Methven Winery and the case of the stolen pinot noir

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Last weekend I was fortunate enough to help represent my company at an open house for Painted Hills Natural Beef. While Painted Hills beef is from Fossil, OR, the company had paired up with Methven Family Wines in Dayton for the event — which meant a trip out to wine country!

Oregon wine country, as you have seen before, is a beautiful place and knowing that a fabulous — and free! — dinner was waiting made the gorgeous drive from Portland all the better. I won’t mention that gorgeous drive included an hour of terrible traffic — let’s just focus on the pretty (and delicious) stuff!

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This was what greeted us when we arrived…

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I never say no to pinot!

After checking out the scenery, my co-worker Ariel and I went to check out the food — always a high priority for us. The dinner was served buffet style, but what a feast there was: Painted Hills striploin, scalloped potatoes, grilled veggies and a salad of spinach, blue cheese and pears.

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A plate full of happy.

Now here’s where the fun starts. Everyone chose their seats prior to lining up for food. So when returned to our chairs, Ariel and I noticed something that had slipped past us before, each table came with a bottle of wine, snuggled up in a burlap bag. Since drinks had to be purchased, we were very excited at the prospect of free wine.

However, on our table sat a bottle of white wine, which wasn’t cold and didn’t sound like the best pairing for our steak. So while our neighboring table was at the buffet, we convinced another co-worker to swap out their bottle of pinot noir for our pinot gris. After all, they had only dropped their jackets there, surely they hadn’t even noticed if their table had red or white wine. Right?

Nope. We were totally busted! Luckily after giving us a hard time, they seemed to forgive us, which was good because we had already cracked it open and started drinking. The bottle was dry when all the ‘thank you for coming’ speeches were over and then someone got on the microphone and said, “Everyone flip your chairs over, if you have a sticker on the bottom of your chair, you get to take home the bottle of wine on your table!”

Uh….

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The (very empty) evidence of our dishonesty

Good thing for us my boss won the bottle at our table. We just let him know he had treated us to his wine and thanked him. I’m not too sure if he was pleased by that but what can you do?

Go outside and enjoy more pretty!

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Rainbow at Methven Family Wines

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Just another lovely evening in wine country.

Business trips are better when your business is meat!

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Beef Tartare, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

I posted a teaser last week about my business trip to Seattle in which I promised more pictures would be coming. I have finally gotten my act together so here’s how I spent my 5 days “working” in the Emerald City! (As a side note — working in the meat industry really has its perks — we ate constantly.)

On the drive to Seattle from Portland, we stopped in Olympia to get dinner at the Water Street Cafe. The food was pretty fabulous and the pasta special was super good. I’m going to ignore the sprinkling of dried parsley on the rim.

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The next day, my friend and co-worker Breezy and I embarked on day-long trip around Seattle doing sales calls.

We started in Ballard:

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Watching our lunch cook at Stoneburner

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Roasted cauliflower with agro dolce and an incredible pizza with sausage, olives and mozzarella. Oh yeah, and a bottle of rosé.

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Inside Stoneburner — a very pretty restaurant.

After 25 other sales calls (not involving eating and drinking, I swear) it was 5 pm. Exhausted and in need of sustenance, we found an adorable little wine shop/cafe called The Bottlehouse where we settled in for some happy hour treats:

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The most incredible cheesy sandwich with tomato jam and a pickle, The Bottlehouse.

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I like pink wine!

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The next day we did more sales calls, hitting up two of my favorite butcher shops, The Swinery (in West Seattle) and Rain Shadow Meats (which has two locations, Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square).

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The Swinery, West Seattle

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Porchetta sandwich topped with crispy pork bits, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

Since it was a Saturday, we spent the rest of the day wandering around town. We stumbled across a shop called Glassybaby. It was full of the most beautiful hand blown glass votives and tumblers I have ever seen. Absolutely gorgeous colors! If I could have afforded it, I would have bought them all.

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We popped into Nacho Borracho, a new restaurant specializing in nachos (of course) and fabulous boozy slushies. Seriously, the nacho were amazing — their homemade cheese sauce is the stuff dreams are made of. And the drinks! They were so good I’m still thinking about them. If you live in Seattle, this place should be on your radar. It’s got quality ingredients in a slightly dive bar/hipster type atmosphere. I would live here if I could!

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Nacho Borracho, Seattle, WA

Another evening, my boss treated us all to a never-ending feast at Loulay Kitchen & Bar, followed by more food and drinks at Aragona.

