Summer Foodie Roundup

Sometimes things just don't merit their own post, and despite what I have claimed I would do in the past and post more, smaller things, it's just not going to happen. Not in my writing nature - I like to write, so things get longer. Over the summer Wifey and I have tried all sorts of things, so here's a quick rundown of recommendations and thoughts.

Kenny and Zuke's - Pastrami Burger - Co-owner of Kenny and Zuke's Nick Zukin (hence, Zuke), recently completed a personal journey through Portland, trying and rating over 70 "bistro burgers." You can read the results of his odyssey at Willamette Week with the top ten and on his own blog for numbers 21-25, 16-20, and 11-15. It's a very well done set of reviews and I'd like to at some point try them all.

But Nick didn't rate the K&Z burger, for obvious conflict of interest reasons. He has on multiple occasions talked about the K&Z pastrami burger and mentioned how it should rate before though, so I asked him on Twitter where he though that would rank on his list, if he could be objective. Nick hit me about right back and said he'd put it between 4 and 7 on his list, but wasn't promising he could be objective. That was objective enough for me, not doubting it was good and nice to see he didn't just put it #1 (didn't think he would, he seems very honest when talking about food.)

So I tried it out on my last lunch there. It's a very good burger, cooked well with good flavors, and topped with pastrami and Swiss cheese. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone. I was a little surprised by it's size; almost everything at K&Z is huge and I eat half at the meal, taking the rest home for later, but this was actually just the right size for a meal. Not a detriment to be sure, but simply an observation. After trying burgers at Gruner and Le Pigeon (2 and 6 on his final list) I think Nick's placement of the K&Z burger was pretty accurate, though probably closer to 7 then 4. Good stuff.

Broder - Aebleskiver, bacon/tomato/blue cheese baked scramble - After reading a lot of positives we hit Broder, a Swedish place, up for breakfast one day. The aebleskiver came with lingonberry jam and fresh lemon curd for dipping and were moist, almost melt in your mouth. Excellent. Loved the jam and the curd as well. The scramble was interesting - we both thought the tomato threw off the flavor a bit. It's an interesting dish. Would I recommend Broder? Not sure yet. It was solid, but not fantastic. We want to go back for lunch and try out more dishes.

Tasty and Sons - Breakfast board (chicken liver mousse, bacon, beef jerky, yogurt, pickled beets, blackberries, bread), bacon wrapped date, peaches and cream with telema cheese and honey, fuhgeddaboutit (Italian sausage omelette), French toast - Tasty continues to be one of our favorite places. We hadn't ordered the breakfast board before but foodies seem to love it every time, so this time we did. I had never had chicken liver mousse before and had no idea what to expect, but it was borderline excellent. Not sure I would order it given multiple choices of dishes, but I'm definitely not unsure about it anymore Everything on the board, actually, was excellent. The French toast was amazing as usual and the sausage in the omelette couldn't have been seasoned any better. The peaches and cream was something neither of us had had before, but both liked. The cheese on top really made the dish for me.

As before, if you haven't been here yet you need to get here.

Ken's Artisan Bakery - Valhrona chocolate chip cookie, salted caramel macaroon - We've been to Ken's a number of times and always enjoy it, but this cookie fell a little short. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't better than we make at home. In fact, I will be bold and say it's not AS good. There, I said it.

The macaroon was interesting. The flavors were very good though not quite as good as the one from Pix Patisserie, but it was also as big as my hand. All other macaroons I've had before have been about bitesize, but not this one. Shrug.

Northwest Sweets - Marshmallow, caramels - If you didn't heed my earlier comments about this place and go there, you need to do so. Immediately. Fall is coming and that means football and cooler weather, the perfect combination for making hot chocolate or drinking chocolate. And when you do, you need a marshmallow, and these are the best in town. The fresh licorice on the counter almost convinced me...but Wifey doesn't like it and I'd have to eat the whole thing myself, so I didn't get it. Who am I kidding? Next time I'm buying it.

Sterling Coffee - vanilla caramel latte, Cluizel mocha - As usual, drinks from Sterling were, well, sterling. Both the vanilla and caramel come from Two Tarts and we'd never combined the two in the latte before, so we asked the barista if that sounded like a good idea. After he said they were excellent in combo, we ordered and have to agree.

