely greet you when you visit these sacred grounds. In most cases there will be three of them (there's another one, tucked down in front of the stove) and together they will dance a ballet right in front of your eyes (for no extra charge). You will be greeted and thanked with a nod and a generous smile, as your order is repeated back to you, and then you'll watch as they go to work dishing up some of the most dank grub, Korean or otherwise, in overtly generous portions. Most dishes come with a little side cup of their kimchee which Evan is addicted to. Typing the words "glass noodle salad," the one that comes with their bentos, makes me salivate. Literally.


I heard from a friend who has the great pleasure of working downtown and more importantly close to this cart, that these lovely ladies pass out soup on cold days to their customers. Like what? I swear, these gals are so darn cute that both Disney or Pixar should take notes. But there is nothing "cute" about their food. As Tyra would say, the food here is fierce and ridiculously affordable. Everything tastes fresh and we always walk away feeling like we have been given an ounce of sunshine in food form, for approximately $6/each. That's to be considered more than a deal if you live in Portland, Oregon where sun is worth more than gold.

#1 Bento? You are our number one bento. You make us look forward to coming downtown, a feat in and of itself. You give us yet another reason to say that cute and downright lovable phrase, "Bi-Bim-Bap." But that's not all. You are our #1 reason we'll chance parking our VW in a parking garage, when we still don't technically know it's true height. You are our #1 source for pickled cabbage. You are our #1 reason for carrying cash at lunchtime. And you are the #1 ONLY reason we EVER eat iceberg lettuce. Thank you for being awesome.

#1 Bento Korean BBQ
SW 10th & Alder
Portland, OR 97205
Lunch to about 6PM hours Mon-Sat

3.30.2009

Catching Up on Some Reading

Eggs Florentine at Wanda's Bakery and Cafe

If today had gone as planned we'd be at the beach house in Arch Cape, gorging ourselves on Jason and Hillary's One Eyed Willies, and Triple Ginger Cookies and Coconut Dream Bars from Wanda's in Nehalem. We would be cooking up a storm, processing jam, baking cookies, and inventing new egg sandwich recipes with an arsenal of fresh veggies from Mother Nature's in Manzanita. We would be snapping photographs religiously, walking on the beach constantly, allowing Zeus to lead the way with his leash off, one of the treasured few places on this earth we allow him to do so. Collecting rocks for my mama, and sand dollars for the flower beds on the outside patio. We would be watching a late-night "Forensic Files" marathon followed by anything Bravo Network during the mid-morning hours. We would be taking baths, wear silly old hats, and partake in at least one round of Scrabble. We would be drinking rounds of Kentucky Bourbon (neat), followed by red wine for her, and Bourbon on the rocks for him, nightcapped with Whiskey Milkshakes for two. We'd be sipping on Courier's latest and greatest, and sooth our exhausted bellies with Foxfire's herbal Peppermint Tea made with NW mint. We'd stretch in front of the fire, do headstands in the front yard, and feed the seagulls leftover bagels. We'd roll up the cuffs of our pants, wear big rubber yellow boots, and make our own waves. We'd be curled up in an armchair catching up on our favorite blogs, reading menus, stewing over our favorite restaurants, all in effort to regain the drive and love for what we do. We'd fill our days with laughter, food, completely impertinent yet awe-inspiring information delivered via Home and Garden Television , time-honored s'mores practice, bath salts, spooning sessions with our dog, spontaneous karaoke sessions, and at times a little more sand than I'm comfortable with. That is what the beach house is to us: it is our sanctuary; our nest; our den; our temple. We find security there, comfort, inspiration, ritual, familiarity, whispers of family history steeped in rich emotion, and us. We find ourselves here every time, the ones we lost in all of the mess that has accrued since the last time we were at this sanctuary. I hardly use that word lightly.

