Foodie This and That

There are a lot of things that in my mind don't deserve a blog post all on their own - seems so formal - but I think deserve a little mention. Here's some tidbits from over the last few weeks.

  • The Sugar Cube at Mississippi Marketplace, which had closed for the winter, is opening back up tomorrow and Kir has been teasing us repeatedly on Twitter. We won't be there on opening day, but we will this weekend. Multiple times.
  • Nong's Khao Man Gai never, ever gets old - we love that stuff. Nong is open on Saturdays now too, so if you haven't been you officially have no excuses. If this is what food is like in Thailand I'd do just fine.
  • City Market, on NW 21st and Johnson, has a pretty amazing variety of stuff. I was making spaghetti alla carbonara and wanted some guanciale (pork jowel) to put in it. I had heard Olympic Provisions had some, but they were out and directed me to Chop, the specialty meat counter within City Market. Bingo! Also picked up some very good pancetta from the other meat counter (City Market has a couple businesses within the building - they have a nice looking fish counter too but haven't tried it yet). I really, really like this place - if I lived in the area I'd probably shop there 2-3 times a week.
  • Tried Upright Brewing's #7 a couple weeks back and just really wasn't impressed. It was a tad sparkly and citrusy for me. If I try another of their's I'll make sure it's something darker next time. Those bottles they come in...holy crap they are huge.
  • Speaking of bottles... why do all the good beers only come in 22s? I mean, sure, I like good beers, but at the same time I'm the only in the house who drinks them, most of them have alcohol contents in the 8-10% range (or more), and the only way I can get them (assuming I don't get it on tap somewhere) is to crack open a giant bottle. Well, what if I don't want to get wasted that night? Perhaps logistically it's harder to put these smaller batches in 12oz bottles, but I'd pay a little more for that convenience. Breweries, are you listening?

    And actually, the same goes for wine. Whenever I hear people talking about going through an entire bottle of wine at a meal, or multiple bottles in a night, I'm frankly shocked. Maybe it's because I'm more of a beer or liquor guy than a wine guy, but at least for us we have a half glass about every few days. That wine bottle? Lasts us a couple weeks in the fridge, sometimes more. I 100% realize by the end of the bottle it's far from optimal, but since only crap comes in tiny bottles, we're kind of stuck. Seriously, is there no market for 375 ml (standard is 750 ml) bottles? I absolutely understand the cost would be more per ml, but I don't need a full bottle. Ever.
  • Wifey and I were hungry mid-day a couple weekends back and in the area, so went to Pambiche to get a sandwich to go. We had never been but had heard good things. It was still pretty busy at 4pm in the afternoon, but as we sat to the side and waited for our order we saw a lot of different dishes going out to various customers. All I have to say is oh my lord, we need to go back there again. Everything, honestly, looked awesome. We ordered the Croqueta Preparada sandwich, which has roast pork, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, and croquettes with jamon - excellent. We both also really liked the tostones that came with it - sort of like a French fry equivalent, but wide and flat. Very good. We also sprung for Tres Leches cake, which was pretty good (warning, there is coconut...). We definitely need to go back, multiple times - the breakfast items looked amazing.
  • Found another good coffee place - Heart on Burnside. They do all of their own roasting, and actually do it in the shop - I think if you get there early enough in the day you can watch (no idea if that is interesting or not). We checked it out after hearing good things and ordered a mocha and a bag of beans from Guatemala. The mocha was pretty good, but wasn't very chocolatey. The beans, on the other hand, were amazing. There are flavors of caramel and chocolate, while the all of the flavors mix very smoothly. It's a very relaxing cup.
  • Neither of us are all that big on candy that isn't chocolate, but Northwest Sweets on 23rd and Johnson intrigued us. We actually went there for the old style lollipops, but came out with a few other things as well. As it turns out, the lollipops are as big as your head (I might be exaggerating, but not by much) and very, very good - and a deal at $1.50. We got grape and it's going to take us awhile to get through it. Now, while that's the reason we went, we have multiple reasons to go back. The vanilla bean marshmallows are hands down the best we've ever tasted. They come in a package of two for $1 and can be shared. As if that wasn't enough, we also picked out a couple handmade caramels. The vanilla bean infused one was a little confusing and flowery at first, but after letting the flavors marinate for a bit turned out to be amazing. Apparently he also does chocolates, which we missed, and sells some old school candies as well. It's a tiny little shop in a place where the rent can't be cheap at all, but it absolutely deserves to stick around. Fantastic stuff.
  • I'm really not sure what I can say about Cacao. We were first exposed to it when we stopped there on our Portland Walking Tour and honestly, I have no idea why we don't go back more often. All of the drinking chocolates are amazing - and rich, the smaller sizes are enough unless you are sharing! - and they have such a variety of chocolates, bars and treats, it's impossible not to find something you like (and spend less than $30). If you have never had real drinking chocolate or even good hot cocoa, you owe it to yourself to try this place.
  • Because I know everyone likes an update, you'll like this if you read my dentist saga. If you recall, your hero was left wondering if his blood pressure was insanely high and had ordered a blood pressure monitor for $70 from Amazon at the doctor's suggestion, with directions to track it for a week or two and come back if it was still high. So. The monitor arrived on Friday and I decided - right after having a cup of coffee - to make sure it all worked. My first reading? 124/85. Hmm... The next morning I tested it again, this time within the parameters it recommends of no food or drink in the previous half an hour; 117/75 (honestly, I think that's the lowest I've ever seen for me, which is a good thing).

    So, um, what conclusions can I draw from this? Was the nurse at the doctor's office woefully inept? Or was that day just an aberration because I was worried about the stupid non-lymph node? The doctor was adamant that kind of stress wouldn't cause such an abnormally high reading. Of course, that doctor also insisted the blood pressure monitors at Haggen weren't to be trusted; yet my new home machine - which he said I could trust - registered similar numbers. The bad numbers only came from their office.

    So, my conclusion? I think stress played a part - I'm always a little worked up at the doctor, especially when WebMD tells me I'm going to die. I also think doing the tests manually is a bad idea when - in the doctor's words and actions - there are inexpensive machines that do the job just as well.

    And now I'm getting recorded messages my doctor wants me to come in for an appointment, presumably because of the blood pressure number. Which is apparently based on crappy data. Doctors suck. Well, except when they save your life and all - I'm sure at some point I'll be grateful for them.

    For now, though, I'm not a big fan of health care. Not the system - but yes that does suck - but health care in general. I have about as much faith in them being able to diagnose anything in me as I do in a random mechanic when he tells me something on my car needs to be fixed. Healthy skepticism.

    And I'm also thinking that's a problem. When you hear a diagnosis from a doctor, these aren't the thoughts you should be having. You should be agreeing with them and doing what you are told, because you should trust your doctor. If you don't...well, I'm not real sure where to go from there.

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