On a side note, Two Tarts does not sell that caramel to the public - we tried. We wanted to use it in ice cream, but were told they currently only do commercial accounts. It sounded like it would be for sale in their store at some point in the future, but that date is yet to be determined. Until then, Sterling and Coffeehouse Northwest are the only places we know it can be found in a drink.

Ristretto Roasters - mocha - I really like Ristretto's mochas. When we ordered this I was very pleased...but then ended up getting one at Sterling a short time later. Night and day Sterling wins hands down. After commenting that the Ristretto one now tasted like crap, Wifey disagreed and she's right. The Ristretto mocha is probably one of Portland's best, but it's just not in the Sterling/Barista/Coffeehouse category. As long as you aren't drinking them side by side, you'll enjoy it just fine.

Part of this could be we always order the dark chocolate (Cluizel at Sterling and Coffeehouse, Valhrona at Barista), which makes a huge difference. Ristretto just needs to add some decadence to their menu.

Nostrana - tossed insalata caprese/rotisserie chicken/rose, gnocchi with morel cream sauce, capuccino, vanilla bean gelato, Pizzeria Mozza butterscotch budino - Add Nostrana to my favorite restaurants list - I have never had anything bad here and routinely the service and food is top notch (though this time the server was obviously new, not just to the restaurant but it also seemed to Italian food in general). The salad/chicken/rose was a complete meal and all of it was excellent. We took one pic of the salad, then forgot for the rest of the food because we were hungry. This may have been the best part of the meal, which would be saying a lot.

The budino is an interesting dessert. Here's a pic of it from the This Is Pizza blog (which I highly recommend it you like pizza):

It's quite the interesting set of flavors, and good stuff.

Nostrana also allows dogs on the outdoor patio, so we took advantage of that and brought Misaki for lunch. She just laid under the table while we had lunch, letting everyone who walked by comment on her cuteness. She also received a bowl of water from the waitress, which was nice of them.

Alma Chocolates - Vanilla bean custard, salted caramel sauce - After missing out on joining Alma's CSI program (Community Supported Ice Cream, where members put up money for a ice cream maker in exchange for a boatload of finished product), we had to check out the results. Especially after making our own. And you know what? Ours is pretty damn good... The caramel sauce we used in our own batch of vanilla bean frozen custard and it may just be the best thing ever.

Ruby Jewell - salted caramel ice cream, peanut butter dream - Portlanders seem to love this place, but after giving it two chances I'm really not sure why. We picked up an ice cream sandwich at Whole Foods once and just couldn't get over how weak in flavor and quality the cookie part was. The ice cream seemed fine, but it was overpowered by the bland cookie. When the new shop opened on N. Mississippi, we decided to try out just the ice cream. It was, well, okay. Nothing special, honestly. You want good ice cream? Walk up the street a few blocks to Lovely's Fifty Fifty. Their salted caramel is about ten times better for the same price.

Piece of Cake - Fantasy cake, orange/chocolate cupcake, peanut butter chocolate cupcake - This might just be the best cake in the city, the fantasy cake. We used to get it at Zupan's in Beaverton, but that store closed a year ago and we haven't had the cake since. Or was it New seasons? Either way, haven't seen it there either. We were in Sellwood at Sellwood Dog Supply (Misaki and the cats recommend this place) getting a few things and decided to go here, just a few doors down, to see if they had the cake available. They did, and it was even better than we remember. One layer chocolate cake, one layer cheesecake, it's pure goodness. The cupcakes were pretty good, the peanut butter one being the better. The orange frosting tasted faintly of orange, but was too much in quantity and relatively little overall flavor. The other had a layer of actual peanut butter topped with chocolate ganache. Does that sound awesome or what? It is.

Lovely's Fifty-Fifty - Mint stracciatella ice cream - Wifey had been wanting to try this, so we maanged to order ice cream without getting the salted caramel - not sure how we pulled that off. As always, the ice cream part was excellent, and the chocolate was also good - it held it's own. The mint, though, is not the mint you grew up with - it's actual fresh mint. And it's strong. Very strong. It was a bit too much for us, but others who really like that flavor will love it.

Some things, on the other hand, DO merit their own post. Here are some places we hit up over the summer:

Plus a nibbling tour through Seattle...and we made some borscht!


Claws Claws Claws

It's not all fun and games at the MyNWX household. Nope - in fact, sometimes it can get downright bloody.

I suppose that's the risk with four animals in the house. No matter what you do, no matter what precautions you take, there are bound to be "injuries." We don't belive in declawing a cat - and I will tell anyone you shouldn't - so that's three little furballs who have no compunctions about using their knives to their advantage (well, two, but more on that in a bit).

