Sunday, December 19, 2010


Rebel that I am, I'm makin' truffles for the cookie party. We've got your standard dark chocolate, cardamom–ginger, chili, and paprika–cinnamon (which is really mostly cinnamon). Well, at least I've made the ganache for the filling. I still have to coat most of them in a shell. I mean, I guess I don't have to—we could just spoon the ganache into our chompers. I imagine it'll be less satisfying that way though.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Portland's on it way to becoming a pizza town:

Food lovers who know anything about Portland, Oregon, may first think of the city's renowned food-cart scene. Or its way with the microbrewed beers. Or its rising coffee-roasting culture. All thriving. Add to that a killer artisanal pizza moment.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

smarter than the average donkey?

The Achenblog has a couple of interesting thoughts on the current tax bill. One of them carries the transcript of Obama's response to a reporter questioning Obama's values. A clip of this appeared on the Daily Show last week. Here's a bit that wasn't included there: 
That can't be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can't be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat. This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people. The New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America. Neither does The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Most Americans, they're just trying to figure out how to go about their lives and how can we make sure that our elected officials are looking out for us. And that means because it's a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done, we're going to compromise. This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify. And yet now it is something that really helps a lot of people. When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew.
Under the criteria that you just set out, each of those were betrayals of some abstract ideal. This country was founded on compromise. I couldn't go through the front door at this country's founding. And if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn't have a union.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I admit that I've neglected this thing for a while, at least with pretty much anything substantial, personal, or what the average person reading this might consider interesting. That is to say, I'm uninterested in reading a lot of the stuff here and when the author isn't even interested, that doesn't exactly indicate Andean condor-like majesty of prose or content. (Though, I suppose that's not really the point of this thing anyway.)

You might have noticed I played with bloggers template designer. We are amused. And look: color! Fun!

What most people seem to be interested in here is the restaurant. What is going on with that exactly? The stuff that seemed to me new and exciting for the first couple months are now kind of old hat and pedestrian. But it's been six months now and I definitely feel much more at ease than I did the first few months. I haven't had chest pains in a couple months for instance (something that seemed to correlate to ingesting caffeine before service—I stopped doing that).

Milestones for Portobello since my last related post (August 22nd):
  1. listed in the Willamette Week's guide to top Portland restarants
  2. appeared on the Cooking Channel
  3. started serving lunch
  4. began serving fancy prix fixe meals on weekends
  5. had one very positive and one middling review regarding the pizzas
Our line is also all crazy. Nate (formally master of apps and desserts) is now the chef de tournant or rotating chef. He's been trained up on pretty much everything and can fill in at any station on the line. I'm now picking up appetizers, desserts and pizzas and am slowly getting lessons on the sauté line, which is to say I'm occasionally getting splattered with hot oil and narrowly avoiding melting my flesh with boiling water.

Jesse, sous-chef and living art exhibit, is now running the show most nights, as Aaron the co-owner/head chef is preoccupied working lunch, designing prix fixe menus, and encouraging everyone to do push-ups.

On the pizza front specifically, we've gone through a few menu changes, and I've made some dough adjustments after learning a little more about salt and its effects on gluten development and enzyme activity.

Since August we ran through our Autumn menu which included a pizza with butternut squash sauce, cherry peppers, brussels sprouts, garlic, and cashew cream in addition to what've been our four standard pizzas: a marinara, a daiya cheese-based margherita, a spicy field roast and cherry pepper pie, and the "piscia"—caramelized onions, olives, capers, garlic, and oregano.

The Winter menu has boasted the standards plus a sweet potato, caramelized red onion, kale, garlic, and rosemary pizza; a pie with butternut sauce, hazelnuts, chili oil, shaved apple, and sage; and last week we had one with cashew cream, chanterelle mushroom, brussels sprout, garlic, pear, and chao cheese. (Is it pizza as I imagine it? Eh. Not exactly, but they tasted good. Trust me. The hazelnut pizza, sans apple, has been my favorite thing to make for myself for a few weeks now. I made a version at home for some friends and they were all pleasantly surprised.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Yes, I'm positive. The best of 2010.

There was a lot to choose from this year. My list clocks in at an hour and forty minutes, which is a lot to sit through. I swear it's worth it though. Everything on this one was either released in 2010 or late enough in 2009 that I didn't hear it until this year.

Friday, December 03, 2010

black and white and brown all over

I just started reading DFW's The Broom of the System and there's a paragraph at the beginning of chapter three that sets the scene. It's filled with seemingly trivial details about the color of paint on handrails (yellow) and the texture of the lawn grass. Embedded in there is this: "Outside the doors an old black woman stood motionless with her walker, her mouth open to the sun." Evocative, yes. But the generic "old black woman" kind of bothers me. If he was describing an old white woman he presumably would have just written, "old woman." Or at least he would have been more specific in his description of skin tone. This is presumably because of some innate bias we have when imagining fictional characters to thinking of them as similar to ourselves by default. So for DFW, who was a white male, in order to paint the picture he imagined, he had to note that this old woman was black.

What I'm getting at is that by noting specifically that the woman is black it underscores the fact that this detail is a real point of distinction and that since none of the other characters so far have been described as black, we assume that they aren't and we can probably continue to make this same assumption for the rest of the novel. It makes me wonder what a black reader might think when arriving at this line.

While I imagine that Wallace did not exactly have a black audience in mind when he wrote the book, I also can't assume that he only imagined white people reading his work.