Cocktails of Jackknife Bar at the Sentinel Hotel

Jackknife Bar is located just by the entrance/lobby of downtown’s Sentinel Hotel (formerly the Governor’s Hotel) on SW 11th and Alder, only a few blocks from the City Target, and brought to you by the minds behind Dig A Pony, Bye & Bye, and Sweet Hereafter. The space inside Jackknife is very dark and art deco- I wouldn’t be surprised to see fellow patrons decked out in the garb of the roaring 20s in here.
Jackknife PDX Jackknife PDX

The atmosphere is very relaxed, with a very large bar if you want to chat with new people and watch the bartenders at work crafting drinks or pouring from their more than a dozen taps. Or you can sink yourself into groups of couches or big simple wooden tables and chairs that almost feels like you can light up a cigar and channel some of the previous guests of this historic hotel built in 1909.

If you’d like, Jackknife also has some seats by the bright giant windows facing the street and a few white plastic tables outside if you want to keep yourself grounded in the current era. In the back, huge booths seating almost a dozen people around a lounge table in shadows seems like a secret VIP area ready made to accommodate a celebrity’s entourage.

I was able to try 4 of the Jacknife Bar house drinks. The first, Pavlov’s Bell cocktail with vodka, espresso, coconut, cinnamon, vanilla salt was deeply satisfying with its rich flavors.
Jackknife PDX, their house cocktail option of Pavlov's Bell cocktail with vodka, espresso, coconut, cinnamon, vanilla salt was deeply satisfying with its rich flavors Jackknife PDX, their house cocktail option of Pavlov's Bell cocktail with vodka, espresso, coconut, cinnamon, vanilla salt was deeply satisfying with its rich flavors

On the lighter, more refreshing side there’s

  • Bonnie Parker cocktail (their take on a Moscow Mule) with Old Taylor whiskey, toasted pecan, lime, honey, and Jackknife ginger beer
    Jackknife PDX, their house cocktail option of Bonnie Parker cocktail with Old Taylor whiskey, toasted pecan, lime, honey, Jackknife ginger beer Jackknife PDX, their house cocktail option of BONNIE PARKER cocktail with Old Taylor whiskey, toasted pecan, lime, honey, Jackknife ginger beer
  • Bye Bye Sweet Pony with whiskey, quince, lemon, maple syrup, Jackknife ginger beer, and salt both taste light but have a hint of depth
    Jacknife PDX cocktail of BYE BYE SWEET PONY with whiskey, quince, lemon, maple syrup, Jackknife ginger beer, salt Jacknife PDX cocktail of BYE BYE SWEET PONY with whiskey, quince, lemon, maple syrup, Jackknife ginger beer, salt
  • Days of Thunder house cocktail with vodka, lemon, cucumber, mint, jalapeno, Mello Yello
    Jacknife PDX cocktail of DAYS OF THUNDER with vodka, lemon, cucumber, mint, jalapeno, Mello Yello Jacknife PDX cocktail of DAYS OF THUNDER with vodka, lemon, cucumber, mint, jalapeno, Mello Yello

The toasted pecan, lime and honey of the Bonnie Taylor is subtle, while the Bye Bye Sweet Pony’s quince and maple syrup and salt combination make it dangerously easy to drink down the delicious. As my personal taste I really like spicy drinks, so the nostalgia of Mello Yello’s citrusy flavors (which I haven’t had since much younger days) added with the little bit of jalapeno burn was very enjoyable. Particularly, with the big heat wave in weather during which I had some of these beverages, the Bye Bye Sweet Pony and Days of Thunder were really a big relief as the thermometer inched towards 100.

Foodwise, I tried the Pimento Cheese, which comes with tomato relish and butter crackers. The butter crackers were so buttery that they crumbled in any attempt to spread the cheese or relish, which is fine because then you can just eat it by the forkful and it would work well with any drink you order at the bar. Or just by itself. Just saying.
Jackknife PDX, Pimento Cheese, which comes with tomato relish and butter crackers. The butter crackers were so buttery that they crumbled in any attempt to spread the cheese or relish, which is fine because then you can just eat it by the forkful.