Some people trim their cat's nails - we are not some of those people. If you would like to come over and trim the nails of our Bengals, then by all means we'd love that. Us though? We bleed enough. No need to actively look for it.

We did trim Ruby's nails though and do the same for Misaki. Both of them were never a threat to cause damage scratching - which is different than saying it never happened.

But this post is all about claws, the point being to introduce to the world what exactly is causing all those red marks on my arm. I keep telling everyone, they AREN'T track marks from heavy heroin use, but I'm not entirely sure that guy at the grocery store believed me when I handed him my debit card...


Ruby was always good about letting me trim her nails. Despite her size it was a one-person job. Admittedly it probably should have been done more often, but we knew it needed to be done when her footsteps on the hardwood sounded like an Under Armour commercial (click-clack, click-clack).

Occasionally one of us did get scratched, but it was usually if she backed away from something and stepped on our foot. Ruby was almost always very, very mindful of where she was and her size - she was sensitive that way.


Would you look at those cute little paws?! Given Misaki's background as a show dog, she is used to sitting through nail trimmings and the like, but that doesn't mean she enjoys it. Working her nails is a two-person job: one to hold her still and the other to work the nails. She doesn't like it, she squirms a lot, and she plays it off like she's being tortured. Despite what the neighbors may think, she's not.

Her nails we work with a Dremel tool, shaping and smoothing them nicely. We wanted to do this with Ruby, but the sound of the machine would have freaked her out; no way that was going near her foot. Misaki will also deal with nail clippers if we don't get the Dremel on there often enough. She doesn't like either one.


Lilo was a stray, as I've talked about before. Her original owners had her declawed, but we're pretty sure she doesn't fully realize it. She has adapted, using her teeth more when wrestling with the other two cats, but she still uses a scratching post like she has her claws and will wrap the toes of her paw around you finger, stretching her fingers (are they fingers on the front leg? I had no idea) around your hand and following the same motions that would normally extend the claws for grip. It's cute, but at the same time a little sad.

You can even feel the emptiness inside her fingers. It doesn't seem to hurt her, but her paws are always cold. Not sure if there is a relationship, but there probably is.

This is an example of the crazy Lilo at play. Click on the picture for a bigger version - in her left front paw you can see her fingers are all extended, but no claws. Poor girl.

Of course...I hate to say this, but she's a little bit crazy. If she did have claws she'd be scratching on everything in the house, not just the scratching posts (like the other two more regularly). She will use legs, heads, leather furniture, televisions - literally anything - to simulate scratching on with her clawless paws. Is this because she doesn't have claws? Would she do that less if she did have claws? Maybe, I'm not sure. But still, there is a part of me where when she does something like this I can understand why someone had her declawed.

Again, that's not condoning it or saying I would have done it myself - not a chance in hell and I'd tell whomever did this to her that - it's just an observation.


Ah yes, here we have the first of the two serious sets of claws in the house. Sera is the most vicious; her claws are as sharp as a razor blade and will slice through just about anything like a hot knife through butter. That includes paper, my skin, glass, titanium, and probably diamonds. And no, that's not a joke.

Would you check those things out? She doesn't halfass it either. When it comes to using her claws, she goes all the way. If you are playing with her that's something you just have to understand - Sera isn't going to be more careful around your hands. If she's swinging at something and your hand is in the way, you will bleed.

Her claws are so fine, so sharp, that you won't even notice it at first. You may feel contact from her paw, but when you look down you won't see much, if anything. However, like with a very sharp razor blade it takes a few seconds. Look down in a minute and there will be blood everywhere. And because of the sharpness of her claws - she must have a knife sharpener hidden somewhere she breaks out while we are sleeping - it won't even hurt. Well, until you clean it out...then it hurts like hell.

Sera doesn't spare anyone either. Moochie will not use his claws when wrestling with Lilo because he apparently understands that makes the fight unfair; Sera doesn't care. She'll rip anyone up, and the sound her claws make through another kitty's fur is rather disturbing. Moochie and Lilo each turn up with scratches on their head and neck at least once a week. We know where they come from, even though Sera won't acknowledge it.

