2.12.2010

Trying to Remain...


I'm glad Evan took the challenge of writing that last blog post. You should all know by now that I am FAR too emotional of a person to pull something like that off without completely losing it and going off the regrettable emotional deep end; something I'm not quite ready to face head on in the blogosphere. I love you guys and all but really, I think it's best to let the more stable person handle explaining what our life has been like during the last month.

Know that I've been curled up in bed at night, thinking about all of these issues. You can see me can't you? Covers pulled tightly over my head, hiding clenched fists, tear-stained cheeks and hoarse throat, wishing the whole world would just go away...if only for a minute.

It's good though. I know for me at least that I require days (and even weeks) like that. Moments when it takes the rug being pulled out from under my feet to remind myself that I am, that we are, only human. While a bit shocking needless to say, I also find it invaluable to be reminded of what we hold dearest to us, even if that very thing is threatened to be taken away.

My husband did an excellent job of summarizing why the lights seemingly went out on the blog for a few weeks, so I think it's now my turn to try to pick this thing back up off its feet so that we can continue down this path that we're convinced was chosen for us. That is to say, to continue to pursue our dream and carry you all along with us during the journey. We are so blessed to have this blog; our only real tangible memory log of what has proceeded to happen since we first dreamed up the idea of having a restaurant. It would be a shame to not have documented it all; both the good and the bad. We are even more blessed to have you all as our witnesses, proof that we're not completely crazy and have pursued a worthwhile cause.

So please allow me to reboot this thing with some positive energy, 'cause Lord knows it hasn't ALL been bad recently. In fact, many wonderful things have happened for us and for the ones we love around us, and that is what I care to share with you tonight: the good stuff.


First and foremost, we are excited to announce the opening of our friend Morgan's Dovetail Bakery. This is a project that has been in the works for sometime now, and even before entering the newest outpost, we knew it would be a business defined by the phrase "labor of love." Morgan has been the vegan community's Go-to-Gal for a few years now, and has dedicated countless hours supplying delicious vegan treats to us, our friends at the Half and Half (where we were first introduced to this baking genius), as well as New Seasons and Whole Foods around the city. We couldn't be happier for the ladies of Dovetail, who were able to free themselves from the depths of their windowless, wholesale-basement-bakery and expand into a gorgeous, light-filled, inviting space located on the corner of 31st and Alberta in NE Portland. There you can expect to find smiling faces, all of Dovetail's fantastic treats (we're obsessed with the sticky buns and trail-mix cookies), and another reason to drink Courier Coffee. Congratulations, ladies! Your hard work has surely paid off, and thank you for opening your doors to all of us! Lucky indeed, Portland, lu-cky.

We also have another friend making waves in the food community and that's our friend Ethan. Ethan just opened a new pizza place called Pizza Depokos. Perhaps even more exciting, at least to those of us who reside in the Northern part of the city, is the fact that this place is holding it down on N. Greeley and Killingsworth, at the new Refuel North Station Food Pod.

We met Ethan five years ago when we first moved into our north Portland neighborhood. We actually met him on the internet by responding to a craigslist add for a "really cool retro couch." I'll never forget Evan telling me about his journey to pick up this couch; from the super-cute house with vintage trailer, and the amazing back warehouse space located behind the house which contained all sorts of collectible odds and ends, to the incredibly nice and decent guy who helped deliver and move-in the massive sectional we had just acquired. Naturally, we never imagined we'd see him again.

Imagine our surprise when this man walked into our shop two years later to buy a cup of coffee. The three of us had one of those, "hmm, I-think-I-know-you-but-don't-know-where-from" kind of moments. We were finally able to put the pieces together over Ethan's latte. Turns out Ethan and his wife Ferris own the incredibly savvy and essential Portland vintage and collectibles shop, SMUT (which stands for So Many Unique Treasures, before you go and get your panties all in a bunch). SMUT, located on SE 28th, is definitely one of the coolest shops in Portland, dare I say it's a Portland GEM, and it makes total serendipitous sense that one of Ethan's hunting grounds happens to be the flea market that takes place every Sunday on Lombard St. The very same Lombard St. our cafe is located on. So began our second meeting with this man, and eventual meeting of the rest of his equally charming family, whom we've now grown quite attached to. We've come to learn over the years that Ethan is quite the handy-man, and besides having a keen eye for that-which-we-cannot-live-without, he can build stuff...lots of stuff.

