10.29.2009

Life's Perpetual Slideshow


I had a scary dream the other night. The kind you wake up from with a lump in your throat and knot in the pit of your stomach. I hate those. This one centered around an irreparable crack in the lens of my camera, making it impossible for me to take a photograph without a jagged line severing the frame of each shot. I found it heartbreaking. And scary. Once I was able to regain consciousness and gather myself from the uneasy dream, I rumbled out of bed and briskly padded down the hall, into the dining room, and to the table where my camera sat. Panicked, I quickly drew the camera to my eye and peered through the viewfinder, only to be overjoyed when a jagged line did not appear (insert giant-sigh-of-relief here.) Just to make sure, I went ahead and scanned through the memory card and was delighted to find the following memories come flooding back at me:


LaLa's 1st time overcoming her fear of stairs...sort of


My husband's latest ink additions


The "iron-grilled" road-trip snack purchased only so that I may have access to a public restroom while on the road without a rest area in sight


Celebrating our friend Kyle's birthday, LRBC styles (made complete w/ pumpkin whoopie pie)


My new (to me) bike all shined up 'n purrrty before the rains hit


as well as my beloved Jeep Eleanor's final hurrah and our touching last goodbye in the driveway, courtesy of our local AAA


It may sound silly to you, to have a nightmare about breaking something so replaceable as a camera but I assure you, losing my ability to take photographs, if even for a second, would absolutely destroy me. While the last five years have afforded quite the love affair with this whole point 'n shoot gig, over the last year my camera has been etched into my hip, becoming nothing short of a lifeline. Forget about that silly love affair. We've now moved on to a full-blown life commitment.

By now my camera is my: beloved pet, memory bank, translator, outlet, instrument, voice, scribe, compass, and my internal plug-in; that which allows me to connect and disconnect to the living world on a given whim.

In short, losing the ability to capture life's moments would mean losing all of the silly, sentimental, outrageous, and delicious things that make our life ours.

What have you captured in your life lately?

10.28.2009

So Much Coffee


A couple weeks back, while visiting the Courier Coffee Roasters roastery, I had the great pleasure of cupping a number of sample roasts that were slated for possible purchase. The cupping offered a glimpse into the future of what's in store for the coming months. Overall we tasted six different coffees that day; three from Ethiopia, two from Indonesia, and one Kenyan coffee.

The CCR team had already cupped these coffees a few times, and based on their previous efforts most of their purchasing had already been completed by the time Kyle and I had a chance to taste what they were up to. In a nutshell, I can say that am I very excited about having a chance to work with a few of these coffees. Two of the Ethiopians were very enjoyable, both exhibiting strong berry notes characteristic of coffees from this part of the world. The Indonesians had more of a sweet/savory thing going on. One had a strong peanut butter/roasted nut profile, while another tasted to me like the flavor of vegetables in a Massaman curry (an interpretation that I stand by to this day, though I'm sure Joel thinks I am crazy). Last but not least, the lone Kenyan, a consensus standout during a cupping in which Ray had participated the previous day, had allegedly lost some of its thunder by the time we got around to trying it. Good, but lacking the punch I'm sure it will deliver by the time it is served at the cafe.

In order to better understand the significance of these new coffees it is important to note that for the past month and half we have continued to offer a single origin El Salvadorian coffee for espresso, while simultaneously rotating between an El Salvadorian and a Guatemalan coffee for French press. Historically it has been common for us to receive anywhere from three to five different coffees (including that which is used for espresso) over the course of a week, however I have found it quite entertaining to get to know our coffee on a more intimate level by being able to compare the variation of each different roast that comes into our shop. From conversations I have had with Joel and Alex, as well as the info that is well documented via the Courier Coffee Blog, the boys have been working very hard to learn more about how they are developing certain flavors during the roasting process. More often than not we receive notes about an individual roast from hand written messages scribbled on the bags in which the coffee is delivered.

It has been a blast getting to know the flavors of these coffee inside and out. Perhaps there are some among you who are itching to try something new...


