Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Portland Restaurant: Life of Pie

What: Life of Pie
Where: 3632 N. Williams Ave
When: 11am-10pm Sun-Wed, 11am-11pm Thurs-Sat
Honeys Heart: $5 Margherita Pizza on Happy Hour 11am-6pm daily (for now, this won't last forever!)

Katie and I walked into Life of Pie's media preview and were immediately welcomed with a glass of house red wine (only $3 on happy hour!) and a bar full of delicious looking arancini and kale salad. Now that's the way to start a tasting!

After doing the typical blogger tasks of excessive photo taking on cameras and phones then posting to Instagram and Twitter, we took plates of Arancini ($6) and Kale Salad ($7) to a two-person table by a wood pile and tried, what ended up being just the beginning, of a series of delicious plates.

Okay, back up, I'm sure the "table by the wood pile" sounds odd, but it worked and created a warm environment that is definitely family-friendly. Life of Pie owner, Jason, stopped by to introduce himself and said that he imagined the wood-fired pizza joint as a place that is casual enough to come on a whim but also offers great food and service. So far, it looks like he's achieved that vision!

Katie and I both loved the arancini and kale salad. The outside of the arancini was crispy with a soft, warm, and cheesy inside. The simplicity of the kale salad was a great accompaniment. Kale salads can sometimes be overly tart with lots of lemon, but this was really well balanced with honey.

First out of the wood-fired oven right behind the counter was a Margherita pizza, which is only $5 on happy hour. Basically I would recommend you quit reading this and go there now. What a deal! And also it was delicious.

Katie and I quickly realized we did not properly pace ourselves. The Margherita pizza was the first of three more that we were able to sample. Next up was Fennel Sausage and Mama Lil's Peppers ($11) which we both really enjoyed. The peppers are pickled which adds a unique tartness.

Following this was the Seasonal Mushrooms with Shaved Pecorino Roman and Truffle Oil ($12). I enjoyed this, but I'm kind of obsessed with mushrooms these days. This was rich though with the truffle oil and mushroom mix!

Okay, at this point we'd had two glasses of wine, arancini, kale salad, and three types of pizza. It was all great, but we surely couldn't eat more. Then the last pizza was walked over and we changed our minds. The special Bacon, Goat Cheese and Oven Roasted Leeks ($12) was last. We both thought we would love this, but it ended up not being our favorite. It was a little sweet and instead of arranging whole slices of bacon on the pizza I would have cut them up and spread it out more. Oh well, can't win them all!

In addition to the abundance of food, we were also impressed with the attentive service. Life of Pie is a counter-service spot, but the servers were very prompt about removing used plates and filling up glasses of wine, which is always appreciated.

Overall a fun night with great food and a very gracious host. Thank you so much for having us!

P.S. The little block of N. Williams that houses Life of Pie is now jam-packed with tasty destinations- you could make a whole night of it without leaving! We'll lay it out for you:

Date Night on N. Williams: 

Drinks at Tin Bucket
- This beer shop boasts state-of-the-art growler fillers but you can enjoy pints in-house too.
Dinner at Life of Pie
- See above 
Dessert at What's the Scoop
- Super creamy ice-cream frozen with liquid nitrogen. The Bourbon Toffee is crazy good.
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Friday, December 6, 2013

2013 Holiday Ale Fest Top Picks

Guest Post by Doug (@douglasfranz/@firstedbrew)
One of Katie's and my favorite parts of the holiday season is Portland’s Holiday Ale Festival. For three years now, we’ve buddled up and battled the crowds at this festive beer event that always manages to be one of the highlights of our imbibing year.

Katie and I checked out the 2013 version of the festival last night and it did not disappoint. With over 40 beers on tap, there can be an overwhelming selection of barleywines, stouts, porters, and generally big beers,but lucky for you, we took good notes and have a few recommendations if you are heading to down to Pioneer Square this weekend. While we weren’t able to try all the beers, we came pretty close. Here are the 5 you cannot miss!