So it came as no surprise when Ethan informed us he was building a wood-fired pizza oven. We were delighted upon discovering that he planned on sharing his creation with the public. Ethan opened his doors last Friday and since then we have consumed four pizzas from him, a fact that both frightens me (do we really eat out this much!?!) and makes me so very pleased to have an awesome dining option in the neighborhood.


After years of dedicated consumption of all things dough, sauce, and toppings, we have no problem in declaring that Ethan's pizzas are the real deal. The first sign of assured wood-fired greatness? Two words: charred crust.


Those of you Apizza Scholls addicts out there will know what I'm talking about. It's an absolute must, and we're ecstatic that Pizza Depokos got this one correct, right out of the gate. Ethan's hand-built oven gets up to 1000° F, which not only aids in creating the perfect crust, but allows the pizza to cook fast...and we mean really fast. Our pies have usually been done somewhere between 2-3 minutes, which is pretty incredible when you think about it. So yes, to summarize, if you are in the Portland metropolitan area, get your butt down to Pizza Depokos and meet Ethan and his one-man crew. You are bound to learn something extremely interesting from the guy, as well consume one the fastest, most affordable, and freshest pies out there.

And we cannot continue to talk about wood-fire pizza without mentioning the extremely exciting opening of Lovely's Fifty-Fifty, the newest creation from the Minnick sisters of Lovely Hula Hands fame. Longtime admirers of anything these ladies do, we were only half-surprised by our experience there. I say "half-surprised" because we knew the space would be charming...we just had no idea how charming. We're beginning to wonder whether or not these two should start their own interior design company because their atheistic vision continues to surpass all others in our humble opinion. Even before we received our salads, pizza, and homemade ice cream I declared I never wanted to leave their space: the ambiance they create tends to do that to a person. But alas, the check did come, and I had to accept the fact that I do have a real home 3.8 miles away (Evan looked it up). But boy will this place become a second home with the amount we're anticipating hitting it up.

In fact, just the other day on our bike ride Evan declared this summer his "Summer of Pizza (his most recent "summer of George"-esque declaration). And taking into consideration our near religious-radical-like devotion to Dove Vivi, our recent fascination with Pizza Depokos, and the latest arrival to the Mississippi neighborhood, I think he may be on to something.


I on the other hand, am currently engaged in a torrid love affair with hamburgers. Well, bacon cheeseburgers to be exact. After nearly ten years of vegetarianism with bouts of veganism mixed in, I recently fell off the wagon and began eating meat, or I should say pork and beef. Oddly enough these were items that least appealed to me back when I was a more aggressive meat-eater, but for some reason this is what my body has been craving upon its relapse. And when my body craves something, particularly food related, I am rarely one to deny it its pleasures, for better or worse. What can I say? Some days it's tempeh and lentils, and some days it's a bacon cheeseburger. While I don't know how long my affair with crossing back over to "the dark side" will last, I can say I've enjoyed the ride thus far. Try to imagine the surprise, and in my case, the delightful dance my taste buds experienced after years without tasting flesh. It was both surreal and exhilarating. After years of battling and cursing the limited menus found all too often, I was suddenly able to scan a menu and ask myself, "what sounds good?" Suddenly, the possibilities seemed endless. And so I have gone forth and conquered...burgers that is. Here's where my palate has been most pleased, and of course in no particular order because favorites don't apply during times of battle: Slow Bar, Toro Bravo, Clyde Common, and Country Cat, and with many more yet to be faced. I'm aware I have a long road ahead of me, as the number of burger offerings in this city appear to be quadrupling by the second. Would it be crass of me to mention here that Little Red Bike Cafe is also hoping to add a burger to its repertoire sometime in 2010? And so the truth comes out; my personal Battle of the Burgers has really been nothing more than researching "The Other Guys," but boy, has it been fun. Trying to outdo Ray in the race for "Burgers Most Consumed" has been challenging but certainly worth the effort.