Yesterday morning CCR received a shipment of twenty-two new bags of green coffee! That same afternoon Alex arrived at our shop with the first roast of one on the Indonesian coffees that we cupped nearly two weeks ago: Flores Bajawa Ngura. Flores is among the larger islands in the Lesser Sunda archipelago. The island was first "discovered" by Portuguese explorers sometime in the early 15th century. More recently the island has received a great deal of attention in the mainstream media due to the discovery of a tiny Homo Erectus skeleton that dates back more than 15,000 years. In 2005, as a result of a large grant and some private investment a number of farmer groups in Flores began processing their coffees using fully washed methods (most earlier exports had been dry processed). Today at least seven farmer groups have begun to undertake wet-processing methods, all of which are now certified organic. Quality coffee from Flores is a very recent phenomenon. Kudos to Joel for getting in on the ground floor and giving us all a chance to get to know this region before it becomes a shining star.

Currently we are sitting on a few pounds of Guatemala Finca Las Nubes, but if you plan to visit the cafe this weekend, you will likely get an opportunity to taste this new coffee from CCR. Enjoy!

10.25.2009

Snapshot:

Our very last dinner in the Arch Cape beach house.
(insert sound of breaking hearts here)

10.23.2009

If in Fact

Wasabi & Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

Hypothetically speaking, if we were to test out some items from our new dinner menu on some friends before we were ready to dish 'em out to the general public, this is what we might serve:

Wasabi & Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
trio with cilantro, chives, and fish sauce

"Spaghetti & Meatballs"
spaghetti squash gratin topped with spicy harissa tomato sauce and Spanish meatballs

Pumpkin Red Curry Soup
spicy coconut (vegan) delight

Brie en Croute
wedge of brie baked in puff pastry, served with salami, honey crisp apples, quince paste, black grapes, mixed greens and crackers

Mushroom Melt
topped with provolone cheese, caramelized onions and kale, served with potato chips, dill pickle, stuffed olives, and wild mushroom & roasted shallot jus
(available vegan)

Croque Gaufre
buckwheat waffle topped with ham, house mornay sauce and a fried egg, served with mixed greens

PB & J Ice Cream
peanut butter fleur-de-sel ice cream swirled with house blackberry jam

PB & J Ice Cream

We would also probably have to have some tunes to go with the evening:

The One and Only Kyle Simmons

Along with some beverages to pair with all that music and food:

Beer

Tecate $2

Other $3.50

Wine

Red or White

$5

White Russian

vodka, Kahlúa, half & half on ice

$6

Pear Fizz

muddled pear nectar, bourbon, Italian sparkling wine, fresh lemon juice, crystallized ginger

$7

PDX Coffee

4 oz. double shot Americano, bourbon, cocoa whipped cream

$7

Autumn Punch

Buffalo Trace bourbon, apple cider, ginger beer, fresh mint

$6

Whiskey & Mexican Coke Float

2 scoops vanilla ice cream, bourbon, Mexican Coca-Cola, served in a mason jar

$8

Whiskey Milkshake

bourbon, ice cream, Irish cream, chocolate, and some CCR love


Mushroom Melt

Not to mention the fact that the LRBC dress code would officially be elevated at night:

Ray-Ray

This is all hypothetically speaking, of course.

10.22.2009

We Serve The Best...


So much coffee, so little time. Stay tuned...

10.21.2009

Testing...1.2.3.

Here's one straight out of the LRBC Test Kitchen:


Vegan Pumpkin Waffle
w/ chocolate-chip almond butter, maple syrup, and bananas

We felt like dusting off the old waffle iron yesterday and giving life to one of the ideas that's been floating through my brain. Turns out this one was definitely a good one. Good enough that we'd like to serve it to you this coming Saturday. Any takers?

10.20.2009

Colin's Lunch

Sometimes shift meals are concocted straight from the menu itself (imagine that!)...


...take for example the Huevos Rancheros with house chorizo that one of our cooks ate this past Sunday. I'm not sure we're ever going to remove this from a future brunch menu.

10.19.2009

Where did you come from today?


