Best Burger Quest

Yoga is Good For You

Sunday morning I forced myself to go to yoga again. Go me! Two Sundays in a row! I’m glad I forced myself to go. I’d been pain-free for almost 2 weeks and then my right knee started bothering me again. I don’t know why or what I did to aggravate it. The yoga class was a challenge, but I felt really good once it was done. My tight hips felt a little looser. There were a few moves that I’ve never done before and I think they’d be really good to incorporate into my workouts.

I wish I knew the names of these poses. The first one is this: lay flat on your back, arms on the floor. Then raise one leg and raise the other leg, touching the heel with the other foot’s big toe. It was a lot harder than it sounds and I really felt my core engaging while I did it. The other two poses that were new to me were these:

I spent 50 minutes doing yoga and then I hurried down to the pool to get in my swim. I think if I continue to do the yoga + swim routine on Sundays, I will reduce my swimming from 50 minutes to maybe 35. It’s just a long time to spend in the gym! Yoga and swim calories burned:

The rest of the day I felt much better and the knee pain reduced. My hips felt so much better too. See? I NEED yoga! I’m trying to convince myself it’s not a waste of time.

Sunday evening, Michael and I met some friends for dinner. It was pouring rain and dark, so much so it was hard to see the lines on the road.  It was such a nasty night, I kinda wanted to stay home with a hot cup of tea, a purring cat on my lap and a fire in the fireplace. But I’m glad we ventured out because it was a fun and delicious evening.

We went to SlowBurger–the new burger joint that is a spin-off of Slowbar. That name may seem familiar to some of you who joined me vicariously for my search for the best burger in Portland. I’ve had some pretty good ones. There was the messy but tasty Foster Burger (the secret is in the sauce!), there was the yuppie and garlicky Laurelhurst Market burger (everything should have aioli sauce on it, right?) and one of my favorites was the buttery hipster version of a burger at Toast. But none of these amazing burgers ever came close to the absurdly decadent SlowBar Burger.

The burgers at Slowburger did not disappoint. They were the same quality as the bar version of them. But let me get back to that in a moment. We met our friends and as soon as we got a table, the place filled up fast. It was almost standing-room only. There wasn’t much by way of atmosphere and Michael and I both commented that while the food and service was great, we’d probably just go back to the original SlowBar for the burgers simply for the atmosphere.

I ordered a pint of the Boneyard IPA because I was ecstatic to see they had it on tap! It’s a rarity that I ever see Boneyard IPA as an option on a menu and it’s my absolute favorite beer.

I love that beer. Damn. Anyways, the menu is simple, with only a few options to choose from but the best part was that we could order “mini” burgers of anything on the menu. Instead of a half pound of beer, it was 3 ounces in a slider. I ended up getting two sliders because I couldn’t decide which burger to get.

I got the black bean veggie burger slider that came with chipotle sauce and guacamole. It was delicious but messy as black bean burgers usually are. The real winner for me, though, was the other slider I got. It was a burger with chipotle cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, lettuce and their “special sauce.” That little burger was a flavorful punch to the face and I kinda wished I’d ordered a full sized version of it instead of the two minis! But, I did like trying two different kinds.

If you want to see some tantalizing food p0rn pictures–pictures of burgers that are much prettier than mine–check out this article. Michael and I also split an order of onion rings. They were large and sweet with lots of breading. I rarely get things like that, so it was a nice treat. I also got a side salad, which I loved. The dressing was like a zesty vinaigrette pesto sauce.

The dinner was fantastic and I was blissfully happy that I’d gotten the smaller versions AND I was able to enjoy my favorite pint of beer. It was fun catching up with friends that we hadn’t seen in nearly a year. That’s far too long.

Monday night Michael and I went to a Blazer game. It was my first game in years. While I dislike all sports on TV, I do enjoy going to games. I used to go to Blazer games and the hockey games here in Portland a lot in my 20’s. I don’t know why I stopped.

We had some great seats pretty close up. The game was exciting and the third and fourth quarters were nail-biters. At the very end it seemed like the Blazers would win but sadly…they lost. 🙁 They did a tribute to veterans for Veteran’s Day and someone from the Army sang the national anthem (and did a fantastic job). Michael bought another pair of tickets for a game in December. I’m really looking forward to it!

