Sunday, February 21, 2010


Carl McFaberpantalones was in town this weekend. He and the Patterson clan had me over on Friday as a guest pizza-maker in their lovely abode.

Making pizza in an unknown oven is always a risky proposition. You never know how the heat is going to work out. Everyone seemed pretty pleased with the results. Though the bake time for the pizzas was between 10 and 15 minutes, which was waaaay too long to make me really pleased with the final product. I mean, it did taste pretty good, but the edge crust became too dry while bottom of the crust in the middle of the pies barely were blonded.

I used the last three dough balls the next day at home and was satisfied with the results:

the kit and kaboodle

the pre-cut upskirt

the post-cut upskirt

A slice voguing with its hole structure in plain site—scandalous!

The rest of the weekend update:

The weather here has been ridiculous for the middle of February. Sunny and in the 50s. The cherry blossoms are already blooming. Daffodils seem to be contagious and gardens all over are showing symptoms.

This morning I had a lovely brunch comprising Amie's blueberry ladycakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit salad in the excellent company of Laurel, Tom, Amie, and her housemate Texas Pete. Post-meal we detoxed under the sun in Laurelhurst Park.

Anyone else out there addicted to the Dirty Projector's Bitte Orca? Kind of snuck up on me. At first I just found it to be an interesting, quirky bit of music. But somehow the oddball melodies have ingrained themselves in the ol' steel trap. Can't let it go.

I've also been rewatching Sports Night. Once the Natalie–Jeremy relationship gets going, that show is impossible to stop watching.

Bought a yo-yo.

Found ink refills for my Pentel brush pen.

Ate at Toro Bravo with McFaberpantalones, et al. I don't deserve to eat food that good. And! MOLTEN CHOCOLATE CAKE.

Thanks Portland!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Cake #1

Laurel's masterpiece.


Yesterday's bat-festivities were boffo.

+ 2 bat-cakes
+ 2 bat-movies
+ 5 bat-pizzas
+ 10 bat-people
+ and a few dozen bat-stickers

The movies viewed were Batman & Robin (in lieu of Batman: The Movie, starring Adam West & Burt Ward, which was unavailable at the video store... I thought it would fill the cheese quotient for the evening) and Batman Begins, which is still pretty badass. A shame about the Ra's al Ghul storyline, but it's not the worst thing to happen to a bat-film.

A special shout out to Brendan & Jess for their efforts: baked bat-brie, mint chocolate bat-sandwich cookies, bat-honey, bat muscle-rub, and bat-fabric softener (necessary to avoid the effects of bat-chaffing).

Justice was also served.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Lovely's Fifty-Fifty


Adam over at This is Pizza covered this spot a couple of weeks ago and he appeared to be optimistic about their pizzas, even if his initial experience left him somewhat underwhelmed (my interpretation of his review, not his words). He notes that Lovely's changed their mozzarella since his visit and that it's now homemade.

That said, let's get to it:

The four cheese pizza was really top notch. The menu does not list which four cheeses are contending for spots on your tongue nor the seasoning dusting the top of the pie, but it's a well-balanced, creamy, salty, and sweet pie.

The crust, which as I've noted previously is probably the hardest thing to get right and subsequently the thing I harp on the most, has a light, airy texture and gentle flavor that includes a sweetness not commonly found in pizza crusts. I'm not sure if this is maybe due to a sourdough culture or sugar added to the dough mixture. Perhaps it's the result of the pizzaiolo giving the pie's rim a quick swabbing of oil as they come out of the oven.

Regardless, despite its apparent lightness in feel, this crust is no namby-pamby wafer when it comes to actually filling your stomach. And this may have much to do with its ample portions. If I could change one thing about Lovely's pies, it would be to reduce the amount of edge crust—stretch out the rounds closer to the circumference. At the end of the slice, the crust was just too much, and the flavor just wasn't there enough to carry it.

Another nit-picky concern: the islands of mozzarella on the margherita were a little undercooked, i.e., not quite melted through, and ended up as kind of thick blob-ular discs in some cases. The mozzarella itself had a pretty delicate flavor, creamy, and just barely salted—quite tasty on its own.

Of the three types of pizzas we sampled margherita (2 of 'em), four cheese, and the black trumpet mushrooms with fontina val d'aosta and gremolata (a garlic and parsley mix), the four cheese takes the top prize. The menu doesn't list the types of cheeses or seasoning used, but it was a very pleasant balance between creamy, brackish, and sweet. And unlike a lot of four cheese pies, it was not overwhelmingly heavy. For all the pomp of the of mushroom pie's description, the flavors that took hold were mushroom, olive oil, and garlic. No complaints there, but it left the for a somewhat dryer pizza, which meant that it was up to the crust to do more than its share of the flavor-hoisting.

Keeping that in mind, the pizza offerings at Lovely's are good and a head and shoulders above the other options in the area (I'm looking at you, Mississippi Pizza). Fresh dough, tangy tomato sauce, and top quality cheeses make for lively and lovely pies. They clearly care about the pizzas they're making. I saw the pizza chef giving a little tutorial to his kitchen assistant on their wood-fired oven (based on his hand motions it looked like he was explaining the three types of heat transfer—conduction, convection, radiation). It's not a destination spot for me yet, but if they adjust the balance between the toppings and the crust and give their mozzarella a thorough melting, they'll be headed in the right direction. As it is, I probably won't make the trip across town on a regular basis...

...Except for one thing: the ice cream is ridiculously good. It is hands-down the best ice cream I've had in Portland. The salted caramel is heavy on the caramel, light on the salt and ranks right up there with Bi-Rite's in my book (of best ice cream establishments in cities with at least two bridges, forthcoming; Macmillan). A taste of the huckleberry ice cream reveals it to be made with actual huckleberries, and not some huckleberry syrup or extract—it contains actual berries. Meanwhile the coffee ice cream, made with Stumptown beans, is like a rich affogato and not to be missed. It's the most vibrantly coffee-flavored of any coffee ice cream I can recall. And their almond praline even gives Bleecker Street's Cones' almond cream a run for its money.

black trumpet mushrooms with fontina val d'aosta and gremolata

four cheese


Mélissa Laveaux—Needle in the Hay (Elliot Smith cover)
Imperial Teen—Shim Sham
The Valrus—If You See Light (Mountain Goats cover)
Rosi Golan—Follow the Arrow
Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside—Not an Animal
Winter Gloves—Factories
Wakey!Wakey!—Twenty Two
The Grates—The Biggest and Longest Adventure Ever