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foodzings: September 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pumpkin Cafe

Pumpkins are everywhere in Philadelphia these days. There's Pumpkin, the BYOB. There's Pumpkin Cafe, a little eat-in and take-out cafe. And there's Pumpkin Market, the cute little local produce and goods market across the street from the Cafe. Don't let the signs fool you, they switched and forgot to change them. The market is the cafe, and the cafe is the market.

We ate at the cafe the other day for lunch. There's a few little tables outside and a few little tables inside. It seems like it's more of a take-out place. I'd been wanting a smoothie, so I got one. It was just ok. Too tart. I also got a meatball sandwich, which was great. It was a bit strange in that it didn't come on a long roll, but a kaiser type roll, but it was good nonetheless. J got some kind of chicken sandwich (sorry I forgot, and I didn't feel like taking pics) and an iced coffee. They have simple syrup for iced drinks here, so a big check in the positive category in my eyes.
One of these days, I'll actually have to go to the BYOB. I've heard very good things about it. And if it's anything like the cafe or market, I'm sure it will be good.

Pumpkin Cafe
1609 South Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19146
(215) 545-1173


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Airport Lunch

While waiting for my flight, I dined at SEATAC at Pallino. It's a fast food pasta joint. It's a local chain. They have pizza here, but this ain't no Sbarro. I got penne a la vodka and also got a chopped salad to go.
The pasta comes in some fancy takeout ware. It was fine, but nothing exciting. One thing annoying were their forks. I know they were trying to be stylish, but really, this wasn't a fork, it was a mini plastic trident. And it was nearly impossible to actually pick up pasta with it. I ended up having to spear the pastas from the open ends. Too much work if you ask me.


Loungey Breakfast

I had to leave sometime, and on the morning of my drive back to SEATAC, to come back to the good old EC, I hopped across the street to Doug Fir. It's a restaurant, lounge, bar, and live music venue, which looks like a total woodsy lodge. Can we say, timber?
It's kitchy, but I like it. How can you hate on those deer and duck wall hangings? And that phat fireplace? I could totally have drinks here...
Well, I was here for breakfast, and damn early I may say. Actually, I opened up the place. I was physically the only customer in the entire place. I guess people aren't eating out at 7AM these days. I ordered the french connection, which was croissant french toast. It was 2 croissants, split in half, and made into french toast. Really quite decadent. Served with maple syrup or a fruit compote, and I just went with the syrup. It was incredibly sweet, but just what I needed. Service was good, as I had the server all to myself. I don't actually think she was a server. I think she worked in the kitchen, but she waited on me anyway. She was incredibly nice. And look at this horribly cheesy bathroom.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

We Have Wawa...

And Portland has Plaid Pantry. That's so pacific northwest of them.


More Hits of Yogurt

I told you I was going to get my yogurt fix while I was here. I ended up at Pop Culture in the Pearl randomly driving around.
Compared to Skinnidip, this place was ghetto. I got blueberries and mandarin oranges. Come on, mandarin oranges from a can! But their other fresh fruit choices were terrible. It was good, but not as good as Skinnidip. The Skinnidip yogurt itself was just better. This yogurt didn't taste as fresh. The place was empty when I was there. Perhaps that was a sign.

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What Else...

Saltwater Taffy! Yeah, it was all over Cannon Beach. And I did not partake. After all, there's pretty darn good taffy on the east coast.
Does this look familiar? Yes, the Goonies! Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock. That's enough 80's movie trivia for the day.


Seaside Lunch

Since I was so close to the ocean, I drove out to Cannon Beach, on Oregon's coast. How did I pick this place? It was random. Portland is super close to the ocean, it only took maybe an hour and 15 minutes. Real close, I swear.
It's one of those cute little adorable coastal towns, with cutesy shops and restaurants. Tons of artists, candy stores, etc. I stopped in Ecola Seafoods for a little lunch. Too bad the place sounds so much like killer bacteria.They sell seafood for you to take home, and also dine-in food. They even have their own tuna. I got a bowl of clam chowder and a shrimp salad. This shrimp salad was pretty sorry ass. It was bagged salad with probably defrosted baby shrimp on top. The clam chowder was much better. But still not great. I guess food doesn't have to be that great when you just have tourists coming in and out. Hopefully their seafood to go is better. I think they actually catch their own fish. It's cafeteria style here, so pick up your food and find a spot.

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Waterfall Breakfast

Well good morning! Would you like a waterfall to go along with your pastry and hot chocolate? Why yes I would!


Friday, September 26, 2008

Frozen Yogurt Fix

I also got my frozen yogurt fix on while I was here. There aren't too many, but there are more in Portland than in Philadelphia. The below is from Skinnidip in the Pearl. I got kiwi, mango, and raspberries on plain yogurt. Man, I wolfed this thing down like I was starving. Yes, it was great.