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Seared Foie at Loulay, Seattle, WA

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Panna Cotta, Loulay, Seattle, WA

Basically it was a long weekend full of food, fun and festivities.

I love my job!

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Just a grill full of Iberico pork Costilla Falsa (boneless ribs)…

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Seattle water front from Pike Place Market

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I love the Ferris Wheel in such an industrial looking setting.

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Till next time, Seattle!

A Year in the Making: Springtime Sugar Cookie Nests

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Sugar Cookie Nests

Last year I saw some really, really cute cookies on Pinterest. They were little thumbprint cookies, topped with chocolate and decorated with tiny chocolate eggs. I had every hope of actually making them. But then life happened and my motivation for fiddling around with tiny cookies flew right out the window.

Luckily this year was less chaotic and I actually managed a few sweet spring-time experiments like homemade Peeps and — finally — these little sugar cookie nests. And I have to say they were adorable enough (and tasty enough!) to be worth the wait.

While there are TONS of cookie nest recipes around, I really liked the simplicity of this one — no mini muffin pan necessary, just a basic sugar cookie recipe and some imagination. I contemplated using coconut flakes as the grass, but in the end I went with melted dark chocolate, green jimmies and mini chocolate eggs.

Not much else to say about these except I loved them. The cookie melts in your mouth and the bittersweet dark chocolate offsets the sweetness of the candy egg. They are the perfect happy spring cookie to go with the sometimes rainy, sometimes sunny type of days we’ve been having here lately. And while I’ve never been never a huge fan of rain, I do love the flowers it brings!

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The Peeps make cute plate decorations at least…

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Hot pink and pastel pink are equally happy spring colors!

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My lilacs are going crazy this year — love the way they smell.

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Pretty, pretty tulips.

The Ups and Downs of Homemade Peeps

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When I was younger, I always wanted to like Peeps — they were so cute and colorful and looked so festive it was hard not to want to bite their little heads off. But even as a kid, I’d get halfway through the pack and lose interest. They just weren’t as delicious as their bright candy colors made them seem. (They were still better than Cadbury Eggs, with their creamy yolks that still give me the creeps, but a far cry from my favorite Easter candy, mini-Whopper Robin Eggs.)

And yet, this year I became obsessed with making my own. After all — homemade marshmallows are infinitely better than store-bought ones, so it would seem that homemade Peeps would follow the same logic.

I did some recipe and technique research before I began, which led me to trying out Alton Brown’s recipe for marshmallows. Normally I am a big proponent of Martha Stewart’s recipe, but it seemed like as good a time as any to try something new. (Personally I still find Martha’s recipe to be fluffier and sweeter, but feel free to use whatever recipe you like best.)

If you are a newbie at marshmallow making, make sure you have a candy thermometer that is calibrated and that actually works (mine broke and I ended up having to test for the soft ball stage using a cup of water. Effective but not very fun). Also prepare yourself for the mess, especially if you try to color part of your mixture like I did. Imagine yourself in a stringy web of sugar — it gets everywhere!

And in hindsight, dying the marshmallows was pretty silly. The sugar covers them anyways, I was just experimenting.

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Pink and White Marshmallows. They look unassuming but managed to put up quite a fight.

After the marshmallow mixture is made, scoop it into a greased pan and press it down with greased hands or a spatula. You will be cutting them out with cookie cutters so you don’t want it thicker than the cutter you plan to use. Don’t worry if they look bumpy or a little wrinkled. The sugar will hide any blemishes.

Then let the pans sit for 4 hours or overnight. This gives you plenty of time to clean the sticky sugar mess off your counters (though really why bother…it’s about to get worse) and turn your entire kitchen inside out looking for every bottle of sanding sugar you own. As a note — the finer the sugar, the better.

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Perfect Peep Pink!

Then comes the fun, incredibly messy and occasionally frustrating part — decorating the Peeps.

The sugar won’t really stick to the front and backs of the marshmallows as most recipes will have you dust them in a combination of confectioners sugar and cornstarch so you can handle them. This means the sugar will only coat the sides where they have been cut.

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I learned that by dipping  a pastry brush in water and gently dabbing the ‘mallows that the sugar would stick fairly well. Which meant I had water, a brush, dishes of sugars plus the marshmallows all. over. the. place.

