Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Grassa | NW Portland

Who's in the mood to carbo-load??

A Hoppy Medium

Grassa - another outpost from the geniuses behind Lardo - just opened a second location right around the corner from us, here in good ol' NW Portland. Our 'hood, as bumping as it might be, was seriously lacking a fast-casual spot with incredible food and decent beer on tap. Thanks to Grassa, that void has been filled.

Now, first things first: Grassa just opened their doors here in NW, so this isn't a review. I just want to share my initial thoughts on this new spot here in my own neighborhood, as I've been anxiously awaiting its opening - and I think it's worth the early visit.

The concept behind Grassa, in my own words, is a casual atmosphere (you order at the counter, then seat yourself) with a high quality yet simple menu (simple meaning your options are pasta, mostly, with a few additional appetizers and sides - think salad, garlic bread, cheese plate).

Barley Brown's Hand Truck Pale Ale | A Hoppy Medium

Z and I dined there last Friday night, and we both ordered a Barley Brown's Hand Truck Pale Ale to start. (It's a solid, local pale ale). To start, we also had the surprisingly impressive Cheese Board ($8) served with a generous amount of roasted garlic, grilled bread, oil-cured tomatoes, and the most decadent Cambozola cheese.

Cheese Board at Grassa in NW Portland, OR | A Hoppy Medium

We also opted for the house Garlic Bread ($3), which had odd yet welcome notes of orange zest in each bite. We eagerly heaped the creamy cheese, sweet roasted garlic, etc. on each crusty piece of bread, getting a bit too full too fast - but calories don't count on Fridays, amiright?

For our entrees, we each got one of the two vegetarian pasta dishes on the menu (sadly, Grassa doesn't seem to modify meat dishes for vegetarians - even if the request is simply "no pancetta"). I got the Spaghetti 'Aglio Olio' ($8), tossed with garlic, chile flake,  olive oil, Grana, and breadcrumbs.

Spaghetti Aglio Olio at Grassa in NW Portland, OR | A Hoppy Medium

Z got the Cacio e Pepe ($9), made with truffle butter, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and Grana.

Cacio e Pepe at Grassa in NW Portland, OR | A Hoppy Medium

While both dishes were quite simple, the flavors were spot-on, and the pasta texture was perfectly toothsome. For the prices, the serving sizes were quite huge - we both went home with half of our dishes as leftovers (the bread and cheese beforehand may have helped with that, though).

I'm definitely excited to make a return visit to this new Grassa location, despite how dangerous its proximity to me will be for my waistline.

Have you checked out the new Grassa yet? 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Baked Falafel Bowls with Tahini Sauce {Vegan}

Baked Falafel Bowls with Tahini Sauce {Vegan} | A Hoppy Medium

I'm not usually a fan of having the same dinner two nights in a row, so when I do, you know the dish has got to be good.

And these Baked Falafel Bowls with Tahini Sauce was one such dish I threw down my gullet in two consecutive nights.

Vegan Baked Falafel | A Hoppy Medium

Flavorful, crispy-on-the-outside falafel mixed with your choice of vegetables, a grain, homemade pickles (if you are so [smartly] inclined), and a super easy, homemade tahini sauce that will make the sesame angels sing.

Oh, and no matter which way you prepare this versatile dish, just be sure it's vibrant and eat-with-your-eyes-first-approved.

Got me? Good. :)

Baked Falafel Bowls with Tahini Sauce
Yields: 3 servings
-2 cups fresh parsley, roughly chopped
-3 large cloves garlic, peeled
-Juice of 1 lemon
-1/4 cup raw walnuts
-1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
-Pinch of cayenne (optional)
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-Generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Tahini Sauce:
Adapted slightly from Minimalist Baker
-1/4 cup tahini
-1/2 tablespoon good maple syrup
-Juice of 1/2 a lemon
-3 tablespoons hot water to thin

1.) Add parsley, garlic, lemon juice, walnuts, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, and black pepper to a food processor and mix to combine. Add chickpeas and olive oil, and pulse until incorporated and mostly smooth (some leftover chunks are A-OK).
2.) Transfer chickpea mixture to a mixing bowl. Stir to ensure everything is well combined. Using your hands, form mixture into 9 small patties, roughly 1/2-inch thick.
3.) Place falafel onto a non-stick baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes (to help them firm up). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
4.) Once oven is preheated, bake falafel for 30-40 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown on each side - flipping once halfway through.
5.) While falafel cooks, prepare tahini sauce by whisking all of the above ingredients together (except water) in a small bowl. Add up to 3 tablespoons hot water until a pourable sauce is formed. Place in fridge, covered, until ready to use.

