Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party

Meadowlark recently celebrated their 2nd anniversary! Congratulations Emily and Jen! As an homage to their very first dinner, Meadowlark marked the occasion with a festive apericena taking inspiration from the flavors and dishes of Sicily. This Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party was an Italian version of happy hour (the name comes from the Italian words for cocktail + dinner) and combines drinks with local and seasonal hors d’oeuvres.
Meadowlark PDX Apericena

Here’s a look at the incredible Meadowlark PDX Apericena spread – I don’t know how they kept up with continually putting these plates out to keep the tables and there was so much variety!

Boulevier
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, Boulevier Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, Boulevier Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, Boulevier

Homemade antipasti: Salami, Marinated Artichokes, Eggplant Caponata, Carta Di Musica and Mozzarella, Zucchini Agrodolce, Olive Celery Leaf Salad
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, antipasti, salami Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, homemade antipasti like marinated artichokes Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, eggplant caponata Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, homemade antipasti like carta di musica and mozzarella balls Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, Zucchini Agrodolce Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, olive celery leaf salad

But yet there’s more!
Meadowlark PDX Apericena

Stuffed Eggs with Tuna Confit and Capers
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, stuffed eggs with tuna confit and capers Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, stuffed eggs with tuna confit and capers

Polpettine al Limone, lemon and bay scented meatballs
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, polpettine al limone, lemon and bay scented meatballs Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, polpettine al limone, lemon and bay scented meatballs

Aracini with fresh peas and mozzarella
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, aracini with fresh peas and mozzarella Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, aracini with fresh peas and mozzarella

Sfincione (authentic sicilian pizza)
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, sfincione (authentic sicilian pizza) Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, sfincione (authentic sicilian pizza)

Panelles (chickpea fritters) with creamy pesto trapanese
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, panelles (chickpea fritters) with creamy pesto trapanese Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, panelles (chickpea fritters) with creamy pesto trapanese

Ravioli with ricotta, caramelized fennel, and fava beans
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, ravioli with ricotta, caramelized fennel, and fava beans Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, ravioli with ricotta, caramelized fennel, and fava beans

And then there was dessert! I know, can you believe that all came from these ladies? Slaving in the kitchen on their own celebratory anniversary!
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, strawberry-tarragon ice cream sandwiches served in true Sicilian fashion, on buttery brioche buns, presented by Emily Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, Cannoli presented by Jen

Dessert was just as generous as the rest of the party, and included fresh cannoli with freshly fried cinnamon and marsala scented shell and homemade ricotta, and also these amazing strawberry-tarragon ice cream sandwiches served in true Sicilian fashion, on buttery brioche buns. YUM.
Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, Cannoli and Strawberry-tarragon ice cream sandwiches served in true Sicilian fashion, on buttery brioche buns Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, Cannoli and Strawberry-tarragon ice cream sandwiches served in true Sicilian fashion, on buttery brioche buns

If you would like to experience the warm hospitality and deliciousness yourself, the next Meadowlark event tickets for their July dinner are now on sale! On Saturday, July 9th, close to Bastille Day,  they will hold a Provençal-inspired feast at Our Table Cooperative farm in Sherwood, OR 30 minutes outside Portland.

It will be a four-course, family-style dinner served out in the field that follows after a welcome beverage, hors d’oeuvres and a farm tour. The food will feature fresh produce from the farm and dinner options for omnivores, pescatarians, and vegetarians. Dinner  tickets are $50; add pairings of some of rosé wines for an additional $25.

Which of these bites from the apericena do you wish you could have eaten?
Meadowlark PDX Apericena Meadowlark PDX Apericena: A Springtime Sicilian Cocktail Party, Cannoli and Strawberry-tarragon ice cream sandwiches served in true Sicilian fashion, on buttery brioche buns

Signature

Snackdown 2016 Recap

This past Sunday, I attended the closing event of Portland Beer Week, and here is my Snackdown 2016 Recap! Taking place 12 – 4 PM at The Evergreen event space above Loyal Legion, Snackdown was a food and beer pairing event where 10 of Portland Chefs and 10 Oregon Brewers are paired into 10 Brewer/Chef teams to make snack and beer pairing. The atmosphere is styled like a WWF style Smackdown with brewers and chefs hyping their pairing on the mic – possibly while sporting wrestling themed costume – while in the background a large screen played old matches from the days of Hulk – I guess in the mid 80s.
Snackdown Portland Beer Week 2016 Closing Party

DJ Rev Shines was playing fun music to keep everyone grooving while snacking. Everyone seemed to be having fun and in a great playful mood.
DJ Rev Shines was super cool at playing fun music to keep everyone grooving while snacking at Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, see my Snackdown 2016 Recap for more details

Herb of Loyal Legion served as MC and got all the brewer/chef teams to take turns doing a little smack talking throughout the event
Herb of Loyal Legion served as MC and got all the brewer/chef teams to take turns doing a little smack talking throughout the Snackdown event Herb of Loyal Legion served as MC and got all the brewer/chef teams to take turns doing a little smack talking throughout the Snackdown 2016 event

Guests got to vote on their favorite pairing and the winning team will be awarded the Snackdown Belt – which is apparently a wristlet version for the brewery and restaurant,  here being modeled by Co-organizer of the event, Ben Love of Gigantic Brewing.
Guests at Snackdown 2016 got to vote on their favorite pairing and the winning team will be awarded the Snackdown Belt - which is apparently a wristlet version for the brewery and restaurant. Guests at Snackdown 2016 got to vote on their favorite pairing and the winning team will be awarded the Snackdown Belt - which is apparently a wristlet version for the brewery and restaurant.

