Pac-10 Football: 10/31 Games

Not sure if you have heard yet, but Oregon is hosting USC this weekend. For some reason, people think it's a big game or something.

Gotta say, it's sad to hear OSU quarterback Lyle Moevao's senior season is over before it began. Coming off shoulder surgery he played one snap so far I can recall (overthrowing someone in the end zone while Sean Canfield got some blood taken care of), and then this week a lineman fell on his foot in practice. Lyle is having surgery soon (today, maybe?) for injured ligaments in the foot, so his college career is over if a desperate plea to the NCAA for more eligibility doesn't work (and they rarely do.)

Time - Game - Channel

12:30 - #28 California @ Arizona State - ABC
1 - UCLA @ Oregon State - Fox Sports NW*
4:30 - Washington State @ #25 Notre Dame - NBC
5 - #4 USC @ #10 Oregon - ABC
Noon - San Jose State @ #6 Boise State - ESPN360.com
Notice that asterisk? You won't be able to watch the OSU game at 1 - it's being tape delayed on Fox Sports Northwest at 3:30pm. Fox wanted the game then, but OSU wanted it at 1 because of homecoming activities and so families could get home after the game for Halloween. How nice. Fox didn't want to televise the game at one, so apparently this is the compromise.
So want to know what's so important that Fox Sports Northwest can't just show the game at 1pm, live?
Well, at 10:30 am they are showing the Missouri at Colorado game. That's all well and good, but I thought the whole idea of regional networks for Fox was that the people in a certain region would get their local games - am I wrong on this? FSNW covers Oregon, Washington, and Idaho (sometimes we jokingly call it Fox Sports Seattle), and there is another network that would cover Colorado (Fox Sports Rocky Mountain) and another one for Missouri (Fox Sports Kansas City or Fox Sports Midwest).
Sure there might be Missouri or Colorado fans in the NW, but the vast majority would probably rather see the UCLA-Oregon State game live.
And Fox Sports is already sending a crew to record and commentate the game (otherwise they wouldn't show it all), so really, what the hell guys?
Ooh, before I forget, you have to hear what comes on after that so important to the Northwest Big 12 game: Washington State Cougars All Access at 2, Running With the Pac (interviews and highlights) at 2:30, and Seahawks All Access at 3. All three of these shows are replayed multiple times a week and, frankly, aren't very good even when they premiere. None of them would draw near the ratings as a live college football telecast from the NW market.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems like someone isn't seeing the big picture here.
I'll Be Watching: I'll have the ASU-Cal game on TV with the sound off starting at 1, when the OSU game will be on the radio. At 3:30 we'll switch to the telecast of the OSU game and watch that, flipping to the Oregon game when that's over. Unfortunately it looks like we'll be missing Wazzu-Notre Dame this week. That's too bad. I mean, who doesn't drop everything to watch ND, right? And that Wazzu...they are amazing. Who am I kidding? This game will be horrible anyway.
Predictions: Leaving the big game pick for last...Boise State has another home game against a pansy WAC opponent, so I'll take the Broncos...Washington State sucks, so ND is the pick here...UCLA is a team that is a complete mess with a porous defense and bad offense - Oregon State should rip them to shreds...Will Cal get back on track this week, or will Arizona State knock them around? I'm going to take a risk here - I think Jahvid Best has a big game. Cal...Oregon and USC should be a good game, but as I've been saying all season these Trojans are not as good as teams past. They don't dominate as much, they let teams back into games, and they don't have a killer instinct. Oregon is my pick. However, please don't let anyone tell you Jeremiah Masoli's running from the quarterback position will have anything to do with it. He couldn't move laterally at all last week, so unless something magic happened, he's not much of a threat.


The Library Really Is An Amazing Thing

When I was little I'd go to the library all the time. I'd ride my bike with my mom and sister the five or so miles to the library in Milwaukie on the nicer summer days, picking up books by the ton. I read - a lot. In fact, that was how I measured my summers sometimes, by how many books I read.

Even when high school came around, that didn't change much. Sure, I'd hang out with friends and the later years of high school I had a job, but there was a still a lot of reading I did. The same thing in college - probably even more so. The summer after my sophomore year in college I got a job working the swing shift at the Fred Meyer warehouse. That meant hours way different from any of my friends, so I ended up returning to the library. I read before work, on my lunch hour, and late at night at home as I wound down from 9-10 hours of manual labor (read at work because, well, I didn't have a lot in common with my coworkers). I think that summer I plowed through the life works of Dean Koontz, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King - sometimes entire books in a single day.

After that summer, I kind of forgot about the library for a few years. The next summer I spent studying in Italy, and after graduation I was working - normal hours for the most part this time. After Wifey and I moved in together I started collecting books, thinking for some reason I wanted to have a big library of my own. That's hard to do when you live first in an apartment and then in a modest sized home - not exactly room for a library anywhere.

Plus, I don't read books more than once. Ever. I know some people talk about favorite books and how they re-read them, but I can't really do that. I mean, why? I know what happens...where is the suspense? And if I'm not going to read something again, what's the point of owning the book?

A couple years ago Wifey finally talked me into getting my own library card in our county, something I hadn't done in the eight years we had lived there. I had just been using hers for a short time, but I started reading a ton more. Going to the library isn't like it was when I was younger, either.

Back then I'd go with no real plan, no book in mind, and just browse the shelves looking for something to catch my eye. Now I know what I like and technology has made it so I can manage my library account online, placing holds at will and simply waiting for my name to come up, then going to the library just to grab my holds. No browsing. There's something to be said for browsing, for sure, but when you only have limited time and you know what you want, this is practically unbeatable.

I will admit to placing hold requests on books that are on the shelf at my "home" library also. I mean, how lazy am I, right? I could go in and grab the book off the shelf, but instead I click from my computer and a library volunteer has to do that and move it to the held section for me. Whatever.

The library today has so many more options. Heck, my library does have the standard DVDs and CDs, but they also rent Blu-Ray discs and video games for Wii, PS3, and XBox. Considering Blu Rays are still not widely used we typically have our pick of the litter - and who looks for them at the library?!

These buildings and services truly are remarkable. They put everyone on an even playing field, leaving it up to you to decide how you want to entertain or educate yourself. I will still buy the occasional book - usually something I might use for a while, such as a book of workouts or a wine reference book - but a piece of fiction I'm only going to read once? Why bother?

The juxtaposition of this, as someone who would like to write a novel someday and sell a million copies, is something I have thought about but don't have an answer about how to reconcile. I mean, authors will always need people to buy their books, right? (Whether or not that's an actual book or a new technology, such as delivered solely via a Kindle or something.) So if everyone just gets it at the library...can an author still be successful? Anyone know?

I'm going to work on that for myself, but for now I'd just like to offer a public thank you to the creators of idea of the public library. According to Wikipedia - which we all know is the be all and end all of fact - they have been around since Roman times. Personally, if the library needs tax money for something, it's going to be really hard for me to ever turn them down. I'd love to see them add more books and staff and options, but they are traditionally severely underfunded and run by a high percentage of volunteers.

It's a fantastic concept and more people should take advantage of it. Or maybe they shouldn't - that will just make my hold times longer.

Melt In Your Mouth

Last month I did an entry about finding sandwiches in Portland and my thoughts on what are considered the best spots in the city. Literally a couple days after posting that entry someone posted on Twitter (it might have been Barista, might have been Coffeehouse Northwest, can't recall) about a new sandwich place up on NW 21st, between Irving and Jefferson they claimed was excellent.

So natuarlly Melt Sandwiches shot near the top of the must visit list (website here, but it's only a shell so read about them on Yelp).

Saturday was hair did day for Wifey, so I went out on the prowl for some good eats, with this place on the list to pick up lunch. After reading through the Yelp reviews we had already picked out what we wanted without ever seeing the menu - pot roast sandwich for her and the chicken for me.

When I walked in, not too long after 11am, the place was empty of customers, with just the cashier/order taker guy and a couple people in the kitchen, which is semi-open. Well, I guess it is open, just not right next to the seating. He explained to me the concept of Melt - hot sandwiches with high quality ingredients - and talked about their new Happy Hour menu (yep, they also serve drinks). I glanced at the menu for only a few seconds before ordering, which I think surprised him a bit since I also told him this was my first time in.

After I had paid for the sandwiches I happened to notice a tray of chocolate cakey-looking things. They were round - about two and a half inches diamater - and tall, roughly the height of one and a half cupcakes. I asked what they were and he told me mocha brownies, then also added all their desserts were homemade just for them. Well, I had to get one of those two.

Both sandwiches were excellent. Wifey's pot roast was perfectly cooked and came with a light amount of gravy and onions. If you think back to the yummy pot roasts mom or grandma made when you were young, then hack off a piece and put it on a sandwich, you have this. Oh yeah, it was good. Very good.

While the pot roast was a simple flavor done very well, my chicken sandwich was a veritable medley of goodness. The chicken was moist and well cooked, and along with that on the bread was avocado, apple-wood smoked bacon, onion marmalade, jalapeno orange mayo, and pepper jack cheese. It wasn't hot at all, just had a nice little kick, and I loved the orange flavor mixed in with all the others.

Both sandwiches also came with potato chips.

The mocha brownie was decent, but not great. There were bits of bean grounds in it, which were weren't expecting and are not quite sure we liked. It was also a tad dry for my tastes - I admit it, I love the gooey ones - but it was obviously done with a lot of attention to detail. If you don't like gooey you'll probably enjoy the brownie more than I did (but like I said, it was still good).

