All of the Gin: A Story of My Dad.

DSC_0167 copyThis is how I hook all you gin-lovers. With a super sexy photo of Hendrick’s.

Once upon a time, almost two and a half years ago, I wrote a story about how I got my cousin so drunk while wine tasting that she made a fool of herself in front of the entire family. It is one of my greatest accomplishments. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration. But I am very proud of it, and it’s a story the family will never forget.

(And before you stop reading because you think I’m a terrible person, please read that other story for some context. Because me getting her drunk was payback for her getting me so drunk I almost missed her brother’s wedding. All is fair in love and war.)

Now back to the point. I never thought I would ever one-up myself on that fun little escapade. But I DID. Because a couple of months ago, I got my Dad so drunk at a gin festival that he made a complete fool of himself. I only wish my cousins had been there to witness the glory, but that is why I am writing this blog. So they can relive it with me!

So here’s how it all went down.

In May, my parents came to visit me in Amsterdam. (For those of you new to blog, I live in Amsterdam! I had only moved a few months prior, so my parents’ visit was their first to Amsterdam and very exciting overall.) They were here for a whopping 9 days, and because my Dad had a conference in the middle of their week here, we couldn’t really take any big side trips. 9 days is a long time to vacation in the same city, so towards the end of their time here, we had already seen and done a lot. So we needed a fun family activity.

Enter: the Amsterdam Gin Festival.

DSC_0160 copyI promise that server isn’t creepy, he just happened to catch me right as I shot this photo.

For the entire week, my mom was completely on board with this plan. “The Gin Festival sounds really fun!” she said. And DUH, of course it would be fun. There would be drinking involved! Also, my mom is amazing and excited about most things that I suggest. She’s the best mom ever.

But I intentionally failed to mention it to my dad for most of the week because I feared he would not be excited. For my whole life, I have never known my dad to be into gin. He loves wine. He loves scotch. He loves cognac (ask the family about that story). But gin? Not a thing he loves, as far as I knew.

But boy was I WRONG.

My dad apparently LOVES gin. Also rum. And jenever. And vermouth.

The whole thing became dangerous very quickly.

So I don’t want to bore you with too many details, but I must set the stage here. Because, honestly, this story only gets better the more you know.

The plan began as follows: We were going to meet my friends, Bex and Luke, at the Gin Festival. We would go early (around 2pm), so we could drink in the middle of the afternoon, and then have dinner and sober up in the evening, so as not to have any hangovers. Because we are pros and know how this works.

So we headed to the ferry terminal. Because it’s Amsterdam, and sometimes you get to a gin festival via a (free!) ferry across the IJ. (It was actually really amazing. First we got on a boat. The boat ride was lovely. And then when we got off the boat, there was gin EVERYWHERE. Fucking YES.)

Bex and Luke were running a little late, so we decided to do some reconnaissance and wander around the festival a bit. There were so many stands, so it was worth taking a few laps to discover what was what.

But that’s where things went wrong. Because my father has the patience of a 5-year-old. So as soon as he saw something he liked, he had to try it. And then he saw something else. And something else. And before Bex and Luke had even arrived, my dad had tried 3 different gins. My mom and I had managed to limit ourselves to just one taste, but somehow my dad wandered off, and when he came back he was babbling about some dude from Brazil who had served him “this incredible rum, seriously you have to try it!”

Oh no.

My mom and I tried to remind him that we were going to be here for several hours, so he should probably pace himself. To which he just waved us off and wandered into the crowd again.

Once my friends arrived, things only got worse. Because of course we all got excited and wanted to try things, and then we completely lost track of my father. At one point, after probably 3 or 4 shots of alcohol in his system, he realized he should probably eat. So he tried to make us all stop drinking and come get food with him. So we went to the food trucks. And we ate. And everything was fine, for a short while.

But then the gin-tasting recommenced. And by that point, all of us were feeling a bit buzzed. But not as buzzed as Dad. I mean, just look at this goofy man:

DSC_0171 copyWhy is he holding up that juniper plant?! We will never know.

Those of you who know my dad know he’s a pretty strange guy. But somehow in spite of this, he manages to charm people. He charmed the “magical Brazilian rum man” so much that he opened a super special-edition rum just so my dad could taste it. And then, even though the gin-makers weren’t actually allowed to sell bottles at the event, he got one of the guys to sell him a bottle completely under the table. So he could take it home to America. “How else am I supposed to get it?” he said.

*Facepalm* (Although to be fair, he had a point.)

By the time we finally left, I think we’d been there for over 5 hours. Which is a long time when you’re drinking straight liquor all day. (Side note: I really love gin, actually, and this festival was DOPE. I am absolutely going back again next year.) So we hopped back on the ferry, where even more hilarity ensued.

First, let me tell you: my dad was quite drunk at this point. In fact, I’ve never seen him in such a state. He was slurring his words so thoroughly that I wasn’t sure we’d even make it home.

So his first move was to try and get Bex and Luke to come over for dinner. They respectfully declined, because they are very smart. Also, they were exhausted.