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This was actually the eye of the storm…

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Don’t mind the nubbins in the middle of the plate…

Sugar will most likely get everywhere. I promise you. You will need way more than expected and so you’ll keep dumping it into plates, realizing that the cute little dishes you poured it in won’t work at all. Really, what were you thinking?

But in the end, you will be greeted with adorableness and every granule of sugar lodged into your skin, your socks and in your hair will have been worth it.

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The Blue Bunny

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The flower cutter doubles as a bunny tail!

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Homemade Easter Peeps

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Bunny tail!

Now are you ready for the bad news? They tasted terrible! Like weird metallic grossness. The marshmallows themselves were fine and dandy but the sugar coating made them awful. I googled as much as I could but didn’t really find a good answer, though a friend of mine told me it was most likely some form of anti-caking mixture added to the sugar that would make them taste “off” when used in large quantities.

It seemed like a reasonable answer since I’ve used the sprinkles before, in much lesser amounts, without ever noticing anything weird.

So these Peeps will get to keep their heads. I’m seeing if they dry out well enough that I can coat them in something (Modge Podge? Shellack? any suggestions?) and have them last a few years as fun Easter decorations.

Even though I didn’t eat them, I still feel like mission “make Peeps” has been accomplished. Next up on my candy bucket list is to make black licorice.

Have you ever tried to recreate an old childhood favorite? Did it work out or were you disappointed in the results?

Salted limes make vodka happy…

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Salted Lime Vodka Collins

I’ve been on a real Pok Pok tear lately — I’ve been cooking out of the book for the past few weeks and my daydreams have begun to feature fish sauce wings (a recipe I haven’t made yet). But even more than Ike’s famous wings, I have been craving a certain cocktail from Pok Pok — the salted plum vodka collins. Besides the odd beer here and there, this is the only thing I drink while dining there.

It is sweet, tart, tangy and intriguingly different from any other cocktail I’ve had. Once I discovered it, it was all I ever needed.

In fact I used to sit at the bar in the early days of Pok Pok (when it was less busy and you could actually just walk in and sit there) and stare down the bartender as he made it. I was determined to figure the recipe out — and after a few drinks one evening, I had it on mental lock down.

But alas, the day I was craving it the strongest, I didn’t have any salted plums on hand to get my fix. However I did have salted limes, which one of Pok Pok’s sister restaurants, The Whiskey Soda Lounge, uses in their salted lime vodka collins. Unsurprisingly, that is my go-to cocktail when I eat there.

Clearly there is a theme in my life — I like vodka drinks, I love salted things and put an Amarena cherry in there and I’m sold!

The ingredients for both cocktails are the same, except for the limes and plums, of course.

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The basics…not pictured is the soda water.

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Now the salted limes and plums are not really palatable on their own, but muddled into a drink, they are phenomenal. They add a salinity I adore and a certain mouthfeel that I can never quite describe to people. It’s still a light, quenching drink but there is just something lingering and almost weighty about the flavor.

So hard to describe — guess you’ll just have to make it some time to see what I’m talking about! Which leads me to the exact recipe which features Andy Ricker himself (chef/owner of Pok Pok) whipping up the drink in a video format.

As you can see, it’s a seriously easy cocktail. Muddle, add ice and liquids, shake and serve. The hardest part is tracking down the salted fruit (found in many Asian markets) and the Amarena cherries (upscale grocery stores or online). And once you taste a sip, hopefully you’ll agree that this drink is one of the most delicious concoctions ever.

Here it is poured right from the shaker:

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Salted Lime Vodka Collins

Finally — my favorite part — garnish with an Amarena cherry (or two).

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Salted Lime Vodka Collins

Celebrating St. Paddy’s with the Irish Holy Trinity of Booze

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Irish Car Bomb Jello Shots

In culinary school I learned the about the trinity of mire poix: onions, carrots and celery. I also learned the holy trinity used in Cajun or Creole cooking: onion, celery and green bell pepper. If one was to put together a boozy trinity for St. Paddy’s Day, it seems obvious it would include Jameson, Baileys and Guinness.

And in fact, those three boozy friends come together often (probably most often on college campuses all over the country) to form the drink known as the Irish Car Bomb. I’m not really huge on the name of the shot — which is insensitive at best — but it’s what this combination is most known as so I’m going to roll with it for this post.