But alas, a visit was not really in the cards for us. The signs were all there: new menus had to be designed and printed, new prep and par lists, orders had to be placed with vendors, items in the refrigerator had to be consolidated, screen printers and artists had to be contacted regarding forthcoming LRBC t-shirts, equipment warranties had to be honored, April's schedule had to be written, and re-written, a pesto aioli recipe for the new turkey special had to be created, bank deposits had to be made, we would have to return to Portland early on Tuesday for dentist appointments we already had to reschedule once (which are also like a year over-due), and we still had to pick up some thread lock for the guard plate to the meat slicer (ahh yes, the joys of being a small business owner.) Did I mention this was our day-off? When people ask us why we aren't open seven days a week, this is why. The Jews got it right when they decided to create that whole "day of rest" thing. Want to hear about what's in store for Tuesday?

Despite these seemingly insurmountable odds we continued to keep a trip down to the Oregon Coast in our sights. However, unknown powerful forces had other plans...

Beach Scene

For some odd reason scheduled beach house maintenance always seems to coincide with our visits. Over the past few years we have been better about dodging these situations that plagued us in the past; fence repair; carpenter ant spraying, dead-bolt lock door repair; house cleaning, leak repair on door and roof, etc. We thought we'd seen it all, really. But how were we to anticipate the thermostat going on the brink alongside with the dishwasher? People always say owning a home is like having a second full-time job. Well, imagine owning a second home, and when it goes on the fritz and you're trying to find a repair guy in a town you don't exactly live in...well, you get the idea. Don't get me wrong, we all feel ridiculously fortunate that this beach house exists; I think many of us, if not all, are better people because of it. However, it does take a lot of work to maintain a home. We are fortunate enough that there is an allegiance of family members bound together to keep this place in working order for the benefit of many. We sing their praises often. But like we said, older homes have a tendency to take maintenance matters in to their own hands, and when any attempt is made to wrestle that control back, we assume the responsibility of on-site supervisors. Don't ask us why. I suppose it's a gift; we at least get to ensure that the beach house is in good hands.

So this whole thermostat/furnace and dishwasher repair threw us for a loop and Evan confirmed this was just one trip that was meant to happen at a future time. He informed me of this as he was at Hankin's Hardware picking up the thread lock, and sadly remarked, "But can we still have a Beach Day?" Which I supposed was his way of asking if we could still fill our day with delights in both the culinary, and good ole fashioned soul nurturing kind of way that flows through our veins so naturally when we're on the Coast.

At first I wasn't sure it was possible. A Beach Day in a drizzly, too-cold-for-this-goddamn-time-of-year, all-too-regular, habitually inclined to work environment? No. I wanted potato chowder and beach glass. Evan asked if I would settle for an afternoon of dog-walks and Powell's and our favorite Korean bento (more on THAT to come! Stay tuned!) and homemade iced almond chai, and an evening of music and a homemade dinner. Could I settle for that, he asked. Well I suppose that doesn't sound too bad. I mean come on, really, he had me at Powell's. We would compromise (which can sometimes feel like an all-too familiar feeling in this business) and settle for doing a substantial portion of work and fill our day with a few of our favorite things. Not all that awful. We've certainly had worse days off. And in the end the goal is to get the work done as early as possible to try and free up some time during the week to pursue other creative outlets. Things like: new mandolin melodies, impromptu dinner parties, furniture wheeling and dealing, reconnecting with loved ones in town, finally taking advantage of that cell phone bill and and catching up with that special someone on the other coast, going for walks, and reading. We do a lot of reading during this time too. And this is the kind of reading that keeps our passion for the job in perspective. We are true school-nerds at heart and are firm believers that not only is learning always possible, but necessary. Thanks to many dear friends in the business who have turned us on to some of the best culinary reads. Cookbooks, Primers, Food Memoirs, and Gastronomical Literature are sort of like our new obsession.

One Shelf of our Culinary Bookshelf

So we may not be at the beach but I am looking at it this way: instead of filling my brain with what I know is an obscene and unhealthy amount of television and subsequent ad campaigns (hey we don't have cable in our own home so we tend to get our quarterly dosage here), I have spent my afternoon doing a lot of reading. In this year's first list of 8 Questions, we asked the question: Last great book you shared with a friend?

What's on our list?

Some choice "Old" favorites include:
"Super Natural Cooking" by Heidi Swanson, which put food, color, and film in perspective, "Joy of Cooking," "Chez Panisse Café Cookbook", and "The Art of Simple Food," which started it all, and "The French Laundry Cookbook" by Thomas Keller, which was used by my dearly beloved ones to prepare a ever-memorable birthday feast for yours truly.

