Beer Pairing Dinner: The Bruery and Coquine Supper Club

Last week was the Craft Brewers Conference, which yielded 10,000+ beer industry folks visiting Portland, as well as a hundred events involving beer all week. I was able to attend one of the beer pairing dinners that was hosted at Imperial Bottle Shop and Tap Room that highlighted The Bruery and Coquine Supper Club for beer and food pairings.

Oh, I just love when drinks and food are paired together. Not only is the food great, but when paired with drinks specifically, I often find new discoveries as the food transforms with the drink, and the drink is transformed by the food.
Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner.  Here for course 4, Bruery Geriatric Hipster Club - beer equivalent of an Old-Fashioned; oak, bitters, orange peel

This was a particularly special event because usually The Bruery in Orange County, California only has a small number of bottles that you see in the Portland bottleshops, and they were bringing beers I had never had the opportunity to try. Furthermore, Coquine has been operating as a pop-up supper club but this event is supposedly their last pop up dinner until they open their brick and mortar restaurant this summer.

Without further ado, here are the courses I enjoyed for dinner on Friday. I hope this is useful in perhaps inspiring you to try The Bruery, Coquine, check out Imperial Bottle Shop for more events, and/or even doing your own beer and food pairings.

Course 1

Beer: Bruery Jardiniere – a new Belgian pale ale, crisp & refreshing
Food: House made ricotta and fava bean crostini with pea blossoms and lemon (passed hors d’oeuvres)
Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner. Here, Course 1 of Jardiniere, a Belgian pale ale, crisp & refreshing paired with House made ricotta and fava bean crostini with pea blossoms and lemon

Course 2

Beer: Bruery Sourrento – a limoncello-inspired sour blonde with lemon & lactose. This was one of my favorite beers of the evening because of it’s lemony tartness.
Food: Smoked green farro with artichokes, schmaltz, and brown butter bread crumbs – just great subtle flavors and fun textures.
Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner, glass of Bruery Sourrento - a limoncello-inspired sour blonde with lemon & lactose. This was one of my favorite beers of the evening because of it's lemony tartness. Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner.  Here for course 2, Bruery Sourrento - a limoncello-inspired sour blonde with lemon & lactose paired with Smoked green farro with artichokes, schmaltz, rosemary and brown butter bread crumbs

Course 3

Beer: Bruery Loakal – an oaked American Red Ale generally only available in Orange County but brought by the brewers for this event, this is one of their more hoppy offerings with woody flavors and some caramel.
Food: Roasted carrots with creme fraiche, oats, benne seed, aleppo pepper, and crispy pig ear. I could have had a whole handful more of that crispy pig ear on this plate.
Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner.  Here for course 3, Bruery Loakal - oaked American Red Ale generally only available in Orange County, paired with Roasted carrots with creme fraiche, oats, benne seed, aleppo pepper, and crispy pig ear

Course 4

Beer: Bruery Geriatric Hipster Club – beer equivalent of an Old-Fashioned; oak, bitters, orange peel. An extremely rare beer as it was produced exclusively for the Bruery’s Hoarders Society members. Although I liked the idea of the beer and the beer itself was ok on it’s own (with very strong bitter and yet sweet notes – and not evoking an Old Fashioned for me as I wanted more bourbon flavor in it), the beer I think overwhelmed the food course.
Food: Beef tartare with Douglas Fir and hazelnuts. I like the idea of using seasonings to bring out flavors, but still missed having an egg here.
Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner.  Here for course 4, Bruery Geriatric Hipster Club - beer equivalent of an Old-Fashioned; oak, bitters, orange peel Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner.  Here for course 4, Bruery Geriatric Hipster Club - beer equivalent of an Old-Fashioned; oak, bitters, orange peel paired with a food dish of Beef tartare with Douglas Fir and hazelnuts

Course 5

Beer: Bruery Tart of Darkness with Cherries & Vanilla – sour stout aged in oak barrels with tart cherries and vanilla beans. Another one of my favorite beers of the evening as you could strongly taste all that the promises – cherries, vanilla, tartness, the roast characteristics of a stout, all in one.
Food: Duck confit with cannelini beans, Luxardo cherry glaze, fennel and caraway.
Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner.  Here for course 5, Bruery Tart of Darkness with Cherries & Vanilla - sour stout aged in oak barrels with tart cherries and vanilla beans paired with Duck confit with cannelini beans, Amarena cherry glaze, fennel and caraway