So yes, we loved Melt and we'll definitely go back. Of course, the question now is, where does it rank with the other big three (Meat Cheese Bread, Bunk, Kenny & Zuke's)? You won't like this, but much as I did with those three I'm copping out again. Here was my conclusion about those three:

So is there a winner here? I mean, after all of this I should pick one, right? That's the whole point of having a "throwdown" isn't it?

Well, I can't. See, in my view all three of these places - while all serving sandwiches - fill a different niche, a different craving.

Meat Cheese Bread is perfect in its simplicity, the place you go when you don't want something out of the norm but still want it to be good.

Bunk fills the need to challenge your taste buds, to present you with the chance to try something you never thought you would eat, or maybe just never thought of putting on a sandwich.

Kenny and Zuke's is the place to go for variety, the place that harkens back to what many people think a sandwich shop should be (and after experiencing it, not having been to one in New York, it's hard to disagree).

All three of these places also serve various breakfast foods which I have not tried, but plan to at some point.
In all honesty, it just depends on your mood and what sounds good - all three are excellent and will make your stomach happy.
I have the same conclusion here. See, Melt has a different thing to set them apart from the other three - hot sandwiches. That's not to say the others don't have hot sandwiches or you might not go there for a hot sandwich, but this is Melt's trademark and from what I can tell they do it pretty damn good.

Simply put, you can't go wrong.


I checked out a food cart at the 10th and Alder pod of carts for lunch the other day, Addy's Sandwich Bar. I picked up the ham and gruyere sandwich. The ingredients were very good and worked excellent together - I love a good gruyere - but I think the star was the bread.

Addy's mini baguettes she uses for these sandwiches come from Little T American Baker (yep, if you read the blog you've heard me raving about them before) and they are absolutely perfect. A light crust on the outside, not too hard it makes your mouth raw, with amazing softness inside. This sandwich made me want to drive up Division to get some of these rolls myself.

Overall the sandwich was very good and it's quick and easy and cheap. I'm definitely going back because I need to try the chocolate, sea salt, and olive oil. Putting that on those baguettes sounds simply divine; just thinking about eating that makes me feel French.


The Thought Process Amazes Me

So, do you remember the church I talked about before I pass every day on the way to work that always has such wonderful sayings? I'm thinking this could be a regular spot, every time they change the readerboard.

Today's message:

"Benevolent Religions Fail"

That's it. No elaboration, nothing. Um, what? Are they saying religions should not be benevolent? Do they know what benevolent means? I do, because I have the internets to read. Courtesy of Merriam-Webster online:

Function: adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Latin benevolent-, benevolens, from bene + volent-, volens, present participle of velle to wish — more at will

Date: 15th century

1 a : marked by or disposed to doing good b : organized for the purpose of doing good

2 : marked by or suggestive of goodwill
So, my interpretation of the readerboard's statement is this particular church is claiming religions that are marked by good will or disposed to doing good things, fail.

I will admit, I am not a churchgoing person - but at the same time my limited experience has taught me that on the surface religious ideologies usually are meant to be helpful. Emphasis on "meant." Obviously things like suicide bombings and The Crusades and any other acts of violence supposedly in the name of religion do not qualify.

So what exactly is the message this church is trying to convey? Is it saying a religion can only succeed when it punishes its worshippers? Sounds like fun times. As I said, I don't do church, but if I were the hell and brimstone types were ones I would avoid like the plague.

Sometimes I think I want to know the thought process behind posting these kinds of messages for thousands to see every day and what they expect the reaction to said postings to be. I can't imagine my reaction is even on their spectrum of possible results - though maybe it is and in their eyes I am already damned. If I were to stop there and talk to someone, would we even be able to have a conversation? Would we speak the same language?

I'm not talking literally the language - I expect we'd likely both be speaking English (or pidgin Japanese if they chose, I guess), but the levels of perception and expectation just may be so vastly different no common ground could be found.

Or are the signs simply for shock value? One of these days, I just might stop and ask. Simply say: "What exactly does that sign mean?"

For now, I'm not so sure I want to know the answer.

Pac-10 Football: 10/24 Aftermath

Wins: Oregon, California, Arizona, USC, Stanford...Boise State

Losses: Washington, Washington State, UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona State

Prediction Results: 4-2

Season to Date: 26-9

Disappointments: Oregon State had their chances to beat SC. Usually you have to play a perfect game to beat the Trojans, especially in Los Angeles, but OSU managed only three field goals in the first half (and missed another) despite trips to the red zone. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers ran over SC again, but he missed the entire second quarter. Usually smart lineback Keaton Kristick hit Matt Barkley late on a play were OSU got an interception, but was nullified by the penalty; SC went down the field and scored a touchdown on that drive. If I recall right, Kristick was also called for a pass interference penalty on third down of another drive, giving SC a first down. Give SC credit for extending their final drive and running out the clock every time they needed to, but OSU lost this game just as much as SC won it. All that said, these Beavers are much better than their 4-3 record. Look at their losses: USC, Arizona, Cincinnati. All three of those teams are ranked in the top 25, and SC and Cincy are ranked in the top 7. Their next four games are at home against UCLA, @ Cal, home against UW, and @ Wazzu - three wins in there should be the target. That would put the Beavers at 7-4 overall heading into the Civil War game. Which could be epic.

Surprises: Um, what happened to the Washington Huskies? Does anyone think that team that rolled over and died to Oregon is the same one who challenged LSU, Notre Dame, and beat SC? Nope, didn't think so. I have no idea what the deal is with the Huskies but their defense was not only porous on Saturday but it was also pathetic. No matter how they finish the season they will have done better than last year, but has the new car smell worn off Steve Sarkisian, at least for 2009?

AP, USA Today, BCS Rankings

USC - 4, 4, 5
Oregon - 10, 12, 10
Arizona - 23, 24, 20
California - 28, 29, 24

Boise State - 6, 5, 7

Added the BCS rankings in this week, just for the hell of it. If nothing else, the BCS recognizes how good Zona is better than the standard voting polls.

Pac-10 Standings

A team needs six wins overall to be bowl eligible. (Conference record, overall record)

Oregon - 4-0, 6-1
USC - 3-1, 6-1
Arizona - 3-1, 5-2
Stanford - 4-2, 5-3
California - 2-2, 5-2
Oregon State - 2-2, 4-3
Arizona State - 2-2, 4-3
Washington - 2-3, 3-5
UCLA - 0-4, 3-4
Washington State - 0-5, 1-6

With wins this past weekend, Oregon and USC became bowl-eligible. Surprisingly, Wazzu is not quite yet eliminated from bowl competition - give it another week.


Pac-10 Football: 10/24 Games - And My Response to Bob DeCarolis

It's been a week now, but I think there is something I need to respond to. Paul Buker of the Oregonian (who is fantastic - one of the best beat writers around) did a very interesting interview with Oregon State Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis where the AD openly wondered why the Beavers weren't selling out at home. It's a good read, and it definitely prompts some thought.

"I've never seen a state like this, where it's one or the other, you're a Duck or you're a Beaver," De Carolis said. "Well, if (OSU alumni) are so proud of that, why is it so hard to keep this thing going? We have a hell of a football product -- a hell of a football product -- and we can't sell out the stadium?"

"Where are all the Beaver fans?"

I feel like I should respond, just because I can and because this hits home a little bit. You see, Wifey and I were season ticket holders from 2000 through last season. I think in that time we only missed one home game. We got there three hours before game time (it's roughly a two hour drive from home), grilled up some food in the parking lot, and trekked the mile to the stadium, sometimes in pretty horrible weather. We never left a game early, even if the Beavers were up by a lot or down by a lot (which was rare). Then we'd wait out traffic for an hour or so, and make the drive home. It's a 12-hour day to attend a game in Corvallis from where we live.

On top of that, if you read the blog you know that I'm also a Duck, which made things interesting. Beaver fans were always good to me for those four Civil War games I attended wearing my green instead of the orange and black - I have no complaints. Still, it does make things interesting.

And yes, we had tons of great times at Reser and tailgating - it's a blast (when it's not cold and rainy). We saw some fantastic football. Oregon State's Fiesta Bowl season, we were there for every game (even went up to Seattle and saw their one loss that season at Husky Stadium, though that was one of the greatest games I have ever seen - Husky fans were nice to Beavers fans too). We saw them beat USC a bunch of times, including the monumental upsets in 2006 and 2008.

And we've seen some great, great players take the field in orange and black. Great running backs like Ken Simonton, Steven Jackson, Yvenson Bernard, and now Jacquizz Rodgers. Great wide receivers like Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, James Newson, Mike Hass, Sammie Stroughter, and now James Rodgers. Some pretty dang good quarterbacks like Jonathan Smith, Derek Anderson, and Matt Moore. Great defensive players like Nick Barnett, Richard Seigler, Al Afalava, Keith Ellison, Sabby Piscitelli, DeLawrence Grant, LaDairis Jackson, Dwan Edwards, and I know I'm missing a whole bunch of names. Two great college coaches in Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley.

We have tons of memories of these games, of these experiences, and we won't forget them.

So Bob, why aren't we going to games this year? Why aren't we in the stands supporting the Beavers, as we have for the past nine years before this?

It wasn't a financial decision, even though season tickets aren't cheap. The state of the economy didn't make our decision, though I think DeCarolis would do better to make it clear he understands Oregon's unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation. People around here supposedly have less discretionary income, and I don't think there is anything that fits the category of discretionary spending any more than tickets to sporting events.

