Posts Tagged ‘Local’

gingerbreadspice

Photo from Knoshy.
Click on the pic to go there.

Product Information:

This organic, fair trade chocolate is crafted by Theo Chocolate in Seattle, Washington. Gingerbread spices are mixed with creamy milk chocolate that’s sweet, spicy and warming! Makes a perfect fireside treat to enjoy with a mug of hot cocoa. Limited seasonal release.

I received this chocolate bar in my December box from Knoshy!

Tea Suggestion:

Because I’m loving the notes of spice in this chocolate bar, especially the nutmeg, I decided to brew a cup of this Nutmeg Cream Tea from Butiki Teas!  I love the way the creamy notes of the tea marry with the creamy taste of the chocolate on my palate, and the the spice notes of the tea were in perfect harmony with the zesty spices of the confection.  Delicious!

What I Think:

Chocolate!

This is the first of two chocolate bars that I received in December’s box from Knoshy.  And I’m loving it.

There is a good amount of spice to this candy bar.  It’s a really delightful balance between rich, creamy milk chocolate and warm spices, and I like that they aren’t competing with one another.

When I shop for chocolate, I generally select a darker chocolate, but, I really like milk chocolate too, and I think that milk chocolate is the right choice for these particular flavors because it makes it taste almost like a chocolate “chai” but without the tea.  (Don’t worry, that can be easily remedied by simply enjoying the chocolate bar alongside a cup of hot tea!)

In fact, the spices here are very chai-like.  It’s got ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg, as well as vanilla.  Most of these (and often all of these) are found in a masala chai.

My Final Thoughts:

I love this chocolate bar.  I am so glad that Knoshy included it in this month’s box.  It is rich, spicy, and chocolate-y … and absolutely delicious.

???????????????????????????????Learn more about Decadent Creations here.

What I Think:

While shopping at my local New Seasons Market, I found this cute little box of macarons on the bakery shelf.  The packaging was almost as alluring as the contents:  the box is a pretty French blue, and it’s been wrapped in twine.  Really cute with a very French sort of appeal to it.

It didn’t take me long to start in on these treats.  I could think of little else on the way home except those macarons in the grocery bag!  I did take a moment to read the label and I found that Decadent Creations is a local bakery in Beaverton, Oregon.  I like supporting local businesses, so I felt even better about this purchase.  (I always feel a little guilty when I buy treats for myself, and knowing that I’m supporting a local business … lessens the guilt just a little bit.)

The macarons are delicately crisp on the outside and light and airy on the inside.  The creamy filling adds the right amount of decadent sweetness.  These seem to just melt in my mouth.  So delicious and … yes … decadent.  They named their bakery appropriately!

???????????????????????????????There were three flavors in this box:  2 pistachio macarons, 2 lemon lavender macarons and 1 salted caramel.  The pistachio macarons were very sweet and it was a little difficult to discern the nutty pistachio flavor through all the sweetness until the finish, then the pistachio nuttiness came through.  The pistachio macarons were good … but my least favorite of the three.

The lemon lavender macarons were delightful!  The lemon comes through prominently as soon as I bite into the crackly crisp shell of the macaron, and the lavender pops through as I continue to eat and allow the flavors to move across the palate.  I like that the lavender is delicate here.  It’s just the right amount of lavender to add a hint of sweet, floral contrast to the tangy lemon notes … but not so much to overpower the confection and give it a soapy taste.

The salted caramel macaron was by far my favorite.  Oh my goodness.  Perfection!  The caramel is sweet and creamy and luscious, and there is just the right touch of salt to cut through that sweetness to keep it from becoming cloying.  I only got one Salted caramel macaron in my box of five macarons, and I found myself wishing that all five of them were the salted caramel!  They’re so good!

My Final Thoughts:

These were delicious.  At $6.99 for a box of five, they’re a little spendy, but, macarons ARE a little difficult to find and when you do find them … the price I paid is comparable for what I’d pay elsewhere.  These were a little bit of heaven.

When I found this restaurant on Living Social, I was quick to purchase the voucher.  I think I was most enchanted by the name.  I consider myself to be somewhat eccentric or odd (my family just calls me “weird”), and I like it when some place embraces their uniqueness.  So, I was very intrigued by the name, not to mention by the fact that Eclectic Kitchen boasts a “Local – Seasonal – Comfort Food” type of menu.