Course 6

Beer: Bruery Freckle – mole-spiced imperial stout, the beer offered flavors of chocolate and subtle spice and cinnamon.
Food: Carolina Gold Rice Pudding with cinnamon, vanilla, kumquats, sweet cicely, and dark chocolate salted sable
Sorry for the poorer quality of these photos- I had forgotten my camera and so was armed only with my cameraphone.
Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner.  Here for course 6, Bruery Freckle - mole-spiced imperial stout paired with Carolina Gold Rice Pudding with cinnamon, vanilla, orange, and dark chocolate Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner.  Here for course 6, Bruery Freckle - mole-spiced imperial stout paired with Carolina Gold Rice Pudding with cinnamon, vanilla, orange, and dark chocolate

Thank you to Imperial Bottle Shop, Bruery, and Coquine for a great event. I hope Imperial Botle Shop will consider doing more beer and food events in the future, that the Bruery will come back to visit Portland with more of their beer, and good luck Coquine with your soon to be open location!

What course sounded most interesting to you, or what beer? Have you ever heard of The Bruery or Coquine before?

As an non sequitur note, next week (Sunday May 3) is the 4th annual Portland Monthly Country Brunch benefiting Zenger Farm. I’ve visited this event the previous year, doing recaps for 2014 and doing a recap for 2013. I’ll be there this year as well: if you have ever been jealous of these events I go to, I highly recommend the Country Brunch. It is is a pretty good value in terms of cost at just $30 for 6 samples each of various competing bloody marys (competing for Best Bloody Mary!) and 6 brunch samples. You can choose to only partake of the brunch and not the booze, AND it is family friendly so you can bring the kids (kids under 5 are free) –  it’s always adorable seeing every year kids dancing to the country/folk music band, people don’t seem to openly appreciate the live music at events with dancing as much as kids. Tickets are on sale now and they usually sell out so if you like bloody marys or brunch, this would be a fun Sunday activity!

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About Coquine Supper Club
Coquine is a soon to be opened restaurant at 6839 SE Belmont street in Portland’s Mt. Tabor neighborhood. Chef Katy Millard and Ksandek Podbielski began their trek towards the top of Mt. Tabor in 2012, staging one-of-a-kind dinner parties and pop-ups on farms, in wineries and in other restaurants. Along the way this husband and wife duo have developed a ravenous following for Katy’s sophisticated but playful food, and Ksandek’s genuine hospitality and knack for pairing food and drink, which was mostly recently showcased serving as head of the wine program at award-winning restaurant Roe. Katy spent five years working her way up through five different Michelin-starred kitchens in France, and worked as the sous chef at Daniel Patterson’s upscale Coi Restaurant in San Francisco before helping him launch Plum.

Coquin(e): [kō-‘kēn] French. n. or adj. A mischievous child. The word “coquine” is used to chide a mischievous little girl. When directed at a grown up, its meaning is something a bit more flirtatious.

Find out more at Coquine PDX

About The Bruery
The Bruery is a boutique craft brewery located in Orange County, CA specializing in barrel aged and experimental ales. Founded as a small, friend & family run business in 2008, The Bruery takes its unique moniker from founder Patrick Rue’s family surname.

The Bruery is founded on the excitement that Patrick felt in those first years of homebrewing and we continue to strive for that same passion in every aspect of our business today. We never stop challenging ourselves to develop distinctive & imaginative beers, constantly pursuing improvement in all that we do. We brew dozens of original beers each year with our list of ingredients and inspirations growing perpetually. Our collection of oak barrels has also become a primary element of our brewery. Nearly half of our beer is aged in wine or spirit barrels bringing forth flavors reminiscent of the Belgian countryside or classic American distillers.