We ask this question to our customers by way of a map. The question and map detailing inner Portland were posted on our cafe's bathroom wall, along with a collection of push pins, sometime shortly after we first opened our doors. In the beginning we were able to use the map as a tool, learning which North Portland neighborhoods made up the bulk of our customer base. To be perfectly honest, Ali was nervous about having such a thing on display, fearing that no one would ever come to the cafe, much less utilize the map, and that frankly that it would wind up being a physical footprint of failure we'd have to pass by every time we went for the mop bucket.

Never in a million years did we imagine that our map would be where it is today. At some point along the journey cafe goers began "thinking outside the box," as well as the confines of the map itself. The wall has since taken on a life of its own.

The plethora of locations scrawled on pieces of blank paper, napkins, towels, and tissue which make up the current mass at first appear to be of domestic origin. But a closer look reveals more:

...with the Pacific Northwest and far North...


...and California making up the vast majority of non-Oregon submissions.


Midwest transplants are not without proper representation:


Even locations as far away as Okinawa, Japan have been recorded. Not fair really; given our time difference and the location of the international dateline, customers arriving to the cafe from Asia have a much larger window of time to visit the cafe "the same day" they arrived in Portland? Am I right, or has the caffeine ruined my brain?

Let's just say we're very happy that people seem to enjoy answering the question, and that we're pleased as punch that people travel to get to us from near and far away. Sheesh, it really is pretty cool when you think about it.

10.17.2009

What's For Dinner


Curried Deviled Eggs
w/ beluga lentil caviar and fresh mint


Butternut Squash Lasagna
over steamed spinach

10.15.2009

Best Breakfast Ever?


What you see above is quite possibly the most epic of Ray Ray's meals at the cafe. As you may know, I have a thing about using Ray's shift meals as photo ops for our beloved blog. However, this past Sunday's plate was perhaps the most impressive breakfast plate captured thus far in LRBC history and indeed demanded documentation. When Ray confided in me that he had endured a sleepless Saturday night debating what he would eat the next day from the freshly posted Sunday Brunch menu, I understandably suggested he have one of everything he desired. As such, the above plate is what he was served: one sweet-potato cake stacked w/ seasoned squash, wild lox, goat cheese, and a sunny-side egg, one vegan "meat"loaf slider w/ caramelized onions, roasted tomato ketchup, and a scoop of roasted carrot-cauliflower mash, and one piece of chai french toast.

If LRBC were to ever do a platter akin to "Hungry-Man" frozen meals, I have a feeling this would be the star. Way to push the boundaries, Ray Ray. You continue to impress/inspire us on and off the field. XO

LRBC Little Known Fact #31

Halloween is Evan's most favorite holiday and Reese's seasonal Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cup is his most favorite of all Reese's products. He maintains that this particular shape yields the highest peanut butter to chocolate ratio. Your thoughts?

10.10.2009

A Typical Saturday

E and I were hoping to go for a bike ride this afternoon. When we first witnessed what was surely the beginnings of a beautiful day, we made an agreement to get try and get our collective shit done so that we might have an opportunity enjoy what daylight remained outdoors on our spanking new (to us) bikes.

"Hoping" was the operative word in that first sentence. You see, despite this glorious weather we're experiencing in the Pacific NW, most of these delicious fall Saturdays are now devoted to preparing for Sundays' brunch menu, like the one featured below. That means regardless of how early we get up, complete those last minute orders and shopping menus, and begin prepping and cooking, the sun is nearly setting near the bluff by our house. That means the dogs' walk take precedent over (showing off) taking our two wheelers for a spin. Don't get me wrong, I'm hardly complaining. After all, my Saturdays are spent with my nearest and dearest, preparing (my menu!) for what is (I have to admit) my favorite day of service at Little Red Bike Cafe.

Here's just a few of the things that went on this Saturday in the LRBC prep kitchen:

We began our day with a beautiful box of baby carrots:


Which were later combined with olive oil, sea alt, balsamic vinegar, and red chili flakes:

...and eventually roasted in a hot (425 degree) oven for approximately 30 minutes until caramelized. Later these will be combined with cauliflower (which is steaming in batches on the stove top) for a carrot-cauliflower mash.