Our decision was based on time and convenience. Game days were 12-13 hour events, which is something you don't necessarily think about when you talk about going to a football game. And us, we are huge college football fans. College football is on Saturdays, so for half the season we saw one game a day. If we can be home on those days we can watch three or four games if we like, which we do. Plus, we are warm and dry on our couch with our big screen LCD TV, where the images are probably better than from the seats we were paying for. There is no waiting in line for the bathroom. I can grab a beer at a commercial and have it DURING the game if I like. We can make a whole meal at halftime, and not have to worry about spilling my food down the back of the person in front of me (my worry, not Wifey's - that's why I stay away from white clothes - can't be trusted). I don't have to stand up and move into a weird position every time someone further down the aisle has to get by to go to the bathroom. I no longer get kneed in the back from the people behind me - because, well, there aren't any.

Oh, and did I mention being warm and dry? (Now Beaver - and Duck - fans will tell you it doesn't rain that much. And they are right. It usually only rains heavily one game a year. However, that one day is enough to really make you hate the process. I mean, no matter what rain gear you get you will be wet after standing out in a storm for four hours watching football. It may only be once a year, but I guarantee you it makes an impression. Not a good one either.)

It's not the product on the field, and it has nothing to do with supporting the team. Heck, we may spend the same amount of money on merchandise and the like from Oregon State that we did on season tickets (maybe, that would be a whole wardrobe).

The simple fact is that, for us, we don't need the roar of the crowd to truly enjoy the experience and to feel like we really are supporting the team. So we'll watch the games at home on TV, since just about all of them are on TV anyway.

So what changed our mind? Are we getting old? Don't want to deal with it anymore? Maybe some of that, maybe not; I'm not really sure. Maybe it's just the reward factor - I enjoy the games on TV just as much and I have more flexibility. And no lines.

Oh yeah, and warm and dry - there is A LOT to be said for that.

Time - Game - Channel

12:30 - Oregon @ Washington - ABC
1:30 - Washington State @ California - No TV
3:30 - UCLA @ Arizona - Fox Sports Northwest
5 - Oregon State @ USC - ABC
7:15 - Arizona State @ Stanford - Fox Sports Northwest

8:05 - Boise State @ Hawaii - ESPN360.com

I'll Be Watching: We have some errands to run in the morning, but we'll definitely be back for at least half of the Oregon game. After that we'll switch to the Zona game for the first half (which should be all they need) before going to the Oregon State game. When that finishes up we'll watch the last quarter of the ASU-Stanford tilt, which should be a pretty good matchup. All in all, a good day of football. The Cal-WSU game not being on TV is a decent decision as far as those go, at least for us - WSU is terrible.

Predictions: Winning in Seattle is difficult for any team - just ask the USC Trojans. With the Ducks still not entirely settled at quarterback (Jeremiah Masoli should play, but is he 100%?), I think this will be the week they get their first Pac-10 loss, giving conference control back to SC - at least for a week, until Oregon plays SC next week. Huskies...Cal over WSU - I don't need to elaborate...UCLA is not nearly as good as people thought three games into the season. Zona should win this in a cake walk...The fact OSU hasn't won in the Rose Bowl since the 60s has absolutely no bearing on this year's matchup. The Beavers' defense continues to improve, but the Trojans are still a very, very good team. If I were a betting man I would put $400 on the Beavers to cover the egregious 21-spoint spread, but to win? I don't know. I'm going to have to pick SC, but it will be closer than most will expect...ASU and Stanford should be a good game, lots of offense, but I think this is the week Stanford gets back on track. Being at home helps, but being better helps even more...This isn't the Hawaii team that dominated the WAC a few seasons back, but they are still decent. I think this will be an extremely tough game for Boise State. I'm taking Hawaii, and then we can see all this lame talk about Boise State being in a BCS game stop.


Crema PDX - And Hawaiian!

This past Saturday we decided to hit up a coffee shop and bakery we've been meaning to get to for awhile - Crema Bakery and Cafe. Supposedly the coffee was pretty good, but the baked goodness was supposed to be even better.

It's almost funny we hadn't been there yet, considering how close it is to Alma's chocolates and very close to Ken's Artisan Pizza on the corner of SE Ankeny and 28th.

Just a note, but Saturday late morning is not the most ideal time to go - the line was 12 deep when we got there and all the tables were full. For us that was fine, since we habitually get our food and drink to go anyway.

First the drinks. Crema serves Stumptown coffee, so I ordered my standard mocha and Wifey ordered a Caramel Sutra - which was pretty much a caramel latte. Both of the drinks had very well-done espresso, but the chocolate and caramel flavors were almost too subtle. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, just something I'm pointing out.

Then the treats...oh wow. We ordered an earthquake cookie, an apricot scone, and a raspberry cream cheese danish. All the treats are made in their own kitchen and I have to say, I could have ordered one of everything it all looked so good. The scale wouldn't have been nice to me the next day, but my tongue and tummy would have been ecstatic.

The cookie was rich, soft, and chocolatey - probably the best rendition of that style I've ever had. It was thick too, so the baking had to be just right to make sure it was fully cookied without overdoing the outside. The scone was also well baked, not overdone as scones can sometimes be. I personally could have used a tad more apricot, but I'm not going to quibble about something like that.

The danish was excellent. Lots of flavor, plenty of creaminess and fruit flavor to go with a nicely flaky crust.

I'd recommend all of these to anyone, plus all the things I didn't try because I'm just about 100% positive they'll all be good. We'll be going back for sure.

After stopping there, we decided to get some lunch. That wasn't initially on the schedule, but Wifey wanted some chicken strips from Side Cart. The other day when I stopped by there at lunch time (when I ordered the Loco Moco burger from Brunch Box - also excellent), they were out of strips.

Well, it turns out that they were having a special. For $5 you would get chicken strips and two side dishes from a Thanksgiving-like menu. How could we pass that up?! So we ordered stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the chicken. All of it was good stuff, especially if you are anxious for Thanksgiving to come.

But on the way to Side Cart from the east side, we drove past this new cart - Ninja Plate Lunch. It's a Hawaiian place, serving kalua pork, loco moco, shoyu chicken, spam musubi, and hamburger steaks - the meals being $5 and coming with rice and mac salad. Basically, it's a huge amount of food for $5. We had read about it on Food Carts Portland, but didn't know it would be open on a Saturday. We like Hawaiian food, so what the hell?

We picked the Loco Moco lunch, something I had never had and Wifey hadn't had in a while. It's a tiny little pink cart, but the food was really good. Then again, I don't think I've ever had bad Hawaiian food in Portland. This was just as good - maybe even better - than Portland staples like Noho's and the Bamboo Grille, but at roughly half the cost.

Plus, you get Dum Dums with your meal - how can you top that?!

All in all, another successful Portland food romp, replete with three more places to recommend to others (four if you count Brunch Box).

Get out and eat! :)

I Guess We Are "Foodies"

The first time someone referred to us a s"foodies" I was actually kind of offended, though I kept it to myself.

We were in Seattle, taking a tour with Savor Seattle Food Tours, and at a popcorn place called Kukuruza (highly recommend) at the end of the tour. We were talking with the guide about something, perhaps a recommendation for dinner or something, and we lapsed into - somehow - a discussion of our food tastes. I think one of us made the comment we have different tastes and enjoy the pursuit of different flavors and qualities more than others we know, and our guide mentioned us being foodies in her response.

Why did that bother me? I'm not entirely sure. Maybe it's just the whole being labeled thing - no one likes to be labeled, even if it is true. And it's not like this was used in a derogatory sense at all; quite the opposite actually. It's more a point of reference, no more a description of me as the fact my hair is brown or that I love college football, and tells just about as much of my whole story as any single, tiny tidbit can.

That is to say, not much.

After I put some thought into it, I realized the label was apt. I mean, can I really complain about a certain label if it's true? Perhaps it was the connotations I had in my own mind of what "foodie" meant. I think in my mind I was picturing a snobby person who is insanely picky about what they eat, is always sending food back at restaurants for no real good reason, and condescending to what the rest of the world puts in their own mouths.

That's not me - that's not us.

At the same time...I guess it kind of is. Sort of. I almost never send food back, and when I do I feel guilty about it. I don't care what someone else eats - we all make our own choices. I am a picky eater and there are certain foods I always get at certain places (as you can probably tell by the blog), but those foods aren't necessarily the best - they are the ones that are most pleasing to MY taste buds, not necessarily ANYONE'S taste buds.

After thinking about it a lot, thinking about some of the things we do, I came up with a handy list of reasons why Wifey and I really are foodies. Just a few.

1 - Well, we were on a food tour in a city three hours away. And we have done three different tours with Savor Seattle. And one in Portland. And if we travel to another city in the future, we'll be looking up tours in that city.

2 - We drive to cities with the express purpose of getting food. I mean, that's about the only reason we go to Seattle now. We pick out what towns we visit on the coast based around what looks good to eat, or our own old staples.

3 - We have a spreadsheet filled with places we have been and places we want to go. With a separate tab for food carts. Arranged by type. With notes on what to get.

4 - Both of us spend time looking up restaurants, reviews, and the like online, reading message boards and blogs.

5 - We watch shows on TV about food and travel, mentally making our own checklists.

6 - We spent money when Anthony Bourdain came to Portland to talk to go see him. He wasn't even here for any real reason we could tell - no book, the new season of his show No Reservations had started. I think he was just here to make a bunch of people laugh. And we loved it.

7 - We order our coffee from Hawaii, because that's the stuff we like the best (Kona from Country Samurai!).

8 - We buy salmon that comes from Alaska - Copper River, specifically - despite the exorbitant prices. Hey, it's damn good.

9 - We spend our Saturdays working in a new restaurant/bakery/deli/coffee shop/whatever around college football. Talk about a day.

10 - Sometimes dinner comes from hitting up the food carts downtown at lunch time and bringing it home. And I'm prepared for the storage of said food for the day.

I could probably come up with more reasons, but that's probably enough. Any more and people will think I'm crazy.