Find out more at The Bruery

About Imperial Bottle Shop and Tap Room
Drink at our beer-inspired bar, or take beer home to enjoy. Either way, you can choose from 16 local beers on tap and over 400 of the best bottled American craft beer. Whether you’re a seasoned beer drinker or new to craft beer, Imperial provides an enjoyable beer experience through helpful, friendly service and the most sustainable beer-drinking practices available. We were named of of America’s 100 Best Beer Bars by DRAFT Magazine in both 2014 and 2015, and Best Local Beer List in the Northwest 2014 by SIP NW magazine! Find out more at Imperial Bottle Shop and Tap Room

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Review of Twenty Dinners

Twenty Dinners, written by Ithai Schori and Chris Taylor with Rachel Holtman, is divided by the 4 seasons. It offers 5 complete suggested dinner menus that take into account ingredients of that season. Each dinner menu includes a protein main, two sides, dessert, and suggested drink to accompany that dinner (always wine, sometimes a cocktail recipe is included in the chapter). In particular, the authors are promoting the concept of cooking with friends, not just cooking for friends.
Twenty Dinners cookbook by Ithai Schori, Chris Taylor with Rachel Holtzman. Photographs by Nicole Franzen.

This means that the recipes are more like guidelines, generally the methods use basic techniques, with the most technical portion often being the cutting of the protein. I wish there had been a photo guideline on these cutting techniques, or at least some small photos with the recipe on what the right cut is. This seems like a detail that was missed since there are suggestion chapters written by other friends varying from “mastering” wine to how to create a home bar or coffee, and there are also special sections in the back that define cooking terms in normal layman speak (you will need it now and then- several recipes for instance call for bouquet garni), essential tools that you need in a kitchen, and how to shop and store for ingredients. If the authors are going to assume we need help with that information, why wouldn’t cutting the meat be included?

The photographs and feel of the book showcases the food generally plated family style, and is beautiful but relaxed. The feel is almost like something you’d see in a lifestyle magazine if you were in your late 20s/early 30s and regularly threw outdoor dinner parties in your expansive backyard and your rustic house full of bookshelves and records and big wooden tables on your dining and living rooms and fireplace for your all childfree friends.
From the Twenty Dinners cookbook by Ithai Schori, Chris Taylor with Rachel Holtzman. Photographs by Nicole Franzen.
From the Twenty Dinners cookbook by Ithai Schori, Chris Taylor with Rachel Holtzman. Photographs by Nicole Franzen.

The meals vary from the more impressive like 5 courses (Sliced Fluke, Plum and Cilantro; Seared Kale Salad with Brown Butter Toasted Pine Nuts and Smoked Bacon; Roast Chicken; Morel and Shiitake Mushoroom Risotto; Maple Panna Cotta with Candied Almonds and Buttered Bread Crumbs) to simple hearty ones that have a suggested ingredient or technique thrown in to raise it up a level from regular home cooking recipes (Meatballs and Spaghetti; Caesar Salad with Egg in a Frame, Affogato with Biscotti).

I’m not sure whether to count one chapter’s dinner that is just general guidelines for assembling a cheese plate along with a gruyere pastry and fig earl grey jam. On the other hand, there is also a dinner that includes a whole spit roasted pig, and a couple pages devoted to the ingredient of ramps, and another couple pages with ideas for using tomatoes during tomato season.  I love in general how they are very conscious about using the best ingredients and that is always based on the season.

There are a few pages are dedicated to delectable sounding four seasons of burrata toasts, where based on the season, your burrata toast may be Poached Pears and Bacon Maple Burrata Toast (Fall), Fennel and Grapefruit Burrata Toast (Winter), Whiskey’d Burrata Toast (Spring), or Tomato Confit Burrata Toast (Summer). Yes, you bet I’m making that Spring one ASAP if I can find some burrata. In general, they sound like great dinner menus for a casual dinner party – even if I don’t believe all the cooking is as casual as they write.
From the Twenty Dinners cookbook by Ithai Schori, Chris Taylor with Rachel Holtzman. Photographs by Nicole Franzen.
From the Twenty Dinners cookbook by Ithai Schori, Chris Taylor with Rachel Holtzman. Photographs by Nicole Franzen.

The recipes are written similar to a grandma/mom instructing you on the steps, in paragraph form, possibility with a little note at the beginning.  For instance, in salting the meat for their Rib Eye Steaks Seared, Roasted and Basted in Butter, they advise “season generously with the kosher salt all over; it should look as though you’re salting a sidewalk before a snowstorm” and to keep an eye on the meat because “often when it will contract when it hits the heat and create a concave surface over the skillet. Using a spoon or spatula, hold the center of the meat down so it sears evenly.”

