Posts Tagged ‘Dinner’

I love tomatoes.  I call them my favorite “fruit” … not so much because they are technically a fruit but because my favorite vegetable is carrots, and I would have a difficult time choosing between the two if they were both deemed vegetables.

???????????????????????????????This summer, my big Costco discovery was these Symphony tomatoes (I’ve also seen a smaller “symphony” package in Chuck’s Produce, which suggests to me that you might be able to find them elsewhere as well.)  They are an eye catching array of colorful cherry sized tomatoes – with colors such as chocolate brown, white (which looks like a “greenish” white), green, orange, and the familiar red.  Most of the tomatoes are roundish in shape, but some are “Roma” tomato shape.

To make my tomato salad, I start with a colander full of these tomatoes with all the blossoms removed and the tomatoes washed thoroughly.  Then I cut them.  Most of the round tomatoes I cut in half, but some of the larger round tomatoes I cut into fourths … basically, I cut the tomatoes into bite size pieces.

???????????????????????????????Then I season with Kosher salt and ground pepper.  If I happen to have it on hand, I will substitute the Kosher salt with a gourmet salt from Woody’s Gourmet.  (My personal favorite is the Black Truffle & Fresh Thyme Sea Salt)

Then I reach for my bottle of Smoky Bacon flavored Grapeseed Oil from Wildtree.  This is the MAGIC product in this salad, because it adds such a delightful flavor.  The bacon flavor is not an overpowering flavor, and I might like this even better if the bacon flavor was more pronounced (Bacon is a lot like chocolate in that more bacon = better.)  The bacon is best tasted when you taste the oil on it’s own, but, I still taste the bacon flavor when I make this tomato salad, and  love the way the smoky bacon and tomato flavors meld.

Note:  If you really want to focus on the bacon flavors, I suggest seasoning with plain Kosher salt rather than the gourmet stuff, as the extra seasoning in the gourmet sea salts tend to distract my palate.

grapeseedoil

Photo from Wildtree
Click on the pic to go there.

I have fallen in love with Grapeseed Oil because I love the taste.  I used to be very devoted to olive oil, but, I like grapeseed oil even better, and I love the Wildtree brand (and not just because one of my dear friends sells the stuff!)   The taste of the grapeseed oil is not as heavy as the olive oil, and I find this especially desirable on a salad like my tomato salad where I want to taste the tomato.

I drizzle the grapeseed oil over the seasoned tomatoes, and then I follow that with a drizzle of vinegar.  I tried this salad first using this Champagne Mimosa Vinegar from Chapparal Gardens – LOVED it – but now I use balsamic vinegar and that is good too.  The Champagne vinegar is better … but it is also kind of pricey, Then again, so is a good balsamic vinegar, but since I always have balsamic vinegar on hand … well, you get the idea, right?

After I’ve seasoned and dressed the tomatoes, I toss the tomatoes well in the mixture to make sure that all the tomatoes get some vinegar and oil and seasoning on them.  And then I eat it.  YUM!

???????????????????????????????Yeah, I told you it’s easy.  So, if it’s a little too easy for you and my recipe is leaving you asking why I bothered to write this post … let me add this:  Tomatoes are very good for you!  They are an excellent source of antioxidants and help lower cholesterol.  They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, A, K and potassium.  And they’re practically calorie free!  Now, the dressing on this salad isn’t calorie or fat free, of course, but, I suggest go sparingly with the vinegar and oil anyway and let the tomatoes be the star of the show.

You can find more yummy grapeseed oil recipes on my friend Jennifer’s blog!

Alright … I know I’m still really behind … well, that’s because I’ve not been posting.  Funny how these things just keep piling up when you don’t do anything about them, huh?

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Finished Pasta Alfredo

Anyway … this is a “combination” review, because a friend of mine sent me a sample of Wildtree’s Alfredo Extraordinaire Sauce Mix and I received a package of Sfoglini Bronx Brewery Pasta in my February Knoshbox.  So, I decided to make Pasta Alfredo with the Spent Grain Radiator pasta that I received in my Knoshbox using this VERY EASY to make Alfredo sauce from Wildtree.

???????????????????????????????About Sfoglini Bronx Brewery Pasta:

These BxB Radiators are made with spent grains from the brewery’s flagship Pale Ale beer. The five different barley malts create a unique, rich flavor in the pasta that must be experienced.

alfredoextraordinaireAbout Alfredo Extraordinaire Sauce Mix from Wildtree:  

The Name Says It All – This Alfredo Is Extraordinary!

