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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Oh, you fancy huh?

Now that I have awakened from my Seattle/PDX food coma, the time has come to share all the delicious bites with you in various installments. I figure I’ll get the biggest and best part of the trip out of the way: a seven-course tasting menu that we enjoyed at Le Pigeon in Portland. (We originally went in foolishly thinking we would only do the five-course tasting, but the motto of this trip was go big or go home, so we went for the full seven.) Manned by James Beard award winning chef, Gabriel Rucker, this bistro requires reservations made well in advance for table seating, but also boasts a chef’s counter for walk-ins – if you’re lucky enough to snag one. The menu changes weekly, but also features a lot of dishes that are in regular rotation like Beef Cheek Bourguignon and their signature Pigeon with liver toast, grapes and white anchovies.

I apologize in advance for the low quality of some of the pictures; we didn’t want to distract from the other patrons around us with flashes and crazy camera angles.

Course 1: course one: rabbit & eel terrine (peaches, avocado, foie-miso vinaigrette)

Course 2: course two: pork tongue (refried lentils, poblano cream, radish)

Course 3: course three: pigeon (liver toast, grapes, white anchovies)

Course 4: course four: sturgeon au poive (bacon, roasted cipollini, dates, port mustard)

Course 5: course five: beef cheek bourguignon
(atop some kind of mashed potato thing with a side of cold roasted potatoes dusted in rosemary & thyme)
Course 6: course six: lou bergier pichin toma (raw cow’s milk) (blackberry scone, cardamom, creme fraiche)

 Final course: Dessert! – foie gras profiteroles (caramel sauce, sea salt) & honey, bacon, apricot cornbread (maple ice cream)
[Thank you, Oregon for not banning Foie! This was out of this world!]

I paired my dinner with a Riesling flight from one of the Willamette Valley’s oldest vineyards, Brooks, featuring an ’07, ’08 and an ’09, as well as a Pinot & Auxerrois Blanc from the Walter Scott vineyard. I’m not a wine connoisseur by any means, but they were all beautiful and crisp. Plus, they were local! (I was afraid the Portlandia Gods would shame me for not doing the whole local/organic thing)

Le Pigeon was well worth the trip, and the tasting menu price tag was nearly half of anything you would get here on the East Coast and just as beautiful and well-conceived. I would go back in a heartbeat! Definitely make it a priority if you’re planning a trip to the PDX.

Doubling Up

After not eating any burgers for almost an entire month, I book ended my juice cleanse by eating 2 burgers. And not just any burgers – 2 double stacked burgers. What can I say? I was making up for lost time. 

The night before the cleanse, we stopped into Lucky’s Last Chance in Manayunk. I feel bad for Manayunk because city people never want to come out there because it’s “too far”. (I live there so I feel kind of slighted by it, because then I feel like I’m too far for everyone. /sadface) Lucky’s is a fairly new spot – having opened earlier this year – that serves up awesome burgers, hot dogs & a great craft beer selection. I decided to go with the Bacon, Egg N Cheese Burger.

Bacon Egg N Cheese Burger

Now, all their burgers come standard with 2 patties, but you can get a “junior” with one patty. (Kind of like the ‘Little Hamburger’ option at Five Guys.) I went for the double: go big or go home, I say! I wasn’t asked how I wanted it cooked, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It came on a deliciously soft Liscios Bakery roll and I opted for out-of-this-world onion strings on the side. The meat was still really hot when I bit into it, so even if they were trying to go for medium well, it was continuing to cook well after it was on my plate. It also wasn’t very juicy, so I’m guessing they probably used some kind of ground chuck blend? But the bun was the perfect size, holding all the toppings in nicely.


There was definitely room for improvement. If I had been given the option to have it cooked to order, I think that would have been better. Also, a better meat blend. The website says all the patties are hand formed, so maybe just flattening them out a bit more would have helped eliminate the hot spot in the middle of the burger. All in all, I would give it a “C+”. 

A few days after the cleanse, we went to Alla Spina who just added a double decker burger to their menu called “The Burgamo“, which is built like an imitation style Big Mac, except using a LaFrieda meat blend and an in-house baked potato bun. Again, I wasn’t asked how I wanted it cooked (and maybe this is a thing because I’m getting 2 patties?) but the patties were thinner then at Lucky’s so more on the “well done” side. 

The Burgamo – Belissimo!  

I loved the concept, but I think the execution needs to be tweaked just a bit. While I loved the pickles, there were kind of a lot of pickles. The “special sauce” was a little too vinegary for my liking and I thought it could have had a creamery consistency if they were trying to replicate the McD’s special sauce element. I also thought maybe it could have used another slice of cheese. Overall, I gave it a “B”.