The Cheese Plate is generous in terms of how much cheese is on the plate. That ricotta topped with Bee Local Honey, similar to the pimento cheese, is addictive.
Jacknife PDX cheese board

Meanwhile, the order of Beets which comes with fried ricotta, pickled fennel, smoked walnuts and dijon vin was a beautiful light option that is a good choice for anyone who is vegetarian or gluten free.

On the vegetarian front, along with their bar burger there is also a vegan bbq tempeh burger so you don’t have to feel like a second class citizen with just this lovely, but admittedly not filling, salad. The only really filling food they offer on the menu are the two mentioned burgers and a ham and cheese sandwich, do the intention is to be a bar/lounge and not a place for a meal.
Jackknife PDX, Beets which comes with fried ricotta, pickled fennel, smoked walnuts and dijon vin Jackknife PDX, Beets which comes with fried ricotta, pickled fennel, smoked walnuts and dijon vin

Jackknife Bar is open 3PM until 2AM, with happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 PM everyday. There is no table service, you must order at the bar, but if you order food you will be given a number and they’ll bring your food to you.

Jackknife Bar on Urbanspoon

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Avocado Breakfast or Brunch Recipes

These Avocado Breakfast Recipes or Brunch Recipes are very simple ways to eat avocado, but so satisfying. I don’t know if I can really call them all of them recipes as much as ideas that are self explanatory. And they are my favorite ways to incorporate avocado into a breakfast or brunch.
The delicious ways to incorporate California Avocados into your breakfast or brunch. When removing avocado, I like to cut them and then peel off the skin rather then trying to scoop the avocado from the skin!

The most obvious way is of course with a breakfast burrito. I decided to make one with bacon and jalapeno with avocado spread This is the recipe for 1 portion, for 1 person.

Bacon Avocado Jalapeno and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Bacon Avocado Jalapeno and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado, pitted
  • 1/3 of a  jalapeno, finely diced (your call on the seeds)
  • 1/2 of a lime for the juice (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 flour tortilla
  • 1/4 cup of shredded Mexican cheese

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing ball, add the avocado (I like the cut the avocado in half and then peel off the skin rather than trying to scoop the avocado out of the skin) and the lime juice and mash together.  When you chop the jalapeno, it is your choice whether to leave the seeds in for heat, and how much seed to leave in (I only left in 1/4 the seeds of the whole jalapeno) – add this in as well and mash together. When I made mine, I made 3 avocados worth and with the rest I added some crumbled queso fresco and served it with the breakfast burrito.
    Bacon Avocado Jalapeno and Cheese Breakfast Burrito - the Guacamole topping
  2. On a cold frying pan, add the slice of bacon and turn up the heat. Cook the bacon, turning it halfway, until crispy. Set aside on a paper towel to absorb excess oil and to cool so that you can later crumble it into the breakfast burrito.
  3. In the pan, I poured out the bacon fat until only about 1/2 tablespoon was left (I reserved the rest for other cooking. If you are making multiple portions at once, you can leave more in the pan). I then poured in the egg and cream and scrambled, adding a pinch of salt and bit of freshly ground pepper to my taste.
  4. On 1 flour tortilla, spread out the scrambled egg in the middle, and then crumble the bacon and add on top of the egg. Sprinkle the shredded Mexican cheese (a mix of cheddar, monterey jack, and asadero and queso quesadilla cheese), and then add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the avocado jalapeno mixture.
    Bacon Avocado Jalapeno and Cheese Breakfast Burrito Bacon Avocado Jalapeno and Cheese Breakfast Burrito
English Muffins and Avocado

Another way is after toasting some English Muffins, I scrambled some eggs and instead of a rich Hollandaise sauce, I just sliced up 1 avocado and added a sprinkle of some shredded triple cheddar cheese and it was luxurious without all the fat.
After toasting some English Muffins, I scrambled some eggs and instead of a rich Hollandaise sauce sauce, I just sliced up some avocados and added a sprinkle of some shredded triple cheddar cheese and it was luxurious without all the fat.After toasting some English Muffins, I scrambled some eggs and instead of a rich Hollandaise sauce sauce, I just sliced up some avocados and added a sprinkle of some shredded triple cheddar cheese and it was luxurious without all the fat.

