Happy Hour at Altabira City Tavern

Happy Hour at Altabira City Tavern is the latest hot happy hour in Portland. Located at 1021 NE Grand Ave, it’s location makes it right next to the Max stop for the Oregon Convention Center and perfect after an event there or before or after something at the Moda Center a block or so away.
Altabira City Tavern Altabira City Tavern

Located on the sixth floor of the boutique hotel Hotel Eastlund, it offers not just a hip indoor bar area that continues the contemporary cool look of the hotel inside, but also an outdoor rooftop patio to appreciate Portland sunshine and is ready for cooler weather with heaters and fire pits. Seating at the Altabira bar and patio are on a first come first serve basis, and this outdoor happy hour is a hit so expect to see lots of beautiful people along with the beautiful view!
Altabira City Tavern Altabira City Tavern

Beware though that with it’s location so close the convention center, you can see a small rush of big groups looking to network and have a bite/drink around 5:45 or so when conferences typically end during a weekday, so the outside can get busy. But, there were plenty of seats for smaller groups still available at the bar.
Altabira City Tavern Altabira City Tavern

The Happy Hour at Altabira is is Daily between 4PM – 6 PM. Here are some examples of what I’ve tried and adored from their happy hour menu:

$7 Pizza Special (half off from the regular Tavern Menu)
I was particularly enchanted with the Spinach, Walnut and Blue Cheese Pizza though the Roma Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pizza was also enjoyed. These pizzas are enough for 2-4 to share.
Altabira City Tavern's Happy Hour, Roma Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pizza Altabira City Tavern's Happy Hour, Spinach, Walnut and Blue Cheese Pizza

Don’t overlook the Citizen Baker Pretzel with Spicy Beer Mustard and Pimento Cheese if you want something small and it goes great with their big beer list that includes 14 beers and 2 ciders almost all from Oregon (1 was from California).
Altabira City Tavern happy hour special (also on their Tavern Menu) of Citizen Baker Pretzel with Spicy Beer Mustard and Pimento Cheese

A lot more messy but pretty tasty is the Smoked Chicken Wings which can be found on the Tavern Menu and also on the Dinner Menu though the best deal is of course at happy hour.
Altabira City Tavern happy hour special (also on their Tavern Menu) of Smoked Chicken Wings Altabira City Tavern happy hour special (also on their Tavern Menu) of Smoked Chicken Wings

More substantial happy hour offerings include an Altabira Cheeseburger on Brioche Bun and a Smoked Brisket Sandwich with Spicy Cole Slaw.

For cocktails, I tried Altabira City Tavern’s cocktail Sandia Mountain with Vodka, Fresh Watermelon Juice, Lemon and Lime and the Summer Squall with Coruba Dark Rum, Ginger Beer and Pineapple Juice. For happy hour, be sure to ask what the special cocktail of the day is – one time it was this tasty coconut cinnamon beverage!
Altabira City Tavern's cocktail Sandia Mountain with Vodka, Fresh Watermelon Juice, Lemon and Lime Altabira City Tavern's cocktail Summer Squal with Coruba Dark Rum, Ginger Beer and Pineapple Juice For happy hour at Altabira City Tavern, be sure to ask what the special cocktail of the day is, one time it was this tasty coconut cinnamon beverage

I also have tried some dinner starters:

Cornmeal Fried Local Oysters with Spicy Remoulade were light, crispy, perfectly executed (note: the photo is for a platter that is more than one order, it’s not an individual order).
Cornmeal Fried Local Oysters with Spicy Remoulade at Altabira City Tavern

Country Style Pork Pâté are a great appetizer as wellthat when I had it, had a crust around the pate of bacon. Yup. Note: the photo below is for a platter that is more than one order, it’s not an individual order).
Country Style Pork Pâté at Altabira City Tavern Country Style Pork Pâté at Altabira City Tavern Country Style Pork Pâté at Altabira City Tavern

It’s nice to see the Near SouthEast Side starting to come into it’s own instead of being just a bunch of generic convention center hotels. With the completion in the future of some high rise condos in the area, this is going to be a happening neighborhood that has the convenience of easy access to highway and public transit and some pretty sophisticated choices such as Altabira.

In walking distance/a stop or so away on the streetcar are neighboring hot restaurants like Renata, Kachka, Oso Market, Mirakutei, Simpatica, Nong’s Khao Man Gai, the bars of Coopers Hall for wine and Loyal Legion and White Owl Social for beer all to the south within 1 mile, and Reverend’s Nat’s, Upright Brewery, Ox Restaurant, Toro Bravo and more to the north within 1 mile makes this area by the Lloyd District an up and coming neighborhood.