New on the list?
"A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table " by Molly Wizenberg, " With a Measure of Grace" by Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle, and "Gluten-Free Girl," Shauna James Ahern's book which has us itching for her next installment, as well as "On Food and Cooking" by Harold Mcgee, a true find for Evan's ever-inquisitive mind.

Thanks to the many friends out there who passed these books along to us as we fully intend to share the wealth of knowledge abroad. What about you? What's the last great book you shared with your friend? Food related or otherwise?

¿Que Paso Rodolfo?

nothing a little super glue can't fix?!?

You thought the foul by Trevor Ariza was bad? Our little Rudy Fernandez took a tumble this weekend courtesy of a swipe from a cafe customer. This time the flagrancy of the foul was unintentional. I am now wishing I had not asked my mom to return that extra bobblehead she purchased a few months back.

While Rudy is on hiatus from the cafe (i.e. see Operation Krazy Glue), the special is still available via the "not so secret menu." Just ask for it. Thought this might also be a good time to ask if anyone has any spare Rudy bobbleheads lying around the house which they might want to donate to the LRBC?

The Rudy Fernandez
fried egg, jamon serrano, manchego cheese, olive tapenade, roasted red bell pepper aioli, and oregano on fresh baked ciabatta

8 Questions with... Kyle


Name: Kyle
Position at the Cafe:
Busser, Sugar-Rush Runner, Your Host with the Most, music mentor, LRBC's Guiding Light

Your favorite Michael Jackson song is:

Ooohhh, no. This is almost impossible but its either “P.Y.T.” or “Dancing Machine”

In your dream garden we will find the following things growing:
Undoubtedly: Purple Kale, Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes and Ginger!!

Famous person I want to dress me is:
I think I could borrow some threads from the closet of Slick Rick, plus something from his gold chain collection

Best thing you’ve put in your mouth recently?
Ray's most recent espresso invention: 2 shots of espresso, Holy Kakow Chocolate syrup, a dash of soy milk, agave nectar and Bolivian finishing salt

What do you never eat?
Another animal's flesh

Salt or Pepper?
Cayenne!!!

Last great book you shared with a friend?
I showed my homie Sam this book called Woody Guthrie: Art Works by Nora Guthrie. It has a bunch of original hand drawings, songs, poems and rants. Very fresh.

This summer you’ll find me…
Judging wisely, as if nothing ever surprises me, lounging between two pillars of ivory

3.29.2009

LRBC Little Known Fact #13


It's not all eggs and butter at Little Red Bike Cafe. For instance, check out these Vegan Flax-Blueberry Pancakes. Who can't get down with these?

Flax-Blueberry Pancakes
serves 4

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar or natural sweetener (we like agave)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1 ¼ cup soymilk or other dairy-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 cup fresh blueberries or frozen, thawed

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.

In a blender, combine flaxseeds and water and blend until thick, about 30 seconds. Add soy milk, vanilla, and coconut oil and blend until smooth.

Pour wet ingredients into dry—mix until just moist. Fold in the berries.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Drop about 3 tablespoons of the batter onto the preheated pan. Flip over when each pancake begins to bubble on top, about 2 minutes. Keep the cooked pancakes warm in the oven while you prepare the remaining pancakes.

Serve with vegan buttery spread (if desired) and maple syrup.

3.28.2009

Saturday Wrap-Up/A Peek at Sunday

Ray's lunch: two open face buttermilk-sage biscuits, one prepared 'Alleycat' style, fried egg, prosciutto, Flagship cheese, fig jam, dijon mustard, and caramelized onions. The other a 'Messenger,' fried egg, bacon, gorgonzola spread, and apple butter.

To everyone who has put up with the clusterf*ck of late (i.e. weekends at the LRBC), please know that it is possible to have a comfortable Saturday or Sunday dining experience. Case in point: today. We're not quite sure if it was the weather or Spring Break that made for a slightly slower than usual pace, but whatever the case today was, dare I say it, cozy. A steady stream of happy faces stopped in, but never too many to make it feel overcrowded. For those of you who need a little extra elbow rooms after a raucous night out, we ask that you be patient. Though the warm weather gods have not been very kind to us thus far in 2009, know that our day will come, and during the coming week Ali and I will be speding our time off looking for new outdoor furniture for the cafe.