Well, at least the ones who might not already think that...

I guess this all goes to illustrate that I have come to grips with the fact that I am a foodie - and I have no qualms about it anymore. It just is, like some people love baseball or others crochet or others collect 15th century vases. It's a hobby, it's something we both enjoy doing - and the possibilities are endless.


Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock

The other day we were grocery shopping at Whole Foods and as usual rounded the back of the store to the dairy and stopped at the discount wine table. Occasionally they have some good deals here on closeouts (but be careful of the five-year-old Rieslings - that can't be good) and on this day Wifey handed me a bottle she thought I'd like.

Not wine, but a special beer - Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock. The description sounded pretty good - here is what it says on Sam's website (it's listed under Extreme Beers):

Samuel Adams® Chocolate Bock. We started with a complex selection of carefully roasted malts combined with hand-selected Noble hops from Bavaria, the world’s oldest growing area. After using a centuries old brewing process, called Krausening, we slowly aged the beer on a bed of rare dark cocoa nibs from Felchlin®, a renowned Swiss chocolatier. Known for their quality these wild cocoa nibs, harvested from the rainforest of Northern Bolivia, impart complex aromas and flavors of chocolate, honey and vanilla in the beer. The resulting beer, Samuel Adams® Chocolate Bock, has a big, malty character that is combined with the subtle sweetness of chocolate, giving this brew a complex full-body taste with a velvety finish.

Tettnang-Tettnanger and Spalt hops were hand-selected from the world’s oldest growing area and combined with a complex selection of malts including two-row Pale, Munich and Caramel to create a rich and satisfying brew. This dark beer has a big, malty character that is combined with the subtle sweetness of chocolate. Samuel Adams® Chocolate Bock was aged on a bed of cocoa nibs to create its unique layers of flavor. As the beer matured, the fruity, tart, earthy and chocolate aromas were released into the liquid to give the brew a complex, full -bodied taste with a velvety finish. A hint of vanilla was added to meld the symphony of flavors together.
Beer with chocolate, honey, and vanilla flavors? It sounds good to be sure, but I've tried others with chocolate claims before and been sorely disappointed. Still...it SOUNDED good...

It was also spendy. I have no idea if this was the initial price or not, or if it was marked down for this table, but the price sticker said $13.79 for a 20 ounce bottle. Yowza! And I thought $11.99 was expensive...

But what the hell, you only live once and it's just money, right? They had two bottles but I only bought one. I was actually kind of excited about the potential flavors, so when we got home I tossed it in the freezer for a bit to give it the requisite chill. Then I popped the top and poured it, a very smooth, dark liquid - almost thick. Not Guinness thick, but thick, with a chocolatey aroma. So far, so good.

After a couple drinks I was hooked. Not only did this live up to the billing of a chocolate flavor, but the other flavors were all there as well with a nice malty taste. In fact, I think it also had a taste of caramel, but that could just be the mixture of all the flavors. It wasn't sweet, but it was pleasing, something great for sipping during an afternoon of football.

Wifey, who doesn't drink beer but likes to at least give it a taste if it smells interesting, didn't hate it - which is high praise.

And if you don't think I'm grabbing the other bottle if it's still there on my next Whole Foods trip... Well, then you haven't learned anything from this blog. :)


Pac-10 Football: 10/17 Aftermath

Wins: USC, California, Arizona, Arizona State

Losses: UCLA, Stanford, Washington

Prediction Results: 4-0

Season to Date: 22-7

Disappointments: I'm disappointed the Arizona-Stanford game was not on TV. The Washington game was decent and the USC game kept my attention, but the Cal game was a blowout - and none of those games were better than the Zona-Stanford game. Not only was it close but it was high scoring - 43-38 - and featured Arizona scoring two TDs in the fourth quarter to win the game. Stanford's Andrew Luck and Zona's Nick Foles combined to throw for 838 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 1 interception on a mind-boggling 61-86 passing - Foles was 40-51 on his own. That's a game I want to watch. The league and the networks should get me to decide which games should be on TV - well, if it can't be all of them, which apparently it can't.

Surprises: I'm surprised the Golden Domers were able to keep it so close with USC, but then again that's how SC works. Way, way too often they allow teams to come back late in games - it's almost like they get bored. I don't think USC is unbeatable or anything, but they are clearly on another level than Notre Dame.

AP, USA Today Rankings

USC - 4, 4
Oregon - 12, 14
Arizona - 32, 40
California - 33, 40
Oregon State - 35, 37

Boise State - 6, 5

So the first BCS rankings came out this week...and USC is 7th while Boise State is 4th. Really? The computers really think Boise State is more of a national title contender than USC? Can we please make this game happen so we can rectify a mess like that? USC would mop the field with the Broncos.


Adding this as a weekly tidbit because now is the time when they start meaning something. A team needs six wins overall to be bowl eligible. (Conference record, overall record)

Oregon - 3-0, 5-1
USC - 2-1, 5-1
Oregon State - 2-1, 4-2
Arizona - 2-1, 4-2
Arizona State - 2-1, 4-2
Stanford - 3-2, 4-3
Washington - 2-2, 3-4
California - 1-2, 4-2
UCLA - 0-3, 3-3
Washington State - 0-4, 1-5

Remember when UCLA was threatening to be good? So much for that...


Pac-10 Football: 10/17 Games

Then there was one...it's crazy to me how three or four games into the Pac-10 season and there is only one team left undefeated in the league. Oregon is 3-0, but the teams they have beaten - Cal, UCLA, Wazzu - are 0-8 in league and 7-9 overall. Duck fans, perhaps it's a tad early to get too excited - although the +99 scoring differential in the three games looks good on paper.

Time - Game - Channel

12:30 - #7 USC @ #25 Notre Dame - NBC
12:30 - Cal @ UCLA - ABC
3 - #37 Stanford @ #34 Arizona - No TV
7:15 - Washington @ Arizona State - Fox Sports NW
Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington State are all off this week.
#5 Boise State topped Tulsa on Wednesday, but barely held them off. So is that their last halfway decent test? Will they stay top 5? I read some stuff about them possibly falling in the rankings, but I don't think they will fall too far as long as they keep winning.
I'll Be Watching: I always like to see Notre Dame lose, so I'll probably watch SC, but switch back and forth with the Cal-UCLA game. I'll probably have the Washington-ASU game on as well. It's lame to me that the one game of the day I find most intriguing - Stanford/Zona - isn't on TV. FSNW is showing Kansas @ Colorado at 4 - which, of course, has obvious NW ties - instead. Lame.
Predictions: SC is rolling again; if they lose again, it won't be to Notre Dame...Will Cal show up? They are taking the bus for the six-hour ride to L.A. - will that affect them? Are they the team that was ranked in the top ten or the one who got smoked by Oregon and SC? I don't think UCLA is any good at all, so I guess I'll go with Cal...I think Stanford-Arizona is a very even matchup, much like last week's Zona-UW game. What tipped my pick for that game last week was the game being played in Seattle, so since this one is in Tucson I'll take Zona...I really like what Steve Sarkisian has done with the Huskies this year, but is it enough to win on the road against Dennis Erickson's Sun Devils? This year's Devils have all the typical Erickson-team penalties, but so far haven't shown the talent to overcome (or play with disregard for) them like his Miami and Oregon State teams. Tough call - but it's in Tempe, so I guess the Sun Devils.

Podnah's Pit - NE Portland

Last week we wanted to go to a restaurant to get something new, but didn't want anything fancy. It was a Wednesday night and we picked out Al Forno Ferruzza, but it was not to be. We found a place to park and thought it was weird when we walked in and the place was empty... Apparently their oven had broken. That meant we needed a backup plan.

First though, how does a wood burning stone oven break? Seriously - it's a stone oven. There are no moving parts. Seems to me any kind of break would be kind of crippling, but the guy said it would be back up the next day. Haven't been back yet, so I'll take his word for it.

The backup plan was Podnah's Pit, a BBQ joint only a few blocks away. It's a small place, long and narrow, but actually a little cozy. Podnah's does Texas style BBQ, so we ordered a couple different things to go.

Wifey ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of coleslaw. The slaw was fine, but the sandwich was excellent (and putting slaw on the sandwich is good too). The very moist pork a great flavor, almost sweet. The slaw by itself was a little bland.

I ordered the beef brisket plate with sides of potato salad and collared greens. (In both cases the sides came with the main course - they weren't extra.) The potato salad was a little hard for my tastes, but not horrible. I had never had collared greens before, so this was an experiment. It was okay - a little bitter, but I think that's expected. What surprised me was little bits of pulled pork in with the greens; definitely a good surprise, but still a bit odd.

The brisket was excellent. The meat was very well cooked, with a good "crust" and moist insides. Both dishes came with a bit of Texas BBQ sauce that had a mild kick, but not too much so you couldn't just enjoy the flavor. The spiciness complemented the meat - something I enjoy, though I know Texans probably prefer more kick (in my very limited experience).

My dish also came with a pie-slice-sized piece of corn bread that we shared, but it was a little dry for our tastes.

Overall, the main dishes were very good but the sides left something to be desired. Wifey asked if we go back can we just get the main dishes and pass on the sides? I agree...loved the meat.

If we go back it will probably be for breakfast - their biscuits get rave reviews, and we definitely like a good breakfast. Would I recommend this place? I'm torn...as long as your focus is the meat and not the sides, why not. If you want the entire meal to be top notch? Maybe not so much.


Toro Bravo - Portland

If you ask around the People Who Know These Things in Portland about what is the city's best restaurant, you will get a myriad of replies. Some will pick the Spanish-inspired tapas restaurant Toro Bravo; many will not.

