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  1. I would suggest hitting Cafe Azul before the show. It is a fabulous restaurant. There is a restaurant across the street from the Aladdin. I can't quite remember the name (Sula, Sala, ?) I've heard that it is good, but doesn't come close to rivalling Cafe Azul. You could consider travelling south down Milwaukie to Papa Hadyn's after the show for dessert. However, the trouble of catching a cab an extra time probably makes it not worth it. Oh yeah, Caprial's is not too far from the Aladdin and I always enjoy the food there. My favorite choice is to get appetizers and drinks in the bar. I think I'm not as in to full meals these days--especially before a show. If you go at 6 you won't need reservations for the bar, but you will for the restaurant. Another benefit of eating here is that it gets you out of downtown and into a nice neighborhood--good place to stroll around and window shop--two fabulous kids stores in case you have any chilluns'. As I write this I wonder about Papa Hadyn's. They have as many desserts as ever in their case, but I feel less inclined to go there than I did ten years ago. Is it because the choices have changed so little, or because other places serve better desserts than used to be available, or what? Any thoughts?
  2. I'm thrilled that Noble Rot received such recognition! They have done a lot to alter the face of dining in Portland and also to give life to a great neighborhood. I so appreciate all of their hard work.
  3. I did go to Lauro Wednesday night. Unfortunately, small scale tragedy occurred and I have had no Internet access for to days... Dinner was very good. I want to rave about the place because I really liked the people and the experience, but I can't honestly say that the food knocked my socks off. Ultimately, the best thing for me about Lauro is the atmosphere. It is a beautiful and spacious environment and they are making a very purposeful effort at being neighborhood/family friendly. They seem to understand who their long-term clientele is likely to be. We went early (6 pm) every table was full and there were maybe five tables with kids. The odd and wonderful thing was that every single child was quiet and well behaved (including mine--which was a blessing). We sat at the counter in front of the open kitchen. Actually, right in front of the chef/owner's grill station (can't remember his name). My daughter was thrilled to watch the action and the chef was nice enough to engage her, and us, a bit. He heard me say that I was interested in a burger, but knew I should be more adventerous on the first try, he agreed and I followed his advice. We started with an heirloom tomato salad and the special sardine appetizer. The sardine was great, but here's the catch. I'm a dummy and have never tried sardines. I asked the waitress if it was served boned and/or was hard to eat. She had no idea and asked the host. He had no idea and asked the sous chef. Who, in Spanish, said they did have bones and showed us. I decided to try it anyway. When we got our starters I discovered that the bones were so miniscule that they were just eaten with the fish. My daughter LOVED the sardine so much that I barely got any. The tomato salad was simple but wonderful. I very much appreciated them leaving the harvest unencumbered. For entrees, we ordered the lamb kebab with rice pilaf, a special trout stuffed with housemade sausage and wrapped in pancetta, and a mushroom and gorgonzola pizza (there was no specific kids' menu, which I can easily live with). I hope they call Su-Dan soon because my lamb was virtually flavorless. The figs which were cooked with it were wonderful and the rice was good, if a bit uninspired. My mom liked her dish and loved the sausage stuffing. IShewould have preferred more focus on that, but said that she thought part of her problem was that she isn't used to eating fish skin. The pizza was good. All of the portions were way too big. I hope that they pare them down a bit in the future. Mom requested a suggestion for a glass of wine to go with her trout. She said she would do white or red, but that she didn't like dry. The waitress said, "I have no idea which of these are dry, but some people like this one..." Mom ordered a port infused flan for dessert. My mom and daughter both thought it was so good that they were battling spoons. At one point mom literally tried to trick daught into being distracted with a cookie--it didn't work. At the end, I asked the waitress, who stated that she would be collecting the bill from us, if they took checks. She said that she had absolutely no idea. It wasn't a big deal, but it reinforced the idea that they could stand a bit more training in general. What is the food like? What's great? What are policies? Nothing huge, just a pet peeve I guess. All in all, I commend Lauro for an interesting menu, beautiful decor, wonderful attitude toward family dining, and good food. I hope their service gets a bit, but not too, polished, and that they reconsider portions. By the way, our total bill before tip was $64 with one glass of wine. Not a cheap family meal in my book, but a really nice night out in which my kid felt included, not just a tag along. As I read over this I think maybe we just had a nice, but not skilled, waitress and that I shouldn't lump everybody together. I will definitely go back, but not until I've tried lots of other new and enticing spots.