Much of the early afternoon is dedicated to cleaning the 4 lbs of wild mushrooms for the omelet:

These will eventually be cut and tossed in a pan with more mushrooms, olive oil, garlic, and white wine.

After prepping and sauteing numerous other vegetables, they are added to the rest of the ingredients for the vegan "meat"loaf, which is later free-formed on a baking sheet, ready for the oven


...all the while a spiced pear chutney (that was "just" whipped up) simmers away on the stovetop


Other things happened too, and surely there are more to come during tomorrow's wee-early hours, when we arrive at the cafe to begin our day while the rest of the world sleeps. Our salvation comes Monday morning when the majority of the population usually returns to the working world. Not us. We slumber in bed for most of the early morning, managing to sleep in until 9am or so before the dogs let us know it's way past breakfast time (despite our attempts to let them know it's our day-off). Ahh yes. Monday morning. We love those mornings. I smile just thinking about it. That's when we'll get in our bike ride. Here's to hoping for sun.

Preview of 10/11 Brunch

Fall Harvest—6.50

house granola topped with baked apples, fresh ricotta, and cardamom honey



Honey Yogurt Bowl—7.00

Nancy’s Honey Yogurt with house granola, fresh fruit, cinnamon and honey


Buttermilk Biscuits and Rosemary Mushroom Gravy—8.00

Half portion…5.00

Sonny’s Special: full order, side of bacon, and large Orange Juice…13.00



Bacon, Mushroom, and Cheese Omelet—14.00

3 egg omelet with applewood smoked bacon, foraged wild mushrooms, gruyere and white cheddar, served with sweet-potato cake and buttermilk biscuit



Croque Madame—9.50

toasted Carlton ham and cheese sandwich on brioche, topped with a fried egg and house mornay sauce, served with Oregon hazelnut-arugula salad



Lox, Sweet Potatoes, and Eggs—10.00

wild Alaskan lox stacked on top sweet potato gratin with seasoned squash, two sunny-side eggs, goat cheese and thyme, served with toast and house jam



PDX Chai French Toast—9.50

thick slices of challah dipped in spiced black tea-batter, served with cinnamon fleur-de-sel butter and real maple syrup, topped with vanilla-bean whipped cream



Huevos Rancheros—9.00

2 sunny side eggs with black beans, salsa, roasted jalapeno-avocado mousse, house ranchero sauce, and queso fresca on two corn tortillas

add housemade chorizo…2.50



Vegetable “Meat”Loaf Sliders—10.00

mini vegan meatloaf sliders topped with caramelized onions and roasted tomato ketchup, served with carrot-cauliflower mash and dill pickle



Fall [Fried] Egg Sandwich—9.50

2 eggs, Carlton ham, maple butter, aged white cheddar, and spiced pear chutney on ciabatta, served with arugula salad


VLT—8.00

smoked tempeh strips, arugula, tomato, vegan dill aioli, and avocado on toasted ciabatta, served with arugula salad



Oregon Tuna Melt—9.50

wild Oregon albacore tuna, lemon-herb mayo, cheddar, green onions, and farmhouse relish on Italian como bread, served with arugula salad surf ‘n turf’ (add bacon)…1.50

10.08.2009

Losing the Draft


We're experiencing yummy new beers this season...beers in the bottle that is. Take this here Temptation for example, a fermented blonde ale brought to you by the folks who bottle such favorites as Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig. This beer is fermented with a special strain of yeast and aged in French oak chardonnay barrels for twelve months, resulting in a decidedly spirited, grapey flavor. We like. We like a lot. While the aesthetic of a tap will always be dear to our hearts, we've been happily indulging in what certain sealed glass has to offer. Bless you, Russian River, you continue to win our hearts overandover again.

10.07.2009

What's For Dinner

We were having one of those "We-can't-imagine-doing-anything-but-staying-in-the-house-listening-to-Django Reinhardt-baking-pumpkin pie-passed-out-in-front-of-the-fire" kind of nights so the prospect of going out to buy groceries for dinner was bleak.

"Surely we can make something with what we have at home," Evan insisted.

I wasn't so sure.

