Friday, January 28, 2011

Portland Restaurant and Nonprofit: Panera Cares Cafe

Posted by Kelly

What: Panera Cares Cafe
Where: 4143 NW Halsey St
Honeys Heart: "Take what you need, pay what you can"

On January 16th the Panera Bread Foundation opened it's third non-profit Panera Cares Cafe. This unique restaurant has all of the menu items as a traditional Panera Bread bakery and looks exactly the same, but it is definitely different!

The Panera Cares Cafe has no set prices. Each menu item has a suggested donation to give people an idea of what it would cost in their traditional cafes, but there are no cash registers or "pay here" signs. Customers are encouraged to take what they need and pay what they can in the donation boxes scattered throughout the restaurant.

Now don't get all excited and start plotting the ways to exploit this unique business model. This is not a food bank and the Panera Bread Foundation is not looking to offer hand outs, in many ways it is testing is testing you. The cafe can only continue to operate if most people pay the suggested amount, others who can are encouraged pay extra and those you can't are still able to still have a good meal and if they would like they can volunteer an hour of their time.

The Portland's Hollywood district was chosen as the third cafe in the nation because it is easily accessible via public transportation and the neighborhood attracts an eclectic mix of customers, which is necessary for the Cafe's success.

Personally I'm excited to have a sandwich and support this nonprofit...I'll feel good about paying a little extra for lunch today!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Boston Restaurant/Lounge: Radius- 1/2 Price Burgers

Posted by Katie

What: Radius
Where: 8 High Street, Financial District
When: Saturdays in January, 2011
Honeys Heart: 1/2 price burgers!

I work in the same building that houses Radius, and ever since starting work a year and a half ago, I've been dying to try Radius's famous $19 burger.

$19? I know, pricey. But let me assure you that this is no ordinary burger. This is the burger that won the much coveted prize of best burger at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival back in 2008. It's kind of a big deal.

"The Burger" is made with fresh ground chuck cooked on the rare side (a good thing, in this case) and topped with Vermont cheddar, crispy onions and horseradish sauce.

You know when you order a burger with lots of delicious-sounding toppings but then when you actually eat it, you taste all toppings and no actual burger? I hate that.

That's not how it works with Radius' burger. While the cheese adds some nice creamy flavor, the onions some sweet crispiness and the horseradish some bite, the patty itself is thick and juicy enough to still be the star of the show. I like that.

But let's get back to the $19 thing. Having finally tried this burger, I can honestly say I would pay $19 for it... if I had a full-time job in the financial district instead of a part-time job and student loans.

Lucky for me, Radius has been offering their burgers at half-price at the bar every Saturday for the month of January. They did the same thing last April too. That makes me think they'll do it again, so just in case you can't make it to Radius this Saturday, you'll probably have another chance to take advantage of this awesome deal in the coming year.

Since you have to order the burger at the bar to get the discount, you should probably sample some of Radius' very tasty cocktails while you're there.

Our favorite was Shannon's Fezziwig's Punch ($12), made with gin, Pimm's Cup, orange blossom water and ginger beer.

Our second favorite was Anna's Ruby Refresher ($12) made with Belvedere Pink Grapefruit vodka, ruby red grapefruit juice, lemonade and muddled mint. This drink would be amazing in the summer, but it was pretty darn good in the winter too.

I really liked my Garden Gimlet ($12) which is made with vodka, fresh lime, Thai basil and lavender. Shannon thought it was "too flowery" but I disagree.

Allison tried Havisham's Dream ($12), made with Absolute Citron, pear liqueur, rose water and a splash of bubbles, which was also very nice.

And then there was Erica's choice: The Fireside ($16). Made with brown butter infused Maker's Mark, Belle de Brillet (an expensive pear liqueur), smoked maple and cinnamon, we were told that "this is a serious drink." Good thing Erica's a serious lady, so she had no problem handling this very sweet, very bourbon-y cocktail. The rest of us...not so much.

Okay, so amazing burger, delicious cocktails... but Radius just misses getting my full vote of confidence due to the horribly inconsistent service that we received throughout the night.

