Best PDX Breakfast Sandwich: Brunch Box

Brunch Box first attracted my attention several years ago with their food cart and has since grown to still have the food cart and also have their brick and mortar downtown on 620 SW 9th. I was initially drawn to their famous YouCanHazCheeseburger, a cheeseburger that both a nod to the cat meme and that their sandwich uses two grilled cheese sandwiches using Texas Toast for each side of the bun (I covered it in this blog entry here). What you may not know is that not only did they bring the cheeseburger to another level, but they have done the same for breakfast sandwiches as well.
Brunch Box's Sandwich wrapped to go

My favorite is the simple Omelet Sandwich. It starts off with two eggs with mushrooms, grilled onions & american cheese. You can get hash browns with it – it’s in a patty like the McDonald’s ones I used to love until I learned better are – that you can choose to have in the sandwich or in a sleeve on the side.

Then, you choose your bread, ranging from biscuit to english muffin to various bagels or Texas Toast or yes, grilled cheese can be your buns. My recommendation is to go with one of the bagels, either Plain or Everything – I chose the Everything Bagel. That’s because as you can see, they lovingly brush that bagel with butter on ALL the sides which makes for messy eating with your hands (which I lick my fingers afterwards…) but is so good!
Brunch Box's Omelet Sandwich which you can customize to your liking- to the base of Two eggs with mushrooms, grilled onions & american cheese I added hash browns on the side rather than inside the sandwich and I chose an Everything Bagel as the vehicle Brunch Box's Omelet Sandwich which you can customize to your liking- to the base of Two eggs with mushrooms, grilled onions & american cheese I added hash browns on the side rather than inside the sandwich and I chose an Everything Bagel as the vehicle

There are many other breakfast sandwich options which makes this great to grab and go before a hike in the Gorge, or get it delivered via Postmates (Use code 1i24n for FREE delivery up to $10 on your first order!) on a day you have a hangover (what? Truth!). Examples include

  • Bagel Sandwich, but not just with cream cheese: oh no, it comes with cream cheese, bacon, grilled onions & egg.
  • Start your day off with a burn via the Trial by Breakfast sandwich with fried egg, pepper jack, bacon, grilled onions, jalapenos, and aardvark habanero hot sauce. I hear spicy food is good for your metabolism. The same bread options I mentioned with the Omelet Sandwich are true here too.
  • A Black and Bleu Breakfast sandwich offers a fried egg with bacon, sausage, bleu cheese, grilled onions, fried egg & blackening spice with the same bread options I mentioned with the Omelet Sandwich.
  • On the sweeter side, again with the same bread options as the Omelet Sandwich, consider the Hawaiian Breakfast, a sandwich with fried egg with swiss, pineapple, fried egg & teriyaki sauce.
  • The Lumberjack offers fried egg with cheddar, bacon, sausage, ham, grilled onions, & maple syrup on French Toast. OR, the Monte Cristo is a version of fried egg with ham, swiss, grilled onions, & maple syrup on french toast.
    Brunch Box's Sandwich for breakfast, the Lumberjack offers fried egg with cheddar bacon, sausage, ham and grilled onions, fried egg and; syrup on French Toast Brunch Box's Sandwich for breakfast, the Lumberjack offers fried egg with cheddar bacon, sausage, ham and grilled onions, fried egg and; syrup on French Toast
  • The OMG Breakfast sandwich takes up the craziness to include fried egg with bacon, ham, spam, american cheese, and the OMFG Breakfast is everything the OMG sandwich is plus sausage!

I don’t have anything from Brunch Box often – I either really need that grease delivered in the morning, OR I know I’m doing a big hike or other physical activity later that day. After all, these are all a bit over the top – but I love that they are. I really savor that extra buttery on all sides bagel in whatever sandwich form I get each time. They are also surprisingly quick even though they let you do so much customization to your sandwich, which I also really appreciate.

Have you ever heard of or had a French Toast breakfast sandwich?