Welcome Altabira City Tavern to the area, I believe many convention center goers are so happy to finally have a destination right here for them besides the usual chain, and they thank you!

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Tastebud Farm Pizza at the Portland Farmers Market at PSU

First, do you know that the Portland Farmers Market at PSU is open all year round? That means for instance, it is open TODAY. 9 AM – 2 PM! They will be closed on December 27, but otherwise go today! Go next Saturday!

Every Saturday morning at the Portland Farmers Market at PSU, the Tastebud Farm’s Wood Fired Baked Goods has a stand in the northeast corner of the market. I always swing by when I visit just to see what kind of bagel sandwich toppings they may have based on what is in season and fresh, and the same thing for their pizzas.

I’ve shared photos previously of some of the bagel sandwiches I have enjoyed. Although these bagels are small, they are Montreal style bagels and so have a tasty flavor that is fine just with plain cream cheese as well – and which you can get anytime at some select stores and at a few other Portland Farmers Market during other times of the year (those markets are currently closed since it’s December).
Tastebud Farm at the Portland Farmers Market PSU - Montreal Style Bagels

Today I wanted to share an example of some of the options with their pizza. They lug their wood-fired oven to the market every week, and when you order it they can heat up that pizza right then and there for you!
Pizzas from Tastebud Farm at the Portland Farmers Market PSU Tastebud Farm Pizza example of the bounty at the Portland Farmers Market PSU

Like this amazing breakfast pizza I had a couple weeks ago… their offerings vary every week.
Breakfast Pizza slice from Tastebud Farm at the Portland Farmers Market PSU "Breakfast

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Oven and Shaker Chef Series: Ox’s Clam Chowder Pizza

I’ve covered during 2013 many sandwiches from Lardo, who have been doing chefwiches– that is chef collaboration sandwiches, each with a guest chef of another excellent restaurant in Portland. Recently in November, Oven & Shaker started doing a chef series in which there are collaborations with chefs for a special pizza option on the menu, and part of the proceeds for that pizza go to the charity of choice selected by the collaborating guest chef. Oven and Shaker schedule is for a beginning-end of the month rather than Lardo’s mid-month change-up. So the second pizza in this post is available until the end of December!

The first chef pizza at Oven & Shaker was in collaboration with Rick of Lardo, with the charity of choice for November being Ecotrust’s Farm to Schools. Together, they turned Lardo’s mortadella sandwich into pizza form with a Mortadella pie. This pizza started with an olive oil, oregano, and garlic base topped with provolone picante, Mama Lil’s peppers, and mortadella, and then was topped after the wood fired oven with shredded lettuce and dressing. It was a very meaty pizza. Sorry for the dark lighting!
Oven and Shaker's Chef Series pizza pies, starting with the November Rick Gencarelli's Mortadella Pie with an olive oil, oregano, and garlic base topped with provolone picante, Mama Lil's peppers, and mortadella then finished with shredded lettuce and dressing. Proceeds benefit Ecotrust's Farm to Schools program Oven and Shaker's Chef Series pizza pies, starting with the November Rick Gencarelli's Mortadella Pie with an olive oil, oregano, and garlic base topped with provolone picante, Mama Lil's peppers, and mortadella then finished with shredded lettuce and dressing. Proceeds benefit Ecotrust's Farm to Schools program Oven and Shaker's Chef Series pizza pies, starting with the November Rick Gencarelli's Mortadella Pie with an olive oil, oregano, and garlic base topped with provolone picante, Mama Lil's peppers, and mortadella then finished with shredded lettuce and dressing. Proceeds benefit Ecotrust's Farm to Schools program

This month, December, the collaboration chef is Greg and Gabrielle Denton of Ox with a Clam Chowder Pizza Pie with split bone marrow and jalapeno. Very indulgent.
Oven and Shaker Chef Series, from Ox the Clam Chowder Smoked Bone Marrow Pizza for December 2013 Oven and Shaker Chef Series, from Ox the Clam Chowder Smoked Bone Marrow Pizza for December 2013 Oven and Shaker Chef Series, from Ox the Clam Chowder Smoked Bone Marrow Pizza for December 2013 Oven and Shaker Chef Series, from Ox the Clam Chowder Smoked Bone Marrow Pizza for December 2013 Oven and Shaker Chef Series, from Ox the Clam Chowder Smoked Bone Marrow Pizza for December 2013
Clearly the Oven & Shaker series is going after some signature dishes with each guest chef. Compare this with the famous Ox Clam Chowder soup…
Ox's Fresh Clam Chowder, Smoked Marrow Bone, Spring Onion, Jalapeño . . . SO GOOD

Every visit I’ve also treated myself to one new cocktail. Both are still available on their current cocktail list. The first was a Kingdom of Walnut Cocktail, which has 2 oz Bols 1820 Genever + 1/2 oz Punt e Mes + 1/4 oz Nux Alpine Walnut Liquor + lemon oil. It is a strong drink.