His second move was to get involved in a ridiculous conversation with an American guy on the ferry who was living in the Netherlands, but planning his wedding to his “true love” back in Kentucky. And they were going to get married this summer and she would move to the Netherlands with him. And it was a really strange story, because they had no money, but they were going to do it anyway because they were so madly in love (I think he may have been reciting a movie…). And at this point, my dad tried to give him €50. My mom and I had to forcibly prevent him from doing so. Because, c’mon dude, that shit is WEIRD. You don’t just hand out cash to strangers!

And his third move was to promptly pass out on the couch in my living room when we arrived back at my apartment. And I mean PASS OUT. He was snoring heavily. It was amazing.

Given that it was only 8pm, and I was hungry, I offered to run to the store for some dinner fixings. When I returned, my mother and I began to dine on a lovely meal of bread and cheese and salami, with a side of salad and even a glass of red wine. (Because she and I were actually not that drunk.) We kept trying to wake up Dad to get him to come eat. After swatting us away multiple times, he made an attempt, took one bite, and went back to the couch to pass out again. It was after 10pm before we could finally get him to actually eat dinner.

The entire day felt like a drunken fairytale. And then we all went to sleep.

This may seem like an anticlimactic ending, but for those of you who have met my dad, you know this entire story is completely unbelievable. I mean, I’ve hardly ever seen the man drunk, let alone slurring-trying-to-give-strangers-money-passed-out-on-the-couch drunk. It was incredible.

And Mom and I will never forget it.

And, dear cousins, if you still don’t believe me after reading this, just ask my mom. She and I still laugh about it. It was absolutely AMAZING. (And maybe let’s pretend I just recounted this story to you instead of putting it on the internet… I don’t think Dad will be very happy with me.)

 

*****

[Next time: I went to an insane festival in Ghent, Belgium. INSANE, I tell you. These Belgians are cray.]

Apparently I’m a liar.

Last time I posted, I said I’d post every Friday about the 5 new beers I tried each week.

Instead, I haven’t posted in over 2 months. Oops.

You know when you actually intend to do something, but then life kind of gets to you and bites you in the ass? And suddenly it feels like everything has gone horribly awry? Yeah. That was most of October and November.

But you know what? It’s not a big deal! All is well, and despite the fact that I’ve been horrible about sharing my stories, I’ve done a fair amount of awesome drinking over the past few months.

Right now, for instance. I’m drinking this amazing beer called Victory at Sea, by Ballast Point Brewing.

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 22.57.53First of all, it’s 10% abv. (And FYI, I’m on my 2nd one. And that’s after a 22oz of a different winter beer. So, suffice it to say, I’m drunk. #winning)

Second, the food pairings include pulled pork, mole, and chocolate cake. This beer is out to kill you…with all the most delicious things you can think of (including coffee, which is IN the beer).

So, of course, I love this beer. It feels like a battle, tastes like magic, and makes me feel sooooo gooooooooood.

I could babble on about that, but I could also tell you about this other cool thing I did…which involved being in Banff National Park (whoa) and drinking the best black pilsner I’ve ever had. To be fair, I wasn’t entirely aware black pilsner was a thing. But I knew about black lagers and black IPAs, and I love both of those things. And this black pilsner. Hell. It fucking blew me away.

In fact, it blew me away so much that I returned to the brewery again just one day later and bought two bottles to bring home with me. (Side note: Canadian border patrol thinks I’m some sort of loony because I travel alone so much. So every time I lie about how much beer is in my vehicle/luggage, I’m always a tad concerned that they’ll search me and discover I’m lying, and then I’ll get the real Canadian border treatment. Which is probably really boring.)

But before I even got to border patrol, there was yet another awesome drinking experience to be had!

After nearly dying* in the mountains driving from Banff to Vancouver, I made it to my hotel (yes, HOTEL, not hostel, which is where I’d been in Banff). So I got my OWN ROOM with a BIG BED and it was so fucking magical. I got in around 6pm and was so spent from the 9-hour driving trauma that I almost just went to sleep immediately.

But NO. I’m in fucking Vancouver for one night, I have to do SOMETHING at least.

So I went out to the best cocktail bar in the city.

L’Abbatoir is one of the many cocktail bars that is recommended by the “interwebs” when you’re in Vancouver. But it’s the only one where the mixologist is actually mentioned by name in articles. That’s the sign, folks. If they actually name their mixologist, he/she must be really good.

So I went there. And I met Sean. And Sean is, in fact, very good at making cocktails.

I was lucky enough to sit at the bar, and even luckier because Sean was training a new bartender. So not only did I get to watch him mix drinks, I got to watch him explain in detail how to do it, and why they are made a certain way. I was secretly taking notes. Because I’m a thief.

Ok, not really, I was just taking mental notes. But it was sweet! And Sean seemed super cool. Plaid shirt and beard, which is just basically the mixologist tell here in the PNW. And he was smart and had a ton of friends visiting him, and he made a goofy/adorable joke when I tried to ask him a question. All in all, I give him an A.