*For making these into a bowl, I simply plated the three falafel (per serving) with a handful each of arugula, sliced grape tomatoes, leftover pickled vegetables, and about 1/2 cup prepared rice. I then drizzled everything with the tahini sauce. However, the vegetables and toppings are completely versatile, so feel free to throw in whatever vegetables you have on-hand!

*Also: the falafel can dry up the longer they cook, and become crumbly. Definitely watch them closer to the 30-minute mark - if they're golden brown on each side, they can come out and be devoured.

Baked Falafel Bowls with Tahini Sauce {Vegan} | A Hoppy Medium

Um, the best part about these bowls? It was just barely 90 degrees here in Portland when I threw them together. Despite having the oven on for the falafel, being able to throw everything else ready to go into bowls was perfect for such a hot evening. (Tip to you and me: Make the falafel ahead of time, during the cooler hours, and dinner will be even easier/less sweaty).

What's your favorite everything-served-in-one-bowl dinner? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Current Obsessions II

We are on day two of 85+ degrees and sunshine here in Portland. After a "winter" of straight rain, all of this heat and sun has me excited for allofthethings. Which means it's only fitting to do another round of My Current Obsessions!

Happy Hour

Happy Hour in Portland, OR | A Hoppy Medium

We don't have this magnificent creation back home in Massachusetts (at least, there are no deals on alcohol back there). Here in Portland, however, happy hour is just about everywhere, and let me tell you - it's a dangerous thing now that the sun and warm weather are consistently here. There really is nothing better than ending a work day in the sunshine, on a patio, drinking a $2.50 beer. (Sorry, waistline).

Stitch Fix
Ok, Stitch Fix has always been an obsession of mine since i discovered it about a year or so ago. I've never been one to like shopping for myself when it comes to clothes, so I love how Stitch Fix does all of the work for me. Stitch Fix also sends me clothes I'd never think to try on in the store, and I typically love three or four out of the five things they send me every few months! It really is a great service. (Not familiar with Stitch Fix? Check out what it's all about here).


Brunch at Meriwether's Restaurant, Portland, OR | A Hoppy Medium

This is nothing new for those who know me, but ever since moving to Portland, I've become even more obsessed with this leisurely weekend meal. We've had some great brunches in Portland so far, but we love making it at home sometimes, too. There's just something about waking up later than usual, being able to drink before noon, and diving into a plate of eggs/home fries/toast/etc. before enjoying a work-free day that I just love.

Sunday Night TV

Source: http://kotaku.com/

I am forever grateful that the majority of my favorite shows air on Sunday evening. When Sunday night comes around, all I want to do is curl up on the couch, pop open a delicious beer, and do nothing but watch TV. And this time of year, our Sunday night line-up is hoppin'. House of Lies just started last week, and Game of Thrones as well as Silicon Valley both return this Sunday. Talk about ending the weekend on a high note!

What are you currently obsessed with? 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Beer Friday: Parabola 2016 by Firestone Walker

On most Fridays, I'll share a beer I particularly enjoy, and think you might as well. This series will feature beers from all over the U.S. (and when we're lucky, the world). Cheers! 

Parabola 2016 by Firestone Walker | A Hoppy Medium

OK, I get it: Spring's here, summer's coming, and stouts are so last winter. But, that is so not the case. Stouts gets a bad rap for being seasonal brews - but they're available year-round for a reason, my friends.

Enter this newly released Parabola from Firestone Walker. Parabola comes out once a year, and like many stouts, it's best if aged for a bit (6 months-1 year, I'd say) before consuming. However, it's also great right off the shelves, which is how we enjoyed this year's concoction.

What: Parabola 2016 by Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, California

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

 13.1% (seriously)

Tasting Notes: Parabola is aged for a year in a blend of bourbon barrels - including Elijah Craig, Four Roses, Pappy Van Winkle, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace - giving it a boozy, bourbon flavor that's a little extra apparent in this new bottle (again, aging should help mellow this out a teeny bit). The rich, bitter chocolate and sweet vanilla notes help to cut the alcohol nicely, while the mouthfeel is wonderfully silky - albeit a bit thin.

