Posts Tagged With: Portland

279/365: National Noodle Day

Generations both pasta and present have had a hankering for today’s celebrated food. October 6 is National Noodle Day!

Noodles are an ancient food dating back thousands of years: archaeologists recently unearthed a bowl along the Yellow River in China that contained 4000 year old preserved noodles. It was determined they were made from millet and formed by repeatedly stretching and pulling the dough by hand. The word is derived from the German nudel which, unfortunately, we have as yet been unable to translate. Noodles can be made from almost any type of dough, including wheat, rice, potato, maize, nut, and buckwheat. Once the dough is rolled flat, it is cut into a variety of shapes such as long, thin strips; bows; tubes; and pentagrams. They must be boiled in order to bring their texture back to life. Noodles are popular in many cultures around the world, particularly in Asian and Italian cuisine. Instant noodles were invented in 1958 and have revolutionized the ramen industry, bringing joy to starving college students everywhere.

With so many different varieties of noodles available, we had trouble narrowing down how best to celebrate today’s food holiday. We finally decided to go simple and pick up some fresh pasta from Pastaworks, a great Italian deli/grocery store (or as they call themselves, “European market”) on Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland. We opted for freshly made rotini, since it was more of a “noodle” than, say, ravioli would have been. Paired with their marinara sauce and a baguette, we ended up with a quick and delicious meal!

National Noodle Day

Categories: Pasta | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

277/365: National Taco Day*

Even gringos will shout “ole!” when digging into today’s food of honor. October 4 is National Taco Day!

It’s also National Vodka Day, and that’s a shame; a more appropriate pairing would be tequila or margaritas, but alas, both have already had their day in the sun. Tacos always sound good, but vodka is tasteless, so we had no problem deciding which of today’s dual food holidays we would celebrate.

Viva la taco!

Tacos originated in Mexico (duh) and consist of a tortilla wrapped around a filling. The name is generic; like a “sandwich,” a taco can consist of pretty much anything that fits inside the tortilla. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ingredients and toppings; popular fillings include beef, pork, chicken, and seafood, and toppings such as lettuce, onions, tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream are all common. The word “taco” originated in 18th century Mexican silver mines; it was the name given to an explosive charge that was wrapped in paper, filled with gunpowder, and used to break up the ore. The tortilla-and-meat combo resembled this little bomb (and could also be considered a “gut bomb” in its own right, depending on the spiciness level). Tacos date back centuries; early inhabitants of the Valley of Mexico enjoyed theirs with small fish, while residents of Morelos and Guerrero preferred live insects such as ants (shudder), and those in Puebla and Oaxaca opted for locusts and snails. The first taco recipes in the U.S. appeared in California in 1914; in Bertha Haffner-Ginger’s California Mexican-Spanish Cookbook, tacos were described as “made by putting chopped cooked beef and chili sauce in a tortilla made of meal and flour; folded, edges sealed together with egg; fried in deep fat, chile sauce served over it.” Tacos became especially popular in America after World War II, where Mexican-Americans introduced them to their caucasian soldier buddies. (We, in turn, gave them Twinkies).

To celebrate, Tara and I headed into Portland to check out ¿Por Que No?, a tacqueria that gets a lot of good press and that we had been meaning to try for some time. They did not disappoint! We sampled carnitas, chicken, chorizo, and brisket tacos amongst us, and found them all to be very good. Best of all, the line that usually snakes halfway down the block was only about a dozen people deep when we arrived, so we didn’t have too terribly long a wait to contend with.

National Taco Day

Categories: Too Weird to Categorize | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

257/365: National Cream Filled Doughnut Day

Here comes the bride, all dressed in…well, not white. It’s a second marriage for us both, and we’re going very casual. September 14 is Mark and Tara’s wedding day! And, since this is a food blog and it ought to be pointed out, National Cream Filled Doughnut Day, as well.

Not all doughnuts contain holes, and it’s a good thing; otherwise, it might never occurred to some intrepid baker (or technically, fryer) to fill a doughnut with cream. I’m not going to go into a lot of doughnut history today – busy getting married and all – but I’ll leave you with a few interesting facts. In the U.S., 10 billion doughnuts are made every year…but Canada has more doughnut shops per capita. Nobody knows exactly where doughnuts originated, but many historians credit Dutch immigrants for bringing their olykoeks (“oily cakes”) to the U.S. in the 1800s.

