Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Mortgaging Christmas Dinner

December 11, 2008

With all of the doom and gloom reports about the economy, maybe thinking about really expensive food isn’t practical.  However, while watching an episode of King of the Hill from last season where Luanne and Lucky get married, I was reminded how much fun it can be to think about what it is like to be rich.  Luanne is trying different wedding cakes, and is very excited about the one topped with gold leaf: “It’s so good you think you are eating gold, because you are!” Or something to that effect.

Anyway, here’s a fun gallery of the foods of the rich and famous that CNN did some time ago.  Something to dream about while we all eat our ramen.

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Portland’s own “coffee experience”

September 29, 2008

So, on the recommendation of both locals and online guides, I had to check out Stumptown Coffee Roasters.  Stumptown bills itself as Portland’s answer to Starbucks, a distinctly local, independent-minded coffee chain for the vociferously free-thinking Portlanders.

I stopped by the downtown location at 128 SW 3rd St. for its proximity to Powell’s Books, which I planned on hitting up later in the afternoon.  By coffee shop standards, the place is ginormous.  The front is floor to ceiling windows and the shop extends back in a cavernous expanse of polished concrete floors, exposed brick walls, and 20ft ceilings with open duct work and dangling illuminated globes.  There is a long bar, reminiscent of a mid-century diner (complete with wood veneers and stainless steel top.)  There are actually 7 or 8 bar stools and the staff behind the counter are friendly enough that it would be an acceptable place to enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation on occasion.  Ironically, for such a huge space, there isn’t a ton of seating, just a row of utilitarian tables opposite the bar and two low-slung ikea sofas in the back.  The overall impression is one of excessive amounts of open space, not ugly but somehow underutilized.

Of particular interest to me was a dj booth in the back corner.  There were two turntables and a selection of records on a shelf behind the booth, and I wonder what kind of atmosphere this place has on a Friday or Saturday night.  The shop is only a block and a half off of Stark St, Portland’s center of LGBT life, and I suspect it is a draw for pre-club activities.  Perhaps all the open space is to accommodate larger crowds on the weekends?

The menu here is simple and only slightly pretentious.  Double shots of espresso are served in 8 or 9 different ways, including macchiato, con panna, and free-poured cappucino and lattes.  I witnessed a fair amount of artistry in the free pour; the barista made an effort to “design” hearts or swirls in the foam on his hot drinks.  My request for iced espresso was met with surprise, and there was some question over which type of cup it should be served in.   I realize that iced espresso is a little less than traditional, but it shouldn’t be so foreign as to cause consternation over glassware.  There was also a decent selection of loose leaf teas to choose from, and based on the coffee, I could forsee myself enjoying tea here more often than coffee or espresso.

As for the coffee itself, the espresso was delivered with a very high ratio of crema.  It was so frothy, even iced, that it almost looked like milk had been added.  I am a fan of frothy espresso, so this was a pleasant surprise.  Of course, I think it was also because the barista had a habit of pulling 3/4 shots.  I know that a 3/4 shot is “best” for maintaining the integrity of the espresso flavor, but over the course of four shots, I end up with the equivalent of a triple and not the quad I had ordered.

Besides, this espresso could have used some mellowing.  The flavor was so piquant, it tasted like a lemon had been squeezed into it!  It was beyond the citrus accents of most Latin American coffees; this espresso was downright tangy.  I do like a splash of milk with my espresso to counteract any lingering acidity, but I went for the more heavy-duty cream to bring this roast down to palatable levels.  After my tongue got over the initial shock, I was able to see why this could become an acquired taste.  However, I won’t be doing any acquiring myself.

This is in part because the espresso was not to my taste but more so because Stumptown is a uniquely Portland coffee house, and I just don’t see them expanding far beyond the PDX any time real soon.  Portland is a city that revels in its uniqueness and even demands individuality from both its inhabitants and its businesses.  It’s easy to see why Stumptown has found an audience here: it’s coffee as unusual as the city that drinks it.  However, it may be a little too unusual for the less risque palates of everywhere else.  Besides, if everyone started drinking Stumptown coffee, than it wouldn’t be “Portland’s own” anymore.  Right now, Stumptown is a Portland only creation. . .and that is exactly how Portland likes it.

Too many secrets. . .

September 21, 2008

So much trouble over a piece of yellowed notebook paper!  What, his secretary couldn’t be bothered to type it up?  This is just like Fermat’s last theorem, except, you know, less intelligent.  Of course, 5.3 billion in sales is nothing to sneeze at; I mean that’s probably the most valuable yellowed paper outside of the Declaration of Independence.

Actually, the most interesting aspect to me is how many people attempt to duplicate the “original” recipe.  As if KFC is so good it needs to be duplicated.  I mean, I like it, sure, but it isn’t exactly the paragon of cuisine.

KFC’s secret recipe comes out of the vault

And he saved the receipts!

September 10, 2008

Another story that is funny, if not in that haha way. . .

Man eats 23,000 Big Macs

The fact that he keeps an emergency supply in the freezer really gets me.  This reminds me of Lionel Essrog in Jonathan Lethem’s brilliant novel Motherless Brooklyn.  At a point very early in the novel, Lionel compulsively eats fast food burgers to sate his tourette’s syndrome.  Did I mention that Lionel also narrates the novel, verbal tics and all?  Yeah, it’s a must-read.

The movie is “in production” with Edward Norton attached as writer, director, and star.  It sounds like a pet project, but here’s hoping it’s one that comes to fruition and meets its full potential.  Norton should be perfect as Lionel!