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April 23, 2009

Grilled Cheese: "Cues I feel good!"

I couldn't help it. The holy grail of grilled cheeses was haunting me and I was utterly powerless to resist its siren call. So, escorted by my buddy Ryan, tonight I entered Cheese-Vana.

The Grilled Cheese Grill resides in North Portland, on Alberta. There is a kitchen trailer (where the grill magic happens) and a school bus a few steps away for diners to sit in (where the mouth magic happens). Before we even ordered, Ryan decided to get on the bus and distribute bouquets of tulips to fellow patrons-- in hopes of appeasing Cheesus, I think.

 border=(I blurred his face to protect his fabulous self from stalkers and other n'er do wells. I don't know that girl so I didn't expend the same effort on her behalf. I'm hoping she can fend for herself on the wild wild interwebs.)

Ryan decided to order what I so gushingly described to you a few days ago, that cinnamon bread/ Nutella/ marscapone/ grilled banana bliss-mobile. I went with the Kindergartner-- cheddar on wheat-- with some mushrooms tossed in for flair.

 border=Where the grill magic happens.

 border=Where the mouth magic happens.

The tables inside the bus were covered with random yearbook photos, so while we waited for our grub we played the amusing game of deciding who we wished we were. I chose her:

And finally, it was time. Here it is, my friends-- the sandwich you've been salivating over for days, complete with fun blurring effects to make it look as heavenly as it tastes:

 border=This sandwich came with a Worther's Original. As if you needed more convincing to gobble it up.

In conclusion, why the heck haven't you come out to visit me yet??

I'll leave you with a piece of prose written by a luminary of our time named Jasmine (of Ms. Lewton's class):

Grilled cheese
creamy crunchy
oh I like it oh, yes, yes.
I do I do, yummy
sweet I love it oh
yes, I do. How do
you feel? cues I
feel good.

April 19, 2009

The day I ate my weight in incremental, sample-sized portions

Portland has pockets of parking lots where food nirvana drives up and plunks down to delight all who happen to wander by. These food carts represent a United Nations of ethnicity. The food they make is so f'ing good because they make it in tiny huts and you start to gorge yourself while still outside. Food just tastes better outside, especially if you're miraculously not suffering from the hay fever that has plagued you since middle school and you can admire the flowering trees and not eye them warily. That's just the way it is and always will be, forever and ever amen.

Yesterday the local alt weekly hosted a Food Cart Festival, where you paid a nominal $5 to have access to a cornucopia of food cart flavor in the form of bite-sized samples. I was physically unable to photograph this event as I was at all times clutching at least three tiny vessels of food. The best I can do for you is a picture I took a few weeks ago of the food cart pod near my office. I made it sepia and blurry because I was playing with my photo editor and it seemed like it was the right thing to do.

Perhaps owing to the fact that this was the unofficial kickoff to the summer festival season, where beer and food jamborees occur on a nearly weekly basis, and perhaps because it was actually not drizzling with a passion for the first time in what felt like years, every hipster in the tri-county, often with their infant Baby-Bjorned to their chest, was in attendance.* Therefore, my compatriots and I had to endure epic lines at every cart after enduring the ultra-epic, 45-minute line just to enter the hallowed grounds.

I must say that despite this, and despite the protest my poor tummy made afterward, complete with punny signs and bullhorns (foreshadowing!), it was worth it. Please spare me some bandwidth so I can tell you about what I ate.

1. Clam Chowder from Soup Cycle, which isn't really a cart because they DELIVER FOOD TO YOU ON THEIR BICYCLES. That is the Portlandiest thing possibly ever.

2. A Mexican creation that I know not the name of, but I want to say was a sopapilla, from Nueva Mexico.

3. Chicken paprikash accompanied by a slice of baguette from Tabor, a Czech cart.

4. Banana-lime smoothie and a walnut chocolate piece of heaven from Moxie Rx.

5. A chocolate shake and a green, grassy shake from Sip.

I need to pause here and tell you a little something about myself. When I was a child the only thing I would eat at restaurants was grilled cheese sandwiches. This drove Ma nuts, because, seriously, why would you spend money on something you can make so easily and cheaply at home? The answer, Ma, is that no sane person who values his or her arteries would willingly put the amount of butter on a grilled cheese sandwich that a restaurant does. That's why it tastes so ridiculously manna from heaven in a restaurant and so not whilst at home. But no restaurant grilled cheese came close to preparing me for what I sampled next.

6. Three grilled cheese variations from The Grilled Cheese Grill. The first was colby on sourdough. Pretty basic, pretty delicious. The second was swiss on rye. Interesting tang; you're onto something there.

The third needs its own paragraph. OK. Please sit down. Imagine a world where there exists two slices of cinnamon bread. Now imagine marscopone, grilled bananas and Nutella filling those two slices. Now imagine that entering your mouth. That was me at approximately 6:43 p.m. on April 18, 2009.

7. A ball of goo at Garden State. Remember how blissed out I was just a paragraph ago? This experience was the exact opposite of that. My friends and I exited the indoor portion of the fest, stumbling with rapture over what we had just tasted, and stood in the line that seemed the shortest. The guy in front of us was gushing about this cart, about how he lives near it and eats from it nearly every day, and the fact that he was still standing in line to sample from it was a testament to its awesome awesomeness. After about 10 minutes we realized the line wasn't moving. After about 20 minutes I sauntered to the front of the line to take a peek at what was going on. Evidently they had run out of food and were in the process of cooking more. After about 30 minutes we finally reached the front of the line and were given wax paper bags containing a fried ball of goo. I don't know how to identify it other than it was yellow and there was a mushy pea in the middle. Eck. I'm not even going to link to them because they were such a total letdown.