Cherry Diesel- Cascade Brewing  
The best beer of the night. I made sure to go back twice for this one and it was worth it. Known for its amazing barrel aging program, Cascade created a beer that smells like one of their legendary cherry sours but tastes like a deep sweet chocolate stout, full of vanilla and cherry notes. A bit of a bourbon burn and linger of dark chocolate to remind the drinker just how good this brew was.

 High West Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cappuccino Stout- Lagunitas Brewing Co. 
Coming in at 12.5% ABV, the highest percentage of all the selections at this year’s festival, this stout has amazingly balanced flavors of whiskey and coffee. Lagunita’s caffeinated entry is a good way to wake yourself up when you start feeling a little sluggish after all those dark holiday beers.  

Gargantua- Eel River Brewing Co. Of the five on the list, this one got the most mixed reviews from our group. Yes, you have to LOVE vanilla to like this beer and it was a little bit on the sweet side. But this is a beer fest for holiday beer lovers and sometimes the best way to celebrate the season is with a brew that makes you feel like you are drinking a delicious dessert.

McGuinness- Natian Brewery
We all had one last ticket to use for the eve and I had already tried everything on my pre-fest ‘Must Taste’ list when this one caught my eye. Natian, a very small brewery based in the Burnside/Lloyd part of Portland that you rarely see on tap, managed to really nail what a holiday beer should be. Flavors of coffee and Kahlua, nutty, and oh so smooth.

Spiced Unicorn Milk- Stone Brewing Co.
San Diego’s finest, Stone created this just for Portland’s Holiday Ale Festival and I personally want to thank them because this was an amazing beer. It was one of the most complex but accessible beers of the night. It was like drinking chai chocolate milk.
There are plenty others that were tasty too, so pull out your best ugly sweater and head down to the Holiday Ale Festival this weekend!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lompoc Holiday Ales Now Available!

Kelly and I agree on most drinking-related things. For example:
  • Should we have another drink? Yes.
  • Should we order this cocktail that has whiskey in it? No. 
  • Should we take a tequila shot? Probably not, but we're going to anyway. 
The list goes on and on. Sadly, there is one major drinking point that Kel and I don't see eye to eye on and that is beer.

Yes, friends. Kelly doesn't like beer. Okay, that's a lie. Kelly only likes beer when it's straight out of the pitcher at the T-Room (sorry Kel, you know it's true). 

But to Kelly's credit, she is trying to change her ways and I couldn't be more proud.

Her first step came a few weeks ago when Lompoc invited us to sample their holiday ales in their cozy little Sidebar tasting room.

With 8 beers to get through, I was a little worried, but Kel handled it like a pro. Here's some info about our top picks plus a full list of all of Lompoc's seasonals following. Lompoc's holiday ales are now available on tap at Lompoc Tavern (NW 23rd), Hedge House (SE Division), Oaks Bottom (SE Bybee), and Fifth Quadrant (N Williams).

Holiday Cheer- Vanilla Porter 
I am a huge sucker for a good vanilla porter and even though the sample we had was not fully aged when we tried it, Kel and I loved its rich chocolate and vanilla notes.

Brewdolph- Belgian- Style Red 
There is many a holiday beer that, while being called a "holiday ale", doesn't actually evoke any warm and fuzzy holiday-ness. That is not the case with this red thanks to its slight fruitiness and hint of cloves.

Cherry Christmas- Specialty Blend
Lompoc was still working on the blend when we sampled this one, but Kel and I appreciated that this beer was light yet still very flavorful thanks to the 200 pounds of sour cherries it's brewed with.

Also Available:

Blitzen- Spiced Golden Ale (this one wasn't available for us to sample yet so maybe it's amazing)

Jolly Bock- Lager

C-Son's Greetings- Imperial IPA

Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Tavern Rat- Barleywine 

We also got a super sneak preview of Lompoc's Holiday Ale Fest beer, Revelry Red. It combines Lompoc's whiskey barrel-aged Big Bang Red with port barrel-aged Big Bang Red. I preferred it to the Old Tavern Rat and I'm excited to see what Doug thinks about it when we try it again at the Holiday Ale Fest this weekend.

How about a #TBT pic to Holiday Ale Fest 2011 just cuz?

So good, right?

Big thanks to Lompoc for hosting us! We had a great time!