The second for December was a refreshing Honey Basil Collins: loose third pint full of basil, + 2 oz vodka + 3/4 oz freshly pressed lemon juice + 3/4 oz house made clover honey syrup + 2 oz club soda. Of course, you can always go for the classic favorite from the cocktail menu (I don’t think anyone can dislike this cocktail), their Pineapple Trainwreck or Pepper Smash: I’ve had both before and covered them in previous blog entries.
Oven and Shaker Fresh cocktail, Honey Basil Collins: loose third pint full of basil, + 2 oz vodka + 3/4 oz freshly pressed lemon juice + 3/4 oz house made clover honey syrup + 2 oz club soda

I also can’t resist the fact that Oven and Shaker also offers the iconic Nostrana Radicchio Caeser. At happy hour they have a smaller portion for half price… and you can see the portion is still very generous. There are times I can’t stop thinking about this salad and just have to go have it. I don’t know what you’ll think of me when I admit I’m more likely to suddenly have the urge for this salad rather than anything with chocolate.
Oven and Shaker offers as part of their happy hour the iconic Nostrana Radicchio Caeser, a small portion for half price. Clearly the portion is very generous Oven and Shaker offers as part of their happy hour the iconic Nostrana Radicchio Caeser, a small portion for half price. Clearly the portion is very generous Oven and Shaker offers as part of their happy hour the iconic Nostrana Radicchio Caeser, a small portion for half price. Clearly the portion is very generous

Which of these items sounds most interesting to you? What do you think of a pizza that comes with a big marrow bone in the center!? I didn’t have to share, so no worries about dividing the marrow bone with others for me.

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Life of Pie in Portland

Disclosure: This meal was complimentary, 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

Earlier this week, I was invited to a Media Preview of the Life of Pie, a new restaurant at 3632 North Williams/NE Beecher Streets.
Life of Pie Pizza, Portland at 3632 North Williams and Northeast Beecher Streets Life of Pie Pizza, Portland at 3632 North Williams and Northeast Beecher Streets Life of Pie interior combines modernity with the warmth of lots of wood and various pizza making accouterments along the walls

Life of Pie specializes in wood-fired pizzas, using a special Stefano Ferrara oven which so excited to be here in Portland. I mean look at that 6,900 pound, 1000 degrees F, beaming immigrant from Naples, Italy! They have a whole page of their website devoted to this proud baby!
The pride of Life of Pie and the source of amazing pizzas is a 6,900 pound wood fired pizza oven, hand-made by the legendary Stefano Ferrara in Napoli, Italy The pride of Life of Pie and the source of amazing pizzas is a 6,900 pound wood fired pizza oven, hand-made by the legendary Stefano Ferrara in Napoli, Italy The pride of Life of Pie and the source of amazing pizzas is a 6,900 pound wood fired pizza oven, hand-made by the legendary Stefano Ferrara in Napoli, Italy The pride of Life of Pie and the source of amazing pizzas is a 6,900 pound wood fired pizza oven, hand-made by the legendary Stefano Ferrara in Napoli, Italy

That oven works hard with the Shepherds Grain flour dough that owner Jason Kallingal and Nick Burger have perfected after reportedly 30 batches. The oven adds a hint of char and some smoke to that dough, but not a lot of char so the base stays chewy while the crust is crispy.

The 11 inch pizza pies are topped with housemade and/or locally sourced seasonal ingredients, such as their homemade mozzarella which we saw being made right then and there at the event, or the mushrooms from the Farmers Market, Carlton Farms applewood smoked bacon, Chop salami and Mama Lil’s Peppers…

Life of Pie pizzas in progress Life of Pie's housemade mozzarella in progress

They have 8 pizzas on their menu ranging from $9-12. They also offer a menu of toppings, so those 16 ingredients can be used to mix it up to your liking, including any of the ingredients listed in the pre-tested recipes below to your own preferences, and a few extra ones such as mixed olives or anchovy.

