Check out the Hot Collings-Domingo, as featured in Mix Magazine.
Check out the Hot Collings-Domingo, as featured in Mix Magazine.
For the longest time, I couldn’t really understand what it was about Screen Door. Oh sure, I was impressed and I wrote a complimentary (and probably vapid) review.. Hopefully I avoided phrases like ‘to die for’, and ‘decadent’, but god only knows – that was some time ago, and the universe of pdx foodies was much newer, far less snarky. 12 visits later, and 20 pounds heavier, I find myself more attuned to understand just the sort of racket these people at Screen Door are running.
It starts like this – about 5 minutes in, you enter a blissful state of sorts – a contact high, if you will, as you are bombarded with warmth, color, and amazing smells that emanate from the kitchen. Soon after, the cocktails arrive. (try the Screen Door Lemonade – fresh lemons, sugar, handcrafted New Deal Vodka and muddled sage – and be careful – like everything at Screen Door, they do tend to sneak up on you).
After the cocktails begin to flow, you are immediately lulled into a sense of well-being, attentive, but relaxed, and ready for the good time you know awaits you. Then the food arrives. Here is where everything gets fuzzy. You are only distantly aware of the constant din of laughter, the clinking of silverware, and delighted murmurs. You are there, but not really there. You try a salad, sample a gratin, and go for some of the fried chicken. At first, you can delineate the distinct flavors, and contrasting textures of each, but it soon becomes an endless stream of pleasure, as flavors and textures begin to run together, indiscernible, in what can only be described as a full-body cheesy grin. A few minutes later, a small part of you has the vaguest inkling that you might possibly be full, but it never truly registers. Not even after a huge plate of melt-in-your-mouth brisket and freshly baked corn bread.
At some point later, when someone suggests a generous plate of homemade cake and ice cream, you are game. An after dinner coffee? Sure. Another cocktail? Well absolutely. You are on a roll. If Screen Door is not a reason to prolong the dining experience, nothing is. So then, without any shame or fear of snark, I entreat you to insert the following keywords and phrases here: “decadent”, “sinful”, “to die for”, “over the top”, and “save room for dessert”. Far out, man. Far out, indeed.
We know, we know….bacon is just sooo 2008! At least that’s what the local alternative rags were saying at the start of 2009.It’s true…bacon had a good run last year. The thing is that we aren’t quite ready to let bacon go yet, as illustrated in the Bacon Bloody Mary we featured in the Bloody Mary Flight recently posted in our Mixology section. Yowza, yowza, yowza, by the way.
That aside, it got me thinking about bacon, and then that led me to cooking bacon. I made a few good, classic BLTs with some lovely black forest bacon on Dave’s Killer Good Seed bread. This left me with a nice little bit of rendered bacon fat…it seemed a shame to waste it, especially in these lean times, so I made quick work of consulting my fellow foodi-nistas to get their input on the very best ways to use bacon fat. Even among hardcore foodies, very few culinary topics seem to evoke such enthusiasm and passion. Here are the top 9 we came up with. Help us come up with 10..what are you favorite ways?:
1) Potatoes – fried, roasted, mashed in bacon fat.. a no-brainer
2) Vegetables: fresh corn, string beans, and greens – careful..those vegetables may have actually been healthy…better rectify that with a healthy dollop of bacon fat!
3) Corn Bread - cooked in a cast iron skillet
4) Cheese Grits – bacon, corn and cheese. The holy trinity.
5) White Beans – bean-a-rrific.
6) Warm Beet Salad – boyfriend not like beets? Try a drizzle of warm bacon vinagrette…that’ll learn him!
7) Burgers - mix a bit into the patties before popping onto the grill – juicy, succulent.
8) Eggs – you like them alongside it, now try them scrambled and fried in them.
9) Biscuits - add to the dough, and grease pans with a little bit for outstanding old-fashioned buttermilk biscuits.
Let there be no question – this is my favorite time of the year in Portland. Endless days of darkness and grey give way to perfumed evenings, as we are rewarded, seemingly overnight with bursts of color from spring’s usual suspects…plumes of cherry blossoms, colorful tulips, cheery daffodils, and last but not least, the flower behind Portland’s nickname, and an annual local festival dating back to 1924, queen of all flowers, the rose.
It seems to me quite fitting then, that in this season New Deal should have the opportunity to lend our support to the 1st annual Bouquet of Hope gala benefiting Rose Haven, a community and intervention center for women and children that aids over 100 women each week. Matching the beauty of hearth & home, Rose Haven provides a safe, compassionate environment for those afflicted with abuse and homelessness, offering mothers a bright bouquet of hope.