He did tell me where to go in Seattle (which is the question I ended up asking). He mentioned Tavern Law (he borrowed one of their recipes, as is mentioned in their menu) and Canon (amazeballs) and ZigZag. That’s the one I hadn’t been to, so I told him I’d be sure to check it out. He told me I definitely should, and if I do, I should say hi to Paul.

WIN. I have an in. New mixologist friendship is imminent.

Basically, after having 2 drinks at L’Abbatoir (both of which were magnificent) and meeting Sean (super cool and friendly) and talking to two of his friends (also cool, one of which I want to BE someday), I’ve decided I need a mixologist friend.

I mean, I also need a beer friend.

But mixologists are rad, yo!

Anyway. That’s all I got for now. I’m rather drunk. And despite my ramblings, I have yet to make a mixologist friend, so I need to do that. New years resolution: make mixologist friend. Also, beer. Yeah. All the things.

2014 was the year of ME. (As self-pronounced by myself and my roommate.)

2015 will be the year of…mixologist friend-making? I should probably think about this some more.

Yup. That’s all. Too drunk to keep talking to the internet.

 

*I wish that my “nearly dying” statement were an exaggeration, but it’s not. I actually almost died a few times on those roads. Me in a small sedan (rental) with no snow tires in the middle of a blizzard = me losing control of my vehicle more times than I’d like to count. Were it not for the fact that I a) didn’t panic and b) am a pretty good driver, I might not be here to share this story today. Special thanks to the truck driver who watched me spin out for 15 seconds, because he seemed concerned (from what I could tell in my rear-view) and I’d like to think he would have tried to save me had I gone off the edge of the cliff.

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[Next time, on Christina’s drunk adventures: I go visit my parents! And I bring them crazy-high ABV beer! And my dad inevitably gets me drunk and feeds me lots of Scotch! Yay!]

 

Fremont, Seattle: Where drinks come true.

[Part 2 of the Series Where I Catch You Up on My Drinking Doings Since December.]

Once upon a time, I went to Fremont Brewing to have a few beers and then ended up just drinking in Fremont all day long.

Hmm, that sounds oddly like a lot of my drinking excursions. This is suddenly less new and exciting than I realized.

Well, here’s the deal. Fremont is really cool and there are a lot of cool bars, so it’s sort of hard to escape. The entire thing started because I wanted to go to Fremont Brewing. I wanted to go for two reasons: 1) I hadn’t been in a while and was craving beer (like I always do) and 2) I had won a Fremont Brewing sweatshirt at some beer event in December and it was too big, so I was hoping to exchange it for one that fit me better.

I convinced myself that the second reason was the bigger reason, and then decided to bike there from Capitol Hill because it was SO NICE AND SUNNY outside. Which is not something you can say often in January in Seattle.

So I biked there, and my reward was not only a new sweatshirt, but a COLD BEER. (Duh, I just biked, like, 6 whole miles.)

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So apparently it really had been a long time since I’d visited Fremont Brewing, because they had a brand new bar space! It’s much bigger and less warehouse-y, although it was still completely packed with people when I arrived. There have cool bleacher-like seats though, so I got to perch up high and people-watch while I waited for my friend.

Once he arrived, we drank our beers and evaluated the situation. 4pm. Soooo…it’s happy hour. So, we should probably do that. I was being a lazy ass and didn’t feel like walking, but he convinced me that we should head to Westward.

No, not head westward.

Head TO Westward.

Which is apparently a new restaurant.

It’s also apparently awesome.

Commence 20 minutes of walking and me whining about having to walk. (“C’mon, I biked 6 miles today. Why should I walk anywhere??”)

Well, we finally arrived, and I must say I was more impressed than I expected to be. I mean, look:

8I8C5769_zps6f4d57c8Oh hey, I’m just that building on the left right on the water with some fire pits and a dock and all that jazz. Really, it’s not a big deal.

Yeah. Also they had oysters. And cocktails.

………………………………………………………..

That’s the sound of me being the happiest person on the planet. I mean, oysters AND cocktails?!? Are you trying to kill me with happiness??

So yeah. No regrets. I didn’t even care about having to walk a mile back, plus another half mile to get to the next place. I had eaten oysters and drank cocktails. I was at peace with everything.

Since that was just oysters and cocktails (i.e. happy hour i.e. that place is expensive and I can’t afford that shit), we had to find somewhere else for dinner. Options were discussed. We finally settled on The Sixgill because a) I’d never been there and b) it’s a beer bar.

The Sixgill is one of the many bars located in what one might call the “restaurant heart” of Fremont. I mean, good god, you can’t throw a cat without hitting some new hip food/drink establishment. And somehow they’re all “new” and “hip” even if they’ve been around for years. I don’t even understand.

The Sixgill is a cool, chill spot with 36 rotating taps and some great upscale pub fare. They also have a ton of nautical maps that you can just look at. Like, what you’d find in a map store. Because that’s cool. Right?

Whatever, I thought it was cool.

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We ordered beers and shared a few plates and I tried to convince myself I was still 100% sober. (“Seriously, I’m not drunk. I biked 6 miles, what are you suggesting?”)