The 10 Brewer/Chef teams for 2016 were:

  • Loyal Legion / Portland Brewing & Double Mountain showcased the official 2016 Portland Beer Week beer by pouring a Sub-Continental IPA, a collaboration between Portland Brewing and Double Mountain to create a ~7% ABV northwest IPA brewed with Indian spices like pepper, cardamom, clove, cumin and saffron. Meanwhile Loyal Legion used the Sub-Continental IPA to braise their homemade sauerkraut which they then fried into a krokotten and served along with a spicy beer mustard that also had Sub-Contental IPA in the mustard.
    Snackdown 2016 Loyal Legion / Portland Brewing & Double Mountain showcased the Portland Beer week beer by pouring a Sub-Continental IPA, a collaboration between Portland Brewing and Double Mountain to create a ~7% ABV northwest IPA brewed with Indian spices like pepper, cardamom, clove, cumin and saffron. Meanwhile Loyal Legion used the Sub-Continental IPA to braise their homemade sauerkraut which they then fried into a krokotten and served along with a spicy beer mustard that also had Sub-Contental IPA in the mustard Snackdown 2016 Loyal Legion / Portland Brewing & Double Mountain showcased the Portland Beer week beer by pouring a Sub-Continental IPA, a collaboration between Portland Brewing and Double Mountain to create a ~7% ABV northwest IPA brewed with Indian spices like pepper, cardamom, clove, cumin and saffron. Meanwhile Loyal Legion used the Sub-Continental IPA to braise their homemade sauerkraut which they then fried into a krokotten and served along with a spicy beer mustard that also had Sub-Contental IPA in the mustard
  • Bollywood Theater / The Commons Brewery also combined beer right into the food by pairing the Commons Fleur de Blanc, a Rose and Elderflower White Farmhouse Ale, with Bollywood Theater creating an Indian curry with mussels cooked in the Commons Fleur de Blanc with Indian spices, coconut milk, and rose petals. It was a little hard to eat in such a small little bowl to get the mussels out, but the mussels dish added a little heat while bringing out some of the funky and floral notes in the beer, which I thought made an excellent combo.
    Snackdown 2016 Bollywood Theater / The Commons Brewery combined beer right into the food by pairing the Commons Fleur de Blanc, a Rose and Elderflower White Farmhouse Ale, with Bollywood Theater creating mussels cooked in the Commons Fleur de Blanc with Indian spices, coconut milk, and rose petals. Snackdown 2016 Bollywood Theater / The Commons Brewery combined beer right into the food by pairing the Commons Fleur de Blanc, a Rose and Elderflower White Farmhouse Ale, with Bollywood Theater creating mussels cooked in the Commons Fleur de Blanc with Indian spices, coconut milk, and rose petals.
  • Lardo / Heater Allen Brewing I always love seeing Chef Rick Gencarelli at an event – he’s always excited about what he’s doing which I miss seeing when he gave up the Lardo cart for the multiple successful businesses of his current brick and mortars, but you get a glimpse of how fun he is and what a good hearted guy every time he’s at one of these food events in front of the people again.
    I always love seeing Chef Rick Gencarelli at an event - he's always excited about what he's doing which I miss seeing when he gave up the Lardo cart for the multiple successful businesses of his current brick and mortars, but you get a glimpse of how fun he is every time he's at one of these food events. Here at Snackdown 2016 he somehow kept that awesome wrestling mask on while doling out the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen's Das Bier Kolsch I always love seeing Chef Rick Gencarelli at an event - he's always excited about what he's doing which I miss seeing when he gave up the Lardo cart for the multiple successful businesses of his current brick and mortars, but you get a glimpse of how fun he is every time he's at one of these food events. Here at Snackdown 2016 he somehow kept that awesome wrestling mask on while doling out the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen's Das Bier Kolsch
    Here he somehow kept that awesome wrestling mask on while doling out the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen’s Das Bier Kolsch.
    Snackdown 2016 Lardo created the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen's Das Bier Kolsch Snackdown 2016 Lardo created the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen's Das Bier Kolsch
  • The Bent Brick which just officially went to a tipless system and is one of six gratuity free restaurants in Portland, presented what they called a Pig Picnic with porky picnicky vibes in a pork and beans stew / Block 15 Brewing brought their Sticky Hands IPA
    Snackdown 2016 The Bent Brick presented what they called a Pig Picnic with porky picnicky vibes in a pork and beans stew / Block 15 Brewing brought their Sticky Hands IPA The Bent Brick presented what they called a Pig Picnic with porky picnicky vibes in a pork and beans stew / Block 15 Brewing brought their Sticky Hands IPA Snackdown 2016 The Bent Brick presented what they called a Pig Picnic with porky picnicky vibes in a pork and beans stew / Block 15 Brewing brought their Sticky Hands IPA
  • Old Salt Marketplace created “Last Year’s Succotash” with alubias gigantes beans, pickled corn, fermented pepper vinagrette, shaved country ham and arugula on a pork rind – sadly I found the pork rind to be old and chewy rather than crispy / Ex Novo Brewing with their Thick as Thieves Dry Hoppped Belgo-American Sour Pale, a collaboration beer they created with Solemn Oath Brewery in Chicago which they just released during Portland Beer week
    Snackdown 2016 Old Salt Marketplace created 'Last Year's Succotash' with alubias gigantes beans, pickled corn, fermented pepper vinagrette, shaved country ham and arugula on a pork rind to pair with Ex Novo Brewing with their Thick as Thieves Dry Hoppped Belgo-American Sour Pale, a collaboration beer they created with Solemn Oath Brewery in Chicago Snackdown 2016 Old Salt Marketplace created 'Last Year's Succotash' with alubias gigantes beans, pickled corn, fermented pepper vinagrette, shaved country ham and arugula on a pork rind to pair with Ex Novo Brewing with their Thick as Thieves Dry Hoppped Belgo-American Sour Pale, a collaboration beer they created with Solemn Oath Brewery in Chicago
  • Toro Bravo / Hopworks Urban Brewery was the winner of Snackdown with their rich Baller Grilled Cheese and “Tomato Soup”, a rich three cheese (truffle cheese, manchego, and mahone on Grand Central brioche) and modernist tomato soup sphere with the HUB Xocolatal Xake Up Belgian Style Spiced Quad to wash it down with.
    Toro Bravo / Hopworks Urban Brewery was the winner of Snackdown 2016 with their rich Baller Grilled Cheese and 'Tomato Soup', a rich three cheese (truffle cheese, manchego, and mahone on Grand Central brioche) and modernist tomato soup sphere with the HUB Xocolatal Xake Up Belgian Style Spiced Quad to wash it down Toro Bravo / Hopworks Urban Brewery was the winner of Snackdown 2016 with their rich Baller Grilled Cheese and 'Tomato Soup', a rich three cheese (truffle cheese, manchego, and mahone on Grand Central brioche) and modernist tomato soup sphere with the HUB Xocolatal Xake Up Belgian Style Spiced Quad to wash it down Toro Bravo / Hopworks Urban Brewery was the winner of Snackdown 2016 with their rich Baller Grilled Cheese and 'Tomato Soup', a rich three cheese (truffle cheese, manchego, and mahone on Grand Central brioche) and modernist tomato soup sphere with the HUB Xocolatal Xake Up Belgian Style Spiced Quad to wash it down
  • Kim Jong Grillin brought the spice with smoked bo ssäm made with smoked pork, a braised pork in Breakside beer Rye Curious, an apple kimchee, ssämjang sauce made with Breakside Rainbow & Unicorns beer, jalapeno, and green leaf lettuce/ Breakside Brewery cooled it down with Rainbows & Unicorns, their session IPA which also seemed appropriate given that it was Pride Festival weekend in Portland.
    Snackdown 2016 Kim Jong Grillin brought the spice with pork ssam/ Breakside Brewery cooled it down with Rainbows & Unicorns, their session IPA Snackdown 2016 Kim Jong Grillin brought the spice with pork ssam/ Breakside Brewery cooled it down with Rainbows & Unicorns, their session IPA
  • P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, starring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic’s chocolatey and malty Capella Porter
    John Harris brewer of Ecliptic dressed in wrestling costume The Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, staring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic's chocolatey and malty Capella Porter John Harris brewer of Ecliptic dressed in wrestling costume The Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, staring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic's chocolatey and malty Capella Porter Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, staring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic's chocolatey and malty Capella Porter Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, staring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic's chocolatey and malty Capella Porter
  • Biwa gave a special nod toward’s Buoy’s coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes while chef Gabe Rosen hilariously posed as Bernie / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison, a special one off beer for this event and only in limited quantities at their tasting room
    Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes while chef Gabe Rosen hilariously posed as Bernie / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes while chef Gabe Rosen hilariously posed as Bernie / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison
  • Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert
    Snackdown 2016 Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert Snackdown 2016 Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert Snackdown 2016 Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert Snackdown 2016 Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert

