28 July 2009

Shish Kabob: Phil's Meat Market

Chicken or Beef Bento, $5.00, Double meat $8.00, $4.00 per person

Before all the hoo haa trendiness of food carts in Portland came to be, there sat a bento cart off NW 23rd. For 26 years Phil’s Meat Market has served respectable, simple bento to those who know the secret. Yesterday, I stopped by to see if it was still as good as ever—and of course it was.

The BBQ sits right outside the doors of the meat market. Cute men inside slicing porter houses and sausages look out to see the line of bento goers. One at time, you walk up to the darling bento man and say: “chicken, beef, veggie or double meat.” He then responds back, “teriyaki sauce?” You say, “Yes, please.” The teriyaki sauce pours out like water, soaking into the rice instantly. Before you can even say please, he asks, “Sweet chili sauce?” and again, you haven’t yet answered, but he’s pouring the gooey sauce down the middle of the plastic to-go tray. You were going to say, “Yes” anyways, so it does not matter. He sticks a fork in the tray and closes the lid. You hand him $5.00 in cash. He hands you back the goods.

If you disobey these rules, you will not be welcome here. However, they will take your devilish credit card inside. Now, where to eat this bento? Don’t be fooled and think you can eat it in the car—I’ve tried that before and because the chicken is so lean, it really takes a hold of the wooden stick. I ended up flinging chicken pieces into my windshield, instead of in my mouth. You need a sturdy table and for good measure a metal fork, as oppose to the flimsily plastic one they give you.

Phil’s combines two of the essential elements for lovely bento: heaping piles of rice that is a tad sticky and lean, tender, top quality meat, char-broiled in front of you. What is worse than biting into pieces of chicken fat? You won’t have to worry about that here. The sweet and sour sauce mixed with the teriyaki is tangy and spicy—seasoning both the meat and rice so that not one forkful is left dry.

For an even cheaper route, ask for double meat and split! There is more than enough rice for two people.

Located in the same complex as Ben and Jerry's off NW 23rd
17 NW 23RD Pl
Portland, OR 97210
(503) 224-9541

Hours: Mon 10-2:30
Tue-Sat 10-6
Closed Sunday
Phil's Meat Market on Urbanspoon

22 July 2009

A Test of True Indulgences: Nuvrei Patisserie

A secret messenger came to my door tonight—bringing gifts of cinnamon, sugar, flaky croissants and herbed cheese. Yes, it’s true a man brought me two large bags of Nuvrei pastries tonight; surely the way into a women’s heart. So I sat in the living room tasting every scrumptious bite—from the berry brioche to the chocolate almond croissant. And when I was finished, I tucked the white pastry bags away in the kitchen cupboard, making sure not to take one more bite. Then I went back to my plate to lick up every last flake of sugary, crumbly goodness.
A sampling of the very best

Cherry Walnut Scone

This scone is what started me on my Nuvrei fondness. The Cherry Almond Scone is by far the moistest scone I have ever eaten—laced with fresh Italian cherries and small flecks of walnuts. The scone is glazed giving it shine and adding to its delicacy. The fear that leaves many avoiding scones is the dryness and sorrow that only the very middle square inch will be soft and doughy. This is surely not the case for Nuvrei’s Cherry Walnut Scone. Uniquely every piece crumbles off in all the right places and each bite, even the far edges, are as dense and moist as the middle.

Flourless Chocolate Cookie

When the man told me that this cookie was like a brownie I simply didn’t believe him. How could a thin cookie, which looked almost hard, be anything like a fudge brownie? I can’t explain to you how this came to be or what they do to make it this way, but I was very wrong. This cookie is a brownie—or the brownie is a cookie? Its thin and crisp on the outside, not hard, but just crisp enough to make a slight crunch when you chew it. But suddenly the crisp turns to melted chocolate in your mouth. This cookie is sexy, delicate and rich—the perfect remedy for a chocolate extremist.

Wild Berry Brioche

“What is brioche?” I asked. But after I took one bite, I no longer cared what it was or what was in it, just as long as the soft cake was being savored in my mouth. I love how they place whole berries on top, which adds tartness to the sweet lemony cake. A hint of some kind of liquor fills the inside as well and leaves the brioche creamy, yet still dense and flaky all at the same time.

