Monday, June 13, 2011

ice cream in south portland

i don't eat all that much ice cream.  its not that i don't like it, i'm an american for fuck's sake.  but after many years of suffering, i finally admitted to myself that i am lactose intolerant.  ice cream is not only made with milk but they add lactose to it to make it have that creamy mouth feel so its a double whammy on the belly of us lactose intolerant folks.  but how can i be a whole person without a little ice cream in the summer?

so for this month's blog-o-rama project i elected to try willard scoop in south portland's willard square (there was some mild drama involved with this choice, it ends up i don't know how to use the 'send all' email function).  this was an exciting choice on multiple fronts.  number 1: we just bought and moved into our first house in south portland, and while we didn't manage to score a home in the coveted willard beach neighborhood, we are a short walk from said neighborhood.  number 2 relates back directly to number 1, willard square is so f-ing cute!

this past friday afternoon, we took a walk to willard square to try out willard scoop.  it has a totally adorable store front and the interior is equally adorable.  as we walked in, and were the only patrons in the little shop, the 2 women behind the counter didn't say hello.  i think this peeve is a marker of truly being a grown up.  but come on, you are just standing behind the counter, we walk DIRECTLY in to your line of view, and you don't greet us with a hello?  and its maine and people are suppose to be friendly in maine!  the young girl who served us was friendly enough taking our orders and did dish out a nice cone of ice cream.

all the ice cream is made on premise, and while they don't have a huge selection, they have a nice selection.  all your typical flavors and then some more interesting ones thrown in like blue berry and salted caramel.  a small scoop is $3.50 and if you want a waffle cone it's 50 cents extra on any size.

one of my other weird things with ice cream is that i don't like i lot of shit in it.  call me a purist but i really just want to taste the ice cream and not nuts or brownie or ribbons of fudge or potato chips.  i think this stems from my dad.  he eats ice cream EVERY night!  sadly he is not the happiest guy and i think his ice cream is likely one of the few things he finds pleasure in.  if he could, i think he would have vanilla hagen dazs every night.  don't buy him a pint of ben and jerry's or he might throw it at your head.

my favorite flavor of ice cream is coffee.   at willard scoop their rendition is 'dark roasted coffee' and it was delicious!  i got it on a sugar cone, which was the freshest cone i have ever eaten (i didn't ask if they make them there but they do make their waffle cones) and it didn't have any paper wrapped around it so you don't have to worry you are eating glue with your ice cream.  the ice cream was dense and creamy and very coffee-y!  pretty much a perfect cone of ice cream in my book.

seth got thin mint in a waffle cone -- think chocolate ice cream with girl scout thin mints mixed in.  and, as always, he elected to top it with jimmys.  willard scoop only has chocolate jimmys and seth wanted me to mention this as a bone of contention, he likes rainbow.  but really i don't care because i hate jimmys!  they are little waxy bits that don't taste like anything but sugar and they get stuck in my teeth and yuck. incidentally, jimmys are typically called sprinkles on the west coast.  i grew up calling them jimmys but that is probably due to the influence of my east coast born parents.  since initially writing this my frined katie who is also from california, said she called them jimmys as a kid.  maybe there is no east coast-west coast jimmy-sprinkle rivalry. 

once seth had licked off all the jimmys i did try his thin mint ice cream.  the texture was just as good as mine, creamy and dense, but the flavor wasn't as good.  it was actually a little difficult to tell what the flavor of the ice cream was: was it chocolate?  well then it didn't have a very strong chocolate flavor.  was it suppose to be minty?  then it failed completely there.  seth wanted something minty, and when he got chuncks of the cookie there was that taste of mint.  but otherwise it was not the perfect cone of ice cream.

