Monday, September 26, 2011

Hopworks Urban Brewery- Beer and Pretzels

Hopworks Urban Brewery is a Portland brewery that I have always had my eye on but never managed to pay them a visit until last week. They have been an attractive brewery to me because they focus on sustainability, organics, and going green. Anna and I made plans to visit Hopworks with two things in mind: beer and pretzels.

We arrived there during happy hour. Hopworks happy hour menu is very kick-ass, with a great variety of food at great prices.

For drinks we ordered the sampler platter which contains 10 samples of 3 ounces of beer. The presentation of these beers was stunning. I have ordered many sampler platters at multiple breweries, and this is my favorite to date.

For our happy hour food. We ordered a garlic sausage, hot wings, bruschetta, and of course, the pretzels.

The wings were MESSY! I think I wore half of the sauce on my face much like a little kid does with spaghetti. When I was finished, I required a face washing. The wings were amazing, and the sauce had a spicy kick that was not overpowering.

The bruschetta was a dish I kind of cringed before I dove in. I am not a tomato person at all, so most foods that contain tomatoes I will tend to pass on. This bruschetta exceeded my expectations with flying colors. It was heavy on the basil and other flavors that the tomato flavor was mild. I was beyond satisfied, I was inspired after this dish to open my mind to more fresh tomato recipes.

Pretzels, to be honest, are something else that I am secretly not fond of. I have had a few in my life, but never one that was made at a brewery. The Hopworks "Pint'O'Pretzels" had a nice, yeasty, bready, and beer taste to them accompanied with the chunks of sea salt on the outside. The pretzels were in sticks, served in a beer mug which made for another lovely display. There were two dipping sauces with them; one which was beer cheese, and the other was a HUB lager mustard.

Hopworks Urban Brewery is a wonderful stop in Portland if you are into great beer and pub food.
I will be back in the next few months to give their burgers a try. I have heard they are some of the best in Portland. This place rocks!



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dinner Party: Main Ingredient- Flowers

Flowers are natures stunning creation of beauty for us to admire in vases, bouquets, pictures, paintings, and yes, even food. I have not experienced flowers in my food until Anna hosted a dinner party and the main ingredient for the event was.......Flowers! She used both roses and nasturtiums creatively in her dishes.

The photo below shows her rose beer bread. This beer bread was a wonderful combination of a light beer bread with a hint of rose flavor. A rose garlic butter with a hint of spicy pepper was prepared to accompany this bread, which made for an irresistible match.

Rose Petal Beer Bread

Nasturtiums are flowers that I have grown for many years around my home in our flower beds. I have heard multiple times of their potential in foods, but I never took the chance to experiment with them. This particular evening Anna baked a nasturtium pie! This was a pie that had an egg base and filo dough for the crust. The nasturtium pie was amazing with a light egg flavor, flaky filo crust, and the hint of nasturtiums garnishing the top.

Nasturtium Pie

The following are a  few other dishes we chowed down on during the dinner. All were amazing, all were delicious. 

A Greek style pie

Padron peppers

A Greek style salad

For dessert Anna made a rose water kadaifi galaktoboureko with blackberries. This dessert was a custard with filo bread on the top layer, then drenched in rose water. The custard and the light flakiness of the filo bread on top accompanied by a hint of rose water made my taste buds smile. We enjoyed this dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you are interested in making this dessert for yourself, please visit Anna's blog for the recipe at



Friday, September 9, 2011

Bacon Day!

Bacon Day was held on September 3rd this year sharing the weekend with Labor Day Weekend. Every Labor Day we have a full house with guests who are staying through the weekend. When I found out it was Bacon Day I was determined to create a menu that consisted of a variety of bacon wrapped goodies to share with family and friends. For Bacon Day this year, I made bacon wrapped pineapple, cod, steak and dates.

Bacon wrapped pineapple spears using Carlton Farms bacon: ready to BBQ. Thank you Beau for this wonderful idea! 