However, if you ask these same people for their top five, Toro Bravo will probably make the cut for just about everyone. So what exactly is it? Tapas are small plates, with the intention you can share them in a group and get tastes of many different things in the course of a lively dinner, and usually paired with wines. Toro Bravo has taken that Spanish style of eating and infused it with local ingredients and flavors, while still holding on to some of the Spanish themes as well.

And, as everyone told us, the results are spectacular - so we had to check it out.

We decided to go on a Sunday, right about the time it opened. Traffic forced us to be about 15 minutes after opening, but we found a spot about  a block and a half away (street parking only in a neighborhood). We stepped in to the restaurant and the place was hopping, but thankfully there were still a few open seats (I've heard stories about long lines, and I'm not one for waiting longer than 5-10 minutes). The hostess actually seated us at a bar-like area right by the open kitchen - called the Chef's bar - so we could actually see some of what was going on back there. You know, I have a great respect for the chefs - the working area is small, you have to deal with the other chefs, there are tons of sharp objects, hot pans are everywhere... I'd probably end up in the ER once a week with my history...

The inside of the place is nice. There is the requisite red involved in the color scheme, but it's tasteful. There is a mix of tables, from the bar area we sat at to tables of four to areas for a group of 15 or so.

But, of course, you go there for the food. We started off with a glass of the house red wine sangria - which we split, since Wifey doesn't drink much and I was driving. It was good - tart, but not overly so, with enough sweet to balance it out. They also gave us some pretty good mixed nuts to nibble on while we waited, which was nice because I was fairly hungry.

Our first tidbit of food was a Griddled Bacon Wrapped Date with warm honey from the Pinchos section of the menu (ours was stuffed with an almond). Truthfully, I had never eaten a date before, so I had no idea what to expect. A big raisin? That's actually not too far off, though they aren't too big and we probably should have ordered two (only $2 each). However, this was amazing. Sweet and salty, but melt in your mouth, especially with the accompanying honey. This was the first item we ate and I had already decided I'd come back just for these.

Our second course was a plate of chorizo sausage, manchego cheese, and country bread from the Charcuteria section. All of these were yummy, complementing each other well. However, I don't know if I'd get it again, just because it's something you can get elsewhere and I don't necessarily think I'd point at any of the three things as being the best I've ever had. Plus, there are so many other things to order...

Our final two courses were from the Tapas section. Wifey picked out the salt cod fritters with aioli, which she had read about online as being fantastic. They were good and had good flavor, but wouldn't necessarily be something we had to order again.

I picked out jamon-wrapped chicken with pisto manchego. I had no idea what jamon was when I ordered, just hoped it wasn't anything I wouldn't like. Turns out jamon is a lot like proscuitto and tastes bacony, so that part was fabulous. Pisto manchego, which I expected to be something related to the cheese, is actually more like a tomato sauce or a thick salsa with a ton of great flavor. Maybe like a piccata? So this dish was chicken, ham, and thick red sauce - and it was fantastic. Very fantastic.

So what did we think of Toro Bravo? I'm not prepared to say it's Portland's best, but it was pretty damn good and we will absolutely be going back. The menu is just so varied with so many things that looked good - and the house bacon and manchego burger is supposed to be magnificent - that one visit isn't enough.

We'll absolutely be going back for more "research."

Do I Have A Sign Above My Head?

For some reason no matter where I go people seem to think I know things. These are not things I should know, nor are they things people for any reason should have reasonable cause to think I should know.

I can't recall how many times I've been asked in a store where something is. Usually I shrug and say I don't work there, whether I know where it is or not. Yeah, I'm a jerk that way. If I'm feeling frisky I'll tell them to ask an actual employee.

This has actually happened more than once at Target, so now make sure if Target is on the scheduled stop list for shopping I don't wear a red shirt, even though red is a common color in my closet. Yeah, I know - how many other people decide what they are going to wear based on if they are going to Target? I try not to wear blue at Best Buy either, though I have nothing in royal blue like their employees wear. Perhaps the guy who asked me where something was while I was wearing midnight blue at Best Buy simply can't tell shades of blue - I have no idea.

It drives me insane though. And nothing is worse than when people in cars ask me for directions. This happens to me almost every time I am walking in downtown Portland. I have no idea why - it's like there is a neon side over my head that says "GET YOUR DRIVING DIRECTIONS HERE!!!" with an arrow pointed at me, and everyone can see it but yours truly. And they take advantage.

Maybe I would feel differently if I could actually give directions, but it's not a strong suit of mine. If I'm driving I usually know where the roads are, either by experience or Google's driving directions. Even the roads I drive every day I couldn't give people directions on because I don't know their names; I just know where they go. I've lived in the same house for seven years and still couldn't tell you the names of the roads around my house I drive on at least twice a day.

The most common question I get asked is how to get to the freeway, to I-5 or I-405. There are only a couple ways to do it, and most of it depends on multiple turns to get going the right direction - there is nothing straightforward unless the person happens to already be on the right road facing the right way.

And, of course, they never are.

So I usually beg out of it. I've used "I'm new here too" even though I've lived in Portland my whole life. Or I just look perplexed, and they say thanks anyway and leave. Or I look around a little lost and say "I'm not quite sure from here..."

One time I was down near the waterfront, walking on my lunch break in an area I never drive, when this guy in a SUV pulled up next to me and wanted to know how to get from I-5. I actually knew and tried to explain it to him this time, but not knowing the names of the roads to give him - "go up to the light, turn right, then a left, go straight through the next light, left again, and you're good" - I think I just confused him. Watching as he drove off I know he didn't take my advice. Oh well, whatever.

I'm not a map, I don't feel any guilt about this. You can't expect much when you ask pointed questions of a random stranger on the street who just happens to be in the same place as you - there should be no legitimate expectation of a good answer, because really, the odds are seriously against you.

I have joked with Wifey about intentionally giving out the wrong directions, but I'm not rude enough to actually do that - just joke about it.

Still, I do occasionally feel bad.

A week or so ago I was just getting out of work and waiting to cross the street to go to my car when this young couple walked up to me and asked for help. I'm attentive - I'll listen to what you need. They were positively bubbly about the city and were from out of town. They didn't say where from, but my guess would be somewhere smaller than Portland. Significantly. They seemed nice and wanted to know where the college of naturopathic medicine was.

Hey, I knew this one! It was right down the street! So I proceeded to tell them to go to the light, turn left, and walk down about 3-4 blocks, it would be on their right. They thanked me effusively, walked off, and I headed to my car, which is about a two block walk the other direction.

As I'm walking it dawned on me they were talking about a school, not a clinic. The school - actually called the National College of Natural Medicine - is the other direction and further away. Plus, it's also very difficult to describe how to get there because you have to go on a pedestrian bridge over one of the major throughfares exiting the downtown area.

Now I felt bad, knowing I had given them bad info that would probably leave them with a bad taste in their mouth and they'd never find the place anyway. And they seemed so nice! I briefly thought about turning around, but they were already long gone. After I got to my car I thought about it again, but I never saw them again.

So, dear people from wherever you are from, I apologize. If you care, here is a map to where you wanted to go.

See what I get for helping? Next time I'll act like I've never heard of it.


Spur - Seattle

Ever been to a gastro pub? Apparently I hadn't either. It's basically a bar with food, but food of the highest quality that you might find in a fancy restaurant. It's small bites, meant to go a long with drinks - something better than the standard salty nuts and chips. Seattle apparently has a few of these, I'm not too sure if Portland has anything that can be called a gastro pub.

Last month Wifey and I were in Seattle and it was getting towards dinner time. We hadn't necessarily planned for dinner, so we were out in West Seattle and thinking about where to go. We had some places in mind but didn't have any addresses, when I realized my phone has internet access and I could just Google them.

Sidebar: Isn't this perhaps one of the coolest things ever? Being out and about and wanting to find a certain place, all I have to do is pop out my cell phone, Google a place, and I'll have the address, phone number, and a map. It's amazing. What did people do before internet on their phones?! Yeah, I realize it's only been recent, but I have a short memory.

So after looking up a couple places we settled on Spur, a gastro pub in downtown Seattle. We had never been to a gastro pub and it was supposed to be good, plus it being downtown we figured we could find it pretty easily. It was a short drive over from West Seattle (I'm leaving out the part where we decided on someplace else first in the International District, but couldn't find it or it wasn't open - not realy sure which, since nothing seemed to be marked - so frustrated went to Spur as our second choice) and pretty easy to find.

Parking, however, in downtown Seattle on a weekday at around 6 is a bitch. Literally. In Portland I can always find a spot on the street within walking distance, but in Seattle? Nope, not a chance. I drove around for half an hour trying to find a street spot, but the only ones I found were 15 minute parking or they were a half mile straight up a hill. Don't let anyone tell you San Francisco is the hilliest city - they haven't been to Seattle. I've been to both places and some of those hills you drive up and down in Seattle are flat-out scary. Lucky for Seattleites it rarely freezes and snows; I can imagine that's grounds for skipping work.

Eventually, I gave up. Sick of looking and getting really hungry at this point, I turned into the pay lot right next to Spur and proceeded to pay $15 just so I could eat for an hour. That hurts...painfully. At this point, I didn't care. And yeah, I'll admit I was getting really, really annoyed at Seattle and their crappy downtown parking. I'd been warned...but never had to deal with it before I guess. I usually bite the bullet and pay to park at Pike Street Market, but I'm there all day for my $15. So, heed the warning - prepare to pay in downtown Seattle. And don't bother looking for a street spot.

We stepped into Spur, not really sure what to expect. It was in one of the very old buildings in downtown, a deep, thin space with a mix of modern (the lighting) and rustic (the long wooden tables) that all seemed to blend well - almost country without the country, you know? Spur was hopping too - the only spots were at the bar, so we sat there even though we had zero intention of ordering drinks other than water.