willard scoop is  a great spot to go for a cone this summer.  there are picnic tables in the empty lot next door as well as couple seats right out front.  the square itself is great for people and dog watching.  a very enjoyable place to have a sweet summer treat.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

doesn't jenner just love a bargain

its true i do love a bargain.  i have bored seth on many occasion going over the detail of my recent shopping trip and how much i saved.  but up until this point i have not jumped on the coupon band wagon.  that's not to say that i don't use the occasional coupon, because i do.  but generally it just seems like a lot of work for not that much savings.  and i don't really come across all that many coupons for things i really use.
up until trader joe's came to town, i hardly ever purchase or eat frozen meals; seth and i strive to eat as little processed foods as possible; and i really love me some natural home and beauty products.  so i thought that sort of ruled out any value for coupons for me. 
before i go on, don't worry, this is not going to become a couponing blog.  i think that people who coupon within the realm of healthy are pretty cool and i will go to their blogs for tips and tricks of getting great deals.  i have also recently realized that there is a large proportion of people who are not couponing within the realm of healthy, i.e. the crazies on extreme couponing.  and some of these folks even commit coupon fraud!  up until a week ago i didn't even know there was such a thing.
what i want to briefly share with you are some good sites i have found to get some info on couponing.  there are, in fact, a lot of coupons for organic and natural products out there.  but there are still some big draw backs to these.  one is that often the best place to find these coupons is on the company's website and they make you give them your name and email before you can actually download the coupon.  two, is that a lot of the products are still processed foods.  they may be organic but they are still processed.
so check out these websites/blogs and coupon to your hearts content.  i'm gonna try to save a little here and there but you won't find me buying 100 butterfingers or 200 rolls of paper towel anytime soon (actually occurrences on extreme couponing).

whole foods has great coupons and you don't need to give them your email address.
i think the woman who writes healthy life deals is a kindred spirit. i mean she loves whole foods, trader joe's, and target.  she has a great section on how to "stack coupons" at whole foods.
speaking of target, they have online coupons and mobile coupons.
organic deals is also a good blog, especially their section on coupon databases.
if you can figure out how to down load mambo sprouts coupon printer thing (i haven't) you can find some good deals here.
i also like your green helper, for more than just coupons.

all the kids are doing it

guest blog post by seth eli goldstein:
if you are a culinary nerd you have heard about the food truck craze.  food trucks have become hugely popular in cities like LA, new york, and even boston (this week's tv diner was devoted to boston food trucks).  sadly, there are no food trucks in portland, yet...  however, with the recent opening of gogi you can feel like a trendy LA hipster while munching on korean/mexican fusion.
gogi (653 congress street) is in a space right next to local sprouts on congress.  i admired the black painted tin ceiling on walking into the restaurant.  i was hungry on this particular friday afternoon so i went for the proverbial "it."  one pulled pork taco, one beef short rib taco, and an order of fried dumplings, whose filling i cannot remember.  my food was ready in two shakes of a lambs tail and at $3/taco and $6/order of dumplings, a great value.
the tacos were wrapped in a single corn tortilla and topped w/ lettuce, cilantro, bean sprouts, and thin slices of radish and cucumber, with a wedge of lime on the side.  both variations were super tasty.  of the two, i enjoyed the pork more.
the dumplings were wonderfully fried and crispy and came with a vinegary soy dipping sauce that i could have consumed as a beverage.
my only complaint about the whole meal is that i had a taco "blow out."  you know what i mean, right?  all the taco stuffs busted through the tortilla, forcing me to rely on my fork to finish.  if gogi doubled up on the tortilla, like a traditional mexican street taco, they could reduce the risk of such blow outs.
given the affordability and uniqueness of gogi in portland, i think this establishment is a great addition to the portland food scene.  what is really cool is that gogi is open late night so if you need some korean/mexican fusion at 1 am, and who of us hasn't, you have a great option.
here is an article from the portland daily sun on gogi for a little more back ground.