Look what's new at the cafe: Homemade Whoopie Pies

As for tomorrow, you know what day it is...

Hawaiian French Toast
coconut French toast with shaved coconut, grilled pineapple, whipped butter, and toasted macadamia nut maple syrup
lu'au style: add bacon...

3.27.2009

Busting Out the Crock-Pot


Hail Rosemary Biscuits and Gravy
homemade buttermilk-sage biscuits smothered in brown-butter mushroom gravy, served with a cup of fresh fruit
add two eggs add bacon


Huevos Divorciados
two sunnyside-up eggs served atop two corn tortillas, “separated” by homemade salsas—one fiery red and the other green. Topped with poblano crema and lime, served with black beans and fried plantain

French Press
smoked ham, brie, dijon mustard, parsley butter pressed on a panini, served with spring greens, and housemade molasses balsamic vinaigrette

Big Game

Blazer fans:

How 'bout last night? Big win over Phoenix means that the any combination of six Phoenix losses or Trailblazer wins will send Portland to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Rudy's line:

23 points, 2 steals, 2 assists, and 1 rebound

Though not appearing on the actual menu, look for the bobblehead doll which indicates that the sandwich is available for order. Go, Rudy, Go!

The Rudy Fernandez
fried egg, jamon serrano, manchego cheese, olive tapenade, roasted red bell pepper aioli, and oregano on fresh baked ciabatta

Coffee So Good It Defies Mathematics

62% Sulawesi Toraja Grade 1, 48 % Ethiopia Sidamo Grade 3 Koratie Cooperative
Wait a minute...62% + 48% = 110%...awesome!


Introducing the 110% espresso blend from Courier Coffee Roasters (or a sure sign that Joel was in need of some extra sleep)*. Don't sweat it Joel, I wouldn't have noticed it myself had Ray not pointed it out to me (a sure sign I am in need of some extra sleep).

I can say with 110% confidence that the espresso served at LRBC during the early part of today will be nothing short of amazing. Roasted in the wee hours of the morning on Monday, March 23rd (we're talking 3:00am early), the coffee is 5 days out of roast, which proved to be the "money spot" for the previous batch. Based on what I was tasting yesterday, I have a similar feeling about what's in store for today. Please be aware that only 3 lbs of this stuff currently exists at the cafe. As I type this we are 5 minutes away from opening, and taking into account a few of Ray's seasoning shots as well as a double shot that is necessary in order to make frosting for our Vegan Monkey Muffins, we could be down to 2.75 lbs. Regardless, if you can get to the cafe before 11:00am this morning, you're in for a real treat. I guarantee it. 110%.

Can't make the trip? Don't worry! We currently have on hand another 12 lbs of espresso that was roasted on the 25th, which means that you will all have another chance to try the current blend as it reaches its fifth day of maturity, this Sunday, March 29th.

I am off to the Little Red Bike to get my day started right. Happy Friday.

*I only make light of this mistake because, for those of you who know Joel, or anyone who has not had the great pleasure of meeting him, the guy is super detail oriented. Always included on his coffee bags are his roast date and time, and often a little note specific to that particular batch of coffee; how successful he thinks the roast was, when the coffee should be at its peak, tasting notes, etc. The guy never misses a beat. So when he does make a mistake, however minor, it is fun to make note of it (fun for us).

3.26.2009

Madame Butterfly

After a week of being cooped up in the house with the flu, I emerged from my cocoon this afternoon to embrace the neighborhood, finally able to confirm that yes, Spring has arrived.

3.25.2009

ATTN: Dan Eckstein

Dear Dan,
Happy Birthday, You Handsome Devil.



We're better for knowing ya. XO

3.22.2009

Thank Heavens...

...for this guy:


...and this guy:


Upon opening at 8:00am this morning we had one customer at the cafe. By 8:15 we were full. Come 8:30 there was already a line. Just over one hour into what had to have been our busiest opening rush ever, shit really hit the fan when one of the more essential pieces of LRBC equipment decided to go on the fritz.* No need fret, its Joel and Kyle to the rescue.