I did it! I survived a 3 day juice cleanse and I lived to tell the tale! Honestly though, it wasn’t that bad. I went into this expecting the worst and by the end of it all, it was a total breeze. So I wouldn’t really say that I survived, but that I thrived

So, why do a juice cleanse, you ask? Am I crazy? Maybe a little bit, but I’m pretty sure that was a pre-existing condition. When I saw a Living Social deal a few weeks ago for the Catalyst Cleanse at Jar Bar, I said, “Why not!?” There are lots of benefits to doing a juice cleanse. For me, it was kind of a motivator to stop eating a lot of junk all the time (which is what I’ve been trying to cut back on doing leading up to this Seattle/Portland trip where I will probably be gorging myself on anything I can find for a week). Also, just to do something different! My life has been feeling stagnant lately, and by giving myself a challenge, it kind of gave me a little boost of “Hey, if you can do this – you can do anything!” 

Here’s how the juice cleanse worked: For three days you drink nothing but 16 oz of six different juices. No coffee or alcohol; just water and decaf tea. Each juice is blended with enough elements that they are supposed to provide you a 1,200 calorie a day diet. You drink them roughly every two hours or so, with it being suggested that you drink the last juice 2 hours before bedtime.

8 AM – Green Juice #1: Cucumber, celery, parsley, apple, lemon, lime, spinach & ginger
10 AM – Spicy Lemonade: Lemon, agave, cayenne
12 PM – Carrot Juice: Carrot, apple, celery, lemon, lime
2 PM – Watermelon lime
4 PM – Green Juice #2: Repeat of breakfast
~7-8 PM (I tend to go to bed late & was treating this juice more like dessert) Cashew milk: Cashew, vanilla, cinnamon, agave

Mmm… Juices!

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Day 1 was kind of brutal just because it made me realize how much of my life revolves around food. I couldn’t escape it! I follow so many restaurant and food blogs on Twitter, everyone is always eating, there were all kinds of awesome smells everywhere – I was being tempted by foods that I don’t even like! (like the empty bag of Cheez-its in the trash at work) After drinking pureed produce all day, Juice #6 was such a treat. 

Day 2 I woke up and wasn’t even hungry at all. I would see food and go, “Oh hey, that looks cool. I’d like to eat that when I can have food again.” It certainly wasn’t as torturous and I was actually starting to enjoy the juices. Admittedly, I loved the Green juice. I know it sounds gross, but it was actually really good. I’d recommend leaving it out a little bit to get warm because it did taste bitter straight out of the fridge. Once it got to almost room temp, it wasn’t half bad.

Day 3 was more of the same. I wasn’t hungry and was feeling great! I kept thinking about what to eat after the cleanse as my “celebration”, but to be honest, I wasn’t even craving food. I was doing the cleanse with a friend and he was ready to eat a slice of pizza at 12:01 AM. We toasted with our final juices and then fantasized about a delicious brunch the next day.

Final juice: Complete.

Post cleanse, Day 4: I still wasn’t hungry. In fact, I kind of wished I’d done the 5 day cleanse. (More of that crazy right here) I felt skinny and awesome – even though I didn’t really lose any weight.  I definitely had more energy; I wanted to be more energetic on the cleanse and work out, but the weather had been unbearably hot and humid and I didn’t want my lack of solid food to make me sick. (The only time I ever felt sick at all was when drinking the carrot juice. It made me dizzy. This was also my least favorite juice.) We had brunch and it was nice to eat and feel like I was enjoying it and not just shoveling it into my face.

Post cleanse, Day 5: Still feeling good and not ravenously hungry. After a week with no coffee (I stopped drinking it  leading up to the cleanse), I didn’t even feel like I needed coffee today. Could I have finally rid myself of my daily caffeine crutch?? Now I just feel like I want this awesome feeling to continue, to not “gum up” my system with gross stuff, to really go overboard with the junk food sometimes, to make a conscious effort to incorporate a healthier eating lifestyle into my everyday routine. 

Would I do it again? Absolutely! I am definitely looking to incorporate more fresh juices into my life on a regular basis along with solid food. 

But you don’t have to do a juice cleanse all the time just to feel better about yourself. It doesn’t have to be about the physical aspect; it’s about your mental mood as well. During the cleanse I reflected on a lot of the things I do and how much I made food a part of my life. At one point, I even contemplated for a split second going Vegetarian!! (Let’s not get crazy.) So many of the things I had been doing on a weekly basis were so centered around food and drink that it was starting to consume me. (What’s for X meal? Where are we eating tomorrow? etc.) Don’t get me wrong, I love food, but maybe it’s easier to appreciate it when it’s not always the constant in your life.