Bacon wrapped dates

Bacon goodies on the grill

Bacon wrapped steak is something I have been curious about trying for years, and with Bacon Day being here I was going to give it a shot on the barbecue. I purchased Carlton Farms New York steak and Carlton Farms peppered bacon. I cut the steak into strips, tossed it in some Montreal steak seasoning and garlic powder. I then wrapped the steak in half a strip of bacon and finished it off with a toothpick and dash of worchestire sauce. I barbecued the steak on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Long enough to get the bacon a little crispy.
Bacon wrapped New York steak
Sadly, I missed out on getting any photos of the bacon wrapped cod. I seasoned the fish in a Cajun style seasoning mixed with vinegar and garlic powder. I let the fish marinate for 30 minutes, then wrapped chunks of fish in bacon. This was my second attempt at bacon wrapped cod, and this time was a success. There was enough flavor on the fish to make taste buds dance, while letting the flavor of the fish and bacon shine. It was a wonderful combination.
My family and our guests were all wowed with the bacon wrapped goodies. The bacon wrapped steak went lovely with Pinot Noir, specifically the 1992 Kramer Pinot Noir Reserve. We enjoyed this meal outside while watching the sunset over the hills of the Oregon coast range.



Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wine & Food Writer Meetup at Kramer Vineyards

On August 27th, my sister Kim and I hosted an event at our family winery, Kramer Vineyards, for a group of local food and wine writers. We asked the wine writers to bring a bottle or two of wine, while we asked the food writers to bring a dish. For the event we indulged in a variety of cheeses, bacon wrapped dates, figs with goat cheese and pepper honey, steaks, cucumber salad, ratatouille, and pulled pork. Obviously there was no shortage of food. We had a wide variety of wines from Oregon, Washington and California to pair with the various dishes.

Before dinner we took the writers for a walk in the vineyard. We showed them around blocks on pinot noir, pinot gris, müller-thurgau, and carmine. The writers also got to see our new blocks of grüner veltliner and pinot meunier.

I mentioned that we had a wide selection of wines. The next picture will show a display of reds that we enjoyed with our steak and pulled pork. With dinner we also opened a Kramer Vineyards 1994 Pinot Noir Reserve. I had this wine with salmon a few weeks back and it paired wonderfully. For this evening, I had it with the steak which was a remarkable match. Another pinot noir I really enjoyed was the 2005 Bergstrom Pinot Noir. 

For this event I prepared bacon wrapped dates and grilled the steaks. Those who know me know I love to barbeque, and when I host parties in the summer, I always try to prepare a menu that involes using the barbeque as much as possible.

Dates and goat cheese for bacon wrapped dates. The goat cheese is from Harlow Hills Farms in Gaston, Oregon.

The bacon wrapped dates on the barbeque.
Bacon wrapped dates ~ Ready for consumption.
A favorite appetizer dish of the evening was simply a fig, with a chunk of goat cheese that was then drizzeled with honey pepper. The honey pepper was a perfect addition to the dish because it added a sweet with a hint of black pepper spice. This is the second time I have eaten a fig, and this time I may be hooked. This is a dish I will make in the future. Thank you to Gretchen from for bringing the figs!

Fig, goat cheese and pepper honey.

A cucumber salad that our guest Lisa had brought. This was made with home grown cucumebers.

This is a spanikopita made with a twist. This spanikopita is made with purple spinach.My friend Anna is an amazing cook who likes to focus on Greek dishes, and she whipped this up for everyone to enjoy. Her blog is

Now for the steak. Steak is one of my favorite entrees, especially a medium rare rib eye steak WITH a side of BBQ sauce. 

A stack of steak anyone?

The other entree we provided was a pulled pork dish that my sister made.
This pulled pork had wonderful flavor and was very tender. There was no trouble pulling it apart.

The evening was a perfect night that was filled with delicious food, amazing wines, and a group of individuals who were delightful to host. We hope to host this event again next year, on the weekend before Labor Day Weekend.