Back to Brewed

I’ve been using Keurig for several years, but it’s time to switch back to grinding beans and brewing drip coffee. The reasons for this switch:

  • Since retiring from the day job, I want 3 or more cups of coffee in the morning rather than two, so I could drink a full pot.
  • I’m bored with the flavor I can get from commercial K-cups. They cost more and give you less flavor than buying good beans.
  • Disposable K-cups create a lot of non-recyclable trash that I should feel guilty about.
  • I want to explore our local coffee roasters and try different beans.
  • I’ve been grinding beans and filling a refillable K-cup,  but my old Keurig machine doesn’t always like how I filled it. It would be less work to use a traditional drip brewer.

I made another search for my old coffee brewer and found it was still in working order. It’s an old Starbucks-branded coffeemaker with a thermal carafe. It has a permanent gold filter basket so I don’t have to bother with paper filters.

I wish I lived in walking distance of a coffeehouse other than Starbucks (there are three of them within a 30 minute walk of my house). I am not hostile to Starbucks, in fact I love them as I use them often for restroom stops during my walks. I just hate waiting in line for coffee. The only independent coffee shop in walking distance makes only espresso, and I find their Americano to be astringent and not very pleasant.

But I am now free to buy beans at local roasters such as Compass Coffee in downtown Vancouver, or pick them up on my excursions at places such as Long Beach Coffee Roasters.

Doug Adams and Katsuji Tanabe – Top Chef Cinco de Mayo at Imperial

Douggie Adams
Douggie Adams

Top Chef alumni Doug Adams of Imperial in Portland and Katsuji Tanabe of Mexikosher in LA reunited for a fantastic Cinco de Mayo dinner at Imperial May 5, 2015.

My foodie friends Erin and Terri heard about before I did and were gracious to include me in the reservations, which quickly booked up.  The problem with being a Top Chef fan is that you never really know what the chef’s creations taste like unless you’ve dined at their restaurant. We had a great dinner from Doug Adams at Imperial back in January, and I’ve eaten several times at Gregory Gourdet’s Departure. Both are fantastic. It would be a great chance to try Katsuji’s cuisine, which appeared to be complex and fun on Top Chef.

Katsuji Tanabe
Katsuji Tanabe

The prix fixe menu for the evening was $125, which included libations with each course. As expected at Imperial and Paley’s Place, the service was impeccable. Our waiter was friendly and happy to chat, knew the dishes and drink, plates and cutlery were quickly whisked away at the end of each course.

There are always two questions I wonder at celebrity chef dinners.

  • Is the chef actually doing any of the cooking for the meal? Yes, you could see Douggie and Katsuji at work in the kitchen in the back of the house.
  • Will I be able to talk to the chef and get a photo? We were delighted to have Katsuji and Douggie come to each table and spend time chatting with us and taking photos. It was Katsuji’s first time in Portland and we’ve been following his Twitters and Instagrams as he hangs with Douggie. @katsujitanabe @douggieadams
Tostada - Katsuji Tanabe
Tostada – Katsuji Tanabe

The menu started with Chef Katsuji’s Tostada. It showcased his “more is better” style that he got flack for on Top Chef. In person. This was a my favorite of the evening. It had salted cod, scallop, uni, toasted tomato salsa and fresh lime. The tortilla was crisp and thick enough to hold up to the mounds of goodness on top.  Katsuji explained that he intended it to be salty like the sea, plus a balance of heat and savory and acid. I loved every bite. It was too salty for Darlene, which meant more for the rest of us from her plate.

It was paired with a shot of Pueblo Viejo 104 Blanco and a shot of Verdita mango/lime – “to heat you up and cool you down” from bar man Tony Guardian.

Chile en Nogada - Vitaly Paley
Chile en Nogada – Vitaly Paley

Imperial Chef/Owner Vitaly Paley created this Chile en Nogada with the colors of the Mexican flag. It was stuffed with a potlatch pilaf and strawberry salsa. This displayed Vitaly’s expertise with local, seasonal Northwest ingredients. Katsuji took credit for the white sauce, and noted that the peppers varied quite a bit in heat. It was paired with a ’13 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren “Rose” Cotes de Provence. Our waiter noted it was a varietal that was rare, from the region where Vitaly honed his culinary chops.

