Thursday, October 20, 2016

Brooklyn Restaurant: Emmy Squared

Good news: Doug and I got a puppy!

Bad news: The puppy is ruining our lives.

I mean, not really... but he is seriously messing with our sleep schedules, our cat, and our ability to ever get out of the house without going somewhere dog-friendly.

I think that's why our one night out in Brooklyn last month was especially fun. It also could have been because we were introduced to a glorious new style of pizza.

But let's backtrack a bit first. Doug and I were flying into JFK for Sarah and Chris's wedding in Connecticut and since it would also be our anniversary weekend, Doug had the foresight to suggest going a day early and spending the night in Brooklyn. Best idea ever!

Our main goal was to hit up Torst, which Doug had really, really wanted to visit during our New York trip last Christmas but which ended up being a bit too out of the way during our East Village-focused trip.

We did end up making it to Torst this trip, but the highlight of our night was definitely our impromptu dinner at Emmy Squared.

What: Emmy Squared
Where: 364 Grand St., Brooklyn  (Williamsburg)
Honeys Heart: Detroit-style pizza!!!

Emmy Squared is the little sister restaurant to the much-acclaimed Emily but while Emily focuses on Neapolitan wood-fired pizza, Emmy Squared is all about Detroit-style pizza. (If you want to read the super cute story of Emily/Emmy Squared's pizza-obsessed husband and wife team, you can do that here).

Here are the hallmarks of Detroit-style pizza:
  • Baked in a rectangular pan
  • Cheesy, frico crust (similar to focaccia) with crisp, crunchy corners
  • Sauce over the other toppings (this seems optional)
It's really the crust that makes this pizza. The dough is baked with the cheese resulting in a delicious, crispy, caramelized, cheesy crust. So good.

We opted for the Roni Supreme ($19) during our visit, made with lots of pepperoni (the good, thick kind that curls up around the edges) and Calabrian chili.

We also split the Caesar Salad ($12) and I had a Moscow Mule ($12), which were decent, but who cares about lettuce and pedestrian cocktails when there's pizza to be had? Okay, here's some photos anyway:

Later that night, over beers at Torst, Doug and I desperately Googled "detroit-style pizza Portland" with no luck. From our research, unless you're actually in Detroit, the only well-regarded, dedicated Detroit-style pizzas joints are Via 313 in Austin, Blue Pan Pizza in Denver, Loui Loui's in Louisville, Pizza Squared in Tampa, and Emmy Squared.

Hey Portland, can you get on this ASAP?

Seriously though. We'd come to a Detroit-style pizza place even if you don't allow dogs.

Want to learn more about Detroit-style pizza? These articles from Eater and Food Republic were the most informative. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Portland Food Trend: Poke

This recent poke craze in Portland is seemingly great news if you like poke- and we do- but behind the hype, do the new poke spots really satisfy our raw fish cravings?

In December, we wrote about the $7.99 poke from World Foods in the Pearl, and were so excited about the anticipated openings of Bamboo Sushi Annex and Poke Mon. We tried both and took a stab at homemade poke. Here's the rundown.

What: Bamboo Sushi Annex
Where: 1122 SW Stark St

When Katie and I have busy weeks where we might not see each other for happy hour, Bachelor viewings, wine drinking, or more recently puppy play dates, we try to have lunch.

A few months ago, we hit up Bamboo Sushi's recently opened (when we went it was only two days old) "The Annex".

Faced with the option of building our own bowls atop rice, salad, or chips, or picking from the signature dishes, we decided to opt for one of their creations, assuming that if they developed a specific combination, it's probably because they know best.

We shared a Bamboo Bowl ($13) with Oregon Albacore, Avocado, Fried shallots, scallion, nori, and green machine sauce.

We also tried the Poke Nachos ($10) with chips, spicy tuna, krab salad, yuzu guac, fried shallot, fried garlic, habanero masago, cilantro, creamy habanero masago sauce, and eel sauce.

The green machine sauce on the Bamboo Bowl was pretty sweet and uninspired, and the texture - or lack of it - of the nachos made for a less than ideal experience. I would have definitely opted for a second bowl instead.

What: Poke Mon
Where: 1485 SE Hawthorne Blvd

Next poke stop: Poke Mon. After The Annex, I had high hopes that this would be the poke I'd been dreaming of.

Typically when we go out for sushi, I lean toward salmon rolls and Adam towards tuna, so when there is a salmon poke option I'm all about it. The Garlic Salmon Poke ($10.75) with red onion, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, citrus, and garlic ponzu, was fresh, but didn't have any real kick.

Adam's Spicy Ahi Donburi ($9.75) with minced fresh ahi, sweet onion, cucumber, bubu arare, sweet shoyu, nori and creamy spicy sauce was the best price point of the bowls so far, but we learned (and Katie and I already knew this because of the nachos at The Annex) that the minced ahi in a poke bowl doesn't provide much excitement in terms of texture.

Since our bowls were $3 cheaper than at The Annex, we also got a side of the House Mac Salad ($3). It was okay, but generally mac salad is just kind of okay in my opinion.

What: Homemade Salmon and Tuna Poke Bowls
Where: Katie and Doug's House (jk, Ziggy's House)
Honeys Heart: How easy homemade poke is!

Doug and I were set to make to make two different types of poke together, but then Doug and Katie went and got an adorable puppy so while Katie, Adam, and I did this....

... Doug made dinner and it was delicious. We neglected to take photos (we will plan to make this Adam's responsibility moving forward), but I've included the photos from the blogs where we found our recipes to give you the idea.

Through some gchat recipe sharing, Doug and I selected the Salmon and Avocado Poke Bowl from the blog Just Putzing Around the Kitchen with sushi-grade salmon, avocado, red onion, green onions, soy sauce, white sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and sesame seeds.

The amazing thing about poke is you really just have to chop and combine all the ingredients and then it can refrigerate until you're ready to serve. Great option when hosting a small dinner and you want to minimize cooking, but maximize fancy. We served both our poke's on rice, so that was the only thing that required some heat.

The second recipe we selected was a Hawaiian Raw Tuna Salad from Serious Eats, with tuna, onion, scallion, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and optional crushed red pepper.

This particular poke bowl called for hijiki and wakame, dried seaweeds that can easily be found in any Japanese market, that you then let sit in hot water for about 5 minutes. We bought seaweed salad anyway, so we could have skipped this part. 

The homemade poke was better than either bowl at Poke Mon and The Annex, and it's so easy! My grocery shopping did remind me why sushi and poke are so expensive. I spent $75 on salmon, tuna, two sakes (cheap ones), and seaweed salad, but it did serve four people and made much more than we would have gotten in any $11-13 bowl.

Overall, I would say skip the high prices, and make it at home!

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:


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


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)


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!