QUESTION: Are you a sports fan?

Sometimes Healthy, Sometimes Not

Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday with their families and friends. Enjoy the BBQ’s and fireworks. Michael and I are about to go enjoy the sunshine with a hike and I wanted to pop in with a quick hello and a post.

My meals are like teeter-totters some weeks: sometimes they swing to the super healthy, sometimes they swing to the other side where the indulging lives but most of the time they are somewhere in the middle. I’ve been trying to make a conscious decision to limit out the amount of times I eat out in a week. My preferred number is one. I don’t eat out for lunch during the week and usually when Michael and I go out it’s to try a new restaurant–which is something we both love to do and living in Portland it’s an easy thing to do.

Most of our meals at home are the the standard healthy fare you’ve gotten used to seeing here: a protein plus a veggie (usually from our garden). One day after work I plucked a bunch of kale from the garden and cooked it in the skillet with Grapeseed Oil and one piece of bacon chopped up.

I baked salmon with a little butter, lemon pepper seasoning and dried dill. I added a serving of tater tots to the plate simply because I was craving them. Dinner was around 600 calories total, filling, delicious and healthy. Then of course, the next day we went out and indulged a little bit. Michael wanted to kick off the holiday with a big cheeseburger and I wanted to do one at home. In the end we ended up at The Country Cat Diner.

The Country Cat

The restaurant was packed when we got there. It was a Tuesday evening, early still but not quite meeting “early bird” standards. There were empty tables but we were told there was only bar seating or galley seating (which was weird, do they take reservations? After we were seated I noticed a booth stayed empty for our whole visit.). The galley seating turned out to be quite fun because we had a front row view of the kitchen.

We were both mesmerized watching the three chefs work in tandem behind the counter, smiling and laughing, dancing together like ballerinas without a misstep. We even watched our meal be made right before our eyes.

It was difficult for me to decide what to order because everything sounded intriguing. They had fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy (my number one choice but I decided to order the burger). There was plenty of vegetarian options too, although their specialty seemed to be meat.

While we waited for our dinner I watched as the various plates emerged, created from nothing, looking pretty fantastic. I commented repeatedly to Michael, “I should have ordered that.” The duck leg look crispy and magnificent, topped with what looked like cherries in a sauce. The salmon wrapped in bacon looked awesome.

There was a “Flinstone’s Chop” and it looked like it. It was a giant hunk of pork on the bone, glistening in sauce and nestled next to corn. It was humongous, gluttonous-looking and pretty humorous. Thank goodness I didn’t order that. 🙂

How was the burger? Michael and I both agreed it did not make our top 5 list. To refresh your memory (I know, it’s been awhile):

Burger Quest Ranking:

1. Slow Bar

2. Laurelhurst

3. Toast

4. Gruner

5. Foster Burger

That is not to say there was anything wrong with the burger, it was unusual in a lot of ways but not good enough to knock anyone of the list so far. The burger was beautiful and the meat was juicy but it was so thickly packed that it was almost chewy.

The burger arrived on a delicate bun that was lightly toasted with American cheese, a piece of butter lettuce (the perfect lettuce for a burger if you ask me) and a garlic mayo sauce. The garlic mayo was not overpowering at all, very light, and the homemade ketchup was extremely unique. Neither Michael nor I could figure out what it was made with. It had a smoky and a sweet flavor to it.

The cheeseburger was flavorful and unique but not the best one I’ve ever had. I really didn’t like the chewiness of it. I like my burgers to be tender, juicy and kind of soft. It may look like it was humongous but it was actually a reasonable size.

The onion rings, however, were the show-stopper. They were spectacular! Strange, thin, crispy, crunchy, salty, and delicious. I loved how tiny they were. They look like curly fries but were stuffed with sweet onions. The rings were by far the best thing about the meal. We both ate half of our rings and took the rest home. Despite the burger being just ok, we both left satisfied and happy and I didn’t feel like a brick was sitting in my stomach. I guess those onion rings were that fantastic!

QUESTION: How often do you eat out in a week?