  4. My mom's been wanting to go to Lauro Kitchen. Anybody out there been yet? I can imagine a good night of Mediterranean dining and Pix for dessert. If we end up going, I'll post later. Would love to hear from others...
  5. It is indeed 2226 NE Broadway. I had a great dinner there last night. If I understood the story correctly, this is the same Noodlehead that used to be in Portland. The waiter seemed to be saying that it has never been gone, but I'm sure it hasn't been there consistently for the last ten years. However, it did used to be Miso Happy. He told me that there were two owners of the Noodlehead/Miso Happy business and that one of them died in a car accident. It was too much for one man to run so Noodlehead on Broadway was sold (to whom I don't understand.) The food, with an exception, was wonderful. My dad and I went with two young kids and ordered more food than we needed, but we were intrigued. We started with bbq pork and salted prawns. I was disheartened when the pork arrived. It looked dry and stringy--and tasted the same. It was served in the traditional manner except the red sauce was more gelatinous than at most places. The prawns, however, made all of my worries dissappear. These were large, lightly battered and fried, but nothing at all like fried shrimp. These were crisp and flavorful served with onions, green onions, garlic, salt and pepper. This is one of my favorite Asian dishes and I was thrilled to find another restaurant that does such a good job of it. The only other place in town that I think is consistent is Zien Hong on Sandy Blvd. I liked the dish last night because the onions were relatively crisp and it was served piping hot. And, all this for $6. They call it an appetizer, but it was easily entree material. In addition, we ordered Spicy Beef Phad Thai, Wonton Soup, Prawns and Scallops in Spicy Garlic Black Bean Sauce, and Chicken with Green Beans. The Phad Thai, as previously noted, was excellent. I think this was the dish described at the beginning of this thread. They also serve it with chicken, shrimp, or tofu. I almost missed this one because it is listed under Thai Specials rather than noodles. I had leftovers for lunch and reveled in how fresh it still tasted and how generous they were with the lime--sublime! The scallops and shrimp were great. I particularly noticed that the scallops were flavorful and had great texture. Not a lot of goopy sauce hiding them. My daughter loved the wonton soup, but I was too stuffed to try it. I highly recommend this restaurant. It was not crowded--I think they could use more business. I have to say that I am not a fan of Miso Happy, but Noodleheads might become a staple.
  6. If they were near Blue Nile, it must be NE. I haven't heard anything about this place and I think I have to go there for dinner--TONIGHT! Will report later...
  7. Aren't you starting at the WCI Patisserie program? If so, Provvista, in Portland is your spot for wholesale purchases. I'm not sure if they let students purchase or if you have to have a business. I suggest you call them and ask (503.228.7676). If they say no, PM me and I'll buy for you when I am down there.
  8. I have a recipe for coconut pastry cream that I love. It is just a susbtitution of 1 cup of coconut milk for 2 cups of 1/2 and 1/2 (not sure why the reduction of liquid). The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of sweetened coconut also, but I never put that in because I can't stand the texture of coconut. I would love to try this with some lychee puree, or mango, or...
  9. I'm no expert, but I've given it a try. Here is what I have found: there is almost always a discernible taste when using Splenda. Those that haven't tried it may not identify it easily and I wouldn't say it is disgusting--just VERY Splendaish. Also, Splenda is not able to provide bulk or carmelization to foods. Therefore, I have not been able to get a good butter cake going because it is impossible to cream Splenda and butter (or eggs) to anything resembling a good structure. Also, for example, cookies don't brown or get the nice carmelized edges because Splenda has a different chemical structure than sugar. I have found it much easier to bake items in which the sugar is used only as a sweetener rather than a structural component: panna cotta, maybe a flourless chocolate cake, pie, etc. I recently purchased Stevia to try to alleviate the Splenda aftertaste, but that one is even more clearly lacking the structural components of sugar. I haven't tried it yet. The Splenda website has some recipes, but if you are looking for low carb cooking, they don't usually apply. Good luck!