The odd thing, though, is she has never scratched either dog. It's not because there haven't been opportunities, it's just that she seems to think they aren't enough of a threat to even bother with. Sometimes (sorry puppies) we think it may make the dynamics of the household so much smoother (no kitty chasing, for instance) if Sera would smack the dog just once, but she won't do it. In the end, probably better - I don't want to have take Misaki in for stitches.


Moochie's claws are the ones that usually leave my arms looking like a heroin addict. It's not that he's trying to hurt you, it's all about love. See, when Moochie is happy - like sitting on your lap while you rub his belly - he makes bread. This harkens back to manipulating the flow of milk in mom as a kitten, but as an adult kitty - and as a Bengal with monstrous claws - it means some serious damage. The color version of this picture above was a little washed out, but it's the best one I could find of him putting his claws into my skin.

Notice the extension of the claws. Immediately after the click on the camera, those claws contracted down the length of my arm towards his body, then re-extended and repeated the whole process over. And over. And over. And over.

When loving up the Mooch it's all about how much pain can you stand. We keep telling him you shouldn't hurt the ones you love, that despite what 2Pac said love is not pain, but the concept seems to be a little too abstract for him.

So if you ever come over, you have been warned. Moochie on your lap may be cute at first, but it probably won't stay that way.

Most of my shirts have snags in the belly because of Moochie's claws. Oh well...you have to accept some things when your pets are a couple generations removed from climbing trees and hunting their own fish in Southeast Asia I suppose.

Check out this picture above. See Moochie doing his thing with the toy and the scratching post, with the crazy look in his eyes? This may be amusing to watch, but keep your distance. If you try and take the dangly toy from him, to bounce it around and play like with a normal house cat (whose claws are maybe a third of the length, sharpness, and strength), you are quite likely to scream with pain and need some Neosporin and a bandage.

Of course, there is not a warning on the package when you buy a Bengal. (Of course not - they don't come in packages! Well, unless you count a package of crazy fur...) This is a lesson learned by trial and error - mostly error. Just stay a safe distance away and enjoy the frenzy from the safety of the couch.

All of our kids (or pets, as some people like to call them) are extremely proud of their claws. They will taunt you with them, cleaning them obsessively and flexing their paws to show you exactly how amazing they are fully extended. Like in this picture above, with Moochie showing off.

See that look on his face? Can't you just hear Clint Eastwood saying, "Go ahead, make my day"? It's part taunt, part threat, and part promise. You want no part of any of those.

Now that you know the truth, can someone please tell my boss to stop leaving those pamphlets for kicking the habit on my desk?


Le Pigeon: An Exhilirating Experience

I have to admit, for a long time French food kind of scared me a bit. It seemed a little too much to take in, with all these words I didn't understand and the ones I did full of ingredients I wasn't all that sure about. Over the past year that's changed a little bit, probably partly because of our odyssey to eat through Portland, the book and movie Julie and Julia, and then attempting to make some more dishes on our own at home.

We knew about Le Pigeon, a very high quality French restaurant on East Burnside and 7th, but were kind of keeping it on the back burner. We wanted to be sure we were ready, that we would appreciate the food, and after a lot of recommendations (and I mean a lot, from both people in Portland and visitors from out of town), we decided we were ready.

Signage outside the restaurant

Our plan was to get there right as it opened, at 5pm, and take a couple seats at the Chef's Counter. No reservations were needed, plus we get to see owner and chef Gabriel Rucker - he of the three consecutive nominations for James Beard Rising Chef of the Year - work his magic. And at a place named by The Oregonian as the co-Resaurant of the Year in 2008? Yes, please.

A drawing of Mr. Pigeon, hanging in the bathroom

I must confess, we had another reason for getting to Le Pigeon right as it opened to sit at the Chef's Counter: the burger. While it may seem odd to go here and order a burger, it was just named the sixth-best burger in the city and they only make five a night, so we figured what the heck. Plus, I'll be honest - it's the cheapest item on the menu by a longshot so it balanced the bill a little bit, and it provided us with a safe option. Baby steps. We aren't the type to jump in with both feet to something new.

The space is small, holding just a few communal tables in addition to the Chef's Counter, which surrounds a kitchen barely bigger than our own - and has three people working in it. It has a homey feel to it, very friendly.

After being served a plate of fresh bread with salted butter, me made our order: the burger and beef cheek bourguignon.