We waited 20 minutes for our first round of drinks to arrive, which is way too long to wait, especially when we watched people who had arrived long after us getting served first.

We were then treated to our drinks and showered with apologies and attention... until we decided to order another round of drinks after finishing our burgers.

After another 15 minute wait, we were still without our drinks and itching to get on with our night, so we canceled our order (don't worry, our server said our cocktails hadn't been started yet) and just asked for our check.

It was very confusing.

But strange service aside, I would definitely recommend taking advantage of Radius' half-price burger night. Or just go all out and buy the thing at full price. I don't think you'll regret it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Portland Happy Hour: Vino Paradiso

Posted by Kelly

What: Vino Paradiso
Where: 417 NW 10th Avenue
When: 4-6pm Daily
Honeys Heart: Daily Bruschetta

It is wonderful to have an ex-boss who is also a fabulous mentor and friend who agrees that a good hh as the best place to catch up, share ideas, and enjoy a few drinks. Since it is about time I featured a new happy hour, I chose somewhere new for Rachel and me that specializes in something we're both fans of. Wine. Vino Paradiso in the Pearl is a trendy wine bar owned by Pink Martini's vocalist and percussionist, Timothy Nishimoto. The atmosphere is casual and funky, creating a relaxing space to meet up with friends or go on a date.

Since Rachel got stuck in traffic I was forced to make the happy hour food decisions and first wine order without her. I figured their staff knew more about the wine than I did so I went with a Cabernet Savignon suggested by the waiter. The happy hour food selection is limited and everything is $6, but I think fewer choices made the burden of having to make the selection easier for me.  I finally decided on the Artisan Cheese and Bread and the Daily Bruschetta which both seemed like safe choices.

There were two types of cheese. A blue cheese and a romano/parmesan of some sort served with arpricots, pears, a spicy bundle of seeds and bread. For $6 I thought it was a better serving of cheese than I've received other places (Urban Farmer, Ten 01 -now closed-, etc), but I wasn't a fan of the nutty bread. I generally don't like nutty bread though, so that could be my bias.

The Daily Bruschetta was amazing. It essentially tasted like a lamb stew on top of thick crispy bread with cheese. The onions were perfect and the meat was soooo tender. By far the best part of this dish was how the bread soaked up all of the juice.

I would definitely recommend this place for a casual glass of wine and a small snack. Vino Paradiso is also a wine retail shop, so if you have a glass of something you just LOVE, you can buy a bottle there and take it home (cheaper than the price on the menu.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Molly & Haiti Remembered- DIY: Sister Lorraine's Homemade Baileys

Posted by Katie

Usually we try to keep things light and fun here at HHH, but some occasions call for more reflection.

One year ago today, Molly Hightower, a classmate of ours at the University of Portland and one of the first followers of this blog, was killed during the earthquake in Haiti when the building she was in collapsed. At the time, Molly was halfway through her year of volunteering with Friends of the Orphans in Port-au-Prince where she worked with orphans, abandoned children, and children with special needs.

While I only knew Molly as a fellow Psychology major, her passion for helping the children of Haiti remains an inspiration to me and, I think, to anyone who has heard her story.

Molly has touched the lives of many, but no one is more driven to keep alive Molly's legacy of hope and compassion than our fellow UP alum and friend Rachel Prusynski. Rachel was visiting Molly at the time of the earthquake and miraculously survived.

This month, Rachel, along with our friend Doug, returned to Haiti for the one year anniversary of the quake to volunteer and continue the work Molly started.

Rachel and Doug have both been blogging about their journey, so I'll direct you to their blogs where you can read more about their trip. Rachel's blog is Haiti: Heal, Help, Hope and Doug's is Holiday from Real. You can also read about Molly's work in her own words on the blog she kept, 525,600 Minutes.

We might not all have the time, means, or strength to actually volunteer in Haiti like Molly, Rachel, and Doug, but that doesn't mean that we should just be content to sigh at the sadness of it all. There are many ways you can help keep Molly's message alive whether it be donating to Friends of the Orphans through this site, sponsoring a Haitian child (more info here), or even volunteering in your own community.