Pairing Suggestion: This beer is hefty, so it really doesn't need to be paired with anything. However, given the ABV, I'd highly recommend having a satiating snack or meal before sipping on it. ;)

Where Can I Find It? Parabola bottles are usually easy to find, but it's a seasonal release, so I wouldn't wait too long to try and snag a bottle. Drafts are also available from time to time at select bars, but they are much more limited. To see where you can find a bottle near you, check out Firestone's beer finder

Do you drink stouts year-round? Or are you more of a seasonal stout drinker? 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Five years ago, if you told me I'd be obsessed today with pickling allthethings, I'd tell you you're crazy.

I've always loved pickled cucumbers, but pickled...well, ANYTHING else? Gross.

I'm not exactly sure where the transformation happened, but all I know is somewhere along the way, I became the opposite of my old I-hate-anything-besides-pickled-cucumbers self. And now: enter my latest obsession.

Quick Pickled Vegetables | A Hoppy Medium

Z and I vowed last week to experiment with pickling more things at home (we've only dabbled in this before), and I'm happy to say, our first big batch of pickled goodness turned out awesome. Oh, and the whole process is super freakin' easy.

Here's how to make bomb dot com [and quick] pickled vegetables.

Quick Pickled Vegetables | A Hoppy Medium

Quick Pickled Vegetables
Yields: About 1.5 Liters of pickles
-Your choice of vegetables - we used 1 bunch of radishes, sliced thinly; 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into coins; 1 jalapeno, sliced; 1 bunch asparagus, fibrous parts removed and stalks cut in half, just so they fit in my container; 1/2 yellow onion, sliced. (This amount of vegetables was just about perfect for the amount of vinegar, etc. below).
-2 cups water
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar*
-1 1/2 cups lite rice vinegar
-3 tablespoons salt
-3 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly lengthwise
-2 tablespoons dill weed

*Note: I only used the rice vinegar because I ran out of white wine vinegar. The rice vinegar made our pickles a bit sweeter, which we actually liked, especially because of the jalapeno. But, if you'd rather have a less sweet pickle, use 3 cups white wine vinegar.

1.) Place all of your prepped vegetables in jars or containers with tight-fitting lids (lids can go on later). We put the asparagus and onion in one container; the remaining vegetables in the other, but you can mix it up however you wish!
2.) In a pot, mix together water, sugar, vinegars, salt, garlic, and dill weed. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, pour the hot liquid evenly over the prepped vegetables. (If you're using plastic containers like I did, place your prepped veggies in a heat-friendly bowl first, so the boiling liquid doesn't melt your container). Let the vegetables come to room temperature, then place in the fridge with lids tightly on. Your pickles should be ready to go within 24-48 hours, and will stay in the fridge for several weeks

Quick Pickled Vegetables | A Hoppy Medium

So far, we've enjoyed the pickled radishes and carrots on Spicy Seitan Tacos, and plan to use them on a cheese board this weekend. The pickled asparagus? That's going into homemade Bloody Marys on Saturday morning!

But really...pickled vegetables are so damn versatile. Dress up sandwiches, burgers, nachos, salads, etc. (I could go on forever). Or, do like I've done all morning and just pop those tasty suckers in your mouth, all by their lonesome. The possibilities are endless, people.

What's your favorite pickled vegetable/fruit/ingredient? Our next adventure is to pickle grapes!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Chile-Garlic Tofu

Spicy chile sauce poured over crispy tofu, with plenty of garlic to liven the palate party. That's what we're talking about today, folks.

Chile-Garlic Tofu | A Hoppy Medium

Real talk: When tofu is prepared incorrectly, it can be...well, bland. Which is why I almost always marinate and/or season my tofu well before I get cookin'.

In this recipe, tofu is smothered in a spicy, garlic-y, delectable sauce before being pan-fried and smothered some more in that same dang addictive sauce - ensuring each bite is infused with the utmost flavor. 

...Did I mention I love this sauce?

Chile-Garlic Tofu
Yields: 2 servings
-14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained
-2 cloves garlic, minced 
-3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
-2 tablespoons Sriracha
-4 tablespoons honey
-3 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

1.) Using a tofu press (or a heavy pot), press tofu to extract most of its excess liquid, about 20-30 minutes. (This will also help the tofu crisp up in the pan!).
2.) In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sautee for about 30 to 60 seconds, or until softened and fragrant. Set aside.
3.) In a small bowl, whisk together the Sriracha, honey, soy sauce, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. 
4.) Cut pressed tofu into half inch-thick pieces. Pour half of the chile sauce over the pieces, ensuring each tofu "steak" is well-coated. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
5.) After 30 minutes, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add tofu slices and cook for about five minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Serve tofu slices with remaining [addictive] sauce poured over them.