What I think:

Just about anyone can prepare pasta … just boil water, add a handful of salt to the boiling water, and then add the pasta and let it cook until tender, and then drain. Easy peasy, right?  (Yeah, it ain’t homemade pasta, but, I lack the patience needed to make my own pasta, I’m afraid, especially since my youngest is not a big fan of pasta anyway … it seems like a lot of work for something that is going to be received with less than enthusiastic results, you know?)  

Anyway, I like that this pasta only takes about seven minutes to prepare.  The instructions on the package say 5 – 8 minutes, but after testing it at five minutes, it was still a little more firm than I wanted it to be.  However, seven minutes on my stovetop, in my kitchen … produced just the right texture for this pasta.  

And I just want to give a shout out to Jennifer of Blissful Yoga Journey for sending me the Alfredo Extraordinaire sauce mix … check out her blog here.  (She’s also my SororiTea Sister!)

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The dry pasta, up close and personal…

On it’s own, the pasta has a pleasant flavor.  It is tastier than what I’ll call “white” pasta which is something I seldom buy anymore anyway, because I like to think that the whole wheat pasta is better for me and my family.  Even if it isn’t, I like to live under the illusion of selecting the healthier option. I like the texture of this pasta, it doesn’t taste or feel mushy, and it’s comfort food taken to a tastier, more satisfying level.

When tossed with the Alfredo Estraordinaire Sauce Mix from Wildtree, this pasta goes from good to GREAT.  As I mentioned before, the sauce mix from Wildtree is extremely easy to prepare.  Simply melt some butter in a saucepan with some milk (I used a 1:1 ratio of half and half to 1% milk, mostly because we didn’t have enough of the 1% milk in the fridge tonight), Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the sauce mix until completely incorporated and smooth.  

The sauce is a bit thinner than I thought it would be … I expected a thick sauce.  But, once added to drained, unrinsed pasta it thickened up a bit, and by the time I reached the bottom of my bowl of pasta, I kind of expected a puddle of sauce, but there was absolutely NO puddle.  So, either time to set, time to cool, or adding the pasta causes this sauce to thicken (or perhaps a combination of all three of these factors.)  

I like the way the sauce sort of infiltrates the grooves of this radiator style pasta and clings to it so that I get lots of yummy alfredo taste in every bite.  The sauce tastes cheesy, creamy and it is nicely seasoned.  I didn’t add additional seasoning to the bowl of pasta except for a couple of grinds of freshly ground pepper which is something that I add to just about every dish I eat.  I garnished the top with a light sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese.  

My Final Thoughts:  

It is a very flavorful sauce … not at all bland, and I like the way these two products work together.  The pasta is filling and delicious.  The two together make for a seriously tasty supper, and it took me less than ten minutes to throw it together!

My husband and I both enjoy Mexican food, and while I’ve enjoyed many of the places that we’ve visited in the past few years, I’m always on the lookout for another place to eat delicious Mexican cuisine.  So, when Living Social offers a voucher for a Mexican Restaurant that I’ve not yet tried, I am eager to buy the voucher!  Let’s eat!

When we arrived at Cha Taqueria, it was too dark to take photos (we dined outside) … I hope that Cha Taqueria doesn’t mind that I borrowed their photo from their online gallery. Please click on the pic to go there!

Location:  305 NW 21st Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered the Carne Asada Tacos plate ($14) while my husband chose the Chicken Las Rancheras platter ($15).

What I Think:

OK, first of all, I have to say this … the parking for Cha Taqueria STINKS!  There is no parking lot, so the only parking is along the streets, and we drove around for 30 minutes looking for a parking place!  So, if you’re visiting Cha Taqueria, make sure that you arrive in plenty of time to ensure that you can get a parking place and still have time to eat (in other words, don’t do what we did, and start looking for a parking place an hour before the place closes!)  We were nearly too late to order, fortunately, the staff was nice and let us dine so that we would not have to return another evening.  THANK YOU Cha Taqueria for being so considerate of our parking plight!

After shaking off the annoyances of the lugubrious parking situation, we decided not to allow it to taint our dining experience since the staff was so pleasant and kind.  We sat outside – it was a lovely evening! – and placed our order.

