Food News

Back from my trip Monday, rested and ready to plunge into projects. First, some news.

A new restaurant opening tomorrow called Toast at SE 52nd and Steele. This is the previous location of Angie’s Bad Ass Video, so this should be an improvement. Brunch and dinner Wednesday – Saturday. It is owned by industry veteran Donald Kotler of Southpark, Vindalho and Giorgios. I’ll have the menu posted later today.


In case you haven’t had enough, it seems cupcakes are still hot. According to this LA Times article, the cupcake boom is far from over, with at least a few more years to go.Stephanie Samuels, owner of Angel Food Bakery in Chicago, concurred — and she even tried not selling them when she opened her business two years ago. But customers kept looking past Samuels’ delectable cakes, and pies, and tarts, and asked for … cupcakes. “I caved,” Samuels admitted, laughing. “There are certain retro desserts that I sell a lot of, but really the biggest sellers are the cupcakes.”


Moving on, we turn to cocktail ingredients. The Washington Post just ran a large article on the trend towards making bitters, mixers, etc. from scratch, rather than using those horrible premixed concoctions. In an article titled “Be A Bold Mixmaster” (free membership required), they talk in length about making everything from martini onions, cherries, and tonic water. They even mention infused rums.
Falernum is another story. No one, it seems, can obtain the infused rum unless they make it themselves. Yet a half-century ago, falernum was a tiki-bar staple in drinks such as the zombie, the mai tai and the rum swizzle.

I soaked lime peels, cloves and almonds in sugar and white rum, which I let sit in a covered glass pitcher in the sun for three days. When I opened the container again, the aroma was heavenly. Mixed in a rum swizzle with dark rum and lime and pineapple juices, my homemade falernum added a mysterious tanginess and notes of clove that balanced any syrupy sweetness.

In my opinion Portland is a great cocktail town. We have Lucy Brennan of 820/Mint, who made a name for herself inventing new types of cocktails with herbs, Kevin Ludwig, voted best bartender in Portland by PFD readers (who seems to have vanished), and the folks at Teardrop who make their own mixers, bitters, and infusions – including falernum – also mentioned in the Washington Post article, which is a rum infusion used in mai tais. Their version is… really… good. Hmm… After a week with nothing but wine to drink, I need to make the rounds again.

 


 

Whole Foods Cleared to Buy Wild Oats Chain. The FTC was trying to block Whole Foods bid for Wild Oats, but today a Federal Appeals Court cleared the way for the sale. From MSNBC, “They claimed that if the two companies combine, it would mean less competition and higher prices for premium and organic food.” Maybe everywhere else, but here they have a healthy competitor in New Seasons.More from MSNBC:

 

[Judge] Friedman made no mention in his ruling of several notorious e-mails and other documents written by Whole Foods chief executive John Mackey that the FTC cited in its effort to block the deal.

For example, Mackey said in a February e-mail to a company board member that the acquisition would enable Whole Foods to “avoid nasty price wars” with Wild Oats in several cities.


 


 

If you haven’t seen the site, Cooking Up a Story has some well produced food-related videos, some right from Oregon. I’ve managed to lose quite a bit of time browsing the site. It is also interesting seeing how they have integrated with YouTube. Here is a link directly to a video called Winery in Winter, a story about what happens at Penner Ash Wine Cellars during the winter.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. Lance Mayhew says

    Actually, you can now buy good Falernum in Oregon. I saw John D. Taylos’s Velvet Falernum on sale at the Hyland Hills Liquor store out in Beaverton last weekend. Good stuff and nice to have on hand if you don’t want to make it yourself. Now if we could just get the OLCC to bring Aperol into our fine state, I’d be a very happy man.

  2. says

    Spotted last week while family was in town:

    The vacant space at Cedar Hills Crossing in Beaverton once occupied by Noodlin’ (the pasta-bar concept by the Burgerville collective) is at last under construction — and the construction signage indicates that what’s going in is yet another branch of Pastini Pastaria.

