Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Best Baguette

This awesome little shop on SE 82nd and Powell deserves your money. When the French colonized Vietnam, they introduced baguettes, and the culinary world is richer for it. Best Baguette takes a fastfood approach to Vietnamese baguettes, and I gotta say, they're delicious. They bake their own foot-long baguettes every hour, and stuff them with a wide variety of meats and veggies. The menu is huge, with Vietnamese and French fixin's. I like the grilled beef sandwich, but the the ham and cheese is good too (despite the odd decision to use American style cheese). The bread is super chewey, with a crackly crisp outside. The prices are fantastic too. The Vietnamese versions are all $3 bucks or so, several around $2.50. The ones Americans are more likely to order are about a buck more. I wonder if that's because they're most likely to be ordered by clueless white people, or because the ingredients are more expensive. Anyway, I digress. Since the store is also a fully functional bakery, they also offer a wide variety of pastries, both French and Asian.

I give Best Baguette in Southeast Portland four super-phallic baguette loaves (on a scale of five).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bizarre Foods

My wife and I have an ongoing battle over the television. I have a lot of common sense, while she somehow has come to believe that watching sports all the time is not that much fun. While it's obvious she's wrong, I am trying to find some common ground on shows we can both enjoy. Our current favorite: "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" on the Travel Channel.

Andrew Zimmern is a chef, writer, and traveler. He's also a middle-aged, bald, slightly pudgy dude. The show is as simple as this: Zimmern travels around the world, and eats the grossest food he can find. We've seen him in the U.S., South America, and all over Asia. Bugs, scorpions,lamb faces, all manner of organ meats, rotten meat, semi-hatched hardboiled eggs, and still beating snake hearts are just some of the crazy shit he's wolfed down. This show is fascinating on several levels. First and most obvious is the grossout factor. Watching him eat something no one should ever put in their mouth has a certain Fear Factor charm, and he's able to enthusiastically describe it in a way that you know what it tastes like. Beyond that, he really does a good job of showing the traditions behind the gross food, to show us why people actually eat those things. It's interesting to learn about other cultures and their history, and how food is a real reflection of that.

Zimmern has a geniunely genial way about him, and you feel like he's doing this so you don't have to. He's gracious to his hosts, even when the food is not to his liking. That's kind of rare though. He really likes some bizarro stuff. Overall, this is a really engaging show. I don't know the regular time it's on, so you'll have to check your local listings. Clips of the show are also available on demand through your cable box, so that's a nice, easy way to get a sense of the show at your convenience.

Overall, I give this show six deep-fried scorpion tails.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monster House and Bizarre Cocktails

The wife mentioned recently that she thought this movie looked cute. So I mistakenly told her that I found it on demand on our digital cable last night, and she made me watch it. But the good news is... I actually liked it! I was a little tipsy from my homemade cocktails (which I'll tell you about in a couple paragraphs), but I don't think it skewed my judgment too much.

The movie centers on three kids, who realize that the house across the street is haunted after it tries to eat them. They believe it's haunted by the spirit of the homeowner, a mean old guy who was carted off by an ambulance after chastising one of them. Nobody believes them, so they set off on a mission to put out the fire coming from the chimney, and kill the ghost. At the beginning of the movie, there's a warning by the cable company about adult themes. We sort of looked at each other quizzically when we saw it, because this is an animated kids' movie. We were surprised to see that there actually are some adult themes: death, teenage drinking, and puberty, among others. These are all light references, but they're still there. Unlike many kids movies, the humor was actually funny to grownups. It was a suspenseful little movie, with twists that actually came as somewhat of a surprise. I can honestly recommend this movie to adults and kids. I give it six "Frozen Walt Disney Heads" on a scale of eight.