^The point here is that I was, in fact, drunk. That logic isn’t even logic.

After I nearly clubbed the waiter with my camera (by accident, I swear), I figured it was time to go. Once we got outside, however, I knew I had to continue the mission. You know, the drinking mission. Or whatever. My point is, I wasn’t done drunking. Yes. Drunking.

“DESSERT!” I cried.

Holy hell. I am a monster.

So we went next door to The Barrel Thief, which is to date the strangest establishment I have ever visited. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really great. But generally you go to beer bars, whiskey bars, wine bars, and the occasional beer and whiskey bar.

But a WINE and WHISKEY bar? That shit’s weird.

Surprisingly it works, though. The place is really classy and they have a gorgeous wine and whiskey menu. I was definitely on the whiskey side of things, so I ordered a glass of scotch while my friend ordered bourbon. And we shared a shockingly delicious slice of gluten-free carrot cake.

I’d share some of my photos, but I was rather drunk and have just discovered that they’re all blurry. Oops.

Now you’re probably thinking, oh crap, did she bike home after all that?!?

Well, no.

I got a ride. With my bike in the trunk. HUZZAH!

But seriously, this was the most successful day of my life (at the moment, at least). I had biked somewhere because I’m so awesome and in shape (complete lies), then I had a lot to drink (this is true), and then someone else drove me home (also true). It was magical.

(I just tried to spell magical with a “j”. But shhhhhh don’t tell anyone.)

At any rate, dear friends, I wish upon all of YOU a magical day of drinking and biking and feeling good about yourself. Because truly, no day is better than a day without plans or agenda where you get to drink yourself silly on your own terms.

Witness – Let’s be from the South

I think I have probably mentioned this before, but brunch is kind of my favorite meal. I know that’s a super boring thing to say, because everyone says that. But it’s true. Brunch is amazing.

There is nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning, feeling lazy and unmotivated, and then deciding to start your day by consuming an overly-rich and extravagant meal at 11:30am. Which will inevitably make you sleepy again, but who gives a fuck? It’s Sunday!

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This morning I went to brunch at Witness. The bar is southern-themed and specializes in craft cocktails, which is funny because I haven’t actually gone there for evening cocktails yet… Clearly this is something I need to do.

However, I’ve now been there twice for brunch, and I might just keep doing that. It is amazing. First, they have a beautiful selection of brunch cocktails (so I haven’t totally missed out), including the Resurrection, a gin cocktail with grapefruit juice and cava. However, I’m a sucker for a good bloody mary, so I had to order the Mary Full of Grace (one of the ingredients is “salvation”).

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Cocktail bars are wonderful and all, but they often offer less-than-exciting food options. At Witness, however, that’s not the case. The food is absolutely delicious here. DELICIOUS.

This morning, I ordered the Croque’d Toad, which is half Croque Monsieur and half Toad-in-a-Hole. Basically, it is butter-soaked bread with an egg cooked inside, topped with a slice of thick-cut bacon and slathered with cheddar cheese, then topped with a second piece of butter-soaked bread and smothered with house-made Hollandaise.

Um. WHAT.

I still can’t believe I ate that. I might have a heart attack this afternoon, but I don’t really care. It was worth it.

In addition to having top-notch brunch fare, the place is really quaint! It kind of feels like the inside of a small southern church, with bench seating, fake stained-glass windows, and a hat and coat rack by the door. The bar is long and wooden, relatively simple, and covered with jars of fresh fruit and a variety of other cocktail garnishes.

1213_witness

Their dinner menu is also rather impressive, sort of small-plates style and featuring a variety of mouthwatering dishes, including Dixie Poutine, Oysters Rockefeller, Shrimp and Grits, and of course, Beignets. My southern-loving tummy is just rumbling with joy at the thought.

That menu is paired with what I know to be really incredible cocktails (the owner of Witness has mixed cocktails at one of Seattle’s most popular speakeasy bars, The Knee-High Stocking Company). So it would seem that I need to go back there after dark and overindulge myself some more. Probably very soon.

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[Next up, on Christina’s Drinking Adventures: Belgianfest 2014, the Superbowl, and pretty much the best beer weekend of my life.]

Pie-baking, beer-drinking, and friend-making.

It just occurred to me that pie, beer, and friends go really well together. Like peas in a pod! Or pies in a pod? I don’t know.

Anyway, yesterday was a pretty great day. It started with yet another breakfast sandwich (gosh breakfast sandwiches are so delicious), and then I made pie!!

My friend Jonathan came over Saturday afternoon for some pie-making goodness. He, like most of my friends, knows that I am a top-notch pie baker, and he decided that I should teach him. He made an excellent decision. I love to teach people to bake things!

You may think that an excellent baker such as myself might want to keep my recipes secret, but you’d be wrong. Part of the reason I love baking so much is because I love sharing my baked treats with others. In fact, I’ve even gone as far to not even eat my goodies and just completely give them away. I’m nice like that.

So, in short, I believe in sharing the wealth. The wealth of baked deliciousness.

