Thursday, September 27, 2012

TravelBLOG: Mags & Val go to Musicfest NW

Hey, KDP-ers! Long time no updates. Sorry, but it’s been an eventful summer up here in the Last Frontier. We’ve been super busy conquering mountains, catching giant fish, picking massive amounts of berries, and generally complaining about the weather.
Dorks on a mountain.
Internet, meet Tina the halibut. She was delicious.
My view for 90% of this summer.
Around the beginning of July, Val and I decided we were going to need a respite from the Southeast Alaska rain and get at least a few days of real summer. Fueled by the shitty-weather-sads and, as usual, some generously portioned whiskey cocktails, we purchased our tickets to Portland in September for four nights of live music and, fingers-crossed, sun.
(This is going to be a massive post. Sorry, scrollers.)


We arrived in PDX on Thursday afternoon, and set off on the Max to find Val’s cousin’s apartment. Surprisingly enough, these two country mice made it with pretty much no incident and were able to sit down in front of the air conditioner for a few minutes before setting out on our first night of Musicfest NW. (80°+ is really damn hot when you’ve spent the entire summer in 60° rain.) After delicious tacos and margaritas at the appropriately named ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria, we headed to the Crystal Ballroom for Passion Pit.

And then we drank too many whiskeys and I elbowed a drunk chick in the head.


The next day, we woke up late and headed downtown for the ubiquitous out-of-town shopping day.  We headed over to Mother’s for lunch as the temperature outside slowly crept towards 90°. We ate salads, each with their own respective fresh Oregon fruit, and drank nearly a gallon of water before heading back out into our tiny slice of 2013 summer. This also marks the day that we tried chocolate macadamia nut frozen yogurt and will be remembered forever.

For dinner we shared some appetizers at Paragon, one of which was pretty much just a plate of heirloom tomatoes (heaven).
The other plates were pulled pork sliders and some awesome calamari.

Full and happy, we set off to see Beirut.
People who don't like crappy concert picture may want to skip this whole post.

They were wonderful. (Disclaimer: the author of this post may have been so starved for live music that every show was the best show ever.) The main concerts were held in Pioneer Square and being outside in the nice weather in the middle of downtown Portland was amazing. We stood in the pit for Beirut, since we got there a little late, but it turned out for the best because we had a great view of Zach Condon’s dreamy hair.

After that concert, we headed back over to the Crystal Ballroom to see Helio Sequence. My head cold was starting to kick my ass, so we got some cocktails and scouted out a seat in the balcony. The band playing when we first got there was Portland-based Unknown Mortal Orchestra and were a pleasant surprise.  Helio Sequence was still definitely the main attraction. Their live music comes across much differently than their produced stuff (more fun?) and the drummer, Benjamin Weikel, is a kick-in-the-pants to watch play.


On Saturday, we went to brunch at Meriwether’s and enjoyed some pretty fabulous mimosas (Irish coffee for Val) and phenomenal farm-fresh veggies.
One half of the unfairly good-looking couple that hosted us.

After a bit of time for digestion, we met up with an old friend at a Rogue Taproom where we sat in the sun and drank too many Hazelnut Brown ales (beer flight for Val).

After that it was time to get ready for the next big show: GirlTalk!
In this picture, you can just barely make out all the half-naked ladies.

Which of course provided the best part of the evening:

Bota bota bota box! Like they knew we were coming!

Opening band Starfucker was awesome. GirlTalk definitely puts on a show, but before too long I was jonesing for something a little more rock and roll. So, we packed up and headed over to Ted’s Berbati to catch a band I had been listening to recently, Brooklyn-based DIIV. (It’s pronounced “dive”, by the way. Guess how long it took us to figure that out.) The smaller venue and awesome performance made for one of the best shows we saw the whole trip.

After that, we booked it up to the Roseland Theatre to catch the last bit of Sebadoh’s set and wait patiently for Dinosaur Jr.!
I want to be this cool when I grow up.

The energy of that show! We almost got bowled over by a mosh pit consisting mostly of 30+ year olds. Unfortunately, my head cold started to take its toll and we checked out a little early to catch the bus home.


It’s good we headed home when we did, because we were texted a wake-up call early-ish the next morning that we were late to meet more of Val’s family for breakfast. In a record 20 minutes, we were on the road to the Tin Shed. After grapefruit mimosas and delicious breakfast (I had a scramble with chicken apple sausage and brie, yum!) we headed out on our next adventure: wine tasting.
The view from the White Rose tasting room.

Neither Val nor I had ever been wine tasting before. (I guess that’s what happens when your favorite wine comes from a box.) Drinking 12+ different wines in the course of an afternoon, plus eating our weight in cheese? New favorite vacation activity.
Best cheese ever invented?

When I got home, my dad asked me if we figured out how to taste wine without getting shit-faced. He should really know better.

In this picture, we see drunk Mags trying to remember which vineyard she's currently visiting.

After a refreshing nap in the car, we made our way back downtown for the (arguably) main attraction.
Val: "Bass player's got a bad case of the babies." (Twins! Girlfriend had to play her axe all the way to one side.)

We somehow managed to keep our pants on through an entire Silversun Pickups show.  It was a little touch and go for me when they started playing “Catch and Release”, but I am a lady and kept it together.

After the show, we headed over to Nostrana for a farewell dinner with Val’s incredible, accommodating cousins. (Seriously, Aaron & Stephanie, if you ever read this, you guys are amazing.) We split some pizza, drank some more wine (gin for me!) and told embarrassing stories until it was time to head home to pack and get ready for our morning flight.