Busy as we were today, we made time to not only celebrate today’s food holiday, but incorporate it into our wedding. Since our theme is casual and quirky – I wore a tuxedo t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops – we stopped by Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnut to pick up cream-filled doughnuts in lieu of a cake. This doughnut shop is a must-stop tourist destination and there are long lines snaking around the side of the building at all hours of the day and night. They are known for their unusual doughnut flavors, such as the Bacon Maple Bar; others are topped with Fruit Loops, Cap’n Crunch, Oreos, Tang, and bubble gum dust, to name just a few. We negotiated in advance to get some heart-shaped doughnuts for the occasion. And then, when we went to pick up our order…they had no record of it.

But they went above and beyond to accommodate us, made up for their mistake, and only charged us for 2 doughnuts. Cheapest wedding “cake” ever!

National Cream Filled Doughnut Day

Categories: Pastry | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

122/365: National Truffle Day

May 2nd isn’t a day to be trifled with. You can, however, truffle with it. ‘Cause that’s what we’re celebrating, folks. National Truffle Day!

It seems like we just celebrated truffles. As a matter of fact, we did: April 21st was National Chocolate Covered Cashew Truffle Day. A very specific holiday that almost left us grasping at straws. Fortunately, today’s rules are much looser and open to interpretation. I suppose since chocolate isn’t even specified we could even celebrate by eating the type of truffles that are a fungus dug from the ground, but where’s the fun in that?

Since I already covered the history of the truffle in the April post, I’ll talk about the history of where I got today’s truffles from instead. Ooh, way to mix things up! This past weekend, I made a special trip into downtown Portland to pick up some truffles from Moonstruck Chocolate. This company is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. They were formed in Portland, Oregon, in 1993, with a simple mission: to produce handcrafted artisan chocolates that not only tasted delicious, but looked good, too. In other words, “a chocolate indulgence for all the senses,” according to their website. And to that end, they have been wildly successful. Their creations are beautiful and imaginative, and gained notoriety in 2005 and 2006, when their Oscar-shaped chocolate truffles were featured in gift baskets handed out during the 77th and 78th Annual Academy Awards ceremonies. Best of all, they taste remarkable! Each piece is still individually handcrafted using quality ingredients. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest and can get your hands on Moonstruck chocolates, you’ll find yourself asking, “Godiva who?!”

And no, this is not a paid advertisement. I just love them that much. (Besides, we had to have good truffles this time after getting scolded for eating stale truffles left over from Christmas a couple of weeks ago!).

I spent a good five minutes surveying the glass display case for the perfect truffles to celebrate today’s holiday. After much deliberation, I settled on a milk chocolate cow and pony, a peach bellini truffle, and a raspberry chambord truffle. They were all delicious!

Moonstruck Chocolate Portland

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

69/365: National Blueberry Popover Day

If you lived nearby, we’d invite you to pop on over to help us celebrate today’s food holiday: it’s National Blueberry Popover Day!

Popovers are light, hollow rolls similar to Yorkshire pudding, a staple of British cuisine since the 17th century. They are named because the batter “pops over” the top of the muffin tin while baking. Yorkshire pudding was created in order to use up the excess pan drippings from roasting meat; this was added to the batter, and the rolls were originally called “dripping pudding.” American popovers were originally cooked the same way: settlers in Portland, Oregon lined custard cups with a batter that contained meat drippings, garlic, and herbs. These were coined Portland Popover Pudding. Nowadays, popovers are made without pan drippings or herbs; butter is the preferred ingredient. American poet Ogden Nash once wrote,

Let’s call Yorkshire pudding
A fortunate blunder:
It’s a sort of popover
That turned and popped under.

Clever, that guy.

We had a three-hour drive home from Seattle today, and then had to make a trip to the grocery store. Despite our busy schedule, I still found time to make blueberry popovers from scratch. Yes, me…not Tara. This is huge, because I am not a baker. The chocolate souffle challenge was my first attempt at baking something for the blog, and you might recall I lost miserably to my fiance. I was determined to do these popovers on my own though, and the recipe was pretty straightforward. To my surprise and delight, they turned out very good. Light and airy, with just a touch of sweetness. A little bit of powdered sugar on top brought all the flavors together. I am excited, because this means I can bake!! 

Ingredients

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup blueberries 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide the butter into the 6 cups of your popover pan. (If using a muffin tin, you will need to use all 12 cups. Just divide the butter up evenly.) Place the pan in the oven for 3-5 minutes while you are making the batter. In medium bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, vanilla, and sugar, then whisk in the flour. Pour the batter into the butter-filled cups, then evenly add a few blueberries to each cup. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 25 minutes. Popovers will be tall and gorgeous just out of the oven, but they shrink very quickly. It doesn’t affect the taste. Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and maple syrup.

I can bake!! Blueberry popovers are light and airy, and delicious.

I can bake!! Blueberry popovers are light and airy, and delicious.

Categories: Pastry | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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