To help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and to help make my Monday less dreary, I decided to whip a batch of Irish Car Bomb Jello Shots up over the weekend. I found the recipe on Gizmodo and the reviews of it seemed like it was winner so I hightailed it to the liquor store to pick up the necessities:

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They didn’t take long to make and the recipe is very straightforward. You start with the base layer — a combination of whiskey, Guinness, sugar and gelatin. Once that has set (about an hour or so depending on the size of vessel you use), make the top layer. That one is a slightly creamy, very dreamy layer of Baileys, water and gelatin. Then let the shots set up — which will take another hour or so — and then let the good times roll!

And trust me — as one would expect from a shot made with three different types of alcohol, these are definitely potent. Gizmodo says each shot is roughly 12% and while I can’t vouch for the math, I can say the sample I tried gave me a warming whiskey burn.

The only complaint I have is that I don’t like my Jello shots really stiff. I prefer them to have more jiggle to them, more squishy than something I really need to chew. But I realize not everyone feels like that, so this consistency is probably fine for many people. Personally the next time around, I will try these with half the gelatin called for — or maybe I’ll just up the booze! — because the shots were very firm.

Faux Pok (Pok): Making yam khai dao at home

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Fried Egg Salad (yam khai dao) from the Pok Pok Cookbook

Last year was the year for Portland cookbooks. In fact it seemed like every time I went on Eater, another chef had landed a deal and was working on a book. In the final few months of 2013, several well-known local talents, like chefs Gabe Rucker and John Gorham, released books that were hot commodities all over the country.

Most of the books I was content to just flip through at Powells, but there was one that had to be mine — Andy Ricker’s cookbook for his nationally acclaimed restaurant Pok Pok. Pok Pok is a place dedicated to Thai street food, made famous by their incredible fish sauce chicken wings. After a few very successful years, Pok Pok became so popular that Ricker opened several new restaurants throughout town (all with a slightly different Thai spin) and even opened a spot in NYC.

And while I, like most people, love the Pok Pok wings, the one dish I always, always order is the yam khai dao or fried egg salad. It was hard to put my finger on why I love it so much but after reading Ricker’s description of the dish, I solved the mystery.

The vinaigrette that dresses the greens, herbs and crispy egg is perfectly balanced. There is heat fire from the Thai chiles, a bit of funk from the fish sauce, sweetness from the palm sugar simple syrup and zing from the lime juice. It’s one of those dishes that sucks you in from the first bite and you just can’t stop eating it. Or thinking about it. Or craving it.

So, of course, it was the first dish I had to make from the cookbook.

Disclaimer: While I would absolutely recommend buying yourself a copy of this book, you can find a copy of this recipe here.

I started by sourcing all of my ingredients, which necessitated a special trip to the Asian market for Thai fish sauce, Chinese celery, a disc of palm sugar and Thai chiles. The rest of the items were already in my fridge: lime, onion, garlic, carrots, lettuce and cilantro. And of course, two eggs.

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Yam Khai Dao – Fried Egg Salad

Once the hunting and gathering was completed, the fun began.

The recipe has one sub-recipe for the vinaigrette: a palm sugar simple syrup, which was, well, simple. It’s basically a few ounces of palm sugar melted in water.

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I even got the kitchen scale out for this one!

The simple syrup recipe makes about a quarter cup, but only a few teaspoons are needed for the egg salad. Happily the rest is excellent in cocktails.

Next up is veg prep — some mincing, some chopping and a little bit of julienne.

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Once the mise en place is taken care of, it’s time to fry up the eggs. According to Ricker these can be made up to 15 minutes in advance. The most important part is frying them over high heat so the eggs get a nice crispy crust. Just don’t overcook them — you want the yolks almost set, no more.

Once they have rested for a few minutes, cut each egg into quarters.

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High heat, plenty of oil and cooked until the yolk is barely set.

In a large pan, or wok, warm up the dressing. Then add in the eggs, veggies and herbs and toss gently to coat. Note: This isn’t a warm, wilted salad but neither is it a cold salad — don’t cook the greens and herbs, just get the chill off.

Final step — plate up and dig in!

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Yay!

Keeping my word would be easier if it was February 31st

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Remember last month in January when I said I was going to dedicate a post each month to trying a recipe made by a fellow WordPress blogger? High off my bacon-onion marmalade success, I had all the confidence in the world for February. And then my birthday happened. I spent one weekend in Tacoma with family, one weekend (my actual birthday) with a few close friends and the third weekend was my big blow-out party.

