Friday, September 23, 2016

Katie's 30th Birthday: "30 is a Magic Number"

Turning 30 is pretty big deal and as the first of my friends to have the honor, I decided I needed to do something big and fun to kick off a year of dirty thirties.

Also, how gross is the term "dirty thirty"? I kind of hate it. That's why I decided to stay far away from it when picking my bday theme which, after much deliberation, I decided to christen "30 is a Magic Number."

What does "30 is a Magic Number" mean? It means that all your friends have to dress up as something magical and you get to have lots of gold and sparkles and bright colors everywhere. It's the ideal theme for me, really.


Let's break this ish down:

Food

We (being me, Doug, and Kelly) considered going the catering route but when that was WAY too expensive, a longtime favorite of mine popped up as the perfect cheap and easy solution. Mac & cheese to the rescue! 

 Mac & Cheese Bar (Doug used this recipe) with bacon, Fritos, shredded cheese, green onions, hot dogs, and various sauces. 

Keep the cheese separate from the noodles in a crock pot so the sauce doesn't get cold and clumpy. We used 4 lbs of macaroni noodles for 25ish people.

Colorful paper cups and plastic forks make for easy clean-up.

Dessert was a no-brainer. Macarons from Farina always win, especially when they're brushed with gold dust.

Raspberry, Marrionberry, and Salted Caramel Macarons from Farina Bakery

Drinks 

Our friends tend to be big beer drinkers, so we made sure that Doug's kegerator was fully stocked with two of his homebrews as well as a locally-brewed favorite, Occidental Kolsch.

We hadn't made a cocktail on tap since our rehearsal dinner two years ago, but I was once again blown away by how easy it is to make a huge batch of cocktails this way. Just pour the ingredients into a corny keg, let carbonate for a few days, and pour! (If you want to get really technical, Doug says "hook the keg up to a CO2 tank, pressurize it at 30 PSI for 3 days, and then bleed the PSI to 8 PSI when ready to serve.")

Tom Collins, renamed "Veritaserum" to fit my theme, are always a crowd pleaser... but maybe slightly too easy to drink?

Tom Collins on Tap
(Makes about 40 servings)
  • 1 750 ml bottle of gin 
  • 5 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 17 lemons!)
  • 2.5 cups simple syrup 
  • 10 cups water (use carbonated if not kegging)

Decor

My goal was to keep all party supplies under $150 and I think we managed to do that- especially since I was able to borrow bistro tables from UP at no cost and I already had a ton of gold, pink, and teal craft supplies leftover from our wedding. 

The rainy forecast meant we had to abandon our deck party plans for the living room... but I think it worked out just fine thanks to Natalie and Lauren's decorating expertise.

 That paparazzi, man. Photo Backdrop made with gold tinsel curtains and ruffled crepe paper streamers.

 "30" Balloons (have them filled at Fred Meyer not the Dollar Store).

Purple, pink, teal, and gold Tassel Garland.

Special Touches

We entertain fairly regularly at our house, so as if the food, drinks, and decorations weren't enough already, I wanted to make sure my party had a few extra touches to make sure it felt really special.

Did you know it's super easy and super cheap to create a custom on-demand Snapchat geofilter? It only cost us $5 to run this thing for 8 hours. They have templates too in case you don't have mad Photoshop skills like yours truly.

This was before Lauren taught us about using the "pretty filter." See below for proper pretty filter usage.

Since college, my costume drawer has gone woefully underused- but this party helped solve that problem. It was so awesome to see all my friends really commit to the costume thing!

 
Props to all the Harry Potter characters (you guys know me too well), as well as Natalie who dressed up as a Magic 8 Ball, Lauren as Ruby Red Slippers, and Kel, who brought back the infamous siren costume, complete with face feathers. 

Cheers to 30 and to having the best friends to celebrate with! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Portland Restaurant: Honky Tonk Taco

What: Honky Tonk Taco
Where: 3384 SE Division
Honeys Heart: Slushi Margs! 

Like any sane person, I love tacos. Luckily here in Portland, we have quite the selection of taco joints. Off the top of my head, I can think of:

1) Por Que No?- greatest of all Portland taquerias
2) Taqueria Santa Cruz & 3) Rose City Taqueria- our prefered taquerias in St. Johns
4) Uno Mas Taquiza- our prefered taqueria when we lived in NW
5) Mi Mero Mole- guisado tacos (and an owner with attitude!)
6) Cruzroom- fusion tacos that aren't as great as they used to be
7) La Taq- Tex-mex tacos (and queso!) that my mom and sister love
8) Stella Taco- we gave them a poor review and now we're not invited to LGP blogger previews
9) Portland Mercado- taco food trucks!

And that's just the tip of the iceburg. All this is to say, do we really need another taco place? Even if it is from Nate Tilden?


Doug and I decided we should investigate for ourselves, especially since Honky Tonk is billing itself as serving "deliciously inauthentic", Austin-style tacos and we needed to know what that meant.


From the looks of the current menu, that means basically nothing since the majority of tacos offered seem pretty basic. You've got your carnitas, chicken tinga, al pastor, lengua, mushroom, and camarones plus one taco that I guess would fall into the "inauthentic"/tex-mex category: carne de res (brisket). 

Doug went for the brisket ($3.25) and al pastor ($3.25) while I tried the carnitas ($2.75) and hungos ($3).


The brisket, al pastor, and carnitas were all quite tasty but those hongos, man. Someone had a very heavy hand when they were seasoning the sauce and I won't be ordering those again.

We also tried the queso fundido ($9), which was just okay. It's hard to go wrong with melted cheese but this version solidified fairly quickly and that kind of takes away some of the fun.