Chocolate Almond Croissant

I have never been to France—but when I go, I want to wake up every morning and before even sipping espresso have a bite of a croissant just like this one. The incredible almond puree filling the inside and laying beneath a layer of semi-sweet chocolate makes this croissant different from the rest. The flaky layers are of course baked to perfection and then it’s topped off with a dusting of powdered sugar. I can’t tell you what this croissant means to me, because quite frankly it leaves me speechless. If you must try one thing, this is what you must eat.

Ham and Cheese Croissant/Turkey Cream Cheese Croissant

Both equally delicious; I wasn’t able to decide which I preferred more. The Ham and Cheese has a thick layer of herbed cheese, which is a nice change from the Swiss many use which leaves croissants greasier than they already are. Like the Chocolate Almond Croissant, the bread itself is sweet and peels into thin strips. These make for a perfect breakfast when you want something both sweet and savory. The quality of ham and turkey is excellent and never dry.

Blueberry Blackberry Scone

Not as delicious as the Cherry Walnut Scone, but none the less a competitor. The combination of both blueberries and blackberries is mouth-watering and the coat of sugar makes for a wonderful texture, which adds to the breadiness of the scone.

To try one of these French delicacies or perhaps one not on the list, you’ll have to seek out a coffee shop around Portland that offers them. Sad day, Nuvrei is only a wholesale bakery. I’ve heard wonderful rumors they may open a resale shop though.

Nuvrei Pastries
404 NW 10th Ave Lower Level 2
Portland, OR 97209
Phone: 503-546-3032

Local Coffee Shops offering Nuvrei Pastries:
Blend Coffee Lounge
Sip and Kranz
World Cup Coffee (only in Powell’s)
Café D’Arte

Nuvrei Pastries on Urbanspoon

15 July 2009

Sassy Pizza Pants: American Dream

Slice with Tomatoes & Feta, side of ranch & a small coke: $5.05

Splitter- Mini Pizza, one beer & large salad: 18.95, 9.47 per person

If you like decorated cardboard pizza boxes as much as I do, then you will love the ever original American Dream Pizza. Established in 1985—and untouched since—American Dream is a neighborhood pizza joint with a rocked out, chiller than all chill feel. Red booths, tables with odd themes covered in that plastic stuff and walls decorated with customer colored pizza boxes. When I say chill, I mean they serve your soda with ice from a pink cooler the size of the amp Dave Chapelle brought to Pioneer Square. What isn’t there to love? Plus the staff is filled with sassy men, all wearing tees and jean shorts. The pizza guy, who I swear worked there even when I was in high school, confirmed, “No I’m not the owner, I’ve just worked here way to long. OK, Blogger girl, what do you want?”
Since coming here as a mere freshman at Central Catholic, the cool kids always got a slice with feta, tomatoes and a side of ranch. This combination is quite odd, but always hits the spot. Don’t try it anywhere else though—because it will fail horribly. Something about American Dream’s crust makes this recipe superb. The feta melts with the mozzarella, adding both texture and flavor and the fresh tomatoes, which are added after the pizza is cooked is their little specialty. Their crust is crispy on the bottom, but the crust-crust is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and basted with garlic butter! Dipping each slice in their homemade ranch seals the deal. At the average pizza place, one slice leaves me sad that it wasn’t bigger, but here, I can barely finish a whole slice—but usually manage to do so and leave stuffed. These are huge slices with tons of toppings.
Another great deal is splitting a mini 8” pizza for $10.70; they will gladly do two different halves. My friends ordered the Marilyn Monroe: pepperoni, American bacon, green pepper, and fresh tomatoes, split with the Round Up: artichoke hearts, olives, fresh garlic and mushrooms. This pizza with a large side salad, shown below with tomatoes, olives and bacon and sides of ranch and blue cheese, left them really, really full and they still brought home leftovers. I would splurge and get two beers though, because splitting one is really no fun.

Blog dedicated to Jamie for the brilliant feta/tomato/ranch combo and to Syd, Annie, Chels, Molls and Margot for many Dream talks in those comfy booths.