So basically I would just like all of us to pretend that February is not a short month and that I haven’t already failed at my resolution. Everyone in agreement? Excellent!

img_88151But this post needed to be new stuff and since I was already late, I figured I’d try out two of Liz’s recipes to make up for being a slacker. The first one was super quick, I whipped it up in 10 minutes: spicy edamame hummus with lime and jalapeño.For February, I wanted to tackle a recipe from one of my longest standing blogging buddies, Liz from food for fun and deLizious Food Communications. I actually made a recipe from her blog last summer, the Mr. Wonderful White Cake, for a family reunion potluck. And it was, in fact, just as delicious as she had promised. It was also incredibly easy to whip up which was good because I was on such a time crunch that I almost bought a cake mix. This was ten times better!

The most time-consuming element of this recipe is cooking the soy beans, which took 5 minutes. Then everything is loaded into the food processor and blended with a touch of olive oil until it’s the consistency you prefer. A recipe this easy means that the next time you have a snack craving, this hummus could save you from a less healthy temptation.

I ate mine after a painfully long grocery shopping excursion. I arrived home so hungry I thought I would pass out…or scarf down a bag of chips. But instead I made this and felt so much better. It’s flavorful, you can make it as spicy as you like and it has the benefits of soy beans (protein, fiber and antioxidants). It’s also very pretty!

More bonuses: the list of ingredients is both small and affordable. Requiring no tahini, it gets some heat from the chile and its tanginess from the lime. And, of course, it calls for garlic — because hummus without garlic is like peanut butter without jelly. It was great with flat bread but I’m going to be eating it all week at work with fresh veggies instead.

The second deLizious recipe on my plate this week is French bread. I should mention I haven’t made bread since culinary school…12 years ago. Stay posted to see how it turned out!

Hop worship & throwing the best beer-day party ever!

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This is how I roll when it’s my birthday…

If you read Wednesday’s post, you’ll know I’m in the middle of series about throwing the best damned B-day party ever — where the B stands for beer, glorious beer! In this post I’m getting down and dirty with the specifics on how I went about this extravaganza.

I spent the month prior to the party relentlessly planning it. Some things I figured out with relative ease, like the beer-infused party favors and the beer shaped cake (thank you Pastrygirl for making my beer-filled dream come true!).

Hell, even finding super fun beer-shaped candles was a surprisingly easy feat (at least for my friend DB who scored them at a local cake decorating place).

Some other things took a bit more time and research — like choosing a mode of transportation. I knew that I wanted to go to several different breweries and while there are plenty of beer tour buses in Portland, I wanted something more memorable. And then it hit me: PDX Pedicabs. It’s like being in a horse-drawn carriage…except the horse is a bicycle and you’re in a cart.

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This is one of our 5 pedicabs — and you can tell by the balloon that I’m in this one!

Once the bikes were lined up, there was nothing left to do but anxiously await the big day!

The party kicked off on a dry but slightly blustery day in SE Portland. I stopped first to pick up what would become the party mascot, Big Beer, the most fabulous balloon ever.

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“Big Beer” Balloon

4Once Big Beer was securely fastened, it was time for the fun to begin!

I met 10 of my friends at Hair of the Dog Brewery. This is a kick-ass brewery in the slightly industrial part of SE Portland. Alan Sprints, founder of the brewery, is someone I’m fortunate enough to know through my job.

When I asked if he’d be willing to give us a tour, he not only did so but also poured some special tastings for us in the brewery. We sampled the Matt and the Cherry Michael. Seriously amazing stuff.

His beers are intricate and tend to lean on the more alcoholic side (7-12%), but still mange to be extremely drinkable. The Cherry Michael, a sour beer, was a crowd favorite.

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Yum!

After our tour and tasting, the pedicab fleet took us to the next brewery, the Green Dragon, which has a huge, ever-changing rotating tap list. We took a quick tour of their brewery as well, thanks to a party attendee who knew someone. (People that know people are my favorite kinds of friends!)

Green Dragon is affiliated with Rogue Brewery, a big name in this town (and probably all over the West Coast). They have several brewpubs and public houses all over Oregon, from Newport to Astoria to Eugene. On the tour we saw several pallets of delicious beer waiting to be enjoyed.

I would highly recommend an intermission at some point in your beer drinking tour — and was happily surprised when our pedicab bikers suggested an impromptu stop to see some baby goats.

This a great opportunity to really embrace the ridiculous “Portlandia” concept of having goats in the middle of an industrial area — but come on, baby goats! And hey, they even have their own website: http://urbangoatspdx.com/.