When the bartender asked us what he could get us, he didn't seem too surprised we just wanted food, but it also didn't seem to be common either. He was a busy guy, that's for sure, though it seemed one of the most common orders was for Rainier in a can. Really? Rainier in a can? This place was full of DINKs, not college students. And they still wanted Rainier in a can? Man. I couldn't stomach that stuff when I was in college, let alone now when I can afford better. Maybe a lot of the DINKs were re-living their college days or hadn't gotten past the Greek houses. Or were slumming. I have no idea.

Anyway, after perusing the menu (same as September when we went, apparently) Wifey settled on the parmesan gnocchi and I ordered the pork belly sliders, with the plan we would share. Food wasn't fast, but it wasn't overly slow either considering how busy they were. Not everyone was ordering food, but there was enough coming out to keep the kitchen busy and I can't imagine the kitchen is overly big in the first place.

One thing I should note is that when we sat down the bartender gave us a cup full of house-made corn nuts - and they were spectacular. I know, the market for corn nuts isn't exactly replete with quality, but this is how they should be. It's almost worth it just to go there for those and a drink.

The gnocchi with the summer vegetables was excellent. The little pillows were cooked just right and the sauce was a perfect complement. The sliders with mustard, bourbon and apricot were a joy. Seriously, it was one of those meals where you take a bite, just let it sit in your mouth, and let all the layers of flavor reveal themselves to you in their own good time. I'll admit - I was too hungry to allow that as much as I would have liked.

After all of that we were both very pleased, but there was a problem. We were still a little hungry. I talked Wifey into the sockeye salmon crostini, even though she's not a big fan of the uncooked (it wasn't sashimi raw, but still uncooked). Still, with mascarpone (an Italian cream cheese, sort of), capers, and pickled shallots it sounded yummy.

After another short wait the crostini came out. Not only were they pleasing to just look at, but the flavors all mingled very well. Honestly, we both agreed this was one of the best things we've ever eaten.

Dinner ended up being $31 plus tip, plus the $15 for parking, so it wasn't cheap, but it was excellent. I would absolutely recommend this place to anyone looking for a fantastic meal and a unique setting, and if you need a drink so much the better. Especially if you like Rainier. However, I'll save you the time and suggest you pay to park in the lot right next door, even if it's spendy.

Pac-10 Football: 10/10 Aftermath

Wins: Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona State

Losses: UCLA, Stanford, Arizona, Washington State

Prediction Results: 4-0

Season To Date: 18-7

Disappointments: Oregon scored zero points in the first half against UCLA? That was sad - they didn't look good at all under Nate Costa at quarterback. Then the second half started...To be real honest, that's the only disappointment I have from this past weekend, unless you count the fact the Oregon State-Stanford looked much closer in the final score the game actually was. People who didn't see it will think it was close; it wasn't.

Surprises: I'm not surprised Oregon State handed Stanford their first Pac-10 loss, but I'm shocked they came out and basically handed the Cardinal their asses in the first half. Jacquizz Rodgers basically did whatever he wanted. Beaver fans, can I get a "More Wildcat!"?...I'm not surprised Washington beat Arizona even if it took some miracle plays at the end, but I'm surprised my prognostication was right on, with me saying it was so close to call I'd take Zona if it was there. Vegas gives three points for home-field, right? And the final score was a three-point difference. Just saying.

AP, USA Today Rankings

USC - 6, 5
Oregon - 13, 16
Arizona - 34, NR
Oregon State - 36, 33
Stanford - 37, 33
UCLA - NR, 37

Boise State - 5, 6

Memo to the coaches: OSU just beat Stanford. Obviously the votes are cumulative of all voters (those two teams earned eight votes each), but that means some coaches voted for Stanford and not OSU, or placed Stanford higher than OSU. And as for giving UCLA votes and not Zona? Really? Actually, why should Zona get votes anyway, after they just lost in Washington? They are decent, but thinking they are top 25? (Remember, votes are earned on a 1-25 ranking...no one ranked Zona 34th, only 1-25.)

Reminder - Boise plays at Tulsa Wednesday night on ESPN. That should be interesting...for a quarter. A half at the most.


Pac-10 Football: 10/10 Games

Where do you start? I feel like I should make some comments on Oregon's LeGarrette Blount situation, since that is my alma mater. Personally, I think the University should stick to their decision, but at the same time it does seem like they overreacted just a tad. What Blount did is rephrensible, but a whole season for a punch is a punishment I've never seen at any level. That said, the school should have said the suspension was "indefinite" - this whole he's gone forever oh wait he's coming back thing is a joke. The school should get torched in the media for it, and frankly I'm surprised it really hasn't. Is the media waiting for the game when he does come back? I'm confused, knowing how the media works and all.

Oh well, no one asked me what I thought. On to the games!

Time - Game - Channel

12:30 - #13 Oregon @ UCLA - ABC
2 - Arizona State @ Washington State - No TV
4 - #29 Stanford @ Oregon State - Fox Sports Northwest
7:15 - #35 Arizona @ Washington - Fox Sports Northwest
USC and Cal are both off this week. Probably a good thing for Cal, after they have keeled over and died the last two weeks against Oregon and SC. On the flip side USC is starting to click and I don't think there is a better defensive player in the country than safety Taylor Mays.
Boise State is kind of off - they play next Wednesday, so no Saturday game this week or next week.
I'll Be Watching: The spacing of the games this week is fantastic. I'll be watching the Oregon game - weather is going to suck this weekend, so probably no hiking, though you never know. Then the OSU game starts right about the time Oregon is over, and when that game finishes a very intriguing Zona-UW tilt will be on. I love Saturdays in the fall.
Predictions: I'll take Oregon over UCLA - the Bruins are okay but do they have the defense to stop Oregon? However, Jeremiah Masoli is out, so the Ducks need their backup QB Nate Costa to make some plays...Arizona State isn't that great, but they are still a heck of a lot better than Wazzu...I'm taking Oregon State at home over Stanford to give the Cardinal their first Pac-10 loss - the Beavers might have finally found a couple of defensive playmakers last week to complement the Rodgers brothers on offense...I'll also take Washington over Zona because they are at home. If the game was in Tucson, I'd take Zona - that's how close I expect this game to be.


Mini Cart Crawl

Last week I decided to surprise Wifey with dinner from some of the foodcarts downtown, so I headed over the carts on 9th and Alder just before lunchtime.

My first stop was Nong's Khao Man Gai. This was a return trip because it was so good the first time and a place Wifey had been subtley hinting she wanted food from again. I think I got there at about 11:15 and there was only one person ahead of me already getting their food. This time I made sure to order extra rice - such a great set of flavors - so there would be plenty to share. Good thing I went there first; by the time I got my food the line was four people deep with more coming. Highly recommend you get here early.

The next stop was also a return trip, to Spella Caffe. I promised I'd give them a second chance after not being horribly impressed despite rave reviews from every corner of the planet. Of course, silly me, I just ordered the same thing. This time, though, I put some thought into drinking my mocha, trying to pick out flavors. I think - and this is far from scientific - that the coffee part of the drink I liked; it was the chocolate element that I'm not agreeing with. I may have to ask them what they use, because it tastes to me like a bitter powder. It's not that that one shouldn't do that, just doesn't seem to match my tastes. I will go back - and get an espresso or capuccino - something that doesn't use the chocolate. Maybe I'll even buy some beans to bring home and put to work myself.

The final stop, and the second half of what became dinner, was The Whole Bowl. I'm wary of vegetarian food, I admit it. I prefer to get my protein from meat and eggs even though beans are an excellent source. I'm also admittedly not a brown rice fan. However, I wanted to try something different this time, and this place comes highly recommended. There isn't much to ordering - you basically say you want one. That's even less thought than what is needed at Nong's. What you get is a bowl full of brown rice, red and black beans, avocado, olives, salsa, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and their special Tali sauce - all for $5.50. They do have tortilla chips to go with it for $1, so I got a bag of those too. This is really out of my wheelhouse, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was good stuff. When you mix all of those ingredients up in the bowl you get quite the nice meal, with excellent flavor from all over the spectrum. You also get a crapload of food, because this thing is guaranteed to fill you up with goodness.

Wifey was ecstatic when I brought home the food and it proved to be plenty for the two of us for dinner. Probably more than plenty - we were both stuffed. Good thing we worked out beforehand, otherwise the results might not have been pretty.

Nong's remains a must-visit. Spella, I'm still doing my research. The Whole Bowl, my first vegetarian adventure? I'd definitely do it again, but being a self-professed carnivore I do need to be in the right mood. A true vegetarian would probably love it on a daily basis, and I think even with the sour cream and cheese it's a pretty healthy meal.

Latest Reads and Views


Shooting Stars - Buzz Bissinger and LeBron James: Actually got this book to review for the other job. I wasn't expecting much, but it was actually pretty intriguing, well-written, kept my interest, and told a good story about a group of friends dealing with stardom. As a sports book it's well done (I'll admit it - my expectations are lower), but it's a decent read overall.

Roadside Crosses - Jeffrey Deaver: I used to love Deaver's writing, absolutely love it. However, I think stardom has changed him somewhat - similar to what I said about Dean Koontz a while back. It's not that this book was bad, it's just not at the quality standard he has previously set for himself. He also is putting too much of himself into the book. Do I really care the main character loves to find obscure music all over the world, listens to it in the car, and do I need to know the name of the group, the type of music, the track number, etc? If it's relevant to the story, fine - but this isn't relevant. Instead, it's just distracting because you keep expecting there to be some relevance where there is none. It's not like I'm a big-time writer or anything, but even I know you can't distract the reader. No matter how good the rest of the narrative is the reader - the only reason you write a book, other than narcissism - will not have a good experience. Unfortunately, that's how I felt here - the narrative was excellent, but there were too many distracting pieces that didn't fit.