Instead of the customary chips and salsa that most Mexican restaurants serve before the meal, we were brought a platter of chips topped with melted cheese and beans.  This was absolutely delicious, and really put us in the right mood for the yummy food that would follow.

Our food arrived surprisingly fast.  The Carne Asada plate was comprised of two soft corn tortilla Carne Asada tacos and black beans.  The steak strips were incredibly tender, it seemed to melt in my mouth!  The flavor of the taco was balanced out with a light squeeze of the lime garnish, this gave it just the right acidic touch to brighten up the flavor of the taco – the meat was succulent and tender, the vegetables were crisp and the salsa provided was SPICY … be sure to use this sparingly!  My husband gave me a bite of his Chicken Enchilada and the chicken was even more tender than the flat iron steak in my Carne Asada Tacos.   Absolutely delicious!

My Final Thoughts:

My husband and I both really enjoyed our meal at Chai Taqueria and I daresay that we’d be happy to visit again … but next time we will be mindful of the parking situation!  The food was absolutely vibrant, tasted so fresh and delicious!

Cha Taqueria on Urbanspoon

When I saw My Brother’s Crawfish offering a voucher on Living Social – I jumped on it!  I love shellfish, but, as I’ve lived exclusively near the West Coast, I can’t say that crawfish is something with which I’ve had a lot of experience.  Read:  I’ve never had crawfish before.  I was eager to try this Louisiana favorite.

Crawfish Boil

Location:  8220 SE Harrison Street, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered a Crawfish Boil, of course!  (Market Price on the day we visited was $9)  I also ordered a few add-ons:  Corn on the Cob, Mushrooms and a french roll.

What I Think:

The restaurant is very small with dark walls that made it seemed more closed in than it probably was.  The decor is distinctly New Orleans, with an emphasis on a Mardi Gras theme.  One thing that kind of caught my eye in particular were the birds on the wall, mostly because I’m a Portlandia fan, and whenever I see bird decor now I think back to the skit they did “Put a bird on it.”  Hilarious!

Before visiting any restaurant, I like to visit their website, if they have one, and check out their menu, and get an idea of what I’d like to order.  Before visiting My Brother’s Crawfish, I had pretty much decided that I’d like to try the Crawfish Etoufee as this is a dish that I have never experienced before, but something that I’ve always wanted to try.

However, on the occasion when we visited this restaurant, the Etoufee was not available, so I went with the Crawfish Boil, and I’m really glad I did.  A huge bowl of Crawfish was brought to the table, and inside the bowl was a couple of halved cobs of corn and about a dozen mushrooms.

I chose the mild spice, and it is spicy, but fortunately as the name “mild” would suggest, its not overly so.  But, for those who tend to shy from spicy, they might want something even more mild than the mild spice, because the heat does slowly creep up on you, and by the time I was finishing off my last crawfish and mushrooms, my mouth was pretty warm.

Chicken Strips and French Fries

The best part of the meal?  I loved the mushrooms!  They cooked up in the spicy boil liquid, absorbing the flavors of the crawfish and the spice.  YUM!  Also good was the french roll, because I used it to soak up the liquid and that was pretty darned tasty.

For those of you who haven’t had crawfish before, they look and taste a lot like mini lobsters.  They’re a little chewier though, as I tend to associate lobster with a buttery texture, these crawfish didn’t have that texture.  I felt a little out of place eating the crawfish, because I’m sure there’s an art to it, and I fumbled my way around the shells, trying to break into them to reach the tasty meat.

However, despite my bungling with the crawfish, they were still very delicious.  The corn on the cob was juicy and tender, and overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable meal.

However, I doubt we’ll be returning, mostly because my husband was less impressed.  He ordered the Chicken Strips and French Fries ($10) and this just wasn’t to his liking at all.  The Chicken Strips were not very crispy, and they had an unusual breading that he didn’t find very appealing.

My Final Thoughts:

If you’re going to My Brother’s Crawfish, do yourself a favor and go for the crawfish!  They’re delicious!  I probably won’t be returning to this establishment for the reason I mentioned above, but, even though I won’t be returning, I still really enjoyed what I ate.

My Brother's Crawfish on Urbanspoon

I was so excited when Living Social offered this deal that I ordered without even stopping to check where Abella Italian Kitchen was located … Wilsonville?  Yikes!  My husband has been really awesome about taking me to these different restaurants but he doesn’t really like it when I select a place that’s outside Portland.  So, I asked my daughter to join me instead, and I had a nice luncheon with her. 

