Blueplate Review

If you can find Blueplate on your first try, you deserve a prize. Nestled away between two other businesses on SW 3rd and Washington, this little diner is worth the search. Open from 11-4 Monday through Friday, Blueplate serves all-American comfort food. I first heard of it on Guy Fieri’s show “Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives.” After the episode I decided I had to go check this place out as soon as possible. The food is what grabbed my attention. I am all for a hearty, homecooked meal and that is exactly what it looked like I’d be getting if I dined there. Plus, the man cooked everything on two griddles. When I say griddles, I mean the kind of griddles you take camping to make pancakes and bacon on in the morning.

A Blue Plate

Opened in 2007 by Jeffery Reite, this diner is comforting and old-fashioned looking with high ceilings. Blueplate may lack space, but one thing it doesn’t lack is natural lighting. The whole front of the diner has large windows that let in minimal light from the overcast Portland sky. When you first walk in, you see a long counter with jars of candy at the end. If you can get your eyes away from the candy, you’ll notice an old soda fountain.

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They have a very extensive drink menu made with their own house sodas. Chef Jeff has some of his own concoctions mixed with fountain classics, all for a reasonable price. Any soda drink is $2 or you can upgrade it to a float for only $1.50 more. If you’re more into milkshakes, they’ve got you covered.  There are a few of their own inventions or you can build your own.  They have your typical vanilla or chocolate milkshakes but if you’re feeling like going out of the box a bit, you can make one with their chocolate and filbert butter ice cream or you can try making one with their green tea ice cream with chai syrup.

Their food menu is fairly small, but for being a lunch diner only open for five hours I feel like it’s completely acceptable. Meal prices range from $7-12, perfect for lunch in Downtown. They have a few dishes they serve everyday and on certain days they have specials, including meatloaf (for only $12!). They have a range of different sandwich options from sloppy joes to roast beef melts to grilled cheese to little beef sliders. All sandwiches are served with a side of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes that are alone worth trip there. My personal favorite are the $10 Northwest sliders. They’re two mini hamburgers with melted Tillamook cheddar. The ground beef is some of the most tender meat I’ve had in Portland.

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Blueplate is a laid back place that is great to hang out at and study by yourself or a fun place bring the family. It’s a nice little escape from the craziness that sometimes is Downtown Portland. Come with an empty stomach and enjoy a lunch worth telling all your friends about.

You want me to pay how much?

I mean, when I first saw these guys I thought they were aesthetically stunning but what I found most astounding was the price.
The chocolate bar on the left is $420. The one on the right is $590.

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These chocolate bars are gorgeous to look at but it’s hard to imagine eating them. They look like a new Portlandia-inspired contemporary art project with some weird metaphor behind it. But that’s kind of what the people of Unelephante were going for. Appropriately named “Tabletas Pollock” (inspired by Jackson Pollock) and “Globo & Crayon Chocolate,” these chocolates were created to be edible art. Even though it looks like acrylic paint, “Pollock” is 54% cocoa hand painted with colored cocoa butter.

Tatiana Sanchez started as a jewelry maker living in Mexico. Selling handmade goods started to become more difficult after imitation products started to get shipped to the country. After taking a break for a while, she revisited her business plan and got inspired to start Unelefante. In 2012,Tatiana teamed up with Chef Jorge Llanderal, proclaimed the best chocolatier in Mexico, to create her own chocolate line for her company. All of her products are made in Mexico and are inspired by her Mexican culture. The chocolate they use is produced in Columbia by a company called Luker.

Unelefante also has what they call “bark bars” which are 65% cocoa chocolate bars with special ingredients sprinkled on top.
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It’s really refreshing to see people create with passion and keeping to their roots.

Oh and I should mention, the prices are in pesos, not dollars. You can pick your jaw up off the floor now.

Cheese with an extra side of cheese please.

After living in Montreal for a while, there are a lot of things about that city I could miss. I could miss the unique language or the beautiful, historic, architecture in the Old Port but I think the thing I miss the most is having a nice cheese spread after a big meal.