Swimsuit - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro: This books was alternately engrossing and disturbing - for the first 90% of the book. The end, though, left a ton to be desired. It has an ending, but it was way, way too neat and for it to match with the rest of the detail and intrigue of the book should have been 10 times longer. In some books that might be too much, but it would have been good here. I don't know exactly how the dual writer role works in a book - I know Patterson has a couple proteges he works with - but it's almost like they mapped out only the first three-quarters, did that well, and then wrote the end in five minutes and never reviewed it. Sad, because this was a great read - typical Patterson fast and violent - most of the way through.

Watchmen - Alan Moore: I'd been on the waiting list at the library for this for almost a year. That's what I get for waiting until the movie was coming out to request it. Now, I saw the movie first, so I knew the story. I was hoping the story would fill in the blanks of things missing in the movie. For the most part it did, but the story was still, really, the same. Maybe it's because it's just so damn depressing, but while it was very well done and kept my attention, I can't say it was anything super significant to the literary world or even was that great. I thought V For Vendetta was a better story, a better epic.

You're Okay - It's Just A Bruise - Dr. Rob Huizenga: If you know who Huizenga is it's probably from NBC's The Biggest Loser, which is how I became aware of him as well. He's the doctor on the show, the one who tells everyone who they are on the brink of death in the beginning and then congratulates them on how far they have come later. I can't recall how I came across this, but apparently he had written a book because he used to be the team doctor for the L.A. Raiders - I had to check that out. Huizenga's writing style makes this book very accessible even though it's told from the doctor's perpsective, which was something I wasn't sure about - didn't want a medical book. He was the team doctor during the mid-eighties to about 1991, spanning the careers of greats like Marcus Allen and Howie Long. He also was intimately involved in the Lyle Alzado steroids and cancer story, talked to legendary owner Al Davis, had a falling out with the team's orthopedist, was horribly underpaid, was president of the NFL doctors, tested out thousands of potential draft picks (and Bo Jackson), and helped form the NFL's more stringent drug policy under former commissioner Paul Tagliabue. All of that, and now he's back in the spotlight on the 8th season of The Biggest Loser, and has his own medical practice in L.A. Yep, I'd say he's doing all right for himself - and he's led an immensely interesting life. The book is definitely worth a read, especially if you like football and/or the Raiders.


Coraline: Loved this movie. It was odd and weird - in a Nightmare Before Christmas kind of way - but enthralling. Definite recommendation. Thing is, it's supposed to be a kid movie - if I was a little kid this thing would freak the hell out of me.

Fanboys: I'll be honest - I'd never heard of this. Wifey thought it sounded good though, so it showed up via Netflix and I was very pleasantly surprised. It's infinitely geeky, but at the same time it's pretty funny. I could completely see this movie being re-done with sports fans - or, actually, maybe it has been already? It's called Big Fan. Might have to see it.

300: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie about Sparta, and on the Blu-Ray it had a feature talking about how much of it was true and how much was fantasy. I was surprised how much of this was true - wow. Glad I didn't grow up in Sparta. Entertaining, violent, and gory - how can you go wrong?

Fool's Gold: This wasn't the worst movie in the world, but it wasn't that great either. Not really the funny, the action and intrigue was just okay, and Matthew McConaughey has changed a lot as an actor since he was in A Time to Kill. Not in a good way. Kate Hudson is growing on me though.

Beowulf: Odd, crazy, weird - and yet mesmerizing. I still don't know if this movie was good or not, but I couldn't look away. The effects were excellent, the characters were strong, I just don't really know how I feel about it.


Give Felix the Cy Young

As you can tell I'm a northwest sports fan as well as a foodie with all the Pac-10 posts. I'll keep my Blazer thoughts to another forum, but the Seattle Mariners are my favorite baseball team - have been for about 15 years, since Ken Griffey, Jr. came around.

The past couple seasons have been lean for the Ms, but they do have King Felix Hernandez, perhaps the best pitcher in the American League. He's been solid as he matured, but this year dominated the league and makes a strong case for the AL Cy Young Award that goes to the league's best pitcher.

With the regular season over the Ms will once again watch the playoffs on TV, but here is Felix's case for a postseason award.

Felix’s last two games:

9/29 – 7.2 innings, 2 runs, 4 Ks, W
10/4 – 6.2 innings, 2 runs, 6 Ks, W

Final stats:

19-5, 217 Ks, 2.49 ERA

Two other AL players had 19 wins – Justin Verlander was 19-9 and CC Sabathia was 19-8.

217 Ks was 4th – behind Verlander’s 269, Zach Greinke’s 242, and Jon Lester’s 225.

Greinke was the only pitcher with a lower ERA than Felix – a scorching 2.16.

Felix was also third in the league in innings pitched at 238.2 – Verlander had 240 and Roy Halladay 239.

So it looks like it’s between Felix, Greinke, and Verlander – and probably Sabathia. There are also run support stats we could use and various other pieces of sabermetrics, but I'm not going that detailed for this.

So here’s the tiebreaker, probably:

Felix’s Mariners – 85 wins, no playoffs.
Greinke’s Royals – 65 wins, no playoffs
Verlander’s Tigers – 86 wins, maybe playoffs (one-game playoff with Minny today to see who faces the Yankees)
Sabathia’s Yankees – 103 wins, playoffs.

My thinking is Sabathia’s wins weren’t as important to his team’s success as the other three, so I’d eliminate him. That, and I don't like the Yankees.

Greinke put up those numbers on a horrible team – and still won 2/3 of his games. That is tough, very tough to compete with.

It would probably come down to Verlander and Felix for me though. Verlander has more Ks, Felix the lower ERA.

Tough call. Experts seem to like Greinke, but do you really give the award to a player on the worst team in baseball? Legitimately he is more deserving than Sabathia, but what about Felix and Verlander? Who would you vote for?

Pac-10 Football: 10/3 Aftermath

Wins: Stanford, Oregon State, Oregon, USC

Losses: UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, Washington State, California

Prediction Results: 4-2

Disappointments: Boise State only won by 18?...Cal is either a disappointment or a surprise, I don't know which. I'm sure they aren't as bad as they have looked the past two weeks getting blown out by Oregon and SC, but they definitely aren't good either. This obviously makes Minnesota, who made a big deal out of how tight the game was with Cal, look bad...I was sorely disappointed to see the Huskies fall in overtime to Notre Dame, but at the same time they had a good day...Arizona State - a Dennis Erickson team - isn't very good at all. There is still all the penalties you come to expect and love, but where on his Oregon State and Miami teams it wasn't an issue because the team was so good it's a problem for these weak Sun Devils.

Surprises: Still surprised about Cal. They couldn't put up at least a little bit of a fight? Is it because SC found their mojo, or can the Bears just not hack it in the Pac-10?...I guess Oregon State handling ASU with little trouble is a mild surprise since it had been 40 years and all since they won in Tempe- not that it means a thing to the current roster, of course, since they've only been around at most five years. At most. It was bound to happen someday - Coach Mike Riley was right about that.

AP, USA Today Rankings

USC - 7, 7
Oregon - 13, 17
Stanford - 29, 30
Arizona - 35, 35

Boise State - 6, 6

Stanford not being ranked at this point (4-1 overall, 3-0 in the Pac-10) is a joke. Oklahoma, on the other hand, is ranked at 2-2. Just saying. A Pac-10 team loses early against tough competition and they get bounced from the polls just as fast as the votes can be turned in...but a Big 12 team like Oklahoma? They might still be ranked if they go 2-4. I bet Stanford, today, would beat the majority of those one-loss teams in the rankings - Penn State, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, BYU, Nebraska...

Yeah, weird - that doesn't make sense to me either.


In Search of the Perfect Crust...Apizza Scholls, Ken's Artisan Pizza

I love pizza. I mean, who doesn't? That red sauce...cheese...toppings...and the crust. Ooooh, the crust...

I grew up on Pizza Hut and that kind of stuff - didn't know any better. When people talked about it not being real pizza, I never understood that. When I was in college Domino's was literally a block from my dorm and had special deals on one-toppings; I can't tell you how many late-night phone calls we made to that place to order pizza while we watched movies and drank beer. It was a lot.

After we got out of the dorms, my junior and senior years, we used Pizza Pipeline a lot - they had a great deal of a pizza and two drinks for $8 or something. The pizza wasn't great, but it was good enough, and it was better than Domino's.

At this point in my life I didn't really understand what good pizza was. Then, the summer between my junior and senior years in college, I went to Italy and lived in Perugia for a summer, studying Italian. I knew the first time I stepped into a restaurant there I was ordering pizza. I mean, what else would I get?

In Italy the toppings are much more basic than what we commonly get in the U.S. There is no Hawaiian (to me, that was sad) and no such thing as pepperoni (actually doesn't even exist in Italy). The toppings are simpler and limited, the sauce is much lighter, the cheese not liberally layered on, and the crust is thinner.

The first pizza I ordered was a quattro formaggi (four cheese) and I was really thrown at first. There was no tomato sauce! At this point in my life I couldn't even comprehend the idea of pizza without red sauce... At the same time, it was the best pizza I had ever had in my life - no joke.

Over the course of my two months in Italy I tried a lot of pizza. A lot. I probably ate it 4-5 times a week and had some favorites in Perugia - at places I no longer remember the names of. I also learned about the simple wonders of the margherita pizza (cheese, roma tomatoes, basil) and that the best pizza comes from down south in Napoli (Naples).

