Summer Favorites, Part 1

by Rebekahcooked up on July 31, 2013

I’ve been fortunate enough to try a lot of new things this summer, and a few of them are worth more than a photo on Instagram, so I thought I’d share. Some of them are events or products I was invited to try and some are not – it’s mostly a roundup of what I think is new and cool in Porltand and in general. Here are a few of my favorites, and look for more to come:

Arrogant Frog Wines

The kind folks at Arrogant Frog Wines sent me two of their new wines to taste in celebration of Bastille Day! The wines are from France, and Arrogant Frog tells me that they are priced at about $10 per bottle.

Arrogant Frog Wine

We celebrated with a lovely al fresco lunch of caprese sandwiches, pickled vegetables and a green salad out of the garden with a pomegranate vinaigrette. We tasted the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay, and I have to say, I enjoyed them both.

My favorite of the two was the Chardonnay. It was just so light and refreshing in the summer sun. It seems like it’s hard to find a good Chardonnay that is below a certain price point and there is nothing more disappointing than a bad, syrupy white wine (It seems to me that bad white wine turns a lot of people into only red wine people). This one was nothing of the sort – it was really pleasant. We also enjoyed it with pesto, veggie and ricotta pizza for a dinner outdoors with friends.

Grassa

In June we got to go to the opening of Grassa, a new pasta shop at 12th and Washington in Southwest Portland. In a nutshell, GO THERE IMMEDIATELY. It’s a casual place, bustling and better for a fun meal with friends than a date night. Orders take just a few minutes, plates are $12 or less and most of the seats are at bars and communal tables. But the pasta quality, plating and ingredients belong in a fancy, take-your-parents-on-your-birthday type of place, and I mean that in the best way possible.

grassa1Arrogant Frog Wines

I had this amazing pesto bucatini, cooked to al dente perfection and topped with crème fraiche. You can feel how fresh the pasta is as your teeth sink into each bite. Dave had this radiatore with chicken and crispy skin with a tomato sauce, and what really stuck in my mind was the delicious chicken skin.

grassa2

It’s addicting and salty, but it’s so often left out of cooking in the name of being low fat. Let’s stop doing that – this will convince you.

As you can see, the serving sizes are huge. That didn’t stop me from eating the whole thing
anyway, plus an order of the tasty garlic bread. Yeah, that’s right. I just recommended the garlic bread. I am hungry just thinking about it.

Honey Pot opens a brick-and-mortar space on Mississippi

Dave and I live just a hop, skip and a jump from the Mississippi neighborhood, so it’s a frequent destination for us when we’re in search of a casual dinner or brunch. I’m always happy to see when new businesses come in and enrich the neighborhood.

The Honey Pot isn’t a new business, but they’ve recently expanded to have a new brick-and-mortar space. We stopped by the soft open for a few bites.

honeypot1

I loved this savory salmon tart! Of course I love the sweet ones, too, but this one caught me by surprise. The flaky pastry alongside the fish and capers gave it such a pleasant crunch. It’s perfect to bring to a brunch you’ve been invited to. I’ll take a dozen.

The over-the-top cream topping of this lemon cream mini-pie caught my eye immediately.

honey pot2

This is how you make the Maillaird reaction work for you! I think we can all agree that the more pie shops there are, the happier we will all be. See you soon, Honey Pot. We’ll definitely be back.

Cinnamon Churro Ice Cream from Safeway

This was a random find one Sunday night, when we realized we had not yet bought groceries for the week and ran over to the store in the Pearl after our yoga class. And by “had not yet bought groceries for the week,” I also mean “had not yet bought ice cream for the week.” Clearly we dodged a bullet.

Safeway Cinnamon Churro Ice Cream

We were trying to move quickly, and if the Safeway Select stuff hadn’t been what was on sale, I don’t know if we even would have seen it, beckoning from among the mint chips and peanut butter cups. But I’m so glad we did. The ice cream has a caramel cinnamon base that is creamy and not really subtle. And of course, there are chunks of churros in there. Run, don’t walk. Buy several.

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Salmon Cakes with Asparagus Risotto

Date night, done right!