Monday, April 11, 2011

pub style

burgers are one of those foods we have ALL eaten a lot of.  when you think america fare, you think burgers.  we have all had thousands of good burgers and hopefully quite a few great burgers.  but when you really think about it, probably not that many horrible burgers.  that's because burgers are such a simple thing that you really have to go out of your way to fuck up a burger. 
on our 3rd round of burger-o-rama, these are the things i am thinking about.  its strange too, because unlike the year of mediocre thai food i recently endured, average burgers don't bother me so much.  there is something soul satisfying about even the most mediocre burger.
so with that i start the review of my burger experience at the down town lounge.  i am an overall fan of this place.  at this point in my life you will not find me here late night, but seth and i are known visit on a random weekday evening enjoying their lengthy happy hour.  everyday from 5-7pm dtl has drink and food specials, all food on the board is 1/2 price.  its also generally a good place for burgers as that is what makes up their entire regular menu -- from a classic single patty burger to a greek gyro burger with fish, chicken, and veggie in between.  seth is a fan of their big mac, whose description brings you back to the 1980s commercials when "2 beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame bun" sung to your belly.
on this weeknight i was on call for work so the only beverage i indulged in was a cola.  we started w/ boneless buffalo wings which were pretty delicious though also a little disgusting.  and like so many buffalo incarnations, no hot enough.  they were very crunchy and the blue cheese was very chunky so overall they get a thumbs up for greasy fatty bar food.  they were also half off so even if they were a little disgusting, how much can i really complain.  and they were only gross in that 'i can't believe how much i am enjoying this nastely little fried snack' sort of way.
i contemplated getting the most basic of burgers so i could really judge the burger and not the toppings.  but then i realized that dtl is not the place you go for your 100% angus beef burger cooked to a perfect pink medium rare.  these burgers are all cooked to a gray well done and its not one of those burgers where you really want to taste the meat (of note, this was one of my problems with my burger at david's.  as good as the bacon was, i think they should let the beef shine on its own).  so i went for the burger special: a bacon, swiss, mushroom burger w/ lettuce, tomato, and chipolte mayo and fries.  as it was on the board, it was about $4.
this was a good, satisfying burger.  everything really tasted great together.  i was a little concerned the mushrooms would be canned but they were fresh and very tasty but i do wish there was more. they were all sort of crowded in the center (another side note: until i moved to the east coast i didn't know that canned mushrooms existed.  then i worked at this dive-y bar in boston and that was all they served.  i even discussed this with a friend of mine, who is also from california, and her only response was: "they can mushrooms?"  i think we all can agree mushrooms really should not be canned.).  the chipolte mayo needs more kick.
seth got the haddock burger to start his research for another survey piece.  he thought it was very good but the piece of haddock could have been larger and he had the same complaint about the chipolte mayo.
i rarely meet a fried potato i don't like but i was pleasantly surprised by dtl's fries.  in a place like this i usually expect to find frozen fries.  but these appeared to be hand cut!  they were very good but i do think they are filling the heinz ketchup bottles with an inferior ketchup product.
so this was a good burger experience.  i think the price played a roll in my review.  at $4 i am more forgiving then at $12.  when i go to dtl i have lower expectations and so they are usually met.  if i am at a finer establishment with a higher price point i expect more.  again i will say, its hard to fuck up a burger and so i think if you need a burger fix with a beer and you only got a few bucks in your pocket, dtl will do the trick.

Monday, April 4, 2011

lazy mo fo and chinese food

if i was a good blogger i would have posted about the article my very significant other had published in the bollard as soon as the paper hit the news stands in march.  instead the entire month passed by and i didn't post anything.  so here it is, april and a new bollard will be hitting the stands soon and i am only now telling you about the amazing piece on all-you-can-eat chinese buffets my husband wrote.
my devoted following knows i am not a good blogger.  what can i say?  i am lazy and that is a big part of it.  there are multiple things each day that occur and i think to myself: "random people want to know this pointless thing about me."  but i don't write about it.  also i have a job in which i spend the whole day on the computer without any real down time to fuck off and surf the web or write a blog post (a slow morning has provided me with a free lunch to post this entry). 
so i can say i am vowing to write more about food and mundane occurrings in my life.  but i probably won't.  and you probably don't really care either way.
in any event, check out the online version of seth's article: from super great to super soggy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