Thanks you two, you saved our day.

*To me, "opening rush" at the LRBC is the first two hours of service. If you're keeping score at home, that's 8:00am-10:00am.

3.21.2009

On the Menu...

Blackberry-Earl Grey Jam

Today we're featuring this jam on our biscuit sandwich known affectionately as the:

Spring Fling
black pepper-buttermilk biscuit with fried egg, bacon, blackberry-earl grey jam and goat cheese

This jam rules for many reasons, but in my opinion it's the way the citrus and bergamot from the tea compliment the blackberries that really set this jam off. The pairing is subtle but oh-so-profound. We use Foxfire Teas' Earl Grey, as it is, again in my humble opinion, the best Earl Grey tea out there, not to mention we can't help but love this local company and the wondrous Quinn and Katherine who run it. In fact, it was Quinn and Katherine who first gave us the idea to use their tea in our cooking, when they paired up with our friends from Two Tarts Bakery to make Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies for the holidays.
That's when the light went off. We've always liked Earl Grey tea but there's something special about Foxfire's. The flavor seems uber concentrated and I love the way the citrus oils seep into the brown bag the tea is delivered in. As many of you know, I often force customers to smell this tea before tasting it because it really is that good. Seriously, the aromatics speak for themselves so ask me for a whiff next time you're in. I had a customer tell me two weeks ago that his favorite thing to do with this jam is to spoon it over vanilla ice cream. Um yeah, can you say delicious? I think I can speak for the group when I say, thanks for the great idea!

3.20.2009

That's My Girl!

Like we said, when it rains it pours. I don't know what's been going on, but yet another wave of press has passed over our family. Do any of you happen to remember that quintessential New York wedding we got to be a part of last October? Well, I'm happy to announce that my sister and brother-in-law's wedding is now featured on Style Me Pretty, the famous wedding blog that's an absolute must read for any future bride. Look for the eight (count um, I said eight) posts of Tara and Dan's wedding detailing everything from the music and food, to the stunning calligraphy and flowers. Trust me, Abby and Tara do a much better job of filling in all of the juicy details from this magical day. Plus, there's tons of wedding porn that would make any style obsessed bride drool. Congrats, Sister. You look marvelous, Daaarling, simply marvelous. XO

Photos coutsey of Heather Waraksa

When It Rains It Pours


Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, more good press. This time it was our coffee roaster, Joel, appearing on the cover photo of a feature you can all read in the current issue of Mix magazine

Titled "The New Micro Roasters," the piece also features our friends at Cellar Door Coffee Roasters and Spella Caffe, as well as a couple other talented Portland roasters.


The article focuses on the blooming trend of the micro-roaster, small-batch focused artisan coffee aficionados who are helping to improve the overall quality of the coffee industry at large. In the article, publisher of Roast Magazine Connie Blumhardt comments that Joel's beans "are the most perfect beans you're going to see. They're completely uniform, there are no defects, there are hardly any cracks. These have been sorted almost to perfection." Not bad eh?

Kudos to Mix for making note of this awesome trend. Big ups to Rob Finch and Beth Nakamura for the amazing photos they shot for the article (FYI, Mix magazine is a photo lover's wet dream). Lastly, congratulations to Joel and everyone else who received mention in the article. Your hard work is making our lives taste so good.

Coffee geeks take note, the aforementioned issue of Mix also features a wonderful article on the macchiato written by a true connoisseur of drink, Craig Umanoff. The article breaks the art of macchiato production into three categories, man, bean, and machine, in effort to assess exactly what goes into making a quality drink. Superhero Adam McGovern of Coffeehouse Northwest provides expert insight in the "man" section of the piece. Check it out.

3.19.2009

Good News North Portland...

sesame flower blossom cookies

Veth's deviled eggs

Laotian egg salad

guava jelly roll

guava jelly roll, sliced

All of the delights you see pictured above may soon be available for retail purchase! Dekin, the sole non-familial human being who has been with us at the cafe since day one, along with his über talented wife Veth, will soon be sharing their amazing culinary skills with the general public at a Farmer's Market near you! Keep your fingers crossed folks. We've been fortunate enough to sample their many creations during the past year and a half, and after doing so I think it is safe to say that they will be making a lot of new friends.

