Foodie Fridays: Petite Provence

La Provence

It has been awhile since I did a legit restaurant review and I loved doing them when I was living in New York so I decided to bring ‘em out again!  It has been a lot of fun exploring the Portland foodie community which rivals New York’s and I’m constantly finding amazing restaurants and places to try here.

A couple of weeks ago, I went with my friend, Melissa, to an art class.  I went in starving and knew that we were going to eat afterwards but we hadn’t picked a place.  Melissa mentioned that she had passed a cute restaurant on her way over so we decided to try it out.

Petite Provence was adorable and DELICIOUS!  I would definitely go back.  The restaurant itself is somewhat cramped-we were in between two other couples, an elderly couple that must have been on some sort of date except that clearly they were going dutch and the man was adamant that he wanted some foil to wrap up the bones to bring home to his dog.  He was also very clear that he wanted to pay separately and made sure to slip a $10 bill in for his share and he did not want to be involved with the extra pastries she was purchasing.  The second couple was NOT a date–he kept talking about his boyfriend and they also were very sure to make sure that they were paying separately.  There seemed to be an alcove up above but even though it was quite crowded, they did not want to open it.

BUT the food was awesome!  I was super impressed.  I started with a drink, the Lavender’s Bees Knees-A twist on the classic prohibition-era drink, homemade lavender simple syrup shaken with gin and fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE lavender and this drink was definitely the bees knees!

Lavender Bees Knees

The menu was divided into smaller plates and the server recommended getting a couple of smaller plates so that’s what we did!  I started with the Canapés Francais-a trio of canapés, blue cheese mousse with apple and walnuts; chive cream cheese with smoked salmon and cucumber; and tapenade with roasted cherry tomatoes served on sliced baguette.

Canapés Francais

I personally loved the blue cheese and the salmon but not so much the tapenade–it was a little too salty for me.  The other two, yum!

I then had the Kobe Beef Sliders-topped with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, smoked provolone, and basil aioli.

Kobe Beef Sliders

Yum!  I loved these–the only thing I would say is I wish they had been a little rarer because I like my meat on the rare side but other than that, I devoured these.

You couldn’t come to this restaurant and NOT get dessert-they were all over the place and delicious looking.  The little girl next to us had an awesome looking meringue cookie:

Meringue Cookie

I had a trio of petite desserts that was a great way to try a bunch of different ones.

Petite Trio

This included a chocolate mousse cup–an edible tempered chocolate shell filled with creamy chocolate mousse and Lemon Graffiti-dense chocolate biscuit cake layered with white chocolate creme, lemon curd, lemon creme, ganache with chocolate crisps and almond creme.  I can’t remember what the third one was but it was good!

All in all, I have to say I LOVED this restaurant and I liked the concepts of smaller plates so that you could try a couple of different things.  Their brunch menu on the weekends also looked pretty amazing so I will definitely be coming back!

Being Happy and Happier . . .

Gretchen Rubin

One of the books that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time is The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun .  I’ve seen it around for a few years and have dabbled around in looking at Gretchen Rubin’s website because I like the daily happy quotes she sends out but I just haven’t gotten the book.

Finally, I heard she was coming to Portland and decided NOW was the time.  But not only would I have to read her first book, she was touring around about her second book, Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life.

So I bought both books and read them.  And was super inspired!  Then I went and heard her speak on Tuesday night with some friends.  Well you know how you go to hear some authors speak and are just bored out of your skull?  Not the case with Gretchen Rubin!  She was a great speaker and really took the time to speak to people’s thoughts and concerns.

She talked about what she felt are her five biggest things to accomplishment:

1.  Get enough sleep!  Even if this means setting an alarm to fall asleep.

2.  Get some exercise–even just a bit every day can help.

3.  Cultivate a sense of smells-smells are a quick pick me up without all the calories!

4.  Cultivate shrines–create little areas in your house that are dedicated to things you are passionate about.

5.  Outer order contributes to inner calm.

Her big saying was from Samuel Johnson (I believe):
“The days are long but the years are short”

This is an expression similar to what we said at camp when I was Associate Director:
“The days go by like weeks and the weeks go by like days”

I’ve started doing some of what she’s talked about in her books: keeping track of my goals, giving myself gold stars (literal ones, I bought old school foil stars!) and trying to discover my passions.

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I would love to actually do a happiness project and perhaps meet with a group to accomplish that.