burger fancy

for this round of burger-o-rama it is fine dining!
seth and i have been wanting to try david's ever since tv diner gave it the platinum plate.  when a said that david's had burgers i thought it would be a great chance to check it out.
the actual space that david's occupies is beautiful, with really high ceilings and lots of cool architectural details.  but the decor made me feel like i had taken a step back in time to the 1990s.  their were multiple out of place decorative colloum, i think i remember a few romanesque busts, and just a sense that someone with just a little decorative know-how needs to come in and pare down the decor.  even the david's logo needs some updating to the 2010s.  i know you don't really care about how the place looked, but i just had to say.
they started us a bread basket with these very tasty bread knots served with a parmesan cheese, oil, and herb mixture that was not so pretty to look at but was pretty good.  i was so hungry when we first sat down so i ate way too much bread and was stuffed after only a few bites of my burger.
the burger's description in the menu is full of superlatives like magnificent double smoked bacon and a really good pickle.  the bacon was pretty magnificent but the pickle was no more than what i would expect to come with a fucking $12 burger.  it was good but if you are going to say something specifically about the pickle, then it better be a really good pickle.
large thick angus beef patty was perfectly cooked at medium rare. the double bacon is really a double wide sliced of bacon.  it was unsurprisingly delicious as bacon tends to be.  it was served with cheddar cheese, ice burg lettuce, thin slices of red onions, and sad looking tomatoes.  the truffle fries with truffle ketchup were each very good but together, the truffle flavor was overwhelming.
overall the burger was good.  the bacon was smokey (surprise) and crispy and kind of overpowered the flavor of the beef.  i don't remember the cheese at all so it clearly wasn't that memorable.  i forgive the tomato, it was february in maine.  but maybe you should just leave it off if its no good.
while the burger was good, i would not go back to david's specifically for this buger.  if you are at david's and you are craving a burger, this one will do the trick.  but it was short of magnificent or even very good.

Monday, February 7, 2011

romantical meal

i don't go out to dinner on valentine's day but i do love to go on romantic dinner dates with seth. one of our favorite places is benkay japanese restaurant for romantic dinner for two.

here is what you get:
a choice of one drink, per person, sake or beer or wine
first course: seaweed salad, squid salad, shrimp and vegetable tempura, and tofu and pork gyoza.
main course:
sushi: tuna, Salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, flounder, eel
sashimi: tuna, salmon, yellowtail
Roll: choice of any two rolls from the regular menu

so what this means is you each get a drink, then you eat a beautiful bento box full of delicious appetizers. this is a really exciting part of the meal to me because we don't usually order these as our main focus is maximizing our raw fish pleasure. but I love goyza and tempura.
then comes the plate of maki, sushi, and sashimi. the sushi and sashimi are selected for you but you get to choose your maki and the selection is excellent and some of the choices are fancy $10 rolls. every time we go to benkay we have to order the new york roll with grilled salmon skin, cucumber, scallion, bonito flakes, radish sprouts. this is the best salmon skin i have ever had with crispy crackly skin and amazing smoky flavor.

the fish is very fresh and the slices of sashimi sit on the plate like little jewels, waiting for me to scoop them up with my chopsticks, dredge them in a slurry of soy sauce and wasabi, and plop them in my mouth.

the thing that really makes this a romantic dinner for two is the price. all this for $70! and for those of you out there who do go out to dinner for valentine's day, you can get it all for $60! go to benkay's website and print out the coupon and get $10 off from february 8th to 14th.
normally benkay is one of those great restaurants that always has a table open, but for valentine's day you will likely need reservations.
other spots we find to be romantical are salt exchange and bar of chocolate.