Category Archives: Rants

rant rant rant!

The People’s Pig



The People’s Pig – hey, maybe you’ve read the reviews:

If you know the Wine Bastards, you know we like smoked meats. What made this place especially intriguing is that I lived around the corner from the Tropicana BBQ for years in the 90’s and never went in. In fact, never noticed it. I arrived in Portland in November 1993 and lived in the Lower Elliot area until about 2000 when the landlady decided she wanted her house back and we had to move.

Let me tell you what, gentrification has changed the place. You know how that story goes – good / bad. Saves some wonderful old buildings, loses long established local businesses, chases out people who can’t afford the new rents. Let’s just say it out loud – this was an area for working class black people and maybe not so much anymore. The poor people get screwed, and I was part of that by being in the second wave of gentrification by renting from the first wave of (dare I say White?) people buying and fixing up the neighborhood that’s lead it to being what it is today.

Irony: bet I can’t afford to live there today either. Those were the days before Toro Bravo. We had the Queen of Sheba and the Hostess Bakery Outlet, but not many other reasons to visit the neighborhood.

Ok, back to the Pig.

Two thumbs up for this place. Food: awesome. Smokey pork, generous tasty sides. Joyce had a cocktail with a giant cube of smoked ice. For more in-depth descriptions of the eats, see the reviews above.

This place is the anti-TGI Friday’s. The building really is a time machine. We’ve got plenty of places in Portland where an old building is stripped to the studs and rebuilt to look old. This place is the real deal. This is what North Portland was like until fairly recently. Big congrats to Cliff for what he’s done. The next step is to pass along the stories of the people who’ve passed in and out of that door before they’re forgotten.

– Steve

When Jerez Met Shaoxing

Wine image
Rice Wine or Lice Wine?

This week’s discovery: sometimes, if you can’t get an exotic ingredient, it’s because it isn’t any good.

Having been on something of an asian cooking kick recently, I noticed that I kept seeing recipes that called for Shaoxing rice wine, which is more or less impossible to find here in Pennsylvania.  The longer I went without any, the better is sounded.  Finally, the grass growing intensely green, and sucked in by the marketing promises of  “drinking quality” rice wine, I asked my friend Steve to pick some up in Portland and ship it to me.

Here’s the thing about the phrase “drinking quality.”  There are people in this world who drink Sterno, too. Continue reading When Jerez Met Shaoxing

On the Cutting Edge of Chorizo Research

Today's Chorizos
Today's Chorizos

Chorizo is a hard meat to find in the USA.

Well, to be more specific, finding a North American Chorizo that can stand up to Spanish-made Chorizo in a fight…  That’s what I’m looking for.  When you sit yrselfs down to snack on a bit of chorizo when you’re just off the plane in Barajas it’s a full-body experience.  The magic of Pork and Paprika relaxes your body and you think, “mmm yeah, that’s the stuff.”

Here in the Pacific Northwest sometimes one can find chorizo from Idaho that claims to be made in the Basque style.  There’s also Mexican style chorizo to be found, but I feel Mexican chorizo is distant enough from the olde world that it deserves to be considered on it’s own merits.  What I want is a snacking chorizo. The importance of snacking in one’s life cannot be underestimated.  The act of snacking should refresh both the mind and spirit.  Give one the strength to carry on, a boost to your heels, a smile to your lips.  An appropriate snack should also contribute to your good health, not just cover you in neon-colored artificial cheez debris and GMO Korn(tm) chunklets.

Spanish snacking technology is far beyond anything we’ve developed here.  The Spanish really know how to snack.  They also have the best pork products I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy.  I don’t know if it’s the pork, the paprika or just the processing they do differently, but I haven’t found a new world chorizo that’s got the same zing.  That won’t stop me from trying to find one, however.

Finding any kind of chorizo is a challenge in Portland.  Yesterday I was at Zupan’s and brought home two packages of Venetian brand Chorizo “Spanish Style Sausage” from Hamilton, Ontario and one actual Spanish Chorizo from Palacios Alimentación S.A. (  Here’s the good news – the Venetian brand is pretty good!  It compares well with the Palacios.  The sad news is it looks like even though the two Venetian chorizos were packaged differently, to my tongue they are the same product.

So there’s hope for North America!  Keep an eye out for Venetian brand, and snacking students, your homework is to keep tasting.  Lunch is out there – now go find it!

Nature and You

We all know what nature abhorrs – a vacuum.  Once nature has had it’s way with vacuum for the day, what’s next on it’s hit list?  Your frukkin’ white carpet.  Only carpet salesmen know why white carpet is installed in homes.  That reason is because you never sell white carpet once.  It always has to be replaced.  Nature hates it.

Sure, it looks good in a nice empty place, but then you move in with your mighty meaty man-hands and their luna-orbit-displacing man muscles.  It’s only a matter of time before nature strikes in the form of your hand and a glass of red wine and nature hates. a. white. carpet.

G. Durand 2007 Syrah
G. Durand 2007 Syrah

Here’s the real victim: G. Durand’s 2007 Syrah.  $10/bottle with the QFC discount.  Thank you France!  Dang this stuff is good.  Good strong mouth feel.  Tastes good on the tongue.  Goes down easy.  It’s a winner, something that should not be on the dang white carpet.

Dancing Bull – Zinfandel

Dancing Bull Zin
Dancing Bull Zin

Sez right there on the label: “Premium California Wine”, and how often has our friend Trader Joe steered us wrong?  Hardly never my friends, and this is no exception.  I’m drinking it chilled, as any sensible visitor to Al-Andalus would.  It’s light and pleasant, going down easy…  Here’s my question though:

The label reads, “Winemaker’s Reserve”.  Hello?  What *is* that supposed to mean?  Both beer and wine products suffer from pathetic usage of old-school designations.  At one time “Private Reserve” might have meant “You Can’t Have Any”.  Today it seems to mean, “Put Me In The Cooler With All The Others”.  If they are actually “reserving” the best for the owners, stockholders, pets, BFF’s or whoever, what do they call it?  “Double Secret Private Reserve”?

Snoqualmie Wildcat IPA

You see the way it goes?  It goes that way.  She’s wearing that wonderful smell.  That sent that speaks for a private fez collection.  And what about skull size?  Foo.  $foo.  $foo_bar.  She hands me the fegimight sammich.

Pete’s VooDoo Skull Monkey Lounge International Underwater Foobar DooDad Feedback Flambeé Jamboree FunFun Time LickMe Loungeree Nixnuts Yaboobie was good.  Two thumbs up.