Brunch Box Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner

For Feast Portland 2016, which just occurred last week, I was really pleased to see several different ethnic cuisines being highlighted as part of the Dinner Series. The one I attended offered me a chance to try Filipino food, which usually I don’t have much access to in Portland and even when I do get it it’s generally limited to lumpia, adobo, pancit and longanisa (and wishful thinking for me on lechón. Come on Carlo, throw together a pop up event!). This Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner photo recap shows how these star chefs not only shared Filipino food with us, but took it up another level thanks to their restaurant perspective to upgrade it from the traditional family kitchen.

The chefs for the dinner included Portland’s Clyde Common Carlo Lamagna, and his LA Filipino friends Alvin Cailan of Eggslut, Chad and Chase Valencia of pop-up restaurant LASA, Charles Olalia of RiceBar, and Isa Fabro of Unit 120.

As we checked in, we were greeted by a welcome cocktail Bamboo of vermouth, sherry, organic bitters and twist of lime oil. Through the evening, beverage wise there were 3 wine pours, 2 beer bottles, and 3 cocktails by Banjo Amberg offerings for this six course dinner.
Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner, welcome cocktail Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner, welcome cocktail

More scenes of the dinner overall to set the stage… These 4 photos are not mine (the rest of the post photos are though) and if you look carefully I’m in the background of two of the photos wearing black and white!

Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner, photo credits Kimberley Hasselbrink Feast Isa Fabro of Unit 120 at the Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner, photo credits Kimberley Hasselbrink Portland Clyde Common Carlo Lamagna plating at the Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner, photo credits Kimberley Hasselbrink
Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner, photo credits for the above 4 photos from Kimberley Hasselbrink

Bread Rolls for the Table

Pan de Sal, Filipino Bread Rolls with Ube Latik butter (purple yam and caramelized coconut milk with palm sugar) by Isa Fabro of Unit 120
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner: Pan de Sal Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner: Pan de Sal by Isa Fabro of Unit 120 Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner: Pan de Sal Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner: Pan de Sal

First Course

Mais Con Hielo: corn textures (a dairy free corn mousse with crab fat), finger lime, puffed rice, seawater (specifically, liquids from crab and shellfish) paired with 2014 Columbia Winery Ancient Lakes Riesling. Dish by Charles Olalia of RiceBar.
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Mais Con Hielo: corn textures, finger lime, puffed rice, seawater paired with 2014 Columbia Winery Ancient Lakes Riesling Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Mais Con Hielo: corn textures, finger lime, puffed rice, seawater paired with 2014 Columbia Winery Ancient Lakes Riesling

Second Course

Kinilaw: red snapper, nectarine, lemon cucumber, fermented fresno chili, sugar cane vinegar, shiso, fried shallot paired with 2013 Columbia Winery Chardonnay. Dish by Chad Valencia of pop-up restaurant LASA.
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Kinilaw: red snapper, nectarine, lemon cucumber, fermented fresno chili, sugar cane vinegar paired with 2013 Columbia Winery Chardonnay Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Kinilaw: red snapper, nectarine, lemon cucumber, fermented fresno chili, sugar cane vinegar paired with 2013 Columbia Winery Chardonnay

Third Course

Abobong Pato: duck adobo croquette (the duck was braised then he reduced the liquid and made into a cake that he deep fried, yay), roasted eggplant custerd, pickled ramps, chicharron paired with Lagunitas Pils.Dish by Carlo Lamagna of Clyde Common.
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Abobong Pato: duck adobo croquette, roasted eggplant custard, pickled ramps, chicharron paired with Lagunitas Pils Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Abobong Pato: duck adobo croquette, roasted eggplant custard, pickled ramps, chicharron paired with Lagunitas Pils

Fourth Course

Nilagang Baka: beef brisket, napa cabbage, jasmine rice paired with Lagunitas IPA. Dish by Alvin Cailan of Eggslut. Of all the pairings this was the most transformative with the way the IPA brought out new flavors in the food.
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner: Chef Alvin Cailan made Nilagang Baka with beef brisket, napa cabbage, jasmine rice paired with Lagunitas IPA Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner: Nilagang Baka: beef brisket, napa cabbage, jasmine rice paired with Lagunitas IPA