Camarones al Petroleo - Katsuji Tanabe
Camarones al Petroleo – Katsuji Tanabe

Katsuji’s second dish was the Camarones al Petroleo. He took fire in the first episode of Top Chef for this dish, first from Tom Colicchio who didn’t like the name, and second from Padma who didn’t find it very attractive. But this shrimp in squid ink fondue with chipotles and serrano aioli and saffron rice was sumptuous. Yes, not much in the photo, but each bite was deeply complex, flavorful and satisfying. I was happy to have the rice and tortilla to catch every drop of the fondue.

The dish was paired with a grapefruit-based Roadside Attraction cocktail.

Spit Roasted Goat Tamale - Douggie Adams
Spit Roasted Goat Tamale – Douggie Adams

Now for Douggie’s contribution – spit roasted goat tamale with mole and cotija. The mole was deeply complex, the cotija added salty punch and the goat was savory. By this course, we were very full. At every event at Imperial, you get a lot of food rather than a 3-bite tasting portion. It came with a potent margarita.

Tres Leche - Michelle Vernier
Tres Leche – Michelle Vernier

Pastry Chef Michelle Vernier whipped up the dessert – tres leche with grilled strawberries and lime bar. I liked the hint of smoke in the strawberries. It was a lovely dessert.

The chefs launched an after party next door at Portland Penny Diner, but of course we were too full to join in.  It was a great evening and we had multiple rounds of face time with the two featured chefs. Vitaly Paley was also making the rounds and everyone appeared to be having a fun time.

Katsuji Tanabe with our table
Katsuji Tanabe with our table
Imperial Cinco de Mayo Menu
Imperial Cinco de Mayo Menu


 

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Taste Dundee Kicks Off Oregon Wine Month

May is Oregon Wine Month and 15 Dundee wineries and six local restaurants got together to showcase their food and drink on May 2. The Taste Dundee Block Party had perfect weather as everyone gathered in the parking lot of Chapter 24 Vineyards, just off Hwy 99W in Dundee (at the corner with the only stoplight in town).

Panther Creek Cellars
Panther Creek Cellars

The event was a great deal, $20 general admission and only $10 for people who belonged to a wine club of any of the participating wineries. The food was enough for a meal and you could taste over 30 wines. You could also take home wine with 15% off a half case and 20% off a full case.

It was fun to meet the winemakers, especially smaller producers we hadn’t yet visited. I was impressed with Aubichon Cellars 2012 Vista Hills Pinot Noir.  This is a second brand for Le Cadeau, another we hadn’t tasted before despite them producing since 2002.

Le Cadeau and Aubichon Cellars
Le Cadeau and Aubichon Cellars

As my husband was driving, I screened wines for him to sip so he would only taste the best. Luckily, we have the same taste in wine.  We only sampled reds, while most winemakers were also offering a white for tasting.

He agreed that Angela Estate‘s pinot noirs are excellent. They have a deep, complex flavor and should cellar well. I first tasted them at the Truffle Market Place this winter.

Angela Estate
Angela Estate

Likewise, the Panther Creek Cellars Winemaker’s Cuvee Pinot Noir is very pleasing.  I went straight to the Chapter 24 Vineyards Fire Pinot Noir. I prefer it over their Flood pinot.

Chapter 24 Vineyards
Chapter 24 Vineyards

It wasn’t all pinot noir, there were several vineyards pouring syrah and other varietals. I loved the Cathedral Ridge Bordheauxd Red, it would be a crowd-pleaser at any party.

Cathedral Ridge Wines
Cathedral Ridge Wines

The food bites were great and a nice introduction to where to eat when visiting Dundee.

Red Hills Market had a wood-fired oven truck and served up a killer Morel, spring onion and lardon mac and cheese.

Bert's Chuckwagon Pork Slider
Bert’s Chuckwagon Pork Slider

Bert’s Chuckwagon offered pork sliders that were delicious.

Tina’s had the first bite I grabbed, a tostada with bay shrimp and green salsa, blue a boccone dolce (meringue with passion fruit puree and strawberries).

Tina's
Tina’s

Red Hills Provincial Dining went elegant with a mushroom pate and pork.

Red Hills Provincial Dining
Red Hills Provincial Dining

Babica Hen Cafe had a great bite that I believe is their crispy chicken and dumpling bite with sweet pea sauce. They also had very tall sandwiches and great cookies.

Babica Hen Cafe Booth
Babica Hen Cafe Booth

Dundee Bistro served up bites bites that didn’t list ingredients but were excellent, plus a dish of olive oil and great bread for dipping.