Now to my weirdo homemade cocktails. We bought Margarita mix at the store, to make with our taco dinner. But we only had enough tequila and ice for one round. Neither of us wanted to go to the store, so we had to get creative for our next drinks. We had a couple of mixers, but without ice, the drinks would get warm quick. So I took some popsicles we had sitting in the fridge, broke them up into the blender, and added 4 shots of vodka. I blended until they were smooth, then poured them into glasses. I topped them off with Diet Cherry 7up. I was pleasantly surprised when the drinks didn't suck. I suggest you try them.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Crunchy Healthy Stuffed Chicken

This is a basic recipe I've used for a while, but I threw in some new twists, and I have to tell you: it's good. I like that it's crunchy like it was deep fried, but it's pan fried, and a whole lot healthier. I'm terrible at recipes, so bear with me. I wrote this for one serving, but it can be expanded easily. Sorry I don't have a picture. It's not the prettiest dish anyway, although it's quite tasty.

1 chicken breast
a handful of fresh sliced mushrooms
1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Cheese
1 beaten egg (or egg beater, in a bowl.
a handful of dried, uncooked cous cous, spread on a plate.
olive oil
salt to taste

1. Sautee mushrooms over medium heat. Remove mushrooms, and turn heat down a couple notches.
2. Butterfly chicken breast to create a nice pocket for stuffing.
3. Spread Laughing Cow cheese inside chicken, and then add the sauteed mushrooms.
4. Close chicken breast, making sure no cheese or mushrooms are poking out. You may want to use a toothpick to keep it together.
5. Dip chicken in egg, then thoroughly coat both sides with dried cous cous.
6. Pan fry chicken on both sides, until done all the way through. This will take some time, because the heat is relatively low. But low heat allows chicken to get done, without blackening too much of the cous cous.

The finished product will be golden brown on the outside, with a few burned cous cous grains. A good way to know the chicken is done is to check the cheese. Laughing Cow is a lot like cream cheese, and when it's super melty inside, the meat is likely done, too. I really like this recipe, because it's pretty healthy, and can be adapted as necessary. It makes for a nice substitution for fried chicken breasts in Chicken Parmesan, too. Just butterfly the chicken, spread it out, and dip it in egg and cous cous.

I give this chicken two breasts up. Keep your mind out of the gutter you perverts. Nipples.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Touch Football

Some friends and I have played touch football the last two Saturdays. I hadn't played in probably 5 years at least, and I forgot how much fun it can be. I went out and bought a football and some cones. How sad is it that in a group of dudes, all excited to play football, nobody owned a football? Anyway, we had seven guys the first week, with Chuck playing all-time offense. This week we had six, and the game was more fun. I'm not going to lie to you: I suck at touch football. I can throw the ball and catch it, but I'm not terribly fast and couldn't cover a tree stump on defense. My teams have gone 0-2, despite different players each time. The common component was me, so let's assume the fault lies there. We walked from our house to the local high school and played on their practice field. The first week, we actually had some guys ask if they could join in. We said no because we were just about done playing.

I play full-court basketball at least once a week, and although I'm a bit overweight, I'm in reasonable shape. But I gotta tell you, football is tough. I really felt sore afterwards, in places I'm not used to. I also have a sore knee, which is troubling. I turn 30 next year, and haven't really had too many nagging old man injuries. I realize now that it's all downhill from here. Sigh.

Football: 35, Turning Old: 0

ps. This has nothing to do with this blog, but is just one friend warning another friend. When you eat fruit, make sure you wash it first. Otherwise, you may have to leave work early to go home and use the bathroom.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Several of my male co-workers and I are participating in Novembeard, which as you can guess, is a beard growing contest. I think it may be the greatest thing ever, at least since my co-worker and friend Orion had a mustache growing contest. I lost, but it's not fair. My mustache grows in blonde, while his is a dark brown. I don't think I'm going to win, and I sure am going to miss getting some lovin' from my wife while I'm competing, but I think it's worth it. Here are some pictures of good beards:

The Sophisticate

The Referee

Thick Underbrush

The Future of Network News

The Confirmed Bachelor's Best Friend

Let's hope I win. I give this contest: six cans of beard wax.