If you have read the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, you'll know what I'm talking about. In the book, during the Eat portion where she spent four months in Italy, she goes to a place in Napoli that is supposed to be the best pizza in the world and is blown away. That was my experience too.. I don't think I went to the same place, but it was perhaps the most memorable meal I had in two months.

One of my roommates had been to Italy before and took a few of us to this place. Napoli isn't the most welcoming city in the world for tourists, but if you know where you are going, you will be rewarded. I was hopelessly lost as Max weaved us through neighborhoods and down streets probably not wide enough to handle my old Honda Accord, let alone a SUV. We stuck out like sore thumbs as Americans, with the locals keeping an eye on us as we walked by.

When we finally arrived at the place, it was tiny. Two tables, in the front portion of what I am pretty sure was a home. From what I recall - and my memory is a bit dim since it was over ten years ago - there were only two options to order, and we got one of each to share. The toppings were fresh and fantastic, just as they always were in Italy - but it was the crust that was the revelation. The dough was the perfect amount of chewiness, cooked just to a crisp without burning, and left your stomach so happy you could literally eat this for days - and damn the consequences.

What's the point of all of this? It's just a way of establishing credentials, so you know where I'm coming from if I say I like a pizza or don't like it. I'm not one of those who will call something bad if it doesn't live up to the legacy of Italian pizza - good food is good food. However, I probably approach pizza from an Italian point of view. That could be why I'm not exactly excited by the thought of Chicago-style (though I have never been outside of Chicago's airport and would absolutely try it) and no longer can accept the standard American-style pizza as even edible.

Still, when people whose opinions I have come to respect tell me there are places to have excellent pizza in Portland, I'm going to listen. Pizza has become huge in the city with chains like Pizzicato and Pizza Schmizza - both pretty good, but not excellent - sprouting up around town like randy bunny rabbits.

There are a few other places that have received rave reviews from Portland's foodie nation, places like Nostrana and Al Forno Ferruzza (which are absolutely on the list of places we need to check out), but we have recently been able to check out two of the biggies - Apizza Scholls and Ken's Artisan Pizza, both in Southeast Portland.

Apizza Scholls

The recommendation was to get to this SE Hawthorne pizza place right at opening, at 5pm, because they are always busy and they don't always stay open until closing time - if they run out of dough, that's it. It seems they have changed a little bit so that the dough is no longer so finite, but it's still crazy busy. We got there at about 4:50 on a weekday (I think it was Thursday) and the line outside the door was already 10 deep. Thankfully, that meant we still were seated immediately when it opened. (If it's important, Anthony Bourdain stopped by here on the Pacific Northwest episode of No Reservations.)

We ordered the Apizza Amore with the hot capicollo (smoked pork shoulder) and it was excellent (it was a big pizza too!). The crust was not classic Italian, but rather more of a well done American style - and that's not a knock in the least. The capicollo was fantastic, a nice kick but not too hot. I also ordered an Anchor Porter, which I had never had before and found it to be just as good as my favorite Deschutes Black Butte Porter - something else to keep my eye out for.

It took about a half hour to get our food - we weren't first on the list - but it's a comfortable place. If you do have to wait, there is a bar where you can get a drink while you wait for a table, or even order to go. I would absolutely recommend this and Wifey and I will be going back at some point.

Ken's Artisan Pizza

Wifey and I hit this place up on a Wednesday night after the general dinner time, thinking that even if it was still busy we could get food to go (which they only do Tuesday-Thursday). As we walked in I noticed it definitely did not have a pizzeria vibe; everyone was drinking wine, which while it's a nice fit with pizza just seems wrong to my American sensibilities, you know? Maybe I'm just not immersed enough in the culture of wine - working on that.

It was also definitely busy. The hostess took our name and said it would be a 20 minute wait, so we asked if we could order to go. After checking with the chef she came back and said sure - then we'd be out of there in 5-10 minutes. So we ordered a margherita and a soppressata (spicy salami), to get a sense of what they do.

I'll say this for Ken's (this is the same Ken who owns Ken's Artisan Bakery on NW 21st, which is fantastic) - their pizza oven is the best I have ever seen. It's huge. The cooking area is open to the entire room so you can watch the staff work, which is amazing. It reminded me of a place I had lunch at in Assisi (as in St. Francis of) where I was seated not too far from the wood fired pizza oven and could literally watch the pizza cook. Ken's doesn't have seats quite that close, but you get the idea.

Our pizzas (all of them are 12") were done in what seemed like five minutes or less, which was outstanding. They had a nice balance of cheese and sauce, and for the margherita the fresh basil gave it a punch of freshness and flavor that was comforting. The soppressata was a thicker cut (compared to how it's usually cut) and had a kick but wasn't too hot - excellent.

The crust was amazing. It is more in the Italian style, thin with a nice chewiness. The slightly burnt edges gave it a great flavor from the wood burning oven, making it seem that much more authentic.

Yes, we would absolutely go back.


Was one of these better than the other? I don't think so - they aren't even the same style of pizza so judging them against each other isn't fair. However, they are both great eats and get definite recommendations from Wifey and I. Are they the best in Portland? Hard to say yet, but Al Forno Ferruzza and Nostrana will have a lot to live up to. Plus, that's not all - there are two foodcarts that come highly recommended as well, Wy'East Pizza and Give Pizza a Chance. And we'll have fun checking them out!

Pac-10 Football: 10/3 Games

It's an interesting week in the Pac-10. Two programs - Oregon State and Cal - that were supposed to be right there at end of the season are facing must-wins already to avoid starting the league season 0-2. If that happened, and Stanford wins, they'd already be 2.5 games behind the Cardinal, which is mindboggling to say the least.

Time - Game - Channel

12:30 - UCLA @ Stanford - ABC
12:30 - Washington @ Notre Dame - NBC
4 - Oregon State @ Arizona State - Versus
5 - #7 USC @ #24 California - ABC
6:15 - Washington State @ #16 Oregon - Comcast Sports

5 - #5 Boise State @ UC Davis - ESPN360.com

Can we please get Boise State out of the WAC and into a real conference? UC Davis? You have to be kidding me... They are going to go undefeated this year, with the win over Oregon as their flagship moment, and ride it into a BCS game. Where they will get stomped.

I'll be watching: In truth the two early games don't interest me a ton, but any time I can see Notre Dame lose I like that. Saturday mornings are for hiking and errands, but at the worst we'll be home by 4 to catch the Oregon State kickoff. Then after that is over we'll probably watch the end of the SC-Cal tilt, then do the same thing for the Oregon game - though at that point I would suspect they'll be up by four touchdowns. Man Wazzu is bad...still not as bad as last year, but pretty dang bad.

Predictions: Stanford has been solid so far this year, and playing at home against UCLA I'll take the Cardinal...Can Washington go to Notre Dame and put another nail in Charlie Weiss' coffin? Call me a homer, but I say yes...Can Oregon State rebound from two tough losses? I'm not impressed by the Sun Devils, so what the hell - taking the Beavers...Home field will determine the matchup of the week with SC and Cal, so I'm taking Cal and SC will drop in the rankings again...Do I really have to formally pick Oregon?...Boise State wins by five touchdowns - at least.


Ten 01 - Portland

Not too long ago Wifey and I were downtown late in the afternoon on a Saturday and had a craving for burgers. Portland Monthly magazine did an article an issue or two back about the best burgers in Portland - most of which we hadn't tried - so that's been in the back of our mind as we have been planning our food adventures.

I mean, who doesn't love a good burger, right? Sorry vegetarians...I'm not quite as anit-veggie as Anthony Bourdain, but I love me some ground beef on a bun. Over the course of the next year or whenever, we plan to hit everywhere on Portland Monthly's list, as well as some they may have missed (Grilled Cheese Grill?).

So there we were, hungry in the Pearl District, and realized Ten 01 was only about a block away. Now, Ten 01 made the list on the best non-beef burger section, which to me is a little weird, but a chorizo burger sure sounded good.

Later in the afternoon there was no wait, especially since we were fine just sitting at the bar. By the way, is it weird to sit literally at the bar, on a stool watching the bartender make drinks, and not order alcohol? Or, really, anything other than water? Probably, but we had done some wine tasting earlier and really all we wanted was food. They didn't seem to mind. But it's still a little weird - to me at least.

The bar menu has all sorts of interesting looking stuff on it in addition to the chorizo burger, which we already knew we were ordering. We decided what the heck, let's get the regular burger as well, which comes with an option of bacon and your choice of cheddar, feta, or bleu cheese. Bacon and bleu cheese on a burger? Yes. Hell yes.

The chorizo burger also has a fried egg on it and came with fries; the grass fed beef burger did not come with fries. However, we saw other people order fries by themselves - has an option for truffle oil - and they looked pretty dang good. Ours were excellent.

What about the burgers?

The beef burger was good - perfectly cooked. We asked for medium well and that's actually what we got - it seems like that usually means medium or medium rare in most restaurants, so we recommend asking for exactly how you like it. In our case that would be medium, but it was hardly overcooked - it was exactly what we asked for. The bacon strips were thick and not overly fatty. Overall it was an excellent blend of flavors.

It's very difficult to describe the chorizo burger. It definitely had some kick - as chorizo is bound to do - but the egg, pickled shallots, and provolone provided a nice balance so you never really noticed that this burger had the spicy bite. If you are open to your burger being something other than just ground beef, this is where you need to go.

Which one was better? Hard to say - that's like comparing apples and oranges, really. If you want spicy and want to be a tad adventurous, go chorizo. If you want a classic, that was excellent too.

The best in Portland? Ten 01 has to be on the list for sure, but the list is long and we're just getting started.