Then again, this is also one of my most favorite games. You know, the "What's behind cupboard #3" game? Given our state of ultimate vegetativeness, we were after something warm and comforting. Here's what I was able to come up with for tonight's meal:

Clearing Out the Pantry Pasta
mish-mash from the pantry*

paired with

Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale

and

a roaring fire w/ the one you love


Pasta Ingredient List*


Spices:

Curry
Cinnamon
Clove
Allspice
Nutmeg
Mustard Seed
Marjoram
Crushed Red Chilies
Sea Salt

Pantry
Organic Whole Wheat Pappardelle
Quinoa Pasta
Green Lentils
Walnuts
Can of Whole Tomatoes
Can of Pumpkin
Olive oil
Red Onion
Garlic

Fridge
Chanterelles
Sour Cream
Formage Blanc
Pine Nuts

(cough) This Correction Brought to You By CCR:


"wait wait- El Borbollon is from two farms la Reforma and el Cerro and is 100% red bourbon varietal. the farms are owned by the Alvarez family."
-Joel

My mistake. Thanks Joel
-E

Ch-ch-changes


Time moves so quickly. I found out via the Courier Coffee Roasters blog that we are in for some changes as far as our daily ('cept Mondays of course) coffee and espresso service. Well, espresso more specifically for the time being. We have grown very fond of our single origin espresso (SOE), the Brazil Cerrado Fazenda Chapado de Ferro. Joel has experimented with this coffee utilizing both short and long roasts, some not much longer than twelve minutes, and others staying in the drum for close to fourteen minutes.

As I understand it, among Joel's goals for this coffee was to create a roast that could sustain close to 30 seconds of extraction (brewing) without too much variation in color. Of course a really good flavor is always the desired end result. Ray (and myself at times) have done our best to attempt to carry out these instructions, going for larger pours (though mine always stayed pretty short) with larger than to be expected volumes.
In hindsight, I can say that it has been a very fun coffee to work with. Consistent, often very easy to manipulate. The coffee's flavor profile was characteristic of huge floral notes, the kind that hit your nose from a foot away, and warm nutty flavors (the good kind, not those which might suggest improper extraction). Personally, I spent much of my time working with this coffee experimenting with dose size and grind size. Acquiring a Robur, at first on loan and later through purchase, gave us a much more consistent grind, which really made this type of trial and error experimentation possible.

Next batter on deck: El Salvador Borbollon. I am very excited about serving this coffee. This is a coffee Joel purchased nearly two months ago, and has since been sitting on it, taunting me with its impending arrival. El Borbollon (aside from being really fun to pronounce), is among the largest organic growers in all of El Salvador. The size of their operation allows their farm to do some really cool things such as pay their workers higher than standard wages (paid for their time as well, not based on how much they are able to harvest), offer classes, seminars, and cuppings for employees, and most importantly, they make sure their pickers harvest only the most developed fruit on the tree. Trust me, you really can taste the difference. This was the first coffee I had ever tasted at LRBC that was pulled off the Robur grinder, and I remember that it tasted so complex for a single origin espresso, it showed me just how amazing Joel's coffee should taste all the time. Subsequently, I bought the Robur.

Now the El Borbollon is coming back, and will be here to stay hopefully late into November. For the time being we will continue to serve two different coffee's for our French Press in house coffee: Guatemala Finca las Nubes, and El Salvador Finca Alaska. Both are fantastic.

10.06.2009

Question and Answer

Q: Why enjoy Coffeehouse NW?

A: Quality.



10.05.2009

Week-End Review

hand-dipped chocolate cigarettes for our Parisian Breakfast for Two

Well Folks, Sunday Brunch went off without a hitch (for the most part) and we were pleasantly surprised to see so many new faces (albeit obstructed by glass through the kitchen.) We've noticed that there are new regulars on scheduled days, and old regulars on new days. We'd (humbly) like to attribute this to the fact that with our brunch menu, we've created another dining option/experience in North Portland. This only makes us more excited for what lies ahead at LRBC. There are rumblings of dinner beginning in...wait for it...two weeks. A soft opening that is. Shshhh...keep it on the down low...we wouldn't want to overwhelm the cooks, manager, DJ, husband/wife team who are frantically trying to pull together all the last minute details to make this thing POP! All that aside, things are good here. Things are great. It's good to be home. To return from holiday to a cafe and crew in near perfect condition and with all of your respect for us (w/ a few exceptions) still intact.