Chile-Garlic Tofu | A Hoppy Medium

Served alongside some broccolini (with extra garlic, of course), this ended up being a super flavorful, healthy, and simple weeknight dinner.

Chile-Garlic Tofu | A Hoppy Medium

Do you always marinate and/or season your tofu before cooking?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Beer Friday: Juice Box by Great Notion Brewing

On most Fridays, I'll share a beer I particularly enjoy, and think you might as well. This series will feature beers from all over the U.S. (and when we're lucky, the world). Cheers! 

Juice Box by Great Notion Brewing | A Hoppy Medium

When Z and I first moved to Portland from the East Coast, we immediately missed our juicy, super fresh IPAs. Tree House and Trillium were our go-tos back home, and the IPAs here in the Pacific Northwest just weren't cutting it (yet...).

Enter: Juice Box by Great Notion Brewing, one of the newest breweries to grace Portland with their brewed magic. (Great Notion also makes an equally juicy beer called Juice Jr., which has a little lower ABV than this here powerhouse).

Here's why this IPA can quench your thirst - and give you a buzz at the same time:

What: Juice Box by Great Notion Brewing, Portland, OR

Style: Double IPA


Tasting Notes: So many hops (Juice Box is brewed with over four pounds of hops per barrel) are nicely balanced by the juicy, fruity flavors in each sip - think peaches, mango, apricots, and a teeny bit of citrus. For a double IPA, this brew goes down a little too easy - it honestly tastes like [hoppy] juice!

Pairing Suggestion: Breakfast, obviously - when's a better time for juice? But since an 8.2% beer first thing in the morning can really derail your day, may I also suggest pairing this with fish tacos, or a bomb egg sandwich (which can be had for lunch or dinner, not just breakfast!).

Where Can I Find It? At the brewery only, folks. It's almost always available on tap, and for crowlers to-go, if there's enough left on that day. The taproom's a great casual spot, with food on the premises to boot. (I haven't eaten there yet, but the food always smells delicious).

What have you been sipping on lately? Any beer recommendations I should try?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Oregon's Wine Country

A quick, 45-minute drive from Portland yields the most incredible views (on a clear day) and some very tasty wine.

Penner-Ash Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Oregon | A Hoppy Medium
View from Penner-Ash Vineyard.

Last Saturday, our friend Sam drove us out to wine country - Dundee and Newberg, to be exact - and we did nothing but bask in the long-awaited sunshine and sip on some damn good vino.

Winderlea Vineyard, Oregon | A Hoppy Medium
View from Winderlea Vineyard.

Our day trip brought us to three wineries and one highly-rated restaurant, all of which are worth checking out if you should find yourself in this spectacular nook of Oregon.

Argyle Winery, Oregon | A Hoppy Medium
Argyle Winery.

First stop: Argyle Winery

Argyle Winery, Oregon | A Hoppy Medium

Argyle's gorgeous new digs are borderline breathtaking. The indoor atmosphere screams class without being pretentious, and the floor-to-ceiling windows don't make you feel like you're inside at all. Being that this particular day was [finally!] sunny and warm, we opted to sit outside on their patio and sip on their sparkling "Pop Flight" (a perfect choice considering it was 11 a.m.). The flight was a mere $15 for three pours, but all of ours were free thanks to Sam's membership in their Wine Club. After the tasting, we all left with bottles of their 2011 Black Brut, with one coming in mighty handy during lunchtime (more on that later).

Second stop: Penner-Ash Vineyard

Penner-Ash Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Oregon | A Hoppy Medium

Holy views! Penner-Ash is set atop a high hill, boasting incredible views of the countryside. We joyfully sipped through our tastings, propped up in Adirondack chairs overlooking the sights (the chairs even had nooks for our wine glasses - genius). To be honest, the wine here was the least impressive of the day, but I still enjoyed sipping their pinot noirs while soaking in that breathtaking view.

Penner-Ash Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Oregon | A Hoppy Medium

Third stop - lunch! Red Hills Market
Great sandwiches, incredible fries, wines and beer galore to purchase or consume on-site (with the option of also B.Y.O.B.'ing for a $10 corkage fee) - this place is the spot to go for a casual lunch between wineries. Despite the long line, we quickly ordered, snagged a table outside, popped a bottle of that Argyle Black Brut, and indulged in one heck of a weekend lunch. I noshed on the RHM Veggie sandwich ($9), which consisted of house pesto, pickled seasonal vegetables, local greens, and Briar Rose Chevré. For the table, we split the Wood-Fired Jojo’s ($6), seasoned hand-cut fries served with chunky Bleu cheese dressing.