That being said, I’m ready to go on my trip and enjoy every bite a little more thoroughly instead of blindly ingesting something because it’s in front of my face.

Philly Vendy Awards 2012

This past Saturday, July 28th, the 2nd annual Vendy Awards rolled into Philadelphia’s University City section to honor the best in mobile cuisine while supporting the Food Trust (who run all the great Farmer’s Markets in the city as well as the Night Markets). For those of you who don’t know, the Vendy Awards were started back in 2005 by the Street Vendor Project in New York City as a way to appreciate some of the 20,000 vendors who pour your coffee, sling your hash and squirt mustard on your dirty water dogs on a daily basis. The awards have now moved on to Philly and Los Angeles where the popularity of food trucks is rapidly increasing. 

This year’s finalists were comprised of 8 regular food trucks competing for People’s Choice, 4 dessert trucks competing for Best Dessert, and all participants competing for the grand prize – The Vendy Cup! 

BYOF: Bring your own fork 

Once inside the lot, we bee-lined for Little Baby’s Ice Cream, as we figured most people would save the dessert stuff for last. Little Baby’s has delicious, handmade ice cream in a variety of fun flavors from Bourbon Bourbon Vanilla to Early Grey Sriracha. Currently they’ve been scooping out around town on these awesome little tricycle carts, but they are opening their “World Headquarters” Friday, August 3rd at 2311 Frankford Avenue in Fishtown. 

Their logo is totes adorbs!
Red Velvet Spodee Chocolate swirl. It had little bit of red velvet cake mixed in and was surprisingly delicious, even though I’m not a big red velvet fan.
Next, we headed for Tacos Don Memo, which already had a rapidly growing line. I’d never been to Tacos Don Memo before because they’re usually set up in University City during the day so it’s too hard to get out there. I love mexican food though, so this was clearly already the winner in my mind.
They were serving up carnitas tacos and chicken burritos, some of the best I’ve tasted in a long time. And their sauces were super tasty! 
We followed up tacos with more dessert: flavored pops courtesy of Lil Pop Shop. These ain’t the pops you remember as a kid! They have an awesome variety of flavors like Goat cheese & fig and Vietnamese Iced Coffee (my fav!).
In addition to their cart, they also have a storefront in West Philly.
Next, we hopped on line for the Smoke Truck, which was also starting to draw a big crowd as they were serving up BBQ pulled pork and some savory mac & cheese. 
 I could have eaten this all day!
Right next door was the Vernalicious truck. I’ve always seen them around but never got a chance to sample their stuff before. However, grand testimonials have been made among many Philadelphians declaring their pulled pork grilled cheese as a gift from the Heavens.But they were also serving up a tomato & mozzarella sammich that I was very excited about.
adorable froggies!
Tomato Mozz Pesto on left, Pulled Pork Grilled cheese on right
We’d made it to about the halfway mark and I was feeling pretty full now. I was determined to at least try a bite from every truck. Could I make it to all the stops? We moved on to the Delicias truck, who had a pretty slim menu for the day. They are another University City truck that I’d never been to before and was interested to try their arepas. 
I’d never had an arepa before so I’m not sure what it was supposed to taste like, but I didn’t really like it. While the pork loin was tender, it was didn’t do anything for me. And the arepa was dry, topped with black beans and kind of flavorless.
Following that, we checked out the macrons at Sugar Philly. 
They had ice cream ones! Like little mini ice cream sandwiches. Way cool.   
Rounding the final stretch was the Foo Truck, another truck I had been wanting to check out. On the menu today was a braised meatball “foowich” and Thai curry quinoa “foowich”.
Thai Curry Quinoa on the left; braised meatball on the right
I tried the Quinoa first because I like quinoa salads, but sorry, I did not like this sandwich. The taste and the texture just did not work for me. I also took a nibble of the meatball one which was ok; it probably would have been better if I didn’t already feel like I was going to explode. 
Sweet Box Philly was out of all the really good cupcakes by the time we got there, plus I just couldn’t fit any more food in me. I waived the white flag at this point and in doing so, also missed out on Yumtown Truck, Lil Dan’s and King of Falafel. (I’m sure I’ll catch them around town)
Finally, the awards ceremony! Drumroll, please….
And the winners were: 
People’s Choice – VERNALICIOUS!
Best Dessert: Lil Pop Shop (yay, I voted for them!)
And the Vendy Cup goes to: SMOKE TRUCK! 
photo courtesy of
And for my final course of the day:
Mmm! Indigestion!
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