Fifth Course

Family Style dishes:
Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner: Family Style dishes for the fifth course Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner: Family Style dishes for the fifth course
Kalderetang Kambing with goat, olives, Jimmy Nardello peppers; by Carlo
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Fifth Course Family Style dishes: Kalderetang Kambing with goat, olives, Jimmy Nardello peppers Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Fifth Course Family Style dishes: Kalderetang Kambing with goat, olives, Jimmy Nardello peppers
Bringhe with heirloom rice, summer vegetables, coconut cream; by Charles
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Fifth Course Family Style dishes Bringhe with heirloom rice, summer vegetables, coconut cream Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Fifth Course Family Style dishes Bringhe with heirloom rice, summer vegetables, coconut cream
Gailan of Chinese broccoli and Bagoong XO; by Isa
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Fifth Course Family Style dishes Gailan of Chinese broccoli and Bagoong XO
Kare-Kare with lentils, cannellini beans, shitake dashi, peanut butter; by Chase
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner Fifth Course Family Style dishes: Kare-Kare with lentils, cannellini beans, shitake dashi, peanut butter
All paired with Mojo Filter cocktail of aged rum, coconut rum, lime, and pineapple gomme or a 2013 Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner: Fifth Course Mojo Filter cocktail of aged rum, coconut rum, lime, and pineapple gomme or a 2013 Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Feast PDX Twisted Filipino Dinner: Fifth Course Family Style dishes: Kalderetang Kambing with goat, olives, Jimmy Nardello peppers; Bringhe with heirloom rice, summer vegetables, coconut cream; Gailan of Chinese broccoli and Bagoong XO; Kare-Kare with lentils, cannellini beans, shitake dashi, peanut butter. All paired with Mojo Filter cocktail of aged rum, coconut rum, lime, and pineapple gomme or a 2013 Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

Sixth Course

Coconut Sage Tart with dulcey mousse with coconut tapioca, passion fruit curd, pineapple, and basil and basil blossoms paired with Palmetto cocktail of aged rums, Italian vermouth, Demerara, bitters, lemon and orange oils. Plus an Extra dessert surprise of a mini-Blondie Dish by Isa Fabro of Unit 120.
Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner: Sixth Course Coconut Sage Course wtih dulcey mousse, passion fruit curd, pineapple, and basil paired with Palmetto cocktail of aged rums, Italian vermouth, Demerara, bitters, lemon and orange oils Feast Portland 2016 Twisted Filipino Dinner: Sixth Course dessert course, an Extra dessert surprise of a mini-Blondie Dish by Isa Fabro of Unit 120

Thank you to all the chefs for all the welcoming grins; everyone patiently autographing my menu; the fun atmosphere where they were so proud and enthused to tell us the traditional inspiration for their dish and what they did to add their twist; so many drinks (with a side of swearing starting from the opening speech to cement that we were being treated more like close friends and family rather than just paying customers); and the fact they were laughing and having a good time made sure everyone at the tables eating and drinking (SOOO much food, soooo full) also absorbed that positive energy too. Come back next year!!
The chefs of the Feast PDX Twisted Filipino dinner for 2016
Disclosure: I was granted a Blogger Pass for Feast Portland 2016 for blog post and social media coverage but I am not otherwise being compensated. Even before I was given the Blogger Pass I already had tickets for some Feast events that I paid for myself, and this event is one out of my own pocket ($125 all inclusive).  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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Dark Matter Book Review

Recently while traveling for work, I read a book by Blake Crouch (also the author of the Wayward Pines trilogy that the recent TV show was based off) and so here is my Dark Matter Book Review. I don’t want to spoil too much, but generally I can reveal it is about a man who is forced to explore the alternate path of life not taken. The description copy reads

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

I had a little impatience since I knew that was the setup for it to happen and it takes a couple chapters for the character, who is supposed to be smart and a background in science, but at the beginning seemed more like the average joe. He didn’t seem to do a lot of analysis, just guesses and gut reacts at first, and we’re left following along, thinking more critically then he is. Finally there is a snapping point which causes him to process and plan more proactively, and I think this is when the book hit its stride as he finally catches up to the audience of more actively evaluating his situation and trying to do something about it.