On Saturday, May 9th, the Portland public can enjoy an amazing flower-filled ambiance created for the Bouquet of Hope, a special benefit for Portland women’s center, Rose Haven. The evening will include a seated dinner, ballet performance from the School of Oregon Ballet Theater and feature a concert by Internationally-acclaimed violinist Aaron Meyer, and will serve as the set of the Fête de la Fleur, a unique competition and showcase of Portland’s finest floral artists and their fresh-cut creations. Guests will vote for the best in floral design and can walk away with an exquisite floral arrangement-to enjoy or to give as the perfect Mother’s Day gift.
In preparing for this event, I was inspired to create a cocktail that would at once pay homage to Portland’s history as the city of roses, to springtime, and our friends at Rose Haven. I imagined a colorful, light cocktail that was lovely to behold, and feminine in the most refined way. This would be a cocktail to be sipped by ladies in pink Chanel suits, pearls, and proper white gloves…at least in my imagination…
So…first things first….I mixed up a batch of simple syrup that I infused with organic vanilla bean to get a rich, round flavor, After painstakingly scraping the seeds into the syrup, however, I realized at that any white-gloved lady worth her salt would turn up her pert little nose at any cocktail containing the million little unidentified black floaties that entails… ah, well. Plan B called for high-quality vanilla extract…and it worked just fine.
I added tart, freshly squeezed lemon juice to counterbalance the sweetness of the vanilla syrup, and then elevated the entire affair with a bit of rose water…I personally love the stuff from Pakistan, but I’ve had great results with the stuff from New Seasons, as well. You could use orange flower water instead of rose water for a more exotic floral twist if you weren’t insistent upon sticking to a rose theme…but I digress. Along those lines, a splash or two of LOFT Tangerine Cello would also do nicely here.
After pouring the aforementioned ingredients over ice in a shaker with 2 ounces of Portland 88 Vodka, I gave it all a well-intended shake and poured it into a chilled champagne flute. Very dainty, indeed. At this point, I sampled, and was quite happy with the end result…light, fruity and floral, but nowhere near cloying. It was almost there, but I needed color.
To achieve a signature rosy hue, I decided to add the slightest splash of cranberry, because that’s what my good friend, Christina Braun, a true Bostonian blue blood with loads of panache, taught me to do in situations like this. I do think that there is something very stylish about it. You could also add a bit of homemade grenadine, as well, if you’re feeling ambitious. In any event, this is where you will enliven it with a little color…something pink to float along the top to give it curb appeal….
At this point, I was ready to garnish. I’d heard that edible (sugared) rose petals are nice, but I couldn’t help thinking that were probably one of those things that sound better on paper. I choose, instead, a juicy, almost translucent wheel of orange…I like the simplicity, freshness, and aroma… and I think the contrasting color it lends is stunning….
now THIS is what ladies drink…
City of Roses
2 oz New Deal Vodka or Portland 88 Vodka
1 T Vanilla Simple Syrup (I add about 1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract per 1 cup of syrup)
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 t rose water
splash of cranberry juice for color
orange wheel or sugared rose petals to garnish
Pour vodka, vanilla simple syrup, lemon juice and rose water into a shaker over ice. Shake well and pour into a chilled martini glass. Add a small splash of cranberry juice and garnish.
For more floral inspiration and springtime merriment, please join us on Saturday, May 9th at the Bouquet of Hope Gala. See Bouquet of Hope for more details and tickets.
rontoms is not so much a restaurant as it is a neighborhood bar, but it is a shining example of Portland style, where casual meets modern. It is a decidedly fresh alternative to the sports bar, where the hip new guard gives an understated nod to retro ambiance with nicely done cocktail party fare and lounge decor. As one in the handful of pioneering young entrepreneurs to break ground directly across the Burnside Bridge from downtown Portland, creating a vital new pocket of nightclubs, and restaurants, owner Ron Toms successfully recreates the mood and style of the lavish cocktail parties his grandparents hosted during the 60s.
Never trendy or over the top, the food embodies the best from that era. The caesar is crisp and perfectly dressed, the prawn cocktail is well-presented and generous for the price, and the sharp cheddar cheese fondue is finished with beer and served hot with cubed bread, ready to share. Were that not enough to entice you to choose rontoms for a casual happy hour, there is also a piping hot bowl of creamy tomato soup paired with a perfectly grilled cheese sandwich for dipping. Pair the perfectly grilled cheese with a perfectly spicy Bloody Mary made with our locally distilled Hot Monkey Pepper Flavored Vodka, and you will find yourself making the long trek across the bridge over and over again.
600 E Burnside St, Portland 97213
Happy Hour: Daily, 4-6pm
I try not to get too gloaty about the national acclaim Portland’s culinary scene has garnered as of late. I recall Seattle and ‘grunge’, and keep in mind that regional fame of any kind is brief and fleeting. Still, it’s no secret that Portland is home to a higher than average number of establishments that push the culinary envelope, and have a notable influence on dining that goes well beyond our city. I could be snarky and quote the New York Times Food Writer who declared that Portland is enjoying “a golden era of dining”, but really, that would be overkill.