Or on a weekday, I simply mash 1 avocado in a bowl and spread it on toasted English Muffins, top it with sprinkles of queso fresco or cojita cheese, and off to the rest of the workday we go!
Avocado on toasted english muffin topped with queso fresco cheese

What are your favorite ways to have avocado?

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Book Club Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

For July, the book for my online book club Kitchen Reader (which you can join too!) was the book The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  The book had been on my wishlist for awhile so was interested to finally to read it.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

It turns out this book is a bit of a melancholy book. It had never occurred to me that a lot of the feelings in food could be so sad or angry or complex enough to detect the deeper emotional waters a person might not even realize they have, or that they are suppressing. There were quite a few times that yes, the narration gets wonderfully descriptive as our narrator (not heroine- just storyteller) Rose, traces back exactly where in the world an ingredient comes from, and what the people who had touched that ingredient had been feeling. But, these feelings tended towards the kind you wish you didn’t know, the kind that Rose describes as being forced to read everyone’s diary with any bite. This ranges from the empty loneliness of her mother to a sandwich yearning desperately for the love of her boyfriend to the real sadness of the school lunchlady or orange juices from oranges plagued with financial worries or maple syrup from a family with drug and alcohol addiction issues.

It isn’t until much later in the book, when she is beginning her young adulthood (the other main ages covered are when she turns 9 and then at 12 and 17 years old) that she grows into letting her curse become something she uses to willingly explore and experience the variety of complicated interior human emotions rather than something she hides from via processed food or eating on the side of her cheek. I laughed at one point as she excitedly describes eating frozen dinners that were the greatest hits by her favorite factories.

If you are reading this book you should expect that her ability is touched upon as an undercurrent of the main story, as it is something she just learns to live with and she doesn’t recognize it until the end as anything positive.

Instead, most of the book is really about this family of four, each person having a secret that is told through the course of the book that explains a little about why no one seems happy in this family – starting with the flighty mother, then sensitive Rose, her very barely there aloof brother (his part of this tale is incredibly confusing and probably why some people may not enjoy this book), and then in what seemed the most realistic, the brief door opening and closing of her very self-controlled, restrained father.

Nothing is really resolved or explained, and we stay in Rose’s perspective which can be both incredibly observant and other times not ask or wonder at all of some things that were to me, frustratingly vague or passively unquestioned.

Fortunately, there is a lot of wonderful imagery in the book, and that storytelling  and lovely writing kept me reading. For such an unhappy, distant and emotionally removed family, this is also a world where a block of butter being prepared for a dessert is described as blurring at the edges; where a father wipes a teary cheek and says salt is for meat, a son uses tweezers to remove splinters from his mother’s hands every Sunday and an aloof brother once in a while reaches out to Rose and she narrates “the same way the dessert blooms a flower every now and then. You get so used to the subtleties of beige and brown, and then  sunshine-yellow poppy bursts from the arm of a prickly pear.”

Lemon cupcake

My takeaway from the book: it was ok for me that there were some unresolved parts, particularly to Rose’s brother. There are people and things that happen in life sometimes that really you don’t know the answer to, and having the distant brother sister relationship that they did, I accepted the unfinished and not understood aspect of it. How Rose portrays her parents having this same acceptance though was odd to me, and I was particularly dissatisfied with the lack of responsibility and parenting of a mother supposedly overflowing with love for her children but who barely know them at all. Maybe that’s just part of the mother’s self-absorbed nature.

Somehow it seemed fitting that it was a French cafe that opens Rose’s eyes later in the book  to the way her insight from feelings from food could be a gateway to the world by dining out all over the place. Thinking back, it wasn’t until I was in college that I really was able to have my eyes opened to the incredible flavors that could be out there. Probably most people grow up in families that center around certain preferred cuisine.