  • Chop Spicy Salami, Mama Lil’s Pepers, Goat Cheese, Honey
  • Seasonal Mushrooms with Shaved Pecorino Romano and Truffle Oil
  • Bacon, Goat Cheese, and Oven Roasted Leeks
  • Meatball, Ricotta, and Red Onions
  • Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Garlic Confit
  • Marinara, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Chili Flakes
  • Fennel Sausage and Mama Lil’s Peppers
  • Margherita with Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil

At the tasting I was able to test a slice of the Seasonal Mushroom pizza covered in chanterelles and shitake mushrooms and finished with shaved pecorino romano and truffle oil. This was my favorite, if I had to pick one of the pizzas of the night to rank #1.
Life of Pie Seasonal Mushroom pizza covered in chanterelles and shitake mushrooms and finished with shaved pecorino romano and truffle oil. This was my favorite.

Also sampled were the Carlton Farms applewood smoked bacon layered with oven-roasted leeks, goat cheese and caramelized onions. I loved those oven-roasted leeks. Meanwhile the Fennel Sausage kicked up your average sausage pizza with Mama Lil’s Peppers and offered a great pairing of spicy with a sauce so good I could imagine drinking it. Also check out that classic Margherita with Mozzarella, Tomato, and Fresh Basil whose leaf color slowly just darkening from the pizza heat testifies to its freshness.
Life of Pie Portland's Carlton Farms applewood smoked bacon layered with oven-roasted leeks, goat cheese and caramelized onions Life of Pie's Fennel Sausage pizza kicked up your average sausage pizza with Mama Lil's Peppers all over the sauce and in pieces here or there throughout "Life
I was also blown away by two appetizers they offered at this media event.
Appetizers at Life of Pie pizza in Portland, at North Wiliams and Northeast Beech Appetizers at Life of Pie pizza in Portland, at North Wiliams and Northeast Beech, plus a peek at the kitchen

The first appetizer was a perfect balance of oozy and crispy in their Aracini, risotto croquettes with ricotta and mozzarella. So often I break open an aracini to find out it was mostly an empty shell, without much substance inside. Not the case with the Life of Pie aracini, as you can see- there’s a molten cheese surprise inside.
Life of Pie restaurant Portland appetizer, a perfect balance of oozy and crispy in their Aracini, risotto croquettes with ricotta and mozzarella Life of Pie restaurant Portland appetizer, a perfect balance of oozy and crispy in their Aracini, risotto croquettes with ricotta and mozzarella Life of Pie restaurant Portland appetizer, a perfect balance of oozy and crispy in their Aracini, risotto croquettes with ricotta and mozzarella

Then there was Life of Pie’s surprise right hook: Kale & Arugula with parmesan and honey lemon vinaigrette packed an addictive punch with its light dressing that enhanced the kale and arugula and the parmesan to add texture like a breadcrumb topping of a mac and cheese- but all over your salad! I would **highly recommend** this salad. It is a very crave-able salad.
Life of Pie's surprise right hook: Kale & Arugula with parmesan and honey lemon vinaigrette packed an addictive punch with its light dressing that enhanced the kale and arugula and the parmesan to add texture like a breadcrumb topping of a mac and cheese- but all over your salad!  Life of Pie's surprise right hook: Kale & Arugula with parmesan and honey lemon vinaigrette packed an addictive punch with its light dressing that enhanced the kale and arugula and the parmesan to add texture like a breadcrumb topping of a mac and cheese- but all over your salad!

Besides the pizza pies, they also offer some simple spaghetti if you are especially craving their tangy marinara sauce, which you can dress up further with the fennel sausage or meatballs if you’d like. They also have a gluten free pasta available. As an alternative- but I recommend as an addition- to the aracini appetizer, they also have a oven roasted cauliflower gratin and meatballs that sound delightful. Dessert-wise the only option was a root beer float, but they are just a few doors down from What’s the Scoop? so I recommend finishing up with sweetness there.

Life of Pie interior combines modernity with the warmth of lots of wood and various pizza making accouterments along the walls, and seats probably about 40 something guests. When the weather warms they have a whole section that is all glass garage door walls that will open up to North Williams, which should be a great treat. Life of Pie is new and low key- I can’t describe the service since I did attend during a special event, but I hope this blog post is helpful to you anyway in seeing some of the offerings. As of now it appears there is no waiting in lines yet like some of other famous wood fired pizza places in town, so visit now!