In preparing your dinner party, although the recipes mostly seem approachable, you definitely will have to divide and conquer responsibilities for each part of the suggested dinner or it will be hours before you get to eat, and seems like with their love of roasting there will be some oven conflicts if you attempted to multi-task the courses at once (it seems the authors ran into the same logistical dilemma).

Also definitely make sure you read through the details of the recipe as some will require a lot of prep work or time to sit to absorb flavors – for instance a Carrot, Parsley, and Pomegranate Salad with Confit Shallot Vinaigrette sounds good, but the vinaigrette requires roasting the shallots for 1-1.5 hours first.

Honestly I feel mixed about the recipes: some are wonderfully inspiring, like a Lavender Infused Olive Oil Poached Cod. But others are really just variations on using the grill (not surprising that these men love the grill), such as Charred Spring Onions they had as the side to that poached cod. The key with their (or anyone’s) slow roasted duck fat potatoes is access to duck fat, as is the bottarga with a Radish Salad with Bottarga. They do suggest some substitutions, though I wonder if it really is as good with the substitute ingredient.
From the Twenty Dinners cookbook by Ithai Schori, Chris Taylor with Rachel Holtzman. Photographs by Nicole Franzen.
From the Twenty Dinners cookbook by Ithai Schori, Chris Taylor with Rachel Holtzman. Photographs by Nicole Franzen.

One thing I appreciated is that sometimes they authors suggest additional recipes in order to recycle the leftovers into new dishes- such as stuffing poblanos with some leftover Wild Rice with Celery and Pecans. I also really liked all the cocktail ideas that were listed as part of the dinner here or there, as it’s a fun take that although they suggest a wine, having a cocktail pairing with the dinner just gives the meal an extra touch of sophistication. Cocktails they include recipes for range from Peach Porch Punch, or Smoked Earl Grey Hot Toddy, or basics like pairing Bloody Mary with oyster and burgers parties.

I’ll share a post in the future where my friends and I tried to use one of the Spring Dinner recipes, since I don’t think doing a recipe on my own is the intention of the book (some of them are so enticing they beg to be lifted off for a nice dinner at home even if it’s just the two of us).

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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Poutine for the People

Poutine is three things: French Fries. Cheese curds. Gravy.

But for 5 days in April, this very week and only until Friday or the 25 (not sure…), that poutine is a foundation for so much more. For April 20 – 25, 7 participating restaurants have created inventive poutines across town with proceeds from each dish going directly to Providence Cancer Center, where local immunotherapy researchers are teaching our own immune systems to target and destroy cancer cells. So come help eat for a cause, or encourage others who are making after work plans to visit these restaurants who took the time and effort to support this.
Poutine for the People 2015

The seven Poutine for the People Partners include<

The Original Dinerant

French fries, curds, red wine-braised short rib, brown gravy
Poutine for the People eating fundraiser for cancer research where proceeds go to the Providence Cancer Center. 7 restaurants participated, here is The Original Dinerant's version with french fries, curds, red wine-braised short rib, brown gravy

Hopworks Urban Brewery (Powell Location Only)

Wedge-cut fries, cheese curds and vegan brown gravy (shredded pork’s extra)

Tried going grocery shopping this afternoon, but it didn’t quite work out…I had Lola with me and she was out in front of @newseasonsmarket in their dog waiting area (because that’s a thing in Portland) and before I could buy anything, over the loudspeaker they start paging “the owner of the adorable black and white dog who is currently showing signs of distress” to come and get their dog The dog waiting area is shaded, fenced, has water, and I’ve put Lola in there dozens of times while grocery shopping in the past and never had an issue, but today she just was not having it So home I went, sans groceries…the upside? We went to have poutine on the patio at @hopworksbeer for dinner instead on this gorgeous evening! ☀️ Also, this week proceeds from poutines sold at various Portland restaurants goes to Providence Cancer Center! #PoutineForThePeople #pdxeats #pdxnow #80degreesinapril #lovemycity

A photo posted by Jane Graybeal (@inthepinkandgreen) on

Laurelhurst Market

French fries, mozzarella, peas, crispy pork shoulder, gravy

Potato Champion

French fries, curds, gravy (beef or meatless)