As per his request, we made a strawberry rhubarb pie. I didn’t get to have any because he was taking it to a league game that evening, but apparently it was a big hit (according to Jonathan, it won the day…yessss). Also it was pretty sexy-looking:

IMG951010(It kind of exploded…but whatever, you’re still jealous.)

Afterwards, I headed to The Noble Fir, a beer bar in Ballard, for their annual Fresh Hop Throwdown. During this event they pour only fresh hop beers from a variety of local and Northwest breweries, which is super fun because you can really only get fresh hop beers for a few weeks each year, usually late September through early November.

I ended up going alone, and it ended up being awesome. While there I tried 3 fantastic beers, and I made a new friend!

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The first beer I wanted to try was Fremont Brewing’s Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop, which has actually been exploding my Twitter feed for a few weeks now. But, of course, even though I arrived an hour-and-a-half after they opened, they had already blown the keg. Fail.

So instead, I went with the Mosaic Belgian from pFriem Family Brewers. I had never had a pFriem brew before, but I’ve heard a lot of good talk on the beer blogs, so figured this was a good time to check them out. This one was a Belgian Pale Ale ringing in at 5.1% abv, and it was really quite good. It was light and summery with a fantastic nose (smelled super hoppy), but the hops weren’t at all overpowering in the taste, which I have found to happen sometimes with lighter fresh hop ales. This, however, was perfect. I could have drank a lot of these.

Beer #2 was SMaSHaSS, a 6.0% abv Pale Ale from Bainbridge Island Brewing (also, that name is sooo fun to say. SMaSHaSSssssssss….) This one was ranked 4th in the pre-event professional blind tasting, so suffice it to say I had rather high expectations. And it did not disappoint. It was a really light, drinkable beer that kept delivering new flavors with each sip, from citrus to flowers to hops to wheat. It was really quite lovely.

At this point, I was sitting at the bar next to a 60-something man named Kurt, who I had been chatting with for about half an hour. He was super friendly and told me all about his college years, his recent travels to Iceland, and suggested a really old bar in the neighborhood for me to check out next time. Basically, he was one of the better bar-friends I had made in a long time. Nothing better than some beer and good conversation.

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I knew I wanted one more beer before leaving, but I wanted to mix it up, so I asked the bartender what the most unusual one on tap was. He told me they had a fresh hop Imperial Pilsner, which sounded intriguing, so I went for it. For the first time, he asked if I wanted an 8oz or 13oz (i.e. normal) pour, and of course I said 13 before realizing that the beer is 8.0% abv. Oops.

Bridgeport Brewing’s Hop Harvest was the perfect way to end my beer-drinking, friend-chatting experience that evening. It didn’t taste like any pilsner I’ve ever had, and it was really delicious. It was almost sweet, and really complicated, so I’m having a hard time describing it. But if you ever get a chance to try it, you definitely should.

So yes, I may have gotten a tad drunk, and I may have made friends with an old man. And I may have gotten overly excited about the fact that Kendall Jones, author of the Washington Beer Blog, was sitting a few tables away. But you know what else I did? I had a great time, drank some good beer, and reinforced my belief that going to bars alone is actually super awesome.

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[Next time on Christina’s drinking adventures: I’m going to Dallas?! I need to find some cowboy boots stat.]

Malaysian Meals, Montana, and Moscow Mules

Ok, so I have to start by saying that there is really nothing more satisfying as a blogger than alliteration in the title. Like, I am so proud of myself right now. Also it contains the names of three places that are completely unrelated, so you’re probably confused. Iamsoawesome.

Ok, I’ll stop bragging about my title. Sorry.

So what do these three places have in common, you may ask? Well, nothing. But on Saturday night I happened to eat Malaysian food at a bar called Montana, which specializes in Moscow Mules. How fun!

First, food. [For those simply interested in the booze, skip ahead! I swear it’s worth it.]

Kedai Makan in Capitol Hill (Seattle) is my new favorite spot to eat. I say “my favorite” way too much in life, but this time I’m serious. (Keep in mind that this is my new favorite, which means I might have a new new favorite very soon…but for now I’m not lying.)

0613-kedai-makan

The street-food spot is simply a window, which from an “authenticity” standpoint is kind of cool. (I really hate that word, but given that it’s street food it makes sense that you would eat it on the street. Or in my case, at a bar…)

ANYWAY. The food is absolutely scrumptious. There are only about 8 items on the menu, which include a few regular options and a few rotating ones. I’ve now tried the stir-fried noodles (they give you instructions on how to eat them!) and the fried rice. THE FRIED RICE IS AMAZING. It’s got a great kick to it, and is topped with a perfect over-easy egg. Like so:

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Remember that time I talked about drooling for like 4 posts in a row on my blog? Well, we might be on a run again here. Because…DROOL.

Here’s a picture of the pork ribs:

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I’m having a mouthgasm just looking at them.

Sorry I’m gross.

Not really sorry, JUST LOOK AT THAT PORK.

Ok I’ll stop now.

BUT WAIT. There’s MORE!