There aren’t many things I love more than good cheese. From my experience, French people also love their cheese. In the neighborhood I lived in, there was a fromagerie on every other block. Looking in the windows on my way to work, I could see all these cheese sitting in the brightly lit cases, tempting me like a siren. Occasionally they’d lure me onto the rocks (aka the front counter) and I’d buy a little block of Gruyere for more than I should probably be spending on cheese.

The best was when I would be invited to a nice dinner and my roommate’s parent’s house. In French culture, there are many courses to a meal. A standard dinner party will have five courses. It usually starts with an aperitif (an alcoholic drink served before the meal) and some hors d’oeuvres. Then you move on to the main entree followed by a salad. After you’ve made it through the first few courses, you finally get to enjoy the cheese plate. There are typically four to seven different cheeses offered. We usually had camembert, brie, a goat cheese, gruyere, and a blue cheese.

Camembert and brie are creamier, richer cheeses. They ripen in a bloomy rind and are made with pasteurized milk to pass food safety standards.
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Goat cheese is pretty straight forward. We always went with a firmer finish.
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Gruyere is a hard, Swiss cheese made from cow’s milk.
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And lastly, blue cheese, as unappetizing as it sounds, is cow or goat’s milk with mold marbled through it.
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After all that cheese comes dessert but let’s be honest, who would want dessert when you could continue to eat gruyere with a little black pepper sprinkled on top? I know don’t.

Living in Montreal has seriously caused me an expensive habit. I used to make fun of the people at the grocery store standing at the “fancy cheese” counter taking their time to pick the right cheese. I am that person now and I have reluctantly accepted it. Looks like I need to take a trip back to that cheese-loving city soon.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Fall is quickly approaching and I think everyone is ready for it to get here. I mean Starbucks has even released their Pumpkin Spice Latte early this year. Pumpkin flavored treats in the Fall is a huge trend that seems to reappear every year. I feel like an even bigger trend every Fall is people complaining about pumpkin flavored treats. Yes, every bakery, restaurant and cafe comes out with some pumpkin themed products once September and October roll around, even McDonald’s has their own pumpkin spice drink now, but I see no problem with it what-so-ever. For me, that flavor reminds me of home. I have so many childhood memories tied to pumpkin pie. And I’m sure it’s not just me, pumpkin is a comfort food for many people.

More and more people in the culinary world are really starting to experiment with that little squash. I decided to comprise a list of my favorite pumpkin recipes.

1. Pumpkin Dream Cake

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2. Snickerdoodles with pumpkin cream cheese filling.

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3. Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Last but definitely not least and my personal favorite:

4. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Chai Spiced Cream Cheese Filling.

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These four recipes are incredibly delicious. Bring them to any holiday party and you’re bound to be the most popular person there. Everyone is going to want to be your friend after they get a taste of these goodies.

Another big trend once fall rolls around is pumpkin beer. Most people think it’s a modern creation but it has been around since the early 1800’s. It’s really hard to find a decent pumpkin ale these days. I’ve gone through my fair share trying to find one that is pumpkin enough without being too artificially flavored. My personal favorite is the one put out by Blue Moon. Their Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale is a great balance of flavors. If any of you know of any other great beers, please do let me know.

Happy pumpkining!

Urban Farmer

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When I think of hotel restaurants I typically imagine dimly lit rooms, small spaces, and boring floor length table cloths. Walking into Urban Farmer was anything but that. The restaurant is a large open space with natural lighting pouring in through the large skylights. The tables are made out of finished wood and the whole place has a rustic yet modern vibe. Urban Farmer is more than just a hotel restaurant, it could stand on it’s own in any city.

My class of fellow baking and patisserie students decided to make the eight floor elevator ride to the restaurant to partake in a dessert tasting. We were handed dessert menus and I immediately felt overwhelmed. Everything sounded so good and I wanted to try everything. I knew my stomach wasn’t going to be happy with me when I was done, but I was certain it was going to be worth it.