After a mix-up at the airport (a story I will only tell you if you buy me a drink), our 8:30 a.m. flight ended up being a 6:00 p.m. flight. Val and I suddenly had time for more shopping and at least one more meal in Portland!

At Aaron’s recommendation, we found ourselves in the garden of Veritable Quandary, sipping cocktails and pretending to be important amongst the besuited professionals around us. We also had some of the best pasta salad I’ve ever had, which we will hopefully be recreating here soon.

Properly boozed and broke, we got on the plane to return home, already plotting our next adventure.

Dudes, one of us is GETTING MARRIED. (I'll give you a hint: it's not me, or Val, or Hannah.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Put A Grill On It

Paradise is in Juneau Alaska. 

It's an indescribable place. The purveyor of everything delicious and funky, the keeper of generous scones, beautiful quiches and a home town feel that you can't really get in New York. I've had friends wake up at ungodly hours to be taught how to make pastry dough, just for fun. I've spent hours hanging out, not on the Internet (last time I checked, they don't have wi-fi) and it's the location of the infamous Alaska Folk Fest Bourbon Brunch. 

When I found out that they published a cook book, I mass texted everyone in Juneau, begging them to get the secrets for me. 
My mother loves me the most. 
Side note- never before has a cook book made me homesick. 

Savory Scones ON A GRILL! (adapted from Paradise Cafe and Bakery)

5 c of flour
2/3 c white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 lb butter, cold and cut into 1" cubes
2 c whole milk

1 c fresh basil- chopped
1 c sundried tomatoes- chopped
1 c Cheddar cheese- grated
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dried italian herbs
dash of cinnamon
more cheese- sliced

-Put everything but the milk in a mixer and blend slowly until the butter is incorporated. (note- I used to do this with 2 butter knives. Get yourself a mixer ASAP). This is the basic recipe, you can use this to make savory or sweet ones. 
- If you are using the whole mix, gently mix in 2 c of milk. Cover your work space with plastic wrap, dump the dough on the plastic wrap and wrap it with more plastic wrap. Pat out to 3/4" thickness. 
-Cut in circles, triangles, ninja's etc... Place on a tray and bake for 12-14 mins. 

Note- This recipe is working with the goal of selling scones to the masses. You'll end up with about 20 scones. That is a first world problem. 

For scone sandwiches or SCONES ON THE GRILL!
put scone and sliced cheese on the grill. Be patient. 
eat it when it's good and melty. 
It tastes kind of like this. 

Notes for next time:
I'll make the scones thicker so I can make scone sandwiches (ON THE GRILL!) and perhaps put mozzarella, basil and a tomato in it. 

My new back up plan is to open a cafe called "Put A Grill On It"
Basic premise- grilling things that aren't meant to be grilled- i.e. baked goods, breakfast things, fruit, bread, tofu, tempeh, eggs, vegetables, desserts... Really anything. It's going to be awesome. 

I spent a Sunday afternoon contemplating time at the remount of EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH, the Robert Wilson and Philip Glass non-linear, 4 1/2 hour opera about Einstein. 
Basically I got my avant garde artist vegetables. 
Sometimes I hear and see things and wish that I did more drugs. 
Einstein falls into that category. 

I'm still a little dazed by it. 
But I've been singing the numbers 1-8 for the past 2 days, so something stuck. 
Repetition, time, stark visual imagery, physically and emotionally disorienting... it's a feat for performers and audience alike. 
It was amazing and terrible at the same time. I cried at one point and I have no idea if it was from an emotional place, or if my eyes were revolting. It was exhausting and awe inspiring. I doubt I'll ever see anything like it again. 
It's only staged once every few decades. Maybe I'll be ready to see it again in 20 years.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

A package deal

hardy har har

I'm cooking things in parchment paper.
It's the classier version of hobo packets, which can be found here.

Tomato Basil Sauce with Polenta (from Bon Appetit)
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 polenta log- cut into rounds
2 lbs cherry tomatoes
7 garlic cloves- peeled and sliced
1 shallot- chopped
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 basil sprigs

-Preheat oven to 425. Brush a baking sheet with oil and put polenta rounds on it.

- Chop half of the tomatoes in a food processor. Cut the remaining tomatoes in half. Combine all the tomatoes in a bowl with 4 tbsp oil, garlic, shallot, salt, pepper and basil. Toss.

- Use 3 big sheets of parchment paper (don't use foil, it doesn't like tomatoes). Spoon the tomato mix onto the parchment paper (all 3 should be layered) and fold the parchment over the mix, crimp the edges to form a sealed packet.

- Throw the packets in the oven on a baking sheet. Throw the polenta in too, turn the rounds once until they are lightly brown and the tomatoes are saucy, 25-30 mins. (It's possible to cook both of these on a grill too). Spoon the tomato sauce over the polenta.

Gourmet hobo packs are well accompanied with the new Avett Brothers album, "The Carpenter", which officially drops on September 11th (it's on NPR first listen). 
If you ever feel the urge the ditch everything and ride the rails (moving up by bucket list), you'll be eating a lot of hobo packets and singing the blues that are on this album. 
This one isn't really a "sit in a hammock, drink pbr and cry" CD. Avett Bros are breaking out of their genre!
But here is one for old times sake:

So many beards. I just want to rub them.