We will be sure to keep y'all abreast of any developments. Until then, stop by the cafe to try Dekin's "Dangi Donuts" and "Sesame Flower Blossom Cookies."

3.17.2009

Fresh Chalk and Other Happenings


Marly did it again this past Friday. The creativity of her piece as well as the popularity of the "specials" caused us to hold over the "El Jefe" as well as "Rosemary's Meltdown" for the current week. Beehives went out of style years ago, but we're starting to get the feeling that egg, cheddar, ham, avocado, and green chili aioli might be in fashion for some time to come.

Ray's Saturday shift meal
(looks as though the bacon got overcooked...sorry Ray)


Also, waffles were served this past Saturday, which was a first for the LRBC. We called the special "Pigs in a Quilt," and tried a new batter recipe, into which we folded bacon crumbles. The waffle was served with a fried egg, two slices of bacon, whipped rosemary-maple butter and real maple syrup. We definitely learned a few things, one of which being that it might be difficult to spread butter on a waffle that is topped with an egg and bacon. Next time we'll try melting the butter and drizzling it over the waffle prior to serving it. Thanks to all of our test dummies for helping us learn about the magic of waffles. It's only going to get better.

3.15.2009

Our Name in Print: An Acceptance Speech


Seeing our name in print is something I don't think either of us will ever get used to. It reminds me of when I was younger and I used to write my first name attached to the last name of the current boy I was pining for. Despite the recognition of my first name, and the repetitious manner of writing and rewriting my "married name" over and over, something always felt off, like in a "this can't really be happening" sort of way (perhaps in this case it was the fact that I was never meant to change my name, and that the reality is that I never did take the name of my husband).

The reason I mention it is that the month of March has proven to be quite the month for Little Red Bike press. The month began spectacularly when we won Portland Monthly's Best French Toast accolade. "B is for Bacon...", the cover story of this month's issue, guides the reader to Portland’s best waffles, eggs, biscuits, hash, coffee, pancakes, bagels, omelets, pastries, doughnuts, dim sum, and more. Sixty-four places throughout the city were mentioned and we couldn't help but swoon over the fact that not only did our Messenger Sandwich get a nod in the "Best Egg Sandwich" category, but our French toast won for best French Toast in the city. Wowza! What a fantastic compliment, and on a personal note, I truly hold these two items close to my heart as their recipes and existence in the cafe are so wrapped up in family history that this award should also go out to my grandmother, Martha Charlesworth, my mother, Madeline Jepson, and my best friend in the whole world and sister, Tara Jepson. Without them, the Messenger would still be missing something, and our French Toast would be nothing more than bread dipped in batter. So much thanks must go out to everyone, including Portland Monthly Magazine. Thanks for your support of our business and livelihood during these difficult economic times. Most importantly thanks for redirecting us to our roots. I can say first hand that this particular article has brought tons of people out to North Portland on the hunt for mind-blowing fried egg sammies and challah French toast, and consequently we can't keep enough bread in stock. Apologies to our baker, Greg Mistell, who puts up with our ever-changing "standing order."

We are also thrilled to be a part of the editorial feature in Imbibe Magazine's Mar/Apr issue. Last July, Imbibe graciously published our recipe for Blackberry Tequila Sorbet but this time we're over the moon that this month's feature is regarding our coffee. "Around the World in 20 Cups" is the Mar/Apr cover story that reports the "best, brightest, and flat-out most interesting coffee happenings around the globe." Aside from Portland (like duh) featured locales include Chiapas, Mexcio, Hawaii and Athens, Greece to name a few. Not surprisingly, Imbibe picked up on Portland's trend of connecting two of our city's most beloved and distinct counterparts: Bikes and Coffee. According to the article, Portland's highlights include Pedal Bike Tours which takes participants through a coffee crawl, Stumptown's Bikes to Rwanda which provides cargo bicycles to coffee farmers in Africa, our dear friend Joel Domreis of Courier Coffee Roasters and his pedal pushing ways, and us, Little Red Bike Cafe. We blinked twice reading our name in print amongst such inspiring company. Sheesh. How cool is that? Cheers to Imbibe Magazine for your constant creative inspiration. We love collaborating with you, we love reading you, and we love filling our brains with your rocking recipes and buzz-worthy news.