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Urban Farmer’s dessert menu

 

As a class, we decided to all chip in and get eleven desserts to try and share as a group. The two that stuck out to me the most were the Butterscotch Sundae and the Lemon Cheesecake Brulee. Ultimately, the presentation of the Butterscotch Sundae is what got me the most. I was so transfixed on the sundae that I didn’t even notice the other desserts being brought out. The dessert was presented in a clasp-lid canning jar. It was so perfectly Portland, but the only thing more perfect was what was actually inside the jar. Inside was a warm blonde brownie sitting underneath a scoop of praline and toffee chip ice cream, drenched in a butterscotch sauce. On top of the ice cream sat a scoop of chantilly and some cherries. This dessert could have easily been way too sweet, but it was perfectly balanced.

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Butterscotch Sundae

The other dessert that I really enjoyed was the Lemon Cheesecake Brulee. It had a great lemon flavor, not too strong but not too subtle. The texture wasn’t quite like your typical cheesecake. It was a little more of a custard consistency, but still very light and airy. The top of the cheesecake was torched like a creme brulee. And for a garnish, a little scoop of champagne sorbet resting on top. For such a little scoop, it packed a ton of flavor. It was like eating a shot of cold champagne.

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Devil’s Food Cake Whoopie Pie, Lemon Cheesecake Brulee with Champagne Sorbet, Blueberry Pavlova

Everything else we tried was equally amazing. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Pastry Chef Carrie Merrill has created a very impressive menu and I can’t wait to back and eat my weight in Butterscotch Sundaes.

 

Ooh girl, shock me like an electric… station?

There are many bustling neighborhoods in Portland, but one of my favorites has to be the Alberta neighborhood. Even though summer makes me want to become a hermit and shelter myself from the sun, I love to brave the heat some days and take a nice little stroll down Alberta St. to see what cool things I can find. One day I was walking with a friend when we heard some really good music coming from inside an old building. The building itself was square and very plain. It definitely wasn’t an attention grabber. A big black sign was mounted on the side that simply read “The Station.” We conversed and decided that the music was too good to just ignore so we went in and checked it out. In contrast to the outside, the inside is stunning. The ceilings are incredibly high with big skylights. The walls are concrete and still show evidence of the electric station it used to be. Built in 1931, it was the home of the Northwest Electrical Company

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When we made our way through to the back we were greeted with plenty of tables with umbrellas so we didn’t completely melt in the sun, the band playing above us on a balcony and an extensive beer list. They had ten different beers on tap in all different styles from lager to stouts. Their cocktail menu is definitely worth checking out. There are lots of unique combinations that I’ve yet to come across at other bars in town. They also make a mean Kentucky Mule.pickin-platter-2-copy

If you’re wanting a chill night out with some friends to grab a drink and catch up, I definitely suggest The Station.

 

Whiskey + Ginger Ale + Oranges = Yum

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With Summer quickly coming to an end, I’m a little disappointed that I only came across this cocktail recipe right now. When I first saw it I pictured sitting on a front porch at dusk, with a light breeze blowing, listening to The Black Keys. But, since I live in Oregon and we are approaching September, that will probably just have to stay a daydream.

My drink of choice has always been a whiskey-ginger ale, especially during the Summer time. It’s a really light drink that gives you a false sense of feeling refreshed even though you are drinking alcohol*. This is quite a simple twist to the classic drink, but I probably would’ve never thought of it on my own. It’s simplicity makes it brilliant. I feel like you could substitute oranges for any fruit of your choice and it would be just as delicious.

Looking through the rest of the blog I found this recipe from,  I came across a ton of other great cocktails as well as great recipes for everything from potato salad to smores pie to sweet corn ice cream. I’ve got to be honest though, the more I scrolled through her “Happy Hour” tag, the more I wanted to be her friend, or at least attend some of her parties. I highly suggest checking out her blog. You can click here for the link.

I know I’m going to try this cocktail out ASAP and if you do too, happy drinking!

*Be responsible, drink water. Or if you don’t want to be responsible, at least drink water so you don’t completely hate yourself in the morning.