First, the burger:

The burger comes on a fresh ciabatta roll with a fantastic coleslaw that included cherry tomatoes sliced in half, white cheddar, and grilled onions. And you know what? It was amazing. Really, really amazing - I'd call it better than Gruner, so apparently I don't agree with the list. We requested it medium and it was cooked perfectly, the bun supported the messy toppings...there is zero bad we can say about this.

And the seasoned potatoes that come with it? Perfect. There were toasted onions mixed in as well, plus housemade ketchup for dipping. Perfect. Heck, we'd come back just for these.

Then there was the bourguignon:

The beef cheek literally fell apart under the mildest pressure from the fork and the sauce was rich, dark, and luxurious. And it's not a small chunk of meat either - we brought half of it home. Under the meat were a couple slices of potatoe, some carrots, and some onions. If there was any negative we could come up here, it's that we wanted more veggies (I know, who says that, right?!). This is a last meal type of dish...simply amazing.

We paired the two beef dishes with a shared glass of 2006 Chateau La Caussade Bordeaux at our waitress' suggestion. Great wine - even flavor, a little fruity, perfect pairing.

And hey, as a bonus Rucker cooked both the meats for our meal (and the desserts!). It's not often a star makes me a meal.

Then came dessert. Desserts are written up on a chalkboard across the room from where we sat, and we eyed this board the entire time we were waiting for our meal - and multiple times even while enjoying our meal. We almost ordered the Foie Gras Profiteroles, but in the end decided to save that for next time.

What the heck, we each ordered a dessert. The first was the Honey Bacon Apricot Cornbread with Maple Ice Cream:

Oh. My. If the word "goodness" can become an object, it would be this dessert. Bacon tidbits and apricot pieces were baked into the cornbread, which was light and moist. The ice cream was just as it should be, rich and creamy, and the maple provided the perfect balance of sweetness to the savory bacon. Highly, highly recommend.

The second dessert was an Espresso Pot au Creme and Chocolate Shortbread Cookie

Cookie and Espresso Pot Au Creme in the foreground

The Creme Brulee

The pot au creme was fantastic. Creamy, not too heavy on the espresso, and smooth. For us, the cookie didn't bring anything to the table - it could have not been there and wouldn't have been missed. However, the star here was the creme brulee. Apparently my entire life I have only had creme brulee that was complete crap, because I've never really been a huge fan. This, though, was a revelation. The hard shell tasted like caramel and the cream underneath was pure bliss. Words probably can't adequately describe how good this is.

The Pigeon on an exterior window

So I suppose one could say we had a good time. Or excellent. Or amazingly awesome. All of those are true. And yes, it will be an expensive meal, but in the end two entrees, two desserts, and a glass of wine came to $56 ($10 less if you don't count the wine). Honestly, I feel satisfied with that bill - actually, I think it's a fantastic deal. Usually when I drop that much on a meal - which is not often - even if the food is solid I end up feeling a little bit like I've wasted my money. Not here, not at Le Pigeon - the food was worth every cent. Also, the service was attentive and helpful without being intrusive, which we love.

Go there - it's not possible to regret it.


Creme de la Creme

A few weeks back Wifey emailed me this post on Food Carts Portland about a new cart specializing in French food called Creme de la Creme. It sounded pretty dang good, so last week Wifey, Misaki, and I headed out to SE 43rd and Belmont to the new Good Food Here pod of food carts to check it out for lunch.

One nice thing about this pod? They have parking spots! Can't say that for Cartopia on SE 12th and Hawthorne or Mississippi Marketplace on N. Mississippi.

Creme de la Creme is housed in a converted school bus - with lots of bright colors - at one end of the pod. There are plenty of spots to sit down, at picnic tables under some trees on the periphery of the pod and spots with umbrellas within.

The "cart" - colorful, clear menu, friendly people.

Simple French food is the carts specialty, with sandwiches, soups, salads, and a couple basic desserts. We opted for the French Onion soup and a Croque Monsieur sandwich.

French Onion soup

The soup came with a piece of bread roughly the same size as the bowl, topped with melted gruyere. All elements of this soup were simply pretty dang perfect. The bread, despite soaking in the soup, still kept it's shape and the gruyere added a great additional flavor the normal soup flavors. The onions were well cooked, the broth rich, and we'd absolutely get this again.

Next up was the Croque Monsier, a toasted sandwich with black forest ham and gruyere inside, then topped with more gruyere. I love gruyere...