The #2 Scramble

Location:  4936 NE Fremont Street, Portland, Oregon

Order:  I ordered the #2 Scramble (Bacon, Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, Sun Dried Tomato & Gorgonzola – $8.50) while my husband ordered the “Big Breakfast ($9.50)

What I Think:

The atmosphere at Eclectic Kitchen is a very homey one, in fact, it appears that it plays “home away from home” to a child or children on a regular basis with a corner set up with toys and the artwork on the walls appearing to be created by a young artist.  The walls are painted a bright, cheerful yellow, and maybe it was just me and my interpretation and consideration of the name of the establishment, but it felt very eclectic.

The water and coffee self-service station

I was kind of surprised by their self-service water and coffee station.   I don’t think I’ve been in a restaurant that has no real drink service … one either served themselves water or coffee, or grabbed a cold soda from the refrigerator located next to the cash register.  The only drinks that appeared to be “served” were fancy, latte style coffees or teas.

I didn’t let this lack of drink service dampen my excitement for this restaurant though, I didn’t mind getting my own water, as that is what we wanted to drink anyway.  I still looked forward to some local comfort food.

Unfortunately, much of the meal was somewhat disappointing.

My husband’s poached eggs were woefully overcooked (he likes a runny yoke, and this one looked almost fully congealed), the potatoes that were on both our plates were about barely warm, and my husband mentioned that his second piece of french toast had an almost meat-like taste to it that he found unpleasant.

In fact, the only bit of food that had any redeeming quality at all as far as my husband was concerned was the biscuits which were really good.

The Big Breakfast

My experience at the Eclectic Kitchen was a little better than my husband’s.  I, too, really enjoyed the biscuits, and especially tasty was the biscuits and gravy which came with my husband’s big breakfast platter.  I would have been happier, I think, had I ordered just a platter of biscuits and gravy.  The biscuits are tender, flaky and buttery.  Like something gramma would have made.  And the gravy was rich and thick and had a certain spiciness to it.  These biscuits were indeed something I’d call “comfort food.”

My scramble was alright, but it wasn’t anything I’d rush back to the establishment to eat again.  The eggs were cooked well enough, and I enjoyed the filling.  But, it wasn’t exceptional or really very memorable in any way.  It was just “OK” – not great, but not bad either.  I did enjoy the bacon, which my husband offered me off his plate because it was a little overcooked for his taste (I like my bacon crispy and he likes it a bit on the chewy side).

The potatoes were not really all that enjoyable, although they did have promise.  They had a nice amount of spice to them, but I think they would have been better if they were served at a warmer temperature and maybe if they had some crispy edges to them.  They were very tender, and cooked through, but, they tasted as though they were prepared earlier in the morning, and put on a steam table or something to keep warm, and the steam table wasn’t turned to the right temperature … resulting in lukewarm potatoes.

My Final Thoughts:

Unfortunately, with the biscuits being the only thing worth talking about, this is a place I won’t return to again.

Product Description:

Pistachios are certainly better when they are processed with love. CB’s Nuts USDA Certified Organic Pistachios are treated with care from day one. Grown on soil that is protected from environmental threats by fastidious farmers and picked when they’re ripe, these pistachios are naturally delicious. (Ever wonder about pistachios that haven’t opened? Don’t break you’re teeth – the shell opens when it’s ripe, so if it’s not open it was picked early – Mother Nature wanted it to be easy for us!)

Learn more about CB’s Nuts on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

I would normally suggest an iced tea with these, because snacking on pistachios seems to go naturally with iced tea, but, just for fun I decided to brew up a cup of this Honey Nut Biscotti tea from Kally Tea and drink it hot.  The delicious, nutty flavor of the pistachios really brought out the nutty tones of the tea in a beautiful way.  A really nice, somewhat unconventional tea time snack!

What I Think:

While I love pistachios, I wasn’t all that excited about receiving a bag of these pistachios in the Boardwalk Box.  I mean, I’ve had pistachios before, and I’ll be honest, I always bargain shop when it comes to these nuts.  They aren’t cheap, you know?  So, paying $7.00 for an 8 ounce bag of pistachios seems a little steep for me.

All these thoughts occurred to me BEFORE I opened the pouch and tried my first pistachio.  These are SO good… and seriously, they are better than any pistachios I’ve had in the past … err, with the possible exception of the Garlic Onion Pistachios … so I guess it would be more accurate for me to say these are the best roasted and salted pistachios I’ve ever had.

The first thing that I noticed is that my hands are not covered in salt.  These say “Lightly Salted” and they mean it.  They are salted just enough to bring out some of the natural goodness of the nut without making them taste like a typical salty snack.  Drawing from the theme of the Boardwalk Box from which they came, these taste as though they were seasoned by the sea air… salted, yes, but, they don’t taste like I just ran my tongue across a salt lick.