My favorite poutine. #poutineforthepeople #portland #pdxstagram #instapdx #foodporn
A photo posted by Samantha O’Reilly (@sicklittlejag) on

Radio Room

French fries, mozzarella, roasted green chiles, crispy pig ear, soft-poached egg, sausage gravy
Poutine for the People eating fundraiser for cancer research where proceeds go to the Providence Cancer Center. 7 restaurants participated, here is Radio Room with French fries, mozzarella, roasted green chiles, crispy pig ear, soft-poached egg, sausage gravy Poutine for the People eating fundraiser for cancer research where proceeds go to the Providence Cancer Center. 7 restaurants participated, here is Radio Room with French fries, mozzarella, roasted green chiles, crispy pig ear, soft-poached egg, sausage gravy

Smokehouse Tavern

French fries, curds, pulled pork, smoked brown gravy

Tabor Tavern

French fries, curds, onion gravy (pulled pork’s extra)

#PoutineForThePeople starts today all around PDX!! Come in for this mouthwatering combination of fries, cheese curds and…

Posted by Tabor Tavern on Monday, April 20, 2015

Check the hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for #PoutineforthePeople for more!

I only have the fortitude to visit maybe 3 – which ones interest you? I’ve already visited Radio Room and The Original, what should be my third?

By the way, if you go for any poutine yourself, I strongly recommend you share, because the two I’ve had are big enough for 2 as their main meal, or easily 4 as a starter, I mean look at the scale of these…
Poutine for the People eating fundraiser for cancer research where proceeds go to the Providence Cancer Center. 7 restaurants participated, here is The Original Dinerant's version with french fries, curds, red wine-braised short rib, brown gravy Poutine for the People eating fundraiser for cancer research where proceeds go to the Providence Cancer Center. 7 restaurants participated, here is Radio Room with French fries, mozzarella, roasted green chiles, crispy pig ear, soft-poached egg, sausage gravy

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Isaan Station in Los Angeles and Advice for ordering from a Thai menu

For today’s Travel Tuesday I am taking you to Los Angeles, California, and sharing you my strong recommendation when in LA to visit Thai Town. Have you heard of Thai Town? Located within central LA and centered generally on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards and Western Avenue, this area is the only Thai ethnic neighborhood in the US. It’s basically a Thai version of what many metropolitan cities have as a Chinatown. LA is the home to the largest Thai population besides Thailand itself – it seems Thais have been immigrating and living in this other City of Angels (Bangkok, capital of Thailand, also translates to City of Angels) since the 1960s.

Whenever I visit LA and my sister, there is always inevitably a stop in Thai Town. It’s the closest thing to eating food in the same exact flavor profiles of flying 16-17 hours to the other side of the world (or alternatively getting a Thai mom or auntie to make what specific dish she is known for while hearing how you may have gained weight or need to exercise while simultaneously getting unasked for food put on your plate and encouraged to eat more).

A few weeks ago, when I was in LA, that stop in Thai Town for my trip was at Isaan Station. Ok, their location of which is probably technically in the bordering Koreatown, but let’s move on from geography shall we.

Isaan means “Northeast” in Thai, so this Thai restaurant specialize in Northeast Thai cuisine (most Thai restaurants serve Central Region food, with the other popular region being Northern Thai food). Isaan food is less Chinese influenced then Central and Northern Thai food and leans more towards Laos and Cambodia. Sticky rice and being very spicy are particularly recognizable as a common hallmark of Isaan food.

So no surprise when you look at the big laminated menu of Isaan Station and see the words “All Dishes Good With Sticky Rice” and a warning of “Please let us know what style of level of spiciness you prefer” along with “If you have allergies or fear please ask for a list of ingredients”.

Seriously though, be careful how spicy you make the ingredients because they really do make it spicy – what Isaan Station calls medium is the hot spicy level of most Thai restaurants.