Croque Monsieur

We had eaten half the sandwich before I remembered to click a picture, so imagine two of those halves. The sandwich was good. The bread was crunchy, the flavors melded well, and I'd order it again - or maybe go the Croque Madame route next time and get it with an egg. It came with the small side salad topped with a fresh vinaigrette.

One of my favorite things about eating at food carts is we can always take Misaki with us. She wasn't the only dog there at the time, but everyone was properly respectful of personal space, a trait Misaki prizes.

She also, apparently, wanted to try some French food.

Misaki working her Shiba Mind Control

Sorry pups, not on your diet.

Creme de la Creme was a great meal and we will return at some point. If you are in the mood for something quick and French, this has to be at the top of your list.


Taming the Beast

When Wifey and I went to Simpatica in the past (detailed here for dinner and here for brunch) it was our first experiences with communal dining. And for dinner, it was our first experience going to a place where you signed up for a meal time to sit and eat whatever was put in front of you.

And we loved it.

Well, there is another place like that in town, called Beast. Honestly, I'm not sure there is a better name for a restaurant. At once it evokes images of strong animals, while at the same time letting you know exactly what's going to be on the menu. Helmed by Naomi Pomeroy, one of Food and Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs of 2009, the emphasis of the menus - created fresh weekly - is pure FLOSSiness (Fresh, Local, Organic, Sustainable, Seasonal).

Here's a quick blurb about themselves:
As the name implies- we are frank in our appreciation of meat. Our food is simple, refined, and-dare we say- feminine. We let our moods and our sensual appreciation of what the fields, forests and oceans are yielding dictate our weekly menus. We are inspired by French Grandmothers, but our days are spent prepping to the sounds of our favorite rock-n-roll bands- we work just like we would in our home kitchens, and as our guests- we hope you can tell, and that our ease translates to your comfort and enjoyment.

Doesn't really get much better than that, does it?

Beast does dinner (six courses) Wednesday-Saturday at 6pm or 8:45 pm, and brunch (four courses) on Sunday at 10am or noon. We hit up brunch at 10am to get a feel for the place.

Oh, and how could I forget this? Beast isn't the kind of place you go to and ask for substitutions - they will be kindly declined. In fact, their website states people who aren't complete omnivores would be hard-pressed to enjoy an entire meal. If I had a restaurant, that would be my policy too - I made it, it's awesome, eat it. See the last line in the pic of the menu below (click the picture for a larger version that is probably more readable):

We made our reservations online via an Open Table link on Beast's website. My personal feeling is more restaurants need to have this option - so easy that way.

Sunday morning we managed to get to NE Portland about 9:35, so had plenty of time to kill. Here is where we have one small beef. When Beast says 10am, that means seating BEGINS at 10am. If you get there earlier, you will wait outside, unless you are first and they let you take a seat on the small bench just inside the door. So really, getting there early doesn't do you much good at all.

Here's a quick picture (these were all taken with the cell phone - forgot the camera again - so the quality is decent, not great) of right outside the door. The lighting was completely wrong - sun was too harsh - to get a good picture of the entire front of the place.

Once inside, Beast is extremely inviting. There are two large communal tables and there is room for 25 people, if I remember correctly. The kitchen is open so the preparation for each course can be watched, and the walls are covered with chalkboard paint, full of tasty expressions, simple recipes (such as the one below), and plenty of wit.

Beast serves Stumptown coffee and Smith Teas, while fresh juice and morning cocktails are an additional fee. Another very tiny whine: the creamer for the coffee is served in a tumbler which no matter how you pour it, it spills. I didn't see anyone master this. A tumbler with a spout would have been nice. And yes, I'm done with the negatives, which admittedly are extremely nitpicky and ultimately unimportant...everything else was amazing.

Our first course was a cherry clafoutis with vanilla whipped cream and maple glazed bacon:

First off, that whip cream was to die for. Having never had a clafoutis before, testing the flan-like baked goodness over a couple of fresh cherries (watch out for pits!) was simply amazing. The bacon was also excellent, and a bite with each of the four flavors pure bliss. And no, I'm not overdoing it - it was that good.

The second course was a "Beast Hash" featuring duck confit, potatoes, corn, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes, topped with a poached egg and Hollandaise:

The brown line encircling the plate is aged balsalmic, and it really made this dish. I mean, it was yummy without it, but when you crack open the egg and swirl together balsalmic, yolk, and Hollandaise with the vegetables, the result was fantastic. We both may have wanted a few more potatoes, but at the same time I wouldn't want to mess with art.