In fact, they currently are offering an Extended Happy Hour daily 11 am-6 pm that includes a $5, 11 inch margherita pizza plus $3 beers and wines – a great deal! Now you just have to order that kale salad and invite me to join you in living a Life of Pie.
Life of Pie restaurant, Portland's Margherita with Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Life of Pie restaurant, Portland- menu

Life of Pie is currently also doing a weekly FREE pizza giveaway for a free 11″ pizza every week on their Facebook site- check out the contest app!

Which of the pizza pies would you want to order?

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Oven & Shaker: a second visit for Aracine and Cauliflower Pizza

I arrived specifically at Oven & Shaker because I wanted the Cauliflower pizza, which had not been on the menu my previous visit. I was really tempted, just like last time, with the Bianca pizza, boasting teleme, truffled sottocenere, bufala mozzarella and fried sage.

Also new to the menu was a pizza of Blackberry and Peach with garlic, arugula, pecorino, rocotta and aged balsalmic. They also had more specials in the Finger * Fork section (the small plates). But, fearing that the Cauliflower, just like the Brussel Sprout pizza, might be a seasonal and therefore temporary offering, I went with that as my pizza choice. I was very glad I did. But damn you Oven and Shaker, with your temptations that will bring me back again…!

Oven & Shaker, Cathy Whims, Wood fired pizza, Portland Oven & Shaker, Cathy Whims, Wood fired pizza, Portland

I started with the fried risotto balls, or aracine. They came in four different flavors, and not able to decide, I didn’t decide at all and got them all. They are very filling- I would only be able to eat 2 slices of my pizza when it would arrive later, and based on delicious the pizzas are, would rather leave the room for more slices. Ranked in order of
what tasted best of the four Aracine:

Oven and Shaker aracine Oven and Shaker aracine

  1. suppli al telefono, wild mushroom risotto, smoked mozzarella and tomato ragu aracini
  2. lager beer risotto cheddar salami aracini
  3. aracini of basil risotto with house mozzarella  and fresh tomato sauce
  4. herb risotto wtih summer vegetables and  fonduta aracini

Even though it was Friday, the restaurant was not very busy, possibly because there were other summer festivals going on that night as well, though it was also pretty early on a Friday- maybe everyone was at happy hour still (O&S’s happy hour is only until 2:30-4 or 10-midnight). Thanks to the lack of crowd, I was able to really admire how long and incredibly well stocked with bottles the bar was.

Also, not being in the weeds greatly improved how quickly I got my food and how well it was executed, and the staff was able to be more attentive in checking on me, bringing food to me promptly, and removing finished service ware.The atmosphere was much more relaxed and casual, rather than leaning on the frenetic side during my last visit.

Oven & Shaker, Cathy Whims, Wood fired pizza, Portland Oven & Shaker, Cathy Whims, Wood fired pizza, Portland

While I awaited my meal, I enjoyed a drink that had caught my eye on a previous visit and had remembered, so this visit I didn’t hesitate to reward myself. The Oven and Shaker’s Pepper Smash comes with lots of mint leaves, Krogstad Aquavit (a caraway/anise flavored vodka), lime juice, maple syrup, and freshly extracted yellow bell pepper juice for a very smooth liquid taste of… the description that comes to mind is je ne sais quoi.

It had citrus flavors and a little tartness from the lime but not too sour or acidic thanks to the maple syrup, and then add in that freshness of the bell pepper with the flavors of caraway and anise… it all came into to a unique medley that is refreshing and easy to drink but that you want to sip to have those flavors roll and rest on your tongue.

Oven and Shaker Pepper Smash cocktail, Oven & Shaker, Cathy Whims, Wood fired pizza, Portland

Meanwhile, the pizzas are all cooked in the wood fired oven so it is ever so lightly scorched for some burnt smoke flavor: this time when it arrived rather than soggy it was a nice thin crisp yet doughy consistency which I enjoyed.

Oven and Shaker Cauliflower Pizza, Oven & Shaker, Cathy Whims, Wood fired pizza, PortlandOven and Shaker Cauliflower Pizza, Oven & Shaker, Cathy Whims, Wood fired pizza, Portland

The ingredients on the pizza of the roasted cauliflower, mozzarella, provolone, olive, spring onion, Mama Lil’s chilies, crumbled salami was a wonderful mix of the crispy salami and the soft creamy cheese with the tangy bits of olive and taste of smoke from the slightly scorched pizza foundation.

I’m coming for you Bianca pizza… I’m coming back for you.

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