Seattle’s Sour Grapes, Meatballs & Milkshakes, Taboada is Expanding, Ken G is Diabetic and Someone’s Circling!

Coffee from Roman CandleWhen I wrote about the Northwest Regional Barista Competition last week, I didn’t know sour grapes were a Washington crop. According to Seattle Weekly, they have an excess this year  –

PDX showed up in our state, rolling three or four rows of spectators deeps, with the hashtag #TacomaByStorm already set for all their Tweeting. Seattleites drifted in and out, applauding politely, half awake. Occasionally cheering in earnest. But seriously? The Portlanders had t-shirts, and signs, and obnoxious levels of noise any time one of their own took the stage. There was jumping, and hugging, and high-fiving, and altogether entirely too much Bro-fection for a non-sporting event. I don’t necessarily support it. Or promote it. But really, Seattle, where were you? There is simply no excuse for a home court advantage to get so stepped on.

Then they throw down-

But here’s the thing. This year, the US National Barista Competition is in Portland, OR. We have the chance to pay back. We have the chance to show up in Portland, and represent Seattle. A little less Bro and a little more class may be in order, I’m sure, but come on Seattle! Start rehearsing your best levels of enthusiasm. You’ve got until April… let’s show up and show Portland how it’s done.

It seems to me that you should have to win something to get to the national’s. Just saying.


Adam Berger, the owner of Tabla, is opening an all-meatball restaurant.

I love meatballs. Next to mac & cheese, they are my favorite comfort food. But a meatball restaurant? I could see going once or twice a year, but not on a regular basis. Remember last fall when the trend was all about hamburgers, and then winter was about pizza? So cliché! (Remember when food trends would last a year?)

Their website says Meatballs and Milkshakes – Portland’s Tastiest Balls Coming Soon!

There was a show last year…  America’s Next Great Restaurant, where contestants with restaurant ideas competed against each other, and the winner got their own chain. Anyway, one of the contestants had the same basic concept, though on a grander scale, minus milkshakes. He didn’t win. [The things I saw while Googling those words]

From the Oregonian, “For dessert, a simple list: frozen custards, milkshakes and concretes”.

I looked it up for you. “Concretes – A custard blended with any of dozens of ingredients, and served in a large cup with a spoon and a straw. Concretes are blended so thick that they and their spoon do not fall out when their cup is turned upside-down; servers often demonstrate this before handing customers their order. The Concrete is the inspiration for Dairy Queen’s Blizzard shake.”

Doesn’t this whole idea sound like a screenplay?

INT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

Two teenagers slouching on a sofa in a smoky living room staring at the television. Their eyes are glazed. An empty pizza box is between them. They are passing a joint back and forth.

Teenager 1 looks left, hair falling over his eyes.

TEENAGER 1

                              (In a stoner voice)

Dude, you know what would be really good now?

Meatballs!

                              (passes blunt)

TEENAGER 2

Dude, that would be awesome!

You know what else?

Milkshakes!

<long inhale>

TEENAGER 1

Dude!

Or a Blizzard!1

 Dude, I’m so baked from that doobie!

According to the Oregonian, “24th & Meatballs” will be going into the corner of Northeast 24th and Glisan.

Yes, I’m an ass… but I’m saying what everyone else is thinking.

1. i worked days on this screenplay


John Taboada is expanding Navarre. According to Eat Beat, it is “harebrained idea”.

Actually, I took that so out of context, I feel I should quote them directly; I just couldn’t help myself.

“Chef John Taboada always has harebrained ideas going, and most of them work. Taboada was ahead of the curve in 2001 when he helped pioneer Portland’s do-it-yourself Eastside food scene at Navarre, an icon of farm-to-city eating.” He’s expanding the restaurant into the space next door, last occupied by a bad Chinese restaurant. More from PM, “The plan, so far: a menu of appetizers and desserts only, to pair with drinks meant to be sipped before and after meals. A “secret dining room” is in the works, to house small groups and spontaneous parties. Meanwhile, a large prep kitchen means Navarre can expand beyond the nano-batch limits of its closet-sized kitchen. More charcuterie is on the table, and no one makes a pate like John Taboada. ETA is three to six months.”

Emphasis mine. No one dammit!


Rumor has it, that a small downtown restaurant appears to be circling the drain. Cash-only from vendors? Employee paychecks frequently bouncing? This place is so small, I wouldn’t normally mention it, but it is also high-profile. Think burgers and a public space. The Portland city leaders will be annoyed. Enough said.


Ken Gordon of Kenny and Zuke’s Deli

I’ve heard Ken Gordon of Kenny and Zukes Deli doesn’t like me. I don’t blame him – I haven’t always been the paragon of sweetness and love that I am now. But I’ve always respected Ken. He comes across as a no BS, straight-shooter kind of guy. Now he’s Portland’s version of Paula Dean, except he’s intelligent.