I really hope they bring this Snackdown event back for next year – it was a great value I think since for the price with 10 small dishes from high quality restaurants (some which are harder to get into like Nomad). Also, receiving 10 five ounce pours of beers is a lot – after a while I realized I had to start cutting back on my sipping. Congratulations to Toro Bravo and Hopworks on their win this year!

It was a little haphazard trying to find a place to put a plate and glass down in order to be able to eat – just a few more cocktail tables, even along the side wall by the DJ, could have helped as I saw some people take a gamble by placing glasses on the floor to eat. But, there never seemed to be a line of more than a handful of people to get a pour – a combination of the number of people who came this year I think at a manageble size and each of the stations was well prepared with food plates ready. A checklist sheet listing all the beer and food pairings made it easy to know ahead of time who you wanted to visit in what order and track that you enjoyed all ten teams.

It’s also unfortunate there was no award for best dressed brewer –  Gigantic’s Ben Love went all out, Ecliptic’s John Harris and those fly arm bands and velvet cape, and the cozy PJs with hand drawn hop crest of Ryan Pappe of Portland Brewing were all outstanding and committed to a whole wrestler hero vibe experience. And Herb was perfect as an announcer – everyone was so much fun. The friendly tongue I’m cheek smack talking and friendship between the Brewers and various food crafters I think perfectly embodies the Portland spirit in the food and drink community.

