There's something especially fun about eating outdoors. Maybe it feels loosely like a picnic? Maybe because nearly all food comes from the outdoors and you've got those farm-to-table feels going on? Or maybe because in more cases than not, outdoor meals are accompanied by a cold beer or glass of vino? I'll place my bet on the latter.

This summer I had the pleasure of living with two of my great Portland friends. And with that came an excellent backyard full of foliage, a hammock, neglected garden beds, and patio furniture. One of my favorite things to do was make a simple, tasty meal and enjoy it on the patio. 

Here's a small sampling of my patio provisions. 

1. Egg, veggie scramble topped with homemade Nappa cabbage kimchi. 

2. Another egg scramble with spinach, avocado, and Hard Times Soilent Green hot sauce alongside a toasted everything bagel. 

3. Mixed greens with seared tuna, turmeric roasted cauliflower, egg, quinoa, and chia seeds.

4. Bon Appetite's berry tahini yogurt cake. Made special for 4th of July. 

5. Cheesy grits topped with shrimp and kale in a vinegary, green onion sauce. 

6. Whole wheat toast with some sort of yogurt-y sauce (or maybe it was a goat cheese spread?) and a fried egg. 

In a few short weeks I'll be moving out of this lovely home. There's a lot I'll miss, including quiet meals in the backyard. But new adventures (and patios) await! 

Posted
AuthorMolly Streuli

Is it just me, or do tacos seem to be having a moment right now? Everyday I see a new taco meme, t-shirt, or greeting card. But I guess it’s for good reason. Tacos are hella delicious. 

I’m typically a fish taco fan. The salty fresh fish, paired with the crunchy cabbage and spicy sauce. A seriously ballin’ combo.

But every once in a while I’ll mix it up and go for the classic carnitas. Although carnitas can be amazing, I’m usually left feeling like I just ate a pulled pork sandwich but subbed the bun for a tortilla. Don’t get me wrong, pulled pork doused in tangy sauce, topped with crunchy slaw or sour pickles is nothing I would turn my nose up at. It’s just that carnitas should be different than pulled pork. Carnitas should be fatty and tender. Carnitas should be seasoned with a fairly heavy hand. Carnitas should have that dark, crispy char on the edges.

Carnitas should look like this.

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Los Pepitos Locos on 42nd Ave isn’t the best Mexican restaurant in Portland. I don’t even know that I’d put it in the top ten. But goddammit, they make killer carnitas. 

Keep in mind, I ate about half the meat out of this taco before I decided to take a photo. It was served on two white corn tortillas with, what seemed like, a half pound of pork nestled inside. The toppings were simple: cilantro and raw onion. Which is really all you need when the meat is done so well.

I did add a splash of both their red and green sauces. I'd give them both a 6/10. Nothing that'll blow your mind, but still tasty. 

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To round out the meal I also ordered a fish taco. Similar to the carnitas, they didn't skimp on the protein. The fish was plentiful and well seasoned, but overall it was missing a little something. I think a zesty, cabbage crunch would do the trick.

And to wash it all down I enjoyed a tall, cool michelada. Perfectly spiced and super refreshing on a muggy Portland afternoon. 

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Los Pepitos Locos. I think I like you. 

Posted
AuthorMolly Streuli

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