Broiled Polenta

Location:  8309 SW Main Street, Wilsonville, Oregon

Order:  For an appetizer, we ordered the Broiled Polenta ($6.95).  I ordered the Chicken Piccata entree ($13.95) and a refreshing glass of Marionberry Lemonade.

What I Think:

It was such a lovely day when we visited Abella Italian Restaurant that we decided to dine outside on the patio.  Our server, Cody, was an exceptionally nice and attentive server.  Very friendly and personable.  If you’ve been reading many of my restaurant reviews, you know that I don’t make it a habit to comment on the service unless it really stands out for being either very good or very bad … here, it was VERY good.

My daughter ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad and she loved it!

We were served our drinks right away, and the Marionberry Lemonade was really good.  I liked that while it was a little on the sweeter side than your typical lemonade (thanks to the marionberries), it wasn’t too sweet.  Cody told us that he makes the marionberry puree himself with fresh marionberries, and the freshness of these berries could be tasted.  A nice balance between sweet and tart, and I enjoyed it so much that I’d revisit this restaurant for nothing more but a glass of the refreshing lemonade.

The Broiled Polenta was delicious.  The polenta was creamy on the inside with a slight crispiness from the broiled crust.  The gorgonzola cheese added a palate-pleasing tangy note to the dish, and the tomato sauce tasted freshly made.
I found it to be very filling, though, I think I would have been satisfied to order just this as my luncheon appetizer.

But then, I wouldn’t have had the Chicken Piccata, and really, this was the highlight of the lunch.  Not the service (which was exemplary), not the lemonade (which was stunning), not even the polenta that I enjoyed so much.  The Chicken Piccata outshined everything, and really, isn’t that what you want when you visit a restaurant?  For your entree to be the crowning moment of the event?

The best Chicken Picatta I’ve ever had.

I love Chicken Piccata anyway, it’s one of my favorite dishes, but it’s one that sometimes just isn’t done right.  Even when it’s not done right, it is still good, but, it isn’t something that I’d sing praises over like I’m doing with this dish.  The chicken was so tender it seemed to melt in my mouth, and the sauce was a perfect balance of flavors and textures.  I could taste the garlic and the touch of wine, it was buttery and sweet and the capers gave it just the right amount of salty taste.  The pasta was cooked al dente and the sauce was a creamy delight.  It was a medley of flavor and texture.  Sublime!

My Final Thoughts:

While the place is a little pricy, if I had the chance to visit again (hopefully another Living Social voucher will come my way!) I would.  And, while I’d like to say that I’d explore the menu and try something new, I probably wouldn’t.  The Chicken Piccata was just too good, I would order it again in a heartbeat.  Perhaps my exploration will take place with the appetizer!

Abella Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I’ve had the opportunity to try Brothers Burgers on a couple of different occasions, but didn’t bring my notebook with me to record my thoughts about the place until my most recent visit.  Therefore, this review will focus on my most recent visit to Brothers Burgers, although I might reflect on previous visits, although my thoughts on previous visits will be limited to my own memory and not my notes.

Location:  19206 SE 1st Street, Camas, Washington

Order:  I ordered the Black & Bleu burger bundled with roasted garlic topped fries and a root beer.  ($10.58)

What I Think:

The atmosphere at Brothers Burgers is what I’ll refer to as “casual upscale.”  The stylish decor and fireplace lent a certain upscale look to it; at the same time, there is a certain comfortable casualness to it all, and I didn’t feel under-dressed in my tee-shirt and jeans.

The service is friendly and attentive, perhaps too attentive.  It is something my husband pointed out to me, that three different servers came to our table at different times, making sure we were well cared for.  But, I don’t mind that, I think it might be better to be well care for than ignored.

The roasted garlic topped french fries were delicious.  The fries were golden brown and crispy, and the garlic added a pleasant zesty sweetness to them.  However, I did get the opportunity to try my husband’s tots (no topping), and I think I would have been happier with them.  Next time, I’ll keep that in mind.  As it was, the fries were not disappointing, the tots just were tastier.

The burger.  Let me say right now, bleu is one of my favorite cheeses.  It always has been, since I was a kid, and bleu cheese dressing was my favorite salad dressing.  So, I am always tempted when I see a burger featuring bleu cheese.  And of course, there’s bacon.  I think I’ve made it pretty clear just how much I love bacon on this blog, haven’t I?