What would have been your vote for best beer and food pairing based on this Snackdown 2016 Recap?

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Santa Fe Eats

I’ve highlighted a restaurant in my previous Santa Fe post already of Gabriel’s, which also offered a very cool artsy atmosphere and tableside guacamole on the way to Bandelier, and which I would definitely recommend again. My favorite Santa Fe Eats that we had overall during our entire trip was at The Shed, a very well known a family owned restaurant since 1953. They serve Southwest specialties but are especially known for their red chile sauce. It’s a little hidden off the Santa Fe Plaza since you need to go back a little bit to see the doors, and it’s reputation as a must visit may mean a line (they do take reservations) although we didn’t encounter any on the rainy day lunch we had.
We started with lunch at the famous The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. Some say it is the best place for chile in Santa Fe. I would definitely agree with the red chile, and the green chile had great flavor but would not be the spiciest we would have We started with lunch at the famous The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. Some say it is the best place for chile in Santa Fe. I would definitely agree with the red chile, and the green chile had great flavor but would not be the spiciest we would have

The atmosphere is like a hacienda with lots of folk art that feels like a neighborhood joint in the heart of downtown Santa Fe.

We started with lunch at the famous The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. Some say it is the best place for chile in Santa Fe. I would definitely agree with the red chile, and the green chile had great flavor but would not be the spiciest we would have We started with lunch at the famous The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. The atmosphere is like a hacienda with lots of folk art that feels like a neighborhood joint in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. We started with lunch at the famous The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. The atmosphere is like a hacienda with lots of folk art that feels like a neighborhood joint in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. We started with lunch at the famous The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. The atmosphere is like a hacienda with lots of folk art that feels like a neighborhood joint in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. We started with lunch at the famous The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. The atmosphere is like a hacienda with lots of folk art that feels like a neighborhood joint in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. We started with lunch at the famous The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. The atmosphere is like a hacienda with lots of folk art that feels like a neighborhood joint in the heart of downtown Santa Fe.

The bar offers a pretty good selection of margaritas. And a vacation especially when our lodging is in walking distance of the Santa Fe plaza (and which offers a complimentary shuttle to and from downtown) means a margarita for lunch. It always feels so decadent to drink at lunch!
We started with lunch at the famous The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. Some say it is the best place for chile in Santa Fe. The Shed, a family owned restaurant since 1953. Some say it is the best place for chile in Santa Fe. They offer lots of margaritas. Vacation means a margarita for lunch "Vacation

He ordered a vegetarian burrito in green chile sauce – and holy moly was it massive, fork to show scale! The green chile sauce was good, but would not be the best we had during the trip.
The Shed Burrito with green chile sauce in Santa Fe. The Shed Burrito with green chile sauce in Santa Fe.

Meanwhile, I think I had the best dish since I got the cheese enchiladas (vegetarian so we could bot enjoy) in the legendary red chile sauce served with pinto beans & posole (stew of Nixtamal corn, lean pork, coarse red chile, garlic & oregano). Keeping with The Shed’s tradition, their New Mexican dishes are served with French garlic bread, which was a great break as I was scooping up the sauce by itself by the spoonfuls – it was spicy, smokey, and delicious. The Shed’s chile comes directly from a farm and is continuously ground on the premises for freshness. I now it doesn’t look like much, but it was fantastic.
Keeping with The Shed’s tradition, their New Mexican dishes are served with French garlic bread. I think I had the best dish since I got the cheese enchiladas (vegetarian so we could bot enjoy) in the legendary red chile sauce served with pinto beans & posole. Keeping with The Shed’s tradition, their New Mexican dishes are served with French garlic bread. I think I had the best dish since I got the cheese enchiladas (vegetarian so we could bot enjoy) in the legendary red chile sauce served with pinto beans & posole.

Cool your tongue afterwards by not missing dessert: we were pleasantly surprised by the sophistication of this Zabaglione with Creamy Italian Custard, Cointreau, White Port
Dessert at The Shed of Zabaglione with Creamy Italian Custard, Cointreau, White Port to cool off our palate after all that great red chile and green chile

Shed Creative Cooking Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

While The Shed was my #1 favorite for dining, and had the best red chile sauce, for green chile sauce our vote goes to no frills local diner Horseman’s Haven. It’s set back a bit from the busy Cerrillos Road – you have to look for it slightly behind a gas station – I drove by it twice before I found it. One of the reasons I write my blog is because I always adore reading blog entries myself when researching travel: and this entry by NM Gastronome on Horseman’s Haven is what convinced me to make this someplace to check out.

