Bike Ride to Dinner

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With the arrival of chillier weather (finally!!!) in Portland, Tim and I decided to ride our bikes over to Homegrown Smoker last night. Homegrown Smoker is an all-vegan BBQ with delicious food and an amazingly friendly staff (I previously reviewed Homegrown Smoker here). The spicy-sweet BBQ sauce and cozy, heated, tent-covered seating area warmed us while we ate our meal. It’s always hard to choose from their menu, but you are pretty much guaranteed to leave happy no matter what you order. In fact, we rode off with full tummies and the aroma of smoky BBQ lingering in our clothes.

HS #1

My meal had smoked BBQ soy curls, baked beans, mac-no-cheese, molasses cornbread, and smoked tempeh. It was a lot of food and I ended up sharing with Tim (he’s small but can somehow fit a ton of food in his system). Tim ordered chorizo sausage, baked beans, smoked tempeh, molasses cornbread, coleslaw, and a stuffed jalapeno. Yum.

jalapeno and beeze

I just read on HS’s blog that they are considering adding vegan s’mores, hot spiced cider, and weekend breakfasts to the Fall menu!!!!! Luckily Tim and I live less than a two-mile bike ride away from Homegrown Smoker because there is no way I’m passing up those treats. Yeah. Plus, with the opening of the all-vegan Back to Eden Bakery just down the street, we might need to move into that neighborhood soon…

I will leave you with a photo of the beloved smoker that creates the goodness HS serves up:

the smoker!

Una Bella Cena

I don’t speak Italian, but reliable sources tell me that the above words translate to: One Fine Dinner. And indeed, Tim and I ate a delicious meal at the new vegan restaurant that opened here in Portland, Portobello Trattoria. We are lucky to live within a few miles of the restaurant which will make eating out very tempting…

portobello-trattoria1

The interior is extremely cozy with tables spaced comfortably enough apart for some seclusion and also the ability to pick out snippets of other peoples’ conversations (What? You don’t do that?!). There was even live accordion music for entertainment. It’s a small space, but I prefer that. We were seated very quickly (even though it was busy) and our server was super sweet. 

The menu is set up for sharing. You choose an appetizer, vegetable sides, and main entrees. The main entrees can be ordered in a small plate or large plate size. The idea is to choose a variety of small plates so that you can taste more of the menu. We opted for two large plates to share, plus two sides, and of course, a dessert. I think when dining with a larger group, the small plates option would be fun because it would almost guarantee that you would taste everything on the menu. The food is affordable, much less than we expected for such incredible quality/presentation/service. I think our bill was $35, which is not bad at all for a four-course vegan meal for two people. The portions were just right; we left feeling full, but not overly so. Ready for the food?

Antipasti:

bread

Focaccia – Chewy, soft, and crusty served with probably the best olive oil we’ve ever tasted. There was a sprinkling of coarse sea salt in the olive oil which I really enjoyed, a lot.

Vegetables:

braised-kale

Braised Kale – Simple and addictive, served in a wee saucepan, it doesn’t look like much, but it was the perfect amount for two people.

sauteed-broccolini

Sauteed Broccolini – Tender-crisp with big chunks of yummy garlic for added zip.

Main Entrees:

pumpkin-ravioli

Pumpkin Ravioli with a Cashew Cream Sauce – Topped with chopped hazelnuts and some fresh herbs, it wasn’t overly rich, but light with a nice mix of textures.

spaghetti-meatball

Spaghetti with Meatball – A massive mound of spaghetti squash with a tomato basil sauce and a lentil-mushroom-onion-herb-based meatball (monstrous in size). Wow. This was awesome. I kept reaching over the table and swiping forkfuls from Tim’s plate.

Dessert:

tira-misu

Tira Misu –  Layers of chocolate, vegan mascarpone, and homemade ladyfinger cookies. This was more pudding-like than the tira misu I have eaten in the past, but delicious nonetheless. It was fun to eat out of a jar, but it prevents licking a plate or bowl clean (not that I would lick my plate in a restaurant… well, maybe).

We really enjoyed our meal, and we will undoubtedly return for a second visit (and a third, fourth, fifth…). I’m off to bake Tim’s birthday cake now! Keep a watch out for the celebratory post!!

Swap Love

I recently participated in a PPK package swap. My swap partner (thanks Aimee!!) sent me a package that was literally bulging at the seams! Thankfully I have a nice mailman who brings bigger/heavier packages to my door. He isn’t the most timely dude (I know it’s not his fault that the package took two weeks to arrive, but you know…), but I’ll still give him some praise.

Onto the package contents!!!!

swap-this

-A huge tin full of homemade yummy cookies (brownie bites, chocolate chip, peanut butter, and sugar)

-Two kinds of herbal teas

-A handmade snowflake apron that pretty much rules my kitchen

-A long-sleeved tee (in my favorite color: brown) that says “Go Green” on the front, and “Go Vegan” on the back. I am pretty sure she had this specially made, how sweet is that?

-Tons of gourmet chocolate bars

-Butterscotch chips (I’ve never found vegan ones around Portland, so I am psyched to have these)

-Pure Ohio maple syrup

-Candy

-Local handmade soap that smells lovely

- Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe Joe’s (not pictured, I took these to work to share with my co-workers, and they were devoured)

-Snacky-type chips (also not pictured)

This package made my weekend. Aimee put a lot of time, thought, and effort into all the contents. I love how two people with the same name were paired up! Too fun!! Thanks so much, Aimee! You are the queen of package swaps!!!