What are some things that make you happy?  Have you ever done a happiness project?

 

 

Local Living: Google City Experts Cooking Class

So I found recently if you write 50 or more reviews on Google then you become a Google City Expert.  AND if you are a Google City Expert you get to go to super cool events!  Last Tuesday was one of these events.  The first 25 people who responded to the email had the amazing opportunity (with a guest!) to take a cooking class at Portland’s Culinary Workshop.  I took my mom as my plus one and we learned all sorts of awesome recipes and got to eat a great meal with some pretty cool peeps I am now friends with on Google+ (which I still don’t totally understand but am attempting to understand better!)

The menu for the evening was stuffed pork loin (stuffed chicken for us non pork eaters) kale salad with a lemony dressing, duchess potatoes (pronounced doochay-who knew!) and an apple-pear-cranberry crumble.

Google City Experts

 

The very first thing we learned was how to actually use a knife.  I’ve cut a fair amount of things in my day but turns out I was cutting all wrong!  Your pointer finger should actually be guiding the knife on top and you should get a callous on the side of your middle finger.

We prepped the inside part of the pork/chicken by sautéing onions, garlic and mushrooms and then mixing that with hazelnuts and blue cheese–yum.  The trick to good kale is massaging that kale down down down.  Duchess potatoes?  Use a pastry bag to squeeze them onto the cookie sheet!  I didn’t do so hot with that but my mom rocked it. . . and crumble, butter and nuts and sugar, oh my!

Duchess Potatoes

 

I am definitely heading back there for another cooking/eating session!

And on the topic of eating. . . check out the blog that I am co-posting with a bunch of bloggy friends: Blog to Taste.  You’ll get awesome recipes and some good old-fashioned Portland, Oregon charm!

50 Ways to Say You’re Awesome

50 Ways to Say You're AwesomeI was super excited to go to this event on Friday evening.  I’ve been reading Alexandra Franzen via her blog and email for awhile and am always getting useful information I’m also always on the lookout for fun events to go to in the Portland area.

My good friend Melissa and I met for dinner at Bamboo Sushi–great sushi, meh service-I’ll blog about that later on and then went to Salt and Straw because Melissa had never had–scandalous!

 

We then walked over to the bookshop and I was excited it wasn’t a normal reading.  Alexandra actually did more of a workshop utilizing her book as the starting off point.  We started with writing some poetry using a random page from her book.  Here’s mine:

“I want to dance to the beat of your brilliance”

I want to shine in the light of your power.

I want to lay in the warmth of your embrace.

I want to share the joy of you with me.

We then talked about where she got the impetus to write the book and she said it came from a conversation with a friend who said she was sick of hearing the phrase “you’re awesome” so Alexandra came home and in 20 minutes just pounded out a list of different ways to say it.

She then talked about the importance of thank you notes.  She said that she had always written them as a kid and fell out of the habit but then got back into it.  She said that it really changed her way of thinking.  So we wrote thank you notes using her method starting with the three “s’s” of gratitude:

1.  Surprising–come out of nowhere

2. Specific–really talking about examples

3.  “Something extra” action–a PS, a bottle of wine, a donation, a something.

I chose to actually write my letter to the veterinarian who recently put my cat down.  I had been wanting to make a donation in his honor and now I got to use my new thank you note writing skills.

I of course bought the book and she wrote a sweet message inside.  I also bought some little cards with phrases on them that I’ve been using to jump start my creative writing.  We’ll see how that goes!

Local Living: Haunted Corn Maize

I have been hearing about corn mazes forever and I have never been to one.  I think this is part of my identity of being a third culture kid (having spent a significant portion of my formative years abroad), I missed out on important American traditions!  So I sent a message out to Facebook saying that I had never been and I needed to remedy this.

Thankfully I had two wonderful volunteers!  My friends Christine and Warren (of Warren Does a Blog-super fun, check it out!) agreed to go with me.  We chose to go to the haunted one as opposed to just the normal maze.  Sauvie’s Island-in the middle of the Willamette River provided a host of options.  We went to Portland Corn Maze.  We purchased our tickets prior to heading down there and waited about ten minutes in line.  The weather had gotten cold so I made sure to wear my fuzzy tall boots, a jacket, scarf and gloves–I did stay warm!

Warren and Christine

Fun times waiting for the maze to open!

Haunted Maize

Taken from their website

From the inside it’s really hard to tell that you are actually in that shape but this is supposedly what it is!