One of my favorite happy hour spots in Portland is somewhat of an anomaly because it is in a hotel, and a chain hotel, at that. Prevailing logic dictates that a chain establishment can’t be any good, let alone unique. To the contrary, happy hour at the Heathman is excellent, and also uniquely Portland. One of the few remaining bastions of old Portland charm, the stately Heathman boasts a James Beard Award-winning Culinary Director, and houses a fantastic collection of modern art, including an impressive group of Warhol prints.The Tea Court, well-appointed in lovely wood with its marble fireplace, and grand oil paintings attracts the boardroom crowd, as well as Portland’s well-heeled silver set during happy hour. The elegant room buzzes in soft hushed tones, glowing low lights and the clinking of fine china and silver against crisp table linens. Its ambiance is matched only by the L’ Heure de Plaisir, an exquisite menu of small plates offered daily from 2pm to close.
A newly expanded menu features interesting dishes like Korean short ribs and oysters rockefeller, along with old favorites, like the juicy bistro burger. There is an artisinal cheese board that changes daily, and features three of the chef’s personal favorites. On a recent visit, it included a tomme de chevre, a buttery cantal, and a creamy stilton served with a tart, house made quince paste. And for those of us who like their cheese in the form of ‘hot and melty’, the decadent macaroni and cheese is luscious and creamy, full of rich, nutty comte, grana and fontina, and finished with a fine, crispy crumb. This dish serves as the perfect contrast to chilled deviled eggs, heaped generously with sweet, fresh, dungeness crab.
Lovely nibbles aside, Happy Hour wouldn’t be very happy without cocktails, and the cocktail menu at the Heathman is fresh and inventive, featuring a respectable roster of local spirits, including New Deal Vodka and Hot Monkey Pepper-Flavored Vodka. Drinks are well-executed by mixologists that are skilled, yet refreshingly unpretentious. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and their repertoire constantly evolving. It is not uncommon to find them working on an aromatic tincture or house bitter, or perfecting a seasonal cocktail. One recent such offering, to be featured at their Easter Brunch, is the Mr.Pig Shot – New Deal Vodka, smoked tomato juice, thyme essence, Pasilla de Oaxaca gastrique, celery curls and bacon salt. (Bacon salt…the thought of it brings tears to my eyes.)
In short, go there.
1001 SW Broadway St, Portland 97205
Happy Hour (L’ Heure de Plaisir): Daily, 2pm to Close
What can we possibly say about Gold Dust Meridian? We like it – a lot.
The Meridian, as we like to refer to it, opened back in 2006 when the hipness of E Burnside had yet to filter its way to Hawthorne through the leftover haze of 1990s hippy-ness. No doubt there were some very good restaurants and pubs on the block, but really you’d have to keep going a few blocks to Belmont to reach actual ‘cool’.
We found it quite by happenstance one day, when a few of us needed a spot to meet and discuss what else – vodka. Much to our delight, where once stood a insurance office was now a very neatly appointed room with sexy lighting, plenty of seating, and a serious bar. As we recall it, there may have also been pool tables and velvet paintings, but we were quite happy to stick to the confines of our cushy booth, enjoying the outstanding food and drink, friendly service, and perfect mood lighting. At last – a perfectly lovely spot for happy hour had found its way to SE Hawthorne Blvd, forever to lift it from its stale Nag Champa cloud.
The Meridian’s signature Side Car features a swift Portland 88 kick in the pants, and call us biased, but we feel that the menu offers up ideal accompaniments to icy New Deal on the rocks. Think tasty plates of delectable things like Cornichons, beet salads, shrimp wrapped in bacon, and deviled eggs. Owner, Marcus Archambeault, also mixes up a very tasty Bloody Mary made with Hot Monkey Pepper-Flavored Vodka. We’ve still never quite made it over to the pool tables.
Happy hour at the Gold Dust Meridian is every day from 2pm-8pm. Make sure to stop by this Wednesday, April 1st from 4pm – 7pm when we will be doing tastings and the happy hour menu cocktail menu will feature the following trio of New Deal cocktails:
Portland Side Car: Portland 88, muddled lemons, sugar
Hawthorne Wall Banger: New Deal Vodka, muddled limes,orange juice, Galliano, soda
Monkey Cab: Hot Monkey, orange juice, pineapple, Triple Sec
We look forward to seeing you then,
New Deal Distillery
Gold Dust Meridian
3267 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214
Saturday + Sunday
12:00 – 5:00 pm
Wednesday – Friday
1:00 - 4:00pm
Plus retail most days
900 SE Salmon
Portland, Oregon 97214
Map + Directions