I remember the cuisine that opened my eyes and tongue of what might be out there to eat beyond what I had ever imagined- Russian. The rich butteryness of pelmeni dumplings and crispy latkes countered against cold sour cream or applesauce which were better than my beginner level appreciation of potatoes in french fry, potato chip, and mashed potato forms. Tashkent Carrot salad, with its garlicky vinegar tang as something to do with vegetables besides steam, boil, stir fry, or cover with butter in a frozen food tray. Rich stews that had in one spoonful more than any soup from a can or cafeteria had ever given me in terms of complexity.

Do you remember when you had this experience, where you stepped outside the comforts of the flavors you had grown up with and known thus far and realized there was a whole new world out there, like Rose and I did? What kind of food was it?

Are you interested in joining our book club? For our casual online club there is a new book selected for every month, each book is related to food, and members write a review on their blog during the last week of that month. Next on our book list for August is Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America by Thomas J Craughwell.

If you are interested in joining, check out the website Kitchen Reader!

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Images from Hollywood Farmers Market and PSU Portland Farmers Markets

I have a confession. I am a farmers market addict.

Even when I travel and am staying in a hotel and have no kitchen, maybe not even a fridge, I check to see if there is a farmers market to visit. I’ve been to Farmers Markets in upstate New York and in Manhattan, in Vermont, in Arizona, Boston, Chicago, California, in Washington the state and Washington DC the district.

On Saturdays, I have been going to TWO farmers markets- both the Hollywood Farmers Market to wander before my workout class, and then right after the workout class to the PSU Portland Farmers Market. I just love browsing, looking at all the beautiful goods from the farmers, and then maybe also looking at all the people there too.

Here are a few of the photos I couldn’t help but take just to capture the wonderful bounty of things I was seeing. You’ll probably see these posts once in a while where I just am showing off how wonderful these farmers markets are!

Hollywood Farmers Market

Open all year round on Saturdays.
Some of the offerings at the Hollywood Farmers market on Saturdays - salads Some of the offerings at the Hollywood Farmers market on Saturdays - Sea Scape Strawberries Some of the offerings at the Hollywood Farmers market on Saturdays - zucchini Some of the offerings at the Hollywood Farmers market on Saturdays - green garlic Some of the offerings at the Hollywood Farmers market on Saturdays - mushroom mixes Some of the offerings at the Hollywood Farmers market on Saturdays - onions, lots of onions Some of the offerings at the Hollywood Farmers market on Saturdays - flowers Some of the offerings at the Hollywood Farmers market on Saturdays - music

Portland Farmers Market

One of 8 locations of the Portland Farmers Markets.
Some of the offerings at the Portland Farmers market on Saturdays at PSU - berries Some of the offerings at the Portland Farmers market on Saturdays at PSU - mushrooms Some of the offerings at the Portland Farmers market on Saturdays at PSU - salads Some of the offerings at the PSU Portland Farmers market on Saturdays - garlic scapes Some of the offerings at the PSU Portland Farmers market on Saturdays - giant Walla Walla sweet onions Some of the offerings at the PSU Portland Farmers market on Saturdays - music Some of the offerings at the PSU Portland Farmers market on Saturdays - squash blossoms Some of the offerings at the Portland Farmers market on Saturdays at PSU - fresh flowers Some of the offerings at the Portland Farmers market on Saturdays at PSU - fresh flowers

Available at both markets: Gabriel’s Bakery and that freaking addictive cheese croissant they have (you can see it in the left back), among other baked goods. I don’t even have to say anything at the PSU Farmers Market, she just starts reaching for them and it’s only a matter of how many I want to buy this time…
Some of the offerings at the Farmers market on Saturdays - Gabriel's Bakery, at both the Hollywood and PSU Portland Farmers Market

 

I hope I am encouraging you to visit the Farmers Market this weekend! Which one do you go to, and what do you like to buy?

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Mama Chow’s Kitchen

One of the reasons I always am very excited for the Eat Mobile food cart festival in April every year is that it is an opportunity for me to discover new food carts. Since I work in Beaverton, I miss out on a lot of the food carts that are open for lunch downtown on the weekdays. I also don’t tend to be out eating at the “late night pods” that start from 11pm on on the weekend nights. Usually one of the main reasons I get to enjoy a food cart is if I happen to have an appointment so I am working a half day. Of course, that’s still no excuse completely since even though not all of them are open, there are some open at other hours and on the weekend, and at other cart pods besides downtown.

