Once a Year…

…once a year I indulge. This is the epitome of my 90/10 Rule. Moderation, moderation, splurge once in awhile. The last weekend of July is the Oregon Brewfest. I started going a few years ago, after meeting Michael, and it’s a great time. Beer tasting is my splurge. And I want the good stuff! Not this:

This year, I took a half day off work so I could meet up with my friends at the Brewfest. I rode my bike to work that morning but luckily I could leave my stuff in my cubicle and just walk down to the waterfront.

I took a detour that added a few miles to my commute and a few more calories to my workout:

My total mileage for the week: 62.42. Still nowhere close to 100. Oh well. It was still a good week of biking. So after work, I walked down to meet all my friends that were partaking in Brewfest. We started going on Thursdays a few years ago because Fridays were insanely crowded; so crowded you couldn’t really move around through the tents and some of the breweries even ran out of beer!

It seems as though everyone else got the memo that Thursdays were the better day to go because it was packed this year. And it started early. I got off work and got to the waterfront about 1 and the lines were already forming. I met up with my friend Robyn and her mom (who is a total firecracker!) and some friends and eventually Michael met up with us with his group of friends.

Usually I want to eat lunch right away but I got sucked into hanging out with friends and sampling beers and before I knew it, I was feeling tipsy and realized I hadn’t eaten anything in hours! I wandered around a bit and ended up with a Sambusa at the African food cart. It was a little pastry filled with things like lentils and chicken, veggies and African spices. It was absolutely delicious! I dipped it in the sweet cucumber sauce (I totally want to find a recipe to make this at home). It was a great lunch.

In the past, I approached the Brewfest as a way to discover new beers I liked and I sampled everything I could. (1 token is $1 or so,a full mug is 4 tokens but I rarely ever get a full mug). This year? I didn’t really do that. Maybe I’m getting old or maybe I just know what I like. But I skipped the beers I knew I probably wouldn’t enjoy and stuck to the IPA style beers at each trailer.

Let’s start with the beers I did NOT like. Cascade Brewery Razberry Wheat –it’s there every year and every year I try it and still don’t like it, when will I learn? Old Market Pub and Brewery Cherried Alive–a cross between too sweet and too sour. Paradise Creek Brewery Dirty Blonde–I just don’t like the taste of blondes or lighter beers, which brings me to Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Kili Wit–YUCK! I’ve mentioned many times that I LOVE Ninkasi Beer (Tricerahops and Total Domination are my favorite beers right now) but the Lady of Avalon they brought to the brewfest was a disgusting, dark, hoppy, malty, coffee thing that I took one taste of and passed on to my friend Robyn!

Sometimes the best part about brewfest is the people watching and not necessarily the beer. There were a lot of people in costumes, half of which I didn’t really understand. I wish I had gotten more pictures of the people because it was entertaining. For example: there were some Franciscan monks, many, many men in lederhosen and short shorts a la The Sound of Music. There was a guy dressed up in a white NASA space suit wearing a Planet of the Apes-type mask…pretty much anything you can think of was there.

Now the good stuff…Here are a few beers that I enjoyed:

Red Rock Brewing – Red Rock Elephino Double IPA: I could enjoy a full mug of this, but maybe not two. It was good but not especially memorable.

Dunedin Brewery – IPA Chronicle: FL-Oregon Trail: A little sweeter than I’m used to, but I liked it.

Hale’s Ales Brewery – Supergoose IPA: It’s a nice floral, fruity IPA.

Kona Brewing – Big Wave Golden Ale: for a blonde ale, it was really good. I had this when I first got to the event and it was a nice, mild, smooth beer to start the afternoon with.

The Winners:

Flying Fish Brewery – Exit 16 Wild Rice IPA: So it sounds weird…beer fermented in rice? But it was my absolute favorite of the day. I loved the super, super hoppy flavor and the crisp citrus taste that teased my tongue. This one I could have had a full mug of!

Terminal Gravity Brewing – X IPA: This was my second favorite beer. It was an amber colored beer, not too dark of an IPA, and very pleasant to drink. The hops weren’t outrageous.

Omission Brewing – Pale Ale: I had no idea this was a Widmer beer or gluten-free but I loved it! I wish I had discovered it before the end of the day when I was done drinking.

The day was hot, not as hot as it had been in past years but very warm and we sought out shade as much as possible and tried to stay under the tents when we could, even though the noise level was a cacophony  of everything you could think of. I bought a giant pretzel from the Gustav’s stands and shared it with some friends.

Thankfully the bread soaked up some of my samples and I spent the last hour just catching up with my friends and hanging out. The tents had become to crowded anyways.

Finally, Michael and I decided to call it a night (or afternoon, whatever). Both of us had had our fill and wanted to get home out of the sun. It was a fun day with good food and good beer. It’s a once a year treat that I look forward to and enjoy every time!

QUESTION: Is there any annual event in your town that you don’t miss?

Little Big Burger

The Quest for the Best Burger in Portland – Part 4


Have I forgotten about my Quest for the Best Burger in Portland? No, I haven’t. Like any good quest, there are highs and lows. I took a break from trying some new places simply because we weren’t eating out as much and we were getting used to going to the same places when we craved it.

The Quest began with the Slow Bar–an amazing burger with a crispy onion ring on it. Laurelhurst was a trendy, awesome summer place to get a burger. Toast was quaint, different kind of burger with really great flavor. Foster Burger is a messy, fulfilling burger that is often our “go-to” joint. Gruner? I think it’s getting knocked off the list.

Burger Quest Ranking:

1. Slow Bar

2. Laurelhurst

3. Toast

4. Gruner

5. Foster Burger

We’ve had some burgers lately that were pretty good. East Burn had a deliciously messy burger. Nob Hill Bar and Grill was decent but didn’t make the cut. So which place knocked Gruner off the list? Little Big Burger.

It was a rainy, cold, dreary Sunday afternoon and I’d gotten home from the pool with a craving for anything that wasn’t in our fridge. Nothing sounded appealing so when Michael suggested we got o Little Big Burger, I agreed. I’d never been to LBB before, but I’d seen it in the Pearl District downtown and it seemed really popular. They opened a new restaurant on SE Division so we went to check it out.

It was a cute little place and it had a Five Guys feel to it–the kitchen was out in the open and you could watch your meal being prepared. I also like how simple the menu was. 6 items. Simple. Satisfying.

The other cool thing–they are tiny burgers! They are about the size of a slider on a brioche bun. I loved how small they were. They were definitely my size–big enough to be satisfying but not as big as a regular burger that could potentially be over 1,000 calories.

Michael and I split one order fries. The fries and the slider were the perfect amount of food. I enjoyed everything about the burger and the fries were crispy and cooked in Truffle oil. Yum! So, sorry Gruner. Little Big Burger is taking over.

New Burger Quest Ranking:

1. Slow Bar

2. Laurelhurst

3. Toast

4. Foster Burger

5. Little Big Burger

If you ever visit Portland, I recommend trying one of the above restaurants–even if you’re not craving a cheeseburger and fries. Since lunch was fulfilling, we were good and had a lighter dinner that night–from the fridge too.

QUESTION: What’s your go-to food when you’re not really feeling cooking at home?