By car, Missoula, Montana is eight hours from Portland. It’s a nice drive, full of mountain ranges, vast open spaces, and desert tumbleweeds. In March, my mom and I made the eight-hour trip to visit uncle Geno, and his wife, Pam.

I’ve always loved a good country bar. They were a dime a dozen in Wisconsin, but in Portland it’s harder than you’d think to find a casual, no frills, down-and-dirty, bar. Or saloon, as they apparently call them in Montana.  

The Oxford Saloon is place where you could spend all night heavily drinking cheap beer AND where you want to find yourself after said night. We came for breakfast. The countertop seating, canned corned beef, and ornery employees worked in perfect harmony. 

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They ended up losing our order, but that allowed us just enough time to have one more bloody.

Saloon stop #2 was just outside of Missoula, in Lolo, MT. If you look up “country bar” in the dictionary, you’ll likely see a photo of The Jack Saloon.

To get there you drive down an unmarked dirt road for nearly fifteen minutes. Everything in the bar, including the bar itself, is constructed from a massive log. The drinks were cheap, the bartenders were country girls to the core, and they had shake-a-day. Enough said.

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If you find yourself in Missoula, I’d recommend a saloon stop or two. A local bar is always a great way to navigate a new city. And Missoula is no exception.

Posted
AuthorMolly Streuli

Sometimes really delicious food is created by accident, or rather, by personal obligation. Take this kimcheese sammie. I used two semi-freezer-burned pieces of bread (one was the butt of the loaf), the last bits from a jar of expired kimchi, the last egg in the carton, sliced cheddar, and some wilted cilantro.  None of the ingredients sounded appetizing on their own, but by combining them a super tasty sandwich arose. And perfectly edible food was saved and enjoyed.

Americans throw away $165 billion in food every year. Although this sandwich means nothing in the larger scheme of things, it's a step in the right direction. 

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Posted
AuthorMolly Streuli

You truly are something to savor.
When I think of you I simply grin.    
From your texture to your delicious flavor,
You a make me forget gluttony’s a sin.

You start with a crunchy base,
And then comes the best part.
CHEESE. Uppercase. 
So ooey, so gooey, so dear to my heart.

Next up is meat and beans, 
And why not add a little guac?
I think it’s time to unbutton my jeans,
And maybe take a little walk.

You’re finished off with cilantro and sour cream.
Pretty enough to be in a magazine.

This is my ode to nachos. The world’s perfect food.  

Nachos have everything I’m after in a dish: crunch, spice, salt, and fat, balanced with a dash of fresh. I could eat nachos daily, but, luckily for my waistline, I do not. 

To celebrate this heavenly food, my mom, sister and I embarked on a quest to eat three very different nacho dishes. From traditionally tasty to strangely satisfying. 

We started at Expatriate and ordered the elusive (served only from 5-6pm, after 10pm and for weekend brunch) Expatriate Nacho ($14). 

Base | Fried Wonton Chips
Cheese | Thai Chili Cheese
Protein | Spicy Lemongrass Beef
Veg | Herbs
Sauce | Crema, Kaffir Lime + Tomato Salsa

These are Daddy Warbucks rich. Deep-fried wontons topped with beef and chili cheese. Woof. But in the best way. A total Tex-Mex Asian fusion flavor explosion.

Score: 8/10

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Our next stop was just down the road to La Taq. This is one of my favorite places to eat and drink in Portland so Imma be a bit biased. We opted for Nachos without brisket ($5, $7 with brisket). 

Base | House-Made Tortilla Chips
Cheese | So much melted cheddar
Protein | Refried Pinto Beans (option to add brisket from next door’s Podnah’s Pit)
Veg | Pico de Gallo, Sliced Jalapenos
Sauce | Sour Cream 

The day I find nachos better than La Taq nachos will be a very, very good day. They’re a single layer of chips, each chip topped with copious amounts of cheese and beans. Most nachos leave you with a big cluster of topping-less chips in the center. Not La Taq nachos.

Score: 10/10

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For our last stop of the night, we waddled our way to the car and drove to Boxer Ramen on Alberta St. for their Okonomiyaki Tots ($7).

Base | Tater Tots
Cheese | N/A
Protein | Bonito Flakes
Veg | Dried Seaweed, Togarashi (Chili Pepper)
Sauce | Creamy Spicy Sauce, Tonkatsu Sauce (Japanese-Style BBQ Sauce)

At this point in the night we were pretty full and overloaded with sodium so it’s hard to tell how I’d feel about these on a non-nacho-crawl night. They were tasty and I especially liked the bonito fish flakes on top; almost like light, thin fish jerky. Although, what the dish really seemed to be missing was a freshness aspect. It was very heavy, salty, and fatty (sounds like the perfect hangover food, huh?). I’m curious to try them again sometime on an emptier stomach.

Score: 5/10

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Posted
AuthorMolly Streuli

This summer was so jam packed with good times, but with that came a lot of beer, a lot of cheeseburgers, and a lot sugar-laced treats. By the time September rolled around I was feeling slow and chunky. A gut flush was necessary.

I went with the Clean Program, which is now commercialized and expensive, but the general principles make sense. I didn't do all of the supplements and mixes, I just stuck to the Elimination Diet for 25 1/2 days. A gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, caffeine-free, alcohol-free diet. No oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, or bananas. No corn or nightshade vegetables. No white rice, wheat, or oats. No red meat or shellfish. No alcohol. No caffeine. No sugar. No, no, no for 25 1/2 days. 

It was definitely a challenge, especially being someone so excited and positively emotional about food <3 But I do have to say, the affects are a pretty sweet reward. In just a week I felt lighter, more agile. After three weeks I could definitely see my body transforming; nothing major, but everything felt, and feels, more toned and fresh. 

The cleanse also got me back in the kitchen more. It forced me to create new dishes and cook with unique ingredients. It also helped me improve on my smoothie game. (Which is still really not good! I just can't seem to get the proportions and consistency right.) My biggest recipe success to come out of this thing is Coconut Milk Lentils topped with black beans, sauteed greens and pomegranate seeds.

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The lentils had the texture of mashed potatoes, but with a nutty, curry twist. The greens and beans added fiber and more flavor, and the pomegranate seeds on top added just enough sweetness and a tiny crunch.

I also want give a shout out to the snacks that got me through this: dried mango and Trader Joe's Salt & Pepper Pistachios. The mango for sweet and chewy cravings. The pistachios for salty crunch. And I couldn't have done this without seltzer water for always having my back when adult beverage cravings kicked in. 

I didn't photo document everything I ate, but here's a good smattering of smoothies and lunches. 

And here is a journal of everything I consumed for 25 1/2 days. 

I love food and restaurants too much to stick to this sort of diet full time, but I absolutely want to stick with a variation of the cleanse at least 75% of the time. It'll not only keep me feeling light and active through the dreaded rainy months, but it will also make fun meals out (and in) that much more enjoyable. I think it was Socrates who once said, "If thou treats oneself on the reg, thou shall become a fat, ungrateful man." 

Posted
AuthorMolly Streuli