It is an interesting ride – and there is one twist I was not expecting that adds additional questions. It’s not a slow book – honestly in that regard it almost feels ready made to drop into a movie in it’s pacing that keeps you moving along. In fact, Blake is currently writing the screenplay for Sony Pictures for a movie version I heard. And, there’s some cursory sci-fi explanation that it doesn’t matter if you really understand or not but is there to make it all sound plausible enough.

The only slight disappointment I had was I expected the protagonist to explore the philosophical questions a little more deeply. Yet, I was also happy that it didn’t get bogged down into long discourse that belabors a point. The fact it at least acknowledges the thought provoking questions instead of just being straight action, and that the author takes time to add small anecdotes for the hero to reminisce (this helps to firmly establish his motivation that carries him through all that he must experience), both of these help make the protagonist someone anyone can relate to and root for.

It was great reading for travel since the short chapters gave me good break points but also kept me engrossed. It’s an intriguing premise and journey that the book takes you on as a reader, and even if it is not perfect it is worth it as both a thriller to entertain you, as well as opening you up to consider and ponder some of those questions about life paths even after you finish the read.

Disclosure: This book was provided to me as part of the Blogging for Books program, but 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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Best PDX Breakfast Sandwich: Pine State Biscuit

Another highlight of one of my favorite breakfast sandwiches in Portland. Today I’m all about a Pine State Biscuit because it also happens that the second week in September is National Biscuits and Gravy week. I’ve been a fan of Pine State Biscuits for many years, especially since I live only a few blocks from the Portland Farmers Market at PSU on Saturday and they have a stand there – I consider it my reward if I shchlep down there early enough on Saturday that the line is reasonable.

There are two ways I prefer the biscuits. My favorite Pine State Biscuit breakfast sandwich, a tempestuous guilty pleasure of a too rich breakfast that can get scarfed down in 10 minutes it’s so delicious, even though it contains probably half my calorie allotment for the whole day, is the Reggie. Fried chicken, bacon & cheese topped with gravy between a buttermilk biscuit. Make it a Reggie Deluxe and add an egg to this.

Pine State Biscuit at the Farmers Market, Reggie sandwich: Fried chicken, bacon & cheese topped with gravy between a buttermilk biscuit

For a less messy version, sans gravy is good too…

Pine State Biscuit, Portland Oregon, biscuit sandwich

When I’m trying to be more reasonable, I just go for a biscuit rather than a sandwich but order it with the pimento cheese spread to give some tang to the creamy softness of the biscuit

Pine State Biscuit, Portland Oregon, biscuit sandwich

Or, get it just with gravy – they have a sausage gravy and a vegetarian mushroom gravy for you to choose from.

Pine State Biscuit, Portland Oregon, biscuit sandwich

Besides their market stand at the Portland Farmers Market on Saturdays, Pine Street Biscuit also has brick and mortar locations at 22nd and NE Alberta, 11th and SE Division, and NE Schuyler. The brick and mortar locations are open every day for breakfast through mid day, and then Thurs-Sun at the NE Alberta and SE Division locations are also open in the evenings until 9 PM for breakfast for dinner.

Where do you get your biscuits in Portland? How do you like your biscuits?

This is the second of my favorite breakfast sandwich highlights, the first was from Portland Penny Diner.

Pine State Biscuits Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes

I’ve always wanted to make a tomato pie or tart. Particularly, one with the farm fresh cherry tomatoes during the peak of their season. But, I have a unique problem in using tomatoes at my home: F loves them. Loves them so much that he always makes sure he knows which bag they are in and that they are at the top, and then as soon as the groceries are in the car he grabs the cherry tomato container and eats them on the way home. He can finish a Costco size container of cherry tomatoes before we’re even in front of our house as he eats them like an addict, popping them in his mouth one after another.
Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes

One time we bought them right at the farm and as we were stuck in the traffic leaving Sauvie Island, he complained his mouth felt a bit muddy. But he still finished all the tomatoes before we even crossed the bridge. Clearly he has a serious problem… Cherry tomatoes never last long in our home.