Dundee Bistro Bite
Dundee Bistro Bite

The event is definitely worth enjoying in coming years. One drawback is that there were no tables or places to sit. That may serve to keep the crowd moving, but it makes it harder to juggle food, wine and cell phone/camera. Porta johns were provided and there was parking nearby in the neighborhood.


 

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Fortside Brewing Company opens Vancouver tasting room

Fortside Brewing Tap Room
Fortside Brewing Tap Room

Brewers are setting up shop in the ‘Couve. The newest brewery, Fortside Brewing Company, is located in an industrial warehouse space on Andresen, across from a Winco. They share a signpost on Andresen, and the storefront has good signage, but it still feels a little like a speakeasy.

I previously peeped in the windows of the roll-up garage door and saw a typical Northwest tap room with wood/industrial decor. Rough wooden board paneling and custom high tables and high benches provide seating, as does a a bar.  You can see the brewing equipment through the glass at the back of the taproom.

Fortside Brewing Tap Room Tables
Fortside Brewing Tap Room Tables

They soft-opened the last week of April, 2015 and we dropped by on Thursday. They are open 4 pm – 10 pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  They host private events M-T-W.

As Fortside ramps up production, they were pouring just two of their beers, plus their root beer. We sampled a pint of each.  The Zythological Pale Ale pleased us, even though we are avowed IPA fans. It has a great snap from the Zythos hops.  Hopunion describes these as having pineapple, citrus and pine notes. The Couve A’Licious Brown Ale was also very pleasant.

Fortside Brewing Tap List
Fortside Brewing Tap List

This allayed our fears that they might be close to home, but we wouldn’t care for their beer. I’d happily enjoy the Zythological Pale Ale any time. The friendly bar man also gives small tasters if you’d like to sample before getting a pint.

Owners Michael Difabio and Mark Doleski started as home brewers. They love to experiment and will be brewing a variety of beers. It’s good that their tastes seem to match ours! I enjoyed the small swig of root beer as well.

They have guest taps, which on this afternoon were Wild Ride Brew Hopperhead IPA (from Redmond, Oregon), Upright Brewing Redwing Lager (Portland) and Heathen Brewing Promiscuous Blonde (Vancouver, WA). Pints cost $4.50 for Fortside, $5 for guest taps, with growlers for $12.

Fortside Brewing Tap Room Bar
Fortside Brewing Tap Room Bar

Fortside has no food service, although they promise you can bring or order in food from nearby establishments.

The tap room was comfortable and it felt like a place we could return to for an afternoon pint often. The music wasn’t loud. They plan to install some TV screens for sports.  As we quaffed, more patrons arrived to sample and it looks like they are off to a good start.

Fortside Brewing Company
2200 NE Andresen, Vancouver, WA 98661
(360) 524-4692

Shelburne Inn – Cozy Comfort with Great Cuisine in Seaview, Washington

Shelburne Inn
Shelburne Inn

I discovered at the Shelburne Inn in Seaview, Washington that I am just a pushover for stained glass. The inn has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating hotel in the state of Washington, but that doesn’t mean that it’s frozen in the 1800’s.  It has an eclectic and delightful mix of styles that take away any stuffiness that may be lurking in any haunted corners.

The dining room and pub feature Art Nouveau stained glass windows salvaged from a church in Morecambe, England. The woodwork evokes a country church or inn from old England. Ceramics by owner David Campiche and Native American art grace the public areas. Half of the inn was moved in the early years of the 1900’s to mate a Victorian Queen Anne inn with an existing building. The resulting twisting corridors add to the charm.

Shelburne Inn Stained Glass Window
Shelburne Inn Stained Glass Window

We were enthusiastically greeted by the owners and David Campiche (chef/owner/artist) carried our bags up the quaintly creaky staircase. If you have mobility problems, it would be best to book one of the ground floor rooms as there is no elevator.

Shelburne Inn Lobby and Stairs
Shelburne Inn Lobby and Stairs

The Shelburne Inn has a feel of a bed and breakfast, and indeed a fantastic Innkeeper’s breakfast is included with any of the 17 rooms. The rooms vary quite a bit in size and amenities – unoccupied rooms were open for viewing and some were tiny, but travelers can check the room details before booking.  Rates are very reasonable ($149 -$199 at the time of our stay). Each is lovingly decorated. and some have balconies. We stayed in room 15, which has a queen and a twin bed, with private balcony and a shower rather than the tub. No pets are allowed. I was very pleased that there was no floral or perfumed scent, as I am allergic to many of those. Our room was quiet and the shower had great water pressure.