On a different note, please take the time to send an e-mail to the Oregon Zoo asking them to stop using bullhooks on the elephants. It’s incredibly cruel and painful to the elephants. Even if you don’t live in/near Oregon, taking this simple action (seriously, it will take you a few minutes max) sends out a positive message of compassion for animals. Please help the elephants. Please?

Oh! This past Sunday Tim and I went to a Culinary Activism lecture at Portland State University given by Isa and organized by the Let Live Foundation. We saw a similar talk over the summer at the Let Live Animal Rights Conference, but it was worth going a second time. Isa gave people cookies (chocolatey gingery yummy ones). How cool is that? Plus, there is always something new to learn when you are in a room full of like-minded people. The new video footage isn’t up yet, but you can check out the footage from her first lecture here (along with many other awesome videos). Go take a peak!

Snow Play

Portland rarely gets snow. A few weeks ago the snow started falling and falling and falling and falling… The city comes to a halt when it snows here, and this amuses me greatly. Sidewalks don’t get shoveled, roads don’t get plowed, public transportation flops, schools close for days, people complain and hibernate indoors, and the only news in the papers and on television relates to the weather. Eventually people realize life must trudge forward and they start digging their cars out from mountains of snow and ice, they ski/snowshoe/walk to work, kids go back to school, and attempts (not necessarily successful however) are made to clear roads and sidewalks. The funniest part? The names the local media give to winter storms. I remember the “Winter Blast of 2004″ as a particularly snowy stint. This year? It was the “Deep Freeze 2008″. Ha! I almost look forward to snow just to hear what privileged title the storm will receive. Sigh… The temperatures recently warmed to above freezing and rain melted most of the snow. Life goes back to normal I suppose. Luckily for people like Tim and I, we have Mt. Hood as a snowy retreat. So, we bundled up and packed our snowshoes and some snacks and headed for the mountain the day after Christmas. You would think it would be crowded with folks escaping the city, but we only saw one other group of people on the trail we picked, and we had complete solitude pretty much the entire time!

Here are some images from our snowshoe hike:

tim-sips-tea

Tim sipping tea! He gave me an awesome insulated thermos for Christmas and we filled it with tasty spiced chai before we headed out the door. It stayed perfectly hot and delicious the whole trek! It was even warm enough to enjoy some afterward when we got back to our car. It was so relaxing to take a rest in the snowy cold and warm up with this tea.

poles-and-snow

Trekking poles and snow. Look how heavily weighted those trees are! We usually see gray jays fluttering about in this area, but there were none to be found this time around.

snack-to-eat

A tasty snack mix. See the banana chips? We made those ourselves!! We received a food dehydrator for Christmas and the first (and only so far) creation was banana chips. They aren’t as crispy as store-bought ones, but they are more pliable and sweet, and just plain addictive! I can’t wait for berry picking season!!!!

We hope to head up to the mountain again next weekend…

My next post will cover a recent PPK swap I participated in! Hooray for swaps.

Expansion of Tummy

Communication between my stomach and brain ceased to exist on Friday evening. Or really, I chose to ignore everything except utensils, food, and Tim. We attended the third benefit dinner held at Sweetpea Bakery here in Portland (you can read about our experience at the previous two dinners here, and here). It was a cold, rainy, windy night and this meal provided solace. Thanks once again to Isa, and all the lovely folks who helped prepare, serve, and take care of all 40 diners. I always look forward to the next dinner!

Photos of our meal (descriptions for each course taken from the Apron Activists blog):

Appetizer
Plantain Rice Paper Rolls
Rice noodles, sweet plantains and toasted pumpkin seeds in a fresh rice paper roll with chili dipping sauce

These were amazingly yummy! I could have eaten about twenty or more. I am not usually a spicy savvy person, but the chili dipping sauce that these rolls came with was good enough to eat with a spoon. I didn’t do that, but I should have…

Soup
Jamaican Curry With Roti Bread
Sweet potatoes, kidney beans and baby limas in a rich Jamaican spiced coconut curry served with flat bread for dipping

Okay, I love beans, I love curry, and I love this soup. The flat bread was the perfect accompaniment. I nearly licked my bowl clean, but, sigh, I had to keep my manners in tact.

Entree
Jerk Tofu And Yucca
Marinated and grilled jerk tofu a green beans served over mashed yucca and topped with a fresh mango salsa

Gorgeous plating, no? This was my first time eating yucca. It was pretty good! I almost stole Tim’s serving of tofu, but he had somebody keeping watch over me:

Meet Creepy Doggy. We made him a fun hat and a paper airplane out of tea bag wrappers. He caused a lot of trouble. At the last benefit dinner, every table had a kitty figurine and we uh, accidentally left ours behind. This time, we were reprimanded (thank you, Jess), and now Creepy Doggy lives with us…

Dessert 
Pumpkin Rum Bread Pudding
A lush and spicy pumpkin bread pudding spiked with rum, served warm with vanilla ice cream

This was when I had to accept defeat with my stomach. I was insanely full after a few bites of this decadent dessert. I ate more than I should have because it was hard to stop (kind of like picking strawberries…). Wow this was yummy.

And if that wasn’t enough, diners left with homemade cookies wrapped up in takeout boxes. Despite a stomach nearly eighty times its normal size, I still ate a cookie when I got back to my apartment. So there. Addiction isn’t a bad thing if it revolves around cookies.