And this makes a huge difference.  I can TASTE the pistachio.  As I mentioned before, I love the taste of pistachios, but this may be the first time I have actually been able to explore the true flavor of the nut uninterrupted by excess flavoring.  The result is a delicious, toasty, sweet, nutty flavor.

Now that I’m more than halfway through the bag, I’ve noticed something else as well.  Every single shell is opened.  With the bargain bags of pistachios, I usually find at least one closed shell out of every ten pistachios.  That’s an estimate, of course, I’ve not actually conducted a study or anything.  But based upon what the description from the CB’s Nuts website, a closed pistachio shell means that the nuts were picked too early.  And the fact that these have been carefully selected and I’ve not found one shell that’s closed, that’s pretty impressive!

My Final Thoughts:

I really liked these much more than I thought I would.  I mean, I knew I’d like them, I love pistachios!  But, I wasn’t expecting to be as impressed with them as I am.  I didn’t expect them to be so different from the bargain bag of pistachios.  But they are!  And I love that these are a locally crafted product.

Recently, my husband, my youngest daughter (she’s 9) and I visited the North Portland location of the Cup & Saucer Cafe.  Instantly comforting with its artsy, urban-retro kind of vibe, I expected equally as comforting food…

Location:  8237 N. Denver Avenue in Portland, OR

Order:  I ordered the World Famous Garden Scramble with a scone ($8.50) and Dragonfly Chai ($3), my husband ordered a cheeseburger ($8.25), while my daughter ordered pancakes and a fruit cup from the children’s menu.

What I Think:

I was instantly charmed by the atmosphere of the Cup & Saucer Cafe.  It has a very Urban-Trendy feel to it, with a little bit of retro mixed in for that feeling of “home.”  The burnt orange walls featured interesting (and quite inspiring!) mixed-media art light boxes by local artist Jackie Meldrum (I included a photo of one of my favorite pieces below).

"Vines & Khaki" from Portland artist Jackie Meldrum.

We were greeted promptly by our server. We took a few moments to review the menu as there were many tempting items, but since the Garden Scramble was “World Famous” I decided that I needed to try that. My husband, ever the adventurous type, ordered the cheeseburger. My daughter ordered pancakes. After tasting my Garden Scramble and also taking a bite of his cheeseburger, I wish I had been less adventurous and gone for the burger, which was tasty. Or perhaps even the pancakes, which were incredible:  light, fluffy and delicious.

The Garden Scramble included a side of potatoes and I selected a scone as my “bread” part of my meal. The fried potatoes were cooked through with a well-seasoned, crispy exterior and a fluffy interior, and these tasty morsels were very home-y and comforting.

The scone was the best part of my meal. It was light and fluffy and flaky. There was a subtle hint of vanilla to the scone, and I liked it. The vanilla gave it just the right touch of sweetness. Delicious!

The "World Famous" Garden Scramble

The Garden Scramble was certainly edible, but not something that would make me want to visit the Cup & Saucer Cafe again any time soon. This dish includes a variety of garden-fresh vegetables and “garden” sausage, all scrambled together with eggs. The eggs were a little overdone, in my opinion. They had a little bit of that ‘rubbery’ kind of texture, and while it was a little off-putting, it wasn’t a complete loss. The vegetables that were scrambled into the eggs had a pleasant, toothsome quality to them – tender but with just a little fresh “snap” to them. I wish that there were more tomatoes (my scramble only had one piece of tomato in it) and more mushrooms, as they were my favorite part of the dish. I also found myself quite enjoying the garden sausage.

The Dragonfly Chai was also rather delightful. I found myself enjoying it so much that I ordered a second one to take with me when we left. It was sweet and creamy but not overly so. The spices were relatively mild although I found that the flavor of the ginger really sort of sneaks up on you and hits solidly at the tail of the sip.

My Final Thoughts:

I might visit the Cup & Saucer Cafe again, but I probably will never order the Garden Scramble again.  I don’t know why it was dubbed the “World Famous” Garden Scramble.  This moniker leads to high expectations and does not deliver, and the Garden Scramble is over-hyped in this reviewer’s opinion.  However, the burger was certainly good and the pancakes were delicious.  And, of course, the scone was out of this world!  I wouldn’t mind revisiting just for the scones and the Dragonfly Chai.

Cup & Saucer Cafe on Urbanspoon