Shelburne Inn - Room 15
Shelburne Inn – Room 15

In every nook there are fun antiques and artwork. I wanted to faint onto the fainting couch next to the fireplace in the lobby, but I had too much on the agenda.

We came for the April Long Beach Razor Clam Festival and enjoyed harvesting our limit and attending the community celebration. David Campiche was seen assisting the student contestants at the World’s Largest Frying Pan Clam Fritter Cook-Off.

The inn is on Highway 103 on the southern end of the Long Beach peninsula.  Dunes separate the town from the sea, so there isn’t an ocean view from the hotel. But it’s just a short drive or a quarter mile walk to the ocean. I have an uneasiness about tsunamis, so I like that it’s closer to the high ground at Cape Disappointment than the town of Long Beach.

Shelburne Inn Dining Room
Shelburne Inn Dining Room

The breakfast was excellent. If I were staying elsewhere, I would choose to go to the Shelburne as a breakfast customer. The dining room is beautiful with tables set with glass and china, the walls and ceilings finished like an old English country church. The orange juice and coffee served were great, and you have your choice from the menu.

Shelburne Inn - DDD Daily Breakfast Special - Wild Mushroom and Sausage Omelet
Shelburne Inn – DDD Daily Breakfast Special – Wild Mushroom and Sausage Omelet

I had the DDD special each day, seasonal creations by chef/owner David Campiche. The plates included a small bran muffin and a variety of sliced fruit in addition to the entree and breakfast potatoes. The first morning I had an omelet with wild mushrooms and housemade sausage. The next day I enjoyed the razor clam cakes with eggs. Each dish was beautifully balanced and seasoned. I appreciated the respect for locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients. My companion and I agreed this was a big step up from the wait-in-line-for-dull-pancakes experience we have become used to on the Northwest coast.

We stopped in at the pub on our second evening and enjoyed local craft beer and a cocktail. The pub menu looked great, but we were full from dinner at The Depot. I loved sitting beneath the stained glass windows enjoying a drink.

Shelburne Inn Pub
Shelburne Inn Pub

We weren’t able to enjoy dinner at the restaurant, but I’d enjoy their 3-Course Prix-Fixe for $38 with a choice of locally-sourced items (mussels, wild salmon, wild mushrooms, local wine). The Shelburne Beef Wellington earns high praise on TripAdvisor.com (as does the Inn, receiving their Certificate of Excellence).

My fellow writer Elizabeth Rose stayed at their China Beach Retreat, which offers a view of the bay – and the guests are treated to breakfast at Shelburne Inn.

I would definitely choose to return to the Shelburne Inn for upcoming events on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

The Thirsty Sasquatch quenches Uptown Vancouver, WA

Uptown Vancouver, Washington has a new taproom and whiskey bar. The Thirsty Sasquatch opened April 13, 2015 at 2110 Main Street. They are completely focused on craft beer and spirits from the Northwest and West Coast.

The Thirsty Sasquatch - Taps
The Thirsty Sasquatch – Taps

The taproom has 26 taps pouring Northwest craft beer, wine, cider, kombucha and root beer. Their tap list is online and posted on a screen, complete with how much is remaining in the keg. We enjoyed the variety on the list, which includes Vancouver breweries such as Loowit and Ghost Runners and Bend offerings from Crux and Boneyard.

The Spirits menu offered pours from Northwest distilleries, and they offer a tasting flight of 0.75 oz. sample pours.

The Thirsty Sasquatch has no in-house food service, but they invite you to call their neighboring restaurants for food delivery to your table. The handy menus on the table on our visit were from Sabor Mexicano and Vancouver Pizza Company.

The Thirsty Sasquatch - Loowit and Breakside beer
The Thirsty Sasquatch – Loowit and Breakside beer

The decor is minimalist with wood paneling and custom wood benches and tables. A large mural covers one wall, and a small Sasquatch carving looks down on everyone from behind the counter. There are two booths that can seat six, 12 seats at the bar and several four-top tables with bench seating against the wall and metal chairs on the opposite side.

They will open a beer garden patio soon (the concrete still needs to be poured) for outdoor seating in back.

The Thirsty Sasquatch is for age 21 and over only, no underage patrons allowed. Well-behaved dogs are welcome. They are open 2 pm – 10 pm.

We enjoyed our afternoon quaff of beer. It is a a pleasant no-fuss place to enjoy craft brews and spirits amongst adults. It’s easy to access the location by either car or C-Tran.