  10. I am spit roasting a pig next weekend and just realized that I will need to deal with charcoal. I will admit that my grilling is usually done on a gas Weber because I am lazy. But, I want this pig to be perfect. Do any of you have suggestions for type of charcoal--no lighter fluid and I would prefer hardwood to whatever is in the other stuff. A particular flavor? Does brand matter? I am in Portland, OR and see Lazzaro (sp?) in gourmet stores. Also, I would love to buy wholesale if anyone has a good source for me.
  11. If you haven't designed the cabinetry yet, clearance issues should be avoidable. Really, depending on your height, consider adding a few inches to the height of the cabinet, which will help compensate for a deeper sink and/or off set drain. I predict that an off set drain will also make for more usable space under the sink.
  12. I few thoughts on sinks and surrounding areas: My husband just knocked out the bathroom adjacent to the kitchen and built a "long-term temporary" dishwashing area. We previously lacked a dishwasher and disposal. I bought a cheap ($99) sink at Home Depot which is big enough for a roasting pan, but not much else. It is, however, 12" deep, which I love. This sink will not make it to the permanent kitchen, but I am happy enough for now. The biggest drawback is what I consider to be a major flaw in many sinks--the drain is in the very middle of the compartment. If the drain were off to any corner it would be much easier to reach under said roasting pan and move whatever gunk was backing up the water. I will search high and low for an offset drain. Hubby did install a disposal for me and I don't have any problems with it being in the main (only) compartment. I guess I just scrape, stack to the side (again, easier if drain were properly located), and then set dishes in sink for cleaning. Another bonus, I have always hated the standard height of counters. I may be a bit tall (5'7") but certainly not an Amazon. We designed the counters so that the tops are at 38". I love it and can't believe more people don't do that! Also, the dishwasher sits on a platform 10" off of the floor. My achin' back is loving it. One other good idea that I have seen, but not lived with...my friends are avid composters and they cut a hole into their countertops and inserted rails to hold a bin flush to the bottom of the counter. There is a small lid that covers the hole. The entire set up is convenient, out of the way, and extremely low maintenance. One key element is that the bin itself is not too big. This means they empty it frequently and that it is easy to clean in that nice big, deep sink.
  13. Anna N., I would check eBay and craigslist.org before you chuck out your Braun.
  14. Here is a picture of my cake...
  15. I made the cake this weekend and discovered some interesting things: I used Rosy Berenbaum's classic fondant recipe from the Cake Bible. I have used this recipe before, but not for almost two years. The fondant was extremely easy to make and came together better than I remember. I made the substitution for corn sryup and was very pleased with both the sheen of the fondant and the texture. I never enjoy the taste of fondant. The only thing I will do next time is double my recipe so that I have more flexibility when dying it (see problem below). When I was working the fondant the next morning I put it in my mocrowave for about 8 seconds at a few different points. That made it very easy to knead and seemed to renew the texture somehow. I also made white chocolate plastic from Nick Malgeiri's book Perfect Bakes. This was just as easy to make, but not as great to knead. The night was very hot and the stickiness of the corn syrup really tried to come through. I didn't handle it too much and it was ok; I just had to wait until the next morning to really get in and knead it absolutely smooth. So, the first night I was messing around with dying the fondant and I achieved the perfect light aqua that I was hoping for. That made me decide to skip the white chocolate addition so that I didn't alter the color. But, when I went to roll it out the next morning, I didn't have enough because I had used a significant amount to cut out appliques. I had to incorporate the chocolate plastic. Alas, that meant that the whole thing turned a garish, deep aqua green (I read chefette's post as I returned home from the shower and laughed--you guys do know it all!). I had to work pretty hard to get back to the blue range that I needed. It was still way to deep and intense so I started adding in powdered sugar. I didn't know if this would work, but I knew that I wouldn't use green fondant so it was worth a try. I was able to knead in cups and cups of sugar. I thought that it would saturate and become too stiff or something, but it worked really well. I never got back to my ideal color, but I was happy presenting the end result. One item that worked enormously well in two ways-- I have a roll pat (Sur la Table's house version). It is a silicon mat that is 19"x24". By using this mat I didn't have to use any nonstick spray and only enough additional powdered sugar for the rolling pin itself, even when I was rolling out the initial fondant recipe. I really can't say enough about how great this was. Then, I just picked up the whole mat, supported what was hanging off one edge, and turned it over onto the cake and peeled it off. Worked like a charm! Anyway, thought some of this might help some others who don't have a ton of experience in this field either.
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