Sometimes I wonder if it's good to let the newcomers know about the blog or if we should just let customers find out about it naturally (if they feel so inclined). We would hate to push our lives/history/drama on anyone without giving them fair chance to walk away first. If only there was a way we could pass along our gratitude to those that have only recently joined us for breakfast/lunch/or brunch these past few weeks; without having to be all, "So yeah, we like have this blog and you know, you might find out more (than you want to know) about what goes out behind the scenes of running a cafe and just our life in general."

And we're just talking about the weekends! Who knows how many friends and guests we miss during the early part of the week. As scheduling has worked out this quarter, Evan and I are working shifts towards the end of the week. Something many of you have duly noted these past few weeks. We are often so preoccupied with setting up for the weekend menu and running it, that we don't get too many chances to leave the bubble in the kitchen or in our heads to meet new faces or say hello to to the old. We miss that interaction with you and our customers. It's part of what makes this whole thing worth it, particularly at the end of the day when you're beyond exhausted, desperately starving, without a thing to eat in the house, needing to walk your (neglected, or so you fear) dogs, and are finally able and ready to recap, access, over-analyze, debate, and decipher nearly every detail of what went down at this place you've just spent the last three and a half years building. Yeah, that's when it's really good to have the ability to bring up fond memories from the day, including but not limited to catching up with a regular about his trip to Bali, witnessing freshly walking babies and misfit puppies outside needing a treat, and/or just sitting down with a beverage at one of our tables trying to take it, everything we've created, in.

At the same time I can say that we're prouder than ever about what's been coming out of our kitchen and that stands for something in this house. It's a synchronized rhythm that works with minimal prompting. That's a very very good thing. Something that shouldn't be tampered with too much. We're having a great time planning the dinner menu and working towards the Ice Cream Sunday service. There are oodles of new experiences and stories on the horizon. We can just feel it. This is similar to how we felt when we first opened up Little Red Bike Cafe, unsure of who would come (if anybody) and if we'd be a welcomed addition. Our emotions are fluctuating somewhere between absolutely ecstatic and fretfully anal-retentive to a fault.



Liquor is proving to be a fun to way to vent some of our anxious creativity. Not to mention a profitable way to do so. As many probably noted this past Sunday, our cocktail menu centers heavily on bourbon. Kentucky bourbon to be exact. Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon to be precise. What can we say? We dig this stuff. In coffee. In ice cream. In butter. And we serve what we like. Needless to say it became our bourbon of choice when it came to starting off cocktails at the Cafe. Not to say we won't change it up every now and again. We plan on featuring local distilleries too. We're just taking some time to get the wheels greased before we can take this well-oiled machine out on the road responsibly.

In the meantime we ask that you sit back and please enjoy the ride. We think it's going to be a good one.

pumpkin-raisin bread w/ Jamaican rum glaze

10.02.2009

Happy Saturday, Friends


LRBC Eggs Bandito
two green-chile corn cakes topped with two sunny-side eggs, black beans, housemade chorizo, jack cheese, and avocado mousse

(Not so) Simple Susan
fried egg, Carlton bacon, muenster cheese, and housemade red-pepper tomato ketchup on ciabatta

Bitter-Pesto BLT
applewood smoked bacon, house arugula pesto, vine-ripened tomato and goat cheese on Italian Como bread

10.01.2009

Certified Francophiles

(oui, oui!)

Inspired by a recent trip a friend took to Paris as well as the spell cast by our own Francophile, we're happy to introduce you to a new brunch addition. Consider it a sneak peek at the marvels that lie ahead for this Sunday's Fall menu.

Parisian Breakfast for Two
individual petit noir french press coffees (café au lait add $1)*, organic orange juice, basket of specialty pastries, almond butter & house jam, with a chocolate cigarette to share.
*substiute hot chocolate at no charge