I must preface this next part by saying that I cannot believe I haven’t written about Montana on this blog yet. This bar is pretty much the shit. I go there all the time. Chances are I get too drunk to properly absorb the experience, leading to the terrible oversight here on my interwebs-log. BUT NOW THE TIME HAS COME.

MONTANA.

It’s not just a state. It’s a bar! (This might be a true statement in more than one way…but I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. Although the one guy I know from Montana would probably take this as a huge compliment.)

This bar is really cool for a variety of reasons, but I will list just three of them here:

  1. They don’t just allow, but encourage you to bring your Malaysian food inside to eat.
  2. They have cocktails on draft.
  3. Um…cocktails on draft???

Yeah. So there’s that.

The Moscow Mule (on draft!!!!) is really delicious. I know it sounds weird, and it sounds especially weird to me since I’m such a cocktail snob. But this stuff is really quite good.

Also they make their own ginger beer. Those Montana hippies.

I also highly recommend the Gimlet on draft. If you’ve never had a gimlet, well, it’s good here. You should try it.

MontanaBar21

Also…PICKLEBACKS.

For those who don’t know, a pickleback is god’s gift to drinking.

First, you take a shot of whiskey. (The only kind of shot you should ever take.)

Then immediately afterwards you take a shot of pickle juice.

And then you enjoy the warm and salty feeling in your chest and are forever happy.

If you think this sounds gross, well, you’re right. It sounds really gross. But it tastes absolutely delicious, and is actually a brilliant beverage because you get your drunk and your electrolytes in one fell swoop!

Boom, I just cured your hangover.

(Note: This is false. If you drink picklebacks all night you’ll probably have a really bad hangover.)

Right. Anyway.

In sum, I highly recommend both Kedai Makan and Montana to anyone visiting Seattle. Do them separately, do them together, it doesn’t really matter. As stand-alone entities they are both truly fantastic, and the fact that they happen to have a symbiotic relationship is just a bonus.

Just don’t drool into your cocktail.

…and Portland is for Pok Pok!

Aaaand over a week later I finally get to telling you about the rest of my Portland trip. I’m so on top of it.

So here’s the deal. I went to Portland for pretty much one reason: to eat and drink all of the things. A related and secondary reason was to go back to the very restaurant that had blown my mind the last time I went to Portland.

Saturday Night

Around 6:30pm on Saturday, it was clearly time to begin the evening the right way: cocktails. A very nice PDX bus took us out to Division Street, which is the new “place to be” for Portland nightlife. At least, that’s what all the fancy magazines tell you (including Food & Wine). Portlanders don’t seem to be aware of this fact, though.

At any rate, things must always be done in order. Step 1: Check in at Pok Pok. They tell you it’s a 1.5-2 hour wait. Cool. No big deal.

Step 2: Go across the street to Whiskey Soda Lounge, a cocktail bar also owned by the founder of Pok Pok, which serves lovely cocktails, has an extensive whiskey list, and offers a select menu of Pok Pok signature items.

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The best part about this deal is that a) you get to drink lots of cocktails, and b) they’ll simply call over from Pok Pok and your waitress at the bar will let you know when your table is ready. So really, there’s never any sense of “waiting” because you’re drinking the whole time and will be properly warned when it is time for dinner.

The Whiskey Soda Lounge is one of those comfortable bar spots where you can while away hours without even realizing it. There were three of us waiting for dinner, but the two-hour wait seemed hardly a blip in time. With some delicious cocktails (including unique ingredients like house-made drinking vinegars, as well as jelly beer) and a few snacks (such as deep-fried pig ear strips with vinegar dipping sauce), I hardly realized it was past 8pm when we sat down to eat.

Part of the magic of Pok Pok is the aesthetic. It is designed to feel like a shack, in some ways. There is an indoor seating area, but most of the restaurant consists of tall 2x4s holding up a bunch of plastic siding with heat lamps underneath. So it kind of feels like you’re outside the entire time.

The second awesome part about eating at Pok Pok is that they encourage sharing (i.e. they tell you that you should really do it this way, because that’s how it’s meant to be done). So between the three of us, we ordered 5 dishes, along with brown and white rice. These dishes included a duck soup, a really unusual fresh “salad”, boar collar, eggplant salad, and (of course) Pok Pok’s signature chicken wings.

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This picture is sexy, for sure. But it in no way does these wings justice. Like, I will talk about these wings for the rest of my life. No wings will ever match up. Ever. Buffalo wings are ruined forever, and I AM COMPLETELY OK WITH THAT. Because I have experienced the joy of Northern Thai wings.

For the first time, I feel that I have talked up the food more than the cocktails. (Yes, I drank a cocktail with my meal, but I didn’t even bother to tell you until now!) That’s how awesome this food is. Even drinking delicious beverages doesn’t match up to the glory.

After dinner, we hit the town! First was Cascade Brewing Barrel House, which had a number of really interesting beers on tap, particularly sour beers. It was one of those bright, sort of “shop-like” bars that didn’t quite feel intimate in the way a beer bar should. But it was great to sit around a table made out of a giant beer barrel and enjoy the pretty great 90s music.