In early January, Ken was diagnosed with high-cholesterol, high-triglycerides, high-blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes. Understandably, it shook him up –

After a half-hour of self-pity and a couple of “what’ll I do’s,” I took account of my life and made some crucial decisions. First, I was going to beat this thing. This was not born out of false heroics or gratuitous boasts, but out of pure necessity and self-interest: I intended to go on living. Second, I realized that I’m perfectly suited to tackle this problem. I’m determined, almost to a fault. I’m optimistic. (Being in the restaurant business for 34 years is pretty much the definition of optimism.) And, I’m a project-oriented person by nature, having opened or helped open 11 restaurants to date, and thrive on challenges.

Except now, I was the project!

Within an hour of my diagnosis I devised a plan: I would embark on the first diet of my 57 years on this planet. Now, as a somewhat accomplished chef, I figured that if anyone could make a diet taste good and be satisfying, it would be me. And though I had quit my three-fourths-pack-a-day cigarette habit seven years ago, I was recently backsliding with a few smokes here and there. That stopped immediately. As for exercise, I’d always done it sporadically until I got bored by the routine, hurt myself or got too busy. Not anymore. Now, it would be a 2-mile brisk walk daily, to start with. Every day. Plus some vitamins and fish oil and various anti-oxidants.

Ken has set a goal of loosing 40+ pounds, returning to health, and reversing the diabetes in a year or less. Along the way, he’ll be chronicling his progress in a regular column on OregonLive.com. True to his image, he’s a non-nonsense, writer; someone  many of us can identify with. I wish him the best of luck, and look forward to his column.

I used to walk to fast miles every morning too… but I couldn’t find a way to keep my beignets warm. Badum tish.


Paley’s Place Dessert by Lauren Fortgang. Photo John Valls

Tasting Table is one of those online magazines, whose sole goal seems to be to get readers to click on as many pages as possible. Three clicks to get to the list of articles? Really?! Once you slog your way to them, you realize the writing is so insipid, you might has well have been clicking on porn. However, that isn’t to impugn their mention of Portlander Lauren Fortgang, as one of their picks for “Best Pastry Chefs 2012″. Tasting Table says her tarte Tatin is the best they have ever had. You can taste her desserts nightly at Little Bird and Le Pigeon (no pun intended).

I may not like the “magazine”, but Lauren’s photograph by Leah Harb is great , and Lauren looks like a nice person. That makes it worth your while.

Here is how you can see the article yourself. Go to http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_by_section/national/monthly-editions/monthly-editions-02-2012. Just for fun, let’s pretend I haven’t told you that the bit about her is in section 17. Just click on the little right arrow next to the picture. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. It’s that easy!

Idiots. Anyway, it’s worth the effort to see her smiling face.

More tomorrow, unless my shrink ups my meds.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. ken gordon says

    What are you talking about, Dude? I’ve always harbored a secret crush on you!

    Seriously, not sure where you heard it. We’ve had our difference, surely. But I’ve always respected your site and principles, which you’ve always been upfront and honest about. Can’t argue with that.

    Ken

    • JDG says

      Did anyone really think that Violetta wouldn’t face hard times during the 8 months of the year that the sun doesn’t shine? They just assumed that the Shake Shack model would imply lines around the park?

      • says

        That did seem to me like it was a pretty crazy idea when it was in the planning stages. It just didn’t make sense. I know they were counting on the lunchtime office crowd, but they can’t possibly compete with the foodcarts.

        • Violetta says

          Greetings all…

          While we usually enjoy being a “hot topic,” we’d love for you to join the “official” Violetta Newsletter at:
          http://www.violettapdx.com/maillist/subscribe.aspx

          There you can keep up with what our (true) plans are for our park location and any new proposed spots. We are very excited to see the company sprout a bit (look forward to a Hillsdale outpost in May), and we look forward to your continued support. Cheers to Slow Food, Fast!

          All other inquiries / comments / questions (and in this case, concerns) can be directed to contact@violettapdx.com or 503-234-3278!

  2. Irene says

    Adam Berger, really? Way to take a three day trip to the east coast, read a couple of those free what-to-do-in-our-city magazines, poach a couple of ideas from the most high-profile, buzz-friendly eating establishments and transplant them in Portland. Anyone who has spent 48 hours in Washington DC in the last six months could have tripped over this idea in the street. That said, I kind of respect the business savvy; this is going to make buckets of money (I was originally going to say “boatloads”, but it is the restaurant business after all, gotta scale the metaphor). Maybe I’m just bitter that I didn’t act first.

  3. culinarykitten says

    To all of this I say ‘YAY’! YAY, Portland baristas! YAY, Seattle is lame! YAY, Meatballs! YAY, Milkshakes! YAY, blunts! YAY, a bigger Navarre! YAY, Kenny is handling it well, and is not becoming a public shill for a pharmaceutical company while eating bacon egg cheeseburgers sandwiched between two crispy cremes. YAY, I tell you….YAY!!!

    • PDX2CDG says

      Thanks for the LOL moment CK! FD……….keep it coming. You could always write screenplays when the going gets tough(er). Funny stuff…..thanks dude.

  4. Ellen Green says

    Do Dude, which dude were u in your screenplay?

    Can I just add at the end of that scree play

    Dude, I’m so baked from that doobie!

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