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Portland Quirks

Portland is a fairly quirky town. Something they have that is great though, are swarms of food trucks. They are dispersed, but in a few parking lots, it's like an oudoor international food court. You can pretty much get anything. If I lived in Portland, I'd be here every day for lunch.
So in the pacific northwest, they're crazy about salmon. It's everywhere. I particularly liked this salmon sculpture in the corner of the building. It's above a seafood restaurant, so it's fitting.
Portland has a chinatown. It's small. The name of this building made me chuckle a bit. I wasn't sure if it was funny, or I was offended. But I like that city has a good sense of humor.


Too Much Meat

There's actually quite a number of places to eat in downtown Portland. I met up with T at Kenny & Zuke's for lunch. It's a jewish style deli, so you know, they make deli sandwiches with deli meat! The place is fairly new, very open, and bigger than you'd think a deli would be. It's bright and inviting.
The deli cobb salad, with pastrami (!), chicken, avocado, tomato, egg, and of course lettuce. Seriously folks, this pastrami was so good. So tender and not super salty.To continue with the meat theme, pastrami cheese fries. Oh my word, there's nothing healthy about this at all. Potatoes, cheese, cured meat, what's not to like? Service was super friendly. The place was completely packed for lunch. When we asked our server exactly what pastrami was, he actually knew and was happy to tell us. If you like deli meats, this is definitely the place for you.


Breakfast at Mother's

For my first full day in Portland, I had to fuel up. Heading into downtown, I happened upon Mother's, which I'd read about a little bit online. It's kind of a fancy place, but not snooty. Fresh flowers, chandeliers, velvety wallpaper and what not, but it wasn't stuffy, it just felt warm.
Yours truly sitting at the bar. Representin', wearing my green "Philthy" shirt.Ok, so what did I eat? Well, it looks absolutely disgusting in the picture, but this is supposed to be biscuits and gravy. Sausage gravy, that is. With some over hard eggs. It was tasty, not good for you (but who cares), and it was so much food I only ate 1 1/2 biscuits. Service was a bit slow, but for a weekday fairly late in the morning, there were lots of people there. Plus, the bartender asked me if I was even 21. Ha!


Drive Thru Coffee

They love them some damn coffee up in these parts. Whether it's Seattle or Portland, or anywhere in between, they're crazy about it. Not only will you see proper coffee shops everywhere, but you also see adorable little drive-up coffee spots all over the place. Some are chains, some are not, some are plain, and others, like the one below, are works of art.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Deschutes Late Night Eats

After going on an extremely long hike around Portland, we were pooped. How about a quick bite and some drinks? We decided on the Deschutes in the Pearl District. Deschutes is an Oregon brewery, home in Bend Oregon. In fact, when I visited Bend a few years back, we visited the brewery itself.
It was late, and they have a special limited late night menu. We got a couple of these thin crust pizzas. There's some stinky cheese, some nuts, and pancetta, along with those leafy greens.
I'm not into stinky cheese, so for me, I had this giant soft pretzel. It came with a cheese sauce and mustard. On this nice but fairly brisk night, it was nice to eat something hearty and warm. We sat outside, and we had dogs with us. When outside, Portland is very dog friendly.
I also had this delicious beer. You can get little glasses, and that's all I wanted, but of course, I picked out this Wit beer, and it only came in this giant anniversary bottle. Two people can easily drink this. But it was delicious. And the best part? $5.
So the actual restaurant itself is ginormous on the inside. It's all woodsy and cabin like. Huge timber beams and posts everywhere. But despite the lodge like feel, the bathrooms are all modern and sleek. These sinks were awesome.


Dragonfish Happy Hour

After driving through Mount Rainier, a much better park than Olympic, I made my way south to Portland, Oregon. Once I got there, I went to a happy hour at Dragonfish Asian Cafe. Located downtown, it's a pan asian joint. They have a sushi happy hour every day, twice a day.
Salmon katsu. What's that? Salmon with panko breadcrums, deep fried, or maybe pan fried.
Hoisin BBQ ribs.
Caramel ginger chicken. Good, but there was hot ass mustard on the bottom of the plate. It damn near burned my nose off. And also big chunks of ginger. Man, they need to warn you about that stuff. But otherwise, a nice dish.
I also had an extremely strong drink that came in a coconut cup. So so strong I tell you. And also a spicy tuna roll and a california roll. This california roll was unlike any california roll I've ever had in my life. Conclusion? Sushi is different in the pacific northwest. The sushi here wasn't that special. But the drinks make up for it. And it's pretty cheap during the happy hour.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Terrible National Park Eats