Haunted Maize

I had a FABULOUS time!  The maze was fun and scary!  I can only imagine the amount of time and energy that goes into creating the maze and all the scary aspects.  I will definitely be looking to go to more mazes in the coming years!  Thanks, Christine and Warren for being my buds on this!

Have you ever been to a maze or haunted maze?  Whats your favorite part?

 

Collage Art Classes

Over the summer I read about this awesome art place called Collage located in NE Portland.  Then I wandered over to my old neighborhood in Sellwood (SE Portland) and found their second location.  I was super excited to see that they offered art classes including ten dollar tuesdays and five dollar Fridays–super fun!  I knew right away that I need to let my friend Melissa (who blogs at the awesome blog, A Honey Lust) know about these classes.

Well so far I’ve been to three classes (Melissa has gone to a lot more–she’s been much better about going than I!) and they have been so much fun!  It’s definitely inspired to be more crafty and I’m making really cool stuff.  I’m also spending some time in the Alberta neighborhood, a neighborhood I haven’t been super familiar with.

The first class we did was altar art.  We were given shapes with a teeny tiny frame inside it and we were able to collage that tiny art space:

Altar Art

I am planning to hang these from my rearview mirror but they could totally be earrings or other pieces of jewelry–they are really light which means they would most definitely be comfortable as a pair of earrings.

The second art was domino tile art and that involved more collaging.  I am definitely digging the collaging and was inspired enough to go home and do some collaging and look forward to doing more!

Domino ArtNot sure why I used the words heart-ache and heart-felt but it seemed to go with my mood at the time.  I also loved layering dictionary pages into my art!

Finally, and my least favorite one so far was wood burning.  This one was definitely the hardest and I think would require a lot of skill to really become proficient in it.  It also involved more specialized equipment that I’m not sure I have an interest in investing in.

Wood Burned Pendants

I am definitely going to be checking out the classes at Collage again and going back in the near future.  Another cool thing was you got 15% off anything you purchased on the day of your class-brilliant marketing in my opinion because I ended up buying supplies that were completely irrelevant to what the class of the day was but were things I just wanted to try out!

Local Flavor Swap!

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I am so super excited to be a part of another Chaotic Goddess Swap!  This one is all about local flavors!  Now that I live in Oregon and this is the state I grew up in, I can’t wait to share all the amazing goodies that exist here!

So if you want to participate, check out http://cgswaps.blogspot.com.

This is a great way to get involved with swaps!  They are super fun and you meet awesome people this way!!

Important Dates to Remember

  • Sign-Ups Close on August 9th, 2013
  • Partners Assigned on August 10th, 2013
  • Packages Ship between August 23rd and August 24th, 2013
  • Swap Show-Off Post/Linky goes life on August 27th!

A Visit to the Tenement Museum

tenement_logo

One of my goals living in New York has been to do the New York activities. Well it’s kind of taken me leaving to get to some of them. One of the ones that has been high up on my list has been to go to the Tenement Museum. The concept behind the Tenement Museum is really cool, in the late 80’s, two women wanted to create a museum to the immigrant experience that centered around the Lower East Side starting in the 1800’s (as early as 1830s & 40s). They fell upon 97 Orchard Street. 97 Orchard Street had been a tenement house, in fact one of the earlier built ones, in the 1860’s but in the 1940’s when housing laws were getting more strict, the owner couldn’t afford to fireproof the building and so just sealed the upper floors shut. It stayed that way for forty some years and now has been made into a museum.

For a great book about the building, there is a book called 97 Orchard that tells the story through the edible history of the family-a great book that I completely recommend. The book talks about the families from different countries and religions based on the foods that they ate but also gave a good description of life in the tenement.

My roommate and I went on a tour entitled Sweatshop Workers. The tour centered around two Jewish families from the turn of the 20th century, the Levin’s and the Rogarshevsky’s that both lived in the building. The Levin’s lived in the building and the husband also ran a sweatshop in his front room and main room, employing three other people. The Levins ultimately moved to Williamsburg where Mr. Levin ended up working in the garment industry outside of the home. We got to see a sweet picture of his three daughters at the wedding of one of their grandchildren in the 70’s.

Levin_Front_Room

The front room of the Levin’s house where dresses were put together.

Levin_Kitchen

The Levin’s main room with the stove.