The vegetarian green chile at Horseman’s Haven has a depth that’s surprising given that most green chiles have pork in them in town – and the chile has a nice meaty texture as it is thickened with a roux. The regular green chile sauce is already spicy unlike most other green chiles you may come across, and then they offer a spicier Level Two made with Jim and Sandia peppers. Make sure you have tissue for your sweat and runny nose if you go with Level Two.
Horseman’s Haven at 354 Cerrillos Rd has the spiciest green chile. The regular green chile sauce at Horseman's Haven Cafe is hotter than nearly any other in town. The spicier level-two green chile sauce is composed of Big Jim and Sandia peppers. The vegetarian green chile has a depth that's surprising given that most green chile are porky - and the chile has a nice meaty texture as it is thickened with a roux. Horseman’s Haven at 354 Cerrillos Rd has the spiciest green chile. The regular green chile sauce at Horseman's Haven Cafe is hotter than nearly any other in town. The spicier level-two green chile sauce is composed of Big Jim and Sandia peppers. The vegetarian green chile has a depth that's surprising given that most green chile are porky - and the chile has a nice meaty texture as it is thickened with a roux.
It is so spicy you may not be able to have more than a teaspoon or even a few drops. As much as I like spicy Thai and Indian food, I had to tap out after a few spoonfuls worth, though F ate it all up. So if you can take the heat, for green chile try Horseman’s Haven. I definitely suggest you order something large like a big burrito so you have something to eat between sweating with the green chile. Don’t be afraid to ask for the Level 2 on the side to be cautiously risky.
Horseman’s Haven at 354 Cerrillos Rd has the spiciest green chile. The regular green chile sauce at Horseman's Haven Cafe is hotter than nearly any other in town. The spicier level-two green chile sauce is composed of Big Jim and Sandia peppers. The vegetarian green chile has a depth that's surprising given that most green chile are porky - and the chile has a nice meaty texture as it is thickened with a roux.

Horseman's Haven Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For a more moderate green chile experience, we went to Tomasita’s which is the typical huge Mexican restaurant great for huge groups that has been in business for more than 40 years. Their red & green chile from Hatch, New Mexico is cooked daily and they also use New Mexico pinto beans plus all entrees and specials include a sopaipilla, honey butter and New Mexico Honey from B’S Honey Farm of Albuquerque. A sopaipilla, if you haven’t had one before is like a fried bread.

I recommend the entree called Tomasita’s Big Bowl, which allows you to build your own bowl with any combination – red or green chile, beans, posole, ground beef or chicken served with a hot sopaipilla. I went with red chile for myself. F had Tomasita’s Vegetarian Mexican plate with Red and Green Chile, beans and rice, and in front you see a sopaipilla.
Tomasita's Vegetarian Mexican plate with Red and Green Chile, beans and rice, and in front you see a Sopaipilla. Their red and green chile — from Hatch, New Mexico — is cooked daily and Tomasita's uses natural Monterey jack cheese and New Mexico pinto beans. All entrees and specials include a sopaipilla, honey butter and New Mexico Honey from B’S Honey Farm of Albuquerque Tomasita's Big Bowl: Build your own bowl with any combination – red or green chile, beans, posole, ground beef or chicken served with a hot sopaipilla. Their red and green chile — from Hatch, New Mexico — is cooked daily and Tomasita's uses natural Monterey jack cheese and New Mexico pinto beans. All entrees and specials include a sopaipilla, honey butter and New Mexico Honey from B’S Honey Farm of Albuquerque

The other reason we went to Tomasita’s is because they have this super fun mariachi band called Mariachi Buenaventura that plays every Tuesday evening at Tomasita’s at 7:30 PM. What makes Mariachi Buenaventura stand out is that they are an all female mariachi band. If you are around on a Tuesday, these ladies alone make it worth a trip to Tomasita’s. When we saw them that night, I think there were twice as any as in the video below.

Tomasita's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Have you had red or green chile before? Which one do you prefer?

Signature

Brunch Better Tips from Jackie Ellis

There are many opportunities/excuses to throw an incredible brunch – for your family during a family reunion trip, an easy way to get together with your friends on a leisurely weekend morning where people can drop in/out based on their schedule, or a wedding shower or baby shower.  In the spring, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Whole Foods Blogger Brunch Boot with Jackie Kai Ellis of Beaucoup Bakery.  The intent was to get Brunch Better Tips from Jackie Ellis, and now I’m passing on the learnings I gleaned from her to you.
Jackie Kai Ellis during a Whole Foods Bloggers Brunch Bootcamp providing tips on how to brunch better Jackie Kai Ellis during a Whole Foods Bloggers Brunch Bootcamp providing tips on how to brunch better

I’m a big fan of Jackie because she has an impeccable sense of style (before studying French baking she ran a design firm), clearly loves food,  and also adores travel (she does the kind of travel I wish I could do – a combination of food travel but also absorbing the uniqueness of each travel destination).

She is also is wonderfully evocative and articulate but also so down to earth and personable as she shares her love of food and the destinations she visits around the world on her blog Jackie Kai Ellis. I enjoy her travel posts mosts, but she also writes about cooking and sharing elegant recipes and tips on entertaining. So how I jumped at the chance to hear about this firsthand from her, and totally sat in the front row only a couple feet from her and tried not to fangirl too much how much I wish I could be like her.

Anyway, let’s go on to the wonderful information about how you and I and everyone can brunch better! She gave us three main areas, decoration, beverages, and food.

Flower Arranging Tips

Jackie Kai Ellis giving tips on flower arranging during a Whole Foods Bloggers Brunch Bootcamp providing tips on how to brunch better
Jackie admits that flowers are a luxury, but they can bring a lot of joy to a home with their infusion of beauty and life, even if only temporarily. I know I personally make special trips all during peony season to buy flowers – but keep it at $5 and 3 stems at a time from the Portland Farmers Market. You can decorate your brunch very simply just by having a fresh bouquet of flowers.