Which brings me to a bit of bittersweet news. After nearly a year and a half of being our lead barista, and your dedicated espresso extractor and latte pourer, Ray rightfully accepted an offer he couldn't refuse from another coffeehouse. While we are saddened to see him go, we are both proud and elated that his dedication to the craft has been rewarded with an exciting opportunity elsewhere. If you drink coffee, and particularly coffee worth drinking (i.e. Coffeehouse NW, Barista, Half and Half, Red E, Fresh Pot, Ristretto, Extracto, Coffeehouse Five, Cellar Door, Grindhouse Coffee, Albina Press, Cartola, Spella, Velo, Sterling Coffee Roasters, and/or various Stumptown locations throughout the city-just to name a few), you're likely to run into our dear friend Ray. And when you do, please make sure to thank him for serving us and you for so long. For those of you who are interested in taking in some of Ray's handiwork, you will now be able to find him downtown at Portland Coffeehouse.

So you see, things haven't been all bad around here. Let's just say that after a less than fruitful winter, we remain hopeful for the buds of spring.

9 comments:

kati said...

nnoooooo, ray's leaving, too?! well, good luck, ray! i'm not so good with change, and there seems to be a lot of it around here, but i wish you the best!

and now i'm craving a wood fired pizza and a cheeseburger :)

About this Tim Roth guy... said...

Wood-fired vegan cheeseburgers!

Anonymous said...

As a business owner myself, I can feel for what you all are going thru. Our lease is up this year, I think we are okay, but haven't gotten the final nod. I am not a blogger, but to follow along with what has been going on with you guys has always given me "I can get thru this" 1)problem 2) high 3)depression ;) It's hard to see all of OUR hard work to build a business and face turmoils that seem to be almost insurmountable. Know that I am pulling for you from the chilly, slightly artic, Northern Michigan. Most depressed economy in the US. I have not given up hope!!!! Debra

satsumalynn said...

Ali,

I'll eat a bacon cheeseburger or pizza with you any day I can, my friend.

But will you eat radicchio with me? It's good, I promise.

xo.

KiKi said...

I would not call this a "less than fruitful winter." There are times and seasons for everything and you guys have so much passion for what you do as well as our neighborhood and the city of Portland! There is not a doubt in my mind that you guys will be successful at whatever endeavors you pursue. Know that you are loved and supported no matter what (and not just by me either!!!)

Keep it up and keep going! You have more strength than you know!

Ali and Evan said...

Kati,
yes, sad but true: El Rey has left the building. Not to fret; we do have others that are chomping at the bit to steam you up a perfect hazelnut latte. Ps. whose cute little baby feet are those and wehn do I get to meet the prize? Congrats on #2, mama. Good work! ;)

Tim,
I see a food cart in our collective future; we should get on this before it becomes the rage and we miss the boat.

Debra,
Straight from Portland, Oregon: We wish you nothing but the best. Your words mean more than you'll ever know, and we are touched knowing that our story has made its way to you in Northern Michigan and meant something. Please know that we wish to return the favor. We are pulling for you as well. Please do not give up hope; we are all in this together. Best of luck.

Lynn,
You best bring your A-game. ;) As for the radicchio; I'm still on the fence. XO

KiKi,
I actually left the sunshine of Los Angeles and moved back home because I missed the seasons. I found that I needed them in order for me to feel my own personal growth. I suppose this is no different. You are very right: there are times and seasons for everything. And so long as we continue to feel that things happen for a reason, we will remain optimistic about our future. Thank you for your sweet, sweet words of encouragement. Know that it's people like you that ensure us that we're on the right path. Cheers.

kati said...

ali, i finally got enough guts to take both kids on a walk to LRBC last week (or was it the week before? i can't remember, it was a nice sunny day and lola was being easy that day - she's been terrible twoing lately) but you weren't there! otherwise i would have introduced you to little Muller Grey, who is almost 3 months old.

and how horrible, i didn't realize i was missing my last chance at a ray latte. i decided not to get one that day because i always end up spilling my coffees chasing lola and going over the uneven sidewalks with the stroller. what a wimp, i should have just gotten it! :)

dovetail bakery said...

EVAN & ALI!!! thanks so much for the sweet wishes on the new shop! opening up the bakery has been so much fun and of course lots of work! you both have been so great throughout the whole journey! remember the days when we thought both our businesses would fit in that kitchen! ha! we obviously had no idea what the next few years would bring! AMAZING! i am so happy for you both & i know you will find the perfect new home for the cafe. wishing you all the best! XOXO!! love, morgan

kati said...

so we had our first pizza depokos pizza last weekend and we are OBSESSED with them now! SO good! love love love. our new favorite :)