Our third course was a plate of summer greens with three different cheeses:

This was fine. It was good, but to me I just don't get excited about a cheese course, even though I love cheese. I'm weird that way. I also am not entirely sure what the cheeses were - our waiter told us but it was hard to hear him and the descriptions were long, hard to remember. Too bad they weren't printed on the menu. I can say the one on the left was a cow's milk cheese and the one on the right was actually from a water buffalo. Surprisingly, I liked that one the best.

The last course, the dessert one, was chocolate truffle cake with wild huckleberry coulis:

Again, superb. And what's that on top? Oh yes, some more of that vanilla bean whipped cream goodness! If I hadn't been in unknown company - you know, if it was all family - I probably would have licked the plate after finishing off the truffle cake.

This next pic is actually from the bathroom, where there was plenty more wittiness on the chalkboard-painted walls. I thought it was hilarious (I mean, really, mouth brothels?!) and at the same time so, so true. Good stuff.

All in all we had a very fantastic meal at Beast, and can't wait to go back and try it out for dinner. That's more expensive - over twice the cost of the $28 brunch at $60 - so it may wait for a special occasion.

The freshness of the flavor of each element of each course can't be understated and the total meal didn't leave us feeling stuffed or still hungry - it was perfect. Highly recommend.


Happy Birthday Misaki!

Our little Shiba turned seven this month. What do you get the sneaky little red ninja who has everything? There are plenty of Shibas we've befriended on Twitter, so I asked them. I gotta say, we got some great answers...

Prince Zuko simply suggested "more of everything."

Taro's suggestion of her own country cracked us up. I mean, what Shiba wouldn't want that?! Misaki decided that would be a little too much work for her taste, so she chose Primitivedog's suggestion of a one-on-one adventure (Primitivedog's Tweets are protected, so no link).

Well, sort of - she said Mom and Dad could both come because someone has to hold the camera to document the cuteness while the other holds the leash.

So where to? Misaki told us she wanted to go to the beach, so without further adieu, photographic documentation of her seventh birthday excursion to Cannon Beach, in her own words!

Dad and I looking north as we cross the dune - I see birds!

The beach rocks during the week! No other crazy dogs off leash!

Wait, I don't remember this whole my-paws-sinking-in-the-wet-sand thing...I'm not sure I like this...

Me and Mom, at the north end of the beach. Tide's out!

This was not funny. Dad walked us across a tiny bit of water - it was at my ankles - to see some sea stars. The tide started coming in and he wanted to walk back. The water was up past my tummy! I refused to cross. I made Dad carry me across and got him all wet!

Oooh...sand dollar!

Sweet! This is even better than the grass I eat in the backyard!

Just chillin' while Mom and Dad take a reading break. It was kind of hot, but I didn't mind. Click on the picture for a bigger version and you can see sand on my face. :)

Mom and Dad may be sleeping. I need to be a strong guard dog. Keep those sea gulls away. Everyone is scared of this bad ass Shiba!

On the other hand, maybe I'll take a nap. Mom and Dad bore me anyway with their reading. Shouldn't we be chasing something?

Little known fact about me - waves freak me out! I already told Mom and Dad that about seven times today, yet here we are down by the water - AGAIN. Click on the picture for a bigger version to get a better look at my expression.

Am I awesome or what? Mom and Dad got me my own beach for my birthday. Yes, of course it's mine. Everything I want is mine. Why are you laughing?

No more pictures! Silly paparazzi! Why is it so important for the puppy to look at the silly rock?!

I bet you can't find me. You will have to look real hard...I'm camouflaged!

Me stealing Dad's beach towel while he reads, waiting for sunset. Actually, that's what I let him think. The towel is really mine - I just let him use it.

Okay, one picture of what I see. Sunset is about thirty minutes out - all I see is sand, water, and bright. Why don't I get Oakleys like Mom and Dad? Shiba wants!

Mom is pretty damn awesome with the camera. I'm the cutest thing ever, but this post-sunset shot of Haystack Rock with the moon up in the sky is very pretty. Again, not as pretty as me, but pretty.

This one may be even better - check out the wall of clouds, far enough out on the water the rocks are still visible and barely tall enough to eventually cover them. Mom rocks the dusk shots!

Thanks Mom and Dad for a pretty awesome birthday! Next year, though, I may want my own country. And Oakleys. Or maybe tomorrow.


Glad our little one had a good time. We did too!