I agree with her that I’m not a fan of greens unless they are done with a lot of interesting types of leaves and not just the normal generic leaves, so I don’t buy bouquets that have this filler. She recommends making your arrangement based on color themes, and just doing it in your hand, one stem at a time.
"Jackie

Then, she cuts all the stems so the flowers are just above the top of the vase. You can see I followed her advice here:
Jackie Kai Ellis tip on Flower Arrangement: she cuts all the stems so the flowers are just above the top of the vase Jackie Kai Ellis tip on Flower Arrangement: she cuts all the stems so the flowers are just above the top of the vase

Finally, she reminds everyone to change their water often as that is how she thinks flowers stay fresh the longest.

As an alternative to a flower bouquet, she also likes bowls of citrus!

Confit Orange

Jackie Kai Ellis during a Whole Foods Bloggers Brunch Bootcamp providing tips on how to brunch better
This is what Jackie calls a “cheaters orange confit” because it is not as time consuming as a traditional orange confit which takes days of reducing at low heat in order to replace everything in the orange (including the orange skin!) with sugar so it is candied and delicious and yes, all completely edible. It’s very simple, and then she showed us two ways to use the confit orange – in a beverage called the Mimosa 75, and then in a sweet French dessert dish called Pain Perdu with Confit Orange. Another way to enjoy the orange confit is with chocolate – Jackie for instance topped a chocolate tart with the orange confit.

Ingredients:

  • 4 navel oranges
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2.5 pounds of granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean husk

Directions:

  1. Boil water in a large pot. Blanch the whole oranges in for about a minute. Remove the oranges, and drain the water. Repeat again, with a fresh pot of water being brought to a boil and another round of blanching for 1 minute. Remove again and pour out the water. The intent here is remove the bitterness of the skin and drain it from the water, which is why you need to do a fresh pot.
  2. Quarter the oranges along the stem, and place in a large empty pot (probably the same pot as before…). Add the juice of 2 lemons, and the 2.5 pounds of granulated sugar, and if you have one, a vanilla bean husk (the insides of the vanilla bean are used for the Pain Perdue recipe below). Might as well not waste it that husk!
  3. Add enough water into the pot until the oranges are covered. Slowly bring the pot to a very low simmer, and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the skins begin to become translucent looking and the oranges are tender but still hold together. You may need to add more water during this simmering process, which could take 6-8 hours. So, start this in the morning and then do the rest of your chores like cleaning or other cooking as needed. If you can’t keep it simmering the whole 6-8 hours, turn off the burner, cover the pot, and then resume the low simmer when you can until you get to this same point.

To store, you can place the orange segments and syrup into a jar. You can process it to fully can it, or just keep it in the refrigerator for use for a few weeks.
Jackie Kai Ellis shares her recipe for Confit Orange, which you can use both for Mimosa 75 drinks and a food dish of Pain Perdu with Confit Orange, learned during a Whole Foods Bloggers Brunch Bootcamp providing tips on how to brunch better

Mimosa 75

Jackie Kai Ellis showing us how to make a Mimosa 75, a mashup between a mimosa and French 75, during a Whole Foods Bloggers Brunch Bootcamp providing tips on how to brunch better
This is a mashup between a mimosa and a French 75. Jackie’s tip on making this drink is to use high quality ice, and when shaking listen for the change in sound to show you are ready.
Jackie Kai Ellis showing us how to make a Mimosa 75, a mashup between a mimosa and French 75, during a Whole Foods Bloggers Brunch Bootcamp providing tips on how to brunch better
Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce of gin
  • 1/2 ounce of orange confit syrup
  • 1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 ounce of fresh orange juice
  • Dry sparkling wine to top
  • Good ice

Directions:

  1. Combine the 1 ounce of gin, 1/2 ounce of orange confit syrup, 1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice, and 1 1/2 ounce of fresh orange juice in a cocktail shaker with your good ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a glass. Jackie recommends considering whether you want to serve it in a traditional champagne glass, or you can also use juice glasses for smaller portions like for mom and grandma.
  2. Top your drink with sparkling wine. If you’d like, garnish with a slice of orange confit, or just get right down to drinking…

Pain Perdu with Confit Orange

Jackie's recipe for Pain Perdu with Confit Orange
Pain Perdu translates to “lost bread”, and this recipe does use stale bread that would otherwise be lost, but thankfully can be repurposed and enjoyed in this traditional French dessert dish. Jackie recommends using thick slices of dry brioche to soak up as much egg as possible and give the dish a custard like texture. This version uses confit orange, but you can also consider her Lavender Cherry version of Pain Perdu, perhaps along with her recipe for Ice Cream with Lavender Black Kettle Corn and Ripe Plums. This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped of its seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream (plus more for topping, optionally)
  • 4 thick slices of brioche or Challah
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 oranges, segmented
  • Confit Orange

Directions:

  1. In a shallow baking dish, mix together the 4 eggs eggs, vanilla seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/3 cup of whipping cream.
  2. Add the brioche in one layer to soak up the egg, this will take about 5 minutes on each side depending on the dryness of the bread, the drier the bread, the longer it will need to soak.
  3. In a nonstick pan on medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter per slice and place in the dipped brioche. Fry on both sides until golden and remove from the pan onto a sheet tray or plate.
  4. You can choose to remove the crusts for a more elegant look or leave them for a rustic appearance. Plate the pain perdu warm, top with a slice of confit orange, fresh orange segments, and the whipped cream to serve. For this version, we also used a little sprinkle of edible flower petals for an additional layer of prettiness.