This is, of course, a blog about happy hours and drinks, so in exchange for your reflection about how you might carry on Molly's legacy, let me provide you with a recipe for the homemade Baileys that Rachel and Doug drank on their first night in Haiti.

From Doug:
"The recipe is credited to a nun from Canada, Sister Lorraine. She is an amazing woman who has volunteered in Haiti for the better part of 18 years now. She works with kids with special needs and 4 days a week has tea parties with the abandoned children at the nearby hospital."

Sister Lorraine's Homemade Baileys

What You'll Need:
1 385-mL can evaporated milk
1 300-mL can sweetened condensed milk
1.5 tsp chocolate drink mix or chocolate syrup
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
2 eggs
1 cup brandy or rye whiskey

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Step 2: Transfer to a glass bottle with a tightly fitting lid and refrigerate.

Step 3: Raise a glass to Molly and Haiti.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

San Jose Happy Hour: Three Degrees at Toll House Hotel

Posted by Katie

What: Three Degrees
Where:  140 South Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos, CA
When: Mon-Sat 3-7pm & Sun 3-10pm
Honeys Heart: The patio? 

We all know the happy hour situation in Boston is less than idealbut at least Boston has a good excuse (damn Puritans and their strict liquor laws). Here in San Jose, there's just no reason for the lack of happy hours. Except for the part where San Jose is kind of lame, so it makes sense. 

Anyway, Nick and I finally managed to catch my sister when she wasn't working or hanging out with her bf, so we threw her in my car and headed off to what looked like one of the only promising happy hours in nearby Los Gatos at Three Degrees restaurant. 

Three Degrees is located inside the Toll House Hotel in downtown Los Gato. Their happy hour, which they've unfortunately dubbed "3D Happy Hour," features 1/2 off most of the starters, salads and sandwiches from their dinner menu, $3.50 glasses of wine, and $8 martintis. (Don't be fooled by the online menu that says martinis are $6 during hh. It's incorrect.)  

We seated ourselves in the nearly empty lounge-like dining room and waited a good five minutes before anyone approached us with menus. This might have been understandable if the place was packed, but it wasn't. The hostess noticed our entry, but for some reason ignored us until we were able to flag her down. This poor service would unfortunately continue throughout the night, with customers around us getting frequent attention from the hostess and waiter while we practically had to trip someone to get them to stop at our table. Yes, we were younger than the other clientele, but that's no excuse. Strike one. 

For drinks, I tried the Santa Cruz Sangria ($6) made with red wine, brandy, triple sec, and orange and pineapple juice while my sis went with the Pomegranate Lemonade ($7) with pama liqueur, citron vodka, lemon and lime juice, and a splash of lemonade.

My sangria tasted more like pineapple juice than anything else while my sister's drink was super heavy on the vodka. Unbalanced drinks? Strike two.

For food, we went a little nuts since everything was so cheap. My sis and I shared the Garden Burger ($6.25) with avocado, roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato, red onions and sweet potato fries. 

The burger was decent. In my experience, veggie burgers are never that flavorful or moist, so this one was on par with the ones I've had before. The sweet potato fries were nice and meaty. 

We also tried the Mac & Cheese ($3.25). 

Creamy and cheesy, but otherwise unremarkable. (I think I'm spoiled by the mac & cheese with truffle oil at the Regal Beagle in Brookline.)

Next up was the Grilled Globe Artichoke ($3.75) with lemon aioli dipping sauce.

This is a dish you could easily approximate at home, but for only $3.75, why not save yourself the trouble and let someone else do the dirty work? Definitely not worth the non-hh price of $7.50 though.

And finally, we rounded out our meal with the Parmesan French Fries ($3.25).

The parmesan fries were just regular fries heaped on a plate and then sprinkled with shredded parm cheese. Good, but also, that's it? Obviously no one worked too hard on this dish.

So let's review: horrible service, unbalanced drinks and cheap but unremarkable food.

I think the only thing that saves Three Degrees from striking out completely is the option to have happy hour on the hotel's lovely patio, which was unfortunately closed during our visit due to bad weather.