Lastly and perhaps the most alluring evidence that there must be something in the water, was our feature in Willamette Week's Cheap Eats Guide 2009. While we have always liked to consider our food good value, it means all that much more when we're actually recognized for it in an actual guide. I shit you not when I say we've always kept a copy of Willamette Week's annual Cheap Eats pull-out guide in our take-out menu drawer (yes, we've designated a whole drawer in our kitchen for those), and we've relied on it for years to navigate around the city's most affordable and trendsetting eateries. Imagine our glee when this year's guide had not one but two shout-outs for our Little Red Bike Cafe. Cue the "this really can't be happening" moment. The first mention of our cafe is in the "American" section, pg. 7-8. My stomach turned (in the best way possible) when we read the opening lines:
"The bike-thru window. The housemade ice cream. The locally roasted, bike-delivered coffee. The gourmet breakfast sandwiches made with local ingredients...few places epitomize the Portland ethos quite like the teacup-sized Little Red Bike Cafe."

I am verklemptly overwhelmed by the sweetness of that statement. Our second mention, and perhaps the most rewarding can be found in the "Coffee Beyond Stumptown" section (gasp! there is such a thing in this city!!!!), pg.23, where we are featured along with our friends from Coffeehouse Northwest, Spella, and Cellar Door to name a few. As tickled pink as I am from all the press about our food, I can tell you first hand that Joel, Evan, and Ray from roasting, tamping, and pouring, have put just as much love in to the coffee side of things at the cafe. As far as I know it, this and the Imbibe Magazine article are the first to make note of such. To sum it up, it means a lot, it really does.

And now for our acceptance speech...
After what can only be described as a somber and demanding February, these little March gems act as reflections of light, cast in what shadows remain of darker moments. As difficult as it is to wrap our heads around getting published, being mentioned, and getting a wink, nod, and push from undeniably talented resources, I have to say, that it is at times like these when we become so thankful for our jobs and that we are able to confirm yes, this is all worth it. Because while the flame and drive must ignite from within, it doesn't hurt to have some validation from the outside world. We recognize the fact that we work very hard at our jobs trying to please the masses. Day in and day out our life literally revolves around the cafe. At times it has consumed us, chewed us up, and spit us out. But we know we are not alone in this reality and that there are many people out there who devote their lives to their job but lack not only a venue but an outlet to be recognized, valued and praised. Having this happen to us, to our cafe, and to our LRBC family, and knowing that what started out as a small seed has grown in to something beyond our capacity for digestion, is all very rewarding, humbling, and inspiring. So thank you, thank all of you. I suppose at this point it can't be denied that you like us, you really, really like us.

3.14.2009

Peeps, 1921-2009

A trend has developed. First timers at the LRBC are learning, sometimes the hard way, that French Toast Sundays always features one "special" recipe and only one special recipe. This means we change the French Toast offerings often, and we're likely to sell out quickly. We feel badly because we're aware of how many of you we've disappointed since the Portland Monthly article came out, those of you who made the trek out in search of "the Elvis" only to arrive and learn we only offer one type of French Toast at a time, and that no, today's isn't the Elvis. But there was Monte Cristo French Toast with orange poppy seed butter and Oregon strawberry pinot-noir jam, and Log Cabin French Toast with sausage links, maple butter, and fried sage, and Blood-Orange-Hazelnut French Toast with blood-orange marmalade, candied hazelnuts and salted caramel butter, and there was Orange Cardamom French Toast with dark chocolate drizzle. But no, there was no Elvis. But that doesn't mean there won't be in the future. Sadly, the truth is that if you don't like any of the above offerings then today, and last Sunday and the Sunday before that and so on, just wasn't your day.

Given that the recipe changes week to week, it may not be consistently special to you all the time, but we assure you that it is special to someone somewhere. Last Sunday's recipe was special for a different reason, being that it was dedicated to my grandfather, who passed the previous week.


Peeps (a derivative of Peepa, as he was often called by close family), led a long and happy life, and took great pleasure in reminding both himself and others of that very fact (in his later years often doing so twice in the same conversation). A son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, businessman, gardener, poet, artist, athlete, and Jim Beam appreciator.