The burger had a good ratio of gorgonzola  cheese to meat – I could taste the cheese but there wasn’t so much that it overwhelmed the entire sandwich. I could almost every element, from the lettuce, tomato and onion to the meat to the cheese … but I do wish there was more bacon.  I felt that if any ingredient was slighted, it would be the bacon, because while I could detect the chewy texture of the bacon, I didn’t taste it much amid all the other toppings.

While the burger was delicious, I found the meat to be slightly overcooked.  It was almost rubbery – but not quite – and it wasn’t very juicy.  In fact, the real “juice” of this burger came from the house sauce, which seemed to be overcompensating for the fact that the burger was overdone.  I found myself wishing I had requested a light amount of sauce on this burger … another thing to keep in mind for the next visit.

My Final Thoughts:

A tasty burger.  I’ll probably return at some point, but, I think it will be only if we are in the area or we have a coupon (I had a Living Social voucher for this visit), because we live closer to Burger Bungalow, and the burgers from Burger Bungalow are better, and since these two burger joints cost about the same, for my money, I’d prefer to visit the Bungalow.

Brothers on Urbanspoon

I know, I know!  I’m really behind on my restaurant reviews!  I am grateful, however, that I do take notes, otherwise, some of these reviews would never end up getting written. 

The Riverview Restaurant is another LivingSocial discovery … and if LivingSocial offered another voucher for this place, I’d snap it up in a second!  This is definitely one of my two favorite restaurants in the Portland area (taking over the #2 spot that was previously held by il piatto … which, sadly, has closed since my last visit)

Photo from Riverview Restaurant website, click on the photo to go there.

Location:  29311 SE Stark Street in Troutdale, OR

Order:   We started our meal with a side Caesar Salad ($5) and an order of Won Ton Shumai ($6).  I ordered the Elk Tri-Tip ($29) and my husband ordered the Seafood Tower ($21).

What I Think:

As I mentioned in my introduction, the Riverview has – based on this one visit – become my favorite restaurant in the Portland area.  First of all, the drive from Vancouver to Troutdale is lovely, especially the last 15 minutes or so of it.  The Riverview restaurant is located within the splendorous wooded area just outside of the city of Troutdale, and sits right on the banks of the river.  It is GORGEOUS out there!

The inside of the restaurant is almost as picturesque as the exterior surroundings.  It looks a bit like a upscale ski lodge (or at least what I’d imagine an upscale ski lodge to be like, as I’ve never been skiing!) with fireplaces and breathtaking vaulted ceilings.  In the center of the restaurant there is a grand piano (and yes, there was live music as we dined).

My husband chose the Caesar salad to start  – it was crisp and delicious, and the dressing tasted very fresh (no bottled dressings here).  I selected the Won Ton Shumai.  It was gently spiced and was very tender.  The sauce reduction added just the right touch of sweetness and a hint of spice that complimented the shumai filling quite nicely.

My husband really enjoyed his Seafood Tower – the shrimp was perfectly cooked, and the cod was breaded in a delicious coconut breading.  It was mild and savory, with just the right amount of sweet contrast from the coconut.

But really, the star of the evening was the elk.  I think my husband wished he would have ordered this after he tried mine.  It was perfectly medium rare, and so tender it melted in my mouth.  The meat was exquisitely rich.  When the plate first arrived, the tri-tip steak seemed a little small, however, with as satisfyingly rich as the meat was, the smaller sized turned out to be more than enough, and even though I enjoyed every delicious bite of it, I don’t think I could have eaten another bite of it by the time I was finished.

The elk was served with tiny fingerling potatoes and grilled asparagus spears – both were delicious and perfectly executed as well.  The potatoes were buttery and soft and the asparagus had just a little bit of char on it to give it that delicious grilled flavor and was tender-crisp, which gave a nice texture contrast to the fluffy potatoes and melt-in-your-mouth-tender elk steak.

My Final Thoughts:

If you have the chance to go to Riverview Restaurant – GO!  Yes, it may be a bit on the pricy side, and this is certainly not a place I could afford to visit on a regular basis (we’re talking once a year if I’m lucky).  But, the food is outstanding, the atmosphere is beautifully comforting and the service is excellent.  It’s worth the price even if that means I can only go once a year!

Riverview Restaurant on Urbanspoon