To drink, Doug chose a local microbrew and I tried the slushy margarita ($8). My mom and dad raised me to order my margs on-the-rocks but I'm glad I bucked tradition and went the slushy route. That thing was good! Refreshing and not in-your-face-boozy, but still boozy enough.


So getting back to the question, does Portland really need another taco place? Probably not. But Honky Tonk's tacos were fairly solid and they do have a big patio and delicious margs.

Plus, Tilden says that soon they'll start both hosting "competitive taco fights" and roasting whole goats in an outdoor firepit on Saturdays so people can enjoy fresh barbacoa tacos on Sundays... so that's at least something different!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

2016 Oregon Brewers Festival- Picks & Pans

The 29th annual Oregon Brewers Festival kicked off yesterday and we were there to drink all the beers. Well, not all beers... but between myself, Doug, and Brian, we managed to try 33 of the 88 domestic beers that were available on Wednesday night. Not too shabby!


Here's what you should be sure to try and what you shouldn't waste your tokens on- plus some novelty beers that were interesting enough to take a chance on. 

Picks

Best Sours
There seemed to be more tart/sour beers this year than ever before. Two that really nailed their styles were Aslan Brewing’s Disco Lemonade and Stone Brewing’s Gose Gose Gadget. Aslan came down from Bellingham for their first OBF and brought this Berliner-Weisse that’s tart, full of lemons, and aggressively sparkly. Stone’s Gose has a similar taste but a little more complexity with its flavors.

The longest line was for pFriem’s Mango Sour. While not our favorite beer that pFriem has ever made, it’s worth the 5 min wait for this light and refreshing summer sour.

Best Ryes
A few rye beers cracked our top 5 list for the fest as well. Make sure to check out both Payette’s 8 Second Rye’d and the Collaborator We’d Rye’d Like Kings. Both surprised us with their ability to take what is typically a heavier malt beer and lighten it up with tropical flavors that created great balance and unique aromas.

Misc Bests
A few others to not miss:
- Bayern Brewing Citra Charged Dump Truck 
- 54° 40’ Brewing 70% Ultra Pilsner 
- Culmination Deutschland-Down Under
- Flying Fish Brewing Love Fish
- Pelican Chongie Saaz

Pans


Bouy, Why?
Doug and I drive out to Astoria every few months just to have a few beers (and amazing oysters!) at Buoy Brewing. The view in the taproom is great and their ability to make clean, perfect-to-style beers has always been impressive. However, Buoy finally managed something no other brewery has ever done in the 8 OBFs we have attended: they made a beer bad enough to dump the 4 ounce taste. Their Dragon Weiss was just not good. The dragon fruit taste was lost because of all the off flavors (beer nerds: so much diacetyl flavor). Sad face.

All Trend, No Substance
Boulder Beer’s Pulp Fusion Blood Orange IPA was another one we found strange. We didn’t hate it but it was… confusing. Our tasting notes simply read “I don’t get it.” It was neither hoppy enough to make it a good IPA nor fruity enough to make it a decent fruit beer. Pass.

Weird, But Worth It 
 
A Twist on a Classic Combo
Out of pure curiosity, Doug tried Zoiglhaus Brewing’s Birra Pazza al Pesto. It was… something. A wheat beer infused with pine nuts, parmesan, basil, garlic, and olive oil, then ‘dry-hopped’ with basil, it is what it claims to be: pizza in a glass. I can’t say that I loved it but I can’t say it was bad. You definitely can smell the basil and very subtly a hint of garlic but only the slight tang of olive oil and basil comes through in the taste. It’s confusing that a brewery so heavily influenced by German brewing and culture would make a pesto pizza beer, but they did and you should try it cause it’s definitely unique.

Strawberry Spice
Lakeland Brewing’s Lipstick on a Pig was the group's most polarizing beer. Doug thought it was delicious with its "subtle strawberry backbone and hint of basil, rounded out with the spiciness created by Saaz hops". I wasn’t so sure. It’s creative and not for everyone, but worth checking out.


All in all, the lineup of beers isn’t as strong as it has been in past years (I mean, Breakside’s entry last year, Rainbows and Unicorns, was so good it became a year-round beer for them and a must-order for me every time I see it), but OBF still a party a beer lover shouldn’t miss. The weather is only going to get hotter throughout the week, so make sure to stay hydrated. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Portland Restaurant: CHKCHK

What: CHKCHK!!
Where: NW 23rd and Overton
When: 11 am - 10 pm
Honeys Heart: The price! And the decor.

Adam loves fried chicken. Like really loves fried chicken. He also really loves a sandwich, so anytime there is an opportunity to have a fried chicken sandwich he is all over it.


I've recently found that on weeks where we don't get Blue Apron delivered, we've lacked some cooking motivation. On such nights, I struggle between the financially responsible grocery store stop and the convenient Thai Peacock or Laughing Planet options. Tiring of our usual go-to's we decided to hit up CHKCHK, a new casual semi-fast food restaurant on NW 23rd. 



The menu is small but affordable, and the food is made to order, but quick. I would say we had our dinner in about 10-12 minutes and with our two drinks, spent a grand total of about $32. 


Our drinks were one of their four "Boozy Sodas". The Cactus Cooler ($7) is a bottled mix of green melon, tequila, and a little love. They weren't bad, but they were a little too sweet and a bit funky. I think I would try the CHKCHK Libre next time with rum, Blackstrap bitters, and cane soda.


For food, Adam opted for the Spicy ChkChk Sandwich ($7) while I went for the ChkChop Salad ($6) plus ChkChk Bites for an extra $1. 


Not that we needed it, but we complemented our fried chicken dinners with the ChkChk Fries ($2) and an array of dipping sauces. I do love a waffle fry...




The drinks weren't my favorite, but otherwise I would say this is a good stop for a quick, cheap din. Maybe not if you're trying to be healthy though...