Among his favorite foods there was one particular item that seemed to remain a constant that throughout all his life, or at least as long as anyone knows for certain. At any given time if one were to open my grandfather's freezer, you could count on discovering at least a few pints of Häagen-Dazs Rum Raisin ice cream. A well known fact amongst the entire family, so many pints were emptied throughout the years that my grandparents were able to accrue an entire designer line of makeshift Häagen-Dazs Tupperware containers used for storing leftovers. In doing so, they were able to stock their refrigerator and freezer much like a commercial kitchen; entirely uniform stacking storage containers. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that it was my grandfather who first inspired me to enter the food business.

In honor of Peeps, Ali conceptualized a Rum Raisin French Toast...


Stuart’s Rum Raisin French Toast
cinnamon-orange challah french toast topped with tart raisins and cranberries, served with cinnamon whipped cream, vanilla bean butter, and jamaican rum maple syrup

Some tricks up her sleeve?
*To plump them up, she soaked both the golden and Thompson raisins in Myer's Rum and soaked cranberries in Cointreau overnight before topping the French Toast
*Zesting an entire orange into the batter, along with adding organic orange juice really punches up the flavor of the batter and compliments the cinnamon, alcohol, and maple flavors.
*Make your own vanilla-bean butter at home: combine the seeds of two vanilla bean pods and 1/2 lb. of softened unsalted butter in a food processor, blend until smooth. Spread on homemade hot-outta-the-oven muffins, molasses bread, or white toast

Ali and I both know that without the support of my grandfather the Little Red Bike Cafe would likely not exist. In fact, it was a fateful conversation in the garage of his home that we decided upon the name, "Little Red Bike Cafe." For that and many other reasons we are forever grateful for the time we spent with Peeps and for the wisdom he so generously liked to bestow upon those around him. Thanks, Peeps. You will be missed.

3.13.2009

On the Menu...

Hello Saturday!


Vegan Monkey Muffins
banana bread muffin with oats, chocolate chips, coconut, and espresso glaze

Pigs in a Quilt

buttermilk-bacon waffle topped with fried egg and two slices of smoked bacon, with whipped rosemary-maple butter and real maple syrup
add an extra egg

Irish Ploughman’s Lunch
sharp white cheddar, tender corned beef, caramelized onions, and dijon-mayo grilled on sandwich bread, with sweet pickles, potato chips, and green salad

Rosemary’s Meltdown
bacon, brie, blue cheese, rosemary, red grapes, olive oil and greens grilled on como bread
sub veggie bacon…no charge


I'd also like to show you how:

This:


Plus This:


Equals This:


Orange Sticky-Bun Bread Pudding
with cinnamon, orange zest, and almonds, served with fresh whipped cream

Who's ready to get their brunch on?

3.12.2009

8 Questions with...Ray


Name: Ray
Position at the Cafe:
Barista, Rollerskating/Disco Guru, Precision in Motion, El Rey


Your favorite Michael Jackson song is:
"Don't Stop Till You Get Enough"

In your dream garden we will find the following things growing:
Some sort of Belgian hops (purely for aromatics)
Potatoes (I was raised in Idaho)
Spinach
Tangelos
Huckleberries
Industrial hemp
A nicely groomed lot of Geisha coffee trees

Famous person I want to dress me is:
Andre 3000...so fresh and so clean

Best thing you’ve put in your mouth recently?
$12.50 worth (about 25 grams) of Panama Esmerelda Especial Batch #1 prepared on a vacuum brewer with a 45 second brewing time yielding about 12 ounces of nectar straight from heaven

What do you never eat?
Enough

Salt or Pepper?
Pepper

Last great book you shared with a friend?
DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman M.D.

This summer you’ll find me…
On my bike

3.10.2009

Afternoon Snack


one slice of Dave's Good Seed, toasted
navy beans
sliced organic tomato, seasoned with salt and pepper
fresh chives
olive oil

3.08.2009

Chalk-boarding





All works by the marvelous Marly Beyer.

3.07.2009

Two.


Going to bed...shutting down the computer...saw the date...realized the significance:

the blog is 2 today.

Happy Birthday blog.