For this recipe, I purchased 4 pints of tomatoes the night before. Since they were gone by morning, I forced him to go get replacement ones, and finally I was able to make the tomato pie I’ve been waiting for. The 4 pints of cherry tomatoes that he brought back and you see partially in these photos, both on the Pie I made for lunch and the “extras”, were gone before dinner.

I used cherry tomatoes here because I love how they burst with a bit of pop of flavor. And, I particularly love this recipe because you only have to cook the pie crust- the tomatoes are NOT cooked (although they can be) so that you can taste them at their most juicy.
Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes and (optionally) seared corn to really celebrate the flavors of freshness Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes

This recipe was inspired by a few things. Southern Tomato pie is a concoction with tomatoes in pastry with cheese and mayo – and I wanted one less rich, aka without the mayo (though there’s nothing wrong with mayo!). I saw a version of Southern Tomato pie that included along with those requisite ingredient also adding in summer corn kernels and I loved the idea of that extra texture. I additionally seared mine ok the pan for extra smokiness.
Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes and (optionally) seared corn to really celebrate the flavors of freshness

Also, similar to tomato tarts, I picked a cheese combo other than the regular cheddar and mozzarella because I wanted different flavors than essentially a variation of pizza or bruschetta – instead here we’ll be using goat cheese and ricotta mixed with scallions (as inspired by O&O Eats’ Tomato Tart with a Scallion Goat Cheese Filling) and the previously mentioned corn. The best ricotta is one you make yourself – it’s super easy, and you can find my version here for homemade ricotta on this blog post. Using fresh cheeses like goat cheese and ricotta adds creamy texture but still tastes light.
Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes and (optionally) seared corn to really celebrate the flavors of freshness

You can make your own pie crust if you’d like (or make this a tart), but I used premade pie dough. Because of that this entire process took about 35 minutes for me as I did the prep for the filling while the Pie Crust baked.

Ingredients:

  • 1 9″ Pie Crust (your own recipe or purchased)
  • 4 ounces of plain chevre / goat cheese
  • 4 ounces (about half cup)  fresh Ricotta
  • 2-3 chopped scallions (about half cup)
  • 1/2 cup of Cooked corn kernels (approximately one ear of corn)

Directions:

  1. Pre-bake the pie crust according to your recipe or instructions on the package. Make sure you use pie weights or other weights like beans, rice, etc. to weigh down the Pie (placed atop parchment paper) after using a fork to make an even amount of holes.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes starts with a pie crust that you prebake before adding the cheeses and tomatoes
  2. Meanwhile, while chopping the scallions, you can additionally sear the corn kernels like I did –  a teaspoon of butter melted in a pan on high heat, add in blanched corn kernels and let sit there untouched for at least 7 minutes before stirring to sear. Alternatively steam or grill the corn per your preference because they should already be cooked.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes uses optionally some summer corn, I like to sear mine for an additional little bit of smoky flavor
  3. In a bowl, mix together the goat cheese, ricotta, scallions and if you choose to add it, corn (let it cool a little, don’t add it to the cheese fresh from cooking so it doesn’t melt the cheese mixture too much). For other flavor variations you might try flavored chevre instead of plain.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes uses a mix of chevre, ricotta, and scallion or green onion
  4. Spread it carefully in the pie than top with the cherry tomatoes- I placed them in whole to get the burst with every spoonful, or you can choose to halve them. You may also want to consider already cutting the Pie into six pieces before topping with the tomatoes so each piece has nice whole grape tomatoes.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes
  5. Sprinkle a little corn on top to fill in gaps between tomatoes.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes and (optionally) seared corn to really celebrate the flavors of freshness Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes and (optionally) seared corn to really celebrate the flavors of freshness

Pair this with a glass of white and eat this al fresco to fully celebrate all the bounty of this late summer and early fall season!

Have you had tomato pie before? What is your favorite recipe using cherry tomatoes?

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