Although I enjoyed the bread pudding since it’s beautiful, I preferred the strong sweetness of the orange confit with a super chocolatey chocolate cake myself. Maybe it doesn’t go completely with the brunch theme, but I did mention sometimes you may want to throw a brunchy wedding shower or baby shower, and that involves cake – this is an easy way to serve cake without having to deal with frosting. And you can just use your favorite chocolate cake recipe!
Pair your favorite chocolate cake with Jackie Kai Ellis' recipe for Confit Orange Pair your favorite chocolate cake with Jackie Kai Ellis' recipe for Confit Orange Pair your favorite chocolate cake with Jackie Kai Ellis' recipe for Confit Orange Pair your favorite chocolate cake with Jackie Kai Ellis' recipe for Confit Orange Pair your favorite chocolate cake with Jackie Kai Ellis' recipe for Confit Orange
What is your favorite brunch dish to make?

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary Whole Foods Bloggers Brunch Bootcamp where I was able to get a demonstration of the tips and recipes by Jackie Kai Ellis as a Whole Foods Market Culinary Council Member. I was not required to write this post, and I was not otherwise compensated. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.

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Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing

I admit I’ve been a wine club member and even longer a fan of TeSóAria wines. Recently they have started offering vegan tapas on their daily tapas menu to accompany their dozen or so wines that are available at any one time to taste or purchase by the glass, in flights, or in bottles, and many of those wines are award-winning. At the time of the brunch, they were up to 97 medals!
Award winning wines at Tesoaria Award winning wines at Tesoaria

And now, starting today they have set aside every Thursday for what they call Vegan Thursday: Shut Up and Eat Your Vegetables night where all the tapas will be vegan – the menus are available starting at 5 PM. They also will be offering a vegan brunch with wine pairings by reservation only (one seating)  every few weeks. It’s not often that you see vegan food paired with wines, and it’s worth highlighting for my vegan friends out and there – and even if you’re not vegan, the Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing is so good you will want it anyway.
Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing at a vegan brunch - owner and winemaker John Olson describing the wine Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing at a Vegan Brunch - yes pairing vegan food and wine- owner and winemaker John Olson describing the wine
The name for TeSóAria Vineyard & Winery comes from combining Terra (earth), Sol (sun), Aria (air and music) which are three important parts that make their wines so unique. Owner and winemaker John Olson and his family love music, and it is part of the TeSóAria experience. At their wine members pick up parties I’ve often enjoyed hearing his children play music and sing, and they host live music in the Portland Tasting Room on Saturdays. While aging the wines in the barrels, TeSóAria plays music through Bose speakers to keep the wine moving – as well as possibly imparting a little extra terroir.
Music is part of the Terrroir of Tesoaria Wines

The TeSóAria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing Brunches will be offered every few weeks as a special event  – aka, they will not be weekly so check their events listing on the website and sign up for their mailing list to be in the know. The next Vegan Brunch at the Portland Tasting Room is Sunday, July 24th, 11am $45, tout compris. Limited seating, RSVP required to events @ tesoaria.com

The food is inspired newly each time so expect to see new creative additions all the time by Chef Max Germano and Sous Chef Daniel Escalle (seen here preparing the Vegan Cassoulet during the vegan brunch) for what will be on the menu.
Tesoaria Vegan Brunch - Sous Chef Daniel Escalle preparing the Vegan Cassoulet.

Here’s a look at the inaugural vegan brunch I attended to give you an idea of what the experience could include with the 4 courses with the wine pairings.

Tesoaria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing: Vegan Brunch

1st course

Chicory Salad with Roasted Apricot Vinaigrette and croutons paired with 2015 Vermentino Secco and 2014 Field Blend #1. The greens in this salad included endive, frisee, arugula and interestingly some wasabi greens to add a hint of spiciness.
TeSóAria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing Brunch 1st course Chicory Salad with Roasted Apricot Vinaigrette and croutons paired with 2015 Vermentino Secco and 2014 Field Blend #1 TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 1st course Chicory Salad with Roasted Apricot Vinaigrette and croutons paired with 2015 Vermentino Secco and 2014 Field Blend #1

Candied pepitas with radishes and macerated apricots add additional texture and flavors to the plate that I thought were best brought out by the Field Blend #1 since each dish gave me a chance to go a White vs Red: Who Did It Better comparison.

The Field Blend is the red wine that is a tribute to old school wine making where winemakers are more focused on the flavors then getting hung up on specific varietals. TeSóAria, by the way, cultivates more than 25 different varietals from the Southern Oregon Umpqua Valley, Celestina Vineyard in Medford Rogue Valley, riesling from Willamette Valley, and some from Northern California.

2nd course

Homemade Cashew Cheese Stuffed Peppers with Tabouleh, Sweet Romanesco and Mint Oil paired with 2015 Riesling (sourced from Willamette) and 2014 Bull’s Blood (a Hungarian style red wine). He has a specific way he tells the inspiration story behind the Bull’s Blood name though rest assured there is no bull harmed in the story or in the wine making. One new trivia I learned though is that the Kadarka grape they use for this red were smuggled vines from Hungary that he inherited (he’s a rebel, but didn’t smuggle them in himself, phew)!
TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 2nd course Cashew Cheese Stuffed Peppers with Tabouleh, Sweet Romanesco and Mint Oil paired with 2015 Riesling and 2014 Bull's Blood TeSóAria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing Brunch 2nd course Cashew Cheese Stuffed Peppers with Tabouleh, Sweet Romanesco and Mint Oil paired with 2015 Riesling and 2014 Bull's Blood

With the surprise spiciness from the peppers I thought the Riesling was the winner of this pairing to balance out the dish, though normally I like drinking the Bull’s Blood on it’s own!