Fourth stop: Winderlea Vineyard & Winery

Winderlea Vineyard, Oregon | A Hoppy Medium

Incredible views everywhere you look, a modern and sleek design, AND amazing pinot noir to boot? That's Winderlea. This was our entire group's favorite stop of the day, and I am still regretting not buying a bottle to take home. We all, again, did a tasting (the way to go in wine country!), but the owner also brought us out an extra pour of another pinot noir, because he's just a generous guy like that. I could have easily hung out on their back deck all day, taking in the views and sipping on that fruity, flavorful pinot.

Winderlea Vineyard, Oregon | A Hoppy Medium

While I love Napa Valley for all that it is, I am psyched to have a little slice of my own wine country heaven a short drive from Portland. The prices, views, and wines themselves are worth the short trip. Z and I already have a return trip in the works!

For the local readers, have you been to Oregon's wine country before? If yes, what are some of your favorite stops?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Homemade Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus

Homemade Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus | A Hoppy Medium

Hummus? Humus? Houmous?

No matter how you spell the stuff, it's delicious.

I love making hummus - it's easy, it's affordable, and it's super versatile. When I want a straight-up version, I almost always make Ina Garten's recipe, and I actually use a variation of hers when I want to add a little something extra to the mix - such as jalapeno and cilantro.

Ina's recipe makes an addictively smooth and incredibly creamy hummus, and the texture really can't be beat. Throw in some spicy jalapenos and fresh cilantro, and you have yourself one heck of an appetizer (that took a whopping five minutes to make).

Grab a pita chip (and a beer), and let's get scoopin'!

Homemade Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus | A Hoppy Medium

Homemade Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus
Yields: About 3 cups 
-1 15-ounce can chickpeas, liquid reserved
-1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped (or, 2 tablespoons pickled jalapenos)
-3 tablespoons tahini
-2 large garlic cloves, peeled
-Juice of 1 lemon
-1/2 cup fresh cilantro
-2 tablespoons liquid from the chickpeas
-Ground cumin
-Salt and black pepper, to taste

1.) Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve cold or at room temperature with pita chips or fresh pita and/or crudites.

*Fresh hummus will last in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. But don't worry: this won't last that long.

Homemade Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus | A Hoppy Medium

In this hummus, the nuttiness from the tahini and chickpeas, the citrus from the lemon, and the brightness from the cilantro all help complement the spicy jalapeno beautifully. Reserving some of the chickpea liquid is also key in making your hummus wonderfully smooth and creamy.

How do you spell hummus?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Beer Friday: Morph by Night Shift Brewing

 On most Fridays, I'll share a beer I particularly enjoy, and think you might as well. This series will feature beers from all over the U.S. (and when we're lucky, the world). Cheers! 

Morph by Night Shift Brewing | A Hoppy Medium

Ah, Night Shift. How I miss thee! I remember when these guys first started out - just a few short years ago - and now they're killing it at their large, fun-to-hang-out-at brewery in Everett, Massachusetts. It's so great to see how much they've grown, and how much good beer they're still churning out.

One of my favorites from Night Shift, however, is their Morph IPA. Morph is their rotating IPA series, which means each batch is always a little different - but thankfully not too different from what makes Morph so delicious in the first place.

So, East Coast friends (and those who have East Coast hookups who will send them tasty beer), read on:

What: Morph from Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Mass.

Style: American IPA

 6.2% (current batch)

Tasting Notes: Super crushable! The current recipe features Simcoe, Citra, Topaz,and Mosaic hops, which helps to give this beer a juicier, brighter, borderline citrusy flavor. Notes of orange, peach, and melon are almost always apparent in Morph, which makes this brew the perfect beer to sip on during these sunny, warmer days.

Pairing Suggestion: The hoppy profile of this beer makes it pair well with spicier dishes, such as Mexican or Indian cuisine. But I also love this alongside a bomb-dot-com sandwich - even though Morph packs a flavor punch, it's still subtle enough to pair with a lot of more complex, flavorful foods.

Where Can I Find It?
 Morph cans (and draft pours!) are usually available at Night Shift's brewery in Everett (but I would call ahead to make sure it's available that day), as well as a wide variety of stores in Massachusetts (and New England). Here's a map to see where to buy Night Shift's beers near you.