The night ended at a McMenamins pub on the northwest side. Unfortunately I couldn’t tell you which McMenamins it was because I was a tad drunk and there are like 15 in the city of Portland. But it was great, and we closed out the bar, which is something I haven’t done since I lived in Chicago. I miss that.

Sunday AM

After a day of beer, followed by a night of cocktails, spicy food, and then more beer…well, it’s no surprise that I was a tad hungover on Sunday. But it was imperative that I power through, because there was still more to eat and drink!

First, BREAKFAST. And of course, we were going to hit up a food cart. (Brunch is a serious waste of time when you’re on vacation. Takes waaaay too long.)

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And then it happened. BRUNCH BOX. Yeah, that’s the name of the food cart we found. IT WAS PERFECT. I had a build-your-own sandwich: Texas toast with an egg, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, and pepperjack cheese. It was perfectly toasted and melty…exactly what you want when you order a breakfast sandwich.

Other options include the OMG (egg, bacon, ham, spam, and american cheese) or the Black & Bleu (sausage, bacon, bleu cheese, grilled onions, and cajun spice). Holy. Crap.

Sandwiches were inhaled rather rapidly and accompanied by some delicious Stumptown coffee (woo local coffee shops!). After some meandering through the Saturday Market (also open on Sundays) and a visit to the Chinese Garden, it was time to start drinking again.

Now, let’s be honest. I didn’t want beer at that moment, seeing as I still had a headache. But I was on vacation and I had only visited one brewery so far, so hitting up Deschutes was pretty much a requirement.

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A flight of beers (on a paddle) was a must-do. That, paired with a really rich lunch of pork belly appetizer and an absurdly cheesy grilled cheese sandwich, left me pretty much incapable of doing much else that day. With several hours left before the train home, another trip to Powell’s was in order. (Because really, when you have nowhere else to go to recover from a beer lunch, a bookstore is as good a spot as any.)

After a few hours of perusing, it was time to hit up one more beer bar for a final brew before boarding the Amtrak back to Seattle. Bailey’s Taproom offers a really high-tech beer experience, with flat-screen TV menus and super fancy cask pulls. They just happened to have Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch on tap, which is one of my favorite beers of all time, so I was a pretty happy camper.

And so concludes my Portland travels. I have no doubts that I will go back. In fact, I think I could make this a yearly thing, really…

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[Next time: Cinco de Derby! The most amazing beer-drinking holidays of the year all wrapped up in one beautiful weekend.]

P is for Portland…

First of all, I must note that this is probably the first time I have actually written about the thing I said I would write about at the end of my last post.

Second of all, I DID go to Portland last weekend, and all I got was fatter. It was awesome.

Might as well just dive in, because it will become very clear almost immediately what I spent my weekend doing.

Friday PM

Amtrak from Seattle to Portland! Ah, trains. They are wonderful. More wonderful because you can drink beers on them. Yes. Picked up some bahn mi sandwiches from the nearby International District in Seattle and enjoyed a leisurely train ride with dinner, beer, and some pretty nice scenery.

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Checked into the hotel around 9:30pm and then, of course, it was time to hit the town. An internet hunt was conducted and a decision made: Tugboat Brewing Company. It ended up being nothing like any brewing company I’ve ever visited before, but it was super cozy and they were playing jazz records. So I was pretty happy. Also I was drinking beer, so that should inform you as to my level of pleased-ness. The bartender was perhaps the most talkative and energetic bartender I had ever met, especially considering he was working alone on a Friday night. Also, his name was Linsel. Yes, like tinsel.

It was important to conserve energy for all the eating and drinking that would happen the next day. So, I did some sleeping and then…

Saturday AM

THE MOST AMAZING FARMERS MARKET THAT EVER MARKETED.

Seriously. I am considering going back to Portland just to go to this Farmer’s Market. It might actually have been the highlight of the trip. First of all, there was fresh produce for DAYS, tons of cheese (including 4 stands dedicated solely to goat cheese), incredible pate and salami, some yummy jams and jellys, and really just everything you could possibly want.

Oh wait, there’s more. FOOD VENDORS. I ate two wonderful breakfast-y things while I was there. The first was a freshly made biscuit topped with a perfectly crisped piece of fried chicken, some spicy stone-ground mustard, and fresh honey. It was fantastic.

The second thing I ate was huevos rancheros from the most delicious-smelling stand in the place. First of all, they were making fresh tortillas:

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Second, they were grilling fresh vegetables:

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And third, they put two tortillas on a plate, topped them with two perfectly cooked eggs, and then heaped on piles of fresh grilled vegetables. And then there was cheese and a variety of salsas.

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HOLY CRAP. It was incredible.

Saturday PM

At this point, it was all I could do to stop myself from trying to eat the entire city. How is food so delicious in Portland?? In order to stave off some of the cravings, I spent a good while in Powell’s Books, which is a place I should never go because I buy things there. So yes, I bought some things. Including a book on PIES! (I am sure this book will appear again here in the future.)