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Flight of sour beers from Cascade Brewing

Next we journeyed on to our third brewery, the Cascade Brewing Barrel House, which focuses primarily on sour beers. I love sour things — sour candies, citrus, you name it — so this is one of my favorite breweries in town. I could pretty much drink here all day!

I enjoyed two beers here: the Vine (aged 3 months on white grape must) and the honey ginger lime (a sour rye ale). Both were so good!

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I also got an unexpected birthday gift while at Cascade Brewing. Two of my friends, a couple who are also my co-workers, brought out a stack of papers. All of the papers were crumpled and slightly dirty.

“Found art,” they explained. And then they proceeded to give us a dramatic reading from the various papers. Each one was more hilarious than the last. The one posted to the left was a personal favorite. It was honestly the most original gift I received and thinking back on it has kept me laughing all week.

Our next stop was Base Camp Brewing. They are fairly new in the Portland beer scene, but I like their beers. I particularly enjoy their In-tents IPA — not only because it’s tasty but because it reminds me of a running joke between me and my husband. “It was like a fire at a circus…”

download-4_6After a quick pint, we loaded back up and enjoyed our final ride. Did I mention our pedicabs rocked? They even had music. I can’t remember much of what we heard but I’m fairly confident the Humpty Dance came on.

After that, the party wrapped up at Burnside Brewery. We bid adieu to our pedicab bikers and enjoyed cake, burgers and (my favorite!) some Sweet Heat, a beer that combines apricot puree with spicy scotch bonnets. I can usually only drink about a pint of it, but after all that beer, a pint was all I needed!

Then it was home, sweet, home where I tucked myself into bed before 11pm.

All in all, I would say this was one of my favorite birthdays yet!

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Chug! Chug! Chug!

Beer-Candied Pralines & Planning my Brew-Day!

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Planning my birthday is seriously one of my favorite things to do. I pick a theme months in advance and then slowly dedicate myself to making invitations, buying decorations, practicing cake recipes, etc. (This kind of “birthday black hole” is why I haven’t been around much the last two weeks — too much to do!)

But there’s one thing I definitely love more than my birthday — and that is beer. Sweet, sweet beer. I often say that if given the choice between my kegerator or my wedding ring, the keg would win out. I’m (mostly) joking.

So to help celebrate my love for the hoppy, malty nectar of the gods, this year I decided my birthday party theme should be beer. And oh, trust me, this theme proved to be a contender for the best idea I’ve ever had.

But we’ll get to that in time…For now, welcome to the first in my “brew-day” series. To kick-off this series we will be making beer-candied pecans. And, yes, they are amazing.

See, I’m a big believer in party favors. I love to have little gifts for my friends to take home after the big night. These gifts are usually edible and always fit the theme. I toyed around with personalized pint glasses or beer koozies, but when the idea of beer sweets jumped in my head it seemed like the best way to go.

After a lot of research, my first project was these beer-candied pecans from The Beeroness. They were a dream — easy to make, required few ingredients, and were sweet enough but retained a slight bitter quality from the beer. They were salty and delicious and I would highly recommend giving them a try.

A few notes: I doubled the recipe but in hindsight, felt like I could have kept the caramel recipe the same and just doubled the nuts. There was so much caramel sauce that I poured nearly a half cup off the sheet pan before baking and now have a jar in my fridge for future enjoyment.

And second, I expected a harder crunchy nut, but mine had the slightly softer texture of a praline. Not a bad thing at all — just different. If you wanted something with a harder crack, you could try taking the caramel a bit further along. For me, I was happy enough with the results.

Hopefully my friends were too!

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Beer, nuts, brown sugar, salt and butter are the only ingredients you need!

First select your beer, preferably something dark and not overly hoppy. I chose 10 Barrel‘s Pray for Snow. An ironic choice given my feelings toward snow, slush and winter in general, but a fine, tasty beer with malty notes of caramel and spice.

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10 Barrel’s Winter Ale Pray for Snow, brewed in Bend, OR.

Start by reducing the beer down to a half a cup, then add the sugar and bring to 235 degrees. Stir in butter, and then add the nuts and salt. Spread mixture on a greased pan and bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

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Headed into the oven.

Once the sugar coating has set and the pecan are toasted through, pull and let cool. For the sake of your poor tongue, try to resist sampling them right away.

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All wrapped up with notes that say, “Thank you for making my birthday extra hoppy!”