Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Hour at the Thirsty Pig

I was really excited when I saw the Thirsty Pig come into town. Not to dwell on the negative, but Joe's review of the previous business (and some unflattering newspaper profiles) made me cringe and snarl when I walked by the storefront.

And apparently locals felt the same way, since after only a year, we were freed from corporate branding at 37 Exchange Street and instead welcomed into a great bar that focuses on two of my favorite things: beer and tube meat.

So Friday happy hour at the Pig has become a pretty standard way for my friend K. and I to start the evening.  $2.50 Shipyard draughts (they're probably out of the Summer by now, sad) and a good layer of meat to lay down before your night of drinking.

I am a sucker for a hot dog, especially one for $3.50 on a grilled bun with a side.  The Pig's other sausage offerings include Sweet and Hot Italian, Keilbasa, and chicken.  Each one comes with enticing toppings and condiments, although I customize my hot dog with a local combo: mayonnaise and relish.

The grilled bun and the hot hot dog warm the mayonnaise a little bit (stay with me) and the relish provides a nice, tangy crunch.  The grilled hot dog is meaty, juicy, and snappy, but not so as to be an impediment to easy eating.  (An aside: someone just told me that a foods' ease of eating carries as much weight for him as how it tastes.  Mind boggling, but I'm starting to appreciate that.)

The baked beans that came with my dog were a little dry, but that pickle is one of the best I've had around.  It's a la Po'boys and Pickles, a half-sour maybe?  Very tart.

A very critical part of any grilled tube meat is the bun, and the Pig pulls it off well- a buttered and toasted split top bun.  The salty crunch of the bun adds a nice textural element, whereas most soft white rolls simply serve as a vehicle, rather than a player in the overall taste.

On this particular Friday, our Old Port happy hour crawl was cut short by an invite for a sunset sail.  Not a bad way to end a week, I'd say.  And I'll see you tomorrow, Thirsty Pig!

The Thirsty Pig on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Zucchini Pasta Ribbons

A simple recipe to help you use up all the great produce we're experiencing this time of year...

Zucchini ribbon pasta.  Use a peeler or a mandolin slicer to get long, thin strips of zucchini and combine with as many or as few fresh vegetables as you have on hand.  Here, I used fresh corn off the cob, cherry tomatoes, sliced in half, sauteed sweet Italian sausage, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped basil.

If you saute the zucchini ribbons gently, until they are softened and starting to become translucent, they transform into something more than I expected from squash.  Be careful not to overcook them, and you won't even miss the pasta in the final dish.  Plus, you can eat twice as much!

Monday, September 12, 2011

O-Rama: Breakfast on the Go

Breakfast on the go is kind of my specialty this summer.  Without boring you with too much detail, there were a lot of changes in my life that led to me losing my appetite and generally being uninterested in food (great for a food blogger, I know!).

So I was happy when I was able to eat anything, regardless of how healthy or socially acceptable it was.  My biggest hit was corn tortillas and Quesa Chihuahua quesadillas, introduced to me by my roommate.

The biggest problem with breakfast on the go though, is usually you have to buy it.  And at $4-$5 a day, adds up over the week.  But a treat for me is the everything (or "super" as they call it) bagel, toasted with lite or veggie cream cheese from Mr. Bagel.

I hit up the one on Forest Ave. which requires careful navigation through the tight, crowded parking lot.  But once inside, you're met with a bevy of beautiful bagels, coupled with friendly and efficient service.  The only stumble I had on my first time in is navigating the iced coffee station.

I ordered an iced coffee and was cheerfully handed a cup.  With no explanation.   And iced coffee setups vary widely around town.  Some make your iced coffee for you, while others hand you a cup of ice and let you pick from different flavors of chilled coffees.

But Mr. Bagel hands you a cup and leaves you to fend for yourself.  There's an ice machine that looks like a home appliance (a bread machine, maybe?) and pitchers of coffee, different flavors and roasts.  Uhhh...  I actually had to ask for help the first time (excuse me, where's the ice?), but now I'm an old pro.

There's a lot of talk about bagels in Portland.  Alls I know is I like the ones that come out of Mr. Bagel: chewy, salty, and very dense without being too bready.  For an on the go breakfast, this is a good stop, but I don't recommend eating a bagel while driving to work- it makes a royal mess!

You can read more O-rama: Breakfast on the go reviews from other local bloggers by visiting Portland Food Map.

Mr Bagel on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 8, 2011

BBF Giveaway: Hood New England Dairy Cook-Off Tickets & Hotel Stay

Update: Congrats to Paula, the winner of two tickets to the New England Dairy Cook-off and a night's stay at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa. Not surprisingly, her favorite dairy product is butter. And thank you all for participating!

The 3rd Annual New England Dairy Cook-off is coming up!  Held at Ocean Gateway Terminal in Portland on November 6th, 2011, one home cook stands to win $10,000 in the contest.  If you have an original recipe that uses a dairy product, make it a Hood one, and submit your recipe here.  Recipes entries are due September 12th; visit for more details on how to enter.

Past winners include Katherine Stetson of Bath, NH with her Apple Butter Aebleskivers with Maple Chantilly (Um, Google Image search Aebleskivers and you'll see why she won, yum) and Laurie Lufkin of Essex, MA with New England Buttermilk Pumpkin Cakes with Sour Cream Apple Caramel and Dried Cranberries.  This year is Maine's year!

If you aren't the type to make up your own recipes, you can still attend the event by entering to win two tickets to the event.  The kind folks at Hood Dairy are giving away two tickets to the event and a one night stay at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa on November 5th, 2011.

Simply comment on this post with your favorite dairy product (mine: cheese, duh), and I will randomly select one winner on Saturday, September 10th.  Entries close on Friday, September 9th at 12am EST.  This sweepstakes is open only to those over 18 and legal residents of the United States.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

158 Salmon Bagel

Salmon bagel at 158 Pickett St. Cafe changed my life.  I am obsessed!