Moving on, because I clearly had not gorged myself to bursting point yet.

8. Smoked salmon ice cream from Junior Ambassadors.

9. Rosemary shortbread from Lulu's Confections, also a bike delivery establishment (see above).

10. Mint tea from Cafe Velo.

11. Another banana-lime smoothie from Moxie Rx.

12. Another grassy smoothie from Sip (I was still trying to cleanse my palate from the goo ball).

After I had reached a point where my jeans were sufficiently uncomfortable, I decided to get gone. I was pretty close to requesting that somebody roll me out of the premises. Approximately four hours later, the gurgles and pops emanating from my core alerted me to the fact that I had just partaken in some dang good eatin'.

* God bless run-on sentences you are my friend I love you OK bye.

April 16, 2009

Pa waxes poetic as Passover wanes

My dear old dad sent me this poem today and I loved it so much I just had to share it. Enjoy.

Goodbye Matzah For Another Year

Goodbye matzah for another year.

Goodbye to your frail, cracking, and yeastless skin.

For eight days, we tried to smother your barren being with butter, honey, smoked oysters or fried with eggs and covered with maple syrup.

And yet, beneath each bite, the sandy desert of our hurried escape.

Goodbye matzah for another year.

You're a frisbie that wouldn't fly, a kite with no string, a flag of our impoverished disposition.

You remind me of my father's pale legs, a widow's blank face, the empty pages of a bank book.

Goodbye matzah for another year.

We find your crumbs everywhere, in shirt pockets, in woven carpet, underneath tables.

You're an embarassment like dandruff.

Go away matzah, good riddance, for another year.

I can't bear to eat or see you.

Stay away.

I'll miss you until I see you again.

--Jim Perlman, (c) 2009

April 13, 2009

I am so down with God right now

This week has been the religious equivalent of (insert non-offensive metaphor equating grandiosity here... I rejected inappropriate ones related to guns and sports). What with the Egyptians finally freeing the Jews from hundreds of years of oppression and Jesus rising from his tomb, there was a whole lot of God going on.

Passover commenced on Wednesday at sundown, and the manf and I found ourselves in the home of a random family for seder. How we got there is kind of a long story; suffice it to say I'm on a listserv for tribelings and the lady who runs it hooked me up. It was a perfectly lovely evening, albeit a bit on the long side. Get this-- they actually continued the seder post-feast. That is unheard of in all my years of seder-ing. In my family we usually rush through the first part so we can stuff our gobs full of lamb and matzah ball soup. Then we collapse on the couch, unable to move from fullness, and joke about continuing the service. We then promptly eat another maccaroon or two and forget all about it.

But these people were hardcore. We got there at around seven and didn't leave till midnight. I was so redeemed I felt like a coupon.

Two nights later I was somewhere I rarely am on Friday nights: temple. I went by my all by myself. I don't really have anything else to say about it; I just thought it should be documented.

To pay the manf back for sitting through five hours of kvetching that's been passed down generation to generation, I agreed to go to an Easter service with him. Make that an Easter mass. At the cathedral downtown. I'd gone to but a handful of church services in my lifetime so I was very nervous about doing something wrong, but I had the perfect Easter dress so I figured it'd be OK.

We got there a bit late and ended up having to stand along the wall, which ended up being a blessing because I didn't have to worry about about kneeling/standing/sitting at the wrong times, nor did I have to be awkward when everyone else got up to take communion. There was quite lovely music and some adorable tots to captivate me. One of them liked thrusting her index fingers in the air and shouting, "HA-le-lu-YAH!"


April 7, 2009

Trying to remain home-ful

The manf and I moved into a shoebox last July when we arrived in Portland. I had been searching for pads months ahead of time in a method that had become a habit for me: all of my previous apartments nationwide save the first had been selected sight unseen via that vile man Craig and his list. And it worked out for me every time. Not.

This one isn't so bad, to be completely honest. It's totally furnished down to the colander, it's by a major highway and lots of big transit stops and it's within walking distance of two grocery stores and Mt. Hood. It's just wee. And kind of on the pricey side for its wee-ness. We only planned to be here for a month, two tops, but when the job market only graced the two of us with one 20-hour-a-week gig we kind of got stuck. See, when we move we'll have to go out and buy everything down to the colander, and that's a whole lot of things 20 hours a week ain't gonna buy you.

A couple of weeks ago, though, the universe suddenly aligned. I got bumped up to 36 hours a week. My angelic coworker offered to sell me a whole slew of furniture, including a bed and a lovely pink pullout couch, for $150. The manf got a part-time gig slanging books and he was also accepted by a temp agency. I immediately rolled out Operation: Find and Secure Chez Neenuh (and Manf) 2.0.

After crawling back to Craig and enduring one misfire (the apartment was great but it was in a neighboorhood where all the storefronts had 80s signage that had faded to that depressing blue color), I found it: The Apartment of Dreams. Large, lots of kitchen counterspace, a soaking tub, steps away from my favorite SE Portland haunts... sigh, it was beyond. We told the landlord we were in lurve and put our current landlord on notice. Two days later, we got the devastating news that the apartment had gone to some tricksy hobbit who had arrived but 10 minutes before we had.

Since then, even after securing another month of lead time from the landlord, I've been a bit overwhelmed. The Apartment of Dreams set the bar so high that I fear I may not ever be apartmentally satisfied. A dear friend named Katherine-Kat turned me on to one tool that is helping me get through this mo' betta' than I would have otherwise. It's called Pad Mapper ( and it uses Google Maps to plot out where Craigslist apartments are located. Since we want to move to a very specific 'hood this has been a godsend.

So here's hoping for an apartment that is more like a palace, with an abundance of amenities and without a price to match.