American Dream
4620 NE Glisan St, Portland
Hours: Mon-Thur & Sat 11-10
Fri 11-11
Sun 2-10
American Dream Pizza on Urbanspoon

11 July 2009

Un Estomago Muy Feliz: Santa Cruz

Vegetarian Burrito, $3.25

Driving west down Lombard, you think to yourself, have I gone too far? Have I missed the ever hidden St. John’s? No, keep going, you think and you urge on. You see a red store front, bars on the windows, with a large sign that reads: Tienda Santa Cruz. You decide to go in— walking through the front doors, to your left sits a pastry case with elegant cakes and a fruit stand filled with mangos and ripe cherries. You walk further, past the aisles filled with Mexican groceries, bags of candy for piñatas which hang from the store ceiling and glass candles. Before stepping into the restaurant in back, you see another pastry case—this one filled with doughnuts, cookies and sweet breads. One step further: welcome to Santa Cruz.

The restaurant portion of Santa Cruz is sadly stark with no music, white walls, aside from a mural on one wall, and long mismatched tables and chairs. However, this is all a part of the Santa Cruz experience. For food this delicious and cheap, you could put me in a dungeon and I would still be happy eating this burrito.

I first heard about Santa Cruz while working at Roosevelt High School. My goal was to find out where the best Mexican food was in North Portland. The more I asked around, the more apparent it became that Santa Cruz was by far the best. After trying it a million times over, I agree and will even say it’s the best authentic Mexican food in all of Portland and by far the cheapest!

I’ve tried a few things here but became obsessed with their vegetarian burrito. It’s giant and filled with pinto beans, rice, melted cheese, large slices of avocado, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and your choice of three different salsas. I like to mix the salsa verde with their red salsa. The best part of the burrito—the crispy tortilla. If you are really, really broke, you could even split this burrito and you would be leaving full for $1.60. Crazy right? Their tostadas, for $1.25 each, are delicious and topped with cotija cheese, sour cream and again, large slices of fresh avocado. Skip the $3.00 tacos at Por Que No (get their Bryan's Bowl instead) and come here for the same yumminess--but only $1.00 a piece. I know, its as if they are giving away food!

If you have even an ounce of room in your happy stomach, try their chocolate covered doughnut for .50 cents. The dough is fluffy and they use semi-sweet chocolate in the frosting—making it satisfying, but not overly sweet.

Santa Cruz is one more reason to head up to North Portland!
8630 N. Lombard
Portland OR 97203

05 July 2009

So Fresh and So Clean: Sip and Kranz

Acai Bowl, $6.50

Sometimes you just need something pure for your body. Sometimes you can’t stomach one more ounce of grease or sugar. And for those times, your stomach is telling you to eat an Acai Bowl. Sip and Kranz’s Acai Bowl is like a thicker version of a smoothie with frozen berry puree, soy milk and apple juice; topped with fresh granola and slices of banana. I can hardly describe to you how refreshing this meal is and how pleasantly full and revived you’ll feel after it’s consumed.

The acai berry, which is found in Central and South America, is a relative of the blueberry and cranberry. Besides being delicious acai has tons of health benefits—because of its excess of antioxidants (it has even more than blueberries!). Over all, the berry makes you feel alert and alive.

If you live in NE you probably first heard or tried Acai Bowls at the best smoothie shop in the world; rest in peace Bibo Juice. After they sadly shut down, Acai Bowls were hard to find. Anna Banana’s makes a really watered down version of them . . . but no one quite knew how to make them like Bibo’s.

Luckily, Sip and Kranz, an adorable coffee shop in The Pearl district, has been whipping up Acai Bowls and they taste just like home. Sip and Kranz Coffee Lounge is definitely on the fancy side of the coffee shop spectrum, but none the less very comfortable, cool atmosphere with lots of separate seating sections and of course a true Portland spot with Stumptown coffee. Sip and Kranz is a perfect place to go by your lonesome with large chairs and tons of outlets for laptops—you definitely don’t feel obligated to strike up a convo with your latte sipping neighbor. They also feature Nuvrie Pastry—mmm. Try the Walnut Cherry Scone (soon to be featured on Mangia).

The best part about Sip and Kranz, besides the acai of course—they are located in Jameson Park. If it’s nice out, head to the grass and watch small cuties frolic in the water.

Hours: Mon-Sat 6:00 am- 8:00 pm
Sun 7:00 am-6:00 pm