The other family’s apartment that we saw were the Rogarshevskys. They had the same size apartment but lived in the tenement slightly later than the Levins. They also had six children living there. I cannot even imagine how eight people lived in three rooms. The older two girls worked in a factory as did the father. The father was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1916 and passed way in 1918. Mrs. Rogarshevsky was actually quite brilliant and used her skill as a master housekeeper to become the superintendent of the building and was actually permitted to live there long after everyone else had been evicted.

Tenement_Apartment

A Tenement Apartment that had not been replicated.

The entire neighborhood has existed as somewhat of an entry point for new Americans and the streets have even represented that.

Allen Street, Avenue of the Immigrants

There are still remnants of the large Jewish community that remained throughout the Lower East Side and we walked near some of them but ultimately were curtailed by the massive rainstorms.

A Synagogue Economy Candy

97 Orchard Street “97 Orchard Street-built in 1863-64 by Lucas Glockner, a German-born tailor, 97 Orchard Street is typical of the earliest form of tenement house constructed in New York. For millions of immigrants from scores of nations, this tenement and others like it was a place of first settlement in America. We salute them as our urban pioneers on the municipal frontier.

This is the first tenement to be individually listed on the National Register of Historical Places by the United States Department of the Interior. September, 1992.”

My family’s immigration story is a bit different, my mother’s family immigrated directly prior to and following WWII and lived in Upstate New York, Lockport, near Buffalo before moving to California. I’m not sure if my father’s family lived in the Lower East Side at all but my dad’s grandfather definitely came in the right time period-landing at Ellis Island in 1906. My dad’s mother’s family came earlier and unfortunately I haven’t been able to discover much about her family although I would really love to.

It’s interesting to think how our family histories play such an important part in where we end up today and I wish I knew more about certain pieces of my family history. Regardless, the Tenement Museum offers quality tours and quality historical documentation on a huge piece of the American Immigration experience.

Bumming around Brooklyn

So last weekend my roommate, Russell, and I decided to bum around Brooklyn.  The day was beautiful and we just wanted to take advantage of the amazing weather.  We also had a few things we wanted to do.  We started by walking to BAM-Brooklyn Academy of Music to catch a showing of 42-the Jackie Robinson movie.

BAM-Brooklyn Academy of Music

42_teaser1sht_blackborder_homepage_hires

 

This movie was especially poignant for me as the Dodgers, especially the Brooklyn Dodgers have a special meaning in my life.  I may have already written about this but my dad was born in Brooklyn and legend tells a few stories about the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The first being that my grandparents had actually broken up at one point and my grandmother had a friend give my grandfather a ticket to the Dodger game and she “happened” to be there.  Second is that my family lasted one season after the Dodgers left Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles.

The movie did not disappoint!  It was a wonderful story of how Jackie Robinson was the first black player in Major League Baseball and Branch Rickey, the manager who got him there.  I loved seeing different parts of Brooklyn and loved thinking that we were on Flatbush Ave-only a few short miles away from where the Dodgers used to play at Ebbets Field!

Even the walk was beautiful:

Texas Bluebells and Tulips

Texas Bluebells and Tulips

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Russell in front of Barclay's Center

Russell in front of Barclay’s Center

We walked back up to Prospect Heights after that and ended up getting some Mexical for dinner–hard to find good stuff in NYC but this wasn’t bad:

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We also just played around with the camera:

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There was another reason I wanted to end up in Prospect Heights  I had read about an Ice Cream place called Ample Hill Creamery.  And let me tell you, the line was out the door and around the corner!

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It took us about 45 minutes just to get into the store and then the line wound around the restaurant.  I felt like I was at a ride at Disneyland.  It didn’t hurt that there was tons of cool murals and stuff on the walls!

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Some really interesting stuff about the owner:

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And we finally got the front and by goodness, the ice cream did not disappoint!

I had Salted Crack Caramel: salted caramel ice cream with pieces of Deb’s famous crack cookies (saltines, butter, sugar, chocolate) and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake: The smoothest, creamiest vanilla ice cream with gobs of St. Louis Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Pieces.

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Russell had Bananmom: a twist on banana pudding: organic bananas, Saigon cinnamon and vanilla wafers and Sweet As Honey: homemade honey comb candy in a sweet cream ice cream.

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At the end of the day, thanks to my handy dandy UP by Jawbone bracelet, we had walked nearly 7 miles.  A very good chill day in Brooklyn!