A couple weeks ago after a dentist appointment, I took the opportunity to go grab lunch at one of the food carts that really impressed me at Eat Mobile 2014 this year (as I recapped previously). This was the Mama Chow’s Kitchen food cart, which had provided a sample of fried chicken wing with honey soy glaze, garlic noodles… YUM. Also, their cart is adorable!
Eat Mobile 2014 My vote for best food cart sample was Mama Chow's Kitchen with their sample of fried chicken wings with honey soy glaze, garlic noodles... YUM. Also, their cart is adorable! Eat Mobile 2014 My vote for best food cart sample was Mama Chow's Kitchen with their sample of fried chicken wings with honey soy glaze, garlic noodles... YUM.

My stop around lunchtime at 12 was very fortunate, because I got the second to last chicken order at the cart! The cart is located at SW 2nd and Stark, just a half block away from Mother’s Bistro. There, Jeff Chow, transplant from Oakland and trained chef is bearing his Mama’s recipes, offering choices such as or his mom’s Wontons in wonton soup, lollipop wings, kalua pork, or garlic noodles.
Jeff Chow, proprietar of Mama Chow's Kitchen, taking orders at Mama Chow's Kitchen for his mom's Wontons in wonton soup (pork, shrimp or chicken wontons in house broth with baby bok choy), lollipop wings (honey soy garlic glaze with jasmine rice and baby bok chow), kalua pork with garlic noodles and cayote squash, or garlic noodles that are fresh made local noodles with chayote squash and onion relish

There are a generous number of wontons in that Wonton Soup, with his mom’s wontons full of flavorful pork, shrimp or chicken in the house broth with baby bok choy. It’s the best wonton soup I’ve ever had. I took the photos below before adding anything extra, but there are lots of various condiments, including spicy hot sauce to amp up this soup even more.
Mama Chow's Kitchen, taking orders at Mama Chow's Kitchen for his mom's Wontons in wonton soup (pork, shrimp or chicken wontons in house broth with baby bok choy) Mama Chow's Kitchen, taking orders at Mama Chow's Kitchen for his mom's Wontons in wonton soup (pork, shrimp or chicken wontons in house broth with baby bok choy)

The garlic noodles are amazing, fresh made with chayote squash and onion relish. It sounds simple, but it is so good you will gobble it all up faster than you think. Yes, you can get them with the other dishes probably on his menu, but you want a whole order of these noodles.
Mama Chow's Kitchen: Garlic noodles and cayote squash, or garlic noodles that are fresh made local noodles with chayote squash and onion relish Mama Chow's Kitchen: Garlic noodles and cayote squash, or garlic noodles that are fresh made local noodles with chayote squash and onion relish

From my second try of these chickens, let me confirm that these are justifiably raved about lollipop chickens that come in a honey soy garlic glaze with jasmine rice and baby bok choy. You can see the lollipop name comes from the fact that the meat is pushed up slightly to expose a bone handle. The chicken is juicy inside, but the skin is crisped up from the glaze. The only improvement or recommendation I have for you when you order is to switch out the rice with those excellent garlic noodles.
Mama Chow's Kitchen justifiably raved about lollipop wings with honey soy garlic glaze with jasmine rice and baby bok choy

He makes everything fresh so there may be a 5-7 minute wait, but it’s worth it.

You can find/follow more of the deliciousness of Mama Chow’s Kitchen at their Facebook page, or on their Instagram @MamaChowsKitchen or on their Twitter @MamaCsKitchen

As a side note, because of the timing of this post… I just want to point out that if you are going to OBF, Mama Chow’s is open from 11-3 so you could bring it as your lunch, and they are also open 12-5 on Saturdays if you attend OBF that day. The cart is only a few blocks away (1/2 block North of the Mother’s Bistro on SW 2nd)

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