It being 1:30pm, it was suddenly obvious that the beer drinking had to begin. Off to Bridgeport Brewing!

I love breweries/brewpubs because it’s almost impossible to feel uncomfortable in them. Everyone is there for the same reason: to enjoy some beers, perhaps some food, and have some great conversations with friends. (At least, this is why I think most people go to brewpubs. It seems to have proved accurate so far.)

Bridgeport had an upstairs bar/lounge area with couches, so it really was the perfect way to while away the afternoon hours. The first beer I tried was an imperial red, which was really quite good and surprisingly drinkable. The second was an absolutely fantastic barleywine, which makes me sad only because they don’t bottle it and I really would like to have it again. Guess I have to go back to Portland.

So here we are, it’s 4:30pm, and I know dinner is going to be a good one-and-a-half to two-hour wait. (Yes, that long, but totally worth it. You’ll see.) So that’s all well and good, except for the fact that I’m tipsy and hungry right now. So how to solve this problem? MORE STREET FOOD.

A plate of pierogis was the perfect snack. Barely made it to the giant Saturday Market before all of the vendors closed up shop for the day. I feel that it’s important to note that the pierogis were delicious, but I hardly noticed because I inhaled them. It’s a shame, really.

This street-food inhalation endeavor was followed by a speedy power nap in order to recuperate some necessary energy. And then I was rip-roarin’ to go. Bring on the cocktails!

[To be continued…]

First world kitchen problems. (feat. drinking at home)

They should have 12 step programs for people like me. (No, I’m not talking about drinking. That’s not a problem. That’s a hobby!)

I’m talking about kitchen supplies.

I love them.

I want them all.

I can’t contain myself when I’m in a kitchen store.

HI. I’M CHRISTINA, AND I’M A COOKWARE ADDICT.

There, I said it.

Step 1.

Phew, I feel so much better now!

So this past weekend, I spent a lot of money on 2 things: kitchen supplies and booze. My bank account is hemorrhaging, and not because I made it drink the whiskey I bought. (RULES FOR LIFE: Drink your own goddamn whiskey. Quit feeding it to inanimate objects.)

But I have no regrets! Want to know why? Because I made these:

creampuffs

Yes, those are cream puffs. Like, the French kind. You know, filled with homemade whipped cream and strawberries. (I also filled some with chocolate pastry cream. No big deal.)

Except here’s the thing. In order to do this, I had to buy a pastry bag. (BEST DECISION. I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT THIS.) But then I was at the kitchen store, and I bought a few other things too… (don’t judge, they were calling to me). And then I was told that if I spend $2 more I get a free subscription to Bon Appetit magazine…SO I DID IT.

I wasn’t lying when I said I had a problem.

So on top of that splurge, I also purchased 3 bottles of liquor. Cointreau (NOT CHEAP, HOLY SHIT), Woodinville Whiskey (local WA whiskey distillery about an hour outside of Seattle), and Hendricks gin (you’ll discover the true power of cucumbers when you drink this).

So, suffice it to say, I’m pretty broke now. But guess what? I’m also drunk! And drunk on fucking delicious booze, too! AND I CAN MAKE PASTRIES.

So really, I don’t see the downside here. Do you?

Who needs measuring cups when you have whiskey?

So this isn’t something I’ve ever done before. But I have friends who blog, and a lot of them do a sort of “best of” or “random thoughts” end-of-the-week post, or something along those lines. So I’m going to try that. Because I’m thinking in bullet points right now.

So, hey y’all. It’s Tuesday. Tuesdays are pretty lame. And I don’t have a full post in me right now. So here’s my bullet-point-random-shit-post for the week. (Also I might be tipsy. That might be part of the reason for my fragmented thinking at the moment.)

-Baking cookies is a perfect excuse for making hot toddies. Don’t believe me? Try it. You’ll understand.

–Measuring cups are for losers. (I’m totally lying.) But SPICE YOUR SHIT. Don’t be a wimp. Be experimental! I did that last night and made some amazing vegan cookies. YEAH. VEGAN. WHAT???

—Go back to bars that you think are awesome. I went to Von Trapp’s again tonight. I still love it. Even on weeknights.

—-Tonight I attempted to make spaetzle for the first time. I think it worked? I don’t know, I’m saving it for a meal for tomorrow. So hopefully when I fry it up in butter (YUMMM…) it will taste ok. If you have thoughts on spaetzle, please share them with me.

—–I just made myself a severely mediocre Manhattan. I’m very sad. DON’T REPEAT MY MISTAKE. You can’t eyeball this kind of drink. This isn’t baking. MEASURE YOUR SHIT.

Apparently I’m very much in an oxymoronic mood. Don’t measure shit, but seriously, measure shit. Yeah, it’s that kind of Tuesday.

Tuesdays are lame.

I could never get the hang of Tuesdays.

(IF YOU GET THE REFERENCE YOU ARE AWESOME.) – (and yes, I know it’s the wrong day of the week, it’s a REFERENCE damnit.)

Yeah, that’s all I got. Sorry for the lame post. Shit happens, you know?