I spent the day driving around on the Olympic peninsula, home of Olympic National Park. Ok, so I didn't have the best day... for so many different reasons. Olympic is nice, but man, I've never been to a national park that was not enclosed before. It was just not visitor friendly and you have to drive in and out, and not to mention lack of signage. Within the park, there's essentially nothing to eat. So be forewarned, eat before you start driving all up in it, or bring food with you. This Hard Rain Cafe place, right on the outskirts of one of the entrances of the park, did have some hot food. So I ordered a burger. It was gross. But since I was absolutely starving, I ate this "meat" patty anyway. Seriously folks, it had tons of potential. The roll was big and great. But what passed as meat wasn't really meat. It was a thin imitation of real food. Do you remember food from school days? The "grade D but edible" stuff they would feed you in the school cafeteria? Well, this meat was worse than that. Something that you'll see a lot of in the Seattle area, or maybe just in the pacific northwest, is teriyaki joints. So once I got off the peninsula and headed back to Tacoma, I grabbed some food in the city of Olympia. Let me tell you something about Washington state outside of the big city. There isn't much to eat. If fast food isn't your thing, the pickins are slim. That's why I ended up at Paul's Burger Teriyaki. I drove around for a good 20 minutes looking for any other options, but found zilcho. So I guess this place sells teriyaki, along with burgers. I wanted tons of food, so I went with the shrimp and chicken combo. The teriyaki sauce was way too sweet. It was basically precooked meat, and then they threw uber sweet sauce on top. The shrimp was weird too. Cold. But the chicken wasn't bad, even if the sauce was way too sweet. Rice good, salad good, the adorable little korean people who ran the place good. I was pretty much as starving as I was earlier in the day, so I inhaled it.

Paul's Burger & Teriyaki
3959 Martin Way East
Olympia, WA


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tacoma Pho

In preparation for my national park visits, I ended up staying in Tacoma. What's in Tacoma? Not much. But it's a pretty large city south of Seattle. They even have a sports dome. They also don't have much in the way of food after 8 o'clock on a week day. I drove round and round, did some research on the internet, but didn't really find anything. So I just drove around.
So this is how I ended up at Pho Tai. It had a big "grand opening" sign on it. I thought why not. The place is swanky, and much fancier than your typical pho joint. They serve typical pho place fare, pho, bun, rice plates, etc. Here's my bowl of brisket pho. Not the best, but not terrible either. Completely mediocre. But plenty of food and really quite cheap. And I was hungry, hungry, hungry, and so I wolfed it down. The pacific northwest in September. Really, it's pho weather. But it's probably pho weather every day up there.

Service was friendly. The food came out fairly fast, but not as fast as places back home. I think they're a Seattle area chain. Oh, and it's run by Koreans. How could I tell? Some of the prices and menu items were written over by hand, and I totally saw that it's korean handwriting. Believe me, I know. So eating at nighttime in Tacoma, it's definitely an option.

Pho Tai Tacoma
3814 Pacific Ave
Tacoma, WA


Denny's? Really?

Yes, seriously, Denny's. Looka here, when you're driving around SEATAC, there's pretty much nothing to eat. And I mean nothing! We just needed a snack.
A with her chocolate shake.
Denny's hash brown. Don't any of you poo-poo this. I love me some denny's hash browns.
I also got the caramel apple crisp a la mode. I was wavering between this and cheesecake and our super friendly server recommended this. Dude, it was so good. And now, I promise not to go to a Denny's again for another 5 years.


Puerto Rican Fried Fest

For my last day in Seattle proper, we explored the Ballard neighborhood. After checking out one cute ass store after another, we got some lunch at La Isla, a puerto rican restaurant. I've eaten all kinds of ethnic foods, but I've never actually eaten puerto rican food before. So this was a first.
The place is pretty small, and the tables are packed quite close together. There is also outdoor seating. Everything is bright and colorful with ethnic art all over the place. We got there fairly early, and it was pretty much empty, but it started filling up quickly.
We got the plato de aperitivo, which was a sampler of their appetizers. We picked ours with shrimp empanada, veggie alcapurria, bacalaito, and tostones. The shrimp empanada kicked ass. I really loved it. The alcapurria was pretty good too. The bacalaito I did not care for. It's a cod fritter, and to me, it just seemed like fried hard fish. The tostones were good too, but fairly plain.
For our main dishes, we both ended up getting empanada lunch specials. A got the papa empanada, which is made with a potato filling. She got plain rice.
I got the ground beef empanada, which was good, but nothing exciting. I preferred the shrimp one. I got mine with their rice and beans, which was quite amazing. And the sauce accompanying the empanadas is good too. But really, did I need so much?
Service was good, prices were quite reasonable. Although perhaps everything was a bit too deep fried for me, it was a fun introduction to puerto rican food. I would definitely try it again, but perhaps I'll venture into the non fried category.