If you're looking for a better happy hour in Los Gatos, definitely try Pedro's down the street. Free food and great margs!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

California's Central Coast: Farmstand 46, Brown Butter Cookie Company, Cracked Crab

Posted by Katie

My parents have a retirement home in Nipomo, CA, a little town about 20 minutes south of Pismo Beach, and Nick and I drove down to spend a few nights there with them while I'm home for the holidays.

We took a nice little day trip along the coast starting with lunch at Farmstand 46 in Templeton followed by wine tasting at one of the many wineries along Highway 46. From there, we headed to the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos followed by a delicious dinner at the Cracked Crab in Pismo Beach.

Here's the breakdown:

What: Farmstand 46
Where: 3750 Hwy 46 W, Templeton, CA
Honeys Heart: The Cruiser

Farmstand 46 is a little roadside deli that serves sandwiches, salads and the like, all made with fresh, organic ingredients.

We started off our lunch with an arugula, cranberry and pear salad. Yum!

My mom and dad split The Cruiser ($10), a panini made with tellegio, fontina, fresh mozzarella and cambazola with fresh tomato and herb pesto on Italian bread.

For awhile there, my mom was making mozzarella, tomato and pesto paninis at least once a week, and while they are tasty, I wasn't sure I wanted to order the same sandwich while eating out. I'm glad my parents chose this panini though because it was delicious. Very cheesy with a great little kick from the herb pesto.

Nick and I went for the Il Profesore ($10), a sandwich made with salami, cappicola, mortadella and aged provolone with roasted red peppers and arugula on a french roll.

I was a little disappointed to find that the Il Profesore is served cold since it was chilly out and a hot sandwich sounded good. Nonetheless, it was still pretty tasty. I did wish there was a bit more salami though...

What: Brown Butter Cookie Company
Where: 250 N Ocean Ave, Cayucas, CA
Honeys Heart: Brown butter sea salt cookie 

The Brown Butter Cookie Company is a small cookie "factory" owned by sisters Traci and Christa.

Their signature cookie is their original brown butter sea salt cookie ($1 each) and, let me tell you, it is heavenly.

Traci and Christa use browned butter to make these shortbread-like cookies and then they top them off with a pinch of sea salt. The browned butter gives the cookies a rich, slightly nutty taste and that combined with a little saltiness makes these cookies my second favorite sweet right now. (First place goes to the raspberry crumb bars Nick's mom made using Joanne Chang's recipe. They are amazing.)

Anyway, you should probably drive to Cayucas right now and try these cookies. Or order them online. They're worth it.

What: Cracked Crab
Where: 751 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA
Honeys Heart: The Bucket

The Cracked Crab is one of my parents' favorite places to eat when they're down in Nipomo. My mom has been talking about wanting to try their "bucket" for awhile but usually it's only the two of them and since the bucket comes with three types of seafood, sausage, potatoes, and corn, they've been waiting for a larger group to order it. Nick and I were glad to tag along this time to help out.

We started off dinner with the Blue Crab Cakes ($16). 


I wasn't overly impressed with these though the sauce was good and there was a decent amount of crab in them. I think I'd rather just begin with the delicious sourdough rolls that are complimentary!

For our main dish, we shared the Big Bucket For Two ($68). It might say it's for two, but there was more than enough for all four of us. 

Our bucket experience started off with the delivery of these tools to our table:

Intense, right?

And then came the bucket, which they just dump out on the table. 

For our seafood, we ordered the wild shrimp, Opilio (snow) crab, and Alaskan Bairdi crab. 

We all agreed that the sweet snow crab was our favorite, followed closely by the shrimp and then the Bairdi crab. The corn and potatoes gave the bucket a nice variety, but we could have done without the sausage.

In the end, I think our table post-meal shows how much we enjoyed our bucket: 

It really was a delicious meal, made all the more fun by the experience of digging the crab out of its shell using the various tools provided. (The scissors were my go-to. Cheating, I know.) 

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, and the Cracked Crab just so happens to offer my mom's dessert of choice, key lime pie.

My mom says that this is the best key lime pie she's ever had, and I believe it. The custard filling was very tart, just like we like it, and it was perfectly balanced by the sweet graham cracker crust. Delish!