When reading a Thai menu, my advice is to first read through and see what items you see that you don’t normally see on other menus. Sure, Isaan Station has Pad Thai and Pad See Eew and Pad Kee Mao and Pad Kra Prao, those common Thai dishes. But, the menu has a whole section called Som Dtum (also commonly seen as Som Tum) that offers 7 versions of this spicy but sweet shredded papaya salad. The additions in the various dishes include salted egg, pickled blue crab, fermented fish- lots of funky fun. That’s a sign.
Som Dum or Som Tum Thai, a green papaya salad with peanuts and dried shrimps, both spicy and slightly sweet from Isaan Station in LA

Isaan Station also has a whole section called Larb Nham Dtok offering 7 kinds beef, pork, and chicken dishes, though most of it is pork. Larb is a spicy minced meat salad (pretty much all meat, despite the salad term which is what the Thai word Larb means). Nham Dtok means waterfall, referring to the the juices running like a waterfall from the meat.

You should also not expect a traditional salad of greens from Isaan Station’s other section Thai Salad (Yum), as these are also all boasting meat or Seafood. Yum here is not am adjective meaning delicious but a Thai word that refers to a type of Thai dish that has lots of lime and chili in so it’s a bit more sour with your spicy food.

Below, Larb Woon Sen of spicy glass noodle with minced pork, red onion, mint leaves, lime, rice powder, cilantro, coriander and green onion. Larb is the minced pork meat, and Woon Sen is the glass noodles. So good!
Larb Woon Sen at Isaan Station in LA, a dish of spicy glass noodle with minced pork, red onion, mint leaves, lime, rice powder, cilantro, coriander and green onion

An unexpected surprise at Isaan Station is that they also serve Thai Street Food. I’m always drawn to this section of a menu if I see it in any Thai restaurant. Here at Isaan Station this refers to a lot of charcoal and deep fried meat dishes you can find in the Grilled and Deep Fried section of their menu – you probably have not seen some of these dishes before listed. On Thailand these were grilled on the street, enticing you from many blocks away like those aroma hands that tickle your nose and float you towards them, like in Looney Toon cartoons. I was most thrilled about the Kohr Moo Yang, a charcoal grilled pork neck (we also had  the Crying Tiger charcoal grilled beef and the Khai Yang Ob Oong charcoal grilled tumeric marinated chicken).
Kohr Moo Yang, Charcoal grilled pork neck. From Isaan Station in LA Crying Tiger, Charcoal grilled beef tenderloin from Isaan Station in LA Khai Yang Ob Oong, a charcoal grilled tumeric marinated chicken at Isaan Station in LA

But we were all taken aback at the table by how delicious the Mhu Daad Diew, a marinated pork sirlion that is first air dried (almost like jerky in chewiness) and then deep fried to crispiness. We ended up ordering and finishing 2 dishes of it, no problem. Definitely must order again and again.
Nua Daahd Diew, a marinated sirloin dish air dried and deep fried from Isaan Station

When ordering the Khao Niew sticky rice accompaniment, you generally want 1 basket for every 1-2 person, depending on how much rice each person is planning to eat. The rice is going to usually come in a little steamer basket as shown below (behind the Sai Grok Isaan, a homemade sausage of fermented pork and glutinous rice – the sausage is not something I would order again as other dishes had more flavor). When you open the little basket, you’ll find all the sticky rice balled in a little plastic bag that you then squeeze out the portion of rice you want onto your plate.

I like eating sticky rice with my hands where almost like a combination of sushi, I smush the grilled meat of my choice with the morsel of sticky rice in my fingers and eat them together. Another option is to eat a forkful of meat, in your fingers with the rolled morsel of sticky rice dip it into the chili sauce the shared plate, and then pop that in after chewing the meat.
Sai Grok Isaan, deep fried sausages of fermented pork and glutinous rice eaten with a basket of sticky rice (behind) at Isaan Station in LA

For fun, consider the sweet Honey Toast dessert. You have to order it ahead of time as it takes 30 minutes to prepare in the kitchen, but it’s a mix of doughy softness inside the toast with crispness and sugar and honey along with cold ice cream (your choice of vanilla and or chocolate – we went with all vanilla). This is enough for 4 people.
Honey Toast dessert from Isaan Station in LA Honey Toast dessert from Isaan Station in LA

Isaan Station is unfortunately Cash Only – there is an ATM outside to use if you need it. There is a very small parking lot since they are in a strip mall, but that lot can get full (and it’s only valet in that lot, not self parking, but it’s free) so you might have to do street parking. They have dine in, take out, online ordering off their website and free delivery within a 2 mile radius.