3rd course

Vegan Cassoulet with Fava Beans and Maitake Mushrooms, Chickpea Croutons, Roasted Vegetables, White Miso, and Tahini paired with 2015 Bella Rosa and 2012 Vindetta Reserve.
TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 3rd course Vegan Cassoulet with Fava Beans and Maitake Mushrooms, Chickpea Croutons, Roasted Vegetables, White Miso, and Tahini paired with 2015 Bella Rosa and 2012 Vindetta Reserve TeSóAria Wine and Vegan Food Pairing Brunch 3rd course Vegan Cassoulet with Fava Beans and Maitake Mushrooms, Chickpea Croutons, Roasted Vegetables, White Miso, and Tahini paired with 2015 Bella Rosa and 2012 Vindetta Reserve

Cassoulet is traditionally a peasant dish with beans and meat, and I enjoyed here how the use of mushrooms and miso really gave an extra thickness to the cassoulet to make it meaty like without actual meat. For me the Vindetta Reserve red wine was my preferred pairing of the two.

4th course

Dessert came as a Rosemary Shortcake with Apricot Jam, Apricots, Lemon Olive Oil, Fried Rosemary and Muscat Agave Nectar. The apricots are macerated in the Bella Rosa that here is also paired with the dish (2015 Bella Rosa Secco).
TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 4th course Rosemary Shortcake with Apricot Jam, Apricots, Fried Rosemary paired with 2015 Bella Rosa Secco and 2015 Sparkling Moscato TeSóAria Vegan Brunch 4th course Rosemary Shortcake with Apricot Jam, Apricots, Fried Rosemary paired with 2015 Bella Rosa Secco and 2015 Sparkling Moscato

The other wine pairing here is the 2015 Sparkling Moscato, showing off their recently started TeSóAria Sparkling Wine Program – this particular Moscato just won a Silver Medal at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and they were confused/surprised when he entered the wine in a growler! You see, the sparkling wines of TeSóAria are on tap and you can purchase them by the (refillable!) growler here in the tasting room.

Other Excuses/Rationalizations to stop by the Portland Tasting Room:

  • On Tuesdays the Portland Tasting Room hosts Pizza Tuesdays where every Tuesday, housemade pizza is complimentary and certain wines are on special. Open house from 6 – 9 PM or until they are out of pizza.
  • They also hold Hangry Hump Day every Wednesday at The Portland Tasting Room. Chef Max’s complimentary yummies and Wine Specials vary based on the week which in the past can be as varied (and making for fun wine pairings!) as from fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, lamb gyros, chicken teriyaki, to chicken tikka masala or smoked chicken biscuits with mac and cheese and more. Open house from 6pm to 9pm or until the food is gone.

The vegan only nights are only on Thursdays, but they have also added vegan options to their always available tapas menu that includes choices like
Tasting Boards with the Tesoaria Sparkling Wine at the Sparkling Wine Release Party

  • the vegan Olive Tapenade made with Castelveltrano and Kalamata olives with herbs and toasted bread;
  • Cheese Board with house baked bread;
  • Charcuterie Board that includes Ghost Pepper Salami and housemade charcuterie items;
  • the vegan Mezze Board with Hummus, Lebneh, Marinated Olives, Roasted Almonds, Cucumber and Flatbread;
  • Focaccia Pizza (including vegan pizza option);
  • Smoked Salmon brined in TeSóAria Bella Bianca wine before being cold smoked;
  • House cured ham sandwich with brie and house made mustard, greens and lemon chive vinaigrette
  • TeSóAria Housemade Candy Bars with salted almond shortbread and vanilla caramel topped with dark chocolate and Maldon sea salt!

Their tasting menu also includes 5 flight options that include tapas paired with three glasses of wine – cheese, charcuterie, the wine maker’s flight with chef’s choice (1 of the wines will be the live barrel), or a library wine flight with chef’s choice of tapas to pair with the wine.
Open house at Tesoaria with a dozen wines to taste Open house at Tesoaria with a dozen wines to taste

Suffice it to say you will not lack for choice for types of wine to try at TeSóAria. Usually there are a little more than half a dozen white wine and a dozen red wines to choose by the glass or to make a wine flight, plus 2-3 sparkling wine you can try. Purchase a bottle of wine from the live barrel and they will hand bottle for you and write a custom message.
TeSóAria offers live barrels in their Portland Tasting Room for you to taste and will hand bottle if you puchase a bottle TeSóAria offers live barrels in their Portland Tasting Room for you to taste and will hand bottle if you puchase a bottle

TeSóAria wines are only available directly from the winery through their tasting rooms, mailing list, and wine clubs.

Locations of TeSóAria Tasting Rooms:

  • The Portland Tasting Room: 4003 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227
  • The Roseburg Tasting Room & Winery: 512 N Curry Road, Roseburg, OR 97471

Tesóaria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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