Friday, December 13, 2013

Life, As of Late

Tilt & Mad AndyTilt SidesDirty DishesThanksgivingTurkey and LeftoversKitchen Clean UpRandom Free PileTreemendous HolidayChristmas Tree HuntingTree Wisemans Tree FarmBenihana CelebrationRussell Street BBQ

Time usually flies right after Halloween (Mike's birthday) straight until New Years. This year the pace has felt just right. Weeks leading up to Thanksgiving we made a concerted effort to do a bit of stomach stretching, but we were still defeated by too many pre-turkey appetizers. Thanksgiving was really relaxing this year-why do we host when not hosting is so nice?! We were actually able to enjoy the extended Thanksgiving weekend this year, and even did a bunch of re-arranging/purging and much needed cleaning in between all the terrific leftovers. We were gifted with a free Christmas Tree-the first tree we've ever had and the first time Anne got to go cut one down. How tranquil would it be to own a Christmas tree farm? We headed back to Benihana to celebrate another birthday, this time it was Mom's and her recent retirement. Gotta love anyplace that has an extensive collection of hot sauces - Russell Street BBQ is one of our favorites. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Restaurant Review: Nuestra Cocina

Ever since we vacationed in Los Angeles earlier this year, we have been head over heels for the culinary scene from the City of Angels. We are also big fans of Mexican food and have had Nuetra Cocina on our to-dine list for awhile. When we heard the owners are from LA and met while working at a restaurant, we put on our warmest coats, gloves and boots, and headed out to try their take on the flavors of Mexico.

We started with a Margarita De Granada (ginger infused silver tequila, pomegranate & lime - $8.50), the best margarita we've ever had, it was seriously delicious and we had to sit on our hands in order not to drink it in one sip! We also had the house special sangria, which was holiday'd up with cranberries and citrus ($6). We were also welcomed with the cutest and yummy house made tortilla and a smokey housemade salsa.

Margarita & SangriaFresh Tortillas

After hearing about the specials we ordered the two appetizer specials: cactus salad ($6) and the rockfish ceviche ($7). Both were terrific. We mixed everything on the cactus salad up and used the housemade chips that came with the ceviche to scoop it up. The rockfish ceviche was perfectly seasoned and the fish was wonderfully raw.

Cactus SaladRockfish Ceviche

Nuestra Cocina's menu changes weekly and has an extensive starter menu. We had a hard time not ordering one of everything, but decided to add another appetizer - their housemade queso dip with chorizo. Yummy goeyness, especially with the housemade tortillas! ($7)

House queso with chorizo

We decided to share one main entree, and since most of the items on the Platos section of the menu were things we were familiar with, we ordered something not seen on the typical taqueria menus we usually eat at - a Barbequed Lamb Shoulder Braised in a Banana Leaf with spicy green salsa ($18).

Shredded Lamb Shoulder grilled in banana leaf

Nuestra Cocina is probably the fanciest Mexican Restaurant we've been to, the food is beautiful, yummy and worthy of a celebration. They also have a large banguet room called the Mole Room, but unfortunately it isn't a room full of mole pots cooking as we had hoped. We're already racking our brains for when the next birthday or celebration is so we can suggest Nuestra Cocina!

Nuestra Cocina
2135 SE Division Street
Portland, Oregon

Tuesday - Saturday 5pm to 10pm

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Life, As of Late

Colorful NeighborhoodThe FallFall FruitAutumn in the HoodMike & Birthday PieMirakuti RamensMi Mero MoleDowntown ParkAutumn DowntownDowntown NeighborhoodDowntown ChurchColorful CourtyardAutumn in the ParkBirthday Dinner at Otto's & Anita'sRandomEnjoy the SeasonSucculent WindowboxNesting WeekendAutumn Decorations

While we were busy in September cursing that summer was ending, October snuck-up on us and cruised straight to Halloween and Mike's birthday. Although Mike's birthday wasn't a blow out celebration, he did get his favorites - ramen, tacos, and a birthday pie, so he was pretty happy. Just when we thought autumn colors couldn't get any better, we turn around and there's another gorgeous tree or scene to take in. We're tucking everything in for the winter and getting ready for the holidays, because it looks like they'll be here before we know it. Daylight savings wasn't too bad this year, especially when it marks the beginning of yummy comfort foods, such as the totally delicious Bavarian birthday meal we had with friends that ended with the most terrific homemade desserts.Thanksgiving will be here soon and this year we're not hosting! YAY! But that hasn't stopped us from decorating with all the volunteer pumpkins we grew. Hope everyone is having a wonderfully soothing fall.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Free House

Free House DrinksFree HouseMikeSeating AreaPatioPimento CheeseBurger and FriesCharcuterie BoardCalcutta Cocktail - Rum, Campari, and CiderFancy Drinks

Free House is one of those great neighborhood joints that make you glad you live in that neighborhood. Perfect location, perfect size, perfect business in the perfect space. We were regulars. That is until one evening last year when we were trying to "showcase" this neighborhood gem and a terrible thing happened - hipsters took it over. Bad service and moronic irony is just too much for us. No one, absolutely no one, wants to listen to Bon Jovi that loud, ever. So we stopped going and tossed our money to other neighborhood joints. Then Free House closed to remodel. This was a good sign - clean up the staff and revive yourself!

Well the bartenders are still the same, but we hope the hipster was knock right out of them, because we really like this place. The new Free House has a great new patio space, revamped menu and a terrific cocktail menu. If only they'd add table service; everyone is tempted to buy just one more drink if you're willing to bring it to them. Other than that our neighborhood spot never felt so good.

Free House
1325 NE Fremont
Portland, Oregon

4PM-Midnight Daily

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fiala Family Farms

Private DriveRow of DahliasPatch Of PumpkinsHunting PumpkinsDahlia Flower U-CutDahlia Cutting GardenPeach and Purple DahliasRaised Cinderblock BedsDahliasFarm SceneryCorn Maze SignCorn Maze Viewing PlatformCorn MazeCorn Maze EntranceMt Hood and Willamette Falls

There are so many great farms within the Portland area, but the Fiala Farms in West Linn, Oregon boasts a history of over 100 years in operation. On an absolutely gorgeous autumn afternoon we decided to visit the pumpkin patch, maybe check out the corn maze and buy some local produce. We were pleasantly surprised with a beautiful drive and a u-cut dahlia flower garden.

On the way home we stopped off to see the incredible view of Willamette Falls and Mt. Hood in the distance. Have a great fall!

Fiala Farms
21231 SW Johnson Road
West Linn, Oregon 97068
Open until Halloween