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    Portland, OR

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  1. My wife is the most beautiful woman in the world. That's what I say if people ask. She never looks fat in her jeans. But I'm not judging her for Next Top Model. There's an izakaya here in Portland where the food really exceeds the bar. In fact, the food exceeds most of the Japanese food in town. The owner has gotten cranky on occasion that her place has been listed in cheap eats guides (despite the food being very reasonably priced) and even in top restaurant guides. The reason, she insists, is because it's a bar. It has a bar atmosphere. It's small, a little divey, no kids are allowed, the music is Japanese punk, there's nudity and gore on the TV on occasion, and there's no sushi. (What? I know! A Japanese restaurant without sushi? That's like a Thai restaurant without pad thai. Must not be authentic.) I think the owner of this izakaya has realized what Dr. M hasn't: that it's often less important that a review is "good" or "bad" than it allows people to know if they'll like the thing being reviewed or not. I think the NYT review clearly did that. I can't imagine any food geek like myself being turned off by that review. It was like: fuck yeah, about time, gimme that head-splitting shit! My dad will not be purchasing. Nor should he. And neither should the average home cook, the aspiring Rachel Rays, or the men who verse their food, or 90% of professional cooks out there. It's a very definite niche. Dr. M should get over his being worried that someone thought he looked fat in his favorite jeans, and recognize that sometimes the things that seem mean are good for him in the long run.
  2. I reguarly eat Valrhona's Chuao from 2003 -- over 6 years old -- and because it was properly stored it's still quite nice flavor-wise and texture-wise, without bloom. I picked up the CIA's Chocolates and Confections yesterday and I'm loving all the basic and more advanced information there. I like that they have a "troubleshooting" section where problems are listed with possible causes/solutions. I think most of the CIA books are only decent, but this one seems especially good and I haven't seen a confections book so systematic. I'm sure it's familiar territory for those of you who are experienced professionals, but I think for the amateur and novice to intermediate professional, it's worth a look. Grabbed a bunch of cru savage pistoles to play with. Figure if I'm going to practice, I better really enjoy my mistakes.
  3. btw, Langer's sells by the pound via phone or fax, but it's more expensive than Katz's at $20/lb vs $13/lb. However, they do sell their fabulous corn rye as well at $4.75/loaf. http://www.langersdeli.com/togo/index.html
  4. Empire National is still going strong. We purchase and sell their fabulous salami. Here is their correct web address: http://www.empirenational.info/
  5. Thanks. I think I read somewhere about someone using a heating pad to keep the bowl warm. I think my wife has one and I'll have to break it out. Comparing them to some quality professional chocolates by Theo and John DePaula today, I think I was being a little hard on them. I think I just expected them to be shinier like molded chocolates if they were truly done right. But I think that's just an unrealistic expectation.
  6. Okay, so reading through this thread, I have some inclinations, but just want to feel better about my inclinations. I am a total novice at tempering chocolate. I'm using the seed method, using a very dark chocolate (over 80%). I assumed I would have a higher working temperature, but I'm not sure. In dipping the ganaches, I started at about 92 degrees. I assumed with such a dark chocolate that the working temp would be higher. Obviously I need to get a feel for what "in temper" looks like. I'm using a pyrex bowl over a light simmer to melt the chocolate, getting it above 115 then taking it off the steam. I used an inexpensive IR thermometer, so perhaps that's part of my problem as well. In laying out the dipped chocolates, it seemed like the ones where the temp was higher all streaked and bloomed. By the time I was finished, the temp was reading about 85. Seemed like between 85 and 88 the chocolates came out best, though not especially shiny and there are some very light streaks in all of them (you have to get the light up to them at a low angle to notice), though no blooming in the later pieces. It's a humid day today (raining), but my kitchen was right around 70. Am I getting moisture in my chocolate? Fat from the ganache? Or is it just that I haven't gotten a good temper yet and need to practice more on finding the right feel and temperature? How long should 6 oz of chocolate in a glass bowl stay in temper in a 70 degree kitchen as it's being used for dipping? Should I be moving it back and forth from the steam to keep it in range? Are the mid-pieces without bloom even tempered or just less ugly un-tempered chocolate?
  7. Don't take this too harshly, but you need a new source. Delta and Clays are just okay at best. I've never been to Le Bouchon, but just based on the type of menu, I wouldn't recommend it to a visitor. Lauro is decent, but not among the best restaurants and not a destination. Sungari is really only worth going to if you're really desiring Chinese and you want a wine list.
  8. I think some of the disappointing places like Ten 01 and Rocket seem to be getting their acts together. I've just had lunch at Ten 01 since the change, but it was excellent. And the pastries (done by an eGulleter) were very good. Ate at Rocket tonight and had a good meal with only a few relatively minor problems. But some of the dishes were both interesting and very tasty. And the room is fantastic. Clyde Common is my current fav. I'm so happy that I'll be working right next door soon. Toro Bravo is great and has some of the best service in town, yet I've never been able to spend more than $30/person there. btw, I just updated the Portland Dining Guide and Tip Sheet to v2.5. 3.0 coming hopefully not too long -- perhaps by labor day. Don't miss out on places like Biwa putting out great food, too. And Hiroshi may supplant Murata for sushi king. Masu East makes interesting and tasty Japanese as well.
  9. I don't really drink, so I can't give you direct advice. However, my drinking friends over at PortlandFood.org usually say that Andina, Saucebox, and Clyde Common have more interesting cocktail lists and make them well. I know Park Kitchen did a cocktail pairing dinner.
  10. You know how many items on a Taco Bell menu are under 99 cents? And they have a fancy POS system. Don't be worried about that hard-working family in el coche de cucharachas. Worry about the 17 year old popping a zit and fondling the lettuce at your local fast food sludge pit while the manager smokes weed in the backroom. btw, NOLA loves Mexicans, really they do.... http://portlandfood.org/index.php?showtopic=4954
  11. btw, in Eugene area try Aiyara Thai Cuisine. It's an easy exit off the interstate at Gateway and is over in a little strip center near the road sort of in front of Target. Best Thai I've had in Eugene. If they have the noodle curries, get those.
  12. It might help to start with my tipsheet: http://www.extramsg.com/uploaded_misc/portland_tipsheet.html It's a bit out of date, but I'll be updating it before you come out probably. It'd be useful to print out and just keep in your pocket -- at least the top part. Some places that I have enjoyed and might be up your alley: Carlyle, Olea, 23 Hoyt, Alberta Street Oyster Bar, Giorgio's, Andina.
  13. Skip Burgerville. It's a waste of a meal unless you just want a snack or to taste something and stop eating. Both of Balomi's suggestions are very good. I'd especially suggest Banh Cuon Tan Dinh which has a lot of really well-prepared interesting Vietnamese dishes. Ask for the bo la lot, which is on the catering menu and almost always available. The banh khot is another of my favorites. Also, any of their wrap dishes with the grilled pork. Another great spot is Bun Bo Hue on 82nd. It's smaller and has a more limited menu -- a bit divey -- but its food can be terrific. There's also the original Pho Van along 82nd, another great Vietnamese restaurant, more upscale, and Pho Oregon, the best pho and banh mi bo kho in town, imo. There are some fantastic taco trucks around there, too. La Catrina, just south of the Johnson Creek exit, eg, makes terrific tortas and is pretty much always open. 205 seems like it would be longer, but I-5 pretty much always has backups especially between the river and downtown. So it will probably even out.
  14. Hopefully not PF Chang's, so I'll assume it was Sungari. Glad you got to the Portland Farmers Market, even if still early (and rainy) in the season.
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