    Which is interesting, considering that there are two other popular Italian places (Bugatti’s and Mingo) within walking distance of that space, and a third (the long-established Giovanni’s) nearly as close by. Admittedly Pastini’s price point is the lowest of the four, but still, we’re talking spaghetti overload….

  3. grapedog says

    Djonn: Think about the hierarchy of pasta joints in the Beaverton Mall (oops, Cedar Hills Crossing…whatever!) area and how they serve each strata of carb-hungry consumer: Top is Mingo (trendy for Beaverton but still serving semolina gnocchi….ick, dough balls!), then there is Bugatti’s (Lydia selling out to the masses but good-for-foodies that her West Linn store is still as good as it’s ever been), followed by Pastini Pastaria and Noodlin’ at the bottom. Well, I assume Noodlin’ is at the bottom since I refuse to eat at either PP or the yet-to-be-opened Noodlin’

    Let them eat carbs!

  4. says

    ???

    You’re quite right that there’s a wide range in the demographic spectrum between the various Italian places I mentioned — but (a) I thought I more or less acknowledged that, and (b) I think you were reading the post a little too fast.

    To begin with, Noodlin’ is long gone, and not just in Beaverton; the Hawthorne location also folded quite some time back. [So did two other Holland-owned operations in the Beaverton area, Beaches at Murrayhill (there's now a Ruby Tuesday in that building) and the Beach Shack, from which Bugatti's inherited its space. There's still a Beaches up in Vancouver, I believe.]

    Now Pastini is certainly not competing directly with Mingo. But they are, to an extent, competing directly with Bugatti’s. In broad spectrum, the Pastini and Bugatti’s menus are fairly similar, the major difference being that Bugatti’s offers pizza and Pastini doesn’t. Bugatti’s offers a higher price point and the “slow food” cachet; Pastini is almost inhumanly quick and markedly more economical. If I were managing the Cedar Hills Bugatti’s, I would be very concerned about Pastini drawing off my more price-conscious customers.

    And Pastini is also, to an extent, competing with Giovanni’s over at Hall and Broadway (Mingo is almost exactly halfway between the two). Giovanni’s menu is more old-school Italian than Pastini’s (or, for that matter, any of the others), but the net price points for Pastini and Giovanni’s are fairly close, and the Pastini location is arguably easier to get to, offering better street access, more parking, and more incidental traffic (with New Seasons and Powell’s Books immediately adjacent). If I were managing Giovanni’s just now, I might not be actively worried — but I’d want to keep a very close eye on my traffic once Pastini opens.

    The question, though, is not which place is better. The question is whether there’s room for all those Italian places in that small a geographic area. I honestly hope there is; I’ve enjoyed the meals I’ve had at all of the places mentioned. But I think the arrival of Pastini may push the limits of Beaverton’s capacity for sit-down spaghetti dinners.

  5. grapedog says

    Djonn, thanks for the clarification. You are right, I missed some of the points in your email. I attribute that to Red Bull and jet lag… :-(

  6. mczlaw says

    A new restaurant opening tomorrow called Toast at SE 52nd and Steele.

    Doesn’t a name like this pre-ordain failure?

    I haven’t looked at the menu yet, but will they be specializing in cooked bread dishes?

    Are you sure this will be an improvement on Bad Ass Video? Now, that’s a bad ass name for a joint.

    –mcz

  7. Geri Fitzpatrick says

    A restaurant named “Toast” recently opened in Littleton, Colorado, where I live. It’s a fantastic breakfast and lunch place — not your ordinany sandwich and chips place — but quite innovative, even to the decor which features toast-shaped paintings all over the walls.
    I didn’t think it was a “chain” restaurant, but perhaps it is. If so, I recommend giving it a try.

    Geri in Colorado

  8. Reb says

    I hear you, mcz, but I recommend Toast. (No, not every menu item incorporates “cooked bread.”)

    We went last Friday and the drinks are creative, the menu simple and elegant, and of course the food all very fresh. This place is desperately needed in Woodstock, the land of multiplying dive bars and hair salons.

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