Isaan Station on Urbanspoon

One last tip: follow the crowds or particularly in LA Thai Town or any of its great ethnic neighborhoods what restaurants have people waiting and parking is full as that’s also usually a sign. Go where the locals are lining up!

Have you ever had any of these dishes or been to Thai Town in LA? What is generally the go to Thai dish you like to order, or the Thai dish you sometimes crave?

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Franz Bakery Grilled Cheese Throwdown

Apparently April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day.  So on Sunday April 12, 2015, this resulted in that I had the delicious pleasure of sampling 4 grilled cheeses created using Franz Bakery bread. The four grilled cheeses were submissions by local grilled cheese lovers to Franz Bakery as part of a Grilled Cheese contest in which the grand prize included a year’s supply of Franz bread and an All-Clad barbecue tool set. Franz selected the four finalists, who then at Migration Brewing on Sunday from 11 AM – 2 PM cooked their grilled cheese sandwich entry for the public and for the Judges. This was a free family friendly event, and it was a lot of fun!

Each grilled cheese recipe had to use a Franz bread product and 5 ingredients to keep it simple. If you want to see all the entries, they were on social media using the hashtag #franzgrilledcheezeday on the Franz Bakery Facebook wall or on Twitter and Instagram. But let’s take a look at the finalists, shall we? These were all really great sandwiches and I think I have ideas for future grilled cheese parties…

Lindsay Strannigan who also writes the blog RoseMarried presented The Kimcheeze, with Franz Texas Toast with bacon, Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Choi’s Spicy Kimchi and Green Onions. You can see her pro tip is putting a cover while grilling.
Lindsay Strannigan of RoseMarried.com (along with her mom here) presented The Kimcheeze, with Franz Texas Toast with bacon, Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Choi's Spicy Kimchi and Green Onions. #franzgrilledcheezeday Lindsay Strannigan of RoseMarried.com presented The Kimcheeze, with Franz Texas Toast with bacon, Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Choi's Spicy Kimchi and Green Onions. #franzgrilledcheezeday Lindsay Strannigan of RoseMarried.com presented The Kimcheeze, with Franz Texas Toast with bacon, Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Choi's Spicy Kimchi and Green Onions. #franzgrilledcheezedayLindsay Strannigan of RoseMarried.com presented The Kimcheeze, with Franz Texas Toast with bacon, Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Choi's Spicy Kimchi and Green Onions. #franzgrilledcheezeday

Rebekah Hubbard of PDXFoodLove (along with her husband Dave here) presented Curd is the Word, with the ingredients of Franz San Juan Nine Grain, ‘Nduja, Cheddar Cheese Curds, Arugula, and Mayonnaise. Her pro tip here as demonstrated by her husband Dave is putting the mayo on the outside when grilling! Although she used San Juan Nine Grain on the first sandwich you see, I also tried one on the Franz Gluten Free bread of Great Seed which I had never had before and I will definitely seek out again (it also comes in a regular gluten version).
Rebekah Hubbard of PDXFoodLove (along with her husband Dave here) presented Curd is the Word, with Franz San Juan Island Nine Grain Bread, 'Nduja, Cheddar Cheese Curds, Arugula, and Mayonnaise #franzgrilledcheezeday Rebekah Hubbard of PDXFoodLove (along with her husband Dave here) presented Curd is the Word, with Franz San Juan Island Nine Grain Bread, 'Nduja, Cheddar Cheese Curds, Arugula, and Mayonnaise #franzgrilledcheezeday Rebekah Hubbard of PDXFoodLove (along with her husband Dave here) presented Curd is the Word, with Franz San Juan Island Nine Grain Bread, 'Nduja, Cheddar Cheese Curds, Arugula, and Mayonnaise #franzgrilledcheezeday Rebekah Hubbard of PDXFoodLove (along with her husband Dave here) presented Curd is the Word, with Franz Gluten Free Great Seed Bread, 'Nduja, Cheddar Cheese Curds, Arugula, and Mayonnaise #franzgrilledcheezeday

