My middle brother Doug and I went to lunch yesterday to celebrate his putting an offer in on a house in Portland in anticipation and moving here with his family. I wanted to show him some really cool antique shops in the Sellwood area of SE Portland. We had our meal at this really cool dive called Bertie's Lou's. As Doug and I were waiting for our meal, I noticed a truly fabulous notice on the wall over his shoulder, which may be the best I've ever encountered in a restaurant:
UNATTENDED CHILDREN WILL BE GIVEN AN ESPRESSO AND A FREE PUPPY!
Couldn't have said it better myself.
It's been a long week. Though I'm delighted that I'll have my brother close for the first time since we were kids, he is high maintenance and never shuts up. I know--amazing come from me. But it's true. He's here another two weeks, which is way too long for extremely close friends, let alone family. But he did find a really nice new home about 20 minutes from me in a rural part of the city. I'm no fan of modern houses, but this one is exceptional--not your typical cookie-cutter development house. He put the offer in on it yesterday and he'll find out if he's got it later on today.
Have been working on the new cookbook review blog--StoveTopReadings (www.stovetopreadings.com) and I must say I'm thrilled at the response so far. Publishers are being generous with review copies, and the feedback from friends and colleagues has been fantastic. I'm just working on getting the kinks out such as typos, links to Amazon, etc. that take readers directly to the book page I'm reviewing, etc. I'm a hopeless technophobe--or old school--as some of my friends like to tease me.
Had dinner at an outstanding Mexican restaurant called Nuestra Cocina on Friday. I have an on-again/off-again thing about Mexican food. Tex-Mex is one of the least interesting regional cuisines I've experienced. But his popular restaurant has very creative cooking and keeps the palate dancing without bogging you down. There are several margaritas on their bar menu but I opted for a "traditional," and instead of over-sweet, I got a tart cocktail with coarse salt and enough tequila to let me know it was there. Auspicious start. A small basket of small warm tortillas arrived with an aromatic and smokey mole sauce to spread on the tortillas and roll up. We enjoyed these while we scanned the menus. My hosts are known there, so they, along with the nice waiter could steer me in the right direction. The short ribs special sounded like a must. Ruth ordered the steak while her husband, Alan, decided on the shrimp. But first we shared an appetizer called tacos de puerco: handmade tortillas with spiced pork, diced onion and Arbol chilie. This long simmering stew was lightened with tomato and spiced with jalapeño peppers. There was just enough heat to add another note. We inhaled them. Next the waiter sat before us the three plates. We decided to sample each and let everyone decide his or her preference. The camarones al mojo de ajo translated to white prawns in garlic and chilies with plantains and refried black beans. Again, the chef used restraint with the chilies, and the dish had long julienne strips of fresh tomato lightened the dish considerably. The short ribs were placed before me. Here was one very long strip of slowly braised beef over a bed of fresh steamed corn and yellow flat beans (I'd never seen yellow flat beans before). The utter simplicity of the dish was immediately appealing. Cutting through the tender meat released its aroma. The chef had placed a half of a grilled jalapeño pepper on the side so you could add heat if you liked. The meat fell apart but was not dry as I speared a chunk for my first bite and the vegetables cut the richness of the dish. Ruth leaned towards the carne asada con frijoles borrachos , a Cascade Natural Chuckeye steak with drunken beans. This tender steak was grilled over wood and could satisfy any beef lover. I was glad I stuck to the shortribs. I stuck with another margarita through the meal. It was enough for me, but Alan and Ruth wanted dessert and settled on a quite spectacular and popular choice--a corn tortilla filled with lemon curt and deep fried, served on a puddle of soft caramel with whipped cream. I allowed myself one bite. The pronounced flavor of corn in the crisp fried tortilla went surprisingly well with the lemon curd. Ruth, who grew up in Mexico, said this was a popular and common dessert made by a neighbor of hers who sold them door to door and never came home with unsold pies. Delicious. Friends tell me Neustro Cocina is the best Mexican restaurant in town. I believe them.
A month ago, I was at the same antique barn where I took my brother yesterday. I had found a round end table, which I thought, might go well in my living room. As I was just beginning to scout the shops in the neighborhood, I thought I 'd come back for a second look later on. When I returned the table was gone. Yesterday I found the same table, somewhat hidden near the area where I first discovered it. Elated, I brought it to the cashier, who was able to give me an additional 10% discount. Here's how it looks in the living room.
Beau often likes to hang out in the stairwell, which gives him an excellent view of the door and the entire living room. I happened to catch him in this wonderful photo. This perfectly captures my little guy.