Friday, October 28, 2016

2016 Pumpkin Beer Night/Fall Party

Last weekend marked our 5th annual Pumpkin Beer Night and, much as I hate to say it, I think I'm officially pumpkin beered out. Like forever.

We switched up our format this year to freshen things up since the night was feeling a bit stale going into it.

I went with a fall theme versus Halloween theme and instead of passing out rounds of tastings to everyone at the same time and making complex rating sheets, we just put out all the beers for people to try at their own pace and then asked everyone to vote for their favorite at the end of the night.  

Our new approach worked well. The evening was much more leisurely and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. But while the night was supposed to be about the pumpkin beer (Elysian Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale and Uinta Funk'n Patch Brett Ale tied for first, in case you were wondering), Doug and I both had a lot more fun with the other details of the party. So I'm going to focus on those instead. Sorry, pumpkin beer lovers!


In the past, we've just had crackers and cheese and asked our guests to fill in with other snacks and desserts, but since we were going for a more elegant feel this time around, Doug decided on three appetizers to round out our usual cheese spread.

We love the Green Bean Sandwich from Meat Cheese Bread, so Doug made mini appetizer versions.

Sundried Tomato-Stuffed Mushrooms from Smitten Kitchen fit right in with our cozy fall theme.

These Scallion Meatballs with Soy Ginger Glaze, also from Smitten Kitchen, are one of my favorite things that Doug makes. 


Not all of our guests like beer and I've been slightly obsessed with kegged cocktails since the kegged Tom Collins worked so well at my 30th birthday party, so I used this usually beer-only patty to try out a new recipe.

I didn't get my act together soon enough to actually keg this one, but we served it out of Doug's uKeg growler, which worked well. This festive cocktail was maybe a little too drinkable... as evidenced by the fact that Kel and I didn't get around to trying many pumpkin beers since we were drinking cocktails all night.

Lion's Tail Remix- Batch Cocktail (adapted from Imbibe)
Makes about 24 servings  
  • 1 bottle bourbon 
  • 12 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 8 oz honey syrup
  • 5 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • 30 dashes orange bitters

I decided my "colors" for the party would be white and metallics. I spray-painted orange mini pumpkins gold and rose gold, added some metallic stickers to spiffy up white mini pumpkins, and used our copper mugs for vases.

The plates, napkins, and tablecloth were all from Target (no surprise there).


A quick trip to the St. Johns farmers market for fresh flowers rounded out the decor.

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!