Christina Johnson created The Chicken Cheese Overseas with Seattle Sourdough Baking Company Garlic Sourdough, Chicken Breast, Tillamook Swiss Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, and Greek Cream Cheese Spread.
Christina Johnson created The Chicken Cheese Overseas with Seattle Sourdough Baking Company Garlic Sourdough, Chicken Breast, Tillamook Swiss Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, and Greek Cream Cheese Spread #franzgrilledcheezeday Christina Johnson created The Chicken Cheese Overseas with Seattle Sourdough Baking Company Garlic Sourdough, Chicken Breast, Tillamook Swiss Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, and Greek Cream Cheese Spread #franzgrilledcheezeday Christina Johnson created The Chicken Cheese Overseas with Seattle Sourdough Baking Company Garlic Sourdough, Chicken Breast, Tillamook Swiss Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, and Greek Cream Cheese Spread #franzgrilledcheezeday Christina Johnson created The Chicken Cheese Overseas with Seattle Sourdough Baking Company Garlic Sourdough, Chicken Breast, Tillamook Swiss Cheese, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, and Greek Cream Cheese Spread #franzgrilledcheezeday

Christina’s pro technique in grilling was making sure the grill was hot and then rubbing a stick of butter (making sure it sizzles of course) for each side of the grilled cheese. I had never heard of the garlic sourdough bread she used her from Franz, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for it as well as it looks like it’s perfect for making great paninis.
"Christina

Ultimately, Renee Butcher of The Good Hearted Woman took home the prize with her Irish Apple Pie Twice Grilled Cheese, with the ingredients of Franz Bainbridge Island Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, Granny Smith Apples and Apple Butter.
Renee Butcher of The Good Hearted Woman took home the prize with her Irish Apple Pie Twice Grilled Cheese, with the ingredients of Franz Bainbridge Island Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, Granny Smith Apples and Apple Butter #franzgrilledcheezeday Renee Butcher of The Good Hearted Woman took home the prize with her Irish Apple Pie Twice Grilled Cheese, with the ingredients of Franz Bainbridge Island Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, Granny Smith Apples and Apple Butter #franzgrilledcheezeday

I loved how Renee made this a combination of both savory and sweet, and the extra special touch of an extra cheese crisps she also grilled! You can find her award winning take on the grilled cheese on her blog!
Renee Butcher of The Good Hearted Woman took home the prize with her Irish Apple Pie Twice Grilled Cheese, with the ingredients of Franz Bainbridge Island Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, Granny Smith Apples and Apple Butter #franzgrilledcheezeday Renee Butcher of The Good Hearted Woman took home the prize with her Irish Apple Pie Twice Grilled Cheese, with the ingredients of Franz Bainbridge Island Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, Granny Smith Apples and Apple Butter #franzgrilledcheezeday

I was impressed by all the ladies slinging those hundreds of grilled cheeses for the crowds. It was a really fun, family friendly event with lots of little knee-high and less kiddies. I loved seeing new generations being exposed to more than just white Wonder bread and American cheese.

Did you know that Franz Bakery has been operating for more than 100 years (thanks to two brothers from Austria who founded their small independent bakery in Portland in 1906) and continues to be family owned (fourth generation) and operate at that same address (NE 11th and Flanders) although it has since expanded to grow into one of the largest bakeries in the West Coast? I know because I love sniffing the air around there if I’m fortunate to be there when it smells like fresh baked bread. Oh, what I would do to be able to sneak in and grab a loaf and stick of butter and just that would be enough during those tantalizing aroma times…

I really enjoy that besides being local, the Franz Bakery bread portfolio comes in a great variety of different options, my favorite including the Potato Hamburger buns for burgers, and for regular sandwich needs I like the Lake Washington Honey Oat & Nut or Cannon Beach Milk & Honey or Oregon Hazelnut Bread. Though clearly I need to expand and try more great bread since I tried new ones at this event! All in all, there are more than 100 kinds of baked good products they make, ranging from sandwich bread to sliders to bagels, dinner rolls, croutons and cakes, and donuts and english muffins, and cookies and bear claws and cinnamon rolls and more… I want some just writing this list! There is No High Fructose Corn Syrup used, you should check out the Franz bakery product list to see all they have to offer. I had no idea they had so many – and now I know to keep my eye out for some new kinds!

Have you tried Franz bakery bread, and if you have, what did you end up trying? Do you have a favorite? Which bread would you use for your version of Franz Bakery Grilled Cheese? In general what’s your favorite recipe for grilled cheese?

Also important- where can I get a calendar of all these food holidays…

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